Monday, January 16, 2017

More on Amoris


Invoking Amoris Laetitia, the bishops of Malta have decreed that adulterers who feel “at peace with God” and find it “humanly impossible” to refrain from sex may receive absolution and go to communion.  Their declaration is published in the Vatican’s own newspaper

Canon lawyer Edward Peters judges the Malta situation a “disaster” that makes it “urgent” that the four cardinals’ dubia be answered either by Pope Francis or Cardinal Müller.  Cardinal Caffarra says that “only a blind man” could deny that the Church is in crisis.  Philosopher Joseph Shaw judges that the crisis “is truly separating the men from the boys.”

The man and the theology behind Amoris:  At Crux, philosopher Michael Pakaluk uncovers the depth of the influence of papal advisor and ghostwriter Archbishop Victor Fernandez.

Puzzled by how these developments can be squared with orthodoxy?  Another papal advisor, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, explains that in theology, 2 and 2 sometimes make 5

Ed Peters on how papal defender Austen Ivereigh misrepresents canon law.

Edward Pentin reports that the CDF under Cardinal Müller had urged a large number of corrections to Amoris before publication – not one of which was accepted.  The Catholic Herald describes the difficult position of Cardinal Müller. 

Cardinal Napier asks: If adulterers can receive communion, why not polygamists?  And is Amoris only the beginning?  Msgr. Nicola Bux foresees “blasphemy and sacrilege” in the move toward intercommunion with non-Catholics.

Moral theologian Fr. George Woodall also judges the need for an answer to the dubia “urgent.”  At Catholic World Report, theologian Fr. Mark Pilon foresees a “moral and pastoral crisis.”  A Dominican theologian questions the purportedly “Thomistic” character of the teaching of Amoris.

Ambiguity?  In Amoris maybe, but, historically speaking, none whatsoever in Catholic teaching on divorce and remarriage.  The unbroken tradition is set out at Crisis by Professor Donald Prudlo

What’s ahead in 2017?  Cardinal Burke indicates that a “formal correction” of the pope could come early in the year, but says that he does not accuse the pope of heresy.    

Burke reports that the four cardinals who have come out publicly are not the only ones who support the dubia.  The cardinal says he is more concerned about the Last Judgment than about losing his rank. 

Fr. Raymond de Souza foresees a year “of greater acrimony and division.”  Damian Thompson reports that “more and more priests can’t stand Pope Francis.”  The Spectator Australia says that Francis is alienating conservatives and progressives alike.

John Allen reports that Pope Francis, who “accus[es] some of [his] critics of doing the devil’s work,” shows no signs of wanting to heal the rift.  According to Der Spiegel, the pope has speculated that he might “enter history as the one who split the Catholic Church.” 

I have nothing to add to all this at the moment except a link to my own analysis of the Amoris controversy.

154 comments:

  1. The modern church - represented by Pope Francis - simply does not look to be about the same business, activity, as was the traditional church.

    The "Prophetic" gospel they are so fond of referring to from the pulpit nowadays, might as well be written to appeal to a troop of mutually grooming lesbian chimps; not souls destined for an eternal fate of one kind or another. As a matter of fact, Jesus hardly figures into it except as "the christ".

    It is impossible for me to imagine what such a church really has to offer with all the jabber about unconditional "inclusion" and "welcome" and blah blah blah. Why bother? Now, I suppose that some get a sense of uplift from it. But others, obviously do not. Is the Pope preaching salvation, or emergent evolution?

    Suppose it's true, what they are now saying. Suppose all are ultimately welcome, and nothing you do here and now matters all that much, since eventually you will be "welcome". And on our own terms.

    Why not choose Beowulf then, over Francis?

    What's Francis got to offer that is of any interest in the first place? What is he supposed to be seen as doing, other than stamping his personal preferences for collective nuzzling with the official seal of his metaphysical approval? But so what?

    Is there any good reason why once he starts down the relativist road, anyone else should not so far as it pleases them to do so as well?

    Or is the new "gospel" absolutist merely to the extent that the only damned are those who refuse to become good "gurls"?

    Well maybe I am being unfair.

    I certainly hope so.

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  2. Ed, the more I read your stuff, the more I reckon that while the ratio of time you spend writing your posts to that devoted to choosing their introductory pictures will be greater than 1, it may not be just as great as one would at first think 🙂

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  3. Re: Caffarra, I see reference to "great confusion, uncertainty and insecurity" in the Church, but not to the Church itself being "in crisis". Where did you get the latter?

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  4. Anonymous,

    Caffarra speaks of "great confusion, uncertainty and insecurity in the Church," of "many faithful beg[inning] to be scandalized," and of a "division that already exists in the church" -- all of which are so serious that he and the other three cardinals not only felt a need to request clarification form the pope but also judged that his refusal to answer required them to make their initially private dubia public. Sounds to me like he thinks there's a crisis.

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  5. Is there any good reason why once he starts down the relativist road, anyone else should not so far as it pleases them to do so as well?

    DNW, I have never found any rational stopping point. Relativism, once started, devours all standards and all limits.

    At least from the details that I have seen, (far from complete, I am sure), it seems that Francis is prepared to double-down on Amoris rather than backtrack any of it. So far, anyway. Catholics need to pray for him, to storm heaven to move his heart and mind and will to feed us the way Peter's successor should - which is not the ambiguity of Amoris.

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  6. Cardinal Burke stated: “And I said that what I'm afraid of is to have to appear before Our Lord at the Last Judgment and having to say to Him: ‘No, I didn't defend You when You were being attacked, the truth that You taught was being betrayed.’ And so, I just don't give it any thought.”

    Being one of the four who signed the Dubia it seems he is not at all doubtful but completely certain. The mere idea that perhaps it is him who is attacking and betraying Christ's message of love does not even cross his mind.

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  7. "...Being one of the four who signed the Dubia it seems he is not at all doubtful but completely certain. The mere idea that perhaps it is him who is attacking and betraying Christ's message of love does not even cross his mind."

    Why should it? He's simply restating what the Church has clearly and consistently taught for 2,000 years.

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  8. That Spectator Australia article has a lot of great lines, such as this one:

    "This brings us to the second thing he has set out to do. He has made it clear that he disapproves of conservative Catholicism. ‘Conservative’ nowadays means the Catholicism that was universal before the Second Vatican Council; as in the secular world, Catholic progressives have managed to shift the centre of gravity leftwards so that what was once the norm can now be presented as reactionary."

    Truer words have rarely been written.

    Raghn

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  9. Re: Dianelos Georgoudis about Christ's message of love. Reread Matthew 18. Whew. That's what I'd call "tough love" all right. The Parable of the Lost Sheep is in the middle of it, but is balanced by Parable of the Unforgiving Servant and the rest, which is all about just how bad sin is. Verse 17 is a classic. Tough love, indeed. And a lot of judging, too; see verse 18.

    Raghn

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  10. Dear Dianelos Georgoudis:

    First point: In my own experience and in my limited knowledge of the experience of others, those who seek to defend orthodoxy do actually continually question themselves, their motives, and their level of charity in defense of truth. They do this not least because they are continually being accused of "attacking and betraying Christ's message of love." In other words, I think reading other people's minds to discern their "true" motivation is often inaccurate and therefore of limited value.

    Second point: Why is simply asking the Pope to explain himself a bit more clearly a betrayal of Christ's love? Can anyone imagine Benedict XVI or his supporters reacting in such a defensive, not to say silly, way?

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  11. When it comes to people pleading that Burke's acts are, perhaps, an affront to Christ's love, it's worth remembering one of the most memorable acts of virtue signaling in the entire New Testament.

    4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.[b]” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

    A good share of the religious left who talk about Christ's love are about as concerned with it as Judas was concerned with the poor. His resoluteness bothers them not because being resolute is bad, but because it competes with their own aims. Have fun finding them questioning whether committed certainty is a failing or blind spot when it's in the service of a view they support, or if in those cases it's instead a certain demonstration of God's love working through humanity.

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  12. " ... betraying Christ's message of love does not even cross his mind. "

    Well, I guess the question of just what that message of "love" actually is, exactly, is wherein the rub lies.

    Obviously as a doctrine, simply doing love, cannot be about exercising an emotion you are just born with: since there would be no way of arbitrating the conflicting demands of love "diversities".

    And when it comes to willing and effecting the "good" as the definition of "love", it seems no less problematic.

    For example, the love expressed by a heterosexual family man as he yields to and concentrates on the needs of a wife and 4 kids in Catholic school; versus a more broad yet contradictory sacrifice of the maximal fulfillment of his own family, in order to instead satisfy the yearnings of some group of sexual minorities for attention and cost underwriting ... seem to denote operational loves which are not easily reconciled.

    Yet are they not both conceptions of "love", according to some?

    Sometimes I wonder if a large number of Catholic clerics are not outright antagonistic to the more traditionally mainstream segments of their supposed "flocks". And then on other occasions all doubt about the reality of their antagonism seems removed.

    "What are they actually aiming for?", one wonders.

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  13. I love Ed Peters, but there seems to be an easy rejoinder to his argument: Ivereigh refers to a 'new attitude' - well why not grant the interpretive plausibility of this, even without explicit reference to Canon 915 in AL, and notwithstanding Ivereigh's misquotation of the canon? Why not take a 'new attitude' to interpreting "obstinately" and "manifest" in assessing who it is who "obstinately perseveres in manifest grave sin"? (Emphasize the formal (subjective, personal) aspect of sin and obstinacy, which is necessarily shaped and conditioned by relations to a more or less 'merciful'/'rigid' pastor, or generalized pastoral (cultural and ecclesiastical) 'milieu' - and voila, in practice there will remain very little of anything having a relevantly 'manifest' nature in most cases. This is a facile exegesis perhaps, divorced from any consideration of tradition or broader legal/moral/doctrinal/pastoral context, but still...)

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  14. >Catholicism that was universal before the Second Vatican Council;

    That is heresy & SSPX propaganda. St John Paul II, Benedict
    XVI and even Cardinal Burke uphold the Second Vatican Council.

    With reactionaries like this lurking behind the scenes it is little wonder
    poor Cardinal Burke gets tarred unjustly with their stink.

    Anyway Cardinal Burke is a Bishop and Cardinal. More then anybody here
    he has the right to ask questions, fraternally correct the Pope or if
    called for fraternally rebuke him. His serene fidelity is an example to us all.

    At worst one could mildly criticize Burke on some particulars. But asking for a formal clarification is not any of those particulars.

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  15. Catholicism that was universal before the Second Vatican Council;

    That is heresy & SSPX propaganda. St John Paul II, Benedict
    XVI and even Cardinal Burke uphold the Second Vatican Council.


    Ya'kov? Can you tone it down a touch? Though you are right that JPII, Benedict, and Burke uphold Vatican II, there appear to be thousands of progressive priests, and dozens of progressive bishops, who have stopped doing so. Whereas, before Vatican II, there were far fewer who failed to teach the true doctrine of the Church which Vatican II restated. So, what was universally taught in the Church before the Council, is STILL taught in the Church, but not universally.

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  16. I love Ed Peters, but there seems to be an easy rejoinder to his argument:

    Oh, come on, David M, there is a MUCH easier rejoinder, and it is just as effective (if not more so):

    "We don't like that canon, in fact we don't really like Canon Law at all, and we certainly aren't going to be bound by it. So there!"

    I mean, why bother sucking up to an "interpretation" of a canon that many of these people have absolutely no intention of paying attention to anyway?

    There are priests who seem to have NO IDEA of half (or more) of what Canon Law says about their obligations as pastor. It could be that they had never been told, and never cracked open the book, and never had a bishop mention it. Or it could be that they knew all that and just ignored it. Either way, isn't "interpreting" a dead letter kind of pointless?

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  17. Before Pope Paul VI published "Humanae Vitae," he convened a papal commission composed of clerics and the laity to advise him. When the majority of the lay members urged that the pope reverse traditional Catholic teaching on contraception, the Spanish priest and theologian Zalba cried out, "But what then of the millions of Catholics we have condemned to hell who practiced contraception?" Pat Crowley, a lay member, looked at him squarely and said, "HOW DO YOU KNOW GOD LISTENED TO YOU, Fr. Zalba?"

    So indeed, all you who are so aghast at Pope Francis, how do you know God is listening to you rather than to him?

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  18. @ David T

    “He's simply restating what the Church has clearly and consistently taught for 2,000 years.”

    Are you sure about this? I read that the ancient church did allow divorces and remarriage under certain conditions. That was before the schism, Rome was then a town in the Byzantine empire, and even though I suppose it was possible that its church followed different norms perhaps that was not the case.

    But even if it was the case, it's not like this is supposed to be an infallible norm, is it? Even Christ in Matthew allows divorce and remarriage under certain conditions. Perhaps in this matter the Catholic church is being more Christian than Christ :- )

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  19. Dear Craig Payne,

    I am not accusing Cardinal Burke of attacking Christ or ofbetraying His message. These were his words, not mine. I would not use such words, since the idea of attacking God strikes me as utterly incoherent, and the idea of betraying Christ's message strikes me also as kind of incoherent: one can misunderstand the message, one can lack faith and not follow the message, but I wouldn't know what “betraying” Christ's message might mean. I am afraid people tend to “humanize” God, and that's an error. That God is jealous, or wrathful, or as a deterrence punishes people who disobey – are all primitive ideas based on imagining God as some kind of human king, albeit much more powerful. Today that theology has grown so much beyond its primitive beginnings one would expect people, especially people of the cloth, to have moved beyond such notions.

    On the other hand I wouldn't want to accuse Cardinal Burke of being wrong, since for all I know he may be right. But I do happen to think he is wrong. I think that all those who try to defend tradition are an obstacle to the growth of the church. As for Christian tradition it is not characterized by stagnation. If anything I think that today the church is growing too slowly. Religion in general has become too timid.

    We live in critical times. The advances in technology are increasing humanity's power both for good and evil at an amazing pace. We are then in the midst of a race between power and wisdom. Therefore religious institutions' responsibility to teach wisdom is of a truly momentous importance, I judge that the work of religion is today more important than it ever was. So I find it disappointing when the much respected Catholic church spends so much energy on issues like how sinful it is to use a condom. Or whether divorced people who do not remain celibate should have the right to take communion. I mean - really? Does anybody here think that if Christ would to incarnate again today that's where He would lead our attention? Does anybody believe that salvation is a matter of upholding fixed norms – “play your cards right and you'll go to heaven” kind of thing? Or perhaps does upholding fixed norms reveal great faith? In the gospels the learned people of the time, the same that put so much emphasis on tradition and texts, where the ones who feared Christ and called for His execution.

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  20. These are exciting times. Islam is imploding, Liberal Protestantism is imploding, and Catholicism is imploding. This can only be a good thing for only Evangelicals are increasing their numbers. Finally the TRUE church is rising up from all the counterfeit churches. Churches that have led billions astray.

    Atheism is a temporary phenomenon, the result of people having a crisis of faith. Once these counterfeit churches shrivel into obscurity so will the vitriol of the village atheist. I personally believe that Pope Francis is being used by God to bring an end to apostate, heretical, syncretic, and pagan Christianity. The Bible says the TRUE worshipers of God worship in Spirit and truth. This means they don't worship the paganism of sacraments, Aristotle-Thomism, Marian dogmas, Transubstantiation, and ministerial priesthood -- all of which are perversions of biblical truth.

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  21. @ Crude,

    ”But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?”

    I think that's a relevant analogy to the case at hand. Do you think that Judas was here moved by love for Mary, or for Christ, or for neighbor, or for God – or by love for grandstanding and power?

    ”A good share of the religious left who talk about Christ's love are about as concerned with it as Judas was concerned with the poor. His resoluteness bothers them not because being resolute is bad, but because it competes with their own aims.”

    The question of course is which side of the current debate is closer to Judas and which closer to Mary. It seems the same story speaks to us in different senses.

    Incidentally, I am not sure what you mean by “religious left”. The political left is the ideology that cares more about justice and the care for the weak, so I'd say it is closer to Christ in character, no? (I am not referring to populist leftists who use the ideology of care to further their own ends, nor those well-meaning but dimwitted leftists who end up doing more harm than good – in politics like in engineering it's not enough to have good intentions.) So I take it you mean “liberal Christians”, those who are less attached to fixed norms and texts and more to the living Spirit even at the risk of being wrong.

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  22. @ Gerald Haug,

    On the off chance that you are not being a troll (and you should know that not all trolls are self-aware) I'd like to say that the Christian churches are communities of people who desire to follow Christ, and not belief systems. The greatness of a church is not measured by the number of its members, but by its charity. And, of course, there is no competition between Christian churches. As in the end there is no competition between religions. To put it plainly it's better to be a good Muslim than a bad Christian. On Judgment day Christ will ask us about the way we lived, not about our religion of church affiliation.

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  23. @ Dianelos Georgoudis

    I am not trying to be a troll. I am only trying to provide a different perspective from an Evangelical perspective. The Bible has a different standard of being charitable than what the world thinks. Charity must be combined with truth. As the Bible says, the TRUE worshipers must worship in spirit and truth. Clearly both Islam and Christianity cannot both be truth. One accepts Christ, the other rejects Christ. Thus it is uncharitable to leave someone practicing a false religion. So your statement that it is better to be a good Muslim than a bad Christian is totally illogical. There is NO such thing as a good Muslim. That is like me saying that it is better to be a good murderer than a bad Christian.

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  24. "Perhaps in this matter the Catholic church is being more Christian than Christ :- )"

    Wow! How very surprising. Dianelos finds himself in the position of correcting the Catholic Church yet again.

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  25. Dianelos,

    I think that's a relevant analogy to the case at hand. Do you think that Judas was here moved by love for Mary, or for Christ, or for neighbor, or for God – or by love for grandstanding and power?

    You're obfuscating the point, Dianelos. And I can see why, because it's a point you don't want to admit to.

    Judas was, in word and ideology, coming out as a champion of the poor. He condemned the purchase of the perfume on the grounds that the poor could benefit so much from its sale. In fact, the poor weren't a concern to him whatsoever. His grandstanding about the poor had nothing to do with the poor; they were something he called upon to give his attempt more legitimacy. Little else.

    I'll note, beyond that - the perfume was used, not sold.

    The question of course is which side of the current debate is closer to Judas and which closer to Mary.

    No, Dianelos, that's actually not the question. The point is that Judas did what he did 'For the poor!', according to his words. In reality, they weren't a concern.

    The political left is the ideology that cares more about justice and the care for the weak, so I'd say it is closer to Christ in character, no?

    I'd say the character of the left is amply summed up in John 12:4-7, which is why you've tried hard to ignore the point therein. Saying 'I care about the poor, I do this for the poor, I'm concerned with social justice' doesn't make you a good person by Christ. It doesn't make you 'more in tune with the living spirit'.

    Judas invoked care for the poor and the weak to do evil, to condemn the good, and to pursue selfish ends. So, too, does the left. Which is why the left regards following Christ's words as wicked: 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

    When the spirit tells you to fight, defy and condemn those words, a thought Dianelos: it ain't the holy spirit you're talking with.

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  26. @ Dianelos Georgoudis

    In the past I have been Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Catholic, and Presbyterian. Now I am an Evangelical. If you read the Bible carefully, God will judge us both doctrine (what we believe about Christ) and our actions. Reject Christ or worship a counterfeit anti-Christ and no amount of good living will spare a person at the judgment seat.

    One million Jews died in Jerusalem in 70 AD. These Jews believed in God and rejected Christ. Thus believing God does not spare a person, for the Bible says even Satan and the demons believe in God. It is critical that we worship the TRUE Christ, not the wafer christ of transubstantiation.

