Non-Christian Beliefs the Result of the Holy Spirit? : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread


In Redemptor Hominis Chapter 6, John Paul II says the following:

"Does it not sometimes happen that the firm belief of the followers of the non-Christian religions - a belief that is also an effect of the Spirit of truth operating outside the visible confines of the Mystical Body - can make Christians ashamed at being often themselves so disposed to doubt concerning the truths revealed by God and proclaimed by the Church and so prone to relax moral principles and open the way to ethical permissiveness."

How can a non-Christians beliefs be the "effect of the Spirit of truth"? For example, if a Moslem believes -- as the Koran teaches him -- that Jesus did not die on the cross for man's sins -- how is this the effect of the Holy Spirit?

-- Steve Jackson (, July 30, 2000


I believe that you have misunderstood something, Steve, by accidentally adding the letter "s" to one of the pope's words.

You asked about "a non-Christian's beliefs." Look closely at what you quoted from the encyclical. The pope was not writing about a non-Christian's specific beliefs (i.e., elements of his "creed"). Clearly, he and we know that many of those are false. Rather, the pope was writing about a non-Christian's belief -- i.e., her faith in the unseen, her search for moral and doctrinal truth, and her reaching out to a relationship with her Creator.

The pope is definitely no religious indifferentist. He is saying that the tendency of a non-Christian toward religious belief (rather than her permanence in atheism) is a sign of the first influences of "the Spirit of truth" on her heart -- but only as a prelude to gradually attracting her toward the fullness of the truth, Catholicism.

You quoted from paragraph 16 [not 6] of the encyclical. In paragraph 15, the pope had written, concerning non-Catholic Christians, "True ecumenical activity means openness, drawing closer, availability for dialogue, and a shared investigation of the truth in the full evangelical and Christian sense; but in no way does it or can it mean giving up or in any way diminishing the treasures of divine truth that the Church has constantly confessed and taught."

And I think that I should quote all of paragraph 16 here, placing what you quoted (italics) within its context, so that we can see that there is no error or religious indifferentism:
16. "What we have just said [about Christian ecumenism] must also be applied -- although in another way and with the due differences to activity for coming closer together with the representatives of the non-Christian religions, an activity expressed through dialogue, contacts, prayer in common, investigation of the treasures of human spirituality, in which, as we know well, the members of these religions also are not lacking. Does it not sometimes happen that the firm belief of the followers of the non-Christian religions -- a belief that is also an effect of the Spirit of truth operating outside the visible confines of the Mystical Body -- can make Christians ashamed at being often themselves so disposed to doubt concerning the truths revealed by God and proclaimed by the Church and so prone to relax moral principles and open the way to ethical permissiveness. It is a noble thing to have a predisposition for understanding every person, analyzing every system and recognizing what is right; this does not at all mean losing certitude about one's own faith or weakening the principles of morality, the lack of which will soon make itself felt in the life of whole societies, with deplorable consequences besides."

God bless you.

-- J. F. Gecik (, July 30, 2000.

Be off with you nasty italics!
(They were supposed to end after the word "permissiveness.") Sorry.

-- J. F. Gecik (, July 30, 2000.


Thanks for your response. What you say is possible, but I don't think it is the only interpretation of JP II's words.

Yes, JP talks about their "belief" in the singular. But why should we limit that to "her [the non-Christian's] faith in the unseen, her search for moral and doctrinal truth, and her reaching out to a relationship with her Creator." Many non-Christians are not searching for a relationship with their creator. Take a pantheist or a polytheist for example: he is not searching for a relationship with his creator because he (generally speaking) denies that he is created by God. Hasn't the Pope read Romans 1?

In addition, in RH 12, JP II says: "It [the missionary attitude] . . . is a question of respecting everything that he has been brought about by him [man] on the Spirit, which "blows where it wills" (Jn. 3:8). The mission is never destruction, but instead is a taking up and fresh building . . . " Isn't part of the Christian's mission the destruction of pagan strongholds? Didn't people in the book of Acts destroy their idols when they heard Paul speak?

