31 Aug 2015

Quebec begins mandatory sex ed teaching 5-year-olds about masturbation, genitalia, and homosexuality

School Children now being "sexualised" 

By Pete Baklinski

Quebec’s Ministry of Education is rolling out a new pilot programme for mandatory sex education this year that teaches 5-year-old children about male and female genitalia, how conception happens, and “different types of families.”

The Ministry is refusing to allow parents to opt children out.

“For the moment, no exemptions are planned,” Ministry of Education spokesperson Pascal Ouellet told The Canadian Press.

An information pamphlet created by the Ministry for parents details what the Ministry considers “appropriate” material for children based on “age and level of development.” But what the government thinks is appropriate might have parents, especially those from a religious or ethnic background, fuming.

By the time the children have gone through elementary school (ages 6-11), they will have:
developed their capacity to “engage in respectful emotional relationships”;
learned the “various ways” of “[sexually] expressing oneself as a boy or a girl”;
learned to dismantle “gender stereotypes”; and
learned about the “impact of sexism and homophobia.”

By the time the children reach secondary school (ages 12-17), the ministry expects that they will have had their “first romantic relationships” and would have “explore[d] different aspects of sexual behaviour.”

By the end of this cycle, the children will have learned to:
manage the “problems that may arise in a romantic relationship”;
ensure that “sexual behaviour is safe and based on mutual consent”; and
use condoms, contraception, and develop the “skills they need to protect themselves from STBBIs and pregnancy.”

Monic Tremblay of the Quebec organization Parent Alerte called the programme “dangerous”, because it teaches children how to engage in various sexual practices well before they are ready.

“Will this actually protect children from sexual aggressors, as the curriculum claims, or will it turn children into sexual aggressors?” she said in a statement to journalists.

Tremblay said that, by “sexualizing” children and teaching them how to “consent” to sexual practices, the programme will have the effect of making children available to an adult sexual predators.

“We must protect children and refuse to allow them to be hyper-sexualized,” she said.

Marie Bourque, vice-president of the Catholic Parents Association, told journalists that parents should be concerned about the government stepping in to teach their children about sexual morality, especially when it has stated that parents will not be able to withdraw their children from the course.

“No teachings dispensed by the state should contradict parental values, or be dispensed against their parental right,” she said.


The Ministry has stated that the children will receive five to 15 hours of sex ed each year “through the various school subjects and activities,” not through a dedicated programme in a specific class.

While the ministry expects currently hired school staff to teach the content of the programme, it is allowing teachers to bring in expertise from the health and social services system, community organizations, and “specialist” teachers.

Pro-abortion and homosexual organisations often volunteer to fulfill such roles.

The Ministry seems to downplay parents’ role in directing their children in matters of sexuality. The sex-ed pamphlet says that parents play a “key role” in educating their children about sexuality.

Ultimately, the Ministry’s position is that both the school and the family play “complementary roles” in sexual education.

The pilot programme will be implemented in 15 schools and run from kindergarten through high school for two years. It is expected to affect 8,200 students.

If deemed successful by the Ministry, the programme will become “compulsory in all Québec schools” starting in September 2017.

The mandatory programme comes seven years after the province’s government instituted a mandatory “secular” and allegedly “neutral” Ethics and Religious Culture course (ERC), which critics say promotes moral relativism by treating all religions as of equal merit and indoctrinates children into homosexual ideology by teaching “diverse” family structures of two men or two women.

Ontario Tory MPP Monte McNaughton, who ran for leadership of the party on a platform that included scrapping Premier Wynne’s controversial sex-ed curriculum update, said Quebec’s government has turned into a “dictatorship” that is taking religious freedoms away from people while forcing them to comply to “government values.”

“Parents know what’s best for their kids, not any government, or the state, or any politician,” he told journalists. “I think this is forcing values on families and it’s not right. It’s up for moms and dads to decide what’s best for their families.”

McNaughton said Quebec is setting an example that he fears the rest of the country may eventually follow.

“We’ve not seen anything like this in the country. Quebec is leading the way, and I don’t think Ontario under Kathleen Wynne is going to be far behind,” he said. 


Source: LifeSiteNews.

30 Aug 2015

NIGERIAN “PASTORS” AND THEIR PROSPERITY “GOSPEL”

An Enquiry by Jonathan Ekene Ifeanyi
Nigerian "pastors" who move by private jets.
 "Father" Mbaka, one of the richest men in eastern Nigeria, 
is among the thieves.

“The devil disorients individuals by making them think that because of their wealth and their successes, they are being blessed by God, when, at the same time, they are committing sin, cheating and lying, and are hurling themselves headlong into hell”, wrote Father Nicholas Gruner in The Fatima Crusader (Summer 2006, Issue 83, p. 3).

Today we hear “Christian Pastors” preaching a “gospel of prosperity”, that is, a kind of “gospel” which teaches that once anyone becomes a Christian, he or she will no longer suffer even in this world. In this “gospel”, Christ is widely believed to have come to this earth primarily to put an end to human suffering and usher in a new world of enjoyment. Under different guises, Nigerian fake pastors preach this sermon openly. Every Christian must be rich, they preach. Their favourite passage is Philippians 4:19, where St. Paul said, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”—a passage where, of course, the Apostle was referring to the Philippians’ ‘immediate needs’, (just as Christ equally meant in Matthew 7:7 when He says, “Ask, and it shall be given to you...”). However, just because the word ‘‘riches’’ appears in this passage—which absolutely has nothing to do with worldly riches—the “Pentecostals” interpret this passage to mean that God will supply them with enormous wealth, with much money!

In fact, formerly it used to be only “Pentecostal Pastors”, but today even many “Catholic priests”—like one “Father” Ejike Mbaka in eastern Nigeria, and many others—have joined the race. So many of the lay “faithful” have also joined the race—having been corrupted by the modernist Vatican II Church which is simply going crazy with anything worldly! Today, following the Vatican II Revolution, the love of God has simply vanished from many hearts, and has been replaced with the love of selves. So many people, who still bear the Christian name, love themselves and their “possessions” above all things. This comes in different forms—many love their wives more than God, others their husbands and others even their beautiful cars and houses. For instance we certainly cannot count the number of Nigerian “Catholic” ladies, known very well to the present writer, who have abandoned their Catholic Faith for the sake of earthly marriages—and precisely even for the sake of marriages to non-Catholic lovers. And this they do in their desperate pursuit of the things of this world, ignoring completely Saint Paul’s admonition that in these last days even those who are married should in fact behave like the unmarried: 


This therefore I say, brethren; the time is short; it remaineth, that they also who have wives, be as if they had none...and they that use this world, as if they use it not: for the fashion of this world passeth away” (1 Cor. 7:  29, 31). 


In his letter addressed to Vigilius in the fourth century A.D., St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, had written to the newly ordained Bishop urging him not to allow the faithful to enter upon marriages with unbelievers. (Cf. Ep. xix.). Citing the story of Samson and Delilah, the Bishop asks how it is possible to speak of marriage where there exists no community of belief—thereby expressing something of the protective spirit which, over the years, has become traditional in the Catholic Church. It was the love of selves, and worldly things rather than God, that led modern clergy to the abandonment of this practice, and today Catholic ladies are encouraged by bishops and priests to marry non-Catholics. Just as they quote the “gospel” to back up their desperate pursuit of worldly things, they equally use the same “gospel” to back up this evil practice, and many others. 

Today there are innumerable number of “churches” in Nigeria, which can no longer be differentiated from the “Catholic Churches”. The central message of all these “churches” is that “Our God is a rich God, therefore we must all be rich; we must not suffer because we are children of God and children of God do not suffer.” Nigerian Catholic priests and bishops (who have simply become wolves) give Catholics the impression that these "churches" are indeed of God, hence today an average Nigerian Catholic simply don't know the difference between these false churches and the Catholic Church!

Is prosperity “gospel”, preached in these "Churches", biblical?

