Posted by: pendrops | October 6, 2006

lesser things


Today, I read an article that said the Catholic Church is rethinking that whole limbo thing. According to the BBC’s Religion and Ethics site, 11th century French philosopher Peter Abelard first introduced limbo because he didn’t think unbaptized babies deserved to go to hell. Instead, he reasoned that they exist “on the edge” – free from pain, but far from God.

While the idea of doing away with limbo has many Catholics relieved, some are fearful that if one theological statement of faith goes, the rest will follow. In other words, many are wondering where to draw the line on eradicating doctrine, particularly 900-year-old doctrine.

At the end of the article, there were several comments on limbo. Some said they never could believe that God would send innocent babies to hell. Others questioned the validity of infant baptism. And the rest wondered if purgatory was the next tenet to go.

But the comment that resonated with me came from a Brit named Wigglesworth. He said, “Doctrine cannot be changed from Pope to Pope for the pleasing of people. Surely, Doctrine is from God who is constant.”

Not only was I thankful for this ray of reason among the posts from atheists and Muslims. But I was also thankful for the stark truth of what Wiggle-dude said.

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”*


“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares YHWH. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”**


“Then Job answered the LORD…’I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.’”***

While I’ve never agreed with the idea of limbo, I can’t help agreeing with many who say it is a mistake to change doctrines from generation to generation, just to make people feel better. And, yet, I also find myself believing that these things, lesser things, were never meant to be the heart of matters.

With all of man’s additions and substractions, divisions and unbelief, we have made things harder than they are. God makes it real simple: do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with Me. “Love Me,” He says, “and your neighbor, too.” Nowhere does He tell us to squabble over Bible translations and boycotts, or bicker over open theism and tongues, or decide the fate of infants.

I hope the Pope gets this whole limbo thing worked out. I hope that the action taken moves my Catholic brothers and sisters closer to an understanding of grace. But more than that, I hope we believers can unite under the banner of the Main Thing. If we don’t get it, how can we expect anyone else to?

*Romans 11:33-34
**Isaiah 55:8-9
***Job 42:1, 3


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