Sunday, January 9, 2022

Geach on authority and consistency

If the reader will indulge me, here is one more post inspired by Peter Geach – specifically, this time, by some themes in his book Truth and Hope.  Among the topics Geach covers are logical consistency, believing something on the basis of authority, and the relationship between authority and consistency.  The points he makes are by no means purely academic.  Indeed, they are relevant to understanding current ecclesiastical and political crises.  For among the reasons so many people today have come to distrust authorities in the Church, government, science, media, etc. is these authorities’ lack of consistency.

Consistency

Logical consistency is sometimes treated as if it were something only a pedant would concern himself with.  Consider Walt Whitman’s celebrated, but quite stupid, remark: “Do I contradict myself?  Very well then, I contradict myself.  I am large, I contain multitudes.”  Similarly, Emerson asserted: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.  With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.”  The implication of such remarks is that there is something more, something deeper, in the thought of a self-contradictory person than in that of a consistent person.  In fact, the opposite is the case.  There is less in the thinking of a self-contradictory person, not more. 

As Aquinas notes, a contradiction “implies being and non-being at the same time” (Summa Theologiae I.25.3).  Hence it takes back with one hand what it seemed to be giving with the other.  Consider, for instance, the notion of a round square.  To posit a square is indeed to posit a kind of thing.  But to posit that that thing is round is, as it were, precisely to take away the squareness (since the roundness is incompatible with the squareness), and thus to take away the thing itself.  And the roundness goes with it too, since it now lacks anything in which it might inhere.  Thus, the notion of a round square does not give you both roundness and squareness.  (“Multitudes!”)  Rather, it gives you neither roundness nor squareness. 

The same is true of any system of ideas that incorporates a contradiction.  It is self-annihilating, in just the same way that the notion of a round square is.  Logic students are familiar with the dictum that anything follows from a contradiction.  The Whitmans and Emersons of the world might think: “Anything?  Great!  Multitudes!”  But once again they’d be wrong.  What follows instead is that no proposition in a self-contradictory system can stand.  The presence of the contradiction makes it possible to refute every one of them.  It is not some tonic that makes the system more fruitful, but a cancer that eats its way through the whole.  Hence, a self-contradictory system of ideas doesn’t give you everything you want.  It gives you precisely nothing. 

This brings us to Geach.  Criticizing those who characterize inconsistency as merely a kind of relation holding between statements in a discourse, he points out that in fact it inevitably has bad practical consequences:

In fiction, indeed, inconsistency is a merely internal fault, and does not matter so long as it does not offend the reader.  This holds precisely because the indicative sentences in a work of fiction do not latch onto reality: the author and the reader merely make believe that they do so.  When discourse is meant to latch onto reality, then inconsistency matters: not because falling into inconsistency means perpetrating a specially bad sort of error, logical falsehood; but because inconsistent discourse inevitably has some non-logical fault.  Like it or not, an inconsistent history will somewhere be factually false, an inconsistent set of orders or instructions cannot all be carried out, an inconsistent moral code will at some juncture be prescribing morally objectionable conduct, and so on. (p. 38)

Geach does not bring up nominalism in this connection, but he could have.  The nominalist takes our concepts to be mere artifacts of language, free creations of the mind bearing no necessary connection to mind-independent reality.   The realist, by contrast, takes concepts to reflect the natures of things themselves.  Contradiction in a system of ideas is bound to seem less dire in its practical consequences on the former sort of view than on the latter.  I’ll come back to this.

It is sometimes suggested that science might give us reason to revise logic by giving up consistency, but as Geach notes, this is simply muddleheaded.  It has the same self-defeating character that any other inconsistent positon does.  He writes:

As for proposals to bend logic, logic must remain rigid if it is to serve as a lever to overthrow unsatisfactory theories; otherwise refutation of a theory by contrary facts could always be staved off by enfeebling the logic that shows the contrariety. 

Logic can never be constrained to withdraw a thesis by reason of a rival thesis established in some other discipline; for in a sense logic has no theses, being merely concerned with what follows from what.  Logic is like a constitutional queen of the sciences: a queen who can never initiate legislation, but unlike the British monarch can put in a veto – on the score of inconsistency or fallacious reasoning. (p. 39)

The very practice of science presupposes consistency – most fundamentally, the consistency of theories with their evidential basis and with each other.  Therefore, to give up consistency, even in the name of science, is to give up science.  But neither can any claim of theology justify us in giving up consistency, as Geach rightly insists, despite his insistence having, he reports, “sometimes offended pious ears” (p. 41). 

You might think those ears are always orthodox ones, but in recent years it is those who would revise traditional teaching who are most likely to flout the demands of logic.  Typically they do so in the name of Christian mercy, but like those who would abandon consistency in the name of science, this is simply muddleheaded and self-defeating.  Suppose you argue that mercy requires us to permit unrepentant adulterers to take Holy Communion, despite this being inconsistent with the Church’s perennial and infallible teaching.  Strict consistency with traditional teaching is less important than showing mercy, or so you argue.

Yet what you are claiming is precisely that not permitting adulterers to take Holy Communion would be inconsistent with the mercy Christ commands us to show the sinner.  (To be sure, this claim is false – there is no inconsistency at all, since Christ makes repentance a condition of forgiveness – but that is your claim.)  So, you can hardly dismiss consistency when your critics point out that your view contradicts Church teaching, because your whole case itself rests on an appeal to consistency.  By rejecting logic’s demand for consistency when defending your own position, you undermine that position itself.

We must, however, immediately note a distinction drawn by Geach.  Inconsistency, he points out, is not the same thing as nonsense, though philosophers are not always careful to note the difference (pp. 41-42).  When two statements are known to be inconsistent with one another, that presupposes that each has a clear meaning.  By contrast, nonsensical assertions do not have a clear meaning.  And precisely because they do not, they cannot clearly contradict one another.  Logical methodology itself presupposes this distinction.  Geach writes:

Reductio ad absurdum works by deriving a patent inconsistency from a set of premises, which shows that one or other of the set is false; this valuable method of proof would be a ridiculous procedure if patent inconsistency were not to be distinguished from unconstruable nonsense. (p. 42)

Now, the “saving grace” (if that is the right phrase for it) of Pope Francis’s own doctrinally problematic statements on matters concerning Holy Communion for adulterers, capital punishment, and the like, is precisely that they do not have a clear meaning, and that he refuses to clarify them.  His statements thereby avoid actual inconsistency with past teaching, even as they seem to give wiggle room to those who would like to abandon it. 

But they only seem to do so.  For suppose a Catholic really does abandon past teaching.  Then he either has to give up consistency itself, which entails a self-defeating position for the reasons I have been setting out in this post; or he can preserve consistency and reject just the past teaching, but in that case we will end up with a self-defeating position of another kind, the kind described in my recent post on Geach’s critique of modernism (since by holding that the Church erred in the past, he will have undermined any reason for believing what she teaches now).  Hence there is no possible way to accept the pope’s problematic utterances except as imperfect formulations of claims that are consistent with past teaching.  Any alternative way of construing them entails a self-defeating position.

One reason people don’t think clearly about these problems is that they don’t strictly think about them at all.   Geach makes the important point that grasping the consistency or inconsistency between claims is an exercise of the intellect rather than of the imagination.  He notes that “we can imagine things that on reflection are self-contradictory,” and gives the following example:

One of Escher’s engravings shows a stairway running round the four sides of a tower, on which by continual ascent one gets back to the starting point. (p. 43)

One might suppose that, because he can form a mental image like the one in Escher’s drawing, he has thereby grasped that the scenario it represents is really possible.  But that is an illusion. 

Similarly, those deluded into supposing that allowing unrepentant adulterers to Holy Communion can be made consistent with Christ’s teaching no doubt call to mind all kinds of happy mental images and feelings.  For example, they might bring before their mind’s eye a picture of some man who has abandoned his first wife and formed a “new union” with another woman, happily leaving the communion line, being greeted with handshakes and good cheer after Mass, etc.  And they might imagine also the unpleasant feelings of guilt this man might suffer if he were told that he is committing mortal sin by doing these things.  This mélange of pictures and emotions triggers the word “mercy,” and they are thereby sold on the idea.  (Of course, it helps if they do not call to their mind’s eye any images of the wife who was abandoned, what she and her children might be feeling, etc.) 

Psychologically, this sort of process can be effective in winning over people of a certain mindset.  But logically speaking, it is completely worthless, the sheerest sentimentality.  It does exactly nothing to justify departure from the Church’s traditional teaching and practice.

Authority

Perhaps it is clear already what all of this has to do with questions about believing something on the basis of some authority.  Geach argues that “it would wholly discredit revelation if it were supposed to proceed from a deity who may lie when he sees fit” (p. 58).  To be sure, it doesn’t follow that God might not sometimes allow us to be misled, for as Geach also notes, misleading someone does not entail lying to him.  (For example, if you leave the light on when you’re away, a burglar might judge that you’re home and therefore avoid your house.  But though he’s been misled, he hasn’t been lied to.)  But to posit outright lies in some purported divine revelation would be to undermine confidence in any of it.  If what God purportedly has said in this one place is false, why suppose anything else he has said is true?

We saw Geach make a similar point when we recently considered his views about Hell, and it is related to the point he makes against modernism.  A purported source of divine revelation is either reliable as a whole, or it is not reliable at all.  To be sure, and as Geach acknowledges, we do sometimes trust human beings even when we know they have lied.  But the case of a purported divine revelation is different, for (unlike the case of human testimony) we have no independent means of verifying doctrines that are supposed to be knowable only via such revelation. 

It is crucial, then, that a purported source of revealed doctrine be consistent.  If there is any inconsistency in it, then the inconsistent statements it contains cannot all be true.  If they are not all true, then some of what it teaches is false, which (again) undermines the credibility of the whole.  This is the case not only with scripture, but also with all statements claimed to have been taught by the Church in a definitive way, such as decrees of ecclesiastical councils, infallible papal pronouncements, and doctrines constantly reiterated by the ordinary Magisterium of the Church.  To allow that there is error in any of this would undermine the credibility of all of it.  In response to the suggestion that ecclesial authority may, by fiat, put forward some new teaching that contradicts the old, Geach says:

Bishops come and bishops go; and one Pope passeth, another cometh; ay, Heaven and Earth shall pass; but from the Law of Contradiction not one tittle shall ever pass; for it is the eternal Law of God. (p. 69)

Amen!  And before you accuse Geach of subordinating theology to philosophy, note well that he is in fact simply affirming Catholic teaching.  For example, in that grand encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, Pope St. Pius X condemned the modernist thesis that theology can contain contradictions.  (As the pope wrote: “But when they justify even contradiction, what is it that they will refuse to justify?”)

But there still might seem to be a flavor of paradox here.  I may decide to reject some purported source of authoritative revelation, on the grounds that it contradicts itself; or I may judge that it does not contradict itself, and (if I also have some positive reason to think it really did come from God) accept it.  But either way, am not I the one making the call?  And in that case, do I not make myself the ultimate authority?  Geach’s response begins as follows:

The question which authority to trust is difficult and inescapable.  But we must steeply, most steeply, rebut the sophists who would argue ‘In accepting an authority you are relying on your Private Judgment that the authority is reliable: so Private Judgment trumps authority.’  Inevitably my judgment is my judgment, my very own judgment, thus my Private Judgment; but this is a mere tautology, from which nothing interesting can follow. (pp. 50-51)

What Geach refers to here is, of course, a standard Protestant objection to Catholicism.  The nature of the fallacy identified by Geach might be clearer when we consider that a parallel accusation could be flung back at the Protestant, who claims to follow only scripture: “In accepting scripture you are relying on your Private Judgment that scripture is reliable: so your Private Judgment trumps scripture.”  The Protestant might respond, quite correctly, that the fact that he has judged scripture to be authoritative simply doesn’t entail that he puts his own authority above that of scripture.  For in justifying this judgement, he is not appealing to any purported authority of his own in the first place.  But exactly the same response is open to the Catholic.  The fact that he has judged the Church to be authoritative simply doesn’t entail that he puts his own authority above that of the Church.  For in justifying this judgement, he too is not appealing to any purported authority of his own in the first place.   Geach expands on the point as follows:

[W]hen I decide to follow one authority rather than another, I am not in effect setting up myself up as a superior authority.  It would be quite difficult for me to give good reasons for trusting one lawyer or doctor rather than another; but such trust on my part need not be merely blind, nor on the other hand am I claiming to know more law than my lawyer and more medicine than my doctor. (p. 51)

I may judge one doctor to be trustworthy and another to be a quack.  But it doesn’t follow that I claim to have greater medical expertise than the former.  By the same token, when I judge one purported source of divine revelation (a book, a prophet, a Church, or whatever) to be genuine, and another to be bogus, it doesn’t follow that I claim greater expertise about divine revelation than the former. 