Now, it is easy to take much of what JP II takes in Redemptor Hominis as existentialist mumbo-jumbo (see, e.g., RH 10). Dormann so takes it in his works. Nontheless, when one sees the Assisi event or the Pope kissing the Koran, we are entitled to ask whether the Pope's teaching on non-Christian religions is consistent with Scripture.

-- Steve Jackson (, July 30, 2000.

Sorry John that I got your name wrong.

-- Steve Jackson (, July 30, 2000.

I am certain that it is the only proper interpretation of his words. You would be certain too, if you had been observing his life and words as long as I have.

More later (possibly). JFG

-- J. F. Gecik (, July 31, 2000.

Hello, Steve.

In analyzing the actions and words of the pope, I recommend that folks approach them with an open mind, optimism, and good will, rather than with anti-Catholic prejudice, pessimism, and and an ill will.

I did not hear about the Koran incident at the time (November of 1999, I believe), nor have I ever seen videotape of it nor a transcript of what was said. I am not aware of an official Vatican news release about this event, describing what took place. We may now be trying to deal with some fallible speculation provided by one or more of the witnesses.

I only know that the pope was entertaining the highest-ranking Catholic bishop of the Chaldean Rite (the patriarch who lives in Iraq) along with two or more Moslem clerics, that he was handed a large green book, and that he kissed it. It is possible, though not too likely, that the pope thought it was a Bible. (If so, all criticism of him was unjust.) It is more likely that he knew it was a copy of the Koran. If the latter is true, why would he kiss it?

I am aware of two possible answers. One may be right, the other may be right, they may both be right, or neither may be right. I don't think that you and I have enough information to be sure just which of these is the case.

One idea that has been offered is that the pope wished to show, by body language, what he has stated in words (written and spoken) in the past: that this book contains numerous good and true things. Only a very ignorant person would imagine that the pope is unaware that the Koran also contains errors, that he wants Christians to think that it is inspired scripture, or that he thinks that its "peachy keen" for Moslems to remain where they are, rather than to convert to Catholicism. A person who is aware of the pope's 80-year life and words, his struggles for the Church against Communism, his untiring efforts to spread Christianity, his evangelization by traveling and writing, etc., would not jump to such unwarranted conclusions.

Coming back to the question of why the kiss?
A second idea that has been put forward -- the one to which I subsribe -- and it is this ... The pope was not making a political or religious statement at all. His kiss of a gift was rather a gesture of respect and gratitude. The reason I find this plausible is that my four grandparents were Slavic immigrants from a land just south of Poland. I grew up among Slavic immigrants almost 50 years ago, and I have seen this kissing gesture before.

Now, please permit me to turn to your further analysis of the papal encyclical, Redemptor Hominis.

I think that I understand why we have a numbering conflict. This is one of the earliest documents of John Paul's papacy -- from 1979. Apparently, it was first issued with infrequent chapter numbers, and it can be found that way even now at the Vatican's site ( hf_jp-ii_enc_04031979_redemptor-hominis_en.html). You have been using those chapter numbers. However, RH seems to have been reissued with the more familiar and more frequent paragraph numbers, and I have been using those, as found at -- I will try to remember to use both kinds of numbers today.]

Now, you quoted briefly and disapprovingly from chapter 12 (paragraph 33). (Actually, you misquoted it, using the words, "brought about by him [man] on the Spirit," rather than the correct words, "brought about in him by the Spirit.) Your comment against the pope's words is not cogent. You fault him for saying that the "mission is never destruction," and then you refer to the converts in Acts destroying their old idols. The pope would actually agree with you! His point is that we Catholics should not perform the destruction of pagan idols, but rather that those converting to Catholics must perform that task, just as they did in Acts. Here is all of paragraph 33 (with your quotation placed in italics), for other visitors reading this thread to see the beauty of the pope's thoughts:

33. In this unity in mission, which is decided principally by Christ himself, all Christians must find what already unites them, even before their full communion is achieved. This is apostolic and missionary unity, missionary and apostolic unity. Thanks to this unity we can together come close to the magnificent heritage of the human spirit that has been manifested in all religions, as the Second Vatican Council's Declaration, "Nostra Aetate," says. It also enables us to approach all cultures, all ideological concepts, all people of good will. We approach them with the esteem, respect and discernment that since the time of the Apostles has marked the missionary attitude, the attitude of the missionary. Suffice it to mention Saint Paul and, for instance, his address in the Areopagus at Athens. The missionary attitude always begins with a feeling of deep esteem for "what is in man," for what man has himself worked out in the depths of his spirit concerning the most profound and important problems. It is a question of respecting everything that has been brought about in him by the Spirit, which "blows where it wills." The mission is never destruction, but instead is a taking up and fresh building, even if in practice there has not always been full correspondence with this high ideal. And we know well that the conversion that is begun by the mission is a work of grace, in which man must fully find himself again.

