Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Spiritual Abortion?

Just came across this on the Catholic News Service. Don't have much to say except it is just bizarre?

"Accepting Jesus into one's heart but not bringing him into the world through good works is a "spiritual abortion," said the preacher of the papal household.

Offering an Advent meditation to Pope Benedict XVI and top Vatican officials Dec. 19, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said all Christians are called to share spiritually in the motherhood of Mary by allowing Jesus to be conceived in their hearts and born into the world through acts of love and self-sacrifice.

As with a physical pregnancy, he said, there is the possibility of one conceiving but not giving birth "because, in the meantime, the fetus dies of natural causes or through human sin."

"One who accepts the word without putting it into practice conceives Jesus without giving birth to him," Father Cantalamessa said." Source

73 comments:

James Swan said...

I was listening to Tim Staples the other day explaining the differences between literal and other ways of interpreting Scripture. This type of analogy makes perfect sense in an RC worldview. They are keen on spiritual intepretations and analogies, consider the quadriga, or recall a few months back when I read through the Epiphanius materials you sent me.

...this is not to say that Protestants don't also at times use strange spiritual interpretations and analogies- although, I must say, I try to stay away from those who do (like say, Harold Camping).

People who find spiritual and secret meanings of things in the biblical text are engaging in gnostic tendencies.

wtanksley said...

I'm not sure I disagree with him. The concrete metaphor makes his point reasonably clear: faith without works is dead. There's probably more offensive parts to the sermon, but the part you quoted isn't that hard to bear. I do have an objection to being asked to imitate Mary rather than Christ, but his metaphor is no more offensive than the parable of the sower.

James Swan said...

I'm not sure I disagree with him. The concrete metaphor makes his point reasonably clear: faith without works is dead.

"Accepting Jesus into one's heart but not bringing him into the world through good works is a "spiritual abortion"

I'm Reformed, so a statement like this is just plain silly, or as Carrie called it, "bizarre."

"all Christians are called to share spiritually in the motherhood of Mary by allowing Jesus to be conceived in their hearts and born into the world through acts of love and self-sacrifice"

I'm Reformed, so a statement like this is just plain heretical.

"As with a physical pregnancy, he said, there is the possibility of one conceiving but not giving birth "because, in the meantime, the fetus dies of natural causes or through human sin."

Nope, not buying this either- bizzarre and heretical.

"One who accepts the word without putting it into practice conceives Jesus without giving birth to him,"

This just isn't Biblical. The Bible speaks of living and dead faith. The bizzarre metaphor assumes faith can be alive, but then die by lack of works. This is not Biblical teaching.

BindingSubstance said...

That is supremely odd.

Matt Oskvarek said...

Perhaps a strange way of speaking, and the Mary stuff is always extremely weird, however, I don't see anything wrong with admonishments to produce works of charity. Such are the words of Scripture.

On the positive, I have a Catholic friend (formally Reformed) whom I like to remind of this entry in the Catholic Catechism (entry 2007):

"With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator."

While the accumulated stuff in Catholicism can be confusing, the seeds of grace seem to be there. Charity dictates that we see the good also (as the Scriptures teach). Such is true and unbiased discernment.

Matt

wtanksley said...

I grant that his expressions are, at best, steeped in heretical assumptions... But at least some of them are not necessarily wrong.

Accepting Jesus into one's heart but not bringing him into the world through good works is a "spiritual abortion"

This is an example: it uses pictures similar to Christ's parable of the sower. Yes, one can't actually believe in Christ without God's irresistible help, so once one has "accepted", one won't abort... But this underscores the sinfulness of the people who do pretend to "accept Christ" and then do not "work out their salvation". Yes, they were not actually saved; no abortion actually happened; but neither did any seed get planted on the rocky ground (and yet Christ told the parable).

all Christians are called to share spiritually in the motherhood of Mary by allowing Jesus to be conceived in their hearts and born into the world through acts of love and self-sacrifice

I'm not a Catholic, so my initial reaction is a cringe as well. I think this goes too far -- but mainly in claiming that "all Christians are called to share spiritually". It would be perfectly reasonable to use Mary's pregnancy as a metaphor; but a metaphor can't be confused with reality, and although this pastor doesn't obviously make that confusion, his background and audience make that confusion almost certain in some listeners.

I guess I should also mention that unlike Mary, none of us are theotokoi -- a critical point that his metaphor risks mangling. (But this is merely the risk of misunderstanding, not outright heresy.)

As with a physical pregnancy, he said, there is the possibility of one conceiving but not giving birth "because, in the meantime, the fetus dies of natural causes or through human sin."

You called this confusing and heretical. I agree, because I think he extended his metaphor too far, from the merely metaphorical to the possible. No, there is no possibility of aborting one's faith, any more than there is a possibility of "crucifying the Son of God afresh". As a metaphor, it's a pungent warning and alarm; as a spiritual possibility it's vacant.