Here, my business is simply to provide an answer to this valid question.

First of all, the kind of Christianity founded by Jesus Christ and practised by His earliest followers, is quite different from what we see in today’s world. It was—essentially—a religion of suffering rather than enjoyment; however, not a hopeless kind of suffering, but a suffering in the mystical body of Christ with a great hope of eternal life. As St. Paul puts it, “If we have died with Him, we shall also rise with Him”.  Jesus equally made this very clear as we see in several places in the Gospels. First of all, we see His response to those who wished to follow Him, in the Gospel according to St Mathew (8:19-22):      

“Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go”. And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head”. Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father”. But Jesus said to him, Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead”.      

Again, He makes us know that His true followers would be very few, who would follow the thorny road that leads to heaven, as we read (Matt.7:13-14):

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it”.

Here our Lord remarkably indicates to us that this way of suffering is what many will never accept, but only a very few—even as we witness in today’s world, in Nigeria. 

Again, in the Gospel according to St Mark, we see the drama that took place when Jesus taught His disciples that the Son of Man must suffer many things, be rejected, and finally, be killed—immediately, Simon Peter, like modern “Christians”, took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, as we read (Mark 8: 31-38):

“And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.  When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels”.

The cross, which the Lord talks about in the above passage, is a symbol of suffering, a suffering which the Master Himself first endured. The way of this cross, He tells us, is the very way that leads to eternal life. In fact, from the biblical point of view, anyone who claims to have accepted the Christian Faith, while rejecting this cross, cannot be saved.  

Thus when Peter rebuked Him for saying that He would suffer many things, Jesus did not waste time to call him Satan. Tragically, this Satanic attitude of rejecting the cross while claiming to be Christians, is what today rules millions of “Christians”, millions of Nigerian “Christians”! 

In Nigeria, David Oyedepo, Matthew Ashimolowo, Ayo Oritsejafor, Chris Oyakhilome and Chris Okotie are perfect examples of “powerful pastors” who have been materially blessed and who can joyfully boast of these blessings. But St Paul contradicts them. ‘‘…God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’’, he writes, ‘‘by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world’’ (Gal.6:14). Again, ‘‘I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and  the life which I now live in the flesh  I live by faith in the Son  of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me’’ (Gal. 2:20). 

Can there be any real fellowship between the man who makes these kinds of statements and the ‘‘pastors’’ just mentioned above?

Again, on paying of tithe, which today is being used by “Catholic” priests and Pentecostal “pastors” to rub the poor, Our Lord speaks, prophetically to the modern clergy (Luke 11: 42-44):

“But woe to you, Pharisees, because you tithe mint and rue and every herb; and pass over judgement, and the charity of God. Now these things you ought to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Woe to you, Pharisees, because you love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market place. Woe to you, because you are as sepulchres that appear not, and men that walk over are not aware.”

The Greek word “ἀποδεκατοῦτε” (apodekatoute) means ‘you take tithe from’, ‘you tithe’. The Pharisees, like today’s Catholic clergy, neglected to talk about judgment, and the true charity of God, but preached extensively about paying of tithes. The idea of using tithe to dupe the faithful was copied by the Catholic clergy from Pentecostal “pastors”—who promise their victims that after paying their tithes, their sufferings would be over and God would turn them into millionaires!

“Pentecostal Pastors” claim to be Christians, and shout the name of Christ everywhere, but, in reality, they are sworn enemies of the Christian Faith. Their Christianity is all about the enjoyment of the present world, and nothing can prevent them from this enjoyment. In fact, were Jesus to come back to this world to preach the message of the cross, these “Christians”, unlike the Jews, will not crucify Him just once, but indeed, a million times. 

St Paul already spoke about them in the first century (Phil. 3: 17-20), as we read:

“Be ye followers of me, brethren, and observe them who walk so as you have our model. For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping), that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction; whose God is their belly; and whose glory is in their shame; who mind earthly things. But our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ”.    

In other words, true Christians must always look up to heaven, where “our conversation is…”, says St Paul. They must have nothing to do with the enemies of the cross of Christ, “whose end is destruction; whose God is their belly; and whose glory is in their shame…”

Nigerian “Pentecostal Pastors” do not look up to heaven. On the contrary, they are completely earthly-minded. For example, in the posters and sign boards they display about their “churches”, it is always all about them, their wives, and their wealth, not Jesus Christ!  Of course, Christ’s words are simply prophetic, for we read again, in St Luke’s Gospel (Luke 14: 26-27): 

“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his father and his mother, and his wife, and his children, and his brother, and his sister, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who cannot carry his cross and follow Me, cannot be my disciple”.  

Is Christ addressing these words to the Catholics who believe in a Christianity of suffering or the Protestants and false Catholics who believe in a Christianity of enjoyment?   

In the entire New Testament, from the Gospel of St Mathew to the Revelation, there is no place where either Jesus or His Apostles promised riches to those who would accept the Christian faith. Even in the Old Testament, a man like Solomon, the richest man in Jerusalem, became rich only because he never prayed for that but for the gift of wisdom. It was Solomon’s faith—his asking for wisdom instead of wealth—that attracted God’s attention to him and made Him to bless him, just as Abraham’s faith attracted God’s immense blessings. Again, St Paul contradicts these lovers of money who now claim to have Abraham’s blessings. He writes (cf. Gal. 3: 7): 

“Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘‘In you all the nations shall be blessed. So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham’’”. 

The few rich people we see in the Old Testament—Solomon, Job, etc—were all men of faith. Solomon sought first the wisdom of God and God then decided to enrich him materially. But the same Solomon, at the end of it all, tells us that even his wealth was all vanity upon vanity. It was the same wisdom of God which never departed from him that led him to realize that. We now invite him to testify for himself: 

“I said to myself, ‘‘Come now, I will make a taste of pleasure; enjoy yourself’’. But again, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, ‘‘It is mad’’, and of pleasure, ‘‘What use is it?’’ I searched with my mind how to cheer my body with wine—my mind still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, until I might see what was good for mortals to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works; I built houses and planted vineyards for myself; I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees; I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house; I also had great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and of the provinces; I got singers, both men and women, and delights of the flesh, and many concubines”. 

“So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem; also my wisdom remained with me. Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them; I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was vanity and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun”.

Thus, like Christ, Solomon, the richest man is Jerusalem, here tells us that it was “all vanity and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun”.

The Gospels, as we have been demonstrating, are full of Christ’s admonitions to His followers about the deceitfulness of the riches of this world. In these Gospels, He teaches us that, what God wants from all human beings is not really to be successful, but to be faithful.      

In the story of the rich young man, for instance, we read (Mark 18:18-25): 

“Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, ‘Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ So Jesus said to him, “…You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery’, ‘Do not murder’, ‘Do not steal’, ‘Do not bear false witness’, ‘Honour your father and your mother’” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth”. So when Jesus heard these things, He said to Him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me”. But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”.  

Here we notice carefully that Jesus does not say that all rich people will go to hell, no. But He makes it clear that it will be very difficult for them to go to heaven. This is the core message of Christ in this passage—despite the false interpretations given to this passage by modern fake pastors. Of course there are many rich people who are more righteous than some poor people. But here Jesus is not talking about that. What Our Lord attacks, rather, is the main virus ‘‘rich’’ or ‘‘wealth’’—for there is actually something sinful even in the mere desire of it. If all Christians are meant to be rich, as Satanic preachers tell us today, why did Christ, the Master Himself, choose to be poor? Where on the face of this earth can we find a master who wallows in abject poverty while his servants wallow in wealth? Certainly, a typical “Pentecostal” will answer that Christ chose to be poor in order that we might be rich. Excellent! But if so, what about His early followers? Can we find a single man among them who, having accepted the Christian faith, did not embrace poverty for the sake of Christ? 

In fact, we need not dwell so much on this topic. We see Christ’s teaching on how a Christian should live in this world in the Gospel according to St Matthew (6: 25; 31-34): 

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? ...Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble”. 

