What «Good News»?
1. What I was thought as a child
I was born a Roman Catholic in 1946.
I went to a good parochial school run by a religious congregation
and then to a Jesuit College in a prosperous part of Montreal.
I was taught that Hell, pain for ever and ever, was the penalty
for one act or thought of masturbation, for missing Mass on one
Sunday as well as for a whole catalogue of other sins. I remember
terrifying nightmares about Hell. The only way to avoid Hell was
either not to sin in such ways or if you did, to get absolution
as a result of confessing these sins to a priest and promising
to really try not to sin again.
Going to Purgatory was
the penalty for one lie or for hitting my brother. It meant pain
until God was satisfied. God was the One Who Punishes humans for
their sins. Of course, Purgatory would be followed by Heaven,
where we would be forever happy with God.
found sinning easy. As God was hurt by our sins, He would get
angry at us. Jesus came to stop His
Father's wrath1: He came to pay
the price required so that some might be saved, the good Roman
Catholics who died without unabsolved mortal sins.
We would pray to Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was in
Heaven with Him, that she would intercede for us sinners with
her Son. We would pray to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and were
taught that Jesus is God, the Second Person of the Blessed
Trinity. To be united to Him in Heaven, we had to receive
Baptism, go to Communion at least once a year, and not die
in mortal sin. Nearly all others would go to Hell : «out of
the Church, no salvation»2.
The good people who never had the option to become good
Roman Catholics would go to limbo, a place where they would
not be unhappy for ever but neither would they be with God
while the ones who had a chance to convert and did not were
bound for Hell.
2. What I now believe
I now consider that most of
those views are incorrect, that God cannot condemn even the
worst human offender to eternal torture (Hell) and that this
is part of the «Good News» Jesus brought us.
I try to prove such a point, permit me to express my revulsion
for someone who would condemn a lower life-form's transgressions
of some laws that he had set up by transforming it into a higher
life-form so as to punish it more that would be possible within
the framework of its initial existence. Humans are not eternal;
their sufferings for transgressions are thus limited to this
life. What kind of sadism is required from someone who would
recreate these beings so that their sufferings would be magnified
and everlasting? How can a human wish such a fate on anyone
without also being a sadist? And is not this the wish often
expressed by many «God-fearing Christians»?
The Church made a point of talking about Jesus' compassion.
We had the Feast of the Sacred Heart and now also that of the
Infinite Mercy. But even today we talk as if Jesus had to placate
His Father. This position is untenable and I can prove it as it
:«I and my Father
are one.»4 and
not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words
that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father
that dwelleth in me, he doeth the
So here is my thesis,
which I will prove in the following pages: If Jesus is the
Expression, the Word of the Father, He cannot placate the
Father. The simple fact that Jesus came to save us shows that
God the Father is Saviour. God is the «One Who Loves
Unconditionally and the Same» the good and the bad, the just
and the unjust. Jesus is God Incarnate. He and the Father
are One. And His name means «LORD saves» because this is
what God is: One who saves, not One who condemns. While humans
condemned God to death by crucifixion, He raises humans to
Eternal Life, a Life of Being Loved, not a life of eternal
3. How I intend to prove my thesis
I now have to show conclusively that this thesis
is true. As a Roman Catholic, I must base my proof on Sacred
Scripture. My Church recognizes as Sacred Scripture the books
found in the Septuagint (the books of the Old Testament in Greek),
the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and other texts
considered written by the Apostles (Epistles, Hebrews and
Some people doubt that the Gospel texts represent
what Jesus said and did. They consider that they were written
late, after all the Epistles. So they doubt their value: how
could an oral tradition be accurate? The best you can hope
for would be to keep the gist of the story most of the time.
Who could trust such documents? Of course, if the story of
Jesus is untrustworthy, theologians are wasting their time studying it
and Christians who live according to Jesus' sayings are living according to a lie.
examined this problem in my essay
Christians and Scripture
from a Christian point of view and found solutions that, at least,
The Bible was one of many books that my Church forbade me
to read when I was a child. The reasons were that I did not have
the knowledge required first to choose the sound interpretations
among all the possible ones and second, to decide which of its
stories, commands and laws I was not to follow.
Church is right in denying that in the Bible, all possible
interpretations are valid and all possible excerpts are relevant.
Again I have tried to find in my essay Christians and Scripture
what validity conditions
a Christian interpretation must satisfy. (These will be necessary,
not sufficient.) I consider that the results I worked out there provide
a workable method to read Scripture so as to check if indeed the God
of Jesus is incapable of condemning.
In a nutshell, I have determined there that 1) the Gospels' texts are
trustworthy in that they convey correctly the words and actions of Jesus
as far as they pertain to His message; that 2) these texts have absolute precedence
over any other texts found in the Christian Bible and so are the only ones
required to fathom God's Message as expressed in His Son and Word; that 3) any
interpretation of any text of the Gospels must face successfully the test of
coherence with the other texts found there: an interpretation
which contradicts another text found in the Gospels just cannot be correct.
In short, the value of this
work written to the «Greater Glory of God» (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam)
depends on the correctness of my methodological assumptions and
the soundness of the Gospel texts. Anyone who does not accept both
will be unconvinced.
May God, Who came in our wretched world
to be condemned to die by us, help me find the right words to
express what He wants me to say about Him, our Suffering Servant
who was tortured to death without fighting back and acts towards
us as if we had done none of those terrible things, terrible
things we continue to do to Him as we do them to our fellow
humans whom He loves absolutely and unconditionally. Amen.
May Mary, His mother and our advocate, who was at the foot
of the cross when her Son died and never seeked revenge,
pray for us sinners. May we be like her, filled with God's Spirit,
a Spirit that gives a peace not of this world as it is based on
genuine forgiveness. Amen.
1 «Et de son Père arrêter le courroux:»
(And stop His Father's wrath:) From the «Minuit, Chrétiens!»,
(O Holy Night!) written in 1847 by Placide Clappeau (music by
2 «Salus extra ecclesiam non est.» (St Augustine,
De Bapt. IV, c. xvii. 24)
3 All English quotes from the Bible are from
the King James Authorized Version. Following Protestant practice,
Jesus' words are in red throughout.
4 John 10:30
5 John 14:10
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Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, June 6th, 2004
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