Here we come to CatholicQuest.info's 5th chapter, on the End-Times Judgement. Here is a tricky topic, because we agree on much of what they've written. However, there are a few subtle differences between their theology and Catholic theology. Toward the end of their tract, the subtleties become much more pronounced. As such, my responses will be much less frequent throughout.
Once again, CatholicQuest.info's tract will be in blue, and my responses are in white.
Chapter 5: Be Careful of Protestant Teachings
The End-Time Judgment
Protestants frequently make much of the white-throne judgment. If, however, at death the soul has gone either to heaven or to hell, then the judgment took place at death.
The Catholic Church makes a distinction between "The Particular Judgement" for each person at death, and "The Last Judgement".
I. THE PARTICULAR JUDGMENTTherefore, while we agree that there is in fact a universal end-times judgement (whose punishment affects us body and soul after the resurrection, Scripture does indicate that immediately on death, each soul receives a particular judgement and corresponding fate (heaven, purgatory, or hell).
1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.[Cf. 2 Tim. 1:9-10] The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul--a destiny which can be different for some and for others.[Cf. Lk 16:22; 23:43; Mt 16:26; 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23; Heb 9:27; 12:23.]
1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven -- through a purification [Cf. Council of Lyons II (1274):DS 857-858; Council of Florence (1439):DS 1304- 1306; Council of Trent (1563):DS 1820.] or immediately,[Cf. Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336):DS 1000-1001; John XXII, Ne super his (1334):DS 990.] -- or immediate and everlasting damnation.[Cf. Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336):DS 1002.]At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love. [St. John of the Cross, Dichos 64.]...
V. THE LAST JUDGMENT
1038 The resurrection of all the dead, "of both the just and the unjust," [Acts 24:15.] will precede the Last Judgment. This will be "the hour when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Son of man's] voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment." [Jn 5:28-29.] Then Christ will come "in his glory, and all the angels with him.... Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.... And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." [Mt 25:31,32,46.]
1039 In the presence of Christ, who is Truth itself, the truth of each man's relationship with God will be laid bare. [Cf. Jn 12:49.] The Last Judgment will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life:All that the wicked do is recorded, and they do not know. When "our God comes, he does not keep silence."...he will turn towards those at his left hand:..."I placed my poor little ones on earth for you. I as their head was seated in heaven at the right hand of my Father -- but on earth my members were suffering, my members on earth were in need. If you gave anything to my members, what you gave would reach their Head. Would that you had known that my little ones were in need when I placed them on earth for you and appointed them your stewards to bring your good works into my treasury. But you have placed nothing in their hands; therefore you have found nothing in my presence." [St. Augustine, Sermo 18, 4:PL 38,130-131; cf. Ps 50:3.]1040 The Last Judgment will come when Christ returns in glory. Only the Father knows the day and the hour; only he determines the moment of its coming. Then through his Son Jesus Christ he will pronounce the final word on all history. We shall know the ultimate meaning of the whole work of creation and of the entire economy of salvation and understand the marvelous ways by which his Providence led everything towards its final end. The Last Judgment will reveal that God's justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God's love is stronger than death. [Cf. Song 8:6.]
1041 The message of the Last Judgment calls men to conversion while God is still giving them "the acceptable time,... the day of salvation." [2 Cor 6:2.] It inspires a holy fear of God and commits them to the justice of the Kingdom of God. It proclaims the "blessed hope" of the Lord's return, when he will come "to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed." [Titus 2:13; 2 Thess 1:10.]
Scripture is explicit on this end-time judgment. Paul spoke of it as he talked to the Athenians on Mars hill.
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness... (Acts 17:30,31).Paul unquestionably believed the judgment was for all humans.
And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee (Acts 24:25).This judgment, according to the Scriptures, involves all humanity.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).This end-time judgment is defined in both the Old and the New Testaments. In the prophetic message of Daniel, chapter seven, we find a judgment just before the end of human history. This judgment clearly takes place at a set period of time, and not at the death of each person.
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.... I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him (Daniel 7:9,10,13).But again, this does not preclude other scriptures that indicate a particular judgement. This again is not an either/or scenario, but a both-and one.
Records of heaven have been kept with unerring accuracy, reflecting the life of every human being, and it is from these records that judgment is made.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works (Revelation 20:12).In this judgment some, whose names have been written in the book of life, are tragically blotted out because sometime during their lives they have turned away from their commitment to God. This fact is plain evidence against the error of "once saved, always saved."