As noted already, Geach acknowledges that in the case of fallible human beings, we do sometimes trust them even though we know them to have lied.  Similarly, we do not always reject the authority of an expert simply because he has been inconsistent on this or that occasion.  But there are limits.  It cannot fail to undermine public trust when government officials, media sources, etc. repeatedly and shamelessly say inconsistent things.  (Some recent examples: Right-wing mass demonstrations during the Covid-19 pandemic were dangerous super-spreader events, but left-wing mass demonstrations were not.  Questioning the integrity of the 2016 election upholds democracy, but questioning the integrity of the 2020 election undermines democracy.  The left-wing riots that occurred throughout the summer of 2020 were “mostly peaceful protests,” but the right-wing riot that occurred on January 6 of 2021 was an “insurrection” and “worse than 9/11.”  Skepticism about Covid-19 vaccines is reasonable when Trump is president, but irrational when Biden is president.  To fail to wear a mask in public is to put grandma’s life at risk, except when Democratic politicians or journalists fail to do so.  Preventing a woman from killing her unborn child violates her right over her own body, but forcing her to take a vaccine injection does not violate her right over her own body.  Etc.)

Churchmen too, when they exercise their fallible governing authority (as opposed to infallible ex cathedra papal definitions), risk losing the trust of the faithful if that exercise shows inconsistency.  In my essay “Pope Francis’s Scarlet Letter,” I discussed the double standard the pope has shown toward progressives and traditionalists – bending over backwards to accommodate the former even though they widely dissent from the infallible teaching of millennia, while harshly punishing the latter because some among them question more recent and fallible teaching.  (That essay was recently reprinted in Peter Kwasniewski’s excellent anthology From Benedict’s Peace to Francis’s War: Catholics Respond to the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes on the Latin Mass.)  The Vatican has recently doubled down on this harshness in a Responsa ad dubia prompted by Traditionis Custodes.  Into the bargain, this response has added to the double standard evident in Traditionis directives that are problematic in light of canon law. 

A recent article at Rorate Caeli notes how, if the principles of Amoris Laetitia and some other earlier pronouncements of Pope Francis were applied to the interpretation of Traditionis Custodes and the Responsa ad dubia, they would essentially gut the latter documents of any binding force.  This is exactly what we should expect, given the points made above when discussing Geach.  Since anything follows from a contradiction, an internally inconsistent set of principles inevitably subverts itself. 

Earlier I mentioned nominalism, and historically (for example, in the case of William of Ockham), nominalism has had a close connection with voluntarism.  Voluntarism holds that the will is prior to the intellect, in contrast to the “intellectualist” position defended by Aquinas, which holds that the intellect is prior to the will.  For the intellectualist, the will is and ought to be the servant of the intellect.  Hence the will cannot be rightly ordered if the intellect is not.  And legislation, which reflects the will of the legislator, cannot be good if it does not conform to reason.  For the thoroughgoing voluntarist, by contrast, the will is the intellect’s master rather than its servant, and it does not answer to the intellect’s rational scruples.  (It is because metaphysical realism would put strict rational constraints on what we might intelligibly be said to will that nominalism is attractive to the voluntarist.)

Now, intellectualism is the correct view, and as I noted in a post from a few years ago, traditional Catholic teaching clearly affirms it.  But the ecclesial and the political orders seem today to be dominated by what, in that same post, I labeled “the voluntarist personality” – a personality type which approximates what human beings would be like if voluntarism were true.  The voluntarist personality type tends to be stubbornly willful and excessively emotional, but to have a relatively weak or poorly developed intellect.  Hence it is highly impatient with calm deliberation, clear and explicit lines of reasoning, carefully drawn distinctions, and so on.  It tends to evaluate ideas and policies, not in terms of the arguments or evidence that might be adduced for or against them, but rather in terms of the motives that it sees, or thinks it sees, in those who advocate them and those who oppose them.  It thus tends toward self-righteous moralizing in defense of its favored positions, and toward ad hominem attacks against those who disagree.  Naturally, it is not inclined to try rationally to persuade dissenters, but prefers instead to get its way by dictatorial command where it can, and by rhetorical manipulation, threats, and intimidation where it cannot.

The voluntarist personality tends to conflate authority with raw power, and thus inconsistency in its demands does not bother it.  I’m in charge, and this is my will.  Just do it, and don’t bother me with quibbles about logic and evidence!”  The trouble is that voluntarism is false, and human beings are rational animals.  Thus, in the long run, when those who govern them do so in an arbitrary and inconsistent manner, they will rightly see in this not the proper exercise of authority, but rather the abuse of authority.  They will be tempted to schism and rebellion – which the ruler with a voluntarist personality will rightly decry, while being utterly oblivious to the fact that he is the one provoking it.  The voluntarist personality tends to see in dictatorial fiat the apotheosis of authority, when in fact it is the corruption of authority, and threatens its dissolution.  But here, I should note, I go beyond anything discussed by Geach.

Related posts:

Geach on Hell

Geach on original sin

Geach’s argument against modernism

Geach on worshipping the right God

Voluntarism and PSR

The voluntarist personality

92 comments:

  1. You seem to argue that if the Bible contains any contradiction, no matter how peripheral the substance matter (the names of Esau's wives or other genealogical questions), it cannot be trusted in anything else it says. I don't think that this follows.

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    1. Hi Tim,

      I was making a very general point about divine revelation, but not pretending to answer all the question that might arise when applying that point to particular cases. I assume you'd agree with the general principle that God cannot reveal both p and not-p -- no matter how trivial p and not-p are -- and that is enough for present purposes. What you are raising here are questions about whether such-and-such specific examples of statements in scripture are really to be understood as part of divine revelation, whether they amount to a genuine contradiction if they are part of it, and so on. I wasn't addressing such issues.

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    2. I certainly hold to the principle of non-contradiction. I, unlike certain theologians, also agree with the Thomistic view that God cannot do the inherently self-contradictory. Hence God cannot reveal p and not p, and that if a biblical manuscript contains the claims p and not p, one of those claims cannot come from God. But I took you to be making a stronger claim about the content of extant biblical manuscripts.

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  2. This silly idea of accepting inconsistencies comes up sometimes when people want to use some -badly interpreted- scientific findings, mainly of quantum mechanics, to show that science shows that contradictions can hold true. This is often used to support the idea that classical logic doesn't have to hold and it is more of a convenient invention. Most of the time, people who claim that have a further agenda; somehow inferring from this demonstration of muddleheadness that philosophy and theology are useless, because they are based on logical examination which has, supposedly, been discredited by modern science. That, of course, is usually paired with boring and bad analogies with bad attempts to solve empirical issues via armchair theorizing and equating metaphysics and theology with such a project.

    Now, the obvious problem that if that were true we would have no reason to accept the supposed scientific findings themselves, escapes those brilliant minds. If reality can be truly contradictory,then all the science can be wrong even though all the evidence shows that it isn't. Even resorting to weaker epistemic positions, such as that scientific facts are more likely true than not, or that they may not be true but at least they are useful enough to count as true for practical purposes, wouldn't be viable since the same problem exists.

    Perhaps notably, I didn't say anything about the validity of the scientific claims themselves. They are obviously a misinterpretation of science, quantum mechanics shows no such thing, but the real issue is not that; it is the utterly preposterous idea that any kind of scientific evidence for true contradictions could ever exist. On the other hand, and on a more positive note, I have found that demonstrating the absurdity of those claims, which most people will be forced to admit if they are pushed by someone who is patient and has nothing more interesting going on in his life, is a nice way to introduce to people the idea that reality must have some real constraints, that we can know about even before and without conducting scientific work. Tbus, there is legitimate examination to be done in another field, outside and before science which I would go and say is metaphysics.

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    1. @Zeno

      If classical logic is just a convention them it also is more that a convention, for contradictions are okay. It is like the idea gets worse every second you look at it!


      "I have found that demonstrating the absurdity of those claims, which most people will be forced to admit if they are pushed by someone who is patient and has nothing more interesting going on in his life, is a nice way to introduce to people the idea that reality must have some real constraints, that we can know about even before and without conducting scientific work."

      I can see this working out with the persons who tend to replicate these ideas because they make physics look cooler, but how to do that with these that, as you mentioned, use it as a way to undermine certain views?

      From what i can see, the average person who does that tend to look like Ed voluntarist, making the person even bother hearing the reasoning a very dificult thing. Is there a good aproach?

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  3. Academically I hold that contradictions can exist in more than a nominal sense, i.e. in the sense that something in the form of words renders words in a contradictory sentence incomprehensible, where before they were merely conjecture.

    Now this may be a mere formal distinction between the state of incomprehensibility and the state of conjecture, but in their mental existence these two different sentences, (or indeed the pseudo-change between the two), may be the catalyst (note: not cause) of an action of the will; Which implies a more than nominal existence.

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  4. Reader: so, how many posts on Geach?

    Edward: yes.


    This degenerate type of authority figure reminds of the platonic concept of the tyrannical government, the leader is this person who has this necessity of dominating others for no nobler ideal that to have his way and who clearly does not deserve his status, so tends to create a very fragile authority who has to be mantained by violent and fraudulent means. The use of coercion does reveal a lack of authority. I'am suprised that Plato was not mentioned this time.

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  5. It's true that theology, or faith, or any properly human process, cannot be conducted without reason. This phrase quoted from Geach, however, doesn't seem to sit well with the Aquinian view of the relationship between theology and philosophy: "Logic can never be constrained to withdraw a thesis by reason of a rival thesis established in some other discipline".

    Theology (which is rational of course, but not philosophy per se) is another discipline and, as Aquinas says, it can certainly oblige philosophy to re-examine a thesis if this didn't square with theology, the science of what God has revealed, which has the highest certitude of all.

    This is not to affirm that philosophy can't establish things with certainty, based on logic; only that there is no guarantee it will always, or in a particular instance, do so.

    Of course Geach probably meant, in his reference to other disciplines, to exclude theology.

    Theology is the master. Philosophy the servant. I don't think St. Thomas was angry or overbearing when he affirmed that.

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  6. This post, dear Edward, is simply outstanding! And I, personally, stand in syntony with all of it.
    Just for the sake of digging further in these thoughts, I would also like to come back to the very origin of the word “authority” which refers to the power an “author” has, e.g., on his own text. The author is the only one who can comment meaningfully on his text, solve possible misunderstanding, and even correct the text later or disregarding it if his thoughts about a topic have evolved.
    In this case there is no coherence requested to the text as such as the coherence’s principle is meta-textual and lays in the author: no one can demonstrate the incoherence of a text under the authority of the author.
    There is also the notion of authoritativeness, which is properly only ascribable to the author himself and only by improper analogy to the text itself: this authoritativeness does not find its foundations in the author as such, but in its collective/social recognition.
    It is at this level that the need of coherency is required: for example, is the testimonial of the Apostle coherent? Is the “Ligo” experience on gravitational waves coherent with what this specific scientific community recognizes as meaningful?
    “Veritas est adaequatio rei et intellectus”: this is a judgement which certainty is experienced firstly at personal, i.e. individual level; the author who expresses a truth must be coherent at this level. If the author considers as “res” an experience he is performing he must always stick to this fact with coherence or the cost, he will pay will be a lack of authoritativeness among his peers; if the author considers as “res” a (supernatural) revelation he must also express in his text a full-fledged coherence.
    At this point there is no formal difference between considering an experimental event or a religious revelation: both are apodictic, unique, never identical in different occurrences, unquestionable as such.

