Support via Patreon | Subscribe

 

For many people today, non-Christians and (low church) Christians alike, when they hear the word “Catholic”, certain images spring to mind: the Pope, the rosery, Catholic school, big old churches buildings, choirboys, maybe monks or statues of Mary even; and sadly more recently, sex abuse scandals.

But, generally speaking, all of these are actually aspects of Roman Catholicism — a particular branch of Christianity, and not what the word “catholic” truly means as we’ll see when examining how the early church used the word and what the original Greek word means.

καθολικός (katholikos)

Advertisement

The Greek word where we get the English word “catholic” from is καθολικός (katholikos) meaning “universal”, which comes from the Greek phrase καθόλου (katholou), meaning “on the whole”, “according to the whole” or “in general” (catholicus in Latin). In non-ecclesiastical use, it still retained its root meaning in English in some literature from the 1800s, though that usage has fallen out of common use in modern times.

The first Biblical[1] reference to the word is found in Acts 9:31 when speaking about “the church throughout [all] Judea, Galilee, and Samaria…”. The words “throughout” and “all” are καθ (κατά) and ὅλης (ὅλος) respectively in Greek, which together come to form the word καθολικός.

The earliest historical use of the word, in the context of the Church, is found in one of the letters of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, written around A.D. 107, where he writes:

Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.

From here on we begin to see that the word “catholic” was used in reference to mean “orthodoxy” (the word “orthodox” means “right belief”) as opposed to the non-orthodox heretics who were then by definition not catholic as they were not ‘according to the whole’ which was, as Jude wrote, “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). The Catholic Church, in its original and Apostolic sense, would have meant the entirety of the Body of Christ across the world, i.e., all the believers wherever they may be, rather than it being “universal” in the physical sense that the institution of “church” should be all encompassing (like as an official, global institution that all must attend). The difference may be subtle, but it’s an important one.

Advertisement

The development of doctrine about Jesus after Paul’s death, with all its commonalities and unifying features, is seen as an early form of “Catholicism” by modern scholars, which really begins in Ignatius (outside of the New Testament) and continues to grow and spread as time goes on, with the definition becoming more refined.

Historical Use of the Term

As we saw above, Ignatius was the earliest Christian writer we have who applied the word katholikos to the Church. Some people object to using Ignatius as evidence of this, as some of the letters attributed to him are considered spurious (not authentic), though scholarly opinion on this is fairly universal in which are genuine letters, as neither Eusebius nor Jerome makes any reference to the eight spurious epistles.

Justo L. Gonzalez explains in his book, The Story of Christianity: Volume 1: The Early Church to the Reformation, Volume One:

The original meaning of Catholic church referred to this episcopal collegiality, as well as with the multiform witness to the gospel in several canonical gospels. … It was the church “according to the whole,” that is, according to the total witness of all the apostles and all the evangelists. The various Gnostic groups were not “Catholic” because they could not claim this broad foundation. … Only the Church Catholic, the church “according to the whole,” could lay claim to the entire apostolic witness. (pp.81,82).

Advertisement

The other early uses that appear after Ignatius are in the Martyrdom of Polycarp (around AD 150), “…and to all the congregations of the Holy and Catholic Church in every place…”, and then also in the earliest New Testament list from around the second century,[2] the Muratorian fragment the phrase is found three times: “…in the esteem of the Church catholic …. received into the catholic Church … used in the catholic Church …”.

From here on we see the phrase occurring in more and more writers from the second century onward, such as Tertullian A.D. 200 (The Prescription Against Heretics XXX), Clement of Alexandria A.D. 202 (The Stromata 7:17), Cyril of Jerusalem A.D. 315–386 (Catechetical Lectures, XVIII, 26), Jerome A.D. 418 (writing to Augustine), and Augustine of Hippo A.D. 354–430 (Against the Epistle of Manichaeus called Fundamental, ch. IV). Then we have Vincent of Lérins, who famously wrote in A.D. 434:

…in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense Catholic, which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. (Commonitorium, ch. II)

Another interesting use of term appears in the Edict of Thessalonica, Theodosian Code XVI.i.2 (A.D. 380), where Theodosius I, emperor from 379 to 395, declared “Catholic” Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire for those who “believe in the one Deity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity” and that they should “assume the title Catholic Christians”. All others will be “branded with the ignominious name of heretics”.