    Many Western "Christians" have created a counterfeit Christ of their humanistic imaginations. This counterfeit antichrist cannot save them. At the Day of Judgment, Christ will say, "I never knew you; depart from Me into eternal damnation." No exceptions. There will be a lot of liberal Protestants, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, JWs, Mormons, and Coptics in for a rude awakening. Charity is about warning people that God should be feared, and to fall into the hands of an angry God at the Day of Judgment is utterly terrifying.

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  27. Hey Tony, sure, that's one rejoinder, but a rather artless, ham-fisted one, and not one that actually (effectively) serves the rhetorical purposes of most of the significant parties involved. And not one that respects and responds to their actual claims, either (so far as I can see). The really striking thing about many criticisms levelled against conservative critics of AL has been their complete failure to attempt to dialogue in good faith. There has been some remarkably blatant instances of attack the critics and ignore the critique. 'Dialogue' is often invoked as an empty weasel-word to cover for systematic avoidance of rigorous rational engagement directed towards actual knowledge of the truth of the matter. But respect for genuine dialogue is indispensable, and not really fostered by your suggestion of an "easier rejoinder."

    "why [should/would they] bother sucking up to an "interpretation" of a canon that many of these people have absolutely no intention of paying attention to anyway?"

    There are a number of possible reasons: to (more effectively) promote the advancement an ideological programme; to rationalize their own position/conscience; to try to understand apparently conflicting positions in a harmonized way; ...

    In any case, I don't think it matters. Regardless of the integrity of the persons advancing an argument, critique of personal integrity (even if warranted) is no substitute for rebuttal of their argument.

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  28. "It is critical that we worship the TRUE Christ, not the wafer christ of transubstantiation."

    A person who recognizes that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God but who fears not at all to beg important questions about what the living God demands is a person deeply confused. ("For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity," as Peter so charmingly put it.)

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  29. Judas invoked care for the poor and the weak to do evil, to condemn the good, and to pursue selfish ends. So, too, does the left.

    You've given no evidence of this, you've merely asserted it.

    The Bible verse you quote merely shows that it' possible to profess to care about the poor insincerely, not that everyone who professes to care about the poor is insincere.

    Do you really think Pope Francis is insincere about his claim to care for the poor?

    I'd imagine there are about as many insincere conservatives as there are insincere progressives. Unless we have proof about a specific person, speculating about individual motive seems a waste of time and beside the point.

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  30. >Ya'kov? Can you tone it down a touch?

    No. I will be fierce. At best I will concede Raghn and others who quoted the offending line meant nothing bad or heretical.

    But self appointed critics will be criticized. You may do the same to me.

    >Though you are right that JPII, Benedict, and Burke uphold Vatican II, there appear to be thousands of progressive priests, and dozens of progressive bishops, who have stopped doing so. Whereas, before Vatican II, there were far fewer who failed to teach the true doctrine of the Church which Vatican II restated. So, what was universally taught in the Church before the Council, is STILL taught in the Church, but not universally.

    That is contrary to history. Before V2 then have been many moments in Church history where teaching the Faith was lax. Where clergy where worldly rulers not Shepard.

    I absolutely reject this goofy pseudo-Trad/conservative myth of a Golden Age of Catholicism.

    It has always sucked in one way or another.

    Cheers.

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  31. David M,

    A person who recognizes that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God but who fears not at all to beg important questions about what the living God demands is a person deeply confused.

    For my part, I marvel at how someone who has been 'A U, a V, a W, an X, a Y and now a Z' can arrive at Z and be as all-in and dead certain as, presumably, they were when they were a U, a V, a W, an X and a Y. You'd think after getting some important things wrong multiple times before (and often being very invested each time), some caution would be in order.

    That said, the bit about the 'counterfeit Christ' seems on target. Then again, so's your line about dialogue. I'd add, 'dialogue' often gets advanced as terms-of-surrender. X community will forever demand 'Dialogue', but 'Dialogue' means 'Discuss what, of X's wide list of demands, you will give them.' Dialogue, in the way of give and take - where X may actually stand to lose something - is never requested.

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  32. Chad,

    You've given no evidence of this, you've merely asserted it.

    Putting the left on trial, while endlessly fun, isn't my aim here. It's to show a full-blown biblical example of someone playing the care-for-the-poor, social-justice game and being full of it. It serves as an ample corrective to people who treat expressed concern for the poor and weak and such as a sign of Christian fidelity.

    Do you really think Pope Francis is insincere about his claim to care for the poor?

    I'm not taking aim at the Pope. There's lesser targets popping their heads up and asking for it.

    What you find a waste of time and beside the point is, lo' and behold, a waste of time and beside the point.

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  33. It serves as an ample corrective to people who treat expressed concern for the poor and weak and such as a sign of Christian fidelity.

    Okay, but what you said was:

    "Judas invoked care for the poor and the weak to do evil, to condemn the good, and to pursue selfish ends. So, too, does the left."

    Which implies that "the left," whatever that is, only (or mainly or not infrequently) invokes care for the good to condemn the good and pursue selfish ends. And for that rather damning accusation, you've shown no evidence.

    I think we'd all grant without argument that demagogues exist. It's just when you (perhaps unintentionally) insinuate that one side of the argument might be entirely demagogues that some of us protest.

    These days, we could all do with remembering that it's possible to be simultaneously sincere and wrong.

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  34. That line in the fourth paragraph should say *care for the poor,* not care for the good.

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  35. Chad,

    Which implies that "the left," whatever that is, only (or mainly or not infrequently) invokes care for the good to condemn the good and pursue selfish ends.

    I'm not implying that, I'm stating it openly. Nor do I think 'the left' is particularly mysterious. Find the people who were saying, as of November 7th, 'Love Trumps Hate, it's important to respect the results of the election, whoever wins will need all our love and support to heal this country', and who now are saying anything but. Referenced not because that topic is relevant, but because it's the most recent demonstration of the loving, thoughtful mantra revealing itself to be a pantload.

    It's just when you (perhaps unintentionally) insinuate that one side of the argument might be entirely demagogues that some of us protest.

    No, not entirely. Just far and away, largely.

    While you talk about how it's possible to be sincere and wrong, I'll note it's also possible to be utterly insincere - once again, 'Love trumps hate, it's important to respect the results of the election' is educational. That's just the most recent bit.

    Cardinal Kasper has displayed bravado and certainty in his views contra Burke and company. Finding that certainty worrying, entertaining thoughts that perhaps the Cardinal is actually betraying Christ's love, is a possibility not fit for conversation on the part of resident liberal Christians. Confidence and a refusal to back down is dangerous stuff, but only when it comes to their opponents.

    Protest. But for once, I can say with some confidence - that schtick is convincing fewer than ever.

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  36. @ Son of Ya'Kov,

    ” More then anybody here he has the right to ask questions”

    It seems to me that Cardinal Burke only pretends to be asking questions, since he is quoted speaking in a way that reveals that the thought that he might be wrong has not even crossed his mind. Given the fact that no-one among us is certain even about the truth of theism, I think such certainty (or perhaps such pretense of certainty) about relatively minor issues is not healthy.

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  37. "I think such certainty (or perhaps such pretense of certainty) about relatively minor issues is not healthy."

    You seem fairly certain that this is a relatively minor issue. Skepticism seems to be the philosophy you wish to impose on others views while leaving your opinions infallible and untouched.

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  38. >It seems to me that Cardinal Burke only pretends to be asking questions, since he is quoted speaking in a way that reveals that the thought that he might be wrong has not even crossed his mind.

    I have little patience for people who read into or try to guess the Pope's motives. What makes you think doing that to Burke will move me?

    >Given the fact that no-one among us is certain even about the truth of theism, I think such certainty (or perhaps such pretense of certainty) about relatively minor issues is not healthy.

    I am reasonably philosophically certain of the Truths of Theism and I am reasonably certain Atheism leads to a host of irrational concepts to ever take it seriously.

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  39. Vand83,

    Skepticism seems to be the philosophy you wish to impose on others views while leaving your opinions infallible and untouched.

    Yep.

    All of our standards, sacraments, morals and beliefs are to be held lightly, subject to revision, never insisted upon, always open to negotiation.

    Of of his standards, sacraments, morals and beliefs are to be clutched to sternly, brook no compromise, always insisted upon, never open to negotiation.

    Reminds me of a discussion I got into ages ago, with the liberal Christian chortling that the dispute at hand was -silly-, it was so meaningless to waste one's effort on. Can't we just give up? Can't we see that Christ would weep to see us expending energy on such a trifle? Just drop it, give in, it's meaningless.

    It was said, if the debate is so meaningless - then -you- give up. Shrug your shoulders, sacrifice the point, and go upon your merry business.

    At which point the silly, meaningless trifle became *the most important disagreement in the world*, the resolution of which would determine whether a new worldwide terror was unleashed or not, and they would -never- compromise.

    SJWs Always [...]

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  40. Dianelos:

    Given the fact that no-one among us is certain even about the truth of theism

    Pope St. Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis:

    Yet the Vatican Council has defined, "If anyone says that the one true God, our Creator and Lord, cannot be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason by means of the things that are made, let him be anathema" (De Revel., can. I);

    It seems to me that Cardinal Burke only pretends to be asking questions, since he is quoted speaking in a way that reveals that the thought that he might be wrong has not even crossed his mind.

    This is ridiculous. You COMPLETELY don't understand the form and the venue he is using to ask the questions. You are not a Catholic, please stop lecturing Catholics on how Catholics ought to run their Church. What Burke is doing is asking the pope to elaborate on HOW to take what he says in AL in light of what JPII said in Veritatis Splendor. He holds firmly and definitively all those truths held and proposed by the Church as to be held definitively, which includes truths that were re-stated and reaffirmed by JPII in VS. If Burke were to treat THOSE truths as "in doubt" he would be quite literally FAILING to be faithful to the Church, and to the faith, for holding them as "without doubt" is precisely the obligation mandated for such magisterial teachings.

    Pope Pius again:

    6. We begin, then, with the philosopher. Modernists place the foundation of religious philosophy in that doctrine which is usually called Agnosticism. According to this teaching human reason is confined entirely within the field of phenomena, that is to say, to things that are perceptible to the senses, and in the manner in which they are perceptible; it has no right and no power to transgress these limits. Hence it is incapable of lifting itself up to God, and of recognising His existence, even by means of visible things. From this it is inferred that God can never be the direct object of science, and that, as regards history, He must not be considered as an historical subject. Given these premises, all will readily perceive what becomes of Natural Theology, of the motives of credibility, of external revelation. The Modernists simply make away with them altogether; they include them in Intellectualism, which they call a ridiculous and long ago defunct system. Nor does the fact that the Church has formally condemned these portentous errors exercise the slightest restraint upon them.

    You are applying to Burke's behavior standards that have absolutely nothing to do with a Catholic cardinal operating within the Catholic teachings on truth and the magisterium.

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  41. But respect for genuine dialogue is indispensable, and not really fostered by your suggestion of an "easier rejoinder."

    David M, apologies: I was speaking precisely of those who do not come to the discussion in good faith.

    For those who DO come in good faith: I prefer not to employ the term "dialogue" at all, for (a) by the tactics of the modernists it has been egregiously damaged, as with all of their terminology, and must cause us to have great suspicion; and as evidence of that, (b) the word dialogue itself has been permanently altered to avoid - or even preclude - a connotation of a terminus ad quo, a direction toward real, actual, knowable, discernible, and mutually convincing TRUTH, that imposes on the mind and will of the interlocutor a moral obligation to respect and admit it when unveiled suitably. Use rather some expression that implies that an honest converse in good faith can and should progress toward clarification mutually confirmed.

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  42. Pardon me: terminus ad quem. My latin is 35 years rusty.

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  43. @ Vand83,

    ”You seem fairly certain that this is a relatively minor issue.”

    I judge it so, yes. And I am fairly certain that this is how I judge this matter :- )

    What is your judgment? The bone of contention here is whether there are cases where a divorced Catholic who does not remain celibate may nevertheless be given communion by the priest. If you were to write down the 100 most important beliefs of the Catholic church, would this issue make it to the list? If not, wouldn't you agree it's fair to call it “a relatively minor issue”, and certainly not one on which people should risk the unity of the Church?

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  44. Son of Ya'Kov,

    ”But self appointed critics will be criticized. You may do the same to me.”

    Well put, but there is still well-minded and ill-minded criticism, and it's not like we should ever use the latter kind ourselves.

    ”I have little patience for people who read into or try to guess the Pope's motives. What makes you think doing that to Burke will move me?”

    Motives matter (and we should always test our own motives). Above “Crude” introduced in our discussion the story of Mary wasting the precious stuff and Judas criticizing her. As a matter of fact Judas was right, but still Christ rebuked him and praised Mary. Mary's choice was made good by the charity in her soul that moved it; Judas's choice was made evil by his being judgmental of others he decided were wrong and by his grandstanding. At least that's how I understand the story. And for me Francis reminds me of the charity of Mary while Burke reminds me of the grandstanding of Judas.

    On the other hand you're right – it's not for us to judge other peoples' motivations. Who can know the soul of Burke and of Francis? Still, I found it incoherent that Burke in one venue signs a letter titled “Dubia” and in another venue reveals that he has not doubts at all. Perhaps I misunderstand what “Dubia” means in this context. In any case I am not really bothered by Burke, I am bothered by the strife within the Catholic church, the dark muttering about a potential schism, and so on. I wish people would solve this in brotherly love, and thus discuss it privately like brothers do.

    ”I am reasonably philosophically certain of the Truths of Theism and I am reasonably certain Atheism leads to a host of irrational concepts to ever take it seriously.”

    My feeling exactly. When I doubt theism the sheer unreasonableness of atheism quickly brings me back to the straight path.

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  45. @Dianelos

    It seems you misunderstood the point of my comment.

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  46. @ Tony,

    ”Yet the Vatican Council has defined, "If anyone says that the one true God, our Creator and Lord, cannot be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason by means of the things that are made, let him be anathema"”

    Is this supposed to be an argument? In the natural light of human reason no less? I trust that since I am not a Catholic I am not being made anathema by the Vatican Council :-)

    Anyway, I didn't really claim that in the human condition God cannot be known with certainty. Presumably at some point in heaven we shall all be certain of God. My claim was that as a matter of existential fact “no-one among us is certain”. I thought that this was obvious, but let me here explain why I think it is obvious:
    We all know what “being certain” means. So for example we are certain that 2+2=4 and therefore feel not compunction whatsoever to put two beans and two beans together in order to count them and check we remember that right. When at the 10th floor of a highrise we are certain that jumping out of the window will kill us, and so when we wish to go the ground floor we don't feel the slightest temptation to jump out of the window instead of taking the lift. So that's what “being certain” means – it's a cognitive state that circumscribes how we think and act.

    Now how would it be like for somebody to be certain of God? Clearly one who had that certainty would be completely fearless and be completely impervious to temptation. One imagines the greatest of saints display this kind of behavior in some natural manner. Such behavior then is a necessary condition for certainty, but not a sufficient condition since the same saintly behavior may also be produced by faith. Indeed we admire more the saint by faith than the saint by certainty, which shows that we value faith more than certainty.

    When above I wrote “no-one among us is certain” I thought of us who partake in this discussion, as well as those we mention such as Pope Francis, Cardinal Burke, David Hart, since we all do not satisfy that necessary condition and are obviously not certain of God - but also and for the same reason I thought of the community of theists at large. I cannot exclude the possibility that there isn't a very great saint somewhere who is certain of God, but I doubt it.

    [continues below]

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  47. [continues from above]

    ”[Cardinal Burke] holds firmly and definitively all those truths held and proposed by the Church as to be held definitively, which includes truths that were re-stated and reaffirmed by JPII in VS. If Burke were to treat THOSE truths as "in doubt" he would be quite literally FAILING to be faithful to the Church, and to the faith, for holding them as "without doubt" is precisely the obligation mandated for such magisterial teachings.”

    I wonder, are all these definitive beliefs supposed to be infallibly true by the Church? For if not then what sense does it make to consider them both not infallibly true and also true without any doubt?

    In any case as I argued above no matter how often and how solemnly one affirms that a theological belief of the Catholic church is infallibly true, the fact remains that no-one is certain about it, given that no-one is certain even about the existence of God.

    Now it may be the case that we use words differently. For example above you speak as if doubt and faith are incompatible, whereas for me faith means to have trust in the face of uncertainty. In the condition of being certain it makes no sense to speak of faith. So I don't have faith that 2+2=4, nor do I have faith that jumping out of the window will kill me. Nor do I see how either certainty or faith can me “mandated”. If one has found certainty then no such mandating is necessary, if one hasn't found certainty then all the mandating in the world won't change a thing.

    ”Pope Pius again: [snip]”

    I don't find anything to disagree in this text. Indeed human reason is *not* confined to things that are perceptible to the senses. Nor does human reason require evidence of the kind perceptible to the senses. Thus in modern epistemology one speaks of “basic beliefs”, and of “knowledge by acquaintance”. On the contrary one can argue that human reason cannot go off the ground without first embracing knowledge that transcends what's perceptible to the senses. So, for the example, the past or other minds are not perceptible to the senses.

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  48. Above “Crude” introduced in our discussion the story of Mary wasting the precious stuff and Judas criticizing her. As a matter of fact Judas was right, but still Christ rebuked him and praised Mary. Mary's choice was made good by the charity in her soul that moved it; Judas's choice was made evil by his being judgmental of others he decided were wrong and by his grandstanding. At least that's how I understand the story.

    Let's go with the bible passage again: 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.[b]” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

    Judas was a thief. Judas invoked his concern for the poor as a reason for his objection - in reality, Judas didn't care for the poor. He was trying to help himself; the words, the posturing, the claimed ideology didn't mean a thing. Nor did Mary 'waste' anything; Christ Himself said that the perfume was well-used.

    It's straightforward. But it's a lesson that would rebuke Dianelos. It's a demonstrating that posturing as one pleading on behalf of the poor and weak doesn't make one a good person, or a good Christian - nor does it constitute a defense of a claimed ideology. 'I wish you sold that so we could help the poor!' was a lie.

    How does Dianelos deal with that? By completely ignoring the message, and deciding that Judas was right, but his rightness was made wrong because 'he was judgmental'. That has nothing to do with the passage, but swallowing the actual lesson is too inconvenient. So, he ignores it, and replaces it with a message he likes. Because Jesus and the Holy Spirit would never teach a lesson that Dianelos finds hard, to say nothing of counterintuitive.

    Christ came to Dianelos, but Dianelos decided that He wasn't loving enough according to Dianelos' standards, spit on Him, and kicked Him out into the street. Then he went shopping for a Jesus-alike more to his liking, and found one.

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  49. Is this supposed to be an argument? In the natural light of human reason no less? I trust that since I am not a Catholic I am not being made anathema by the Vatican Council :-)

    I trust that since you are proposing to identify how a Catholic prelate is supposed to behave with regard to teachings by the Catholic Church, you would try to learn what the Catholic Church herself declares about what things are to be believed, and how they are to be held.

    Now it may be the case that we use words differently. For example above you speak as if doubt and faith are incompatible, whereas for me faith means to have trust in the face of uncertainty. In the condition of being certain it makes no sense to speak of faith. So I don't have faith that 2+2=4, nor do I have faith that jumping out of the window will kill me. Nor do I see how either certainty or faith can me “mandated”. If one has found certainty then no such mandating is necessary, if one hasn't found certainty then all the mandating in the world won't change a thing.

    I am sure that we are using the words differently.

    1. Voluntary "doubt" in Catholic tradition is an offence against the virtue of faith: it is an act of the will in a direction opposite to the action of the will in which the will commands the intellect to assent to what God has revealed.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    2088 The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith:

    Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief.