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    1. What ultimately proves the truthfulness of a statement? The fact of conforming to deductive reasoning from apodictic principles, or the fact of asserting something true in the real world?

      Reading the various comments, it would like seeming that logic is too often confused as a set of formal abstract relationships.
      Now, logic describes the very structure of reality: the Boolean understanding of logic is only a very pale subset of the A-T logic, as in its desire to mathematize the logical reasoning it looses touch with the reality.
      This is very much apparent when we contemplate syllogisms: if a BArbArA kind of sillogysm can be demostrated valid from a boolean point of view, a DArAptI will be undecidable from this boolean perspective, but always true when th mid-term is a being existing in the reality.
      Quantum mechanic logics is perfectly online with the A-T logic even though not boolean.

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  7. The Pope has a right to suppress the Old Mass or abrogate it. But so what? He has the right to do so but that doesn't mean what he is doing isn't as gravely imprudent as all heck.

    In theory ye can have a government run by a Dictatorship or absolute monarchy(on a scale larger than the square mile of Vatican Land governed by the later that is) that has legalized theoretical slavery. Having such a political society would "not be against the moral and natural law" to cite Pius IX.

    But so what? It would still be a very very bad idea to have such a political order.
    BTW a contradiction isn't claiming something is being and non-being. Rather it is claiming it is being and non-being at the same time and in the same sense.

    Anybody who says the Pope cannot abrogate the Old Mass is a heretic. He can, the issue is should he? The answer is no IMHO. Is it legitimate for us to try to get him or his future successor to change his mind? Yes it is. It it Ok for sympathetic bishops to do everything within Canon Law to work around it? ABSOLUTELY! But no formal or explicit disobedience here. The idiot who founded the SSPX did that and well I submit he set Traditionalism back 100 years.

    Just some random thoughts. Cheers.

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    1. Before making my own comment, let me direct you to someone who can argue the point more forcefully:

      https://catholicfamilynews.com/blog/2022/01/06/abp-vigano-responds-to-cdws-responsa-ad-dubia/

      You are looking at this issue inside out. The Pope does not, cannot(because it would be self defeating and contradictory) suppress the Divine Liturgy any more than he can suppress the Deposit of the Faith. His office is to preserve both. He abuses his office to create a new rite of his liking and attempting to suppress that which he received. Various Councils and Encyclicals are explicit on this.

      God is the author of His own worship. The Papal office must teach, govern and sanctify by means of that Liturgy.
      To teach it, he must preserve it.
      To govern it, he must prevent abuses and novelties.
      To sanctify it, he must venerate it; not suppress it.

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    2. Archbishop Lefebvre didn't base his opposition to the Novus Ordo on rejection of the Pope's right to reform the liturgy (though, like all Catholic-minded people, he took a dim view of changing willy-nilly what was old and venerable), but on the Short Critical Study of the Novus Ordo Missae, by those "idiots" Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci.

      It was directly through Lefebvre's "non" that other bishops and priests were eventually given canonical leeway to have traditional Masses said more widely.

      Your criticism of traditionalists who reject the right of the Pope to reform the liturgy is correct, but you need to address it to people like Dr. Kwasniewski. There was nobody more Roman than Archbishop Lefebvre. Not for him the the neo-Orthodox Churchy tendencies to be seen in certain quarters in the US.

      Obviously there would have been another providential path towards conserving traditional liturgy in the Church had Archbishop Lefebvre followed the trend or not existed. What has happened, however, is that the largest traditional grouping of priests is the SSPX, and other important groupings like the Society of St. Peter, Confraternity of the Transfiguration, Benedictines of Le Barroux and elsewhere, Institute of the Good Shepherd, orders of teaching Dominican nuns, etc etc, were also founded by members of the SSPX, or were ordained or confirmed in their path by Archbishop Lefevbre. This history can never be unwrittren.

      Needless to say, all of this is a holding down operation till Rome decides to act once and for all on the liturgy (inter alia). I think you would agree with most of this. You could only have made a remark like that about Archbishop Lefebvre if you you didn't fully realise what was what.

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    3. @Tim the White.

      110% disagreement here.

      The Pope cannot suppress the celebration of the Holy Mass but the Pope can suppress any specific rite of the Mass. He shouldn't do it willy nilly but he has the right.

      Fallacy of equivocation. So yer argument is faulty on the face of it.

      The Liturgy of St Pius V is not THE MASS it is one valid version of it among many. The Rite of St Mark or St Basil or Mar Mari and Mar Addi etc....one among many & yes the Liturgy of St Paul VI..

      The Pope can suppress it. It is still a jerk move to do so & gravely imprudent IMHO but he can do it and we have to obey even if it sucks.

      >He abuses his office to create a new rite of his liking and attempting to suppress that which he received. Various Councils and Encyclicals are explicit on this.

      Make up yer mind? I have heard Traditionalists complain the St Paul VI liturgy is guilty of antiquarianism. That is the "error" that just because a practice is old therefore it is good. For example the fact the early Church took communion in the hand till later developments lead them to do away with that practice.

      Now yer trying to bore me with the argument from novelty nonsense. I dinny care.

      The St Paul VI is an attempt to restore the primitive liturgy so in effect nothing new is being created. So away with yer nonsense.

      BTW did I mention I dinny CARE? I think Eastern Rite Liturgies are better. I am not interested in loving the Old Mass. I don't love it anymore than any other mass. I love them all. If it is a Mass in communion with the Bishop of Rome I/Moi by definition love it. If not & it is formally schismatic then it can go hang. I only support Trads having it if they want it and not the Vatican pooping on them fer wanting it like they.

      So people dinny bore me to death with arguments over which liturgy is "better" or "more Catholic".

      I don't think in those terms.

      Delete
    4. @Miguel Cervantes

      Archbishop Lefebvre is a traitor of the first rank who has forever tainted love of the Old Latin liturgy with the specter of schism and infidelity. I have nothing but a low opinion of him regardless of his other virtues. I only hold Williamson in lower regard then him.

      I consider it hypocrisy and foul that Trads back in the days of St John Paul II reign used to complain about him rewarding disobedience such as granting communion in the hand or Altar girls in response to parishes just doing it anyway in opposition to liturgical norms.

      Well then why is it OK when Lefebvre does it? It is not. Doing evil so good will come from it is wrong and sure Lefebvre's rebellion helped nudge the Church into being more accomodating but at what price? All you have to do is disobey and yer rewarded? Screw that!

      But that having been said....I see no good reason to suppress the Old Mass for those who like it. But pretending there have not been shenanigans going on in the Trad movement that do give Pope Francis some cover is near sighted IMHO.

      >Archbishop Lefebvre didn't base his opposition to the Novus Ordo on rejection of the Pope's right to reform the liturgy (though, like all Catholic-minded people, he took a dim view of changing willy-nilly what was old and venerable), but on the Short Critical Study of the Novus Ordo Missae, by those "idiots" Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci.


      I read the other side in THE LITURGY BETRAYED and I could care less about the St Paul VI vs St Pius V. It is as boring as Kirk vs Pichard to me.

      I would choose the Liturgy of St James if I played favorates.

      The Fathers of the Church teach there is no excuse for Schism and I confess that truth.

      Now all that being said I still believe Francis should just give the trads their favorate liturgy and not make it easy for them to become schismatics by suppressing it.


      I believe in liturgical diversity not uniformity outside what is required by orthodoxy.

      So people waste their time trying to get me into the SSPX camp. I'll see my children murdered in cold blood in front of me by Antifa first before I do.

      I am Catholic till death and always in communion with Rome.

      Delete
    5. @Son of Ya'Kov,
      If I were still a Catholic I would agree with you on all you say, esp about the so-called Novus Ordo's being mostly ancient! And setting people straight on the difference between the sacrament and the various rites according to which it can be/has been celebrated.

      Delete
    6. Son of Ya'kov, I'm sure you agree that obedience, even to a Pope, does not oblige if there is a serious motive. Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci in their short work on the Novus Ordo provided very serious reasons. It was not only Archbishop Lefebvre who had reservations. When the NO became obligatory, 6,000 Spanish priests sent a submission to Paul VI, and to Fr. Annibale Bugnini (11/12/69) declaring they would not say the NO, again basing their position on Ottaviani and Bacci.

      You said in your other comment that the Pope can "suppress" a rite, at least in theory. It's very doubtful this could apply to the Roman rite. In any case, the NO is obviously a version of the Roman rite. The problems are those discussed by Ottaviani and Bacci.

      Fr. Jean-Michel Gleize, who represented the SSPX at the doctrinal discussions with the Vatican some years ago, has written a detailed account of its position and why it was legitimate to resist the enforcement of the Novus Ordo. The main issue is doctrinal, not the question of whether the Pope has it in his authority to modify the liturgy or not.
      https://laportelatine.org/formation/crise-eglise/nouvelle-messe/la-promulgation-du-novus-ordo-missae-a-t-elle-abrogee-celle-du-vetus-ordo

      Disobedience is "OK when Lefebvre does it" when it's warranted. You don't wish to go into the doctrinal issues at stake here (nor do I), but it's not a question of doing as one likes for the fun of it, let alone for the purposes of promoting something wrong. Your description of Archbishop Lefebvre as a disobedient traitor is the caricature used by bossy and nasty bishops and priests for a generation to silence objectors who were treated like idiots. That's finished now; don't try to keep it going.

      Your assertion that the Novus Ordo was "an attempt to restore the primitive liturgy so in effect nothing new is being created" is wrong. Antiquarianism is the "revival" of things barely known, as opposed to tradition, which is the handing down of things. Can one really say the Novus Ordo is really the Mass as it was in the first centuries?

      Yes, there were shenanigans among some traditionalists (especially in the US, as Pope Francis commented). It is these idiots, not the SSPX, which has given the Pope an excuse to crack down on the traditional liturgy.

      You are welcome to go to your local parish, Dominicans Jesuits or Franciscans for all I care.

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    7. @Miguel Cervantes

      Horsepoop!


      >Son of Ya'kov, I'm sure you agree that obedience, even to a Pope, does not oblige if there is a serious motive.

      No I won't! F*** that! Weasel words! If the Pope tells me to cheat on my wife I will tell him to go bugger himself. I am only obligated to politely ignore the Pope on matters where he has no authority over me & if in my prudent judgement I dinny fancy it. Like support of the Death Penalty (which Benedict XVI said ye can disagree with the Pope on and Francis has not explicitly un-said it) or Global Warming or his other prudent political and policy opinions I dinny fancy for "reasons"(Yay Trump! Yay Conservatives!).

      But he is supreme in matters of Church discipline and final.

      >When the NO became obligatory, 6,000 Spanish priests sent a submission to Paul VI, and to Fr. Annibale Bugnini (11/12/69) declaring they would not say the NO, again basing their position on Ottaviani and Bacci.

      Then they can lawfully resign their ministries in protest & or retire. That is fine but they cannot in public celebrate unauthorized rites contrary to discipline.

      The Pope can if he wanted too suppress the Roman Rite and make us all eastern rites(it would be fecking stupid but he can). It is like in that trad favorite end times book(which Francis likes too it seems) LORD OF THE WORLD where the Pope for some mad reason suppressed all the Eastern Rites in the end times.

      He can do it and there is no doctrinal reason why he cannot do it. Like I said to Tim the Pope cannot suppress the The Mass but he can suppress particular rites. Now can we say schismatics who defy him have a lesser culpability for their sin if the Pope is being unreasonable about it? Sure, but there is STILL objectively no excuse for schism and no forgiveness without repentance of it.

      >Disobedience is "OK when Lefebvre does it" when it's warranted.

