For a Christian, only the moral commandments of the Old Testament are binding (as they cannot change), but the various liturgical, social, and other so-called casuistic laws no longer apply to them. This includes dietary habits, such as the prohibition of pork or fat, as well as the prohibition of blood.
Take a look at the following verses: Mt 15:11, Mk 7:15-19, Acts 11:7-9, 1 Tim 4:3-5.
The Jehovah's Witnesses say that, yes, but in the Acts of the Apostles (15) the consumption of blood, idol meat, and strangled animals is also prohibited, meaning the New Testament still forbids it. For Catholics, the Council of Florence settled this issue, stating that this apostolic regulation was only a temporary measure to facilitate agreement between Jews and Gentiles in the early Church. Thus, the regulation was only binding under those specific circumstances. One could say it was a matter of church discipline.
The Bible also confirms this and provides an answer to why the apostles made this decision. Paul speaks of this twice. Rom 14:1-23, 1 Cor 10:25-32.
They generally bring up certain resolutions of the apostolic council (around AD 50). However, they quote a pastoral and not doctrinal decision of the apostolic council, which can be changed at any time according to the circumstances.
The apostolic council affirmed the eternal dogmatic truth that salvation for all people on Earth comes solely through the resurrection of Jesus Christ; the Old Testament was only a prefigurement, which was fulfilled. Therefore, the Church is catholic (universal), speaking to people of all times and places with the "royal decree" or the "Euvangelion."
In addition to this, the apostolic council also made pastoral, disciplinary decisions. From a purely pastoral point of view, Jews can maintain (not mandatory) the ritual and disciplinary rules of the Old Testament (based on the 613 commandments in the Torah), while the "multitude" of converted Gentiles (goyim) are obliged to maintain the 7 Noachide laws for the sake of peace. This includes the prohibition of bloodshed. However, do not forget that the apostolic council took place before the destruction of the Zerubbabel-Herodian Temple (AD 70), and after its destruction, the Old Testament "halakha" became practically impossible to maintain. Despite the two-thousand-year effort of Pharisaic-Rabbinic Judaism, a deep longing and sense of loss exist in every devout Jew, because they feel that something is deeply wounded within them, regardless of any Talmudic paraphrase... The stone heart, the stone temple was carved out, but the flesh heart, prophesied by the prophet, is given through the "sprinkling with water," the Eucharist becomes the new flesh temple at the center of man.
The prohibition of consuming so-called unclean animals described in the Mosaic Law was meant to strengthen the sense of separation of the Jews, incorporating a distinction between Jewish (holy) and Gentile (unclean) things into everyday life. This ceased after Christ's universal mission, so the distinctions between clean and unclean things also ceased, and the New Testament lifted these prohibitions (see Acts 11:7-9; Rom 14:14.20; 1 Cor 10:23-33; 1 Tim 4:3-5). The same applies to blood: "Nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him unclean; rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean." (Mk 7:15).
The prohibition found in Acts 15:20,29 may seem to be a reinforcement of the old law at first glance. However, in this case, the apostles are quoting the law applicable to foreigners living in Israel (Lev 17:8-9, 10-12, 15; 18:6-18). This means that, on one hand, converted Gentiles (or Christians in general) have been admitted to the "land of Israel," but on the other hand, they did not want to cause offense among the old "earthly" residents (see 1Cor 10:28-33). In these prohibitions, the Church indulged the particular feelings of the Jews, that the bond of union between them and the Gentiles might be more closely united; the latter in these two instances giving way to the prejudices of the former, who in their turn gave up much, by submitting to the abolition of the ceremonial law of Moses. This prohibition was of course only temporary, and to cease with the reasons, which gave rise to it. The use of these things, though of their own nature indifferent, were here prohibited, to bring the Jews more easily to admit of the society of the Gentiles; and to exercise the latter in obedience. But this prohibition was but temporary, and has long since ceased to oblige; more especially in the western churches.
In summary, the apostles' decisions were primarily pastoral and disciplinary, rather than doctrinal. They recognized the eternal truth that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ, and the Old Testament's laws and prohibitions were, for the most part, no longer binding on Christians. The apostles aimed to facilitate harmony between Jews and Gentiles in the early Church, and their decisions were adapted to the specific circumstances of their time.
When does biological death occur, and how ethically permissible is organ transplantation, including blood transfusion? Here, of course, it is not a ritual consideration, but a deeper one that has guided us. Somehow, I concluded that although Old Testament anthropology is not based on today's abstract and experimental medicine, there is some truth in the idea that the "vital spirit" is in the blood; that is, as long as it is in the body, the given physical being (higher vertebrate) is alive. This is why, for example, Muslims and Jews prohibit the consumption of mollusks because their vital bodily fluid cannot be separated from their flesh. In the vertebrate body, cells absorb practically everything from the blood. If this medium is not present, their metabolism stops, and they begin to decompose.
The biological phases of human death (death throes - agony) are:
- cessation of mental functions
- cessation of sensitive functions:
- cessation of breathing
- cessation of heart function
- cessation of brain function
- cessation of vegetative functions: o cessation of metabolism
In the Middle Ages, for example, it was forbidden to dissect humans (more precisely, living humans) because the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, a relic, a remnant, which will rise again. Who was considered a living human? This is where the "anima forma corporis" principle comes in. What does the Catholic Church teach about humans? Three universal councils produced dogma concerning this issue:
The condemnation of the so-called "real trichotomism". The Fourth General, Universal, and Holy Council of Constantinople (869) rejected the Neoplatonic-Origenist doctrine that there are three distinct types of souls:
- mental (soul)
Thus, the thesis that man "consists of body, soul, and spirit" cannot be maintained. These functions differ only virtually, being manifestations of the same human soul in spiritual, mental, and physical functions.
