Posthumous Retribution (Vol 2, Ch 31)

From Michael Ruse:

Christ came to Hades and destroyed it; we can pray for the dead to help save them; the universal resurrection proclaims that the bodies and souls of all people are reunited; at the last judgment we all experience God’s love. We have covered these sobering and hopeful teachings in previous chapters.

 The word retribution may have a somewhat harsh-sounding tone to us. It literally means repayment coming from the Latin root words meaning to pay back, give back among tribes (re-tribuere, tribus=tribe). The verb tribuere alone has a range of meaning in classical times, in particular to grant something to a person or thing, and also meaning to attribute, distribute or even poetically to give as a gift, or a tribute. But retribuere simply means to give back, restore. What is Christ restoring or giving back to us? 

 Mark of Ephesus frames retribution in this way: our suffering comes from our separation from God and our inability to see him that we have assigned to ourselves. Our actions, whether big or small, add up to our final tribute in the next life so to say. 

 We will also cover another important Greek term that is found in the Acts of the Apostles, apokatasis (universal restoration). Origin took this idea of salvation to include even the fallen angels as well as all people, whatever their wish may be. The Church has not gone that far. But there is a temptation nowadays to believe in a type of universalism. How do we balance extreme optimism and pessimism? Why is it important to believe in a retribution at all? 

 Join our discussion this Saturday evening at 4:00pm and learn more about these teachings on the afterlife and God’s unfathomable mysteries of love and human freedom.