    157 Faith is certain. It is more certain than all human knowledge because it is founded on the very word of God who cannot lie. To be sure, revealed truths can seem obscure to human reason and experience, but "the certainty that the divine light gives is greater than that which the light of natural reason gives."31 "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt."

    150 Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed. As personal adherence to God and assent to his truth, Christian faith differs from our faith in any human person. It is right and just to entrust oneself wholly to God and to believe absolutely what he says. d has revealed.


    St. Paul: "faith is assurance of things unseen". I submit for your consideration that "assurance" is opposed to "uncertainty" and "doubt".

    Canon 750 – § 1. Those things are to be believed by divine and catholic faith which are contained in the word of God as it has been written or handed down by tradition, that is, in the single deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and which are at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn Magisterium of the Church, or by its ordinary and universal Magisterium, which in fact is manifested by the common adherence of Christ’s faithful under the guidance of the sacred Magisterium. All are therefore bound to avoid any contrary doctrines.

    By "divine and catholic faith" is meant a mode of assent that IS certain, that harbors no reservations of doubt.

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  50. "For this reason the Fathers of the Vatican Council laid down nothing new, but followed divine revelation and the acknowledged and invariable teaching of the Church as to the very nature of faith, when they decreed as follows: "All those things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the written or unwritten word of God, and which are pro posed by the Church as divinely revealed, either by a solemn definition or in the exercise of its ordinary and universal Magisterium" (Sess. iii., cap. 3)" Encyclical On the Unity of the Church by Pope Leo XIII, 1896

    To have faith in God and in his revelation is, precisely if it is the VIRTUE granted by the grace of faith, to not have doubt about the matter. This does not deny that what is grasped is grasped "through a glass darkly", so that it is held with some obscurity: it is still "certain" as that is properly used.

    The skeptics and the modernists would declare that ALL that is held by a person is held with uncertainty. What they correctly ascertain is that we do not hold any truths (even the truth that "I am") with the kind of certainty with which God knows eternal truths. Thus our apprehension of truth is in some sense a lesser apprehension than God's, which is "certain" in every possible sense. But it remains that our apprehension of some truths is "certain" in the sense appropriate for the kind of being we are (created, physical beings), and for the _mode_ of the truth as it arrives at our doorstep: sensory apprehension holds for us the mode of certainty appropriate to sensory apprehension. A grasp of concepts that are universals are held in the mind with the certainty appropriate to such an object in a human mind: "triangle" has a meaning to you that is not subject to "uncertainty" that leaves it open to doubt that you are simply mistaken. Truths that are self-evident are held with the certainty appropriate to them: the principle that "a thing cannot 'be' and 'not-be' at the same time and in the same respect" is a truth not subject to uncertainty - a person cannot really doubt its validity (even though we can be unsure as to HOW its certainty is best explained).

    To call the apprehension of truth that occurs in faith "uncertain" is to mis-apply the meanings acquired for "assurance" and "faith" and "certain" that the Catholic Church has come to ascribe for these expressions so that she can speak with clarity to her faithful members. To have a reservation of doubt is NOT "to believe absolutely what he says and has revealed." "Absolutely" leaves no room for such a reservation. "Catholic and divine faith" means, for the Catholic Church, an assent that is without reservation.

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  51. To have faith in God and in his revelation is, precisely if it is the VIRTUE granted by the grace of faith, to not have doubt about the matter. This does not deny that what is grasped is grasped "through a glass darkly", so that it is held with some obscurity: it is still "certain" as that is properly used.

    So much learned from this blog and its comments sections. Just wanted to express my thanks as an onlooker - you put this in a way that made it easier for me to understand than previous attempts.

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  52. Getting back to your comment:

    ”Yet the Vatican Council has defined, "If anyone says that the one true God, our Creator and Lord, cannot be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason by means of the things that are made, let him be anathema"”

    Is this supposed to be an argument? In the natural light of human reason no less? I trust that since I am not a Catholic I am not being made anathema by the Vatican Council :-)

    Don't be ridiculous. What I cited is not supposed to be an argument showing God known, with certainty. It is a citation of an authoritative statement by the Catholic Church what she claims about a truth that CAN be known with certainty, and it is itself a declaration made in a definitive and binding manner as a solemn definition in a Dogmatic Constitution by an Ecumenical Council approved by the Pope - the highest form of declaration available. Thus, even for a Catholic who has not yet accomplished the apprehension of the certain demonstration* of God that the declaration says is possible, he is obliged to accept that such a demonstration is possible to men. That is to say, even here, not waiting for heaven: in the "natural light". To a Catholic, citing this declaration is an "argument from authority" that he should not go around saying "no-one is certain that God exists". To a non-Catholic, it will not constitute an argument from authority that he would feel bound to accept.

    But it SHOULD constitute for such non-Catholic a conclusive proof that any Catholic is obliged to consider that "no-one is certain that God exists" is an unacceptable position for him to abide by. This should be, for him, clear and convincing evidence that he better re-formulate a premise like "no-one is certain that God exists" into a different formulation if he wants to proceed in a manner that might possibly be productive. No Catholic can grant it as a premise.

    *(By "demonstration" I mean what Aristotle and St. Thomas mean, and what Dr. Feser has repeatedly explained, which in this case is based on certain (but difficult) metaphysical principles which many have not accepted but are valid nonetheless. It does not mean a "proof" or "argument" that is convincing to all.)

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  53. Crude:

    Judas was, in word and ideology, coming out as a champion of the poor.

    So judgemental, Crude. I'm sure Judas was just, as Dianelos Georgoudis so eloquently put it, "less attached to fixed norms and texts and more to the living Spirit even at the risk of being wrong."

    It couldn't perhaps be that Judas, and most liberal Christians, are actually led by a self-serving desire to justify their sin rather than Christ's message of love, the mere idea of which does not even cross Dianelos' mind.

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  54. Dianelos Georgoudis:

    So I take it you mean “liberal Christians”, those who are less attached to fixed norms and texts and more to the living Spirit even at the risk of being wrong.

    But how could you possibly risk being wrong by following the living Spirit? That would require that God Himself be wrong, which is impossible.

    Oh right, it's because they're actually following their own personal emotions and desires rather than the Spirit (who's will they could learn something about in those musty old "fixed norms and texts"), and rationalizing their own evil and selfishness as good and the good as evil and selfish.

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  55. The Deuce,

    Well, I can see why there's a distaste for 'texts', since they don't say what Dianelos and company want. Did you know that Jesus once told a woman 'go and sin no more', and He was talking about sexual choices freely made with her own body? No God would say such a thing. The spirit they've been talking to assures them of as much. Etc, etc.

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  56. Crude:

    Did you know that Jesus once told a woman 'go and sin no more', and He was talking about sexual choices freely made with her own body?

    Well sure, but the apostles who passed that text and others on to us also died for "the message we have received," which was WAY overboard and completely unnecessary to the task of caring for the poor as the living Spirit would have us do. So why should we listen to those idiots?

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  57. In fact, if we're going to truly live out the spirit and charity of Jesus Christ's love, I really think it's important we don't let ourselves get too hung up on such trifles as what Jesus did or did not say.

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  58. http://www.cfnews.org/page88/files/09628a2749943e275df71be4fc204ceb-422.html

    I ask the commentators here to read this and tell me, can we even say that cardinal Marx believes in God?

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  59. Ivan,

    I'm guessing you mean Kasper. And frankly, no, I think Kasper doesn't. He just seems himself well-placed to push an agenda that really matters, one which has nothing to do with Catholicism and is in fact antagonistic to it. The irony is that all of his encouragement for people to not regard Church teaching or even clergy as authorities, largely is coming home to roost in his own case. I suspect Kasper and company have been stunned at how many problems they've encountered while having a Pope on their side. Weren't guys like Burke, etc, supposed to just do whatever the Pope said no matter what? And so on. And what about the Catholic Left? They lived up to their name, and most of them left a while ago.

    Between that and the new mood filling the world, I don't think Kasper's going to enjoy his final years.

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  60. Yes, it's been a long day, meant to say Kasper.
    I'm not terribly well versed in philosophy, but as far as I know, the unchanging nature is necessary for something to be God in the first place. Would this place him on the same level as the Mormons, as far as his theism goes?

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  61. Ivan,

    Going by that post and commentary? No. Mormons seem to believe in an unchanging God in some sense. At least where that post is concerned, Kasper comes across as almost Luciferan.

    "The God who is enthroned over the world and history as a changeless being is an offence to man. One must deny him for man’s sake, because he claims for himself the dignity and honor that belong by right to man.... We must resist this God, however, not only for man’s sake, but also for God’s sake. He is not the true God at all, but rather a wretched idol. For a God who is only alongside of and above history, who is not himself history, is a finite God. If we call such a being God, then for the sake of the Absolute we must become absolute atheists. Such a God springs from a rigid worldview; he is the guarantor of the status quo and the enemy of the new.""

    Yeah, when a changeless God must be denied because such a God would rob man of dignity and honor that 'belong by right' to man (where are these rights coming from again?), the Lucifer comparisons are too strong to ignore.

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  62. Tony said...

    " ... Pope Pius again:

    We begin, then, with the philosopher. Modernists place the foundation of religious philosophy in that doctrine which is usually called Agnosticism. According to this teaching human reason is confined entirely within the field of phenomena, that is to say, to things that are perceptible to the senses, and in the manner in which they are perceptible; it has no right and no power to transgress these limits. Hence it is incapable of...
    "

    One hundred years ago, the framing of this whole debate, in all its manifold intellectual forms and its ensuing moral and political flashpoints - which many of us have been painfully and haphazardly discovering, dealing with, and elaborating on for years and years, was spelled out in a nutshell. Long ago. By a pope, no less.

    You don't have to accept the pope's alternative to recognize the truth of his assertion that:

    " ... the Modernists make the transition from Agnosticism, which is a state of pure nescience, to scientific and historic Atheism, which is a doctrine of positive denial ..."

    Thus, mutatis mutandis, Atheism+: a sociopolitical stratagem expected to enhance appetite satisfactions for some under the guise of an enlightened humanism and cry of social justice ... of a kind. A stratagem as ultimately meaningful or meaningless as the universe which the progressive nihilists believe all mind to be a simple manifestation of in the first place.

    But, like Dennett says, you can't quite let the hoi polloi completely in on it, since they might decide to look at their betters as meaningless too. And then act on it, when they begin to find them too demanding or annoying.

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  63. Atheism+

    One of the most fascinating developments of New Atheist idiocy has been the resolute unwillingness of so many to take that particular plunge. It made me wonder how many people in that movement actually ended up there because of religious SJWs to begin with. Since then I've seen some actually start to come around to the idea that maybe there's some truth in religion after all, since at least some believers were warning about that particular brand of poison.

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  64. @ The Deuce,

    ”But how could you possibly risk being wrong by following the living Spirit?

    To throw one's trust in the living Spirit is risky because there are also many spirits of deception. It's easier to get it wrong when one is alone rather than embracing the consensus of two millennia of church tradition including the experience of the Spirit by uncountably many saints and fine theologians – albeit within the complex environment of church politics and the given exigencies of a large organization.

    As far I am concerned both the conservative and the liberal choices are wise, indeed are necessary for the health of the church. We are not enemies or competitors but are joined by our common desire to follow Christ and the desire to see the truth of creation. What is really important is settled in any case, since in the gospels Christ makes it extremely plain what He asks of us: to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbor as He loved us. In short to become like Him.

    Which helps me explain why being a liberal Christian is not as risky as it may seem. First, because what is really important to know is what Christ asks of us, and that's settled. Secondly because you can test any theological belief on the following solid ground: Does this belief make God more lovely to you and moves you to love your neighbor the way Christ loved us? Then it comes from the Spirit of truth. If not, then it comes from a spirit of deception.

    The main thing to keep in mind is that repentance is not about holding true beliefs but about following Christ.

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  65. Does this belief make God more lovely to you and moves you to love your neighbor the way Christ loved us? Then it comes from the Spirit of truth.

    And there you have it. How does Dianelos tell whether a belief is the truth? Simple: would you like God more if this belief were true? You do? Well then, it's true. Indeed, it's better than true, it's from the Spirit of truth, which Dianelos knows, because he likes the truth. Clearly, since he likes this given belief or claim, and how could he like something that was anything but the truth?

    No, Dianelos. We're not on the same side. You defy Christ because you follow something you think is better and 'more lovely', and since it's more lovely, you call it God. The very idea that you could love and cherish the wrong thing doesn't register, nor matter.

    As I said: Christ came to Dianelos, but Dianelos decided that He wasn't loving enough according to Dianelos' standards, spit on Him, and kicked Him out into the street. Then he went shopping for a Jesus-alike more to his liking, and found one.

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  66. As far I am concerned both the conservative and the liberal choices are wise, indeed are necessary for the health of the church. We are not enemies or competitors but are joined by our common desire to follow Christ and the desire to see the truth of creation.

    As far as I am concerned, if you follow the liberal Christians out to their necessary logical conclusions, you inevitably arrive at the modernists. Of whom Pope Pius X had this to say:

    3. Though they express astonishment themselves, no one can justly be surprised that We number such men among the enemies of the Church, if, leaving out of consideration the internal disposition of soul, of which God alone is the judge, he is acquainted with their tenets, their manner of speech, their conduct. Nor indeed will he err in accounting them the most pernicious of all the adversaries of the Church. For as We have said, they put their designs for her ruin into operation not from without but from within; hence, the danger is present almost in the very veins and heart of the Church, whose injury is the more certain, the more intimate is their knowledge of her. Moreover they lay the axe not to the branches and shoots, but to the very root, that is, to the faith and its deepest fires. And having struck at this root of immortality, they proceed to disseminate poison through the whole tree, so that there is no part of Catholic truth from which they hold their hand, none that they do not strive to corrupt. Further, none is more skilful, none more astute than they, in the employment of a thousand noxious arts; for they double the parts of rationalist and Catholic, and this so craftily that they easily lead the unwary into error; and since audacity is their chief characteristic, there is no conclusion of any kind from which they shrink or which they do not thrust forward with pertinacity and assurance. To this must be added the fact, which indeed is well calculated to deceive souls, that they lead a life of the greatest activity, of assiduous and ardent application to every branch of learning, and that they possess, as a rule, a reputation for the strictest morality. Finally, and this almost destroys all hope of cure, their very doctrines have given such a bent to their minds, that they disdain all authority and brook no restraint; and relying upon a false conscience, they attempt to ascribe to a love of truth that which is in reality the result of pride and obstinacy.

    To love Christ requires knowing Christ and adhering to him. As St. Jerome said, you can't know Christ fully without knowledge of the Bible. And as the Church says, you can't reliably adhere to Christ without the corrections and discernments of the Church, who protects us from the errors of the heresies, which constitute ways of FAILING to know Christ, (however sincerely those innovative heresies were first proposed). Catholics cannot love Christ while disregarding the clear meaning of the Church's teaching on who He is. Those who claim a "love of truth" while repudiating the truth His Church has trumpeted from time immemorial are those in the thrall of pride and obstinacy, as Pius said.

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  67. @ Ivan Knezović

    as far as I know, the unchanging nature is necessary for something to be God in the first place

    As far as I understand it: God is the greatest conceivable being. This entails that God is the metaphysical ultimate. Given the reasoning of various philosophers from Aristotle to Aquinas the metaphysical ultimate is known to be simple: with no parts or differentiation, being outside of space and time and thus unchangeable, and so on. So God is simple, but this does not entail that God's nature is exhausted in its simplicity. God, being the greatest conceivable being, is also a personal being, indeed a personal being in whose image we are created, the personal creator of the world who through special providence takes part in history, who incarnated and suffered for our sake, and so on. To use a rough analogy: Socrates is a human, but the nature of Socrates is not exhausted by being a human. Socrates is also a great philosopher who lived and taught in ancient Athens, and so on. To say that Socrates is a human does deny all else that Socrates is (and indeed is necessarily), and which is in fact what we most value in him.

    So the way I see it there is no conflict between A-T metaphysics and the personalist conception of God. What actually matters to us existentially speaking is the personalist conception, because we experience God as a person. The absolute simple is not something amenable to being experienced. I think some theologians therefore speak of the unknowable “Godhead” to distinguish from the personally knowable God – but one should be clear that the distinction is in our experience and not in the reality of God.

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  68. So the way I see it there is no conflict between A-T metaphysics and the personalist conception of God.

    Oddly, both the A-T metaphysicists, who actually understand that metaphysics, and the theistic personalist theologians, DO see a conflict between them. You mean that you have managed to overcome the errors of both groups? How amazing!

    You ought to write a book that explains each side of the debate in detail, with copious cites illustrating each group's main theses, and then explain how to resolve their differences without losing the core essence of each position. That would be a book worth buying! Because, you know, THEY don't think it is possible to do so.

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  69. @ Tony,

    since you are proposing to identify how a Catholic prelate is supposed to behave

    I think you are right, I am criticizing Cardinal Burke's choices. I understand you are saying that as a non Catholic who has little understanding of the Church's ways it's not my place to do so, and I tend to agree. So let me stop, and only express my wish that the Church will resolve this in an exemplary manner.

    Voluntary "doubt" in Catholic tradition is an offence against the virtue of faith: it is an act of the will in a direction opposite to the action of the will in which the will commands the intellect to assent to what God has revealed.

    Here you lost me. Doubt is not voluntary but a factual state of our mind. The will does not command the intellect; the human condition is such that one cannot will the intellect to believe in something. And that's a very good thing for if the will could command the intellect, then reason would go out of the window. I think the most it makes sense to say is “when you find yourself in doubt about church teaching then pray and study more”.

    Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief

    I find there is continuous misrepresentation here. No theist doubts that what God reveals is true. One doubts what it is that God reveals. So, for example, the Church holds that God has revealed the truth of hellism, but some think the Church is wrong in this. The Roman Catholic church holds that it is a revealed truth that divorcees should never remarry and if they do should never be given communion, but the Eastern Church disagrees.

    Faith is certain. It is more certain than all human knowledge because it is founded on the very word of God who cannot lie.

    I find this is tortuous language.

    ”the certainty that the divine light gives is greater than that which the light of natural reason gives”

    This is plain language, and I agree. It goes without saying that it refers to theological knowledge.

    [continues below]

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  70. [continues from above]

    ”St. Paul: "faith is assurance of things unseen". I submit for your consideration that "assurance" is opposed to "uncertainty" and "doubt".”

    I am certain we agree that Paul is a huge authority on what faith is. I mean he was a persecutor of Christians who had never met Christ in the flesh, and yet through faith he became an apostle and arguably the most influential person in Christianity after Christ Himself. And we feel this particular verse is a pearl.

    Now here's the trouble: The English translations of Hebrew 11:1 vary quite a bit. The more recent NRSV is “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”, but the older KJV is “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In this case I find the KJV closer to the original. The word translated as assurance or substance in “hypostasis”. Hypostasis is an important concept in Christian theology, since in the Greek the Trinity is described as three hypostases, not three persons (which I think is confusing language). The etymology of “hypostasis” is “what stands below”, or “what sustains” and the meaning of it is far closer to the metaphysical “substance” than to epistemological “assurance”. An even better translation might by “ground”. What is clear is that Paul understands faith as a property of hope, perhaps that which makes hope be true – what connects hope with reality. Which fits well with how Christ in the gospels uses the concept, namely as “trust” in a belief, or as the state of mind which moves one to put one's trust in that belief and act on it. Equally suggestive is the second part of Paul's sentence, and here the translations are close. In the original Greek the key word is “elegxos” which in my mind is close to “test” or to “experiential proof”, a more active concept than “conviction” or “evidence” (the KJV translation being again the better one). By faith then one tests or checks the truth of things unseen, of spiritual truths.