      That is pure Protestant nominalist shite and I reject it across the board. SSPX are traitors and hypocrites and a stain on the Trad movement. If they came back to the Church then Francis would have no argument to suppress the Old Rite. But their continued rebellion gives him cover to shite on obedient trads.

      If ye can resist the Pope's lawful commands then it is open season. Ratzinger told Lefebvre he was ironically guilty of the same modernist thinking by which he justified his rebellion.

      The SSPX and their fellow travelers can bugger themselves along with the Women's Ordination Movement or New Way Ministries and that shite. They are in essence the same. Two sides of the same schismatic coin. Protestants with Rosary beads and Latin the lot 'em.

      > Antiquarianism is the "revival" of things barely known, as opposed to tradition, which is the handing down of things.

      Only if ye do it unlawfully on yer own initiative. If the Pope does it formally then it is lawful and you are a schismatic for yer disobedience.

      There is nothing coherent in SSPX thinking. It is all Protestantism with Rosary beads.

      I'm nor having it.

      Lefebvre was a disobedient traitor who God forbid might have "gone to his own place"(how can he plead invincible ignorance). I can't judge but may God have mercy on his soul.

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    8. @Ficino

      I pray for yer return from Agnostic Skepticism to Catholicism.

      But it is interesting even an Agnostic can see the SSPX is wrong and inconsistent to disobey.

      One can argue the Pope being unreasonable with Church discipline might lessen the culpability of schismatics before God but the objective intrinsic evil nature of schism remains.

      Cheers.

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    9. The SSPX is a lie! I am nor having it.

      Why I left the Society of St. Pius X: An Open Letter to Fr. Gołaski
      https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2022/01/10/why-i-left-the-society-of-st-pius-x-an-open-letter-to-fr-golaski/

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    10. @ Son of Ya'Kov:

      The Pope cannot suppress the celebration of the Holy Mass but the Pope can suppress any specific rite of the Mass. He shouldn't do it willy nilly but he has the right.

      That's not what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says -- "For this reason no sacramental rite may be modified or manipulated at the will of the minister or the community. Even the supreme authority in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy" (CCC 1125). In other words, no, the Pope doesn't have the right to suppress any Rite of the Mass willy nilly.

      Make up yer mind? I have heard Traditionalists complain the St Paul VI liturgy is guilty of antiquarianism. That is the "error" that just because a practice is old therefore it is good. For example the fact the early Church took communion in the hand till later developments lead them to do away with that practice.

      Those two complaints aren't necessarily contradictory -- a practice which was abandoned thousands of years ago and is now being reintroduced is novel from the perspective of somebody in the present. If the Italian government started celebrating the inauguration of a new president by sacrificing 100 white bulls to Jupiter, I think that could reasonably be described as a new development, notwithstanding the fact that their Roman ancestors once did something similar.

      (That is, of course, leaving aside the question of just how far the "antiquarianisms" of the Novus Ordo actually reflect early Christian practice.)

      BTW did I mention I dinny CARE? I think Eastern Rite Liturgies are better. I am not interested in loving the Old Mass. I don't love it anymore than any other mass. I love them all. If it is a Mass in communion with the Bishop of Rome I/Moi by definition love it. If not & it is formally schismatic then it can go hang. I only support Trads having it if they want it and not the Vatican pooping on them fer wanting it like they.

      So people dinny bore me to death with arguments over which liturgy is "better" or "more Catholic".

      I don't think in those terms.


      You might not think in those terms, but for a lot of people, their main interaction with the Church is going to Mass on Sunday, so their idea of what Catholicism involves, what it requires of them, and what it believes, will be shaped by what they see at Mass. If Mass at their ordinary church clearly reflects orthodox Catholicism, they're likely to become orthodox Catholics; if it doesn't, they're not. That's part of the reason why, for example, England during the reign of Elizabeth I went from a majority-Catholic country to one of the most anti-Catholic countries in the world: by the time Elizabeth died, an entire generation or more had grown up with Protestant worship, and their view of Christianity was accordingly a strongly Protestant one.

      Delete
    11. @Gaius (love the Roman praenomen, btw), this of yours is the sort of thing that confirms me in my ditching the Faith:

      "That's part of the reason why, for example, England during the reign of Elizabeth I went from a majority-Catholic country to one of the most anti-Catholic countries in the world: by the time Elizabeth died, an entire generation or more had grown up with Protestant worship, and their view of Christianity was accordingly a strongly Protestant one."

      My reaction isn't at the level of a philosophical argument. It's more on the "I'm just saying" level. Isn't it a piss poor job of the omnipotent deity and all the angels and saints to let England slip away from the Faith because Henry wanted an heir AND couldn't keep it in his codpiece? For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost to the Faith for centuries, at the cost of millions of souls?

      I just don't buy it. I know there are lots of ways of spinning crises so as to try to defuse the PoE. But in the Iliad, at least the will of Zeus was fulfilled within ten years. How long has England been apostate? Where were Michael and the BVM - they couldn't do anything more than what Philip could manage?

      And now we're getting a growing chorus of those saying the See of St. Peter is vacant, or whatever.

      Why should I haul my butt back to confession and mass if the purported God behind it all admittedly is losing the matches? Not a strong position, chaps.

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    12. Son of Ya'kov, bluster (or petarade) does not deal with the matter, which is that Archbishop Lefebvre's "disobedience" was motivated by the questions raised by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci and not by rejection of the Pope's right to reform the liturgy. I'll have to leave the discussion here.

      Members of the SSPX are members of the Church; this is affirmed from the Pope down, apart from you.

      Some "obedient" "traditionalists", on the other hand, spend their time fighting against "the spirit of Vatican One" (Kwasnewski) or declaring the Pope to be "the prophet of the antichrist" (Vigano). There are plenty of other Catholics like that, with no canonical blemish, who can be used by the Pope as an excuse for cracking down on the Traditional Liturgy.

      The 6,000 Spanish priests didn't resign their ministries. Nor did they get an "indult" to say the Traditional Mass. Nevertheless they mostly continued saying it, before dying off. Fray Miguel Oltra, head of the Spanish Priests Society told my parents in the late 1970s that most of its seven thousand members continued to say the Old Mass. The real crime of Archbishop Lefebvre was his creation of a seminary and the ordination of new priests. That's what got him suspended in 1976 (years after the Novus Ordo became obligatory), remember.

      Now I must leave the room; enjoy your future "contributions" on the subject.

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    13. More Radtrad sophistry and stupidly.

      @Gaius

      CCC 1125 means the average individual minister can't on his own authority change the liturgy(that does no apply to the Pope formal legal acts now does it?) and it means nobody (not even the Pope) can change what is essential to it to make it a valid sacrament & rite. For example Pope St Paul VI could NOT decree the words "Hocus Pocus" replace the words of consecration in Latin or English.
      More fallacies of equivocation.

      The St Paul VI Rite is valid and lawful and per the teaching of Trent is an occasion of piety not impiety (which is anathema to say otherwise) and if yer claiming otherwise you justify Pope Francis' reasons fer nerfing the celebration of the Old Mass and you are a heretic and a false Traditionalist.

      Yer objection reminds me of Eastern Orthodox Schismatics who claim the Pope cannot add the Filoque to the creed because Nicaea places an anathema on "those who change the creed".

      Yeh when a King decrees none of his subjects may wear a Crown it is usually implied by rational beings that such a decree doesn't apply to the King Himself or members of the Royal Family.

      So yer full of it. I have been arguing with yer kind about this for 30 years and I am bored to death over it.

      >In other words, no, the Pope doesn't have the right to suppress any Rite of the Mass willy nilly.

      Said no Church Authority ever...He does have that objective right. Now wither he is acting reasonably or rationally that is up fer grabs but yer obedience is required before God even if it sucks and it does.

      >You might not think in those terms, but for a lot of people, their main interaction with the Church is going to Mass on Sunday, so their idea of what Catholicism involves, what it requires of them, and what it believes, will be shaped by what they see at Mass.

      Wrong! You have it backwards. You must be instructed in the fundamentals of the Faith before attending Mass. That is why we make future converts leave before the consecration.

      Scott Hahn learned enough theology & doctrine so that when he attended his first Mass he was blown away. Note it was a St Paul VI liturgy he attended not a St Pius V. So nuts to this nonsense. You don't learn the Faith from the Mass. You are taught the faith and you recognize it in the Mass.

      >If Mass at their ordinary church clearly reflects orthodox Catholicism, they're likely to become orthodox Catholics; if it doesn't, they're not.

      So Scott Hahn is not an orthodox Catholic? Bugger off SSPX Protestant! I won't bother responding to the rest of yer nonsense. I have work to do....I am not in the mood.

      Every Radtrad who claims the St Paul VI liturgy is "Protestant" justifies Pope Francis' actions. Nobody wants that but keep it up and I will soon become a fan of his nerfing instead of an opponent.

      Schism is fer morons!

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    14. @Miguel Cervantes


      >Son of Ya'kov, bluster (or petarade) does not deal with the matter, which is that Archbishop Lefebvre's "disobedience" was motivated by the questions raised by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci and not by rejection of the Pope's right to reform the liturgy.

      Who cares? If the Church being ruled by wicked and sinful men is not a justification fur schism then Ottaviani and Bacci mere opinions on what they think are the short comings of the St Paul VI liturgy are not justifications either.

      If my wife was god forbid a dirty whoor (the woman is a Saint BTW especially since she endures being married to moi) and hit me in the head every morning that does not justify me getting some on the side.

      Archbishop Lefebvre's act of schism is no different than a man bonking another woman because he caught her with the Pool boi.

      Wrong is wrong and it put the stain of schism on the Old Rite by association. It was a scandal.

      >The 6,000 Spanish priests didn't resign their ministries. Nor did they get an "indult" to say the Traditional Mass. Nevertheless they mostly continued saying it,

      Then they where wrong and wicked fur doing so.

      There is no justification fur schism anymore then there could be a justification fer me bonking another woman other then me wife (which BTW I would NEVER do).

      Ye canny piss yerselfs over the lack standards of communion to the divorce out of one side of yer mouth and justify schism on the other side.


      Admit both are wrong and then we can be at peace.

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    15. @ficino:

      My reaction isn't at the level of a philosophical argument. It's more on the "I'm just saying" level. Isn't it a piss poor job of the omnipotent deity and all the angels and saints to let England slip away from the Faith because Henry wanted an heir AND couldn't keep it in his codpiece? For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost to the Faith for centuries, at the cost of millions of souls?

      Well, we don't actually know how many souls were lost, because we don't have reliable statistics on how many people get to Heaven. The Catholic visionary Maria Anna Lindmayr once said "many of those who have lived and died in Lutherdom... [because they erred out of ignorance] received from God the grace of repentance at the end of their life," and the same would surely be true of Anglicans. Conversely, we don't know how many pre-Reformation English Catholics went to Heaven, nor how this compares with the number of post-Reformation English Catholics (though we can assume a higher portion of the latter went to Heaven, since it's more meritorious to be Catholic in the face of persecution than to be Catholic in a Catholic society).

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    16. @ Son of Ya'Kov:

      CCC 1125 means the average individual minister can't on his own authority change the liturgy(that does no apply to the Pope formal legal acts now does it?) and it means nobody (not even the Pope) can change what is essential to it to make it a valid sacrament & rite. For example Pope St Paul VI could NOT decree the words "Hocus Pocus" replace the words of consecration in Latin or English.

      It simply talks about "changing the liturgy", not about "changing what is essential to make it a valid sacrament".

      The St Paul VI Rite is valid and lawful and per the teaching of Trent is an occasion of piety not impiety (which is anathema to say otherwise) and if yer claiming otherwise you justify Pope Francis' reasons fer nerfing the celebration of the Old Mass and you are a heretic and a false Traditionalist.

      The Council of Trent took place four centuries before the Novus Ordo Missae was promulgated, and was referring to what we'd call the TLM in that Canon.

