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Limbo: A Christian doctrine
02-08-2010, 06:49 AM
Post: #1
Limbo: A Christian doctrine
According to Encyclopedia Britannica as it describes Limbo:

"In Roman Catholic theology, the border place between heaven and hell where dwell those souls who, though not condemned to punishment, are deprived of the joy of eternal existence with God in heaven. The word is of Teutonic origin, meaning “border” or “anything joined on.” The concept of limbo probably developed in Europe in the Middle Ages but was never defined as a church dogma, and reference to it was omitted from the official catechism of the church that was issued in 1992. Two distinct kinds of limbo have been supposed to exist: (1) the limbus patrum (Latin: “fathers’ limbo”), which is the place where the Old Testament saints were thought to be confined until they were liberated by Christ in his “descent into hell,” and (2) the limbus infantum, or limbus puerorum (“children’s limbo”), which is the abode of those who have died without actual sin but whose original sin has not been washed away by baptism. This “children’s limbo” included not only dead unbaptized infants but also the mentally impaired.

The question of the destiny of infants dying unbaptized presented itself to Christian theologians at a relatively early period. Generally speaking, it may be said that the Greek Fathers of the Church inclined to a cheerful view and the Latin Fathers to a gloomy view. Indeed, some of the Greek Fathers expressed opinions that are almost indistinguishable from the Pelagian view that children dying unbaptized might be admitted to eternal life, though not to the Kingdom of God. St. Augustine recoiled from such Pelagian teachings and drew a sharp antithesis between the state of the saved and that of the damned. Later theologians followed Augustine in rejecting the notion of any final place intermediate between heaven and hell, but they otherwise were inclined to take the mildest possible view of the destiny of the irresponsible and unbaptized.
The Roman Catholic Church in the 13th and 15th centuries made several authoritative declarations on the subject of limbo, stating that the souls of those who die in original sin only (i.e., unbaptized infants) descend into hell but are given lighter punishments than those souls guilty of actual sin. The damnation of infants and also the comparative lightness of their punishment thus became articles of faith, but the details of the place such souls occupy in hell or the nature of their actual punishment remained undetermined. From the Council of Trent (1545–63) onward, there were considerable differences of opinion as to the extent of the infant souls’ deprivation, with some theologians maintaining that the infants in limbo are affected with some degree of sadness because of a felt privation and other theologians holding that the infants enjoy every kind of natural felicity, as regards their souls now and their bodies after the resurrection.
The concept of limbo plays no role in contemporary Catholic theological thinking. In 2004 the International Theological Commission, an advisory body to the Vatican, under the direction of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) began examining the question of limbo. In 2007 the commission, with the approval of Benedict, declared that the traditional view of limbo offered an “unduly restrictive view of salvation” and that there was hope that infants who died without being baptized would be saved."

"limbo." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 08 Feb. 2010 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/341221/limbo>.

For additional details please check out Wikipedia

I am second coming of Thomas Paine. If you are a Christian, have you read Age of Reason?
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02-08-2010, 10:07 AM
Post: #2
RE: Limbo: A Christian doctrine
(02-08-2010 06:49 AM)Ahmadi Wrote:  According to Encyclopedia Britannica as it describes Limbo:

“The concept of limbo plays no role in contemporary Catholic theological thinking. In 2004 the International Theological Commission, an advisory body to the Vatican, under the direction of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) began examining the question of limbo. In 2007 the commission, with the approval of Benedict, declared that the traditional view of limbo offered an “unduly restrictive view of salvation” and that there was hope that infants who died without being baptized would be saved."

As is so often the case with Brittanica, they do not grasp the subtleties of Catholicism. There is still no Catholic doctrine on the fate of unbaptized infants.

Quote:The concept of Limbo, which has never been formally defined in Catholic teaching, can be dropped "without compromising the faith at all," the archbishop said. In recommending that move, he said, the Commission is not contemplating a change in doctrine, but only "avoiding the use of images and metaphors that do not adequately account for the richness of the message of hope that is given to us in Jesus Christ."

http://www.catholicculture.org/news/feat...hid=579243

Also, the commentary in the article on theological work in the Middle Ages is shockingly incomplete in that it fails to mention the two most important voices on the subject

Quote:Because children below the age of reason did not commit actual sin, theologians came to the common view that these unbaptized children feel no pain at all or even that they enjoy a full natural happiness through their union with God in all natural goods (Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus).