Overall, from the earliest writers to the emperor in the fourth century, the phrase “church catholic” referred only to those Christians and Churches who held to the ancient traditions passed on by the Apostles and evangelists (Gospels), and to those doctrines which were known as having apostolic origin. This view was more formally solidified by the words added to the end of the original Nicene Creed of A.D. 325 (“And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not … the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them.”) and also its revision in the Nicene-Constantinople Creed of A.D. 381 (“And we believe in one, holy, catholic and Apostolic Church.”), where you could call Nicene Christianity the “catholic faith”.

Donatist Controversy

Advertisement

During the fourth century, a controversy appeared bringing schism with it in Carthage, when two bishops appeared, one in competition and opposition to the other. The Donatists, named after Donatus, were unlike any other group or heresy which had come before, as their error was not in the nature of Christ or some other aspect of Christology, but rather about ecclesiology.[3] Donatists claimed to represent the true Church and took for themselves the title of “catholic”. This struck against the historical, orthodox Church, which had been universally known as “the catholic church” (ἡ καθολική ἐκκλησία). The Donatists set about to create marks upon which catholicity could be tested—marks that were obviously only found within their congregations (such as the integrity of the believers, and purity and holiness of the community). This forced the historic Church to respond and find an answer to the question “What and where is the one Church?”. Optatus, the legitimate bishop of Carthage, refuted Donatus, interestingly, by using as his defence the fact that their churches were all in communion with the See of Rome. The Donatists were confined to a small area of North Africa and not in communion with Rome, which meant a breakaway from the chair of Peter and therefore unable to claim the name “catholic” as they were anything but. After this, Augustine came on the scene and was a relentless critic of the Donatists, building upon Optatus’ refutations, explaining that the true Church is the one Vine, whose branches are over all the earth. Eventually, this all lead to the schism being quashed in 410.

How the Roman Catholic Church Came to Be

In contemporary usage, the phrase “Catholic Church” (usually capitalised) brings to mind, for many, the Roman Catholic Church specifically. How did this perception shift from meaning the whole Church body to one particular branch of Christianity?

In the early days of Christianity, “Catholicism” was a broad term which encompassed both the Eastern and Western empire of the Greeks and Latins, respectively. The Western Church had its capital in Rome, while the Eastern in Constantinople, and the whole body of believers had the five main Bishops of the following regions, who were known as Patriarchs, overseeing them: Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome, and Constantinople. Despite disagreements, catholicity, or unity, was somewhat kept across both Eastern and Western churches until rising tensions beginning around the 9th century finally came to a head in the 11th century resulting in what is now known as The Great Schism, traditionally dated A.D. 1054[4] (sometimes called the East-West Schism).

There were a variety of doctrinal factors leading up to this point mainly consisting of: the procession of the Holy Spirit (also known as the filioque controversy), if leavened or unleavened bread should be used in the Eucharist, the prominence of the See of Constantinople in the “Pentarchy”[5] and, a major sticking point, the claim to universal jurisdiction by the Bishop of Rome. Out of the five Patriarchs (or “sees”[6]), Rome was considered “first among equals” for the prominence and pre-eminence of Rome both within the Empire and within Christianity as a place of the Apostle Peter’s bishopric.

Advertisement

After the Great Schism, both Eastern and Western churches regarded themselves as “catholic”, but the West recognised only the Pope in Rome as their sole leader, whereas the East continued with their historically recognised Patriarchs, and both sides thought of the other as “not catholic” or “schismatics” for various theological reasons mostly related to the Filioque.

Due to the split, the two sides of the Church came to be known under different names to differentiate them: the Roman Catholic Church (as its centre was now officially only in Rome), and the Orthodox Catholic Church which is more commonly known as the Eastern Orthodox Church. Both claiming to be “catholic” and the true lineage of the ancient Apostolic Church  (usually in conjunction with Apostolic Succession[7]), yet both rejecting the others claims and doctrine and having no universal unity at all, which the name “Catholic” should imply.