The above teaching corresponds with what He taught us in the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread”, not “give us these days”! Some Protestants, certainly, cannot say the prayer this way. In their famous King James Version, this verse of the Bible is simply translated as “Give us day by day our daily bread”! (c.f. Luke 11: 3) The Greek passage of the same verse reads: “τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δίδου ἡμῖν τὸ καθ' ἡμέραν.” The word “τὸ καθ' ἡμέραν” means “this day”, not “day by day”! In the Latin translation what we have is “Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie.” Here again the word “hodie” simply means “this day”, or “today”, not “day by day”! Who inspired Protestants to change the word of God from “today” or “this day” to “day by day”? How can Our Lord, who asks us not to worry about tomorrow, recommend such a prayer?  

Christ, in the Gospel according to St Mark quoted above, said to the rich young man, ‘‘Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me”. Did He say that merely because the man loved his wealth more than the things of God, as modern preachers now interpret it?  As we pointed out above, what our Lord attacked was only the virus ‘rich’ or ‘wealth’, the very root of all evils, not the individual rich people. Now, Christ counters these prosperity preachers by repeating (and in fact, emphasizing more on) the same statement in the following passage in the Gospel according to St Matthew (6: 19-21): 

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. 

Again, (in verse 24), He says, 

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon”. 

The word ‘‘Mammon’’ is from the Greek word Μαμωνᾷς (‘’Mamona’’), which in the New Testament is begun with the Greek small letter mu, ‘‘μ’’ (‘‘μαμωνᾷ’’). ‘‘Mamona’’ in the New Testament is a personification of wealth and greed as a false god, used in opposition to the Almighty God (cf. Luke 16:13). In some Bible versions it is translated as simply ‘‘money’’, but that is not exactly accurate. Originally, Mamona or Mammon is the name of the Syrian god of riches who is also the god of the underworld. The Latin counterpart is Pluto, god of the dead, the husband of Proserpine. The Latin counterpart of the Greek Hades, Pluto—in Roman mythology—assisted his two brothers, Jupiter and Neptune, in overthrowing their father, Saturn. In dividing the world among them, Jupiter chose the earth and the heavens as his realm, Neptune became the ruler of the sea, and Pluto received as his kingdom the lower world, in which he ruled over the shades of the dead. Believed to be the bestower of the blessings hidden in the earth, such as mineral wealth and crops, Pluto was also known as Dis or Orcus, the giver of wealth. 

The word ‘‘riches’’ or ‘‘wealth’’ in Greek means πλοτος (Plutus). From plutus (πλοῦτος) came the English word ‘‘plutocrat’’—a person who is powerful because of his wealth, and ‘‘plutocracy’’—government by the richest people of a country, or a country governed by the richest people in it. 

From πλοῦτος (plutus) came the Greek god Πλούτος (Plutus), who is a personification of wealth. The Greek counterpart of the Syrian Μαμωνᾷς(‘‘Mammon’’), Plutus (Πλούτος) was the name of Hades, derived, as stated above, from πλοῦτος meaning ‘’wealth’’, ‘‘riches’’, because corn, the wealth of early times, was sent from beneath the earth as the gift of the god. In the earliest times, various polytheistic gods had their various functions. Plutus (Πλούτος) or Mammon (Μαμωνᾷς), was simply the name of the god responsible for making people rich. Hence when Christ says, ‘‘οὐ δύνασθε θεῷ δουλεύειν καὶ μαμωνᾷ’’ (‘‘You cannot serve God and Mammon’’), He means that we cannot serve the true, living God, who is mainly after our righteousness and salvation, and the pagan, Satanic god, who promises riches as a way of enticing men and holding them captive. Since the word also means ‘wealth’, ‘riches’, we can also translate the passage as simply ‘‘You cannot serve God and wealth’’. The Greek passage reads: 

“οὐδεὶς δύναται δυσὶ κυρίοις δουλεύειν: ἢ γὰρ τὸν ἕνα μισήσει καὶ τὸν ἕτερον ἀγαπήσει, ἢ ἑνὸς ἀνθέξεται καὶ τοῦ ἑτέρου καταφρονήσει: οὐ δύνασθε θεῷ δουλεύειν καὶ μαμωνᾷ’’.

Translated: 

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon”. (ibid. verse 24) 

Jesus’ teaching can be summarized in His following words, written in St. John’s Gospel (Jn. 12: 25): “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” 

The early Christians, many of whom are saints today, hated their lives in this world, and hence passed through sufferings.  After the ascension of Christ into heaven, they did not selfishly assume that the Lord had done it all for them; and that all that remained was for them to enjoy themselves, or that “It is finished” meant suffering was all over. On the contrary, they remained faithful enough to remember His words, “A disciple is not above his teacher. If they persecute Me, they will also persecute you” (Matt. 10:24). Hence Stephen was brutally stoned to death by the Jews for preaching and practising the Christian faith; Simon Peter, the first Pope, was brutally crucified; St Paul was beheaded—and so on. Apart from these earliest followers of Christ, down the centuries, there are countless cases of faithful men and women—all Catholics—who simply sacrificed their lives for the sake of Christ’s Gospel. Also, we have countless number of cases of rich men and women who abandoned their wealth and chose poverty, all for the sake of Christ’s Gospel—something simply unthinkable even to the “holiest” Christians in today’s world. Contrary to the Protestant error that Christ has suffered in order for us to be rich, our  Lord Jesus Christ expects us to imitate Him in all things—His life of holiness, His zeal in doing good, His rejection of worldly riches, His choosing of poverty, and, in fact, even His martyrdom for the salvation of His brethren! 

Indeed, what some call “the gospel of prosperity” is simply not in the Bible and people who preach that are purely serving their master, the devil. From the Gospel according to St Matthew to the Revelation, nothing like that truly exists. In fact, rather than blessing the rich people of His time, as modern false teachers do, Our Lord spent a great deal of time and energy denouncing them. We end this topic with one of such—blessings and woes addressed by Christ Himself to the rich and the poor (Luke 6: 20-26): 

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets”.


Recommended: 

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has addressed, in his book God or Nothing, the very misguided, heavily politicised and ideological efforts of many Catholic international aid agencies as well as government and other agencies that tend to emphasise elimination of the poor through contraception and destroying family cultures. 

29 Aug 2015

Swiss Catholic bishops enlist pro-gay activist to author their report for Synod

By Maike Hickson                          
Bishop Vitus Huonder, a Swiss Catholic bishop, gave a talk on July 31 at a conservative Catholic conference organized by a lay organization, Forum Deutscher Katholiken, that is opposed to the proposals to change and liberalize the Catholic Church's moral teaching on marriage and the family. The conference, “Rejoicing in the Faith” (Freude am Glauben), published a communiqué in which it asks Francis 1 and the Synod Fathers to “find answers taken from the sources of knowledge of the Holy Scripture and the Church's Tradition which fill today's life reality of the faithful with new Christian spirit.” He was sued earlier this month by homosexual activists for this defence of the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality. However, the president of the Swiss Bishops' Conference, Bishop Markus Büchel, distanced himself immediately from Bishop Huonder's statements, saying that it does not matter what sexual orientation one has, as long as one conducts himself in a “responsible manner.”

Dr. Arnd Bünker is adviser to the Swiss Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The Swiss Bishops' Conference, headed by Bishop Markus Büchel, is coming under pressure because of its alliance with Dr. Arnd Bünker, a man who has been himself promoting the homosexual and gender agenda for many years.  Dr. Arnd Bünker is the head of the Swiss Institute for Pastoral Sociology, which wrote the Swiss Bishops' Conference much-criticized report in preparation for the upcoming 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family in Rome. The report explicitly and insistently requests that the Church cease excluding remarried divorcees from the Sacraments and that she give a place to the partnerships of male and female homosexuals.