But was this merely a slip of the tongue, as with many authors' abuse of the word "literally"? I think that's possible.

Finally, you criticize by saying that "The bizarre metaphor assumes faith can be alive, but then die by lack of works." This is not a problem with this metaphor; it's a problem with communicating metaphors in general. The parable of the sower can be taken to communicate the same thing, as can the warning in Hebrews 6 about crucifying the Son of God afresh. But these are Biblical.

Carrie said...

While the accumulated stuff in Catholicism can be confusing, the seeds of grace seem to be there. Charity dictates that we see the good also (as the Scriptures teach). Such is true and unbiased discernment.

I disagree with the "seeds of grace" part.

The best lies always contain some truth. You can't look for the good and hope it's enough - certain truths are non-negotiable.

Carrie said...

But was this merely a slip of the tongue, as with many authors' abuse of the word "literally"? I think that's possible.

wtanksley,

You may want to investigate "mortal sin" in Catholicism. The metaphor used fits nicely with Catholic doctrine where faith can be lost through mortal sin.

wtanksley said...

Carrie, you're absolutely right -- that's a senior moment for me.

I still think the metaphor isn't toxic; it's a useful way to remind people that being socially active for a good cause isn't the same thing as being saved (or that observing the law outwardly -- by not committing murder, in this case -- isn't enough to keep the law).

But you're right; he almost certainly meant it literally.

-Wm

Daniel Montoro said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carrie said...

Daniel,

I deleted your comment b/c of the foul language. You'll need to clean it up if you want to comment on my posts.

Daniel Montoro said...

Carrie, sorry for the language, bad habits die hard. You should delete your posts as well for all of the malicious lies. I don't slander you and your family, so don't lie about mine.

Daniel Montoro said...

By the way, I prefer to be addressed as Mr. Montoro. Thanks

Matt Oskvarek said...

Don't get me wrong, Carrie, the Catholic church is in need of mighty sanctification. I just believe that God, in his sovereignty, could do so should he desire.

wtanksley said...

Mr. Montoro, you failed to identify a lie; if you're going to accuse, it would be best to be specific enough to allow a gracious retraction.

James Swan said...

Mr. Montoro,

Behave, leave, or have your comments deleted. I have decided 2009 will be my official year of intolerance.

Regards, James

L P Cruz said...

The problem with this is that people can build theological conclusions based on methaphorical descriptions.

Methaphorical descriptions may enlighten some angle but it is quite dangerous to build conclusions based on analogy.

Also the analogy may have not adequately account the data.

For example, by definition one who is born again has been born, not just conceived.

LPC

Daniel Montoro said...

Carrie, where does the Catholic Church teach that "faith can be lost through mortal sin?" It doesn't. That is a lie. If you can show me otherwise then I will owe you a huge apology.

James, here is a serious question: is telling lies behaving? If my child told lies, I would punish them. If I had told a lie about what you believed, would you just ignore it, or would you call me out on it? How come if one of your own tells a lie about someone else's belief do you remain silent?

Here is an illustration: all protestants are pro-abortion because they allow contraception.

Carrie said...

Carrie, where does the Catholic Church teach that "faith can be lost through mortal sin?" It doesn't. That is a lie. If you can show me otherwise then I will owe you a huge apology.

I think this may be a matter of semantics and differences in definitions as far as mortal sin killing faith. According to Catholic theology, mortal sin removes santifying grace and without an act of penance, the person will be relegated to hell.

But as James said, faith is either living or it's dead. For simplicity's sake, living faith (saving faith) will get you to heaven, dead faith (or no faith) will get you to hell.

So if you would prefer to split hairs and say that mortal sin removes santifying grace but you still have some sorta "faith" as you enter hell, that's your choice.

But perhaps you can explain what Father Cantalamessa meant when he said "there is the possibility of one conceiving but not giving birth 'because, in the meantime, the fetus dies of natural causes or through human sin.'"?

If conception is not faith in the above illustration, then what is it?

kaycee said...

Carrie is correct. I believe there are many issues of semantics when dealing with RC.

As a 12 year catholic school grad and former Catholic, my concept of grace was not the biblical veiw of unmerited favor by God, but some sort of spiritual b12 shot which assisted me in bringing about my own justification. This "grace" can be recieved via sunday attendance, the sacraments, good works, etc. The effects of this grace are very limited and temporary, as one needs to refill in a sense by going to mass, confession, etc.. Sin reduces your 'level' of grace. One must be 'full of grace' like Mary to get into heaven in other words fully justified/sanctified.

Also the Roman concept of good works includes not only social outreach, but sunday attendance, taking the sacraments, praying the rosary, praying to saints, praying for those in purgatory, obey the Pope, helping out at bingo, etc..

