Heaven as a reward is “heresy,” says bishop

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THE HEAD of the Diocese of Caloocan deplored the “poor” doctrinal notion that heaven is the reward for the performance of good works, in a conference at the San Carlos Seminary in Makati last Oct. 1.

“In our life we all have been acting righteously because we want to earn Heaven. Many Christians believe that it is a reward. That is simply heresy,” said Bishop Pablo Virgilio David in his lecture titled “The Face of Mercy: God’s Mercy through Mary.”

David, a biblical expert, said Christians had been made to believe that God would reward the good and punish the wicked.

“It [is] not written in the scriptures. If that is your idea, then it gets you to believe that grace is something to be deserved. And so our religion becomes a whole exercise in insecurity,” David said.

He said salvation is not exclusive “for the good and deserving,” as he dismissed the concept of a “judgmental and condemning God.”

The prelate said he remained “hopeful” in the idea of purgatory. “It is hard to think that there is only eternal salvation and eternal damnation and nothing in between,” he said.

David used “Misericordiae vultus,” Pope Francis’ formal proclamation of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, as the basis of his talk.

‘Source of evil’

In his homily during the Mass for the conference, David tackled President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial question about God’s existence.

“Duterte said: ‘What if there is no God? Where is God when a child is being raped, where is God when helpless people are killed?’ I appreciate the [question] because he dares to ask you. Deep in our hearts, we want to ask the question, too,” David said.

Man is the source of evil, he stressed, reminding the faithful to be “spiritually intelligent.”

“[We] account for evil in this world as spiritual dysfunctions. Not anything innately evil in the material world, but from the world of the spirits,” David said.

The Mass was concelebrated by Msgr. Vicente Bauson, Fr. Thomas Villanueva, Fr. Jason Laguerta and Fr. Anton Tejero.

The conference marked the launch of the Marian Jubilee for the Year of Mercy.

On Oct. 7, the culminating activity of the Marian Jubilee will be held at the Manila Cathedral starting at 1:00 p.m. This will be coincide with “A Day of Mercy (Works of Mercy),” a charity program led lay organizations, which will take place in all parishes nationwide.

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