David Anders on The Journey Home (Dec 6, 2010)

Dec 8th, 2010 | By | Category: Blog Posts

For those of you who missed David Anders’ appearance on The Journey Home this past Monday evening, here it is:

More from Dr. David Anders: How John Calvin Made Me a Catholic

See also Dr. Anders’ previous appearance on EWTN with Fr. Mitch Pacwa.

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  1. Does anyone know of the Athanasius quote that Dr. Anders alludes to at the 17:20 mark of the video? I was hoping that someone could track it down.

  2. Athanasius, Against the Arians, Discourse II

    68. ‘Yet,’ they say, ‘though the Saviour were a creature, God was able to speak the word only and undo the curse.’ And so another will tell them in like manner, ‘Without His coming among us at all, God was able just to speak and undo the curse.’ but we must consider what was expedient for mankind, and not what simply is possible with God. He could have destroyed, before the ark of Noah, the then transgressors; but He did it after the ark. He could too, without Moses, have spoken the word only and have brought the people out of Egypt; but it profited to do it through Moses. And God was able without the judges to save His people; but it was profitable for the people that for a season judges should be raised up to them. The Saviour too might have come among us from the beginning, or on His coming might not have been delivered to Pilate; but He came ‘at the fullness of the ages Galatians 4:4,’ and when sought for said, ‘I am He John 18:5.’ For what He does, that is profitable for men, and was not fitting in any other way; and what is profitable and fitting, for that He provides. Accordingly He came, not ‘that He might be ministered unto, but that He might minister ,’ and might work our salvation. Certainly He was able to speak the Law from heaven, but He saw that it was expedient to men for Him to speak from Sinai; and that He has done, that it might be possible for Moses to go up, and for them hearing the word near them the rather to believe. Moreover, the good reason of what He did may be seen thus; if God had but spoken, because it was in His power, and so the curse had been undone, the power had been shown of Him who gave the word, but man had become such as Adam was before the transgression, having received grace from without , and not having it united to the body; (for he was such when he was placed in Paradise) nay, perhaps had become worse, because he had learned to transgress. Such then being his condition, had he been seduced by the serpent, there had been fresh need for God to give command and undo the curse; and thus the need had become interminable , and men had remained under guilt not less than before, as being enslaved to sin; and, ever sinning, would have ever needed one to pardon them, and had never become free, being in themselves flesh, and ever worsted by the Law because of the infirmity of the flesh.

  3. Great interview with Dr. Anders. Thanks, CTC for posting this!

    There was a comment made by Dr. Anders in this talk that struck me, a comment that is germane to a point that Bryan Cross made in his article “Mary as Co-Redemptrix”.

    Dr. Anders gives this response to a listener’s question on the Catholic theology of suffering (starting at minute 31:00):

    The Catholic Church has a beautiful theology of suffering. … Only after being Catholic do I realize how deficient my Protestant experience was … . Within Protestantism, you can’t ascribe any meaning to suffering, because were told that nothing we do … has any merit or value before God with respect to our justification … . As Catholics we believe that it is through suffering that we are united to Christ. One of the early Church Fathers – the earliest Church Father who brought this out so clearly – was St. Ignatius of Antioch, and for him the whole process of discipleship is about sharing in the martyrdom of Jesus. And of course St. Paul says, “I fill up in my own flesh what is lacking in the suffering in Christ.” This is a theme that runs through the scriptures, especially the Pauline epistles … .

    Everyone suffers … and our ability to align our will up with God and say, “yes, thank you” [for that suffering], and to understand that these things too can happen for our salvation – this is how God wills for me to be saved – is such a liberating joyful realization. How do you get this across to a Lutheran? It really goes so dead set against the grain of Lutheranism … it’s is not an easy sell. … This is not a neurotic self-tortured sort of thing (which is the stereotype of Catholic theology of suffering) … this is a liberating thing that allows me to find meaning in a situation that otherwise I might be in despair.

    Dr. Anders makes a great point that the suffering we endure: if that suffering is united to Christ’s passion, it can have merit and value with respect to our salvation. There is, of course, more to the Catholic theology of suffering than that. Our suffering, if it is united to the passion of Christ, can help bring about the salvation of others. Dr. Anders quotes Paul here, and the full quote of Paul is this:

    Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church …Col. 1:24

    Note that Paul is not saying here that his suffering is for his own purification – Paul is saying his suffering is for the sake of the church. If that can be true of Paul’s suffering, then how much more must it be true of Mary’s suffering at the foot of the cross.

    Bryan Cross comments on Col. 1:24, and makes a connection to that verse to Mary’s suffering in his in article Mary as Co-Redemptrix:

    At the cross Mary was cooperating in the objective redemption of mankind. … She loved us, at the cross, by offering Christ (in her heart) to the Father for us, that is, for our salvation. In this way she participated in Christ’s redemptive work, much as St. Paul describes his own suffering as a participation in Christ’s affliction in Colossians 1:24: “I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His Body, that is, the Church” This is a key text in the concept of co-redemption. What is lacking is the participation of the Body in the suffering of the Head. But Mary did so in a complete and perfect way at the foot of the cross, because no one could approach her love for her Son, and her total involvement in His life. Her participation at the foot of the cross was an interior participation in Christ’s sufferings, not a physical suffering but a suffering within her soul. We too are called to participate in Christ’s redemption, by joining our suffering with His. In this way, Mary serves as the perfect example to us, of a mere creature perfectly participating in the suffering of Christ, through faith and love.

    Dr. Anders states: “Within Protestantism, you can’t ascribe any meaning to suffering, because were told that nothing we do … has any merit or value before God with respect to our justification”. If that is what one believes, then it is understandable that the doctrine of Mary as Co-Redemptrix doesn’t much sense either.

    But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:13

    When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:15-16

  4. Thanks Mateo,

    I agree with your conclusion. Last year I wrote, “A Catholic Reflection on the Meaning of Suffering,” which goes into more detail, and points to more Church documents, regarding a Catholic understanding of suffering as an opportunity to participate in Christ’s sufferings.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  5. Here, here… I’ve had several immediate family members pass away from cancer and other serious illnesses. Needless to say they suffered a great deal, especially near the ends of their lives. When I tried to explain to them that the suffering they faced, especially near the end, was God working to perfect them, that their suffering brings them closer in union with Christ than anything else they could experience, they would fall back on how bad their “quality of life” was and they could not see any value at all in human suffering.

    I was once a Protestant so I could totally understand what they were thinking. Ultimately, human suffering is a complete mystery and unfortunate to that mindset, because, from their perspective, they are already in perfect union with Christ… and if that is the case, then there is no way to understand for what reason God permits us to suffer. If a Protestant says, “God permits it for the betterment of our soul”, then they aren’t being intellectually honest. How better can it get for your soul than already being assured Heaven? You can’t get better than the best.

    Anyhow, my Catholic friend’s mother passed from her long battle with cancer a few months ago. He, like me, was by his mother’s side as she died. He witnessed the pain and struggle his mother went through. When he told me that he didn’t want to remember her like that I said, “Don’t forget it, at that moment she was being more closely configured to Christ than she had ever been. God was making her a saint”. He understood instantly what I meant.

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