    So if faith is the ground of hope and the proof of things spiritual. Faith is experienced as trust by which a belief becomes causally powerful – so it is not correct to say that faith is about certainty. If one is already certain in some belief then neither talk about hope nor about trust makes any sense.

    In conclusion the way I see it is as follows: Faith is the cognitive faculty by which one knows spiritual truths, and knows them with greater confidence than what is possible by natural reason which is a cognitive faculty we have for visible things (of course since creation is rational the deliverances of faith and reason cannot contradict each other). Faith is born in hope, is tested by trusting and thus by acting on that hope, and is realized in the transformation of our soul into the likeness of Christ, which is the end of our soul.

    the VIRTUE granted by the grace of faith

    I am not one to argue by quotes, but it is memorable how in the gospels Christ calls to the disciples “O you of little faith” (and how right He was – one of the twelve betrays Him, one denies Him three times, and all but one are too afraid to stand by Him in His hour of suffering). But when Christ in the gospels says these words one sees He is admonishing the disciples; He wants something from them. It doesn't make sense to think He was saying “O you to whom I have granted little faith”.

    Thanks very much Tony for the challenging discussion, but I see you have written a lot and I am not sure I will be able to keep up. But God willing I will.

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  71. Tomorrow the son of a Scottish woman is going to be our 45th president!

    How awesome it that!!!!

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  72. @ Crude,

    ”How does Dianelos tell whether a belief is the truth? Simple: would you like God more if this belief were true? You do? Well then, it's true. Indeed, it's better than true, it's from the Spirit of truth, which Dianelos knows, because he likes the truth.”

    Only that's not what I was trying to say. Please don't make fun of this issue. It is the Spirit that guides the church and thus it is of great importance to discuss how one discerns what comes from the Spirit of truth and not from spirits of deception.

    What I was trying to say is really very simple. We know Christ's command: To love God with all our heart and to love our neighbor in the way the Christ showed us in His own life among us. Every theological belief that moves us to follow Christ's command must then come from the Spirit of truth and not from spirits of deception.

    Now in the previous comment when speaking about God I considered using the word “loveable” instead of “lovely”, but decided on the latter because I wanted my reader to consider the intimate connection between love and beauty. I remember how it was when I first read the gospels and came to recognize in them the Word of God. What moved me to that recognition was simply the great beauty of the message, indeed the divinely perfect beauty of it. It's not that I “liked” the message. If anything the ethical message is extremely hard, and even though I am universalist I also understood the message about the momentous damage that sin produces. Consider what Christ asks of us: Turn the other cheek and do not return evil, indeed love your enemies and pray for them, if somebody wants to have your coat give her you shirt also, forgive all who harm you and do not judge others lest you be judged, consider the lilies and the birds and do not worry for material goods, build up your treasure in heaven and not on earth where it will rot away, if you love Me then be like I am and fear not the Calvary. This is not at all a message to be “liked”. But it is in the beauty of that message I recognized Christ, and it is because of the personal beauty I saw in Him that I loved Him.

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  73. Dianelos,

    Only that's not what I was trying to say. Please don't make fun of this issue.

    I don't feign reverence. Especially not in a situation like this. And really, my point remains: whether you're making God more 'loveable' or 'lovely', the point remains that you change God to be that which you can love. That God that tells women 'Go, and sin no more' based on what sexual choices they make, is not a lovely God to you. The God that tells men that some kinds of sexual choices - which they clench their fists and scream "But it's LOVE" - is not a 'more loveable' God.

    So, this is the God that gets sacrificed.

    You see it right in your response. The God that talks about hell, the God that condemns adultery, the God that talks about eternal damnation - the same God that talks about loving your neighbor - gets chopped off. Not lovely enough for Dianelos, and thus He doesn't make the cut. Come to think of it, God defining 'neighbor' to exclude people (which He did) gets forgotten as well, and likely the God for whom 'love thy neighbor as yourself' does NOT mean 'love everyone as yourself', is less lovely, and banished too.

    Really, it gets down to this.

    But it is in the beauty of that message I recognized Christ, and it is because of the personal beauty I saw in Him that I loved Him.

    You're not called to love what you find beautiful, Dianelos. None of us are. If God gives a hard teaching, a teaching we don't find beautiful - if damnation is not beautiful but is nevertheless the case - that's what we're called to love. It's not 'Love God with all your heart - if you find Him beautiful'.

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  74. One thing that bugs me about these conversations is that the very acknowledgment of sin as sin is what gets condemned as cold, cruel, mean-hearted. This isn't a question of being kind to a person who is caught up in a sin. Recognizing a sin as a sin is itself the cruel thing.

    Which just goes back to the issue that Christ Himself, by these standards, was mean and callous. 'Go and sin no more'? How judgmental, how intolerant, how dare He. By calling the woman's act sinful, Christ exempted Himself from the modern view of mercy, love and kindness. So much the worse for the modern view. Right?

    That also gets back to Kasper's teeth-grinding. If God's unchangeable, then so is Christ, and Christ commands are as true now as they were - which means Kasper's chained and can't get creative with innovative new teachings. To hear Kasper say it, if those quotes were accurate, that's intolerable - God is robbing man of mankind's right. Again, I have trouble NOT seeing Lucifer in that one, and I'm not exactly a devil-invoker normally. But there it's almost too on the nose - I'd think someone were quoting a schmarmy movie.

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  75. Every theological belief that moves us to follow Christ's command must then come from the Spirit of truth and not from spirits of deception.

    Seemingly every saint who wrote more than a few lines for posterity told us that Satan will go to great lengths to fool men into thinking that "this is love of Christ and neighbor" with something that has elements of it, superficialities of it, etc; but that in the long run is a step in the road away from Christ. The test isn't "did it move us to follow Christ's command to love once, or a few times". Nor "did it move us to follow some of Christ's commands". If we follow some but repudiate others, then does the fact that what moves us to do this is "moving us to follow Christ's commands" part of the time mean it's right, the Spirit of Truth and not spirits of deception? By no means.

    People get fooled all the time about what it LOOKS like to follow Christ's command to "love God" and "love your neighbor". They THINK that they are following Christ, but they are following the spirit of deception. One reason there is a Church, there is a body of ecclesiastical authority, is to stand as a witness for the Spirit of Truth apart from what is inside a man, as a back-check on what he feels moment by moment. What this Church sets forth in its independent testimony is, also "what Christ commands" because Christ said "he who hears you hears Me."

    So, when that Church says (as she said for centuries, following Christ's dictum "in the beginning it was not so...") "that post-divorce adulterous relationship you have - what you feel in it looks like 'love' to you, but it isn't love, because it is incompatible with God because is is contrary to the faithful image of love God designed marriage to reflect of His faithful love", a Christian must realize that this testimony to him is an act of charity helping him re-discover real love, rather than accepting its fraudulent pretense that the world, the flesh, and the devil tempt him to believe is love.

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  76. One thing that bugs me about these conversations is that the very acknowledgment of sin as sin is what gets condemned as cold, cruel, mean-hearted. This isn't a question of being kind to a person who is caught up in a sin. Recognizing a sin as a sin is itself the cruel thing.

    The thing is it's not really about sin per se, but only sexual sin. In many other ways we are as Puritanical as ever - take smoking, for example. Smokers are today's lepers, worthy of only being cast out and shunned. And racism, insufficient respect for the environment, and even less than enthusiastic support for the sexual revolution are seen not only as sins, but as unforgivable ones.

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  77. David T,

    Yep. There's a quote from Chesterton (well, a story) that floats around these circles at times, about only forgiving the sins we don't think are really sins anyway. Remarkably apt.

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  78. "People get fooled all the time about what it LOOKS like to follow Christ's command to "love God" and "love your neighbor"."

    Years ago, probably like many others whose personal tastes were conventional but who disliked coercing anyone, I thought that the libertarian position offered a solution.

    'So, no, my dear coprophagous friend I don't approve of your habits and aims, but tuck-in, if you must; and we can each go our own ways. Different drummers and all that business.

    But it turns out that, in the words of our Dear Recently Departed Leader, "tolerance is not enough", 'cause that's not how "we care for each other".

    Apparently you must witness, underwrite, somehow learn not to puke, and to applaud as well.

    I guess loving your neighbor as yourself, is a street where the accommodation runs only one way.

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  79. Crude:

    Me:

    Which implies that "the left," whatever that is, only (or mainly or not infrequently) invokes care for the good to condemn the good and pursue selfish ends.

    You:

    I'm not implying that, I'm stating it openly.

    Me:

    And I'm stating openly that you've given no evidence for this, and that it's far too convenient believe this of all of your political opponents. Also, if you feel free to assume most of your political opponents don't really care about the poor and are really good-condemners/selfish-end-seekers, you have no right to complain if they assume that you don't really care about tradition and are only homophobes/misogynists.

    Bad faith assumptions are free and available to everyone, after all.

    Nor do I think 'the left' is particularly mysterious.

    It is in this context, because I wasn't clear on whether you're referring to Catholic leftists/liberals or political leftists/liberals. Those groups of people don't overlap much in general and are often motivated by very different concerns. As a person who is very much a political liberal but not at all a religious liberal, I am perhaps more sensitive than most to how often the two are casually conflated on this board.

    Find the people who were saying, as of November 7th, 'Love Trumps Hate, it's important to respect the results of the election, whoever wins will need all our love and support to heal this country', and who now are saying anything but. Referenced not because that topic is relevant, but because it's the most recent demonstration of the loving, thoughtful mantra revealing itself to be a pantload.

    I don't really remember anyone saying the things you said. In the liberal circles I roll in, it was pretty much unanimous that a Trump win would be an unprecedented disaster. I don't remember any liberals, prior to the election, pledging to "support" much less "love" Donald Trump if he won. Can you provide any evidence that this was a widespread notion? Or, I guess you don't need to. Who needs evidence when you can just assume your opponents are operating out of bad faith?

    And also, and quite obviously, the hypocrisy goes both ways, because there were conservatives who said the election was rigged and supported Trump's declaration that he would not respect the results of the election. Now they're insisting that "Donald won fair and square" and insisting that liberals accept the results of the election.

    It's just beyond childish to pretend either side has a monopoly on hypocrisy.

    Everyone knows it's possible to be insincere, however, most of us assume both sides have probably equal portions of people who are insincere. So, most of us don't see insincerity as something that needs a lot of argument or attention, since it equals out.

    Your assertion, however, seems to be that one side is far more insincere than the other, which is the kind of claim that requires the kind of evidence that you have given none of.

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  80. And to forestall any objection: as a Protestant looking in from the outside, I tend to agree with the Conservatives here that, at the very least, Pope Francis owes the Catholic world a clarification. What's the point of having a point if he can't resolve matters like this?

    Furthermore, one of the things I admire most about Catholics is how seriously they take marriage. And I agree in particular with the point that it's no use invoking Jesus's "love and mercy" to argue for more leniency in these areas since the source of the Catholic prohibition on divorce and remarriage is the verbatim words of Jesus himself in the NT.

    So I am marginally on the conservative side here. I just disagree with how everyone is painting the liberal side as uniformly acting in bad faith (and in particular with how they're dragging in political liberals with religious liberals and treating them as if they're a singular phenomenon.)

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  81. The second sentence should read: "What's the point in having a Pope..."

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  82. Chad,

    And I'm stating openly that you've given no evidence for this, and

    Dooooooon't caaaaaaaaaaare.

    There you are, clenched tight, *demanding* I prove to your satisfaction that many on the left were, in fact, insisting that questioning the election results would be an act of treason, that the idea that the election could be 'hacked' was ludicrous, that a 'peaceful transition of power' was important - not to mention the hilarity of 'love trumps hate' giving way to goddamn *rage*. On pain of my not engaging you, you will declare that I've *gasp* made a claim and not substantiated it to your satisfaction, ergo...

    ...What? Ergo, you're dissatisfied and avowedly state your disagreement that I didn't engage with you for four hundred comments? Whaddya know - those are terms I can accept.

    So I am marginally on the conservative side here.

    HA! You're more than marginally full of baloney.

    This is a glorious day. Trump is president, and he is defiant. The world trembles. But, in the interest of false fairness, I will cede part of my response to give space to a leftist's voice:

    Enjoy, everyone!

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  83. @ Crude,

    ”I don't feign reverence.”

    :- ) That's ok, I am not a priest.

    ”That God that tells women 'Go, and sin no more' based on what sexual choices they make, is not a lovely God to you.”

    On the contrary, that passage in the gospels (John 8:3 ff) strikes me as one of the most beautiful there are. Here, an adulterous woman is brought to Christ to be punished by death according to the law. Christ protects her, tells her that He is not condemning her, and lets her go asking her to sin no more. To me this is an extremely beautiful example of charity, one which shows how we all should put the love for our neighbor first.

    Now you observe that He told her to “sin no more”. Why is that remarkable? Adultery is a sin, sin damages the soul, and that's why Christ asked her to stop sinning. Surely it's not like when we love our neighbor we suggest to them to go on sinning. What's remarkable is that He stopped her punishment and refused to condemn her even though she had sinned.

    ”Come to think of it, God defining 'neighbor' to exclude people (which He did) gets forgotten as well, and likely the God for whom 'love thy neighbor as yourself' does NOT mean 'love everyone as yourself', is less lovely, and banished too.”

    I am curious. According to your understanding which people did God exclude from being our neighbor and thus from the commandment that we should love them?

    I am asking because Christ in the gospels appears to say very clearly that we should love everyone, even our enemies. For example in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) Christ says: ”You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”

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  84. There you are, clenched tight, *demanding* I prove to your satisfaction that many on the left were, in fact, insisting that questioning the election results would be an act of treason, that the idea that the election could be 'hacked' was ludicrous, that a 'peaceful transition of power' was important - not to mention the hilarity of 'love trumps hate' giving way to goddamn *rage*.

    I'm not demanding anything, I'm just pointing out that you are, as usual, talking out of your ass.

    On pain of my not engaging you, you will declare that I've *gasp* made a claim and not substantiated it to your satisfaction, ergo...

    Ergo, you're talking out of your ass.

    HA! You're more than marginally full of baloney.

    Oh, that's right, all liberals are always lying, because otherwise arguing with them would be too hard.

    My bad, Crude. Forgot who I was talking to for a second. Continue being you.

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  85. "I just disagree with how everyone" - To be fair, not everyone did this, just the intellectual bottom-feeders. I'm sure the more thoughtful among us don't agree.

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  86. Chad,

    I'm not demanding anything, I'm just pointing out that you are

    Yes, yes, Chad. Leftists don't lie in abundance, , they don't - even in the most institutional ways - say one thing when it benefits them, and another when it doesn't.

    And you're a sterling example of a leftist (or is it someone 'with friends on the left' nowadays?) who is honesty and genteel, and not a poster child for the phenomena I speak of.

    Whatever gets you through the day.

    I'd say you should be ashamed for lying out your ass, but given what else you dishonestly defend doing with it, how surprised can I be?

    Dianelos,

    Adultery is a sin, sin damages the soul, and that's why Christ asked her to stop sinning. Surely it's not like when we love our neighbor we suggest to them to go on sinning.

    Rather puts this into perspective, doesn't it: "I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

    I am curious. According to your understanding which people did God exclude from being our neighbor and thus from the commandment that we should love them?

    No, I said we're not called to love everyone as ourselves, and that Christ excluded some people from being our neighbor. Two kinds of love here.

    Look at Luke 10:

    27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]”

    28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

    29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

    30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

    36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

    37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

    Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”


    Not everyone is our neighbor. We may be called to love everyone, but we're not called to love everyone as ourselves. I'll note that God may love everyone, but some people are damned all the same.

    Now, this is the sort of teaching which someone will look at, frown, and say 'No, that's not *maximally loving*. Our neighbor is EVERYONE! Loving them is not enough, we have to love everyone as our ourselves!' Great. Except that's not what Christ said. In fact, He specifically chose to make a contrast on this point.

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  87. Anon,

    I'm sure the more thoughtful among us don't agree.

    Please.

    The hallmarks of the left throughout the 20th century were atheist governments doing all and everything in the name of the poor and downtrodden, prompting engaging in active and passive mass-slaughter, before and while instituting regimes that were dishonest to their core - right down to institutionalized lying. We've since then moved on to the phase where leftists just lie about what took place in those institutions.

    In the wake of this past election there was 'an outbreak of hate crimes!', with crime after crime turning out to be fake, which fit the character of popularized hate crimes before the election too. Justified, by the way, because the people who engage in them see themselves as advancing a cause more important than honesty.

    Note, by the way, these examples are not cases of being mistaken - but of active dishonesty. The Soviets weren't mistaken about their five year plan forecasts - they lied about them. These were not hate crime 'misunderstandings' - they were lies. And if the lies succeeded, they would have justified themselves, in their view. Just ask Harry Reid. And there's very little in the way of left-wing outrage at or condemnation of any of this.

    I could go on, and really, the examples from the past election alone are as abundant as they are fresh. And notice that I didn't just provide examples of individuals lying, but of full-blown institutional lying in leftist governments as an accepted practice, as a matter of course.

    Either way, it's easy to see the parallel with Judas, angrily chiding about how such and such act could have been done for the benefit of the poor, when in reality he didn't care about that.

    But what's the point again? Getting liars to concede they are, in fact, lying? C'mon. Convincing other people of the issue? Maybe I can whip out some facts that they'd missed, but frankly - most people know what I'm talking about already. Hence so many people believing the media is biased towards the left, hence statistically so many in the media are on the left, and hence trust in the media currently at an all-time low.

    You'll sneer, perhaps. Chad, still smarting from the times I called him out for his dishonesty, will complain bitterly and snarl. You'll both do it under a Trump presidency, though, which means I'll be looking on with a big ol' grin.

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  88. Crude,

    I am sorry to intrude, but it appears to me that you are completely missing the point of the story Jesus is telling. In fact Jesus is contrasting the behavior of the priest and the Levite (both Jews) with the behavior of the Samaritan (a foreigner). In this case it was the Samaritan who acted as a neighbor, while the other two acted as strangers (and fail to assist their fellow man).

    Best regards

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  89. Vasco,

    I am sorry to intrude, but it appears to me that you are completely missing the point of the story Jesus is telling.

    You're ignoring why Jesus was telling that story, and what the point was. He was asked 'Who is my neighbor?' And he ends that story asking, 'Which of these was a neighbor to the man?'

    The samaritan was. Not the priest, and not the levite. Definitely not the bandits.

    Jesus didn't say 'They are all your neighbors.'

    Jesus is setting a standard for who our neighbor is, and it's a behavioral one. But not everyone meets that standard. We may be called to love everyone, but loving everyone as ourselves is a different standard, and Jesus lays out who is our neighbor. It's not the priest, and not the levite.

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  90. Crude,

    He was not asked 'Who is my neighbor?', the question was "Who acted has a neighbor"

    (“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”)

    And in the story those who were expected to act as neighbors (the priest and the Levite), in fact acted as strangers (as if they had no moral obligation to assist the man that was robbed), while the one where that sort of behavior would be "more" acceptable (the Samaritan, a stranger) acted as a neighbor.

    The point really is that everyone is your neighbor (although not everyone acts as one, but that is a different issue…).


    Best regards






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  91. Vasco,

    He was not asked 'Who is my neighbor?', the question was "Who acted has a neighbor"

    And the point of asking that was to pick out who we are to love as ourselves.

    Which is why this is wrong: The point really is that everyone is your neighbor

    Our neighbor is judged by their actions. It really isn't 'everyone'. It wasn't the jew or the levite, no matter what their blood or authority relationship was.

    And no, 'people not acting like neighbors' isn't a different issue. It's the central issue. That's literally the standard Christ lays down for identifying neighbors. Behavior - specifically, kind and loving treatment - is what supercedes. People who do not act that way, are not our neighbors. That's precisely why Christ says 'Love your neighbor as yourself', and not 'Love everyone as yourself'.