Post-Reformation and Modern Times

Although, historically, a fair bit out of the scope of the title of this paper, it bears mentioning some modern usages to bring this case to a close with a more satisfying sense of completion. After the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century when groups of churches, monks and bishops across Europe broke away from the church in Rome, some of the resulting groups have reclaimed the name “catholic”. Lutherans, Anglicans, and some Methodists claim to be “catholic” in the ancient sense, believing themselves to be in continuity with the original Apostolic and universal church and in keeping with the faith as defined by the Nicene Creed, yet despite this, the phrase “Catholic Church” has been pervasive in the minds of the general populace as meaning only the Roman or Western church and nothing more.

Conclusion

As we can see, the word and meaning of “Catholic” is not so simple or straight-forward. It has a very wide history with a lot of nuances, and although the Roman Church has laid claim to the name, it is certainly not it’s only meaning or definition. Some qualification of terms is often needed (or should be) when speaking to Christians of various denominational backgrounds, in order to help people to see the wider, and more historical context, of the “one holy, catholic and apostolic Church”.

Advertisement

 

 


Footnotes

[1] The Greek words which make up our English word “universal” in this sense, had been around as a concept in Greek long before Christianity. Aristotle (d. 322 B.C.) wrote in this On Interpretation, 17a: “I call universal (καθόλου) that which is by its nature predicated of a number of things, and particular (καθ᾿ ἕκαστον) that which is not; man, for instance, is a universal, Callias a particular”

[2] The traditional second century date still holds the biggest following amongst scholars, though there are some who propose a fourth century date, claiming it would be more suited to that period when NT lists were quite common, which is appears to parallel. Still, others argue that the fragment isn’t a canon list at all, but an introduction to the New Testament, similar to the Marcionite prologues, which would suit the second century date better. The debate is still unsettled on this matter. (The Biblical Canon Lists from Early Christianity, pp.175-177)

Advertisement

[3] The Donatists refused to accept the sacraments and spiritual authority of the priests and bishops who had fallen away from the faith during the Diocletian persecution (A.D. 303–305).

[4] Even though there was a long period of time when the Eastern and Western churches had a resentful relationship, the date of 1054 is commonly taken as the beginning of the schism, as it is when Pope Leo IX and Michael Cerularius had major disagreements resulting in their mutual excommunication. The Crusades, eventual capture of Constantinople in 1204, and the establishment of a Latin Patriarchate replacing the Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate, rendered all later efforts of unity between East and West by the Church Councils of Lyons (1274) and Florence (1439), of no effect.

[5] Pentarchy, in early Byzantine Christianity, the proposed government of universal Christendom by five patriarchal sees under the auspices of a single universal empire. (Britannica, Pentarchy)

[6] A diocese or territory over which a bishop rules. (Catholic Dictionary)

Advertisement

[7] The Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Old Catholic, Swedish Lutheran, and Anglican churches accept the doctrine of apostolic succession and believe that the only valid ministry is based on bishops whose office has descended from the Apostles. (Britannica, Apostolic succession)

 


Further Reading / Sources

Find this article on Academia.edu too: (PDF) The origins and meaning of the word "catholic" in early Christianity | Luke J . Wilson - Academia.edu

 

Advertisement

 

 

 

Contribute on Patreon

Enjoying this? Consider contributing regular gifts for this content on Patreon.
* Patreon is a way to join your favorite creator's community and pay them for making the stuff you love. You can simply pay a few pounds per month or per post that a creator makes, and in return receive some perks!

Subscribe to Updates
Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to:

Have something to say? Leave a comment below.

Leave a comment   Like   Back to Top   Seen 480 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates and join over 184 subscribers today!

Order my new book today from Amazon or fortydays.co.uk

Subscribe to Blog updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS RSS

‹ Return to Blog

All email subscriptions must be confirmed to comply with GDPR.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