While the Swiss Bishop Vitus Huonder of the Diocese of Chur is still under public criticism for upholding the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality, the Swiss Bishops' Conference is coming under pressure because of its alliance with a man who has been himself promoting the homosexual and gender agenda for many years.  Dr. Arnd Bünker is the head of the Swiss Institute for Pastoral Sociology, which wrote the Swiss Bishops' Conference much-criticized report in preparation for the upcoming 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family in Rome. The report explicitly and insistently requests that the Church cease excluding remarried divorcees from the Sacraments and that she give a place to the partnerships of male and female homosexuals.

In 2014, the same man, Dr. Bünker, wrote the Swiss bishops’ report for the 2014 Synod of Bishops on Marriage and the Family, and he received, as a consequence, harsh criticism. For example, the Swiss newspaper Die Weltwoche said on March 6, 2014:
"Of all people, the Swiss Bishops' Conference asks a homo activist and declared follower of the Gender Mainstreaming (that is to say the attempt, to flatten out the natural differences between the sexes) to formulate its policy with regard to the family."

Die Weltwoche continues to point out that Bünker openly lobbies for “homosexual intentions” and was conspicuously helping out with the “Project of a Queer Mass Parish, together with the Working Group Male Homosexual Theology.” In this context, Bünker was trying to “develop a homosexual liturgy,” says the newspaper. Additional research has now shown one of his essays where he is specifically dealing with this topic of a Queer Parish in Münster, Germany.

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On March 7, 2014, the president of the Swiss Bishops' Conference, Bishop Markus Büchel, responded to this Weltwoche report and expressed full support for the work of Dr. Bünker: “The professional work and the personal loyality of Dr. Arnd Bünker have the full trust of the [Swiss] bishops.” In spite of this public criticism, the same man was nevertheless asked by Bishop Büchel to work on the report for the Vatican in 2015.

Moreover, as the Austrian Catholic news service Kath.net reported on May 20, 2014, the Swiss institute SPI, whose head is Dr. Bünker, is itself partly funded by the same Swiss Catholic institution that has been shown to promote the LGBT agenda in poor countries, namely the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund. In 2012, according to Kath.net, Bünker's own institute received 235,000 Swiss Francs. The website concludes: “This donation to the SPI is thus the second largest individual project which is supported by the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund.”

According to the same above-quoted Weltwoche article, it was Bishop Huonder's Diocese of Chur who had distanced itself from the episcopal report for the Synod which was written by Dr. Arnd Bünker, saying that it was somehow done “arbitrarily and autonomously, without the consent of the bishops.”

Source: LifeSiteNews

28 Aug 2015

Augustine and the Myth of Eternal Return


by Jonathan Ekene Ifeanyi
                      
St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo
One of the interesting, fascinating and indeed fearful topics in classical philosophy is the concept of eternal return. Otherwise known as eternal recurrence, it is the classical philosophical view that the universe, as well as time, moves in a circle and therefore that history is also cyclical. The universe has been recurring and will continue to recur in a self-similar form for an infinite number of times. The universe returns eternally to re-enact exactly the same course of events. What this means is that the universe and all the things in it—rocks, mountains, trees, animals and indeed, human beings—have, in the past, already existed for an eternal number of times in the same forms and will, both at present and in the future, continue to exist for an eternal number of times in the same forms. In other words all things we see around us in the present world—including ourselves—have existed for an eternal number of times both in the ‘past’ and in the ‘future’, dying and coming back to life again in the same forms, and will continue to ‘rotate’ in this way unto infinity. St. Augustine attacked this doctrine in the fifth century AD while exploring his philosophy of history in his famous work De Civitate Dei.

Today, Augustinianism is simply the most radically discarded and forgotten in the New Church. With the present topic, I merely intend to refresh the minds of few who may be thinking about St. Augustine today even as his feast day is being celebrated all over the Catholic world.

In his book Cosmos and History: The Myth of the Eternal Return, Mircea Eliade, a Romanian historian and philosopher of comparative religion, explores the Chaldean doctrine of the Great Year popularised in the third century B.C. by Berossus, a distinguished Babylonian astrologer, which spread through the entire Hellenic world (whence it later passed to the Romans and Byzantines).[1] According to this doctrine, the universe is eternal but it is periodically destroyed and reconstituted every Great Year. But a brief review of Pre-Socratic philosophy will show that the doctrine of cyclic time had much earlier roots in Greek thought (though the Greeks are said to have inherited the doctrine from ancient Egypt.).

The earliest Greek philosophers are called ‘physicists’ from the fact that the object of their thought was the physis (φύσις), the nature which constitutes the cosmos. This idea of physis fills the world of Homer and the poets who equate the natura with the divine. Physis is the entire universe conceived always as animated, living, and therefore in some sense divine. Aristotle considered this one of mankind’s most ancient and sacred traditions. Some historians of philosophy seem to hold that these early Greek thinkers denoted by physis a static and motionless substance. But that is not so. The primary meaning of physis is ‘growth’, and its first associations are of life and motion, not of stillness and death. ‘The mere use of this term already implies the famous doctrine which has earned for the Milesian school the designation ‘Hylozoist’—the doctrine that the all is alive.’[2] 

Originally, Greek philosophy was entirely compatible with the concept of historical growth, process and change. Aristotle made this very clear when he pointed out that growth is the etymological sense of physis. ‘Nature means the genesis of growing things’, he writes, ‘the meaning which could be suggested if one were to pronounce the Y in physis long...from what has been said, it is plain that ‘nature’ in the primary and strict sense is the essence of things which have in themselves, as such, a source of movement; and...processes of becoming and growing are called nature because they are movements proceeding from this.’[3]      

Thus Greek philosophy deals with process here on earth and in historical mankind. Process leads directly to history. It concerns the genesis, growth, development and maturation of things. History concerns such developmental processes when they take place in human groups. The Greek philosophers, however, were never able to rise to a linear and purposive concept of time and therefore of history, but rather succumbed more and more to cyclism, to the myth of the eternal return.

The human experience and observation of time was variously interpreted both by the physicists and later philosophers. Parmenides of Elea, an Italiote Greek philosopher of the 6th – 5th  century BC, and Zeno, his fellow townsman and disciple, held that change is logically inconceivable and that logic is a surer indicator of reality than experience. Thus despite appearances, reality is unitary and motionless. In this view, time is an illusion. On the contrary, Empedocles of Acragas, broke up the indivisible, motionless and timeless reality of Parmenides and Zeno into four elements played upon alternatively by Love and Strife, thereby giving the Atomists of the fifth century, Leucippus of Miletus and Democritus of Abdera, a short step to break up reality still further into an innumerable host of minute atoms moving in time through a vacuum. Granting that one single atom had once made a single slight ‘swerve’, the build-up of observed phenomenon could be accounted for on Darwinian lines. Darwin’s account of evolution survives in the fifth book of De Rerum Natura, written by a first century Roman poet, Lucretius.[4] The credibility of Democritus’ and Darwin’s accounts of evolution depends on the assumption that time is real and that its flow has been extraordinarily long. But as we shall briefly demonstrate here, Greek thinker hardly conceived such a concept of time.       
                                                        
Anaximander                              

The first Pre-Socratics were citizens of Miletus, a trading port where Oriental and Egyptian influences mingled with Greek thought. The upshot was a bold, speculative cosmology, and conviction that rational explanation must start with the identification of the one primary substance, identified by Thales—as in the Babylonian myths—as water. 

Thales held that the universe is alive, that it has a soul and is full of gods. Anaximenes held that the primary substance was ‘air’ or ‘mist’ while Anaximander called it the indefinite or limitless thing (ἄπειρος). Thus it was Anaximander who first stated a systematic theory of the nature of the world—not only of the stuff it is made up of but also of the process of its growth out of the ‘limitless thing’ into the manifold of definite things. The ‘limitless thing’ is eternal and it is from it that all things came and into which they shall return. 