    Now, we're to love everyone - including our enemies. But loving them as ourselves? No, that's not expected of us. Saying it is renders the whole parable pointless, and Christ's words as incoherent.

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  92. Crude,

    I see your point (but I do not agree with you). It appears to me that you are giving a particular significance to the expression “love as yourself” as being distinct from “love”, which I think is not justified.

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  93. @ Tony

    ”Seemingly every saint who wrote more than a few lines for posterity told us that Satan will go to great lengths to fool men into thinking that "this is love of Christ and neighbor" with something that has elements of it, superficialities of it, etc; but that in the long run is a step in the road away from Christ.”

    “Love”, like many an important word, is used with different meanings. For example it is often used as synonymous to “desire” or “like” or even “make sex with”. But all that is irrelevant.

    I submit that every person of normal cognitive faculties who reads the gospels understands how Christ means to “love our neighbor”. He specifically says that we should love each other like He loved us when He was among us: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another”. Nothing can be clearer than that, and no room is left for misunderstanding the Christian meaning of “love”. Moreover Christ in the gospels is very plainspoken about what loving each other entails, and says: Do not return evil, if they want your coat offer them your shirt also, love and pray for your enemies, do not judge lest you be judged, consider the lilies and do not worry for material goods, and so on. The message of Christ is not just beautiful but is also very coherent: All these specific commands describe how those who perfectly love their neighbor will behave. And if one loves God with all one's heart one will have the strength and even the desire to do Christ's commands. It's all crystal clear. On Judgment Day Christians will not have the excuse “I misunderstood what You asked of me”. Or “I was confused by the spirits of deception about what 'love your neighbor' means”. In the case of Christians this excuse cannot be true; unless one wishes to misunderstand which is not really a deception. Now I hope I am not being judgmental here; after all I cannot be certain about other peoples' condition, but I really cannot imagine somebody reading the gospels and misunderstanding what Christ asks of us. At least in my case I know I have no excuse whatsoever.

    On the other hand since you are so well read I'd appreciate it if you'd direct me to some source with advice on how to avoid being deceived about spiritual truths.

    ” The test isn't "did it move us to follow Christ's command to love once, or a few times". Nor "did it move us to follow some of Christ's commands".”

    Yes, quite right. Repentance expresses itself in all of one's nature, and not in doing some good here but not there, in loving this neighbor but not that one. One can become less or more similar to Christ, but one can't become similar half and half. One is either hot or cold, nor half hot and half cold. The wisdom in the church's teaching is also quite clear and fits well: Repentance is about the growth of charity in our soul, since charity is what characterizes the condition of the soul that selflessly loves. As charity is one thing, so repentance is one thing.

    The opposite path, the path of perdition, is characterized by the growth of vices, for vices are the expression of lack of charity in the soul, they are the damage that sinning produces in it. Luckily for us the seven cardinal vices - the bedrock of all sin – are interconnected. Thus a practical way to repentance is to concentrate and try to overcome one particular vice (given one's character the one that is easier to overcome) and lo and behold the grip of all other vices will weaken. I found out about this church teaching only very recently, and wish I had learned about this as a young man. I am thinking that the religious education of the young spends too much time on secondary matters and thus it is easy for the young mind to overlook what is really important. Religious education should be centered in soteriology. That's what's really useful. Religion is not about God; it's about our relationship with God.

    [continues below]

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  94. [continues from above]

    ”that post-divorce adulterous relationship you have - what you feel in it looks like 'love' to you, but it isn't love, because it is incompatible with God because is is contrary to the faithful image of love God designed marriage to reflect of His faithful love”

    I wouldn't know myself since I have never divorced. But some people who divorce and remarry do appear to genuinely love each other. Who are we to judge? Perhaps the thought is that remarried divorcees are in grave sin and therefore it cannot be the case that they genuinely love each other. I understand this thought, since it seems reasonable to me that genuine love will not move people to sin. Given that, there are two possible implications: Either remarried divorcees do not genuinely love each other, or else remarried divorcees who genuinely love each other are not gravely sinning. In my judgment what Christ in the gospels says about divorce is clear (for example in Matthew 5:31-32), but as you know according to the Eastern Orthodox church under certain conditions to divorce and remarry is better than the alternative (which we can all imagine). So perhaps that's the charitable position to have.

    There is the separate much discussed question concerning the freedom the Catholic Church's Amoris Laetitia gives to the priest to under certain conditions give communion to remarried divorcees. Again I think that's the charitable thing to do.

    Given that repentance (to become like Christ) is to grow in charity, I'd say that charity is more important than adherence to the letter of scripture. Christ asks us to follow Him by becoming like He is, not to follow the letter of the written text. I suppose the question we are discussing is this: In case of disagreement where is the voice of Christ the clearest, in the charity of our soul or in biblical literalism?

    Actually – it just occurred to me – we have a living example of such a question being answered in the New Testament, namely where Paul and Peter disagree whether the letter of the law applies to the Gentiles. Here too what Christ says in the gospels is quite clear (for example in Matthew 5:18), namely that the letter always applies. Yet Paul who suggested that the church should not follow the letter won the day. And so today the church does not require circumcision or abstaining from eating pork, let alone the stoning of adulterous women. So in the practice of tradition charity has been given precedence to scriptural literalism.

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  95. Vasco,

    I see your point (but I do not agree with you). It appears to me that you are giving a particular significance to the expression “love as yourself” as being distinct from “love”, which I think is not justified.

    The problem is, it's not just me who's giving significance to it, but Christ. This is literally a point Christ was asked to clarify on, and He did - by laying down a standard, and even expressly picking out which was the neighbor in the example. He did not say 'everyone is your neighbor'. In fact, he contrasted the neighbors with the non-neighbors.

    I note again, Christ talked pretty damning of a lot of people. He talked of literal hellfire being prepared for some people - and note, it's beside the point if someone will bend over backwards and insist that the hellfire is temporary. If Christ loves everyone (and that's a big if), we have to accept God loves people who He literally condemns to Hell, and punishes.

    That alone should shake people, since when people talk about 'love', they tend to have very predictably modern understandings. Can you love by punishing? Can you love by condemning? Can you love by saying 'You are sinning, and you need to stop'? For a lot of people the answer is 'No, no, no'. Christ's model is otherwise.

    This circles back to what I mean when I talk about people constructing a version of Christ they find palatable. So, Christ says that if you divorce your wife for such and such reason, you're an adulterer. The modern response is, "That's not very charitable, not the most perfectly loving response in my view. Therefore, Christ couldn't have meant that." I think that clearly fails.

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  96. Taking Acts 11 into consideration, it seems that Paul's rebuke of Peter was a result of Peter not "practicing what he preached". I find your sudden love for St. Paul refreshing though. Perhaps you should read up on his treatment of adultery. I'll say beforehand, you probably won't find it all that beautiful.

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  97. Crude,

    If I may add something to your comments: The very fact that Jesus specifically mentioned that we have to love our enemies alludes to the fact that there is a distinction between love for enemies and love for neighbors. Indeed, Jesus could have just said that we have to love everyone exactly the same, regardless of if they are neighbors or enemies, and yet he did not do so; rather, he said to love our enemies, but to love our neighbors as ourselves.

    Vasco,

    You said:

    I see your point (but I do not agree with you). It appears to me that you are giving a particular significance to the expression “love as yourself” as being distinct from “love”, which I think is not justified.

    But it is obvious that there is a distinction between the two, and a critical one at that. Consider, for example, that my love for myself includes my desire and right for self-preservation; as such, while my love for my enemy means that I should not wish him harm and I should wish him well, my love for my neighbor—because it is loving my neighbor as I love myself—means that I would even be willing to lay down my life for my neighbor, but that is something that I would obviously not do for my enemy. In fact, it is absurd to think that the love is the same in both respects, for if it was, then I could not protect myself if I was ever attacked by an enemy, for I would have to love him as myself, and since I want to live, I could not take his life given my need to treat him as I want to be treated. But, obviously, self-defense is entirely moral, and the reason is because my love for myself, and for my neighbor, is greater than my love for my enemy, so I can even kill my enemy if I have to in order to defend either myself or my neighbor.

    Finally, note that Christ tells us that the greatest love is someone who lays his life down for a friend, not just for anyone, and definitely not for an enemy.

    Regards.
    www.reconquistainitiative.com

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  98. Hey Recon. Agreed on all fronts. Glad to see you had the same in mind. :)

    Keep up with the blogging, it's been fascinating reading even if I've been relatively silent.

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  99. @ Tony,

    ”Oddly, both the A-T metaphysicists, who actually understand that metaphysics, and the theistic personalist theologians, DO see a conflict between them.”

    Do they? I know Feser sees a problem with theistic personalism, but does the same apply to all specialists on both sides? God is a big subject matter; I'd say that A-T metaphysicists focus on God's being the metaphysically ultimate, whereas personalist theologians focus on God being not only the ground but also a participant in creation – Who takes part in history, Whom we directly experience, and with Whom we build a personal relationship.

    Now if it is the case that specialists on both sides see a conflict then perhaps the reason is that they keep their field of vision too narrow – as they say to a hammer everything looks like a nail. Or, of course, I could be wrong. I wonder, do you see any problem with my simple solution?

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  100. Crude,

    Thanks. Greatly appreciated. I am going to start putting some of the essays together into e-books soon, which is why a lot of the most recent essays are written about the same theme.

    Regards.

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  101. I submit that every person of normal cognitive faculties who reads the gospels understands how Christ means to “love our neighbor”. He specifically says that we should love each other like He loved us when He was among us: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another”. Nothing can be clearer than that, and no room is left for misunderstanding the Christian meaning of “love”.

    How can you say such blindly nonsensical things? "every person...understands"? "Nothing can be clearer than that"? If that's so, how is it that for 2000+ years, the Church FAILED to understand what you think is true about some divorcees who remarry? SOMEBODY - including a lot of really intelligent people, doesn't understand, because they DO dispute whether the remarried person REALLY DOES love their "spouse".

    Let's put it this way: when you really love a person enough to give them yourself in marriage, you really do vow lifelong fidelity to them. This lifelong fidelity, in the vows, is not contingent on their behavior. That love is, clearly, a kind of love, for it so well reflects the love Christ showed us. If one spouse then dishonors their vow, and becomes unfaithful, and leaves, what is the act of love of the victim spouse? You have said it above: Christ calls us to return love for hatred, doing good to those who harm us. The victim spouse's act of love is to remain faithful as he or she vowed to begin with. THAT is what love looks like. We know what love looks like.

    Others claim that "no, in some cases being unfaithful to your original vows is NOT love, what is love is dropping those vows as if they were "maybes" instead of vows, as if they were the kind of commitment you make to go to a Christmas party, and then go marry someone else with whom you fall in love". But it is impossible for BOTH of these claims to be true: if real love is to return love to those who harm you, and to continue to faithful love when you have vowed faithful love, then it isn't real love to repudiate your vows to love that you gave in marriage.

    I say that we really do know what real love looks like here, because we had Christ tell us and had the Church remind us clearly and with one voice for 2000 years. If normal cognitive people knew all along what love really looks like, and have known it for 2000 years, then it cannot be true that the unfaithful spouse who divorces and remarries is exhibiting love.

    Compare the souls of two women who were wronged by husbands who left them for the younger secretary at work. A continues in her faithful love of her husband, and never remarries because she embraces the cross that God has sent her, and loves that husband who has so abused her trust and her vows. B does not remarry for a time, but eventually she refuses to consider her husband as one to whom she owes faithfulness, and speaks and acts and (eventually) FEELS free to be in love with another. And soon enough, she DOES fall in love with another, and "marries" him. In order for B's behavior in saying and convincing herself that she need not behave toward her former husband as one faithfully committed to him to be RIGHT, A must be wrong. But we know that A is exhibiting true love. So B, in saying she has no debt of love to her former husband, is NOT loving him. And when she says to herself that she is free to fall in love with another, she is not loving her first husband. And when she DOES fall in love with another man, she is not loving her first husband. And so, her behavior is not love properly considered, it is not loving the one she vowed to love, she is not embracing the cross that Christ allows to rest on her shoulders, she rejected it.

    Though not critical to this conclusion, more details are considered here, for those who need more.

    http://whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2017/01/when_the_rome_hits_your_eye_th.html

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  102. Crude,

    I think you misunderstand the Good Samaritan story. The gospel is many things but first and foremost it is a revealed spiritual truth. You understand the gospel when you recognize the spirit of truth in it. So don't try to relate this bit here with that bit there as if this were a tricky puzzle, but please read again the whole passage to see the spirit of it. It's really not difficult and it is a joy.

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  103. Tony,

    I think you are conflating two different things.

    One thing is Christ's command to love the Creator and the creatures. This command is crystal clear, both in the ethical principles themselves as well as in the example of the incarnated Christ. This is what I claimed cannot be misunderstood by anybody who reads the gospel wishing to understand it. I suppose the command is so easy to understand, indeed its truth so blindingly obvious, because we are made for it. This far then we are talking about the fundamental ethical principle, how things should be.

    A different matter is the factual love between spouses, how things in marriage actually are. Speaking for myself that love has elements of Christian love – such as so movingly is described by Paul. But it is not true Christian love most obviously in the fact that it is not universal but is selfish – as a matter of fact one loves one's family to the exclusion of others. This is not bad in itself; love comes in many colors as it were. Christian love is the life giving ground of all.

    As for the love a remarried divorcee has for her spouse I wouldn't know from my own experience but it is evident that it is not in any significant degree less. You argue that to divorce a person proves the poverty of love she had in the first place, which I think is reasonably true. In most cases of divorce both sides are at fault to some degree, and had they had greater love maybe the marital bond would prove stronger than the problems. But this in real life turns harder than it sounds. Take for example sexual infidelity; most people experience that behavior as love destroying. Did they love their infidel spouse like Christ loves us this would not be the case, but in real life this is how it is. Rather then to condemn people to a life of completely loveless marital life (which is an existential ground for many sins) the Eastern Orthodox church chooses as the lesser evil to give people the possibility (in a penitential state of mind) to try and love better in a second marriage.

    As Christ is the spiritual guide of the church, so is the church the spiritual guide of each one of us. In this task the church teaches but does not exact perfection. This is how we see Christ in the gospels guide His flock too. “Crude” introduced in our discussion John's story about the adulterous woman, and I think that's the same charitable attitude the church should have to sinful members of the flock, which makes all of us. Some see in this attitude a “betrayal” of the letter of what Christ asks of us, but what it is really a proof of charitable love by the church, which by that love guides the sinner towards Christ with much more success than by demonstrating a severe and unmoving attitude. It is not for us to judge; it's not even for the church to judge. The church's job is to guide real people having real lives toward Christ's perfection.

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  104. The word everyone is looking for when discussing anything with Danielos is emotivism. His ethical judgements follow the dominant line of contemporary thinking about right and wrong. First you see how you feel about a topic and then apply a system without understanding it to give support to your position. So in this case he feels that adultery is sometimes justified and then twists the Scripture out of its own tradition (which we need to understand properly, in the way MacIntyre described it). While the Catholic position in this is first understanding the system and then applying it to a certain situation with obedience to God's law understood through Tradition. If it's hard, well too bad because we don't get to pick what God wills and commands, we are here only to obey it.

    The most disturbing thing about the Amoris debacle is that it would completely destroy all axioms of moral theology and the authority of the Magisterium itself. Pope would not be a guardian of Doctrine, he would become something closer to a legislator of positive law. Lex posterior derogat lege priori would become the new rule. A square could become somewhat curved if he wished it, law of non contradiction would not be something necessary, as shown by father Spadro's 2+2=5 nonsense. The absolute rules become ideas instead. The just war theory for example requires that we don't throw nukes at civilians, for any reason, whatsoever, in all cases. We couldn't go past it because the norm is not negotiable, or something now closer, abortion (see Anscombe for example). Our own conscience becomes the ultimate arbiter, we may feel that the binding norm does not apply because we can't feed our other children so we abort one, or well any other undefined, hard, complex, non black and white situation. Amoris is a Pandora's box, if understood in the way bishops of Malta and Argentina and Canada understand it. Why are people blind to this? All axioms in the moral life will with time reach their logical conclusions. The logical conclusion of sola fide is atheism, it wasn't reached in 20 years, but 400, but it was. In the same way Amoris will inevitably bring, by its own standards, a moral and justified contraception, liturgical abuse and just about everything the contemporary world demands of the Church.
    This is the start of, I fear, a long struggle to save the faith, modernism or emotivism or however we wish to call this phenomenon, unless it is stopped, will parallel arianism, protestantism, catharism as one of the great heresies.

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  105. Dianelos,

    I think you misunderstand the Good Samaritan story.

    No, I understand it quite well. The problem is that what Christ taught isn't as 'beautiful' to you as another version you'd dreamed up - so, you just imagine that Christ actually said the thing He didn't say, but which you say you find 'beautiful'.

    This explains why you talk about how beautiful God is and how beautiful the Gospel is, yet you routinely reject large swaths of both. Because you don't find either beautiful. You find your imagination beautiful. And you try to bolster your imagination by referring to it as 'the spirit of truth' as if stuffing nice words (spirit! truth!) into it will make you right, or give you more authority. It simply doesn't.

    Objecting that you know you're right and that your interpretation comes from the 'spirit of truth' because you find it beautiful doesn't change a thing. And never will.

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  106. A different matter is the factual love between spouses, how things in marriage actually are. Speaking for myself that love has elements of Christian love – such as so movingly is described by Paul. But it is not true Christian love most obviously in the fact that it is not universal but is selfish – as a matter of fact one loves one's family to the exclusion of others. This is not bad in itself; love comes in many colors as it were. Christian love is the life giving ground of all.

    Yes, I see that. I see that, in fact, what you are spouting - which is what is spouted by our degenerate culture non-stop - which is in no way Christian teaching. Love of spouse for spouse is supposed to be the HIGHEST manner of imitating the love between Christ and the Church that we have within the natural order. It is not "elements of Christian love." That's poppycock. It is Christian love suffused throughout; say rather it is Christian love itself, as applied to another.

    First, the Christian loves his spouse in the first order because he loves God. All loves in the Christian stem from his love of God. The Christian loves his spouse uniquely and exclusively as an image of loving God uniquely and exclusively ("with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" - that's exclusive for you). The Christian's exclusivity in marital love is an expression of that exclusive love of God, written in physical form: he SHOWS his love for God by maritally loving his spouse to the exclusion of all others. The faithful marital love he has is, also, faithfulness in the promise of permanent love of each child that is the fruit of the marital act, it is faithfulness as a response to God's blessing that co-creative union with the creation of a new human soul.

    Exclusive and faithful marital love isn't "selfish" in the least, it is fruitful and effusive, and is the image of Christ's love. To think of it as selfish is to completely warp it into something else.

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  107. "First, the Christian loves his spouse in the first order because he loves God. ...The faithful marital love he has is, also, faithfulness in the promise of permanent love of each child that is the fruit of the marital act, it is faithfulness as a response to God's blessing that co-creative union with the creation of a new human soul. "

    Tony, this is excellent. Thanks for it.

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  108. @ Ivan Knezović

    I was reminded by “Crude” of the very beautiful story in John and how Christ dealt with the adulterous woman, and argued that the church should behave in the same charitable manner to members of the flock who sin in sexual matters. I mean how luckier can you get :- )

    Now in response you posted your comment about me being guided by emotivism, and so on. But I had used Christ's example as the basis of my argument; would you say Christ was guided by emotivism also? Shouldn't Christ have agreed with the punishment of the adulterous woman according to the scriptural law and tradition?