The Relationship Between Jesus and Sophia

| 22nd July 2021 | Christology

The Relationship Between Jesus and Sophia

Now you may be wondering about the title, or thinking “who the heck is Sophia??” — well, bear with me, and all will be revealed. It’s not as sinister or weird as it may first appear. I saw a post on my Instagram feed the other day that just got me a little riled up. I’ll admit it, I can be a little short-tempered at times, especially around the subject of Jesus and seeing him/the Christian faith misrepresented to such a degree that it could mislead others down the wrong path. I don’t normally write responses to things like this, but I felt this one deserved it, mainly just to add some clarity to a somewhat confusing topic, and so there’s a place I (or you, if you fancy sharing my posts!) can point people to if this type of ideology is going to spread. Here’s the Instagram post in question, but it’s the caption below it that got to me. I’ll quote the caption below, too, in case the embedded post doesn't work (here’s a direct link too). View this post on Instagram A post shared by Adam Ericksen (@adamericksen)   Jesus had two moms.Their names areMary and Sophia.You’ve heard about Mary, but do you know about Sophia?Sophia is the Greek word for God’s Wisdom.And God’s Wisdom is a Woman. Her name is Sophia.Sophia was there at the beginning of creation. She birthed the world into existence.Deuteronomy 32 says that God gave birth to the people. That was Sophia.Christians began to associate Sophia with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is Sophia. She is the divine feminine who is the Third Person of the Trinity.Sophia is our divine Mother.God is She who loves you.❤️❤️❤️ — via @adamericksen A lot of the comments under that post seemed to find it quite affirming in some ways, others were confused as they’d never heard this before (and rightly so) but were keen to look into it. There were also a lot of references to a single author, and book, called, She Who Is, by Elizabeth A. Johnson, where this idea seemed to have originated in some form. In fact, the majority of the comments were wanting to explore this idea in more depth. So, I think maybe there’s something to be said there for the lack of female representation in the Church if it garnered this type of response, but I also thought if people are this taken by the idea, I wanted to write something to offer some Biblical and historical views on this “Sophia”, as she isn’t a new concept at all. The caption under the Instagram post sounds nice, but it’s ever so slightly off-kilter that it misrepresents everything. Let’s look at the claims line by line: Jesus had two moms.Their names areMary and Sophia. Well, not much to say here yet, but… nope. You’ve heard about Mary, but do you know about Sophia? Well, yes, I do. Maybe you, dear reader, know as well. But I began to question whether the author of the caption did. Sophia is the Greek word for God’s Wisdom. OK, finally. Getting to some facts and less conjecture. Although I would clarify that “sophia” (σοφία) is simply the Greek word for “wisdom”, not specifically “God’s wisdom” (or a name), per se. It’s a minor point though, I’m just nit-picking now. Sophia was there at the beginning of creation. She birthed the world into existence. Right, so here’s where it gets a little “squiffy”. It’s true that Wisdom, or “Sophia”, was there at the very beginning before anything was created, and that she stood beside God during creation. We can see all of this in the book of Proverbs, and it’s all very interesting. I’m sure you’ll notice parallels with John 1. But was this Sophia a separate entity from who we normally think of as being there in the beginning? Who created everything — the Word or the Holy Spirit? Proverbs 8:22–31The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,the first of his acts of long ago.Ages ago I was set up...

An Examination of Conditional Immortality (Part Two)

| 03rd July 2021 | Hell

An Examination of Conditional Immortality (Part Two)