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels (Revelation 3:5).On this point, Catholicism and CatholicQuest.info quite agree.
This end-time judgment provides assurance to the inhabitants of the universe that none who would perpetuate sin will inhabit heaven, and that no one surrendered to the will of Christ will be lost.
Paul focused upon this judgment at a time beyond the time in which he lived.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).James also pointed his readers to a future judgment:
So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty (James 2:12).In Revelation, chapter 14, the context pinpoints the fact that the end-time judgment of verse seven is for the righteous.
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come... (Revelation 14:6,7).I'm not sure what CatholicQuest.info is trying to say here: That the universal End-Times judgement includes the righteous, or that it is exclusively for the righteous. Context in Revelation admits the first, but contradicts the second.
God's Word assures us that in the judgment His name will be vindicated. In his great prayer of repentance, David cried out:
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest and be clear when thou judgest (Psalm 51:4).Seizing upon this prophetic statement, Paul stated:
God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar, as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged (Romans 3:4).The end-time judgment not only vindicates God, but also His people.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life (John 5:24).It is not difficult to understand why Protestants have found grave difficulty in understanding the fullness of this end-time judgment. It is because they have failed to cast off the pagan concepts of the immortal soul. If immediate life after death were a soundly-based Bible principle, then there would be no need for an end-time judgment.
This is patently not the case. The particular judgement of the soul, does not give its reward or punishment to the body. In a way, it is more like waiting in jail for final sentencing (well, for the damned, anyway), or for a future consummation of reward for a job well done.
The angels do not have infinite knowledge, so God in His tender mercy does not save one person eternally until the angels have had the opportunity to review the records. It is evident that the myriads before the throne are angels participating in this judgment.
A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him [God]: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened (Daniel 7:10).Problem is, the Bible indicates that while the angels are in attendance, and even "ministering to" God, it nowhere says that it is the angels reading the records or doing the judging. Further, assuming that it somehow takes a long time to review these records and that one is not saved or damned until this happens, implies a chronology that does not exist beyond death. Eternity is, after all, not simply "a really really long time", but the absense of time altogether.
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands (Revelation 5:11).
It is after the angels have reviewed the records that every human being that has been faithful to Christ will be redeemed into the kingdom of heaven. But not one soul, angelic or human, is destroyed eternally at this time, for there is one group who will inhabit eternity who has not had the opportunity of reviewing the records. This group comprises the redeemed saints. During the millennium they will be sitting in judgment reviewing the records of the lost.
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? (1 Corinthians 6:2,3).According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angels will not sit in judgement over humanity at all, since they do not possess our human nature, and therefore are not fitting judges. Second, according to the Angelic Doctor, all people will be judged in this General Judgement, not just the good, who later judge the wicked, nor just the wicked, being judged by the good, but all together, though the saints will sit in judgement as assessors. These saints are those redeemed who have already attained perfect sanctification.
See Summa Theologica, Supplement to the Third Part, The Resurrection: Judgement Following the Resurrection, 89 for St. Thomas' treatment.
Biblically speaking, there is no mention that this judgement will be carried out by the righteous over the wicked, by reading the records of deeds throughout the millenial period. Moreover, Apostolic Tradition has consistently maintained that this so-called "Millenial Reign" is, in fact, the Church Age of which we are now a part. Thus, the "millenium" preceeds the Final Judgement.
Before the destruction of the wicked, all God's created beings will have reviewed the records of the lost, and acknowledged the perfect justice of God. It is because of this that the Scripture proclaims that affliction shall not rise a second time.
What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time (Nahum 1:9).I'm not entirely sure where CatholicQuest.info gets the notion that "all God's created beings" will judge the wicked. Yet, truly, after the final judgement, the Wicked will be punished eternally, and evil will thus be destroyed!
An understanding of the end-time judgment provides a wonderful understanding of the great love and mercy of God in the salvation of His people, consistent with the love and mercy demonstrated on Calvary. In addition, it demonstrates the extent to which our God will go to leave no doubt whatsoever concerning His love and absolute justice throughout the entire universe.
(Category: The Church: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus--The Church and other denominations.
Soteriology: The Four Last Things--Judgement.)