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/l...hid=579214
BTW this IS the report from the International Theological Commission

For your additional reading pleasure:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limbo
http://www.ewtn.com/library/SCRIPTUR/INFANT.TXT
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09256a.htm
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02-08-2010, 02:26 PM (This post was last modified: 02-08-2010 02:36 PM by Ahmadi.)
Post: #3
RE: Limbo: A Christian doctrine
I recalled that I had read some news item on BBC online a few years back. I just searched it:

The Pope may be about to abolish the notion of limbo, the halfway house between heaven and hell, inhabited by unbaptised infants. Is it really that simple? Pope Benedict XVI's anticipated pronouncement on limbo will have been informed by the International Theological Commission - a group of leading Roman Catholic theologians who have been meeting to consider the issue. The Pope, himself, has been quoted in the past as saying that he would let the idea of limbo "drop, since it has always been only a theological hypothesis". He was quoted as saying that limbo has never been a "definitive truth of the faith".
According to the BBC's Religion and Ethics site [see internet links, right], the church held that before the 13th Century, all unbaptised people, including new born babies who died, would go to hell. This was because original sin - the punishment that God inflicted on humanity because of Adam and Eve's disobedience - had not been cleansed by baptism. This idea however was criticised by Peter Abelard, a French scholastic philosophiser, who said that babies who had no personal sin didn't even deserve punishment.
It was Abelard who introduced the idea of limbo. The word comes from the Latin "limbus", meaning the edge. This would be a state of existence where unbaptised babies, and those unfortunate enough to have been born before Jesus, would not experience pain but neither would they experience the Beatific Vision of God. Pope Benedict was quoted as saying he would let limbo drop, while he was a cardinal.
But limbo has long been a problem for the Church. Unease has remained over reconciling a Loving God with one who sent babies to limbo and the Church has faced much criticism.
The current review of limbo began in 2004, when Pope John Paul II asked the commission to come up with "a more coherent and enlightened way" of describing the fate of such innocent babes.
This review is part of a wider re-examination of the notion of salvation that has been taking place within the Church.
Many Catholics would see the abandonment of limbo as a good thing - there is little doubt that some interpretations of the teaching may have caused untold misery to the millions of parents whose children have died without being baptised.
But there are those who argue that it is not simply a "hypothesis" that can just be swept aside; that the notion that unbaptised children do not go to heaven has been a fundamental part of Church teaching for hundreds of years.
Then, of course, there is the argument that if this can be abolished, what else is disposable?
According to church historian Michael Walsh limbo is so unpopular it has all but dropped out of Catholic consciousness. It has not really been standard teaching for decades and it has not been part of official teaching since the early 1990s, when it was omitted from the catechism - the Church's summary of religious doctrine. For the full report go to:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/5406552.stm

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02-08-2010, 02:51 PM (This post was last modified: 02-08-2010 03:03 PM by Parousia.)
Post: #4
RE: Limbo: A Christian doctrine
(02-08-2010 02:26 PM)Ahmadi Wrote:  I recalled that I had read some news item on BBC online a few years back. I just searched it:

The Pope may be about to abolish the notion of limbo, the halfway house between heaven and hell, inhabited by unbaptised infants. Is it really that simple? Pope Benedict XVI's anticipated pronouncement on limbo will have been informed by the International Theological Commission - a group of leading Roman Catholic theologians who have been meeting to consider the issue. The Pope, himself, has been quoted in the past as saying that he would let the idea of limbo "drop, since it has always been only a theological hypothesis". He was quoted as saying that limbo has never been a "definitive truth of the faith".
According to the BBC's Religion and Ethics site [see internet links, right], the church held that before the 13th Century, all unbaptised people, including new born babies who died, would go to hell. This was because original sin - the punishment that God inflicted on humanity because of Adam and Eve's disobedience - had not been cleansed by baptism. This idea however was criticised by Peter Abelard, a French scholastic philosophiser, who said that babies who had no personal sin didn't even deserve punishment.
It was Abelard who introduced the idea of limbo. The word comes from the Latin "limbus", meaning the edge. This would be a state of existence where unbaptised babies, and those unfortunate enough to have been born before Jesus, would not experience pain but neither would they experience the Beatific Vision of God. Pope Benedict was quoted as saying he would let limbo drop, while he was a cardinal.
But limbo has long been a problem for the Church. Unease has remained over reconciling a Loving God with one who sent babies to limbo and the Church has faced much criticism.
The current review of limbo began in 2004, when Pope John Paul II asked the commission to come up with "a more coherent and enlightened way" of describing the fate of such innocent babes.
This review is part of a wider re-examination of the notion of salvation that has been taking place within the Church.
Many Catholics would see the abandonment of limbo as a good thing - there is little doubt that some interpretations of the teaching may have caused untold misery to the millions of parents whose children have died without being baptised.
But there are those who argue that it is not simply a "hypothesis" that can just be swept aside; that the notion that unbaptised children do not go to heaven has been a fundamental part of Church teaching for hundreds of years.
Then, of course, there is the argument that if this can be abolished, what else is disposable?
According to church historian Michael Walsh limbo is so unpopular it has all but dropped out of Catholic consciousness. It has not really been standard teaching for decades and it has not been part of official teaching since the early 1990s, when it was omitted from the catechism - the Church's summary of religious doctrine. For the full report go to:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/5406552.stm

Like I said before, some people do not understand the subtleties of Catholicism. It is extremely unlikely that the Pope would announce a doctrine on this subject. It would require resolving the issue of Baptism (of water, blood or desire) as necessary to remove original sin and allow entry to heaven. This is backed up with loads of scriptural references, whereas there is simply no scriptural support for any particular opinion of the fate of the unbaptized infant. Endangering the idea of original sin would hit hard at the foundations of mainstream Christianity. I am sure he will let it be and allow people simply to believe what they already believe in their hearts - that dead babies go to heaven.

EDIT: Maybe it just seems that way, but in my experience anything coming from a non-Catholic source in the UK about Catholic beliefs is probably wrong.
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02-08-2010, 03:09 PM (This post was last modified: 02-08-2010 03:25 PM by Ahmadi.)
Post: #5
RE: Limbo: A Christian doctrine
(02-08-2010 02:51 PM)Parousia Wrote:  Like I said before, some people do not understand the subtleties of Catholicism. It is extremely unlikely that the Pope would announce a doctrine on this subject. It would require resolving the issue of Baptism (of water, blood or desire) as necessary to remove original sin and allow entry to heaven. This is backed up with loads of scriptural references, whereas there is simply no scriptural support for any particular opinion of the fate of the unbaptized infant. Endangering the idea of original sin would hit hard at the foundations of mainstream Christianity. I am sure he will let it be and allow people simply to believe what they already believe in their hearts - that dead babies go to heaven.

Parousia would it be fair to say that if every one inherited the Original sin then so did the children! Limbo, in my view has exposed the dogma of Original sin. Are unbaptized children sinful? Do they go to hell, heaven or to Limbo? That is the question that has haunted the Church for centuries, I would think that this dilemma led to the invention of Limbo, in the first place. I will search the word in the Bible. I doubt if the word 'Limbo' exists in the Bible. Church can neither accept nor let go of the idea of Limbo. Hence 'Limbo is in limbo!' But this can help the truth seekers understand the dogma of the Original sin.

Islamic view is simple and clear that every one of us is born innocent.