Welcome to Part Two of my study and examination of Conditional Immortality (aka Annihilationism). If you missed part one, you can read that one here. As with part one, this will be a long post as there is still much ground to cover before we can really grasp the bigger picture about what Scripture teaches. So with that said, I’ll pick right up where we left off. In part one, I covered a lot of New Testament texts, a few Old Testament passages, plus a look at what some of the earliest church leaders also wrote on the topic to the early church. In this one, we will be looking at a few more Old Testament examples and how they relate to the imagery used in Revelation, amongst other things. Unquenchable Fire and Undying Worms What of unquenchable fire and undying worms? Do these phrases really mean that the fuel of the fire and the worms must last forever and ever? We have a few references to shed some light on the meaning of these phrases which we can examine below: Ezekiel 20:46–48Mortal, set your face toward the south, preach against the south, and prophesy against the forest land in the Negeb; say to the forest of the Negeb, Hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God, I will kindle a fire in you, and it shall devour every green tree in you and every dry tree; the blazing flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from south to north shall be scorched by it. All flesh shall see that I the Lord have kindled it; it shall not be quenched. So, in our first example, Ezekiel was obviously not prophesying that the forests of Negeb would burn forever and never go out. Instead, fire that “shall not be quenched” is used to mean fire that cannot be interrupted or stopped in its destructive purpose. No one is able to stop a fire like this until it has run its course, or it is stopped by something greater, which is what the word “quench” actually means. It is an action performed by something external which stops the flames — what it doesn’t mean is a fire burning out naturally once it consumes its fuel. The fire will continue regardless. Jeremiah 17:27But if you do not listen to me, to keep the sabbath day holy, and to carry in no burden through the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates; it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched. Here is another reference to an unquenchable fire consuming something and not being stopped even after the object of destruction has been “devour[ed]”. The image is one of a fire which rages on and on, even after everything in it is burnt up and destroyed. Now let’s move onto the “undying worms” and see how that phrase is used. In the New Testament we see this phrase used in Mark 9:47–48, which originally comes from Isaiah, and also a similar theme in Jeremiah. Isaiah 66:24And they shall go out and look at the dead bodies of the people who have rebelled against me; for their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh. A little earlier in Isaiah 66 (v.16) we see that God executes judgement with fire and “by his sword, on all flesh”, and that the dead will be many, ending the chapter with the verse quoted above. Jeremiah picks up on a similar theme of God’s judgement, people being killed to such an extent there won’t be room to bury them. This is also where we find a reference to Gehenna, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, as its name means (also called Topheth), in chapters 7 and 19. The concept of Gehenna as a place of punishment is then picked up by Jesus in Matthew 10:28, which he uses in a more eschatological sense. Jeremiah 7:32–33Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when it will no more be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of Slaughter: for they will bury in Topheth until there is no more room. The corpses of this people will be food for the birds of the air, and for the animals of ...

Does Easter Have Pagan Origins?

| 22nd March 2021 | Easter

Does Easter Have Pagan Origins?

Much like any major Christian holiday, there are the usual arguments and accusations about how it’s all just pagan festivities with a “Christian mask”. Easter is no different, and usually gets hit the hardest over its so-called “pagan roots”, or in the month or so preceding it, Lent being some “invention of the Catholic Church”. Table of Contents The Lenten Fast The Easter controversy and why we celebrate it when we do Is the Name “Easter” really the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre? Chocolate eggs and bunnies? Concluding Thoughts Further Reading and Sources I like to try and observe Lent, as it is one of the most ancient customs in the Church, which led me to researching its origins, along with the Easter celebration, to see where they have their basis. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that much of the accusations against Easter and Lent as “pagan” are either fabricated or is just misinformation. So let’s examine the different aspects of Easter to see how we got from Passover to resurrection, to little bunnies and chocolate eggs! The Lenten Fast A forty day fast prior to Easter has been a long established practice within the Church dating back to possibly within the first century. This is well established from ancient letters we still have available, such as from Irenaeus in the second century: For some consider themselves bound to fast one day, others two days, others still more. In fact, others fast forty days … And this variety among observers [of the fasts] did not have its origin in our time, but long before in that of our predecessors.–Irenaeus (c.180) Notice here that Irenaeus mentions that this was a practice passed onto them by their “predecessors”, a term often used in conjunction with the Apostles themselves, or those who immediately came after them, putting the origins of this Lenten fast much earlier than when Irenaeus wrote in 180, and also possibly having Apostolic origin. The Easter controversy and why we celebrate it when we do Back in the days of the early church, there arose a controversy around the celebration of Easter (or “pascha” as it was known then). But no, before your imagination runs wild, it wasn’t quite as exciting as it sounds and still had nothing to do with “paganism”. The dispute was over which day to hold the festival! Yep, the controversy really is as mundane as that. In fact, it was one of the issues raised at the council of Nicea to be discussed and hopefully settled, and is officially known as the Quartodeciman (lit. Fourteenth) controversy/dispute. It’s called this due to the issue being over whether the Easter celebration should follow the Jewish pattern of Passover on the 14 Nisan or not and simply follow the days of the week (Friday and Sunday). It became a bigger issue when the not only the Jewish community of believers wanted to follow this method, but when the Gentile Asian communities also claimed that their Quartodeciman practice was of Apostolic origin! It was a disciple of John the Apostle, and bishop of Smyrna, called Polycarp (c.69–c.155) who followed this practice in one of the seven churches of Asia as well as Melito, bishop of Sardis (died c.180). Irenaeus tells us that, in his old age, Polycarp visited the bishop of Rome to discuss this matter with him as the Roman church had diverged from the Quartodeciman custom and celebrated the resurrection according to the day Jesus rose instead: Sunday (the first day of the week). We gain an important glimpse about this whole dispute from Irenaeus though, when he tells us of the meeting between Polycarp and Anicetus: Neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp not to observe what he had always observed with John the disciple of our Lord, and the other apostles with whom he had associated; neither could Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe it, as he said that he ought to follow the customs of the presbyters that had preceded him. … And they parted from each...