      If anything, Trent is more of a problem for the Novus Ordo: if "the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs, of which the Catholic Church makes use in the celebration of masses, are... offices of piety," then rewriting the ceremonies is at best pointless, at worst arrogant and impious, and removing most of the outward signs (e.g., by reducing the number of genuflections or signs of the Cross) reduces the offices of piety provided by the Mass.

      Wrong! You have it backwards. You must be instructed in the fundamentals of the Faith before attending Mass. That is why we make future converts leave before the consecration.

      I'm sorry, but this isn't at all how real life works. In the first place, ordinary parishes, cathedral, etc. -- even in the Vatican -- don't make future converts leave before the consecration. In the second place, "instruction first, Mass attendance second" only works for adult converts, not for cradle Catholics (unless you're suggesting we stop parents bringing their young children to Mass). Thirdly, whilst some people are capable of arguing themselves into belief in the Real Presence in the teeth of every Catholic Mass they actually attend, others aren't, and will either conclude that belief in the Real Presence isn't actually obligatory, or else find the cognitive dissonance too great and abandon Catholicism altogether.



      Benedict XVI, back when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, commented that the Novus Ordo downplays the sacrificial nature of the Mass compared to the Vetus Ordo; Annibale Bugnini, the man who actually composed the Novus Ordo, said that he wanted to remove aspects which might offend Protestants. Are they both "rad trads"?

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    17. @Gaius

      Yer giving me more Radtrad Protestant heresy...

      >It simply talks about "changing the liturgy", not about "changing what is essential to make it a valid sacrament".

      The text you cited said " Even the supreme authority in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy" (CCC 1125).

      Clearly that refers to the validity of the sacrament. The St Paul VI liturgy is clearly NOT contrary to the obedience of the Faith nor contrary to the mystery(which is the sacrament).

      Nice try Prot boi.

      >The Council of Trent took place four centuries before the Novus Ordo Missae was promulgated, and was referring to what we'd call the TLM in that Canon.

      That is not what the text says...QUOTE" "If anyone says that the ceremonies, vestments and outward signs which the Catholic Church makes use of in the celebration of Masses are incentives to impiety, rather than offices of piety; let him be anathema."

      It refers to "Masses" which applies to all approved rites of the Church not just the Latin Rite nor one specific version of it. Nowhere does Trent say this canon applies to the St Pius V liturgy alone. So this doesn't apply to the Ambrosian Rite? I think not....

      An approved liturgy of the Church cannot be an office of impiety. The Paul VI liturgy is approved. Do the math. For something that is intrinsically evil is naturally an incentive to impiety, while the Council of Trent declares dogmatically that the approved liturgical ceremonies of the Catholic Church cannot be incentives to impiety. So Trent does not allow you to claim this of any approved liturgy.

      >then rewriting the ceremonies is at best pointless, at worst arrogant and impious, and removing most of the outward signs (e.g., by reducing the number of genuflections or signs of the Cross) reduces the offices of piety provided by the Mass

      Says no Church Father or Theologian ever.

      >I'm sorry, but this isn't at all how real life works.

      That is entirely how it works. If yer not taught the faith the Mass will teach you nothing. This crisis in the Church has nothing to do with the liturgy. The faith is simply not taught to people beyond a childhood level. CATHOLIC ANSWERS has been justly complaining about that for years.

      >even in the Vatican -- don't make future converts leave before the consecration.

      My Novus Ordo Church did as far back as I remember. Yer full of it Radtrad. It showed the converts had to be prepared for the mystery.

      What you need to do with Kids is teach them the Faith. When I learned my faith beyond the bare bones I learned till confirmation the Mass came alive for me. The Old Mass would have taught me less since I didn't understand Latin.

      BTW I know yer full of it because every anti-Catholic Fundamentalist I ever know who complained about the Mass being a sacrifice cited the text of the St Paul VI Mass at me not the St Pius V.

      >Benedict XVI, back when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, commented that the Novus Ordo downplays the sacrificial nature of the Mass compared to the Vetus Ordo;

      Nope! He never said that.

      >Bugnini, the man who actually composed the Novus Ordo, said that he wanted to remove aspects which might offend Protestants.

      This is an old SSPX lie...nope!

      Radtrad are Protestants with Rosary beads and Latin. Nothing more. They are nor True Traditionalists or Catholic.

      Delete
  8. In the OP: "The nominalist takes our concepts to be mere artifacts of language, free creations of the mind bearing no necessary connection to mind-independent reality. The realist, by contrast, takes concepts to reflect the natures of things themselves."

    Does the negation of nominalism entail the thesis that concepts bear a NECESSARY connection to mind-independent reality?

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    Replies
    1. Not necessarily. You can reject nominalism and be a conceptualist* or be a realist about some but not all concepts. For instance, aristotelians normally do not defend that concepts like "stone heap" or "iphone" pick something real because these "things" have no intrinsic principle of unity that unites the parts. Perhaps this post can help:http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/04/nature-versus-art.html?m=1


      *can the view last? A diferent question

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    2. According to what it says above, it would be necessary when the concepts are about concrete as opposed to "fictional" matters:

      "In fiction, indeed, inconsistency is a merely internal fault, and does not matter so long as it does not offend the reader. This holds precisely because the indicative sentences in a work of fiction do not latch onto reality: the author and the reader merely make believe that they do so. When discourse is meant to latch onto reality, then inconsistency matters: not because falling into inconsistency means perpetrating a specially bad sort of error, logical falsehood; but because inconsistent discourse inevitably has some non-logical fault. Like it or not, an inconsistent history will somewhere be factually false, an inconsistent set of orders or instructions cannot all be carried out, an inconsistent moral code will at some juncture be prescribing morally objectionable conduct, and so on. (p. 38)"

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    3. @Talmid, re this of yours: "You can reject nominalism and be a conceptualist* or be a realist about some but not all concepts."

      over on Strange Notions Dennis Bonnette and I had a discussion about abstract objects and concepts, and for a lot of it, I think we were talking past each other due to using terms of art from different philosophical perspectives. As I could make out, Bonnette seemed to say that A-T holds conceptualism, i.e. that universals exist only as concepts in a mind (the mind need not be human), which the intellect abstracts from external things. I was holding the Quine/van Inwagen view that when we make particular affirmative statements, we are committed to the existence of that over which we are quantifying - so that abstract objects as well as bodies etc. exist.

      Do you agree that A-T affirms conceptualism?

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    4. @ficino4ml

      "Do you agree that A-T affirms conceptualism?"

      It depends on the definition of conceptualism. Some use the word to make a contrast with realism in general. By this type of "conceptualism" i understand the view that essences or natures are mental constructs that do not map up to reality but that nevertheless there is a kinda of universality in that our minds can't help but use these concepts. A-T clearly is not this type of conceptualist, for we hold that natures do exist and the human mind can know these.

      Another meaning is used when conceptualism is contrasted with platonic realism. By this type of "conceptualism" i understand the view that there are no abstract objects but nevertheless natures or essences are real features of reality that either exists in things and minds(aristotelian realism) or in things and minds and also on God mind(divine conceptualism)*. A-T is clearly conceptualist on this sense because we hold that God knows all the possible essences and create using they as basis, with each created thing having a objective essence that we can know(how much will depend). Thomists are a kind of divine conceptualists.

      Seeing that you guys were discussing abstract objects and also this:

      "that universals exist only as concepts in a mind (the mind need not be human), which the intellect abstracts from external things."

      It seems that Dennis means conceptualism on the second meaning, seeing how he takes the concepts as abstracted from things. If taken on the second meaning, them the answer to your question is "yep". Essences are real but we don't need abstract objects, God mind does the trick pretty well!


      I don't know how easy to find it is, but Dr. Feser book Five Proofs of the Existence of God has a chapter dedicated to the augustinian proof were he goes on to diferenciate nominalism from conceptualism and the diferent forms of realism and ends up arguing to the A-T type of divine conceptualism. He even use Quine argument to defend his type of realism, so i'am sure it would be very helpful.


      *there is also another type of non-platonic realism used by the greek church fathers, but i admit that i can't summarise that one

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    5. @Talmid, thank you for the reference to Five Proofs. I shall go back to that chapter when I clear out some other stuff in my "to do" queue, aargh.

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  9. I've come across people who claim that, if you judge a particular authority to be defective, then you are setting yourself as an authority higher than that one. I'm glad you covered that argument Feser. I also like the sarcasm you used to deal with those who reject the law of non-contradiction. "Multitudes!"

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    1. I've come across people who claim that, if you judge a particular authority to be defective, then you are setting yourself as an authority higher than that one.

      I don't understand Feser's counterargument.

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    2. The argument in question is a variation of what David Stove called "the world's worst argument." Basically, it relies on the tautology that your judgment is yours and concludes from that something that would destroy any position. It'd be like arguing from the fact that I use my senses to receive information to the conclusion that my senses are the source of that information.

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    3. The counter argument would be that you're not setting yourself up as a higher expert in a given matter if your just making judgement as to which expert you find to be the most sane, consistent, and trustworthy as a person, before you accept their interpretation in a great matter.

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  10. "Logic students are familiar with the dictum that anything follows from a contradiction."

    A paraconsistent logic is one that denies that every proposition follows from a contradiction. The motivation for Relevant Logic, one of the paraconsistent logics, is to resolve Classical Logic's paradoxes of implication. Another is to allow room for the following:

    "A most telling reason for paraconsistent logic is, prima facie, the fact that there are theories which are inconsistent but non-trivial. If we admit the existence of such theories, their underlying logics must be paraconsistent (though see Michael 2016)."

    "2.1.1 Non-Trivial Theories
    Examples of inconsistent but non-trivial theories are easy to produce. One example can be derived from the history of science. Consider Bohr’s theory of the atom. According to this, an electron orbits the nucleus of the atom without radiating energy. However, according to Maxwell’s equations, which formed an integral part of the theory, an electron which is accelerating in orbit must radiate energy. Hence Bohr’s account of the behaviour of the atom was inconsistent. Yet, patently, not everything concerning the behavior of electrons was inferred from it, nor should it have been. Hence, whatever inference mechanism it was that underlay it, this must have been paraconsistent (Brown & Priest 2015)."

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    1. This is just a fancy way of saying, "We don't know enough to say which is the more consistent yet, if either."

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    2. Not exactly a fancy way of making the point, I think -- more of a 'get down into the plumbing so that one can have the confidence one knows what one is talking about' level.

      I think you may be edging towards the (correct) assertion that if we are dealing with INCOMPLETE knowledge, we need to avoid Classical Logic's principle of explosion (i.e, everything follows from a contradiction). A complete knowledge of course is a different matter altogether.

      I am not fond, however, of "We don't know enough to say which is the more consistent yet, if either". A body of propositions is either consistent or it is not. There is no 'more or less'.

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  11. I look forward to what Feser has to say about the interpretation of authority. Nowadays the interpretation of an authority (like a text) is taken to trump the authority.

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  12. My bad -- I forgot to post the link to the above. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-paraconsistent/

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  13. Re "It cannot fail to undermine public trust when government officials, media sources, etc. REPEATEDLY AND SHAMELESSLY say inconsistent things."

    Clear logical thinking consists of recognizing, acknowledging and following the meanings of facts such as this cited pattern.

    What does it mean, what does it clearly point to, in conjunction to a myriad of related patterns/evidence?

    What does a CONSISTENT PERSISTENT pattern (a pile of solid evidence) of public indoctrination with absurdities/nonsense/lies mean?

    It means the following...

    A network of manipulating psychopaths ARE governing big businesses (eg official medicine), nations and the world -- the evidence is irrefutable as is obvious with the Covid Scamdemic (see “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room –The Holocaustal Covid-19 Coronavirus Madness: A Sociological Perspective & Historical Assessment Of The Covid “Phenomenon”” at https://www.rolf-hefti.com/covid-19-coronavirus.html

    “It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated [=be a complete idiot; e.g., be a fact-filled, “officially educated” moron]; the facts must be used as a basis for thought and criticism.” [312] [explanation & emphasis added] (from cited article above)

    "2 weeks to flatten the curve has turned into...3 shots to feed your family!" --- Unknown



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  14. "Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself." - Wittgenstein

    Wittgenstein must've had a time machine and met the "hermeneutic of continuity" types today attempting to co-opt the label "traditional Catholic".