Finally, Steve, you turned to chapter 10 (paragraphs 25 to 27) of "Redemptor Hominis" and ridiculed it as "existentialist mumbo-jumbo" (quoting the "works" of "Dorfmann"). I think that you should apologize for this gross insult. In the first place, who is "Dorfmann?" I had never even heard of him. I ran some Internet searches and could barely find anything about him. He is apparently a German writer, a Fr. Johannes Dorfmann, who seems to be well-liked in schismatic/traditionalist circles -- even in the deeply misguided fringe group known as sedevacantists. (This last group wrongly believes that no one is occupying the papacy right now. They falsely state that Peter's seat ["sedes" in Latin] is empty ["vacans"].) How can you expect faithful Catholics at this site to take seriously your quoting a disloyal, relatively obscure priest against the pope?

Once a person has read the pope's biography and a sampling of his writings, he becomes aware of the fact that the pope is among the most brilliant and highly trained philosophers/theologians and teachers on the planet, not to mention an extremely holy man, perhaps even a mystic. He often writes in language that any Christian can approach without trepidation. At other times, he expresses very deep thoughts in a complicated manner, but thoughts that can be comprehended by re-reading the text once or twice. Finally, though, because of his advanced training in philosophy and theology, he sometimes delves into extremely complex areas of thought, expressing himself in language that many people (including me, you, and Dorfmann) can find well-nigh impossible to comprehend, but which other "specialists" can indeed understand. This does not give us an excuse to ridicule such things as "existentialist mumbo-jumbo." I think that it is only fair to the pope if I quote the passage you ridiculed, so that other visitors may judge it for themselves. (I do not even think that this passage falls into the third, most complex, category of papal texts.) Before I quote it, I will sign off, wishing you the light of Christ, by which to read this (and everything else Catholic) with clarity and humility.

The human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption
Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself and his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, and if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer "fully reveals man to himself." If we may use the expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity. In the mystery of the Redemption man becomes newly "expressed" and, in a way, is newly created. He is newly created! "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly -- and not just in accordance with immediate, partial, often superficial, and even illusory standards and measures of his being -- he must, with his unrest, uncertainty, and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter into him with all his own self, he must "appropriate" and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself. If this profound process takes place within him, he then bears fruit not only of adoration of God but also of deep wonder at himself. How precious must man be in the eyes of the Creator, if he "gained so great a Redeemer," and if God "gave his only Son" in order that man "should not perish but have eternal life."

In reality, the name for that deep amazement at man's worth and dignity is the Gospel, that is to say: the Good News. It is also called Christianity. This amazement determines the Church's mission in the world and, perhaps even more so,"in the modern world". This amazement, which is also a conviction and a certitude -- at its deepest root it is the certainty of faith, but in a hidden and mysterious way it vivifies every aspect of authentic humanism -- is closely connected with Christ. It also fixes Christ's place -- so to speak, his particular right of citizenship -- in the history of man and mankind. Unceasingly contemplating the whole of Christ's mystery, the Church knows with all the certainty of faith that the Redemption that took place through the Cross has definitively restored his dignity to man and given back meaning to his life in the world, a meaning that was lost to a considerable extent because of sin. And for that reason, the Redemption was accomplished in the paschal mystery, leading through the Cross and death to Resurrection.

The Church's fundamental function in every age and particularly in ours is to direct man's gaze, to point the awareness and experience of the whole of humanity towards the mystery of God, to help all men to be familiar with the profundity of the Redemption taking place in Christ Jesus. At the same time man's deepest sphere is involved -- we mean the sphere of human hearts, consciences and events.