The General, Universal, and Holy Council of Vienne (1312)
"Substantia animae rationalis seu intellectiva sit forma corporis humani per se et essentialiter." "The substance of the rational or intellectual soul is the form of the human body in itself and essentially."
- spiritual substance of the human soul => substantia incompleta
- material substance of the human body => substantia incompleta
- spiritual-material human => substantia completa
- body and soul => metaphysical difference + metaphysical interdependence
- forma substantialis => substantial form
- substantia incompleta => incomplete substance
- The unity-difference of man – the hylomorphist synthesis of body and soul.
With this, extreme monist and extreme dualist conceptions of man were condemned: the extreme dualism of the objective idealist direction - Platonism: • + the body is the prison of the soul, it is only a garment, so transmigration of souls is also possible; • + the soul alone is the human being.
Objective materialist - Epicurean - sensualism: • only matter exists, the soul is merely a reflection of it. • matter-energy-information (soul) transformable reality; • this philosophical conception of man, based on the hermeneutic-Gnostic heresy, was in fact held by Teilhard de Chardin and Henri de Lubac, who were not condemned by the teaching office for their theory of evolution! The inductive natural scientific evidence does not support this conception of man.• the Magisterium maintains the separate creation of the world, life, and man, because there are gaps in existence, and the existence of our ancestors is not a fairy tale. The existence of our ancestors (Adam and Eve) is real, and their creation story should not be dismissed as a mere fable.
- Fifth Lateran Council (1513)
The condemnation of the Renaissance-era Neoplatonic heresy, which the Council labeled as "Averroism," involved the condemnation of the myth of the "transhuman spirit."
This heresy assumed that there is a general "Human Spirit" that exists within every human individual, and it is this spirit that gives the intellectual, rational properties to humans, being eternal within them.
From this, it can be seen that the vegetative functions of humans are also provided by the individual, intellectual, rational soul. Therefore, people with intellectual or physical disabilities cannot be killed in the name of any ideology because they also possess a complete spiritual soul, even if it cannot manifest itself due to their bodily or brain abnormalities. Thus, the prohibition of blood consumption was not solely for ritual reasons, as confirmed by the apostolic council.
Are Jehovah's Witnesses right? Their anthropology is different, for example, they do not consider the human soul to be immortal by nature, etc. They reject it for different reasons. I consider this to be a ritual law, not a dogmatic or moral one, although it does have anthropological foundations. The Church Fathers and their commentaries should be reviewed, as well as what both the Franciscan and Dominican Schools said about this issue, as they thoroughly dealt with human nature and the onset of death on both medical (much of which is outdated) and philosophical grounds. The prohibition would only be justifiable and reasonable in this case, with certain limitations.
The apostolic council essentially provides disciplinary rules, even if they have dogmatic-moral and ritual implications. It essentially repeats the seven Noachide laws so that pagan converts to Christianity maintain these external rules (of course, with an internal disposition!), while Jewish converts to Christianity can keep the 613 laws of the Torah, provided they attribute their salvation solely to the redeeming grace of Christ, resulting from internal, heartfelt actions, and reject the ritual-external justification conception prevalent among the Pharisees of that time.
However, the Old Testament's ritual and political laws have ceased to exist, and their observance is now sinful. Only the eternal dogmatic-moral truths remain. The ritual laws will never be revived, while the political laws can be revived if the Jewish people, as a collective (not as individuals), convert to the Catholic Church.
It is important to include this because I have heard enthusiastic, well-intentioned statements from traditionalists, describing how today's Rabbinic Jewish liturgy will be incorporated into Christian worship after the conversion of the Jews (I am omitting the explanation that, objectively, today's Rabbinic-Talmudic Judaism is not identical to Mosaic Judaism, even if some elements are distortedly present, but a human creation, just as pagan cults are not legitimate descendants of the pure Noachide cult, but distorted idolatry partly preserving them).
Dogma of the COUNCIL OF FLORENCE 1438
The sacrosanct Roman Church, founded by the voice of our Lord and Savior, firmly believes, professes, and preaches "that "every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected that is received with thanksgiving" [ 1 Tim. 4:4], since, according to the word of the Lord [ Matt.. 15: 11 ], "not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man"; and it asserts that the indifference of clean and unclean foods of the Mosiac law pertains to the ceremonials which, with the rise of the Gospel passed out of existence and ceased to be efficacious.. And it says also that the prohibition of the apostles "from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood and from things strangled [ Acts 15:29] befitted that time in which one Church arose from the Jews and the Gentiles, who before lived according to different ceremonies and customs, so that even the Gentiles observed some things in common with the Jews, and occasion was furnished for coming together into one worship of God and one faith, and ground for dissension was removed; since to the Jews, by reason of an ancient custom, blood and things strangled seemed abominable, and they could think that the Gentiles would return to idolatry because of the eating of things sacrificed. But when the Christian religion is so propagated that no carnal Jew appears in it, but all passing over to the Church, join in the same rites and ceremonies of the Gospel, believing "all things clean to the clean" [Tit. 1:15], with the ending of the cause for this apostolic prohibition, the effect also ended. Thus it declares that the nature of no food, which society admits, is to be condemned, and no distinction is to be made by anyone at all, whether man or woman, between animals, and by whatever kind of death they meet their end; although for the health of body, for the exercise of virtue, for regular and ecclesiastical discipline many things not denied should be given up, since, according to the Apostle, "all things are lawful, but all things are not expedient" [1 Cor.. 6:12; 10:22]."