‘The vision of reality given us by the first philosophical speculation of the Greeks is a historical view’, writes Prof. Diano. ‘That nature (φύσις) which Anaximander and Anaximenes sought to explain ...is actually the birth of things considered in the principle which generates them. But time closes itself into a circle...And thus this historicity becomes cyclical. Because worlds are generated, grow and die away while the principle abides, it is the divine’.[5] 

There are three grades of existence in the philosophy of Anaximander. First, there are things (οντα), that is, the multiplicity of individual things we see around us. These are declared to perish into those things out of which they came into being. And those secondary things out of which natural objects came into being are the earth, air, water and fire—the primitive elements of which all bodies are composed, which were recognised long before philosophy began. The visible world groups itself into masses of comparatively homogenous stuffs, each occupying a region of its own. First, there is the great lump of earth, above it the water, then the space of wind and mist and cloud; beyond that we have the blazing fire of heaven, the aether. These are the secondary elements out of which individual things were born and into which they shall return.
   
However, the elements themselves are not eternal nor is their separation into distinct regions more than a transient arrangement. On the contrary, they themselves are destined to return into that from which they came—the third and ultimate stage of existence, which Anaximander identified simply as ‘‘incorruptible and undying, the limitless thing’’. Thus in the process of growth, first of all the formless, limitless, indefinite thing separates first into the elemental forms, distributed in their appointed regions, the elemental forms again give birth to the multiplicity of individual things and, when they die, receive them back again. And the process will continue in this way unto infinity.  
   
In a sole surviving fragment of Anaximander we read: 
   
‘Things perish into those things out of which they have their birth, according to that which is ordained; for they give reparation to one another and pay the penalty of injustice, according to the disposition of time’.[6] 
   
Thus Anaximander, in his cyclic view, holds that things perish into those things from which they were born, according to the decree of fate (moira). Those things from which they were born are the elements—water, earth, fire and air—and these themselves are not eternal, nor is their separation into distinct regions more than a transient arrangement. On the contrary, the elements themselves are destined to return into that from which they came—the limitless thing, the third and ultimate stage of existence. After that, the limitless thing again separates—first into the elemental forms, distributed in their appointed regions; these again give birth to things, and, when they die, receive them back again, and then return to the limitless thing. And reality will continue to rotate in this way unto infinity.  This is Anaximander’s concept of eternal return.     
                                                  
Pythagoras

Leaving the Ionian philosophers, we find even more pronounced among the Pythagoreans the cycle of eternal return interwoven with the complementary concept of transmigration. Born at Samos about 580BC, Pythagoras emigrated to Croton in southern Italy in 531 and there founded a religious society. Membership of the society entailed self-discipline, silence, and the observance of various taboos, especially against eating flesh and beans. Pythagoras taught the doctrine of metempsychosis, the cycle of reincarnation otherwise known as transmigration of the soul, whereby upon death the soul takes up residence in a new body. Pythagoras himself was supposed able to remember former experiences in the spiritual world. Porphyry, a disciple of Plotinus and one of the chief exponents of Neo-Platonism, tells us that Pythagoras’ followers were accustomed to swear by him as the god who had left with them a symbol applicable to the solution of many problems in nature. This was the tetractys. The original tetractys seems to have been the tetractys of the decad, obtained by the addition, 1+2+3+4=10. It is a numerical series, the sum of which is the perfect number ten, which Pythagoras regarded as ‘the nature of number, because all men, whether Hellenes or not, count up to ten, and when they reach it, revert again to unity’. The Pythagorean Hippodamus tells us that this ‘revision’ is to be conceived as the revolution of a wheel:
   
‘All mortal things under constraints of nature revolve in a wheel of changes. When they are born they grow, and when grown they reach their height, and after that they grow old, and at last perish. At one time nature causes them to come to their goal in her region of darkness, and then back again out of the darkness they come round into mortal form, by alternation of birth and repayment of death, in the cycle wherein nature returns upon herself.’[7]            

Thus the whole nature of things, all the essential properties of physis are contained in the tetractys of the decad, which is the ‘fountain of ever-flowing nature’ and contains the periodic movement of life, evolving out of unity and reverting to unity again, in the recurrent revolution of a wheel of birth.  This is the Pythagorean concept of eternal return. Eudemus of Rhodes, a pupil of Aristotle who has a strong claim to have succeeded him as head of the Lyceum, wrote at that time:

‘The Pythagoreans teach that things return in a cycle individually identical. I therefore shall find myself staff in hand narrating the same myths to you in the future and you will be seated then just as you are now. Everything will be the same. It follows that time itself will be the same...for change itself recurs one and the same.’[8]                                              

Heraclitus of Ephesus

Heraclitus of Ephesus, a philosopher of the Logos who flourished about 500BC, seems likewise to teach the cyclic concept. The frame of his cosmological scheme is temporal—the cycle of existence, that cycle whose beginning and end are the same; indeed, he appears to have identified time with his one primary substance, the unifying element in all things, the Logos or everlasting fire which is always being partly kindled and partly quenched. The movement round this cycle is not the mechanical motion of body, but the movement of life itself—the movement of the one, living and divine, soul substance, embodied in fire, which perpetually dies into all other transformations and is reborn again.    

Fire is actually the Logos and is the principle of justice. Its chief embodiment is the sun, and through all the cycle of its transformations it preserves its measures and will not overstep these measures, otherwise ‘the spirit of vengeance, the ministers of justice would find him out’. Later writers identified this ‘justice’ with ‘Fate’ (moira) Theophrastus in particular tells us that ‘‘He lays down a certain order and a determined time for the changing of the world, according to a certain fated necessity’’. Again, in Diogenes Laertius we read:

‘The all is finite, and the world is one. It arises from fire and is consumed again by fire, alternatively, through all eternity, in certain cycles. This happens according to fate’.[9] 

Thus, for Heraclitus reality passes from the living state to the dead, and round again. He maintains that this is no sorrowful weary wheel, from which any escape could be possible, for it is a movement of life, and life can take no other course, no upward flight into a mansion in the stars. This becomes more vivid in an important fragment which testifies to his denial of the creation of matter:

‘This ordered universe (cosmos) was not created by any one of the gods or mankind, but it was ever, and shall be ever living fire, kindled in measure and quenched in measure’.[10]

This implies that all things that have perished in the past—inanimate objects, all dead animals and human beings, including Heraclitus—will come back to this world to repeat all the things they did in the precious world. This, we shall see, is more pronounced in the philosophy of Zeno the Stoic.   
                                                         
Socrates

Socrates
Greek philosophy, even in Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, never breaks free of cyclism nor rises to the concept of the creation of heaven and earth and all things by Almighty God.
   
Born in 469BC, Socrates represented the turning point in Greek philosophy, at which the self-critical reflection on the nature of our concepts and our reasoning emerged as a major concern, alongside cosmological speculation and enquiry.

Despite his ingenuity, in Socrates we see the cyclic doctrine lay implicit in the old doctrine of reincarnation which he drew out when, on the day of his death, he discusses with his Pythagorean friends the mystic view of life on earth and in the other world of the unseen.[11] Here Socrates relates ‘an ancient tradition’ that souls go to the under-world and come back to this world again and are born from the dead.[12] He argues that if the living are born again from the dead, then human souls certainly exist in the spiritual world, for they could not be born again if they do not exist there. The fact that they are born from the dead is a sufficient proof that they exist there. [13]

Apart from human beings, Socrates also considers all animals and plants and all things which are born or generated. Using the argument that contraries are produced from contraries, he argues that all things in the physical world are generated from the spiritual world; likewise, all things in the spiritual world are generated from the physical world, and vice-versa. For instance, the living are the opposite of the dead and the dead the opposite of the living. Thus the living are generated from the dead and the dead from the living. Sleeping is the opposite of being awake and being awake the opposite of sleeping. Thus sleeping is generated from being awake and being awake from sleeping. Similarly, the noble is the opposite of the disgraceful and the disgraceful the opposite of the noble. Thus the noble is generated from the disgraceful and the disgraceful from the noble. All things in the universe have opposites. Thus all things move in a circle. Between these pairs of opposites there are two kinds of generations, from one to the other and back again from the other to the first. And reality will continue to rotate in this way unto infinity. Socrates argues that if generation did not proceed from opposite to opposite and back again, but always went forward in a straight line, without turning back or curving, then in the end all things would have the same form and be acted upon in the same way and stop being generated at all. For instance, he says,

‘If the process of falling asleep existed, but not the opposite process of waking from sleep, then in the end that would make the sleeping Endymion mere nonsense; he would be nowhere, for everything else would be in the same state as him, sound sleep.’[14]

Or, he goes on:

‘…if all things were mixed together and never separated, the saying of Anaxagoras that all things are chaos would soon come true.’[15]

In the same way, he maintains, if all things that have life should die, and when they have died, the dead should remain in that condition, then it is inevitable that in the end all things would be dead and nothing would be alive; for if the living were generated from any other thing than from the dead, and the living were to die, then there cannot be any escape from the final result that all things would be swallowed up in death.