    In that story (John 8 ff) it was the scribes and Pharisees that brought to Christ the adulterous woman in order to trick Him. Please imagine them after the fiasco discussing what had happened and using the same thoughts you write in your comment, including how dangerous Christ's attitude was etc. Do you think they would be wrong? If so, why do you think you are not wrong in the current case?

    One last observation. You seem to be genuinely worried that if the spirit of Amoris Laetitia takes hold in the Roman Catholic Church then there will be nefarious implications. Perhaps you should consider that the Eastern Orthodox Church has been far more “modernist” about the issues we are discussing (remarriage of divorcees and giving them communion, marriage of priests, etc) for the last 2.000 years and nothing nefarious has occurred.

    Finally, as I have already mentioned, I have the impression that the Church of Rome in the first centuries did allow divorce and remarriage, and that its current sterner position came much later. If I am right then this is quite relevant to the conservative Christian, isn't it? Can anybody confirm the truth about this factual matter one way or the other?

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  109. @ Crude,

    Me: ”I think you misunderstand the Good Samaritan story.”

    You: ”No, I understand it quite well.”

    Perhaps I misunderstood you, but what you seem to be saying is this:

    Christ teaches about two kinds of love. On the one hand Christ asks us to love everyone, even our enemies, but does not ask us to love everyone as ourselves. We should only love our neighbors as ourselves. In the Good Samaritan story Christ explains who our neighbors are. They are those who have behaved in a particularly good way towards us, as exemplified by the way the Samaritan (who was actually a foreigner) behaved to the robbed man. The robbed man should love the Samaritan as himself, but not the priest or the Levite since they refused to help him when he needed them.

    Is that a fair description of your understanding?

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  110. "Finally, as I have already mentioned, I have the impression that the Church of Rome in the first centuries did allow divorce and remarriage, and that its current sterner position came much later."

    Mind giving a source for that opinion?

    "Now in response you posted your comment about me being guided by emotivism, and so on. But I had used Christ's example as the basis of my argument; would you say Christ was guided by emotivism also?"

    See, the problem is Christ actually ended with "sin no more". Which is exactly the point of this whole discussion. I think what you imagine Christ saying at the end of the encounter with the adulteress is "Don't worry about it. If it feels right, it's right!"

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  111. @ Tony,

    ”Love of spouse for spouse is supposed to be the HIGHEST manner of imitating the love between Christ and the Church that we have within the natural order.”

    Sometimes truth is expressed through symbolism. Thus we have the symbolism that the church is the bride of Christ, signifying perhaps Christ's promise that He will love and protect the church for ever. Or perhaps also signifies the ultimate union of church and Christ in the eschaton. We have also the symbolism that the church is the body of Christ, signifying perhaps that in the church Christ remains physically present. We also have the symbolism that Christ is the bridegroom and that Christians are the bridegroom's friends, signifying how Christians partake in Christ's great joy in the salvation of the world. That's all fine and good as long as one does not forget that these are meant symbolically.

    Now carrying over that symbolism to married couples is doubly wrong. First because the original symbolism is about bridegroom and bride – and thus really about the celebration of a marriage – and not about husband and wife living in marital bond. And secondly because it suggests that the relationship between husband and wife is as asymmetrical as the relationship between Christ and church. Which is absurd. For example Christ created the church, but the husband has not created his wife. Christ guides the church, and the church should do its best to follow. Christ perfectly loves the church, the church only imperfectly loves Christ. And so on.

    ”[Marital love] is Christian love suffused throughout; say rather it is Christian love itself, as applied to another.”

    I am not sure what you are talking about. I am talking about marital love as it exists in the real world. That love is *not* Christian love. After all it entails a sexual dimension. Also, it is a selfish love: the husband loves his wife in a way and with an intensity that has nothing to do with his love for his neighbors (and vice versa for the wife). In contrast Christian love is universal, as God makes his sun rise on all and sends rain on all. There is a reason that those who wish to dedicate their whole love to Christ do not marry (which on the other hand does not imply that the married people are second to the monks in potential perfection).

    ”[The Christian] SHOWS his love for God by maritally loving his spouse to the exclusion of all others.”

    No, Christians show their love for God by loving all of God's creatures – not just their spouses.

    I am afraid we are speaking at cross purposes here. It seems you wish to make a song for the holiness of marriage, which is fine. Perhaps you wish to say that in the human condition the formation of family reflects the great drama of creation, and I agree that there is deep and illuminating symbolism to be found here.

    But I am concerned with the heavy burden of the church which is entrusted with the guidance of the flock. That's a difficult task in the real world, and surely the most critical task there is. Further, the members of the flock are not perfect; that's the whole point. The last thing the church needs is to lose sight of the real lives of the members of its flock, who in their spiritually fallen condition put their trust in the church's guidance. In order to fulfill its critical task the church must understand the tribulations of its flock. After all, the church is not there to care for the good but for the evil, not for the strong but for the weak.

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  112. "I am not sure what you are talking about. I am talking about marital love as it exists in the real world. That love is *not* Christian love."

    Ahhh, I see now. You've completely rejected marriage as a sacrament. No wonder you're talking past everyone. You're guided by the secular concept of marriage.

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  113. Also, it is a selfish love: the husband loves his wife in a way and with an intensity that has nothing to do with his love for his neighbors

    "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend."

    "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her."

    JPII: "According to the plan of God, marriage is the foundation of the wider community of the family, since the very institution of marriage and conjugal love are ordained to the procreation and education of children, in whom they find their crowning.

    In its most profound reality, love is essentially a gift; and conjugal love, while leading the spouses to the reciprocal "knowledge" which makes them "one flesh,"[35] does not end with the couple, because it makes them capable of the greatest possible gift, the gift by which they become cooperators with God for giving life to a new human person. Thus the couple, while giving themselves to one another, give not just themselves but also the reality of children, who are a living reflection of their love, a permanent sign of conjugal unity and a living and inseparable synthesis of their being a father and a mother"

    For a husband to love his wife as that love is intended "from the beginning" just is to give himself up for her sake and for the sake of the children whom they procreate within God's design. This IS "love of neighbor". Love of neighbor does not treat each neighbor identically, as if each were a faceless "they", but takes each neighbor and loves within a relationship specific to each one. The love specific to your neighbor who is your spouse is faithful, exclusive sexual love primarily for God's sake, which is not "selfish" love at all. The Christian married saint, in order to love God perfectly, does not withdraw himself from loving his spouse nor refrain from sexual love, his perfection is in loving his spouse - including sexually - primarily for God's sake; thus it can never be Christian love to reject one's vow of fidelity in marriage, as that would deny a sexual love that is first for God's sake.

    I must agree with Vand83 that what Dianelos is talking about is not Christian sacramental marriage, nor even simply the natural marriage that God designed into men, but "marriage" as the world wants to consider it: something in which two people selfishly seek sexual pleasure, mainly for the sake of self and each other, and not primarily for God's sake, and in which children are a take-it-or-leave-it inconvenience. THAT is selfish, but it isn't "selfish love" except if you mean not love properly, but really selfishness that sort of looks like love. Which is just what I said above.

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  114. Danielos has said that divorce (and contraception should be included in this) has done nothing bad with marriage in the Orthodox church, but as others have said, you don't see it as a sacrament any longer and even seem to deny that Christian love exists in the famous "real world". How can you, knowing this, say that nothing has happened with the Orthodox church when they allowed two great evils to happen with their blessing?

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  115. Ivan, are you suggesting Dianelos is speaking for the Orthodox Church? Otherwise, what is the precise relationship you are trying to draw between those two evils and the Church?

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  116. In the event its of interest, please see my Apologia for the orthodoxy of Amoris Laetitia.

    https://reducedculpability.blog/2017/01/19/amoris-laetitia-an-apologia-for-its-orthodoxy/

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  117. I am saying that the Orthodox church speaks for Danielos. After all it does allow adultery and contraception in "certain cases".
    The precise relationship between the two evils within the Catholic church or the Orthodox church? In any case it opens the gates for mortal sins of many kinds by applying the logic of situations and is already leading people into it. Mortal sin leads people to Hell. Hence, it contradicts the main role of the Church, which is as far as I know still the salvation of souls through preaching and obeying Christ.
    For the Catholic church it brings down the very authority of the Church, as I mentioned earlier. There's a very large document I found, could link it here later, which contains about 100 pages of quotes going from the Scripture, second century to Benedict XVI. on the ban on communion for open adultery. AL contradicts everything and if a pope and bishops can do that, openly and if it is accepted by the Church, then there is no reason for any other part of Tradition to be held firmly, since it all depends on current circumstances and personal judgement.

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  118. @ Vand83,

    ”Mind giving a source for that opinion?”

    I don't have a source, and as I said it's only an impression. The thought is that before the great schism there was basically one church order around the Eastern Mediterranean. When Christianity became an official religion in the 4th century and up to the 8th Rome was basically a city of the East Roman Empire (today known as the Byzantine empire), culturally and religiously if not always politically. I assume the churches in that time had fairly consistent views and practices, and thus also about marriage and divorce. Today the Eastern Orthodox Church under certain conditions does allow divorce and remarriage, and I have the impression that this has always been so. So I find it at least possible that this was also the case for the church of Rome during the first centuries at least. - Again, I don't know and that's why I asked if somebody here knew.

    Speaking of the great schism it's kind of ironic that the church itself did not avoid divorce, indeed did not avoid multiple divorces within the body of Christ. In perfection there is unity, but in imperfection there is strife which sometimes leads to breaking apart.

    Incidentally I just found what looks like a serious source about Christianity's views and practices on marriage and divorce throughout history here. The author of the piece, Michael Gorman, appears to be a knowledgeable person. Now if what he writes is right then there was some difference between the western and eastern churches since the beginning.

    ”See, the problem is Christ actually ended with "sin no more".”

    Right, and as I said before it's not like Christ might have told here “I don't condemn you, so go on sinning”. Now the sin in this case had been adultery and the woman was of course advised to stop that sinful behavior. But in the case of divorced people their sin is having broken the marital vows by stopping to love their spouses and undoing their marriage. How are they supposed to “sin no more” - except if allowed to remarry and this time not sin again? Marriage is a living reality not a formalism. When then husband abandons the wife, or the wife the husband, or both each other – then the marriage is destroyed.

    Repentance means “change of mind”, and is the transformation of the soul into the likeness of Christ. By repenting one is healed of one's vices and thus will stop sinning (unless one falls back which is always a possibility before one reaches heaven – the state of sanctification). Punishment or undoing the harm done is not a precondition for repentance (even though making amends when possible is a precondition – for example a thief who could but does not return the stolen goods has certainly not repented). Repentance heals the soul from the harm done to it by the sin, but in many cases the external harm produced by the sin cannot be undone. Paul repented, but the Christians he had probably killed remained dead. To destroy a marriage is a sin, but a marriage destroyed cannot be saved. Only the soul of the sinner can. Perhaps that's the logic behind the Eastern Orthodox Church's position.

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  119. @Scott
    I've read the first chapter, will read the rest later on. While I find it unconvincing (because it simply proves that people aren't fully culpable for all of their sins and that AL almost wishes for total and absolute ignorance of the Scripture and Tradition and works from there in a kind of a Great Inquisitor way) it's refreshing to see for the first time a defence of a papal document that isn't either based on insults and psychoanalysis of the opposition or straight out laughably weak.

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  120. "But in the case of divorced people their sin is having broken the marital vows by stopping to love their spouses and undoing their marriage."

    Once again, you're not speaking about sacramental marriage here. There is no "undoing" a sacramental marriage. That's equivalent to "undoing" baptism. This is why this conversation is going nowhere. You're speaking about something completely different than everyone else here. If you want to make your case, start with arguing that a sacramental marriage can be "dissolved". When you go on about how hard hearted your conversants are, it's because you don't see adultery taking place while those you're addressing do. Now you've introduced the idea that a sacramental marriage can be dissolved which is foreign to Catholic Church.

    "I don't have a source, and as I said it's only an impression."

    You have a feeeeeling you mean. I believe the charge of emotivism is both fair and accurate.

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  121. Ivan, obviously the Orthodox Church doesn't accept the Catholic Church's position on divorce. Here's a newsflash - they don't accept the claims of supreme authority and infallibility of the pope you guys claim either. It does little good just to claim their views are incorrect. They don't accept there can be no remarriage, are therefore we are talking about adultery. Views within the Church vary on contraceptives. It is highly questionable whether either of these views, especially on divorce, have led to any issues beyond themselves (if one takes them to be problematic). The Orthodox Church has had its doctrine on divorce for millenia, and the so called sexual revolution didn't start amongst Orthodox nations. The Orthodox Church doesn't hold, as Dianelos is accused, either that marriage is not a sacrament or it isn't a form of Christian love.

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  122. @Ivan

    Thank you for your kind comment. I'd be very interested in any criticisms you may have if you read further.

    I certainly don't want to be in error on such an important issue.

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  123. "Right, and as I said before it's not like Christ might have told here “I don't condemn you, so go on sinning”. Now the sin in this case had been adultery and the woman was of course advised to stop that sinful behavior. But in the case of divorced people their sin is having broken the marital vows by stopping to love their spouses and undoing their marriage. How are they supposed to “sin no more” - except if allowed to remarry and this time not sin again? Marriage is a living reality not a formalism. When then husband abandons the wife, or the wife the husband, or both each other – then the marriage is destroyed."

    But this is not the Catholic understanding of marriage. The Catholic understanding is that a marriage is not dissolved in this way. You'd have to refute that based on Scripture, tradition, and reason before you can make the claim you do. You'd also have to show how the Catholic understanding of the Magisterium can be salvaged from the wreckage when you are done.

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  124. But in the case of divorced people their sin is having broken the marital vows by stopping to love their spouses and undoing their marriage. How are they supposed to “sin no more” - except if allowed to remarry and this time not sin again?...

    To destroy a marriage is a sin, but a marriage destroyed cannot be saved. Only the soul of the sinner can. Perhaps that's the logic behind the Eastern Orthodox Church's position.


    One more time, and with feeling this time: their marriage still exists, it is not dissolved. They are just not living up to their vows. This is the Church's teaching. A marriage does not end because the spouses fail to live the vows, it is a damaged marriage, but the marriage still persists. The relationship of spouse to spouse persists until death, not until death or somebody gets mad and leaves. Re-read the vows. That's the contract. When the contract says "until death" then it's until death.

    A member of my extended family became a drug addict and an alcoholic, treated his wife and kid badly, made himself impossible to live with, and he left. Marriage wrecked, right? Not completely: 8 or 9 years later, he dried out, he started treating them the way that they deserved (with NO expectation that they had any obligation to take him back), and after a several years, they are back together.

    Do I expect that all damaged marriages would reverse like that? No, not at all. The point is that the fact that your spouse treats you wrongly doesn't give you leave to stop living your vows. Those vows aren't written that way: "until death or he stops living his vows" is not how it goes.

    How are they supposed to “sin no more” - except if allowed to remarry and this time not sin again?

    By living the life-long vows you have ALREADY given, not new ones that run roughshod over the existing vows. You can be faithful to a spouse that has left you for someone else, their sin does not require you to become unfaithful. How can you be "faithful" to new vows of fidelity that contradict EXISTING vows of fidelity to someone else? You can't.

    I don't have a source, and as I said it's only an impression.

    It was my impression that the EARLY Church did not allow divorce and remarriage at all. This link

    https://gospelbillboards.org/scriptural-and-early-christian-perspectives-on-divorce-and-remarriage/

    suggests that it was even stronger than that, some authorities in the early Church did not even allow remarriage after the death of the first spouse. And that while a husband might (or, according to some, MUST) divorce a wife for if she is adulterous, it did not free him for remarriage. That kind of "divorce" did not dissolve the bond of marriage.

    It was only after Christianity became the religion of the empire, and Constantine moved the capital to the East, that there became some relaxed ideas about remarriage, pulled in from Roman practice transported to Constantinople with the Emperor. And, it seems, this was pushed into the Eastern church, but not the western church.

    So, if by "early" you mean from the earliest years before the empire became Christian, no, divorce and remarriage was not accepted.

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  125. Tony,

    ”Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”

    Above I explained why I think the symbolism about the relationship between husband and wife being like the relationship between Christ and church is a bad one, a remnant from primitive times. Now instead of responding to my reasoning you just quote a passage of Ephesians. Perhaps you think that's a good answer because scripture is inerrant and every word in it is ordered by God. But in Ephesians we also read that the wife must submit to the husband as the church to Christ, and that Christian slaves must obey their earthly master as they obey God (Ephesians 5:22 and 6:5). These are precisely the obviously bad symbolisms from a primitive era I was referring to. Today we know that these injunctions are false.

    I find it surprising that belief Biblical inerrancy is still so popular, when there are passages in the Bible itself that contradict it. So in the story about the adulterous woman who was about to be stoned to death we find Christ preferring charity over the letter of the Bible and over tradition – an argument I have made several times already without getting any direct response. And I think that's a powerful argument since Christ's ethical message works both by His teaching and by His personal example. We are called to imitate Christ and thus when confronting sinners we are called to prefer charity over the letter of scripture. Again: (Let's ignore the issue about who wrote Ephesians and assume that Paul did.) We know that Paul himself did not think of himself as inerrant, as evidenced by the fact that elsewhere he finds it expedient to warn readers that what he is about to tell them is his and not the Lord's. Thus it seems to me that Biblical inerrancy drives people to fancy themselves more Christian than Christ and more Pauline than Paul. Finally we also know about Paul and Peter's serious dispute about church practice, and it was Paul's opinion based on charity and pragmatic consideration of the flock's difficulties that won, and not Peter's uncompromising stance. Which shows first (and again) that over-reliance on texts can lead to error, and secondly (and again) that even apostles can be in error. The formula “scripture is inspired an inspiring but not inerrant” strikes me as the right understanding.

    Now against the above the inerrantist may quote Matthew 5:18. But this counterargument is circular, because we have independent reasons to doubt inerrancy and thus to doubt this particular verse. In any case to say “X is inerrantly true” is not an argument; on the contrary it shows that one doesn't have any argument or any reason to believe X and therefore needs to fall back to dogmatism. There is perhaps a confusion about what “revealed truth” means. Revealed truth is the truth we wouldn't otherwise know if it weren't for God's special action. But we accept that a revelation is true not because it is God's revelation (that would be circular). We accept it as revealed truth because we recognize its truth. So the disciples who met Christ recognized the truth of what Christ told them; if they hadn't met Him they wouldn't have recognized it. As it were when confronted with revealed truth our soul recognizes the Creator in whose image it is made. On the other hand the scribes and Pharisees also saw and heard Christ but did not recognize the truth of what He said. This fact is instructive in two senses: First in that too much literal learning from texts can obscure one's openness to spiritual truth, and secondly that if it is possible to miss Christ when actually looking at Him then it is certainly also possible to miss Christ when reading texts about Him.

    [continues below]

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  126. [continues from above]

    The faculty of knowing spiritual truth by recognition (or by acquaintance if you will) is what leads to knowledge by faith. Knowledge by faith works in addition to knowledge by reason which is produced by a cognitive faculty that does not require God's special action in revelation. Since creation is rational, reason and faith are consistent, with the faculty of faith extending what is possible to know by reason. Reason and faith work together, and often reason is used to check the deliverances of faith. Checking and cross-checking in all manner of way is always wise because we are made imperfect and thus we all can err. But even though God has made it hard for us God is also there to assist us in that hard quest and the more we check the better.