BOOK REVIEW: Four Views on Hell 2nd edition

| 17th March 2021 | Book Review

BOOK REVIEW: Four Views on Hell 2nd edition

This is a guest post by David Jakubovic. The views are that of the author and don't necessarily reflect the views of That Ancient Faith. A 20 year update of the 1996 book by the same name, this slim volume (211 pages) is a helpful cross-section of current evangelical thought on Final Punishment, sampling Denny Burk on Eternal Conscious Torment (ECT hereafter), John Stackhouse Jr on Conditional immortality (CI hereafter), Robin Parry on Christian Universalism (CU hereafter) and Jerry Walls on (a Protestant) Purgatory. Preston Sprinkle pens both Introduction and Conclusion, plus there are Scripture, Author and Subject indices. The Introduction sets the scene, listing the 3 historically available views along with speculation about post-mortem purgatorial sanctification, before clarifying that it is not the existence of hell that is here in doubt: “They agree that hell exists, but they differ on what this hell is like.” (11) Sprinkle lists verses used by all 4 views, then introduces the academic background of the 4 essayists. He finally issues a substantial challenge to the reader: “You, of course, will probably agree with only one of the following essays and disagree with the other three. But keep in mind: disagreement is not refutation. We must be able to refute the evidence of the views that we disagree with and then provide more compelling biblical evidence for the view that we uphold.” (15) Burk kicks off Chapter One (‘Eternal Conscious Torment’) with a startling parable. He visualizes a man torturing creatures in increasing order of complexity and dignity: first torturing a grasshopper, a frog, a bird, a puppy and finally a human baby. Burk states: “In each of the scenarios above, the ‘sin’ is the same – pulling the legs off. The only difference in each of these scenarios is the one sinned against…The seriousness of the sin is not measured merely by the sin itself (pulling off the legs) but by the value and the worth of the one being sinned against.” (19, italics his) This macabre thought-experiment is of course a gruesome version of Anselm’s ‘Status Principle’, namely that to sin against an infinitely good God merits infinite or eternal punishment. But fellow pro-ECT essayist Walls squashes this analogy: “There is profound disanalogy in the parable that undermines the central point he wants to establish. This resides in the fact that we do not have the power to do anything to God that is remotely analogous to the harm the character in the parable inflicts on helpless creatures ranging from grasshoppers to human infants. Indeed, God is so far above us in power, glory, and moral perfection that we are utterly incapable of harming him.”1 Burk even ventures that ECT “will ultimately become a source of joy and praise for the saints as they witness the infinite goodness and justice of God.” (20) Yet it is grossly incongruous to place ECT side by side with notions of ‘joy’, ‘goodness’ or ‘justice’ as these are universally understood. The very philosophical logic behind the ‘Status Principle’ is itself highly suspect, as Kronen points out when dismantling the ‘Classical Doctrine of Hell’ (CDH): “It is by no means obvious that an offense against an infinite being must be punished by the sorts of torments envisioned by CDH. One might sin more or less gravely against such a being, and in that case it does not seem that just any sin against an infinite being would merit eternal, continuous, and excruciating pain.”2 Spiegel adds that “human guilt is at most maximally great, not infinitely great”3, meaning that human guilt is still finite: “Finite guilt, however great, presumably does not warrant endless punishment in the form of ECT.” (Spiegel, op. cit. 41) He adds that, under the ‘Status Principle’, even the first sin you commit as a child is enough to incur ‘infinite guilt’, but this does not allow for the vast spectrum of p...