Friday, October 28, 2022

Divine freedom and necessity

In a recent article, I commented on Fr. James Dominic Rooney’s critique of David Bentley Hart.  My focus was, specifically, on Fr. Rooney’s objections to Hart’s view that God’s creation of the world follows inevitably from his nature.  That position, as Rooney points out, is heretical.  In the comments section at Fr. Aidan Kimel’s blog, Hart defends himself, objecting both to Rooney’s characterization of his position and to the claim that it is heretical.  Let’s take a look.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

It’s an overdue open thread

We’re long overdue for an open thread, so here it is.  Now you can post that otherwise off-topic comment that I deleted three days, three weeks, or three months ago.  Feel free to talk about whatever you like, from light cones to Indiana Jones, Duns Scotus to the current POTUS, Urdu to Wall of Voodoo.  Just keep it civil and classy. 

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Divine freedom and heresy

I commend to you Fr. James Dominic Rooney’s excellent recent Church Life Journal article “The Incoherencies of Hard Universalism.”  It is directed primarily at David Bentley Hart’s defense of universalism in his book That All Shall Be Saved, of which I have also been critical.  Fr. Rooney sums up his basic argument as follows:

If it is a necessary truth that all will be saved, something makes it so.  The only way it would be impossible for anyone to go to hell is,

1. that God could not do otherwise than cause human beings to love him or

2. that human beings could not do otherwise than love God.

3. There is no third option.

Both of these options, however, entail heresy.  This is why universalism has been seen as heretical by mainstream Christianity for millennia, for good reason.

Friday, October 14, 2022

The latest on All One in Christ

Here are the latest reviews of my book All One in Christ: A Catholic Critique of Racism and Critical Race Theory.  Casey Chalk kindly reviews the book at The Spectator World.  From the review:

Feser’s short book contains several excellent chapters that define, dissect, and ultimately demolish CRT. Not for nothing does writer Ryan T. Anderson call it “the best book I’ve read on the topic.”…

I presume none of Feser’s CRT sparring partners will actually read this book – they have proved themselves so impervious to even the most charitable and tempered criticism that they seem a lost cause…

Perhaps, then, the best target audience for Feser’s pocket-size refutation of CRT are those who thought embracing it would place them in the “good guys” camp, but have begun to realize they were suckered them into a spiral of endless self-abasement.  There is no forgiveness or reconciliation in the anti-racist paradigm.  That would mean equity had been realized – an end-state anti-racists will never allow, because it would eliminate their (very lucrative) raison d’être.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Can Pope Honorius be defended?

My recent article on the error and condemnation of Pope Honorius has gotten a lot of feedback both here and at Twitter (much of the latter surprisingly civil and constructive for that venue).  Because of the historical and theological complexities of the topic, several issues have arisen, but the main one I want to address here is the question of whether Honorius can plausibly be defended from the charge of heresy that the Sixth Ecumenical Council leveled against him.  Keep in mind that what is at issue here is not whether Honorius taught heresy while issuing a purported ex cathedra definition.  He was certainly not doing that, which is why the case of Honorius is irrelevant to whether popes are infallible when they do teach ex cathedra (which is all that the First Vatican Council taught in its decree on papal infallibility).  What is at issue is whether Honorius taught heresy when not speaking ex cathedra – and, more generally, whether any pope could in principle do so.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

The error and condemnation of Pope Honorius

A pope is said to speak ex cathedra or “from the chair” when he solemnly puts forward some teaching in a manner intended to be definitive and absolutely binding.  This is also known as an exercise of the pope’s extraordinary magisterium, and its point is to settle once and for all disputed matters concerning faith or morals.  The First Vatican Council taught that such ex cathedra doctrinal definitions are infallible and thus irreformable.  The ordinary magisterium of the Church too (whether in the person of the pope or some other bishop or body of bishops) can sometimes teach infallibly, when it simply reiterates some doctrine that has always and everywhere been taught. 

The Church does not hold, however, that popes always teach infallibly when not speaking ex cathedra.  The First Vatican Council deliberately stopped short of making that claim.  One reason for this is that there have been a few popes (though only a few) who erred when not exercising their extraordinary magisterium.  The most spectacular case is that of Pope Honorius I (pope from 625-638 A.D.), who taught a Christological error that facilitated the spread of the Monothelite heresy, and was formally condemned for it by several Church councils and later popes.