    As for the Christian scripture: According to tradition the incarnated Christ could not err, but we don't have anything written by Him, and everybody else who wrote in the NT could err. Christ's meaning could be misunderstood by those who heard Him, their memory and writing it down could distort Christ's words, the sayings could suffer when translated from Aramaic to Greek and then from Greek to English. Moreover our understanding of the text suffers from our relative ignorance of the social and cultural context in which the text was written – today we know that the meaning of words strongly depends on the context in which they are told. The gospels were produced in a messy manner during decades after Christ's crucifixion, based first on oral memorizations which were later transcribed on now lost source documents, with several hands at work and interpolations made. There are also errors in copying from the lost originals. Finally those who today interpret the gospels (whether in the church or in academia) can also err. To paraphrase Shrek our understanding of the gospels is like an onion, with layers under layers of potential error.

    What is remarkable, even miraculous, in that despite all these layers of potential error, when one reads the gospels with an open mind the sheer beauty of Christ is revealed in such clarity and coherence. And divine splendor. So I do believe scripture is an instrument of God's revelation and I think that it is justly given such a central place in Christian tradition. But the right way to read scripture is by recognizing the spirit of truth in the whole of it. To labor on every sentence and every word (or even a single letter - as in the case of our discussion about how to understand what Paul wanted to say about the Eucharist), such laboring is to look *away* from the spirit of truth. It is to make an idol out of the text. For the text is not the Word of God, the text is a pointer that inspires and moves us to open the eyes of our soul and see the Word of God.

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  127. Danielos is making a few absurd claims in this. Firstly, the Roman times when the Apostles lived weren't 'primitive'. Christ and Church as husband and wife isn't a remnant of more primitive times, it's you rejecting Tradition so it could more easily fit your purely contemporary theology of emotivism. Wife and slave obeying their husband and master is something you'd love to disregard of course, you can't combine it with whatever you wish to combine it with. But the fact is that the Apostle wasn't wrong and obedience is still a virtue, one of the most important ones in fact. 2017 doesn't change that. Rome was an enlightened and educated state, with for example laws which were more perfect than our own, our own legal system is just a copy of theirs and an inferior one at that. But, call Paul primitive, please, because you need that to support your claim that the sacrament of marriage is not a sacrament at all.
    You then must of course attack the authors of the Gospels because they don't fit your preconceived image of what Christ should be, according to you because, otherwise, you would have to accept, and without needles sophistry, that a sacrament cannot be undone.
    What is remarkable is that you will make relative every part of the Scripture that doesn't fit your notions, and make this whole discussion pointless as we then would have no epistomological basis for anything. John got some things wrong, so did Paul, so did Matthew, so did Peter and so on indefinitely. You make a claim? Great, I'll just say that the author quoted it wrong! What a brilliant cop out! I could prove anything I want, because marking out stuff Paul disagreed with me is a brilliant tactic.
    If we massacre every authority we have for this discussion, if we destroy the common ground, why participate in this discussion at all? Or do we just go for what we see as more lovely and beautiful?

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  128. Christ's meaning could be misunderstood by those who heard Him, their memory and writing it down could distort Christ's words, the sayings could suffer when translated from Aramaic to Greek

    To the contrary: the Catholic view of Scripture is that nothing entered into the original written text (by the human author) that God did not want included, and nothing was omitted from the written that God wanted included, and that everything that was included was stated in such fashion as met God's design. God's inspiration of the human author was complete enough that the human author could not by mistake fail of God's intention on what was to be stated: there are no errors of omission nor of commission nor of translating the Aramaic to the author's Greek text. The formula “scripture is inspired an inspiring but not inerrant” was not how Christians for 1500 years read it.

    Ivan, I think you are right. Dianelos has destroyed what common ground there might have been between him and the common Christian view of marriage, the view that held for all of the Church until the 300s, and held fully and completely in the western Church since then, and held mostly even in the eastern Church after that time, (with certain very gradual attenuations). I am sure that the Greeks of the 400s and 1400s would be completely astounded at his evaluation of the Pauline passage "Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church" as being not inerrant, and not binding. There is no common ground left: his view of married love is different from that of the biblical passages we have before us, he rejects the authority of those passages on the (higher) authority of his internal view of 'what is true,' and thus there can be no meeting of minds here.

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  129. @ Vand83: ”You've completely rejected marriage as a sacrament.”

    Not at all. There is the sacrament of marriage, and there is marriage. Like there is water, and there is the drinking of water. I did not say that the sacrament of marriage can be dissolved, I said that some couples who received that sacrament fail to produce a life-long union of marriage. As as is evident in the world the life-long union of marriage sometimes fails to follow the sacrament; couples break apart and their marriage is not just damaged but irreparably destroyed.

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  130. @ Anonymous 1:44 PM: ”But this is not the Catholic understanding of marriage. The Catholic understanding is that a marriage is not dissolved in this way. You'd have to refute that based on Scripture, tradition, and reason before you can make the claim you do.”

    @ Vand83: ”If you want to make your case, start with arguing that a sacramental marriage can be "dissolved"”

    Fine. So let me first describe what I understand a sacrament is:

    God's creation works on two levels: By general providence, which is the natural order of all that is created. And then by special providence, which is God's direct participation within creation. According to Christian understanding the incarnation life and suffering of the second hypostasis of God in Jesus of Nazareth is the epitome of God's special providence. Christ is still present among us in spirit (and in the sacrament of the Eucharist is even present in physical form). We are also told of the presence of the so-called Spirit of Truth (or “Comforter”), who in my understanding is the Holy Spirit, the third hypostasis of God. I trust so far we are in general agreement.

    Now we don't know, can't know, and needn't know, the true extent of God's special action in creation. But we do know enough to recognize the reality of the sacraments. Sacraments are events in which Christ touches the soul of a person. Sacraments are therefore supernatural events – some call them “mysteries”. The Catholic Church recognizes seven sacraments, the Orthodox Church recognizes these seven plus perhaps some more – I understand the church as a whole is considered a sacrament too. Protestants are more sternly Biblical and recognize I think only two. In fact we can't know how many sacraments there are; Christ is not one to be put in boxes to be counted, and there may be many other sacraments we have no idea about. What is certain is that in the church Christ Himself gives the sacrament, the church only administers them. The agreement here is that when the church administers a sacrament Christ is always there to give it; on the other hand it's not like Christ is limited by the church in giving sacraments :- ) The Churches display the all-too-human tendency to try and protect their prerogatives; still I think there is some agreement for example that the sacrament of baptism is sometimes given by Christ without a Church administering it.

    Now marriage is a special sacrament in that Christ touches two souls at once and thus calls them into union. There is much I could say about how marvelous the sacrament of marriage is, but let me stick to my point: Christ touches the soul, He does not impose Himself on it. Christ offers the water for the soul to drink. So sacraments are about the offering a divine gift – I understand the concept used here is “grace” - but the gift must be taken and realized by us imperfect beings. So, not surprisingly, we often (all too often) fail. Couples who receive the sacrament of marriage often fail to realize the end of the sacrament which is the union in marriage. Or for example consider the sacrament of baptism. The end of this sacrament is the inclusion of a person into the body of Christ – the church. But again very often baptized persons drift away and even sometimes may turn against the church. It's not the sacrament that fails, it's them. Yet we don't speak of the “indissolubility of baptism” or “once baptized always a member of the church”. But many do speak of the “indissolubility of marriage” or “once married always married” (at least until death). So why do many think that marriage is indissoluble? The answer can't be that marriage is a sacrament, for baptism too is a sacrament.

    [continues below]

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  131. [continues from above]

    I think the reason goes back to biblical literalism, and specifically what we find Christ in the gospels say about marriage, divorce and adultery. So at the Sermon on the Mount we find Christ say this (Matthew 5:32): But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery (other translations instead of “unchastity” use “infidelity” or “adultery” or “sexual misconduct”; the respective verse in Luke does not include any exception at all). So, I take it, the argument in favor of the indissolubility of marriage is as follows: If people after divorcing have sexual relations with another person then they are committing adultery – that's what Christ says. Adultery makes sense only within the context of marriage. Therefore even after divorcing, one's marriage is still objectively there. What Christ says entails that one who receives the sacrament of marriage remains married no matter what (or at least as long as the original spouse lives). This comports well with Mark 10:9 “What God has joined together let no one separate”

    Now the Orthodox Church uses the exception clause to make its practice of allowing divorce and remarriage fit with the text, but I wish to ignore that clause. Why do I think that marriage is in fact dissoluble? Because that's how reality is: The union of marriage is a marvelous thing, but we all know of cases where a couple who received the sacrament of marriage failed to realize that marvelous thing, and that's that. It is simply evident that the lifelong union that marriage is about sometimes fails to follow the respective sacrament. Now when one's understanding (whatever its source) contradicts reality then it would be absurd to say “there must be something wrong with reality”, the reasonable thing to say “there must be something wrong with my understanding”. So what could be wrong with the argument above? Before suggesting some ideas I'd like to notice that little rides on answering this question. When a thought leads to a belief that contradicts reality, then that belief is false even if one can't find anything wrong with the thought.

    I think the general error in the argument above is to interpret Christ's words as referring to what exists (to metaphysics) and not to what should exist (to morality). Almost all of Christ's teaching in the gospels, and especially so in the Sermon on the Mount, is moral teaching. It's not about how things are, but about how things should be – and what we should do to make it so. Christ speaks of the Kingdom of perfection, not of this world. Nobody disagrees that divorcing and thus destroying one's marriage is a grave sin which damages one's soul and produces much suffering in the world. Nobody disagrees that that our marriage should be indissoluble and that we should do our utmost to make it so. (Tony above describes a case he personally knew where a marriage was saved after many years of separation; I have witnessed a similar case myself, a case where the person who in the end managed to save his marriage did things that I judged at the time to be embarrassing and diminishing – but after years of effort he succeeded and the last I knew the two are still happily married.)

    [continues below]

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  132. [continues from above]

    Still, this answer of mine does not really disprove the main argument for the indissolubility of marriage, namely that if a divorcee having sexual relations with a new partner is committing adultery then, necessarily, the original marriage is still intact. I agree that it doesn't disprove the main argument, which to me is one more reason for trying to recognize the spirit of the text, and not the sense of every bit of scripture as if it were inerrant. But I can imagine what might have happened which produced the erroneous text: So here is Christ giving the Sermon on the Mount and, knowing how great a blessing marriage is, trying to impress on His listeners how important it is to fight for the unity of one's marriage. He was teaching against the rather easy divorce that was practiced and sanctioned by the religious authorities of His time. Now we don't know exactly the words He used in Aramaic. Perhaps Christ said that those who divorce their spouse (normally husbands asked for divorce) and then marry or have sex with another person, betray the bond of their original marriage, betray the trust of their spouse the day they married, betray God's sanctification of that marriage. And it is possible that the concept of “betrayal” in Aramaic was understood by some as “infidelity” and much later was translated into Greek as “adultery”. Thus giving rise to a huge misunderstanding by a church bent to take things literally, which attitude in turn produced a stern and uncharitable stance by the church towards people who did sin when they failed to save their marriage, which in turn produced much misery and put obstacles in sinners' path to repentance. For people look up to the church as a model of the Kingdom and to the priest as a model of Christ, and if the priest behaves in a stern and uncharitable manner to the weakest of the flock then they are apt to misunderstand both Christ and Kingdom.

    That in the production of the gospels such misunderstandings and mistranslations took place strikes me as rather plausible. At that time Greek was the language of a few educated people and Aramaic was the language of the people. One advantage that Paul had was that he was bilingual, but Paul was not present at the Sermon on the Mount. I think it is unlikely that any of the other Apostles spoke Greek, and even if (as was the custom) many of Christ's sayings in Aramaic were memorized and probably exactly preserved, it is also probable that those who wrote the Greek text of the gospels would sometimes commit errors of understanding and of translation. Especially, as in this particular case, the error does produce what prima facie appears to be a reasonable meaning. Christ in the Sermon of the Mount said many an extreme thing against the lax moral norms of His time; and here it appeared he was saying one more. Now I am only offering a speculative hypothesis, but at least one that is plausible and explains how a text that leads to beliefs that contradict reality would find its place in the gospels.

    [continues below]

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  133. [continues from above]

    I imagine that my explanation above will fail to convince many of those who hold that marriage is indissoluble, on literalist scriptural grounds and on Church authority. Since I have called reality as my witness, I wonder what they may say to counter it. One possibility is that they will use the concept of “marriage” in a different way than how it's normally used (by me here, but also by the folk in the street; defending a thesis by changing the meaning of words has a long pedigree in philosophy). They may claim that “marriage” properly understood is not a visible thing in the real world, but is an invisible bond between two souls which is created at the sacrament of marriage and persists until the physical body of one of the two souls dies. And persists even when the two souls have not the slightest sense that it is there connecting them.

    I concede that this defense is logically possible and does save the text, but I wish to say the following about it: 1) It strikes me as ridiculously ad-hoc. 2) I find it unlikely that God would create the world in a way that something as important as marriage would be invisible both by the senses and by the spirit. 3) The defense has absurd implications. For example, if somebody has sexual relations with another person while that invisible bond of marriage is there then she is committing the sin of adultery; but if she commits the same act one hour after the original spouse died (even if unbeknownst to her) then she is not committing a sin anymore. 4) I find it a pity that people should find it expedient to teach such ideas only in order to save the reasonableness of a single verse of scripture, perhaps fearing that if a single verse were to be accepted as erroneous then Christianity would come tumbling down. Or perhaps fearing that their faith in Christianity would come tumbling down. In my judgment the insistence that God crafted the perfect scripture is not one that glorifies God. On the contrary it trivializes God, for it makes a mere text into a measure of God. And drives us to spend much effort trying to imagine how the world could be in order for all of scripture to be coherent.

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  134. Dianelos,

    FYI, you don't sound like someone whose mind isn't unsound.

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  135. Dianelos,

    Considering that the gospels have been studied in great detail by a very impressive number of people in the last centuries.

    Saying things like

    «That in the production of the gospels such misunderstandings and mistranslations took place strikes me as rather plausible.»

    As a basis to the argument one is making concerning the meaning of the gospel, doesn’t appear to make much sense, does it?



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    Replies
    1. Dianelos strikes me as confused, based on his resume of past religious affiliations. He replicates the Protestant failure that seeks to (re)establish the One True Faith as it should be understood, since everyone before now has missed the mark. If only past Christians had been as open minded and critical as he.

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  136. How is this an issue? The Pope's ambiguity aside, the deposit of faith on this is clear and reaches back across the Church Fathers to Sacred Scripture.

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  137. I've been asked to justify my claim that the Catholic belief in the indissolubility of marriage is mistaken. In response I posted a fairly long comment above. In order to simplify its analysis I proceed to summarize its main points:

    1. One must not conflate the sacrament of marriage with the marriage itself. These are two related but different concepts.

    2. Sacraments are supernatural events in which the soul receives a gift from Christ. But Christ does not impose Himself on the soul, and in many cases people fail to realize the end of that gift.

    3. Only in the context of the sacrament of marriage, the end of which is life-long union in marriage of two people, is there the belief that the sacrament always leads to its end independently of peoples' choices. Namely the belief in the indissolubility of marriage once the sacrament has taken place.

    4. The belief in the indissolubility of marriage basically goes back to a single verse in the gospels, namely Matthew 5:32. That verse includes an exception, but I ignore it. I explain why the literal interpretation of that verse leads to the belief in the indissolubility of marriage, namely that if adultery exists after divorcing one's spouse then the marital bond still exists.

    5. In the real world marriages factually break apart, and break complete and irreparably. Thus the belief the indissolubility of marriage is false.

    6. I argue that the error is produced by the dogma of biblical inerrancy, which leads people to consider that every verse of scripture has some absolute significance. I argue that in scripture the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and therefore that each part should be understood in the context of the whole. Matthew 5:32 is part of the moral teaching of the Sermon on the Mount which describes how things should be, not how things necessarily are - as the belief in the indissolubility of marriage has it.

    7. I concede that what Matthew 5:32 says does imply the indissolubility of marriage, and thus that this verse as written is in error since it leads to error. I explain that the gospels do not record the actual words of Christ which were spoken in Aramaic, and describe the messy process by which the gospels were produced, and thus the many potential ways in which error may slip into our understanding of some verse.

    8. I propose a speculative but plausible hypothesis of what Christ said and how it was mistranslated in the text we have today. In short: The tenor of the Sermon on the Mount was to raise the ideals of morality against the lax moral norms of the times, including the common and all-too-easy practice divorce. So Christ spoke also about the sacredness of the union in marriage and characterized sexual with another person after divorcing one's spouse as a “betrayal” of the original trust. That word in Aramaic may have been misreported as “infidelity” and mistranslated in the Greek of Matthew 5:32 as “adultery” - which is the key concept which leads to the belief in the indissolubility of marriage. I notice that Paul who certainly spoke Greek did not hear the Sermon on the Mount, and that the other apostles probably did not speak Greek. By the time the gospels were penned down and started to circulate most of those who were present at the Sermon would probably be dead. So such an error of translation might easily slip through.

    9. Finally I wonder how people manage to hold the belief in the indissolubility of marriage when it is proved wrong by reality, and speculate that they probably modify the meaning of the word “marriage” to fit the text. Perhaps they define “marriage” to mean a supernatural bond between two souls that is created at the sacrament and is only broken when the body of one of them dies. I give several reasons why this move is unreasonable, including the observation that God would not have instituted marriage to be invisible both by the senses and by the spirit of those still married.

    That's my argument in short. I would be thankful for any substantial criticism of it.

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  138. Here an apparently serious source about which languages were spoken by Christ and apostles.

    Things may be more complex and less certain than I thought. I wonder how probable it was that some of the relevant eleven apostles spoke Greek. The source above says that Peter probably did, but I understand there is near scholarly consensus that the author of the epistles of Peter was not the apostle, and I wonder how probable it can be that a poor fisherman from ancient Galilee would speak Greek. I would very much like to believe that John, Christ's beloved apostle, was the author of John's gospel, but I understand this traditional belief does not at all hold up to critical scrutiny.

    This is a relevant issue, because if all the apostles who heard the Sermon on the Mount did not speak Greek then the probability that an error of translation slipped into the Greek text of the gospels is raised.

    In any case Peter died in the 60s, and the other disciples who perhaps spoke Greek: Phillip died at about 80, and Andrew perhaps at about 70. Matthew was written between 80 and 90, Luke between 80 and 100. The point is that when these gospels were written the authoritative witnesses of Christ's relevant teaching were probably dead. On the other hand the so-called Q document which recorded many of Christ's sayings in Greek, if it existed, was probably written decades earlier. If so the probability of an error in translation is lowered.

    I like to think that scripture reflects all of creation, in that it gives us both confidence and uncertainty for belief. I don't think a robust theology can be built without depending primarily on the living Spirit of truth, rather on the given of scripture. That in the gospels only little truth is revealed and that much more would be revealed later by the Spirit is found in the gospels themselves: ”This much I told you because that's what you can understand now; much more will be told to you by the Spirit” (John 16:12,13)

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  139. Dianelos,

    A short exchange which never took place (but that it might have does not tax the imagination):

    Glenn: "No school of art, such as, e.g., the Impressionist School of Art, can be defaced."

    Dianelos: "I will prove that the belief that no school of art can be defaced is false. Take a look at this photo of The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. Notice how its walls are covered with graffiti. Only last week the graffiti with which it had been covered had been completely removed. But graffiti artists are a dedicated lot, and won't stand for having their work erased. So they quickly got busy, and now its back again. As I said it would, this shows that the belief that no school of art can be defaced is false."

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  140. Dianelos, you are simply ignorant of so many facts of Church teaching that your disparagement of it CAN'T HELP but be full of straw men.

    Dianelos: Yet we don't speak of the “indissolubility of baptism” or “once baptized always a member of the church”.

    Catechism of Catholic Church:

    An indelible spiritual mark . . .