Faith is also a similar but different commodity as one can have "faith" for a child at infant baptism (baptismal regeneration) where the baby is now 'saved', or at least put on the road to salvation, but still must justify/sanctify himself to make it heaven or else suffer in purgatory.

TheDen said...

But perhaps you can explain what Father Cantalamessa meant when he said "there is the possibility of one conceiving but not giving birth 'because, in the meantime, the fetus dies of natural causes or through human sin.'"?

Carrie,

I don't think you're grasping what he's saying here. In this line, Father C is talking about "Physical Pregnancy" and that a fetus can die one of two ways--either through "natural causes or through human sin." (The human sin being an abortion.)

By accepting Jesus into our hearts and not allowing him to be shown through our works is like putting a light under a basket. Our deeds must glorify God (per Matthew 5:15-16). This is the main point of the Homily.

He's comparing it to Mary because January 1 is a feast day for Mary. He's talking about how Mary's Yes! to the Holy Spirit allows Christ to grow inside of her.

It was her yes to God that delivered Christ to the world. We need to do the same. We need to say YES! to the Holy Spirit so that God dwells within us and then we can deliver Christ to a world of sinners.

Note: Mary doesn't do anything--Christ does all the work. However, she has to still has to say yes (Luke 1:38). Without her participation, no Passion, no Crucifixion, no Resurrection and no Salvation for the entire world.

That's what Jesus Christ wants from all of us (Catholic and Protestant alike). He wants us to say yes to God. To be obedient to Him in all things. He wants us to love Him. (John 15:10)

Happy New Year.

wtanksley said...

"The problem with this is that people can build theological conclusions based on methaphorical descriptions."

That's not a problem with this; it's a problem with teaching using metaphors. And the problem with THAT is that Jesus taught using metaphors.

Carrie said...

And the problem with THAT is that Jesus taught using metaphors.


Yes, but I think we can be certain that the theology behind his metaphors was entirely accurate.

Carrie said...

However, she has to still has to say yes (Luke 1:38). Without her participation, no Passion, no Crucifixion, no Resurrection and no Salvation for the entire world.


Off topic, but this reasoning has always fascinated me.

Do you really think Mary could have said "no" and ruined God's entire salvation plan?

Carrie said...

I don't think you're grasping what he's saying here. In this line, Father C is talking about "Physical Pregnancy" and that a fetus can die one of two ways--either through "natural causes or through human sin." (The human sin being an abortion.)


Well, I don't really what to argue with this metaphor b/c who knows what exactly this guy meant, but I disagree with you here. It says "As with a physical pregnancy, he said, there is the possibility of one conceiving but not giving birth..." so the "spiritual pregnancy" seems to be in view also.

By accepting Jesus into our hearts and not allowing him to be shown through our works is like putting a light under a basket. Our deeds must glorify God (per Matthew 5:15-16). This is the main point of the Homily.

That sounds nice, but that doesn't jive with the "spiritual abortion" theme.

Daniel Montoro said...

Thank you Carrie for partially admiting that your claim was false, but you still haven't gone far enough. I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but I do remember the Jesuits in grade school telling us that words have meaning, and when words are used by educated people they are chosen for an exact purpose. So don't carelessly go on about semantics as if you are making the same point because you are not. I am not ashamed to admit that many people are smarter than me, but I can spot used car salesman tactics, and knock-offs a block away. You've heard the saying, you can't bs a bs-er.

I have to admit that I didn't expect that you would respond the way you did. I have more respect for you, but I want to give you the oportunity to come clean and admit that you might not really understand what the catholic church teaches. Let's just face it. Some of the brightest intellects have either been educated by catholics, hold a catholic philosophy, or have been catholic. Look at our supreme court judges...all the smart ones are catholic. Look at judge Bork, also a catholic. So who are you guys trying to fool when you talk about the catholic church the way you do?

TheDen said...

Carrie,

I guess you are right in that he’s referring to the physical and the Spiritual.

What he’s saying is that if you take Christ in and accept Him, then you have to also deliver Him to a world of sinners the way Mary did. We can’t hide Christ internally—like putting a lamp in a bushel basket. We must share Him with the world. To “accept Christ” and then hide Him or kill Him off inside you (through sin) would be akin to a spiritual abortion. This does happen I’m sure with Protestants as well as Catholics. To accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and then to reject our relationship with Him by not being obedient (per the Gospels) will mean that the Father will cut us off from the vine per the Gospel of John.


Do you really think Mary could have said "no" and ruined God's entire salvation plan?


Well, Mary made the decision. God knows the decision beforehand but Mary still makes the decision. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that God gave her the grace to make the decision. (In fact…according to Catholic teaching, He completely filled her with grace—Kecharitomene—that she would be prepared to say yes—Something I’m sure we disagree on). But still, the decision was hers in the same way that you make the decision to post on this blog and I make the decision to comment. The decisions are ours and yet God knew them in advance and gave us enough grace to post/respond.

wtanksley said...