    I wonder how Providence will deal them for their blasphemy.

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    1. So anyone who believes in Vatican II is blaspheming? That's a bit extreme.

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  15. It seems that without the intellectual formation, virtue, and disposition, Catholics will either remain so by convention or in a voluntarist fashion. A combination of social enticements, bad arguments, and appeals to emotion are bound to loosen those who are Catholics by convention, and indeed that seems to be the case. The cultural incentives to remain Catholics and the inertia that has kept people ostensibly "in the flock" are dissipating. What remains are voluntarist Catholics who present themselves as Catholics, even traditional Catholics, but whose modus vivendi is voluntarist. Some may engage in what on the surface may to naive observers appear to be rational discourse, but the mode is thoroughly rationalizing and emotional and the methodology voluntarist. The decision to be Catholic is taken as a premise willed by fiat that apologetics merely rationalizes, not the conclusion of some rational process. They are likely to raise their children in a Catholicism that is imposed and demanded rather than taught and shared. Any questions raised by these children are bound to be met with hostility as the voluntarist does not know the answers, has no patience with deviation from his expectations, and cannot tolerate the presence of doubt in his militaristic household. This way, Catholicism is instilled through intimidation. A child raised in this environment will either replicate the process since that is the kind of Catholicism he knows, or he will abandon it as an abusive cult that lacks intellectual substance and integrity. In other words, voluntarism is the death spiral of the faith unless there are enough Catholics to form a healthy intellectualist base and culture.

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  16. This issue perplexes me.

    Student: Dr. Feser, I have some doubts about your lecture, but I guess I'll just accept your views.

    Feser: No! By all means think and read criticisms of my view!

    Friend: Ed, my doctor made a recommendation for surgery. But I'm not sure. Well, I guess I'll just do it. He's never been wrong before.

    Feser: No. By all means get a second opinion!

    Scientist: I really doubt that catastrophic global warming is happening. But I'll shut-up and not doubt the consensus.

    Feser: That's immoral and cowardly!

    Friend: My mechanic says I need $4000 worth of repairs in my car. I'll leave it with them today. They've been in business since the invention of cars.

    Feser: Hey friend, you might wanna get at least one more estimate and make sure it's that big a problem.

    Intelligent searcher for the truth: Hi Dr. Feser. I really have a doubt about the truth about this Catholic doctrine
    I'm going to think and decide if it's true based on my reason and education.

    Feser: No! When the church speaks on these matters, you know the truth.

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    1. If Feser and the Searcher hold the same Faith, then that answer is sufficient: unless Infallibility is the doctrine in question.

      This seems like kind of a teenage argument.
      Son: I've only had one drink. By my calculations, I should be good to drive home.
      Father: You shall not! When experience speaks on this matter, you should hold it as truth.

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    2. Truths in the areas of philosophy, medicine, climate science, and auto mechanics fall within the range of natural reason to discover. That is why comparing experts in these fields is appropriate. In fact, if one had the time, talent and means; one could acquire the relevant expertise in each of these areas one’s self.

      Revealed doctrines, such as the trinitarian nature of God or the divinity of Christ, are doctrines which are beyond the powers of natural reason to discover. Such doctrines are known directly, only to God. If we are to have access to them, then by necessity, we will have to accept such doctrines on the word of some authority which we have reason to believe speaks on God's behalf. That's the very nature of divine faith. The notion that one could discover revealed doctrines by use of one's reason and education is something like an epistemological category mistake.

      Using reason and education to explore the evidence or motives of credibility put forward by some authority to underwrite its claim to speak on God’s behalf – yes: but using reason and education as a methodology for discovering truths which, in principle, are known directly only by God, and indirectly by creatures only through trust in the word of a divinely sanctioned authority - no.

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    3. Thank you monk68. But by what rational standards could I possibly judge a source to be authoritative? For instance, both Eastern and Western Catholics claim to hold the original deposit of faith. How could I decide between them outside of a personal leap of faith, no more valid than anyone else's?

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    4. @ jmchugh,

      "This issue perplexes me."

      As you climb up one side of an isoceles triangle, there is always the other side in opposition to your position. Yet it is not so at the apex. There is only one position there.

      What is so perplexing about that?

      Tom Cohoe

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    5. Tom Cohoe-How do I know I'm at the apex?

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    6. When you write “Eastern and Western Catholics”, I am taking you to mean Eastern Orthodox Christians and Catholic Christians, since Eastern rite Catholics and Western rite Catholics are both in communion with Rome, and therefore have no disagreement about the identity of that Church to which God has entrusted the deposit of faith. If I’ve misunderstood, please let me know.

      With respect to identifying those revealed doctrines which comprise the deposit of faith, the primary disagreement between Eastern Orthodox Christians and Catholic Christians concerns the structure of the Church Christ founded. Knowing the structure of the Church is crucial for both identifying Christ’s Church through time (and thereby identifying where the deposit of faith has been deposited); as well as for explaining how Christ’s Church might defend, clarify, and promulgate the deposit of faith in a definitive way through time. More specifically, the primary structural disagreement between Eastern Orthodox Christians and Catholic Christians concerns the role of the Bishop of Rome as a constituent element of the Church. Both agree that the Bishop of Rome is a constituent element of the Church in *some sense*. The ultimate question is whether the Bishop of Rome servers merely an honorary role within the Church – perhaps born only of historical contingencies; or whether Christ established a Petrine succession to serve as a watershed for identifying the Church through time, and as an authority by which disagreements over the scope of the deposit of faith might be settled in a definitive way.

      That ultimate question is one which can be assessed by natural reason on both historical and philosophical grounds. The question, therefore, falls within the orbit of apologetics. Part of a complete Catholic apologetic will include historical evidence and arguments showing that Christ established a Petrine succession as a constituent element of the Church, roughly in accord with the Catholic conception thereof. It will also include philosophical arguments showing that (1) without something like the Petrine succession as a structural principle of unity within the Church, it becomes impossible to actually identify the Church through time, and therefore impossible to identify the locus of the deposit of faith; and (2) that without something like the Catholic construal of Petrine authority, the Church is bereft of an actionable mechanism by which to defend, clarify and promulgate the deposit of faith in a definitive way through time. This is not the place to make or defend those historical and philosophical arguments. The point, however, is that assessing historical evidence and philosophical arguments in route to identifying the Catholic Church as the Church to which the deposit of faith has been entrusted, is a rational, evaluative, methodology far removed from a mere personal leap of faith.

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    7. @ jmchugh,

      "How do I know I'm at the apex?"

      That is a completely different question. Initially you were perplexed about Ed, that he could acknowledge two sides to many issues that he himself sees from one of them, but not himself for his higher conclusion.

      Now you are asking about yourself. I did not tell Ed where he would not find there to be an alternative point of view. Similarly, I cannot tell you where you will find the peak. Have a will to keep climbing that mountain and keep discerning.

      Tom Cohoe

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    8. Monk68, yes certainly I was talking about the Eastern Orthodox vs. the Catholic Christians. To me, that's the clearest case of where it is a matter of a leap of faith to choose one or the other. The historical issues are hotly contested. And there is no doubt that the EO church has a mechanism for preserving what they regard as the deposit of faith ("Holy Tradition" and the body of bishops united). It seems that they have done a better job of preserving tradition than the Western Church. And, they trace their lineage as far back as the Western Church.

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    9. Tom Cohoe-Thanks for your reply. If everyone's peak discernment is different then there really is no clear-cut path to seeing once and for all which institution or organization is the final authority to speak for God. Is that what you"re saying that in the end it's an intuitive place different for each individual?

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    10. @ jmchugh,

      "If everyone's peak discernment is different then there really is no clear-cut path to seeing once and for all which institution or organization is the final authority to speak for God. Is that what you're saying that in the end it's an intuitive place different for each individual?"

      Since everyone starts from a different place there is a different path of discernment for each individual. That includes different errors and fallings off the way for each individual. I can't find truth for you.

      Here are four rules to follow:

      1. Put your trust in God who desires your salvation.

      2. Do not trust yourself.

      3. Pray always for God's help, even if you feel no faith at all. The Our Father is a good start. Meditate prayerfully on God as much as possible through the day.

      4. Do spiritual exercises like asking for the intercession of the saints, going to confession, going to mass, getting involved in Eucharistic Adoration, reading the doctors, and discerning and acting on God's will for you.

      I am assuming that you are a baptised Catholic.

      Tom Cohoe

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    11. Do not forget the Blessed Virgin. It was She who first gave Christ to the world, and still does.

      Do not lose Faith in today's crisis. The world and the Church are being punished. That is why the Church is in eclipse, and the world on the brink of war.

      The Papal Office is the apex. No one in the East questioned it until a certain person decided it was in the way of their being an apex themselves. The East and West reunified once the fever died down until another sought to be an apex.
      The East recognizes the Roman primacy, just not all of it's prerogatives.

      When Our Lady of Fatima asked for the consecration of Russia by the Pope and bishops, she was asking for an act of Faith to end the schism and prevent Communism. The Popes sought to appease through diplomacy; deliberately avoiding the request in favor of human means. Thus, we had WWII, the Cold War, everything foretold at Fatima (except the annihilation of nations which entails WWIII).

      The Church will be reunified under Peter as She foretold once the punishments bring the men of the Church to their knees.

      And for those who maintain the Consecration has been done already, then the Pope and Bishops had better renew it. (I think we'd know if we were in the Marian Age by now instead of facing nuclear war with you know who).

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    12. Tom Cohoe-Thank you for your reply. I genuinely appreciate it. I agree with what you have to say though #2 is a question. This is not because I'm so big-headed as to believe I have all the answers but because I see trusting my mind as inescapable. After all, only I can make these decisions. Is what I'm experiencing a genuine revelation or emotionalism? Is it what I want or what God wants? My friend in the Protestant church has had a powerful, life-changing experience at his church. Does that make him right to go to that church? These questions and many more ultimately must be based on a decision in one's mind. But if that is the case then one needs clear standards to make a decision. Your apex is unclear to me. These remarks I hope will not be taken in the manner of an argument but rather of discussion.

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    13. @ jmchugh,

      Regarding #2, trusting yourself is the alternative to trusting God. We are stubborn, proud, easily deceived, and easily misled. Of course you have to make decisions but that doesn't mean you can trust yourself to pilot a 747 without getting into trouble.

      I am citing these 4 points from a book called "Spiritual Combat" by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli, a priest wrongly accused of something for which he suffered for about 30 years before he was found to be innocent. As punishment, for the whole time he was not allowed to function as a priest, to which he had dedicated his life. This was his personal cross and a sign of contradiction.

      His book was released around 1570, but I believe his 4 points are commonly held among saints. I cannot explain better without pretending to be more than I am, but you could read one of these books. I read an article from the Scupoli book every morning based on the endorsement of Saint Francis de Sales who always carried his copy in his pocket. It has been through up to 600 editions in many languages.

      As for Protestants, I am not one of those who thinks there are no Protestant Saints.

      Get the book.

      Another more recent daily book is "Divine Intimacy", compiled from the writings of Carmelite (discalced) Saints by Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen, OCD. It is tough stuff.

      I must now resign from advising you, but I pray for you.

      Our Father, through Jesus and with the intercession of our Mother Mary, increase your illumination of the way before Jmchugh to the grace we cannot merit but can obtain through your mercy.


      Tom Cohoe

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    14. Tom Cohoe-Thank you. You are retiring with grace and dignity. I did not mean to enlist you as my spiritual advisor. You've been very kind and patient. Doubtless we will meet again here but I shall endeavor not to tax you.

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  17. YOU HAVE AMORIS LAETITIA ALL WRONG

    In the few days since the Vatican’s release of Amoris Laetitia, there has been talk of footnote 351 being a “smoking gun” that endorses communion for the divorced and remarried who lack an annulment.