-- J. F. Gecik (, August 01, 2000.

John-Thanks so much for taking the time to find and show us exactly what the Pope's words are that Steve is referring to as "existentialist mumbo-jumbo". I think that you are absolutely right- much of what the Pope writes really IS meant for a scholarly audience (he really IS a very smart man, and also a very good scholar.) But these words aren't meant for that limited audience. They are meant for everyone, regardless of educational background or inclination. And they really are clear and fine. They just need to read slowly, and carefully, and with a heart open to the mystery of Christ.

You show me that it is often so much better not to engage in arguement, but only to simply present the evidence and let us all make up our own minds without pressure of any kind. That's the way God works, and (oddly!) it seems to be the right way.

God is good.

Love, Jane

-- Jane Ulrich (, August 01, 2000.

On the contrary, Jane. It is especially you, Chris, and Enrique who are helping me to learn the lesson that "belligerence breeds bitter fruit."
I thank you for the encouragement.

-- J. F. Gecik (, August 05, 2000.

Let us consider the beginning.

Imagine endless empty space that goes on into infinity non-existence no awareness EVIL.

If we consider the old saying life finds away. GOD came into being by his own will to be, the awareness. Born out of the non-existence the EVIL.

Imagine an awareness hovering in endless space or Darkness as HE would see it.

After a time his thoughts become collective and he begins to think. He is aware of himself and begins to wonder if there were another. After searching for countless billions of years, the loneliness consumes him into obsession with finding another. But there is no other but him. He splits into two separate entities (schizoid only for real) that are equal and opposite in nature. Light - that which creates (Life - the future). Darkness(SHE : Spirit that inhabits the Darkness- The past) - Destroys makes desolate. Each has the same goal to end the loneliness only they have diametrically opposite positions on how to go about it. Chaos vs. Order, Light vs. Darkness, Life vs. Death, Existence vs. non-existence or Good vs. Evil. GOD is the awareness of being before the Darkness. We stand between the Darkness and the Light. Our true purpose is to Be. For that is the will of GOD - to be because HE is. Ja'El they said. When GOD comes again if he comes into Darkness the Earth will be cleansed with the fire of GOD (His true form). If GOD comes into the Light he will make the Earth a new with the Tree and the River of Life. All things are possible if we believe. The power of the Holy Spirit is promised to us by Jesus Christ.

That is why no one has seen GOD because he became separate from himself. The two have to be united into their new form. They want to come and live us,their children and the Angles of Light and Darkness. We are the key to setting them Free from the loneliness forever. Revelation chap 17 Behold the Beast that was (EVIL or non-existence reined in the beginning there was no awareness) and is not (Evil- the tendency towards non-existence cannot exist in pure form) and yet is (If we lose our sense of awareness the EVIL will return and nothing will exist)

The River of Life is man's final salvation. The fruit of Tree of Life is for the Fallen Angles Consummation, Turn from Darkness back to the awareness of GOD. The Leaves are for the Healing of the Nations. The sword of Power blocks our way to it and blinds us from The one who was (The True GOD, the past) The one who is (Man the children of GOD, the present) The one who will be (Christ - the son of man, the future). We will become like the others and they will become like us. The evolution.

The way is through Awareness - GOD's will to be. Understanding is Knowing the Truth Understanding is Accepting the Truth The Truth leads to Understanding which leads to Awareness which strengthens our will to Be.

The Truth is put before us but, they do everything they can to keep us from Understanding it.

We have to show them that we are not children anymore. That we have learned to Understand the Truth. And the Truth shall set us all Free. They are counting on us and we can't let them down. But it is ultimately up to them to change - Free will.

Mystery? Who are you? Man who stands between the Darkness and the Light. What do you want? Freedom Why are you here? To bring order to chaos. Where are you going? The Future

The End of Time - The New Beginning

-- Darian Borne (, December 01, 2000.


If you wish to converse with Mr. Borne, please go to the thread he started (and to which I responded). It is called, "I'm looking for intelligent opinions not blind lashings Thank you." He posted the same message to start that thread. Please do not respond to him here.


-- Slave Nolonger (free@long.last), December 02, 2000.

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