"Yes, but I think we can be certain that the theology behind his metaphors was entirely accurate."

Go ahead, criticize the bad theology; but if you criticize the metaphor, be sure you've got something to criticize. This metaphor would be at home in a perfectly orthodox church pulpit -- if the theology behind it is wrong, that's not the metaphor's fault.

Carrie said...

Thank you Carrie for partially admiting that your claim was false, but you still haven't gone far enough.

I was not admitting my claim was false but explaining there are differences in our terminologies. We are saved by grace through faith - if there is no salvation (mortal sin = hell) then there is no true faith (from point of view).

Carrie said...

This metaphor would be at home in a perfectly orthodox church pulpit

We'll have to agree to disagree on that point.

kaycee said...

Carrie,

I think Mary could have refused, she, after all, was God's plan B.

The virgin Brianna was first offered the position, but refused. :)

TheDen said...

Kaycee,

You are right. Mary was part of God's "Plan B." His "Plan A" was ruined with the Fall of Adam. God's Plan A was for all of us to be in Eden with Him. When Man fell, God needed to redeem man through an alternative means.

God's Plan B was so far superior to His Plan A that it allows us to see God's true love for us. It allows us to see that God would rather die than to live without us.

God's Plan B involves Mary in the same way that the Fall involved Eve. As Eve made the decision to reject God's plan, Mary made the decision to partake in it.

Note that the fall does not occur when Eve says "No" to God by eating of the Tree of Knowledge. She merely paves the way for Adam to fall in the same respect that Salvation doesn't occur when Mary says "Yes" to God through being the Handmaid of the Lord.

It merely paves the way for our Salvation through Christ's Passion and Resurrection.

James Swan said...

You are right. Mary was part of God's "Plan B." His "Plan A" was ruined with the Fall of Adam.

One would think someone named "God" could come up with a good plan the first time. Go figure.

TheDen said...

James,

If you think about it, His Plan B was far greater than His Plan A.

In essence, we become one with Christ ergo, we are one with God. His plan for us is almost what Satan says in Genesis 3. We will be "like gods" (Genesis 3:5).

God's taken the ultimate evil and turned it around and made it His ultimate good. He showed His love by dying for us and it gives us the opportunity for Salvation through dying to ourselves and being one with Christ.

He's replaced the Tree of Life with His Cross and the Fruit with His Body. We eat of His Body and we have eternal life.

His obedience to the cross gets us to heaven. Our obedience to Him shows our love and friendship for Him.

Plan B is far more beautiful and allows for our free will. It also allows God to give us a visible sign of His love for us.

Carrie said...

The virgin Brianna was first offered the position, but refused. :)

Wow, talk about regrets.

Carrie said...

If you think about it, His Plan B was far greater than His Plan A.


Or are we on Plan Z?

If Plan A could be thwarted, certainly Plans B, C, & D could be as well.

Daniel Montoro said...

Carrie you said "I was not admitting my claim was false but explaining there are differences in our terminologies."

Then your claim was false. If you are not using the same terminology, then you are lying about my position and your claim is false. Like my illustration before, could I say that Carrie is in favor of abortion? You do believe that the evil contraception is okay right? Well, as far as you are concerned, termiology usage is not relevant so I can say that you are in favor of abortion. I can also say that because you probably believe condoms are okay, which is sodomy, then you also beleive that gay sex is okay to. I guess because terminology doesn't matter, and words don't mean anything, I can say that Carrie believes that she is god. Who cares, right? Words mean whatever you define them to mean.


You also said "We are saved by grace through faith - if there is no salvation (mortal sin = hell) then there is no true faith (from point of view)."

I know that the true church teaches the same thing that your false gospel teaches. We are saved by grace through faith indeed. But you are imagining that because someone commits mortal sin they didn't have true faith. This is a bunch of crap. You forget that even the demons had faith. This is what the bible teaches, and obviously your false gospel is anti-bible.

I will give you another chance to admit that you are wrong. In fact, while I might seem a little rough around the edges, I am really a nice guy at heart and I will give you as many chances as you need.

wtanksley said...

Mr. Montoro, it's good to call people on errors; but you're just calling names, not exposing errors.

The demons do not have faith. The Bible does not anywhere teach that. The demons *believe*, but belief is not faith (the words are not similar in English or Greek). Read James.

Daniel Montoro said...

wtanksley, you need to do a better job of following the conversation. Carrie said that by committing a mortal sin the sinner loses faith. I said that isn't true, and that even the demons have faith. I did not say that the demons faith and humans faith were the same because the demons are forced to believe. But you say that the demons believe and that belief is not the same thing as faith. That was not the point that I was making. The point that I was making was that there is a difference between what she says is faith and what the true church teaches as faith. The protestant heresey is that if you believe that Jesus is lord then you will be saved. That is what faith means to them, but then they come back and say that if you turn from God then you didn't have true faith to begin with. The reason why I made the comment I did was because all catholics know that faith inclines a person to believe, and becasue of baptism there is an indelible spiritual mark placed on the person which cannot be lost by commiting a mortal sin. Understand this?

wtanksley said...