    In the text preceding this note, Pope Francis observes that, while certain individuals may be objectively in sin, they may not be fully culpable. This is nothing new; the Church has long taught that mortal sin requires the presence of three criteria: grave matter, full knowledge and freedom of the will (CCC 1857). So the pope is saying that, though grave matter is always present in an irregular union, the other two criteria may not be.

    In such cases, the pope says, the Church can not merely state a rule as though it were “a stone to throw.” Rather, it must be a source of help for the couple to “grow in the life of grace.” And then he adds this footnote:

    In certain cases [emphasis added], this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy.” … I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”
    In “certain cases,” but which? If the text that precedes the note is of any help, the pope would seem to be referring to cases where there is grave matter but not the other two criteria for mortal sin. If there is no mortal sin, nothing bars one from the Eucharist. Only a pastor who knows and has counseled the individuals in question can make this determination.

    Canon lawyer Edward N. Peters, in an article that’s worth your time, points out, however, that the pope cannot, in an apostolic exhortation, change the law about withholding the Eucharist from those who (as canon 915 puts it) “obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin.”

    Still, it must be said that the language surrounding footnote 351 does not at all describe people who “obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin.” The pope speaks of those who are not fully culpable due to the presence of “mitigating factors.”

    Nor does the pope say that priests should allow couples to remain in sin once they are convicted of the grave matter. He speaks elsewhere (cf. §222) of the need for pastors to help couples develop a “fully formed conscience.” One the conscience is formed, the grave matter must end.

    And here is where footnote 329 becomes of help. In this section, the pope restates a point that St. John Paul II had made in Familiaris Consortio 84, which is that the good of children might mean that couples in an irregular union cannot separate (i.e., divorce or live apart). John Paul II is at pains to point out that celibacy is required of couples in this situation.

    In note 329, Pope Francis adds:

    In such situations, many people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living “as brothers and sisters,” which the Church offers them,[emphasis added]point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, “it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers.”

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    1. [Francis] ]point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, “it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers.”

      What "faithfulness" is endangered? A couple that acknowledges and admits that the (second) faux-union they entered into is not actually marriage, and the so-called "vows" they said to be faithful to each other could not be binding vows because they ALREADY had binding vows to their first spouses, cannot fail marital faithfulness to each other because they never had binding vows of faithfulness to each other. Failing to enter into "certain expressions of intimacy" with each other cannot lead to faithlessness against their ORIGINAL spouses, of which binding vows remain in place.

      JPII explicitly rejected the notion that a couple living objectively disordered lives due to living in a condition of repeated sexual relations without the benefit of real marriage vows, could claim that they "should" continue to live that way for the sake of some other objective obligation, like raising children, on the grounds that they would (likely) FAIL that other obligation without the support of emotional and physical pleasure of the sexual relations. He called such a thesis specious, and insisted that the Church has ALWAYS taught that "God's grace is sufficient". The objection that God will not provide the grace needed is a rejection of God's own promises. The recognition that "I will likely often fall in spite of the graces offered" is, again NOT a reason to refuse to try, it is a reason to try hard, and to repeatedly get up from a fall and try again. (A similar cast of argument would apply to a person habitually given to the sin of gluttony: he cannot refuse to eat merely because he knows that (in spite of intending, now, not to sin), he is likely to sin in this way in the future. And a refusal to take on the intention not to sin in this way in the future merely because he knows he is likely to fall represents a formal rejection of God's grace.)

      The sinner must want to go forward forsaking the sin in order to be repentant enough to receive the grace of absolution, and a formal intention to continue the sinful sexual misbehavior, even "for the sake" of some other "good" is not an intention to forsake the sin.

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    2. So your illustrating what lengths Francis went through to try and bend morality over backwards to appease lax the Catholics, right?

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    3. https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2018/03/14/180314d.html

      "We know that one who has committed a serious sin should not approach Holy Communion without having first obtained absolution in the sacrament of Reconciliation.-Pope Francis to a bunch of Polish Pilgrims 3/14/2018.

      So the Pope has upheld doctrine here but.....

      Amoris basically is like a town that takes away all the stop signs and traffic lights from its streets. Sure there will be overly careful drivers who will still by habit stop at every corner and look carefully both ways so as to avoid getting hit but there will be more traffic fatalities.

      Who a Minister gives communion to is a matter of discipline and in making this discipline more lax the Pope has made it easier for the stupid to take communion illicitly. Pope Francis has an unrealistic believe people will police themselves which his personal anecdotes of family members he knows who are in invalid marriages who still refrain from communion.

      That is the real problem. Not that the Pope has taught error.

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    4. edit: " Pope Francis has an unrealistic belief people will police themselves in this matte which is why he gives his personal anecdotes of family members he knows who are in invalid marriages who still refrain from communion.

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    5. Bergolio knows exactly what he's doing. He's trying to make the rules so lax that they become irrelevant.
      It's the same thing the modernists did at the council. Make things so murky that you can say, or do, or believe whatever you want.

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    6. @Tim the White - That the Holy Father is speaking in a way that may very well have that effect is not the same as having intended that effect. I am no fan of the evasive, ambiguous, and even misleading language he has been (as quoted) known to use, but I do not especially care for the accusations that he is intentionally doing what you claim he is. Plenty of trads are guilty of this sort of contempt, ever ready to accuse instead of restraining their judgement to the effects without divining intent. I wish people understood how serious of an accusation they are making.

      Ultimately, his intent doesn't matter because regardless of whether his intentions are good or bad, the damage is done, and we ought to focus on the damaging effects of his words and not what motivated them.

      Or so I humbly submit.

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  18. I think what the Walt Whitmans of the world mean, and by no means do I agree with it, is that they somehow *transcend* the very metaphysical thinking about contradictions or logical inconsistencies. In a sense, they are saying they, or their modus operandi or modus vivendi, are *beyond* that kind of thinking altogether. So all of the ensuing logical analysis would be pointless, in the sense that it would completely miss the mark of what they were trying to say. Theirs is a poetic expression that does not yield (in their mind) to the "crude", rigid logical analysis. It operates beyond assertions and negations, consistencies and inconsistencies and ultimately, as a consequence, even beyond truth or non-truth. In this kind of thinking, I often detect a sort of Nietzschean undercurrent as well. An emphasis on will over reason certainly and a hard rejection of clear metaphysical thinking or any sort of categorization. In my mind, this is just an attempt to jump to a sort of false sense of freedom and empowerment, that ultimately falls flat on its face. However, and this is highly concerning, it is highly contagious, often personally beneficial (materially and superficially, nobody sane would argue that is good for your soul on the other hand) and incredibly effective at breaking down social order.

    I've noted this "movement" in the world for a while now and it's highly effective at destroying things that are well-ordered, whether it's norms, functional institutions, authorities, philosophical thinking, art...really anything you can think of. Today, it's very easy to be transgressive and peddle a sort of false freedom. The whole world calls people like that "brave" and "intellectual".

    I am not sure how this will end. It seems far easier to tear down every instance of logical order and normative behavior. In fact, I think the West's whole societal mechanism now is ordered towards destroying any sort of positive assertion whatsoever, in the most abstract sense of the term. Any structure, again even in the most abstract sense, must be broken down in the name of "freedom" and/or "social justice". And people who are transgressive in that way are often even given accolades for doing just that. The West's whole hierarchical structure of what or who is to be praised and rewarded and what or who is to be criticized and denounced seems now to be almost completely inverted from anything I'd consider sane and functional. It seems like the camp that is breaking things down is winning the battle. In fact, now I fear what kind of dystopia we would wake up in if they were given free reign, clear from vestiges of old order, to create something of their own with no restraints.

    Hearing that ethos in the line you quoted from Whitman (my intention here is to use the line, I've got nothing against Whitman) is just another proof of what I've thought for a while about this whole ordeal. This development is something that's been going on at all social levels for more than a century. Of course, I'm not naive enough to think that things were ever perfect at any point in history, I have no desire to go back to some fictional past that never existed. What I do hope to see, is a reversal of the trend towards a virtuous and functional society. This society will no doubt take on a new form, rather than recreate some identical copy of the past. What I do think will remain the same is the worship accorded to God, since I do not think a sustainably virtuous society can exist apart from God. And since God is the first and the highest principle by which society can order itself, all the ensuing virtues, hierarchies and norms will flow from that center. I'm not sure I'll still be around to see a society like that in the West (and I'm in my 30s), but I think the first inklings are starting to show, even though things might get still worse before they get better.

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    1. So all of the ensuing logical analysis would be pointless, in the sense that it would completely miss the mark of what they were trying to say. Theirs is a poetic expression that does not yield (in their mind) to the "crude", rigid logical analysis. It operates beyond assertions and negations, consistencies and inconsistencies and ultimately, as a consequence, even beyond truth or non-truth. In this kind of thinking, I often detect a sort of Nietzschean undercurrent as well. An emphasis on will over reason certainly and a hard rejection of clear metaphysical thinking or any sort of categorization. In my mind, this is just an attempt to jump to a sort of false sense of freedom and empowerment, that ultimately falls flat on its face.

      Anon, you have a great deal correct here. Bravo.

      It is my sense that - at least among Christians - the above sentiment about something "beyond" the understood categories strikes a sympathetic chord, because we know that God is indeed transcendental, and our (natural) knowledge of him is really negative: he ISN'T limited, or imperfect, or changing, etc.

      Further, our knowledge of him by faith is "through a glass darkly", and this implies that even when we can rightly say something positive about God, it either needs qualifying, or it is imperfect enough to bear improvement later. And this gives rise to the notion that words and sentences - and even concepts and thoughts - are simply inadequate to the reality of God, and thus He is "beyond both 'yes' and 'no' ".

      And thus "faith" has more than one meaning. In one sense, it includes the (true) statements that we can make about God and eternal things. In another sense it includes the underlying indwelling / infusion of The Truth beyond our ability to say. In the latter sense, we are dealing with transcendence.

      But what is forgotten in all this is that even when we are unable to properly and fully express, in words, the reality, we can fully and properly express in words and statements that certain things are FALSE. Maybe "God is good" is inadequate. But the proposition "God is evil" is wholly wrong, and (in this example) we don't need to rely on transcendence of faith seeing through a glass, darkly, to know it, either.

      The Scriptures, the public, revealed word of God, gives us hard, prosaic, guardrails for when certain ways of proposing that "God is like..." are not just inadequate, but wrong. This facet of Scripture isn't the entirety of Scripture, but it is an essential component of revelation: we CAN know that certain things are wrong even when we cannot express what is the (full) reality.

      In this way, while transcendent truth is in a sense beyond our utterances, it is still not wholly and absolutely beyond the category of the true (and the implicit negative, the false). Even when our categories are incomplete, they are not wholly irrelevant: reality itself cannot be unreal, and so our words (about God) are true even granting their limitations. Anyone who insists "God is love" is (like all statements about God), not even close enough to be 'right' or 'wrong' is off the mark.

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  19. " ... any system of ideas that incorporates a contradiction ... is self-annihilating"

    I said that I would leave it to practicing Catholics to argue matters of faith and fidelity. And I will.

    But it seems to me that there are enough inconsistencies within the present Church when compared with the Pre-Vatican II church, that it amounts in fact to a living contradiction.

    In fact, by the looks of it, there are fewer and fewer Novus Ordo modernists who even pay lip-service to the so-called "hermeneutic of continuity".

    And after all, one need not look far to find progressive prelates, or at least their pet mouthpieces, who blithely celebrate a theory of "rupture" and the emergence as they unabashedly believe it to be, of a new, man-centered, Church.

    Thus one is always tempted to wish that the hierarchs of the present institutional Church could somehow be forced to sit still in a chair until they answered the following question:

    "Since what you preach now clearly contradicts in effect what was taught us then [as per, say, the Baltimore Catechism], were you lying to us then, or are you lying to us now? And if what we were taught then can be ignored, why should we take seriously that which you teach now?