    1272 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation.83


    Catholic Encyclopedia, on the Donatist heresy, reporting on the results of the Council of Arles:

    The Fathers in their letter salute [Pope] Sylvester, saying that he had rightly decided not to quit the spot "where the Apostles daily sit in judgment"; had he been with them, they might perhaps have dealt more severely with the heretics. Among the canons, one forbids rebaptism...

    Dianelos: Now marriage is a special sacrament in that Christ touches two souls at once and thus calls them into union. ... but the gift must be taken and realized by us imperfect beings. So, not surprisingly, we often (all too often) fail. Couples who receive the sacrament of marriage often fail to realize the end of the sacrament which is the union in marriage.

    The Church teaches, rather, that EVEN NATURAL MARRIAGE (i.e. without any sacrament, between non-Christians) that is consummated cannot be dissolved by any natural means. A marriage consists in an ontological bond, a relationship, that is the invisible reality created when two persons enter into the specific contractual relationship that specifies marriage. They enter into the contract by exchanging vows, promises, which are indeed available to the senses - an outward reality that attests to the inward reality. Once consummated, the ontological reality exists and there is no natural power that can dissolve it. The bond created exists per natura, it is not the result of civil ordinance, and no civil authority can dissolve it. Nor can misbehavior dissolve it: the contract terms EXPRESSLY refer to "until death", and do not make the terms of the contract contingent on good behavior following. (If the contract IS contingent, then by that very fact it fails to be a contract of "marriage" but some other animal). If you don't WANT an indissoluble contract, don't ENTER one.

    The supernatural reality of Christian matrimony as a sacrament adds to this natural reality, but does not alter its basic form. The perfectly normal indissolubility of marriage does not primarily hinge on its sacramental aspect, though the sacramental aspect STRENGTHENS it with a supernatural charism added.

    There is no point debating these things with you, Dianelos, you don't even know all the things that you are ignorant of, and that allows you to go off on wild goose chases hither and yon.

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  141. @Anonymous 12:38 PM

    ”The Orthodox Church doesn't hold, as Dianelos is accused, either that marriage is not a sacrament or it isn't a form of Christian love.”

    I do hold that marriage is a sacrament given by Christ, whether performed in church or not. I also explained that it is not for us to know what Christ does if Christ so chooses outside of the church. I also pointed out what should be evident, namely that the end of this sacrament, namely life-long union in marriage, is sometimes not realized. Perhaps people have trouble accepting that sacraments (supernatural gifts given by Christ) sometimes fail.

    And I do hold that marital love is a form of Christian love, but is not the same with it. Here's what I wrote: A different matter is the factual love between spouses, how things in marriage actually are. Speaking for myself that love has elements of Christian love – such as so movingly is described by Paul [in 1 Corinthians 13]. But it is not true Christian love most obviously in the fact that it is not universal but is selfish – as a matter of fact one loves one's family to the exclusion of others. This is not bad in itself; love comes in many colors as it were. Christian love is the life giving ground of all.

    We should try and avoid complicating things. Of course there are different forms of love. Christ did not love Peter in the same way that I love my wife. But all love is love to the degree it is grounded in God, who is love. In the human condition that divine love is realized in Christian love, the love that Christ taught and demonstrated in His own life and Paul described in quite some detail and with admiring insight and clarity, the love that is universal and selfless. Extravagant love for all, without the need of any reason or justification. The way God loves us.

    I findthat spiritual truth is simple and clear; if in theology we find things becoming too complicated and opaque then we have probably taken some bad turn.

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  142. @ Tony,

    ”One more time, and with feeling this time [snip]”

    :- ) Feelings are God-given too. Reason is God-given, faith is God-given, feelings are God-given, our body and the physical world around us is God-given. When they are all in harmony we have an indication that we are on the right path.

    What about evil feelings – are they God-given too? Yes, everything that is, is made by Christ and thus is God-given. The question that theodicy answers is not “Why does God allow evil to exist in the world?” but “Why has God created a world in which evil will exist?”. Or, in short, “What's the reason for evil?”. Plantinga noticing the “felix culpa” used in Catholic mass was inspired to suggest that a world with evil is necessary for the great beauty of sacrificial atonement in Christ to obtain. I agree that without the incarnation life and suffering of God in the world, theodicy cannot be complete. I wonder what non-Christian theists would say about this. There are so many interesting and important things to discuss in theology and in soteriology, and it's a pity that we spend time discussing how great a sin it is to use condoms, or whether a priest should have the freedom to give Christ's communion to a sinner.

    About feelings: Since we are made in the image of God, and since there is a strong emotional dimension in our being, it is important to consider their place. In our fallen condition feelings can be good or evil:

    Evil feelings are those which move us to error and sin; I suppose one can correlate each of the seven cardinal sins to its respective evil feeling. In the context of doing theology I'd say a bad feeling is pride about one's knowledge, fear about being wrong, and anger at the suggestion that one may be wrong. As is the case with material goods, if one holds that one's value depends on the knowledge one possesses – then one is weighted down.

    On the bright side of the emotional dimension of the human condition I find there are three feelings by which we directly experience God, and which therefore move us towards God: Love, beauty, and joy. These are broad concepts and here I mean them in their perfect complete-in-themselves form, namely as universal and self-transcending love, beauty which is not influenced by fashion or pleasure but conquers the soul, and the sheer joy of recognizing how reality is. These three feelings always come together, in the sense that one cannot experience one without experiencing the others, at least in the background as it were.

    Feelings, then, are states of soul which can be fruitful and move the soul towards Christ, but can also damage the soul and move it towards sin and perdition. What's important to notice is that it is usually much easier to distinguish good from evil feelings than to distinguish true from false beliefs. In my experience (and I strongly suspect that's a universal fact about the human condition) good and evil feelings much more powerfully instigate good and evil actions than true or false beliefs do. On both grounds therefore we should care more about cultivating good feelings than about cultivating true beliefs. This may sound shocking to the brainy kind of people who enjoy philosophy and theology, but I find that's how it is.

    Interestingly enough a possible translation of the first beatitude in Matthew is “Blessed are the simple-minded, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. And I am reminded of Christ in the gospels saying “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” So what are little children but bundles of playful emotions with hardly a serious thought in them?

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  143. Tony,

    ”There is no point debating these things with you, Dianelos, you don't even know all the things that you are ignorant of, and that allows you to go off on wild goose chases hither and yon.”

    You are certainly right I don't even know all the things I am ignorant of. Now I do appreciate your responding to my comments; on the other hand I don't think you are debating. When I argue about X your typical response is that X is not the position of the Catholic church. But in a discussion about truth to simply offer dogmatic statements does not help.

    A central case in point is this: I do hold that scripture is an instrument of God's revelation, and I do hold that scripture and especially the gospels are rightly placed at the center of Christian tradition. But there are other instruments of revelation too, instruments the Church has profited from. After all much of theology has been developed after the NT was published (indeed after having to decide which texts to include in the canon). Much of what is important in theology is only found in germinal form in scripture, if at all. Finally we should never overlook the fountain of truth, who is Christ, who is the maker of all reality, who is alive and present in spirit as we speak, and who desires to guide the church. But who will not impose Himself on the church, which explains the appearance in history of the various sometimes antagonistic church denominations.

    Having said that, I also argue that in scripture the whole is greater than the parts, that some parts are evidently of lesser beauty or wisdom or relevance, and that some are evidently in error (e.g. the injunction “slaves obey your master like you obey God”). The state of the whole thing is just what one would expect to find given the messy way by which scripture was formed in its particular time and place in history. I argue that scripture itself reveals that even Apostles could be in error, and that much will be revealed later. Finally I argue that the command against idols is universal and includes anything one might take to stand for or to represent God – which is a great temptation when faith is lacking. I have given many reasons of different kinds why I think all of this. But you simply reply that this is not how the Catholic church (and BTW as far as I know all great churches) view scripture, and write the following:

    ”the Catholic view of Scripture is that nothing entered into the original written text (by the human author) that God did not want included, and nothing was omitted from the written that God wanted included, and that everything that was included was stated in such fashion as met God's design. God's inspiration of the human author was complete enough that the human author could not by mistake fail of God's intention on what was to be stated: there are no errors of omission nor of commission nor of translating the Aramaic to the author's Greek text.”

    Observe that this is simply a series of dogmatic statements. Where's the debate?

    I trust we agree that there two recognized sources of knowledge: reason and faith. It's not like a third source of knowledge is the Catholic church's dogmas. All religious texts are the deliverances of human effort based on reason and faith, and are therefore imperfect, may contain errors, and require continuous testing and improvement. You claim that some of the texts are made perfect by God's special action, but I dispute this and explain my reasons. Given how easy it is to err I'd love to have some substantial counterargument, but I don't see it. Not that I am complaining since my participation in this blog during the past few months has been fruitful for me. For example just a little while ago something you wrote moved me to consider the importance of feelings in our salvific life.

    Now in your recent comments you did clarify for me a couple of points of fact about the Catholic church's teaching. Thanks for that; I will comment on them later.

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  144. @ Dianelos,

    "...during the past few months [snip]"

    "Months"! He used the word "months"!!

    :- ) For months now you have been reminding us that something of yours will continue below. Why, seven times alone under just the current OP you have done so. Does this sobering fact -- that you believe or are convinced that something of yours will continue below -- have anything to do with why you're a universalist?

    Btw, what did you have to eat for dinner last night? Did you eat dinner last night? Just curious.

    - - - - -

    PS If you're wondering what this might genuinely have to do with what you actually said, then I'd say you're close to recognizing the right track. (I almost said, "...close to being on the right track", but I don't want to get my hopes up too high, so I didn't say that.)

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  145. Thank you for the update to your recent article on the subject Dr. Feser. I wonder what the recent upheaval with the Knights of Malta, about which Cardinal Burke was admonished by Pope Francis, will have on all the " Amoris..." controversy? If the Holy Father is sincere, he must clarify " Amoris..." or the situation will become impossible.

    E. Reinhart

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  146. @ Tony,

    I'd like to comment on two points of fact about the teaching of the Catholic church:

    1. On marriage, you write:

    ”The Church teaches, rather, that EVEN NATURAL MARRIAGE (i.e. without any sacrament, between non-Christians) that is consummated cannot be dissolved by any natural means.”

    So marriage exists even without the sacrament of marriage. But only for non-Christians; as I read in point 3.3 here marriage cannot exist (“really and truly”) between baptized persons without the sacrament of marriage. Further the early Church by invoking the so-called Pauline exception (in 1 Corinthians 7) did allow Christians to divorce their pagan spouses and marry a Christian, so it appears some non-sacramental marriages were not considered to be marriages after all. Or perhaps were not considered to be indissoluble marriages.

    Frankly, that's too complicated. To me the following is much simpler, clearer, and consistent with Christ: 1) Marriage is the life-long bond between two people who who entered into it wishing to form a family and after having given the respective promise to each other and their community, 2) Christ through the sacrament of marriage gives divine grace to all couples who have decided to marry, whatever their religious state may be, 3) Within the church that sacrament is made visible by the celebration of the sacrament of marriage, 4) The end of the sacrament of marriage is the realization of marriage, but couples sometimes fail to realize that end and break apart, 5) In the case the church judges that failure to be definitive and irreparable, and that the penance for breaking the marital vows to be authentic, the church does in charity and in consideration of what's best for the souls of its flock allow remarriage. After all, as Paul observes, “it's better to marry than to burn with passion”.

    (A final argument that just occurred to me: When a marriage breaks apart usually both sides are responsible to some degree. But consider the case that one side is completely innocent: If not allowed to remarry she would be punished to a life of burning with passion even though she had no fault.)

    ”A marriage consists in an ontological bond, a relationship, that is the invisible reality created when two persons enter into the specific contractual relationship that specifies marriage. They enter into the contract by exchanging vows, promises, which are indeed available to the senses - an outward reality that attests to the inward reality. Once consummated, the ontological reality exists and there is no natural power that can dissolve it.”

    The promise groom and bride give one another – as all promises – exists for ever and cannot be undone. There is no such thing as “I take back my promise”. On the other hand the promise people give the day they marry – as may happen with all other promises – is sometimes broken. (I don't understand why exactly the marriage must be “consummated” in sex for the promise to be valid; as far as I know people may marry even if incapable of having sexual relations. Nor do I understand how it is that these vows disappear if the marriage is “annulled”. But let's overlook these problems.)

    [continues below]

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  147. [continues from above]

    Now the fact that a marital promise cannot be undone, does not imply that the marriage cannot be undone. Marriage is not a promise; marriage is what the promise is about: the actual love and being together of two souls during all their life. I have already explained why I consider it unreasonable to talk about an invisible bond between two souls that supernaturally keeps existing no matter what (the “ontological bond” as you put it). As a general epistemological principle I think it is unreasonable to speak of ontological existents that are by nature invisible both to the senses and to the spirit. The divorced person who failed to realize the end of the sacrament she received from Christ is aware that she broke her vows and that this sin harmed her soul, but she is also aware that her vows are broken and that the life-long commitment she had promised to her spouse is not there anymore. This is a reality which the church must recognize; for one cannot guide the flock without recognizing the reality it lives in.

    2. On baptism:

    Responding to my claim ”Yet we don't speak of the “indissolubility of baptism” or “once baptized always a member of the church”” you offered this bit of the catechism: ”1272 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation.”

    A minor comment first: The end of all that the church does is salvation (indeed the salvation of all humanity and not only its flock). The specific end of baptism it seems to me is by being accepted to the church to partake in the church's life and thus benefit from all the church has to offer in one's path towards salvation. That specific end is not always realized by the baptized Christian; indeed the church in some cases through excommunication formally places baptized Christians outside of the church. But should one insist that the specific end of the sacrament of baptism is salvation then, again, according to the Catholic church's dogma of hellism, that end is not always realized. But that was my argument all along: That the end of a sacrament may not be realized. Not in the sacrament of baptism, not in the sacrament of marriage.

    As for the “indelible spiritual mark” a general comment first: One of the clearest principles of reason is the so-called Occam's Razor, namely that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily. From the little I have seen from the catechism it seems to me that its complexity is the result of trying to incorporate into a consistent whole every bit every saint has ever written. This is unwise. First of all, one is saint because of the charity in one's soul, not because of the correctness of one's beliefs. Theology is a science, and as all sciences it grows in understanding based on older discoveries. But this does not entail that one should do whatever it takes to retain every single bit of the previous efforts, but to recognize that when knowledge advances some ideas that were held before with good reason, are now overtaken. Trying to retain all ideas results in an unseemly and ultimately deceitful multiplication of entities. (Personally I think that a splendid and certainly sufficient theology can be build on the premise that only God and created souls exist.) So I was moved to do a little research on the “indelible spiritual mark” and I want to share what I found, for it seems to be a good example of a more general phenomenon of multiplication.

    [continues below]

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  148. [continues from above]

    It seems the idea goes back to something St. Augustine wrote when arguing that it is never necessary to get baptized twice. Which I find reasonable: Once welcomed into the church it makes no sense to welcome the same person again – even excommunication can be lifted and that's enough. Augustine of Hippo is of course a huge figure in Christian tradition, and I notice that he was not only a theologian but also a Bishop and thus an administrator of the church. The exigencies of administering such an institution naturally enough influences one's theological thought. Thus when the Donatists raised the bar for priests and laity to an impractical level, and among other things argued that baptized Christians who had failed to some significant degree should re-baptized before being accepted to the church, Augustine pointed out that a soul's welcome to the church is definitive. Bruce T. Morrill in his book about the Eucharist explains that ”Augustine reasoned that baptism has two effects upon the believer. The first, the seal of character, is indelible, as the fathers had taught. The other effect, God's grace, could be lost. The sacramentum was the seal, the dominicus character, literally 'the mark of the Lord,' that the rite conferred.” Now was idea of an “indelible seal” necessary to explain why multiple baptisms should not be performed by the church? Not really, but it did work as an explanation that people could easily understand. Many centuries later St Aquinas retakes the idea but uses it as a metaphor or analogy (little can be said about God except as a metaphor or analogy) clarifying the deeper and more abstract reality, namely that through the sacrament of baptism the relation between soul and Christ is changed. I copy from the same book: ”Thomas Aquinas revived the Augustinian notion of indelible character, based as it was on the biblical metaphor of a seal and the patristic analogy of branding a soldier. Rooted in baptism and evident in the confirmation and holy orders, character was for Thomas a matter of a new relationship between God and the individual believer.” Both the first step by Augustine and the later development by Aquinas strike me as quite reasonable.

    Now fast forward several more centuries to the current state of the catechism (from #1272 to #1274). Observe the complicated and opaque manner in which what is really a simple idea is presented. Not to mention in a form that appears to be self-contradictory: So in #1272 we read that ”Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ “ and in #1274 that ”The faithful Christian who has "kept the seal" until the end”. But if the seal is indelible how is it that one may not keep it? I am sure there is some answer to this apparent contradiction – but the point remains: why make it so complicated? Aren't “Repent and you'll be saved” and “To repent is to grow in charity” enough? Do we really need to visualize a whole complicated structure of celestial mechanics with indelible marks and keeping of seals and whatnot? And by the way, the catechism should make things clearer to the average reader, not more confusing. I mean I managed to half-way understand the meaning of these few sentences of the catechism after hours of searching. If a Catholic would have to invest a similar amount of time before understanding the whole of catechism then no time would be left for actually following Christ. I would like to suggest the Church should prepare a shorter and much simpler “Catechism for dummies”; I think this simpler version would be more useful to the flock (including to non-Catholics like me).

    [continues below]

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  149. [continues from above]

    A final comment: I don't think that being a non-Catholic it's not my place to criticize the Catholic church. The Church is not a neighbor one shouldn't judge, but an institution. Indeed one of the most important institutions in the world. I am convinced that through the explosive growth of technology humanity is entering an especially dangerous phase of its development, and I think that religion, represented by the Catholic church as well as the other great religious institutions, has a critical role to play. Perhaps the critical role. So I really wish the best for the Catholic church. Not to mention I am green with envy that the Catholics have a Pope like Francis, a priest who reminds me of the charity, courage, universality, and the spirited child-like manner of Christ. Nevertheless I feel this is a good time for me to stop.

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  150. Dianelos,

    You're a curious and reflective soul, which are very good things. It's also clear you are wanting to think for yourself; and that, too, is a virtue. These are traits that make for some of faith's finest communicators. But humility must temper ambition. You've unloaded far too much than can be engaged. I will instead submit my observations that more concern methodology: You speculate about the biblical texts in a dubious manner. To say a text could have been written in error is not the same as demonstrating that it was. We have no scalpelic powers to dissect the text in such a manner, absent certain indicators pertaining to textual criticism (where corruption can be seen among copies of the same text). But biblical criticism akin to the the Jesus Seminar, where lines of the text can be objectively adjudicated as original versus embellished, erroneous accretion at a verse-by-verse level of resolution is not realistic or appropriate methodology. To subsequently construct doctrinal opinion on such what-ifs is unsatisfactory. Anyone can push any theological idea desired by the expedient of denying the biblical evidence traditionally seen as running against it, construing issues in such a way that such-and-such is instead the case if this or that factor is reinterpreted. This is not very difficult, and the scenarios or reading one can assert in this manner is limited only by the imagination of the one speculating. Conspiracy theorists operate in this capacity as a matter of course.

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  151. Systematic string processrorJanuary 31, 2017 at 8:38 AM

    "FYI, you don't sound like someone whose mind isn't unsound."

    Wow, three nested negations! Let's simplify the statement in two ways.

    First by cancelling the two innermost negations:

    "FYI, you don't sound like someone whose mind is sound."

    Then by cancelling the two outermost negations:

    "FYI, you sound like someone whose mind is unsound."

    OK, now I get it.

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