Mr. Montoro, I had to dig a lot to figure out what you're talking about; I think you're talking about Carrie's comment that "faith can be lost through mortal sin." She's explained what she meant a lot better since that comment, and I think you should pay attention to that if you want to debate it. I agree with you (I think) that that phrase wasn't very well put; on the other hand, your rebuttals have been worse (at least tying "faith" and "salvation" makes some sense Biblically; you've attributed faith to demons and claimed that the Bible supports that).

L P Cruz said...

That's not a problem with this; it's a problem with teaching using metaphors. And the problem with THAT is that Jesus taught using metaphors.

Simply because Jesus did it does not mean we can and should do it too. Jesus walked on water as well and died for the sins of the world.

My point is that Father C's metaphor does not equal Jesus' use of it. Jesus teaching and the Apostles teaching are true teaching inscripturated for us. With others, well the bets are off.

LPC

Carrie said...

Then your claim was false. If you are not using the same terminology, then you are lying about my position and your claim is false.

No, I am interpreting your theology through mine.

Like my illustration before, could I say that Carrie is in favor of abortion?

You could try, but since not all contraception is abortive in nature, it will be a tough argument scientifically and not make sense even in your own interpretation.

Likewise, I think you will have a difficult time defending biblically an idea that someone can have saving faith yet end up in hell. That was my point. If you are in hell, you don't have saving faith. If mortal sin can send you to hell, then mortal sin must remove saving faith or you never had it in the first place (you pick). It's an A=B, B=C, so A=C kind of a thought process, but Lito can correct me on my math.

But you are imagining that because someone commits mortal sin they didn't have true faith. This is a bunch of crap.

People with true faith don't end up in hell. So as I said, either there was no faith or mortal sin removes faith. Or, faith isn't the deciding factor (indicator) in our eternal destiny which means we are saved by/through something else.

Matt said...

A few clarifications might be useful.

As a Catholic striving to be orthodox, I believe that God predestined Mary (in a similar way as he did all of us) to say "Yes" to God. So...there is not literally a plan A and a plan B. We can ask hypothetical questions about whether Christ would have come if Adam had not sinned and other things of that sort, but it is obviously erroneous to say that God was surprised by Adam's sin. Indeed, as a Thomist, I believe that Adam's sin was part of God's infallible will, though it was against His explicit commands (voluntas beneplaciti vs. voluntas signi). That's a lot of theology packed into a sentence, so be patient and ask for clarification please before moving to refutation... :-)

Contraception is not murder. It may be part of the Culture of Death's troubling attitude towards life or something like that. But it is not murder, which is the destruction of an innocent life, and life begins at conception.

Carrie is right that you cannot go to heaven with saving faith, though we might have different views of what saving faith entails...I'm not sure. But it is interesting that Carrie uses the term "saving faith", as if there can be a faith which does not save. So...I would say that you can go to hell with a faith that does not save (in medieval terms, fides informis) but not with a saving faith (fides formata). And I should clarify a frequent misunderstanding of this idea, fides formata is not a faith formed by works. It is a faith formed with a basic love or desire for God. (As far as I know, formed faith is a condition of the justification of the ungodly and there is no merit at all before the justification of the ungodly, at least in the Thomist system.) Now, this love will always flow into love of neighbor and "good works" but it is distinct from those works. Anyway...

I should also note that faith and charity (and, for that matter, hope) are both gifts of God, completely unmerited.

Matt said...

Of course, I meant you can't go to HELL with saving faith.

wtanksley said...

LPC, it would seem, then, that you'd condemn any pastor for using metaphors not directly present in the Scripture. This goes too far.

Scripture is an example for all of us, including aspiring pastors. A good sermon will be based on Scripture (of course) and use the same techniques used in Scripture, but need not consist only of verbatim reading of Scripture.

beowulf2k8 said...

I guess you've never read Gal 4:19 "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,"

I guess Calvinists never get past Romans 9 and their demonic interpretation thereof.

wtanksley said...

Not all Catholics are this nasty.

And not all Protestants reject every word a Catholic preacher utters just because his theology is elsewhere incorrect.

I find this sort of thing sad. Yes, Cantalamessa is wrong in many ways; but this is a very poor example of his error, because it does not contain the error.

Carrie said...

And not all Protestants reject every word a Catholic preacher utters just because his theology is elsewhere incorrect.

I am assuming this was meant for me.

My point with this quote wasn't b/c I "reject every word a Catholic preacher utters". I find the metaphor theologically inaccurate and a bit bizarre.