Thus the return to life is an actual fact, and it is a fact that the living are generated from the dead and the dead from the living. All things move in a circle.
                                                        
Plato

The above view was of course explored by Plato in his work Phaedo. Born about 427BC, at Athens, Plato, ‘the king of thought’, stands with Socrates and Aristotle as one of the shapers of the whole western intellectual tradition.
   
In Plato, we find the cyclic doctrine lies at the very root of his theory of knowledge based on pre-existence. In his work Phaedrus we read:

‘For the revolution of the spheres carries the immortal souls around, and they behold the world beyond, and the intelligent soul...feeding upon the sight of truth, is replenished, until the revolution of the world brings her round again to the same place’.[16]   

Again, this is the concept of eternal return. But, as Eugene Kevane points out, Plato at times speaks of Fate in terms of an iron necessity, then again recovers his native humanism sufficiently to deplore astral fatalism and to deny eternal recurrence in the strict sense of Stoicism.
                                                         
Aristotle

Aristotle
Next to Plato, Aristotle, born in 384 BC, at Stagira in Chalcidice, is one of the most influential philosophers of the Western tradition.
   
Aristotle assembled the instruments of thoughts for breaking the spell of the cyclic view with his penetrating metaphysical analysis of the causes and his powerful passages on the mode of existence and the operation of the eternal Prime Mover. In his work, Prote Philosophia (First Philosophy), Aristotle explores the nature of the real, the essential substance of the universe. At the base of his doctrine is the distinction between matter and form. He finds in the universe a hierarchy of existences, each of which is the ‘matter’ of that next above it, and imparts form and change to that next below. At the lower end of the scale is the primary formless matter, which has no real but only logical existence. At the upper end is the primary Unmoved Mover, an eternal activity of thought, free from matter, giving motion to the universe through an attraction akin to love. This primary Unmoved Mover he identifies with God (though Aristotle does not mention the name ‘God’).

Aristotle argues that, whatever is moved is moved by something else. A being that is moved is moved by another being and that other being is also in turn moved by yet another being which is itself also moved by another, and so on. Thus there are series of movers in the universe, and if we keep on tracing the series, we are bound to come to the very beginning of motion, the first in the series of movers who is Himself not being moved by any other being. This is the First Mover, the Unmoved Mover. Thus Aristotle held that God is the original cause of motion in the universe, while He Himself is not being moved by any other being, since He is not subject to motion. He then argues that since God is a spiritual being, He cannot have physical contact with the material world. Hence He causes motion in the universe by the attraction of His infinite perfection. God is purely perfect, and His perfection attracts the world and pulls it into motion. Thus He moves all things in the universe by the attraction of His infinite perfection, while He Himself is unmoved by anything.

The above doctrine—though with its brief errors—certainly reveals the ingenuity of the philosopher. However, Aristotle was unable to use his tools to full effect and cannot really be exempted from the error of cyclism. On the contrary, he too, like all the others, professes the doctrine openly. We see the cyclic doctrine lies implicit in his work ΜΕΤΕΩΡΟΛΟΓΙΚΩΝ (Meterologica):

‘For we maintain’, he writes, ‘that the same opinions recur in rotation among men, not once or twice or occasionally, but infinitely often.’[17]
                                                                             
Stoicism

Stoicism is a unified, logical, physical and moral philosophy. Founded in Athens about 315BC, as a school of philosophy it includes some of the most distinguished intellectuals of antiquity. Founded by Zeno, who was born about 335 BC, at Citium on the Island of Cyprus, this philosophical movement attracted Cleanthes and Aristo in Athens and later found such advocates in Rome as Cicero, Epictetus, Seneca and the emperor Marcus Aurelius.

As a youth, Zeno was inspired by the ethical teachings and particularly by the courageous death of Socrates. This influence helped to fix the overwhelming emphasis of Stoic philosophy upon ethics, though the members addressed themselves to all three divisions of philosophy formulated by Aristotle’s Lyceum, namely logic, physics and ethics.

In their physical theory the Stoics conceived the universe as a great living organism, composed of soul and body, both of a material nature, which represent the active and the passive elements. The body (earth and water) represents the passive element, and the soul (fire and air) represents the active element. The active element supervises the passive element and in fact, exists in every object in the universe. It is the presence of the pneuma that holds both animate and inanimate objects together. Thus both humans and plants have the pneuma in them. For humans, the pneuma operates in the form of psyche, which is why humans have the ability to think. The soul of the universe, though of a material nature, has all the divine attributes. They held the pantheistic doctrine that ‘god’ is immanent in the world, and this ‘god’ is conceived as the Heraclitean Fire which contains the germs of all things and actuates their becoming. Reason and providence are the coordinators of all things unto good. Hence everything that happens is the best that can happen. Everything that happens happens for the good of the universe and happens to keep the world soul going. Thus there is nothing bad in the universe. On the contrary, everything in the universe is good. What we call evil is ordained for the attainment of the universal good of nature and consequently is not a real evil at all. Every activity is reduced to movement and finds its root in mechanical necessity. What happens must happen and it is not possible for it to happen otherwise.

The cosmology of the Stoics was firmly deterministic and orderly, as the eternal course of things passes through returning creative cycles, in accordance with the creative principle or Logos Spermatikos. Here lies the doctrine of eternal return. All things in the universe originated from the pneuma (the original Fire), through Fire, and will eventually return to this original Fire through a universal conflagration. After the universal conflagration, the process will start again, and everything will be reconstructed to be exactly as they were before. The same people in the previous world will re-appear in the reconstructed world doing exactly the same things they did before. Then comes another universal conflagration that will return all things to their sources—that is, to the pneuma or Fire or Logos. Then the process of reconstruction will begin again, to be followed later by another conflagration and another reconstruction.[18]

Thus the universe, at the end of each of the never-ending series of cycles, is absorbed into the divine fire, and then starts on a fresh course exactly reproducing its predecessor. This concept has been expressed by Shelley at the end of his Hellas:

‘Worlds on worlds are rolling over
From creation to decay
Like the bubbles on a river
Sparkling, bursting, borne away’.[19] 

Chrysippus, Zeno’s disciple who is sometimes simply regarded as the second founder of Stoicism, summarises his philosophy this way:

‘The substance (i.e. the world) is transformed by fire to its original state and from it returns again in the identical order as before...At periodical intervals of time there is a conflagration in which all things perish, then return again to form this same world. For just as the stars turn around in the same orbits, so the events of the cycle just past recur identically the same. Socrates and Plato will exist anew, and so too all men, identically, with the same friends and neighbours. And the same things will be believed and discussed, and every city, every landscape will rise again identical. This return of all things happens not just once but many times—in fact, things will recur in this way forever without any end unto infinity’.[20]

With the above doctrine, history cannot be composed of unique, contingent events. Neither time nor history has any real significance.

