Paradise Lost Analysis Book III July 24, 2014 Categories: Book Reviews, Books, YouTube Videos # paradise lost
I am loving the discussion on Paradise Lost. It is the one classic that I did not read in college. I have a question about Milton: I know that the Anglo-Catholic and Anglo-Calvinist factions had a great influence on Milton. To what extent was he influenced by other Separatist Protestant factions in England? And, to what extent was he influenced by esoteric thought coming out of the Enlightenment?
Unrelated to this, I have some questions about Catholicism. I am an ordained Baptist minister, but I have always had an attraction to the Catholic faith. There are some things that stand in the way of my moving more in that direction.
1. What are the major differences between the Orthodox and the Catholic Church? I know about the ecclesiastical battles over supremacy of the Bishop of Rome, over the other major bishops in the crumbling empire. I also know that they differ on the relationship of the members of the Trinity. What are some other differences, similarities?
2. Where is the biblical/ traditional justifications for the veneration of the saints? Mary in particular? Where did praying to saints come from?
3. From where did the traditions of iconography, statues in the church come from? How is that not a breaking of the commandment not to have any graven images?
4. What are the essentials that one HAS to believe to be considered a Catholic?
I have a thousand and one more questions, that I won’t bother you with now. Note I am not pulling your chain or being an ass by these questions. They are things that I haven’t found a good answer for through the years.
I look forward to the rest of your Paradise Lost videos.
Glad you’re enjoying the Paradise Lost discussion. I confess I have little expertise in regards to Milton’s life outside of PL, but we may get into a bit of that in the next video.
Onto your questions, which, by the way, I fully welcome, especially in the spirit you’re asking them in.
1. You hit on the two biggest ones – the papacy and the Trinity. I think the disagreements over the Trinity are far smaller than they may initially appear, they come from different emphases and in the case of the Holy Spirit different understandings based on the Latin vs Greek translations of the Nicean Creed. This link offers some other points of comparison. As you can see, the two are actually quite close outside of the papal issues. http://christianityinview.com/comparison.html
2. There’s a bit of a multifaceted answer here. There is biblical justification – especially the Annunciation narrative in the beginning of Luke – but it would likely be unconvincing from a Protestant perspective. Though, as you rightly point out, the belief comes from tradition as well (as do many Catholic beliefs given that we do not hold to Sola Scriptura). Traditionally, you see the veneration of the saints emerging early on in Church history, especially as a result of the martyrs. I believe St. Polycarp’s martyrdom is an early example of relics being gathered from a martyred saint and kept for veneration. The final part of it is the Catholic belief that all the Church – past, present and future – is united across space and time in Christ. The saints are not dead; in fact they are more alive than we are. A common objection to saintly prayers is “why not just pray to Jesus?” However, if that objection is valid we should never ask anyone – family, friends, a pastor – to pray for us. For Catholics, asking the saints to pray for us is no different than asking a close friend to. We’re all alive and united in Christ, thus prayers to saints is just an extension of the communal nature of the Church that all Christians experience.
3. Statues and iconography are really no different than a painting of Jesus – which many Protestant Churches have – or any other piece of Christian art. Of course, if we worship a piece of art – painting, icon or statute – it is sinful and we’ve violated the commandment. However, icons aren’t there to be worshiped but to remind us of the “great cloud of witnesses” who surround us. In a sense, their function is the same as having a photograph hanging on your wall of a loved one who has passed away.
4. That’s an interesting question. When you enter the Catholic Church you profess that you believe all that the Church teaches and holds to be revealed by God. However, that answer is probably a bit too broad to be helpful. I believe it comes down to a few things. 1. Accepting the historical claims of the Church (apostolic succession, councils, etc.) 2. Believing that the Holy Spirit speaks through the Church especially through the Councils. 3. Submitting to the authority of the Church and her leaders.
I hope those answers are helpful!