I appreciate your optimism towards Catholics, but I think we would disagree about this area overall. The errors of Rome are too great for me to be hopeful that they get a few things right.

I find this sort of thing sad.

What I find sad is people trapped in a man-made religious system. And the last thing I want to be is an enabler to that.

Everyone has different gifts and different methods. I find that is good to keep in mind when judging my brethern.

Matt said...

You said... "A few things right" WHAT?

Here are a few points pretty much beyond dispute: the Trinity, the Incarnation, the historicity of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, the Virgin Birth...

The list could go on and I would think that these are pretty important points, don't you think?

Obvious exaggerations of this sort diminish the effectiveness of the other points you want to score against Rome.

Carrie said...

But it is interesting that Carrie uses the term "saving faith", as if there can be a faith which does not save.

There is a dead faith as James talks about. But "faith" also has various meanings in the English language, so I find it easier to talk about saving faith in regards to salvation for clarity sake.

Carrie said...

The list could go on and I would think that these are pretty important points, don't you think?

Yes and No. The Reformation happened for a reason.

I believe the gospel of Rome is "another gospel" and that difference alone negates all the common ground.

Obvious exaggerations of this sort diminish the effectiveness of the other points you want to score against Rome.

I'm saved by grace alone through faith alone. I don't need any "points".

In fact, most of the conversations here cause me alot of aggravation. Trust me, if I was looking for something to pump up my ego, this would not be it.

Daniel Montoro said...

First of all MATT, I did not say that all forms of contraception were murder. If you were such the Thomist, I'm guessing that you at least should know how to read first. I used that as an example of why words have specific meaning and that you can not sling them around using our own definitions like these heretics do.

You said "I would say that you can go to hell with a faith that does not save (in medieval terms, fides informis) but not with a saving faith (fides formata)."

I agree with this.

You said "And I should clarify a frequent misunderstanding of this idea, fides formata is not a faith formed by works. It is a faith formed with a basic love or desire for God."

I have read that a better translation would be faith informed by charity.

You said "I should also note that faith and charity (and, for that matter, hope) are both gifts of God, completely unmerited."

What are you talking about? Do you think that a little one liner like that is going to get by these christian persecutors?

CANON XXXII.-If any one saith, that the good works of one that is justified are in such manner the gifts of God, as that they are not also the good merits of him that is justified; or, that the said justified, by the good works which he performs through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life,-if so be, however, that he depart in grace,-and also an increase of glory; let him be anathema.

So yea, God gives us the grace of faith, hope, and charity but we do merit an increase in grace by cooperating with God's grace. Don't make this mistake again Matt.

Matt said...

Mr. Montoro,

I don't understand your hostility.

First of all, the comment about the difference of contraception and murder was not entirely directed at you. There seemed to be a miscommunication (though I may have been mistaken), and I just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page.

"I have read that a better translation would be faith informed by charity."

That's what I said. I use "love" to avoid the archaism, but it is fides formata caritate.

"Don't make this mistake again Matt."

I don't see what mistake I made at all. I was talking in particular about the acts of faith, hope, and love which rooted in God's prevenient grace and which are, in a certain sense, the "condition" of the justification of the ungodly. These are God's gifts which are unmerited.

I wasn't talking about good works done in God's grace, the increase of grace, or eternal life itself, where the idea of merit does come into play.

As I said, I was trying to say a lot in a few sentences. I asked that people request clarification before they jumped on me. You either didn't read that sentence or chose to ignore it. Either way, your harshness is unfortunate.

Matt said...

Carrie,

On the Reformation happening "for a reason," I would recommend the work of Lutheran scholar, David Yeago. It's not flawless but it is very thought-provoking:

http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9603/articles/yeago.html

I really think that if a full presentation of the soteriology of post-Tridentine Dominicans (which I hold to) was presented to many Reformed Christians, you may disagree at certain points but I wonder if you would call it a different gospel.

It is derived from the Councils of Orange and Carthage, St. Augustine, and, of course, Paul himself, using the terminology of Thomas Aquinas. Anyway...someday it might be an interesting conversation. I wonder if it would be as aggravating as other conversations on this blog. Maybe even by E-mail...

Oh Mr. Montoro,

This might be an interesting document for you to read:

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19641121_unitatis-redintegratio_en.html

Daniel Montoro said...

Matt, I stand corrected on my correction of you.

There have been far more conversions before the sissys of post vatican ii came out.

Carrie said...

Mr. Montoro,

I don't understand your hostility.


Perhaps he didn't realize you were Catholic. Thomists are a bit of a minority.

I would recommend the work of Lutheran scholar, David Yeago.

Thanks, I will take a look.

I really think that if a full presentation of the soteriology of post-Tridentine Dominicans (which I hold to) was presented to many Reformed Christians, you may disagree at certain points but I wonder if you would call it a different gospel.