Chrysippus
‘Fate is the Logos of the world’, continues Chrysippus, ‘Fate is the Logos of the things which providence administers in the world...Fate is the eternal motion, continuous and ordered...The series of the causes. Chance is but a cause unknown to human reasoning...God is defined as providence: the purpose of divinity is to give order to the course of things and to provide for human affairs.’[21] 

‘In this fashion the philosophical thought of classical antiquity was corrupting the very words used to express the ancient religious belief in a personal, flexible divine providence’, writes Eugene Kevane, ‘compatible with the contingency of human life and history, utterly different from this mechanical fatalism which has hardened reality and even human history into these inexorable cycles. Man is called “free” by the Stoics, but in the manner of the modern Marxists: free to obey necessity willingly, recognising this “nature of history”, lest he has to submit unwillingly’.[22] 

Monsignor Eugene Kevane notes that the spread of this doctrine of eternal return represents the corruption of traditional religious thought:

‘Instead of teaching divine interventions freely entering and ordering human affairs, thinking had declined into myths which destroy the meaningfulness of time and history and hence of personal living. In the cyclic and fatalistic view of time there can be no hope and no real happiness for man. He has left only to turn to the transitory things of the earthly life and to live in them as though there were no God’.[23]

The doctrine of eternal return was simply common to all Greek thinkers, both the great and the minor—we lack time and space to demonstrate more of this here. As Prof. Padovani puts it:

‘The doctrine of eternal return, aside from a few insignificant exceptions, dominates all Greek thought. The endless turning of all becoming before the Immutable One, the everlasting repetition of all things and all events—this is the mind of antiquity. From this there follows the failure to achieve a rational concept of human history, because the human actors therein depend on the irrationality of matter, not created by God: they are born, they live, they die, without reason and without purpose. This is the fundamental basis of that concept of fate, the irrational necessity which presses darkly on all events and binds them like iron. This is that fearful and obscure destiny upon which in the end even the gods, suffering like men, depend. For even the Greek gods have ended bound up within the cosmic cycles of the eternal return.’[24]

As quite absurd as this doctrine may sound, it should be noted that it is in no way dead in our own time. Eternal return was “resurrected” and taught by the philosopher and classical philologist Friedrich Nietzsche in the nineteenth century, and was believed and applauded by many. Nietzsche embraced the doctrine in 1882, which he explored in the notebooks making up The Will to Power, and in Thus Spoke Zarathustra—his aim being, unlike the Greek philosophers, to rubbish Christianity.
                        
Augustine’s Refutation of the Cyclic Theory

In his book Christianity and Classical Culture (A Study of Thought and Action from Augustus to Augustine), Prof. C. Cochrane, an Oxford classicist, traces the movement of thought from Augustus to Augustine, from the time when classical thought was at the height of its glory to the time when it had disintegrated into nihilism and scepticism and—in the work of Augustine—a new chapter was opened in the story of civilization. Classical thought, for all its splendid achievements, had been unable to overcome dichotomies between being and becoming, between reason and will, between the intelligible or spiritual world and the material world known by the senses. Human history was an unending struggle of virtue against fortune, of the skill and courage and cunning of the human will against the blind power of fate which would—in the end—always prevail. This inward and spiritual decay was matched by all too visible disasters until in Augustine’s own time the eternal city of Rome, the very citadel of classical civilization was captured and sacked by the barbarians.[25]  

Among the intellectual battles fought by Augustine by this time, which are simply beyond the scope of the present work, was his discovery of the meaning of time. Indeed, the intellectual revolution he pioneered in this field is of more than mere historical interest. Before his time, it was commonly believed in the ancient world, and in almost all cultures, that time moves in a circle and therefore that history is also cyclical. Against this myth of the eternal return, which fascinated philosophers for centuries, Augustine launched a vigorous attack, an attack on the circuitus temporum, as he calls it, ‘those arguments with which the ungodly try to turn our simple piety from the straight road, and to make us join them in walking in circles, arguments which, if reason would not refute, faith could afford to laugh at.’  

According to Augustine, the real basis of this theory may be traced to the inability of the scientific intelligence to grasp the notion of ‘infinity’ and to its consequent insistence upon ‘closing the circle’. But this, he points out, is a demand of the human reason which, not unlike the human stomach, is disposed to reject what it cannot assimilate. It should therefore be deprecated as an attempt to measure ‘by the narrow standards of a mutable human mentality the divine mind, wholly immutable, capable of apprehending whatever degree of infinity and numbering the innumerable without the alteration of thought’.

‘To the Christian’, writes Prof. Cochrane, ‘nothing could be more abhorrent than the theory of cycles. For it flatly contradicts the scriptural view of the saeculum as, from beginning to end, a continuous and progressive disclosure of the creative and moving principle. By implication, it also denies the Christian message of salvation for mankind. In the form which it assumes with classical materialism, it represents motion as dependent on forces beyond control, and, for classical idealism, it takes shape as a belief in the endless reintegration of ‘typical’ situations, a belief which does the grossest injustice to the unique character and significance of the individual historical events’.[26]

By implication, observes Augustine, the theory of cycles denies any real happiness for the soul of man, as it must proceed on an unremitting alternation between false bliss and genuine misery and back again from the other to the first, and so on. He writes:

‘For how can there be true bliss, without any certainty of its eternal continuance, when the soul in its ignorance does not know the misery to come, or else unhappily fears its coming in the midst of its blessedness­­? But if the soul goes from misery to happiness, never more to return, then there is some new state of affairs in time, which will never have an end in time. If so, why cannot the same be true of the world? And of man, created in the world? And so we may escape from these false circuitous courses, whatever they may be, which have been devised by these misled and misleading sages, by keeping to the straight path in the right direction, under the guidance of sound teaching.’[27]

There were those who quoted the passage in the book of the Ecclesiastics, “the thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: there is nothing new under the sun”, and took this to be referring to those circular movements, returning to the same state as before and bringing all things back to the same condition. Augustine’s repugnance finds expression in an impassioned outburst:

‘...heaven forbid that correct faith should believe that these words of Solomon refer to those periodic revolutions of the physicists, by which, on their theory, the same ages of the same temporal events recur in rotation, so that, as one might say, just as Plato, for example, taught his disciples at Athens in the fourth century, in the school called the Academy, so in innumerable centuries of the past, separated by immensely wide and yet finite intervals, the same Plato, the same city, the same school, the same disciples have appeared time after time, and are to reappear time after time in innumerable centuries in the future. God forbid, I say, that we should swallow such nonsense! Christ died, once and for all, for our sins: ‘semel mortuus est Christus pro nostris pecatis; and in rising from the dead He is never to die again: He is no longer under the sway of death.’[28]

Referring to the misinterpreted book of the Ecclesiastes, he writes:

‘But in fact the writer is speaking of what he has just been mentioning: the succession of generations, departing and arriving, the paths of the sun, the streams that flow past. Or else he is speaking generally of all things which come to be and pass away: for there were men before us, and there will be men after us; and the same holds good for all living creatures, and for trees and plants. Even the very monsters, the strange creatures which are born, although different one from another, and even though we are told that some of them are unique, still, regarded as a class of wonders and monsters, it is true of them that they have been before and they will be again, and there is nothing novel or fresh in the fact of the monster being born under the sun.’[29]

Augustine thus bears witness to the faith of Christians that, not withstanding all appearances, human history does not consist of a series of repetitive patterns, but marks a sure advance to an ultimate goal; and, as such, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It is in no way cyclical but linear. As Prof. Cochrane puts it:

‘For Augustine, therefore, the order of human life is not the order of ‘matter’, blindly and aimlessly working out the ‘logic’ of its own process, nor yet is it any mere reproduction of a pattern or idea which may be apprehended a priori by the human mind. To think of it as either is to commit the scientific sin of fornicating with one’s own fancies; in other words, of disembodying the Logos in such a way as to rub the saeculum of all possible significance. For the Christian, time, space, matter, and form are all alike, in the words of Ambrose, ‘not gods but gifts’. They thus present themselves, not as causes but as opportunity. As such, they may be said both to ‘unite’ and to ‘divide’. This they do by giving us our status as individuals in the saeculum. But this status involves its specific limitations, not the least of which is the difficulty of communicating with our fellows. This difficulty is intensified by the confusion of tongues (diversitas linguarum) which results from the effort of men to surround themselves with economic and cultural barriers of their own creation; and from it not even a saint can claim to be exempt.’[30]

For Augustine, human history presents itself as a tissue of births and deaths, in which the generations succeed one another in regular order, and in this context of generations each and every individual has his own times and spaces, so that the notion of a man ‘out of his age’ is a vicious and irrelevant abstraction. The clue to human history is not in any fine-spun philosophic abstraction—such as particles of matter ceaselessly grouping and regrouping themselves, the type monotonously repeating itself in countless individuals—but purely and simply in the congenital impulse of human beings to attain happiness, and this happiness they find in order, that is to say, in a disposition of arrangement of equal and unequal things in such a way as to allocate each to its own place, apart from which the consequence is disturbance and distress, perturbatio et miseria.[31]     

Augustine thus conceives life as inherently and intrinsically order. Mankind, says Prof. Cochrane, like all creatures organic and inorganic, is subject to the fundamental appetites or urge of things, a dynamic urge which finds expression in the human soul; however, this urge is in no way blind; on the contrary, it is illumined by intelligence and attains satisfaction only as it discovers its ‘place’—that is to say, as it learns to conform to the true order of its being:

‘With unintelligent creatures the ‘arrangement’ by which this order becomes possible is merely organic; it is a pax corporis, that is to say, ‘an ordered disposition of the parts of the body resulting in a cessation of desire’. But, with rational spirits, the demands of the order go further; they are to be fulfilled only in a pax rationalis, that is, ‘agreement between knowledge and activity (cognitionis actionisque consensio). And, since man is an embodied soul, a truly human order must be at once organic and spiritual, i.e. ‘an ordered life and salvation of the living being’ (pax corporis et animae ordinate vita et salus animantis’).’[32]    

In the effort to achieve such an order, says Prof. Cochrane, success or failure will depend upon a combination of intellectual insight and moral power:

‘In this sense it becomes true to say that ‘to think correctly is the condition of behaving well’. But however salutary the admonition to correct thinking, it is by no means easy to observe. For, in the first place, it presupposes a grasp of first principles, in default of which thought must inevitably run wild. And, in the second, it involves processes which are no less moral than mental, the greatest danger confronting the thinker being that of permitting his own shadow to fall between himself and the truth. ‘It is obvious’, observes Augustine, ‘that error could never have arisen in religion, had the mind not chosen to worship either itself or body or its own vain imaginings’. That it should have succumbed to this temptation is, of course, to be attributed to pride (superbia) which thus for him, as for Tertullian, is the devil’s own sin and, peculiarly, the sin of philosophers.’[33]

In summary, Augustine says it is intolerable for devout ears to hear the opinion expressed that after passing through this life—with all its calamities—we are to return to it again, ‘to be involved in hellish mortality, in shameful stupidity, in detestable miseries, where God is lost, truth is hated, and happiness is sought in unclean wickedness’. If the theory of cycles were true, he says, then it would be more prudent to suppress the truth and wiser to be ignorant:

For if our happiness in the other life will depend upon our forgetfulness of these facts, he writes, why should we aggravate our wretchedness in this life by knowing them? If, on the other hand, we shall of necessity know them there, let us at least be ignorant here.

It is really terrible to think of the implication of eternal return. It is very fearful. ‘God forbid that what the philosophers threaten should be true’, he says, ‘that our genuine misery is never to have an end, but is only to be interrupted time and time again, throughout eternity, by intervals of false happiness’.

There is nothing to compel us to suppose that the human race had no beginning, he maintains, because there is no reason to believe in those strange cycles which prevent the appearance of anything new. Ironically, the Platonists whom Augustine has in mind here taught that the soul which follows after God and upon death obtains a view of any of the truths in the world of forms is set free from harm until the next period of the cyclic revolution. Augustine uses this against them. If a soul is ‘set free’, he says,

‘and will never return again to misery, just as it has never before been set free, then something has come into being which has never been before, and something of great importance, namely the eternal felicity of a soul’.   

Now, he says,

‘If this happens in an immortal nature, something new, something not repeated and not to be repeated by any cyclic revolution—why is it argued that it cannot happen in mortal things?’

If the Platonists assert that bliss is no novelty to a soul, since the soul is returning to the bliss which before it always enjoyed,

‘still the freedom is certainly a novelty, since the soul is set free from the misery which it never suffered before, and that misery itself is also a novelty, the production in the soul of something which had not existed before’.[34]

Augustine leaves the question whether the number of the liberated souls who are never to return to their misery can be continually increased to those who engaged in subtle argument about the limit which is to be set to the infinity of things! If that number can be increased, he argues, then certainly something can be created which has never been created before, since the number of the freed souls, which never existed before, was not just created once for all but will be continually created. On the other hand, he goes on,

‘...if there must be a fixed number of freed souls, which never return to misery, a number which is never increased, then that number itself, whatever it may be, certainly did not exist before; and it cannot increase and reach its final sum without starting from a beginning; and that beginning did not exist before. To provide this beginning, therefore, a man was created, before whom no man ever existed.’[35]

                  Notes                      


[1] Mircea Eliade Cosmos and History: The Myth of the Eternal Return (New York: Nork Harper Torchbooks, 1959),  p.87
[2]F. M. Cornford From Religion to Philosophy (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1957), p. 7.
[3] Eugene Kevane Augustine the Educator (Westminster: The Newman Press, 1964), p. 11.
[4] De Rerum Natura, Book. V.
[5] Carlo Diano, “II concetto della storia nella filosofia dei Greci”, Grande Antologia Filosofica, II, 248 in Augustine the Educator, p.p. 11-12.
[6] F. M. Cornford From Religion to Philosophy, op. cit.  p. 8.
[7] Ibid. p. 167.
[8] Grande Antologia Filosofica, II, 355, in Augustine the Educator, op. cit. p. 12.
[9] L. Diog. Ix. 8.
[10] K. Freeman Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers: A Complete Translation of the Fragments in Diels’ Fragmente  der Vorsokratiker (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1948), p. 26 (Heraclitus, Frag. 30) in Augustine the Educator, p. 12.
[11]F. M. Cornford  From Religion to Philosophy, op. cit. p. 163
[12] Phaedo, 70d.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Ibid.
[16]B. Jowett, The Dialogues of Plato (New York: Bigelow and Brown, n. d), Vol. III, pp. 405-6 in Augustine the Educator, loc. cit.
[17] Lee, H.. D. P. (transl.), Aristotle Meterologica (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952), p. 13.
[18] Joseph Omoregbe Knowing Philosophy, (Lagos: Joja Press, 1990), p. 123.
[19] Paul Harvey The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature (London: Oxford University Press, 1962) p. 407.
[20] Grande Antologica Filosofica, II, 403, in Augustine the Educator, op. cit. p.13.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Ibid. p. 15.
[23] Loc. cit.
[24] Umberto A. Padovani, Grande Antologia Filosofica, Vol. I, XVI-XVII in Augustine the Educator, p. 15.
[25] Truth to Tell (London: SPCK, 1991), p. 16.
[26] Charles Norris Cochrane Christianity and Classical Culture (New York: Galaxy Book, 1957), p. 483.
[27] De Civ Dei Bk. Xii, 14.
[28] Ibid., xii, 15
[29] Loc. cit.
[30] Charles Norris Cochrane Christianity and Classical Culture, op. cit. p. 484.
[31] Ibid. p. 486.
[32] Ibid.
[33] Ibid. p. 487
[34] De Civ. Dei op. cit. Xii, 21.
[35] Loc. cit.