    Especially if, you know, all dogs go to heaven anyway.

    At the risk of mentioning it a third or fourth time here over the least 6 or so years, let me highly recommend the 1980 "Firing Line" episode, 'The Fight Over Catholic Orthodoxy'; readily available online for free viewing: featuring Wm. Buckley; Malachi Martin; Joseph Champlin; and an astonishingly well-informed and articulate Michael Davies. It's worth watching several times just to fully grasp all the points being covered.

    An astonishingly relevant presentation ... which demonstrates that everything old, in this regard at least, has become new again

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    1. it seems to me that there are enough inconsistencies within the present Church when compared with the Pre-Vatican II church, that it amounts in fact to a living contradiction.

      If this is correct, then Catholicism is false.

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    2. The Catholic Church is the standard.
      The Counciliar "church" is imposing itself on the real Church as in an eclipse.
      With the desperate act of suppressing the real Mass, the eclipse is in totality.
      Totality does not last very long.

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    3. The "Counciliar Church" is the Catholic Church, not whatever schismatic sect you claim to be Catholic. The Church doesn't teach error, and if you think it does, then you're wrong.

      The Catholic paradigm doesn't allow for you to decide which ecumenical councils to ignore and which you accept. Once you do that, you wind up in heretic-land, where there is nothing but theological anarchy. Your paradigm has no principled response to someone who decides to reject Vatican I or the Council of Trent.

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    4. Mister GeoconJanuary 13, 2022 at 7:44 PM

      " ' it seems to me that there are enough inconsistencies within the present Church when compared with the Pre-Vatican II church, that it amounts in fact to a living contradiction. '

      If this is correct, then Catholicism is false."


      I make no claims for the truth of Catholicism as you may imagine it; just for the incoherence of the moral worldviews of those opposed to the apostolic tradition, and moderate realism.

      But I suppose that those inclined to papalolitry [and I do not say you are] have quite the conundrum on their hands. Who are they going to trust, the deposit of apostolic faith and their lying eyes, or Bergoglio?

      This can be put into a somewhat comical form, if one tries to calculate what a pliable Roman Catholic might do if confronted by a pope who announced that he had discerned that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit was all a misunderstanding and henceforth it would not be taught. And then when challenged as to his authority to proclaim such an innovation, declared that he had such authority through his office by virtue of the anointing of the Holy Spirit manifesting itself through his election.

      "Stare decisis for thee, and not for me; for I am beyond all manifest contradictions, whereas your job is to shut up and blindly obey"

      Neat trick, if you can pull it off. It's one of the progressive crowds' favorite routines.

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    5. I see no contradiction between Vatican II and the Deposit of Faith. If you think otherwise, then show me the text.

      My position is simple: "Traditionalists" who think Vatican II was heresy are in the same position as Protestants who think the Council of Trent was heresy or Arians who think the Council of Nicaea was heresy. If you deny Vatican II, you leave the Catholic paradigm and enter into a Protestant one that leads to one elevating a private interpretation of the Deposit of Faith over the authority of Christ.

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    6. If you deny Vatican II, you leave the Catholic paradigm and enter into a Protestant one that leads to one elevating a private interpretation of the Deposit of Faith over the authority of Christ.

      And the authority of the Catholic paradigm (or its construction) is based on what exactly?

      And the establishment of those categories which stipulated declensions allow you to conjugate and inflect the term properly and understand its right sense are determined how?

      All that does not come out of nowhere. There are understandings and usages which the paradigm merely makes systematically explicit.

      When it comes to traditionalists, though I cannot speak for them, it seems to me that what they are saying is not that Vatican 2 was called improperly, and produced heretical documents per se, but that the paradigm was itself subsequently hollowed out by people claiming to follow the pattern and using the traditional inflections, but meaning and intending something else; in a conscious, planned, undermining of the historic tradition.

      In order for you to understand this you need only to read the biographical testimony of men like Gregory Baum who consciously and deceptively hid his inclinations and agenda in order to continue to participate in the life of the very church he intended to change.

      Unlike the illiterate who uses the wrong historically settled form of the word while intending the proper meaning - say past tense - the closeted innovator while introducing new slogans carefully continues to use the proper grammatical forms while intending, and eventually substituting, different meanings.

      In the case of those confidently ensconsed within the body of the Church, who, now emboldened triumphantly proclaim Vatican 2 requires and if understood IS a hermeneutic of rupture, and demand the recognition of it as inaugurating a new Church, there is no mystery or reason to debate the matter.

      Others however: cardinals, bishops, and priests, are even now not so bold. Nonetheless, their intentions can be discovered merely by reading what they have communicated among themselves. And here I would cite Rembert Weakland's manifesto-like pronouncements as a young liturgist as quoted by historian James Hitchcock in his book The Liturgical Revolution, available online. No clearer statement advocating the aim of a man-centric liturgy could be made than was made by [the later notorious homosexual Bishop] Rembert Weakland.

      I strongly urge anyone interested in these matters to view that old Firing Line episode, and to view it repeatedly, in order to let the logical distinctions being made fully settle in. The exchanges on the differences between the Novus Ordo rite, and its focus, and the "Mass of the Ages' " focus on efficacious propitiatory sacrifice offered by an ontologically marked priest, requires particularly close attention, as the the critical distinctions - and trend lines - are found in the details.

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  20. Thanks. This is gold! I enjoyed the link to intellectualism vs voluntarism as well.

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  21. As this applies to the pontificate of Pope Francis, the position I have chosen to take is that perceived inconsistencies must be apparent rather than real. I don't think it's willfully irrational to believe that my human intellect is fallible, and to prefer to make that judgement rather than believe the Pope is in error.

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    1. As a presumption, I think it is a good one to make, though as Ed has written, it is one that needs to be modulated as we learn more about the authority. We do not presume a new pope is a bad pope until he has given us reasons to believe that he is, but of course, we likewise do not assume he is a saint either. We assume basic goodwill and competence.

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  22. The characteristics of the voluntarist personality match those described in Fanaticism | The Politics of Tyranny - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-QfljS4fjM&t=7s

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  23. I continue to believe that the root turning point towards erro in the history of philosophy, science and theology goes back to nominalism which affects all these branches of thought in a very negative way. It is the denial of real essences and natures in things that introduces a error ridden and immorral path into modern culture. Of course the potential for this error and the effects of the Fall were active from the beginning. However, the root error can give us a starting point at correcting that error through orienting us toward right and true thinking in science, philosophy, theology and all the elements essential to a human thriving oriented culture.

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  24. “I may judge one doctor to be trustworthy and another to be a quack. But it doesn’t follow that I claim to have greater medical expertise than the former. By the same token, when I judge one purported source of divine revelation (a book, a prophet, a Church, or whatever) to be genuine, and another to be bogus, it doesn’t follow that I claim greater expertise about divine revelation than the former.”
    I don’t know that you have fully explained why, in these cases, that it does not follow that you claim greater expertise than the doctor/lawyer/religion of your examples. I agree that it is true that, while evaluating my two options for a doctor, I will readily admit that I do not claim that I have more medical knowledge, on the whole, than one (perhaps both) doctor(s). However, it seems to me that in the process of making the decision, and relying on my own decision-making process with a criteria that I have chosen, that I am indeed setting myself up as the higher authority.

    Taking the example of choosing a doctor. Perhaps I will look to opinions of the doctor’s colleagues in her field, or look to what the doctor’s patients say about the doctor’s results in their cases, and this may appear to shift the authority off my shoulders. But I still chose which criteria to use! If I instead attempt to judge the doctor’s credibility against my own “knowledge” or perceptions of medical doctrine, then I am even more clearly setting myself up as the authority. If I decide against hiring a doctor because I know the doctor believes that homeopathy is effective, and I believe homeopathy is not effective, have I not set myself up as an authority higher than the doctor I am evaluating? Suppose this doctor’s belief in homeopathy is (internally) logically consistent, and so I cannot rely on mere consistency to reject him. Doesn’t my choice come down to my weighing of the doctor’s views and methods against my own beliefs or perceptions?

    I think this is what is going on with people who, like myself, object that there is no way to get away from the “private judgment” that leads a person to a particular church’s doors. Say I have been convinced of the things which can be known by natural reason – the existence of God, his perfections, his being in some sense personal, etc. I decide I want to pursue becoming in right relation to God and consider my options. I can evaluate logical consistency, like this post advises; but suppose I am choosing between options which are internally logically consistent (and that I can possibly make that determination) – how then will I avoid setting myself up as the highest authority on various topics which would help me decide between alternatives? Am I not going to fall into things like, “I find American Baptism unacceptable because it relies on biblical inerrancy, which I believe with good reason is clearly false,” or perhaps “it is clear that the Catholic Church is mistaken on the issue of contraception within marriage, so I am hesitant to join it,” etc? The church I eventually join (if I do ever join one) is the one which comports with my authority, my judgments, my beliefs.

    I think the (unsatisfying) answer to this quandary is that God’s grace leads the believer to the correct church/denomination, but unfortunately, they ALL say that! What am I to do?

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    1. You're getting into the territory of Dave Stove's worst argument. "Since I use my senses to know things, I can never know things in themselves."

      Of course, you're going to use your private judgment, but there's a difference between using your private judgement to find the correct authority and following that and elevating your private judgment into an authority of its own. That's the difference between the Protestant and Catholic paradigms.

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    2. but suppose I am choosing between options which are internally logically consistent

      In point of fact, when we are judging between doctors or car mechanics or plumbers, we (very often) locate things that (to us) stand out as inconsistencies and thus are sound, rational bases for judging against one or more of the options. For example, I saw this during COVID: my brother sent me an article by a doctor that seemed - to my brother - a reasonable source. I back-checked on the bona fides of that doctor and his 2 co-authors, and found that all three had notable strikes against them in terms of reliability. For the worst of the 3, she had 15 years ago published a study with X conclusions, it was later proven to be an unsound study, and she retracted it. Still later, it was proven that she had engaged in outright (academic) fraud in concocting the study. Years later, she was publicly promoting the 'results' of that study, without any new basis supporting those results. That's a pretty heavy load of inconsistency. It doesn't take having an MD or a Ph.D. after your name to reasonably lower this doctor's reliability below that of other experts. Judging that one (or several) medical experts are not reliable because their claims are inconsistent does not require knowing more medicine than they.

      A similar approach can be taken in moral or religious matters: a person can set aside the claims of some proclaimed guru or prophet, not because you know more about God and religious things, but because his claims are inconsistent with what you know from other sources, or internally inconsistent with what they themselves have said.

      Traditionally, the early preaching of the Christian gospel was attested by 2 important supports for the message: miracles, and holy living by the saints, apostles, missionaries. And by "holy living" I mean two things, more or less: those preaching Christianity were actually living the same truths they were preaching, including living poor / not accepting material gain by being the leaders of a large group; and visibly living heroic virtues that everyone can admire but are so unusually high that even other religions would (typically) say they are too hard. Christ points out that a friend might, perchance, be willing to die for his friend - but this is great love. The Christian saint goes a step further, and is willing to die for, or forgive, his enemies, even those who are right now killing him. Forgiving your enemies is a god-like act, it is not naturally humanly possible (in our common fallen state), but it is possible with divine aid.

      This kind of evidence is not the sort that proves as a mathematical demonstration that Christianity is the true religion, so there remains room for not believing it. But these kinds of evidence are justifiable bases for putting at least SOME other claims at a lower level of reliance, i.e. setting them aside as improbable or unworthy of further pursuit.

      Which is not the sort of sifting that requires you to be more expert in religious matters than the so-called expert before you.

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  25. Did God of the old testament have a wife/consort named Asherah? If so, does this mean Christianity was originally polytheistic?

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    1. No. Just because some ancient Israelites thought that Yahweh had a wife doesn't mean he actually had a wife since those Jews were wrong. Also, Christian doctrine is not based on the human theological opinions of the ancient Jewish polytheists but on divinely-revealed truth.

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