I don't know much about Thomism but what I have read is certainly less disagreeable than modern-day Rome. But it is my understanding that Thomists are still in full communion with modern-day Rome, so I find it difficult to believe that the Thomists, for me, wouldn't fall under another gospel also. Then you have Trent...

I wonder if it would be as aggravating as other conversations on this blog. Maybe even by E-mail...

Sorry, didn't mean to sound like a big grump. Not all conversations here are aggravating.

Matt said...

Trent is maybe not as straightforward as it appears. After all, it is a document which attempts to navigate between the multiplicity of late-medieval Catholic schools of theology. So...it is a very rich document, once you realize the history behind it (as I know you do, given your references to Jedin).

And I'm not so sure about the clear statements about Thomism being on the outs or on the periphery. JPII often referred to a very hardcore Thomist, Garrigou-Lagrance, when discussing predestination. But if we are talking about the typical guy in the pews or even the typical parish priest, I think you are basically correct.

Anyway...I'd be curious to see some clearly formulated questions or comments to see where you might expect me to depart from the "true gospel".

Daniel Montoro said...

JPII was not a Thomist, he was a personalist/phenomenologist. Just becasue I am in construction doesn't mean that I am an idiot. I did study under Jesuits.

Matt said...

Mr. Montoro,

First of all, the comment here was not directed at you but at Carrie. Moreover, I never said or even implied that you were an idiot. Nor, finally, did I say that JPII was a Thomist. All I said was that JPII _referred_ to a Thomist on predestination, which (we'll all agree) is a pretty huge soteriological issue.

The definition of Thomism, of course, is pretty messy. Who's in and who's out is not always clear. But, at the very least, JPII showed a great admiration for Thomas in his most relevant encylical, Fides et Ratio (also see Veritatis Splendor for a multitude of references):

"Saint Thomas was impartial in his love of truth. He sought truth wherever it might be found and gave consummate demonstration of its universality. In him, the Church's Magisterium has seen and recognized the passion for truth; and, precisely because it stays consistently within the horizon of universal, objective and transcendent truth, his thought scales “heights unthinkable to human intelligence”.(51) Rightly, then, he may be called an “apostle of the truth”.(52) Looking unreservedly to truth, the realism of Thomas could recognize the objectivity of truth and produce not merely a philosophy of “what seems to be” but a philosophy of “what is”."

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_15101998_fides-et-ratio_en.html

If not a Thomist, JPII was surely something of an admirer. :-)

Daniel Montoro said...

Matt, my comment was directed at Carrie as well.

JPII also had an admiration for the Koran, that doesn't make him a Muslim.

L P Cruz said...

Matt,

I read the document UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO whereas it is sympathetic to us Protestants (BTW I am an ex-RC) the problem is that there has no rejection of the Trentian anathemas.

When you take these together, it is not surprizing that two kinds of reactions can come from both RCs towards a Protestant.

One RC can assert Trent against us and another assert the 'separated brethren'.

So there is confusion. There is confusion because the RCC in the past had asserted X and then turn around and assert NOT X. When questioned, they say that NOT X is really a further elaboration of X.

I admit I am saying things simplistically in the above illustration. I think the difference of your attitude and that of Daniel Montoro is the result of that ability of the RCC to speak on both sides of its lips.

LPC

Matt said...

L P Cruz,

First of all, let's put Trent (at least on justification, which I know the most about, in context). It didn't name names, as other Council statements had done. It is directed at certain teachings, not exactly at certain people. As a leading Cardinal said of Luther at the Council:

“It is not what he thought but what he wrote that we judge; the
possible harm to souls is caused by that which has been printed, not from that which the author in question may have intended to say."

So in that sense, even if Trent was directed at what you believed, there need be no direct contradiction between that and "separated brethren". Trent is talking about belief, while Vatican II is talking about believERS, an important distinction. Obviously, as "separated brethren", it is already implied that there is some error but the error is not such that there cannot be fraternal affection as Christians between Catholics and Protestants....

But it is not even necessary for me to content myself with this way of "reconciling" the apparent contradiction here. There has been development in both Catholic and Protestant teachings on these issues (at the very least in their articulation...after the heated, even violent, environment of the early 16th century), which don't NECESSARILY indicate the need for a formal condemnation of what came before.

What I mean is this: Catholic theologians can say, to a certain extent, that the formulation of a certain teaching at Trent was not ideal, that it was constrained by a particular polemical context, without denying the truth that it was intending to convey.