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02-08-2010, 03:22 PM
Post: #6
RE: Limbo: A Christian doctrine
(02-08-2010 03:09 PM)Ahmadi Wrote:  
(02-08-2010 02:51 PM)Parousia Wrote:  Like I said before, some people do not understand the subtleties of Catholicism. It is extremely unlikely that the Pope would announce a doctrine on this subject. It would require resolving the issue of Baptism (of water, blood or desire) as necessary to remove original sin and allow entry to heaven. This is backed up with loads of scriptural references, whereas there is simply no scriptural support for any particular opinion of the fate of the unbaptized infant. Endangering the idea of original sin would hit hard at the foundations of mainstream Christianity. I am sure he will let it be and allow people simply to believe what they already believe in their hearts - that dead babies go to heaven.

Parousia would it be fair to say that if every one inherited the Original sin then so did the children! Limbo, in my view has exposed the dogma of Original sin. Are unbaptized children sinful? Do they go to hell, heaven or to Limbo? That is the question that has haunted the Church for centuries, I would think that this dilemma led to the invention of Limbo, in the first place. I will search the word in the Bible. I doubt if the word 'Limbo' exists in the Bible. Church can neither accept nor let go of the idea of Limbo. Hence 'Limbo is in limbo!' But this can help the truth seekers understand the dogma of the Original sin.

Islamic view is that every one of us is born innocent.

*takes off catholic hat*

I agree with you.
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02-08-2010, 03:30 PM
Post: #7
RE: Limbo: A Christian doctrine
(02-08-2010 03:22 PM)Parousia Wrote:  ...every one of us is born innocent...I agree...

Yet we are all born into a world suffering the effects of sin; and just as soon as we are able, we all contribute sins of our own.

http://www.biblicaltraining.org/ --- http://www.ntwrightpage.com/
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02-08-2010, 03:47 PM (This post was last modified: 02-08-2010 03:57 PM by Ahmadi.)
Post: #8
RE: Limbo: A Christian doctrine
(02-08-2010 03:22 PM)Parousia Wrote:  
(02-08-2010 03:09 PM)Ahmadi Wrote:  Islamic view is simple and clear that every one of us is born innocent.

...

I agree with you.

Thank you Parousia. Once again an agnostic representative and a Muslim representative are in agreement. Most humans can agree on things that stand to reason and logic. Islam calls itself a religion based on human nature. There is one religion whose dogmas are at odds with basic reason and logic.

Could you guess which one it is? If you are not sure let me provide you a few links:

http://knol.google.com/k/faith-and-reaso...hristians#
http://knol.google.com/k/zia-shah/evalua...umbuyp/15#
http://knol.google.com/k/zia-shah/religi...umbuyp/78#

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02-08-2010, 04:23 PM
Post: #9
RE: Limbo: A Christian doctrine
(02-08-2010 03:47 PM)Ahmadi Wrote:  Thank you Parousia. Once again an agnostic representative and a Muslim representative are in agreement. Most humans can agree on things that stand to reason and logic. Islam calls itself a religion based on human nature. There is one religion whose dogmas are at odds with basic reason and logic.

Could you guess which one it is?

The problem is that most people do not care to understand the theology of their religion. It has essentially nothing to do with what they view as their religious/moral duties. As I talked about someplace or other around here, the profession of belief in the Mysteries in Catholicism serves as an identifier for the members of the Catholic community. In addition and perhaps more importantly by their very incomprehensibility the Mysteries serve to activate the neurological functions that lead to the perception of abstractions as real entities. For example, God, and afterlife, the community and so forth.

If one wishes to impart behavioral habits and moral values into the next generation, reason is not the way to do it. By the time children are old enough to grasp reason, their habits of thought and behavior are already well formed.

In short, I see no benefit and possible drawbacks in a religion being logical. And in the case of Islam, I do not see that such an approach has had much beneficial effect on the societies that practice Islam.
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02-08-2010, 04:29 PM
Post: #10
RE: Limbo: A Christian doctrine
(02-08-2010 04:23 PM)Parousia Wrote:  ...If one wishes to impart behavioral habits and moral values into the next generation, reason is not the way to do it. By the time children are old enough to grasp reason, their habits of thought and behavior are already well formed...

And I would add that to some extent at least, reason itself is dependent on culture. What seems "reasonable" to one group is not always seen that same way by other groups. Practical reason is always dependent on unproven assumptions, and these unproven assumptions will vary with culture.

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