One scholarly collection of articles, asks "Do the anathemas still apply?":

http://www.amazon.com/Justification-Faith-Sixteenth-Century-Condemnations-Still/dp/0826408966

Relatively conservative Protestants have also wrestled with the same issue of the continued "application" of these anathemas:

http://www.amazon.com/Justification-Faith-Catholic-Protestant-Dialogue-Evangelical/dp/0567040046/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231285937&sr=1-1

and

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3817/is_200403/ai_n9401133/pg_1

Anyway, I just think that we need to be more careful about using Trent as this clear barrier. Again, if you look at the context of Trent (see Jedin), you'll see how genuinely confused the Council Fathers were by what Luther was setting forth. And I don't find it altogether unlikely that this confusion remained after the drafting of the decrees. For me, that doesn't take away from their authority--as their goal was to set forth truth and reject error, not interpret Luther--but it does affect how we READ the Council.

Anyway...it would be interesting to talk about specific anathemas which are troubling if that would be helpful. Maybe we can see how my hermeneutical posture works in specific cases. Whatever pleases.

Matt said...

Mr. Montoro,

I'm not sure if you read the quotation I put there. JPII specifically singles out Thomas Aquinas in his encyclicals on Truth and on Faith and Reason for the kind of praise I quoted. That certainly goes far beyond whatever he said about the Koran! Anyway, I thought the understatement in my use of "admiration" was clear...I guess not.

Daniel Montoro said...

Matt, I'm not sure if you read what I wrote either. I stated that JPII was not a Thomist. I didn't deny that he admired Thomas. You would be hard pressed to find anyone in the know state that JPII was a Thomist

EBW said...

Not as though the word of God hath miscarried. For all are not Israelites that are of Israel. Rom 9:6 Douay-Rheims
If we can share spiritually in "My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour", then we can share in "My mother and my brethren are they who hear the word of God and do it". It is here that Mary is the Mother of Christians. The papal preacher did not miss his mark.

wtanksley said...

EBW, your logic doesn't reach your desired conclusion; it's a total non-sequitur. The preacher isn't claiming that Mary is our mother; he's claiming the we are (in a certain sense) mothers like Mary.

wtanksley said...

Again, if you look at the context of Trent (see Jedin), you'll see how genuinely confused the Council Fathers were by what Luther was setting forth.

Isn't it risky for a Catholic to favor his opinion over the explicit, papally approved words of an ecumenical council? Does the Church now approve private interpretation? Or does it simply allow one council to contradict another?

If we can declare that the council of Trent council was errant because they were "confused", what else can we declare errant?

As a protestant, I believe that all councils are capable of error; they are to be judged by the church on the basis of how they accord with the teachings of the apostles, who were sent by the authority of Christ.

Matt said...

wtanksley,

I won't even address your larger point about "private interpretation" here because it isn't really relevant to answering your point. I already addressed in my comments that my view had nothing to do with the authority of the Council. I believe that what the teachings which the Council condemned in the Canons are erroneous. So, I submit to the authority of Trent.

What you are asking from me is to deny the historical facts that (1) the decree on justification was not aimed entirely at Luther and his teachings (see Canons 1-3) and (2) the Council Fathers were explicit about not condemning what was Luther's "mind" but what was in his writings (see the Ottavani quotation I posted!). Moreover, they were intentional about NOT naming Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, and others in the decrees, where they did name Wycliffe, Hus, etc., in previous Councils. Part of this was for complicated canonical reasons but part of it (according to historical scholarship done, in part, by orthodox Catholic historians like Jedin, Pesch, and Iserloh) was to "leave the door open" for the Protestants.

My point was that it is wrong to assume that every canon is aimed at Luther himself, let alone modern Protestants. Moreover, I wanted to stress that, even if the "intention" was to make a direct hit on Luther, some of the canons missed their target because of the difference between Luther's intention and the way his words were interpreted. The Council never "infallibly" declared that it was making a perfect interpretation of Luther's doctrine, so, even by the logic of Catholic Answers perspective on Church authority, this is not a problem.

L P Cruz said...

This indeed remarkable, reading some of the Canons of Trent, I thought they did understand the Reformers' position well.

CANON 12: "If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ's sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified ... let him be accursed"

I am condemned by this for I believe what it anathemizes.

LPC

Matt said...

Do you believe that you must believe Jesus to be the Son of God come in the flesh?

Matt said...

But read Pesch's article in the book on Do the Sixteenth-Century Condemnations... which I posted in one of my earlier comments? He goes point by point through each of the canons explaining what they were aiming at and what Luther actually said or meant on each point.

EBW said...

Wtanksley,thanks for responding.

"It is a total non-sequitur"

I understand 'share spiritually' to have a mediatorial/procuring meaning. If this is granted, then my conclusion follows. Otherwise Mary would 'model' Motherhood but fall short of being OUR Mother.The backbone of the Preachers claim is Mary as Mother of Christians. This is taken from Vatican II #61&62 (Flannery,O.P.). Your right about him claiming we are mothers like Mary in a certain sense. That backbone is found VII #65.

kaycee said...

LPC!

Post vatican II version.

CANON 12.1: "If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ's sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified ... let him be called separated brethren"