Thursday, December 05, 2002

Reflection on Development of Doctrine"

The following from Dr Mark Worthing of the Luther Seminary is IMHO a good summation of the concept of development of doctrine.

My own explanation and theory of doctrinal development can best be explained with the image of unfinished syllogisms. Imagine the biblical teaching as containing a number of major and minor premises, but that not all the conclusions have been drawn from them. There are premises (or doctrines) that exist in tension with one another. Sometimes this tension is not immediately recognised. Other times the process involved in reaching a conclusion that overcomes the tension is a lengthy one. In either case the conclusion is already implicit in the premises, it simply remains to be asserted and finally drawn, that is, to be developed.

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Wednesday, December 04, 2002

According to Michelle from the weblog "And Then?" a new Catholic webring has been formed for Catholic female webloggers.

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I decided to make a precise explanation of my use of the term 'traditionalist' and its various derivatives. I have done this in some of my writings and thought it may well be appropriate for the weblog readers too. This delineation therefore was made over at my "Miscellaneous" BLOG for those who are interested. See the side margin of Rerum Novarum for details or click on the link above.

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Are anti-Catholics more Honest about Vatican II then Self-styled 'Traditionalists'??? (Part I)

Ask yourself that question as you read the following series which will be updated occasionally. This first installment is from a tract which quoted a well-known anti-Catholic whose name I will not mention. Yes it is doctrinally specious in places but the main thrust of the argument is correct:

XXXXX XXXXXXX noted Evangelical authority on Roman Catholic doctrine, takes an in-depth look at the documents of Vatican II in the preface to the fifth edition of his book VVVVVVVVVVVVV. XXXXX XXXXXXX writes:

"The Second Vatican Council, which closed late in 1965, made changes in the liturgy, administrative practices, and in the matter of religious freedom. It repeated the claim that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church, although it did recognize that other churches contain some elements of truth.

"But Pope John XXIII, who called the first session, and Pope Paul VI, who presided over the later sessions (as well as several prominent cardinal and theologians), took care to emphasize that no changes would be made in the doctrinal structure of the Church...The primary purpose of the Council was to update the liturgy and administrative practices and so to make the Church more efficient and more acceptable to the 20th century world.

"The introduction of the `New Mass,' for instance, brought about a change in language - Latin is no longer required, except in the prayer of consecration. But as Protestants, it is not important to us whether the Mass is said in Latin or English or Swahili - it is not the language of the Mass that we object to, it is its content and meaning. (See Chronicle II, `The Sacrifice of the Mass').

"On previous occasions, Rome has changed her tactics when old methods became ineffective, but she has never changed her nature. In any religious organization, doctrine is the most basic and important part of its structure, since what people believe determines what they do. An official document, `The Constitution on the Church' prepared by the Council and approved by the Pope, reaffirms basic Catholic doctrine precisely as it stood before the Council met.

The doctrine of papal infallibility is restated. We are told that when `by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith and morals...his definitions, of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, are justly called, irreformable (Article 25). The pope has lost none of his powers. He remains the absolute ruler in the Roman Church. But if papal decrees past and present are `irreformable, `what hope is there for real reform in the Church of Rome?

"The document on the Church repeats in substance the teaching of the Council of Trent that `priests and bishops are the representatives of God on earth...justly, therefore, they are called not only angels, but gods, holding as they do the place of authority of God on earth.' (Catechism of Trent).

"In fact, no more sweeping claims were made by the Council of Trent (1545-1563), nor by the First Vatican Council (1870), than are made in these documents from Vatican II. Despite all the claims to the contrary, the Council has firmly maintained the doctrine of the primacy of Peter and of papal succession. In his book, Ecclesiam Suam, Pope Paul expressed his distress because of what some of the `separated brethren' say about the pope as the stumbling block in the way of church unity. He said, `Do not some of them say that if it were not for the primacy of the pope, the reunion of the separated churches with Catholic Church would be easy? We beg the separated brethren to consider the inconsistency of this position, not only in that, without the pope, the Catholic Church would no longer be Catholic, but also because without the supreme decisive pastoral office of Peter, the unity of the Church of Christ would utterly collapse.'

"We must say that at this point we agree with the Pope, at least to this extent, that if the Roman Catholic Church were reformed according to scripture, it would have to be abandoned. But the gross errors concerning salvation still remain. Moreover, the Council did nothing toward removing the more than 100 anathemas or curses pronounced by the Council of Trent on the Protestant churches and beliefs. If there is to be any true unity, surely this would seem the logical place to start...

"The `Constitution on the Church' makes it abundantly clear that Rome has no intention of revising any of her basic doctrine, but only of updating her methods and techniques for more efficient administration and to present a more attractive appearance. This is designed to make it easier for the Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Protestant churches to return to her fold. There is no indication that she has any intentions of entering into genuine give-and-take church unity negotiations. Her purpose is not union, but ABSORPTION. Church union with Rome is strictly a one-way street. The age-old danger that Protestantism has faced from the Roman Church has not diminished; in fact, it may well have increased. For through this less offensive posture and this superficial ecumenicism, Rome is much better situated to carry out her program of eliminating opposition and moving into a position of world dominance.

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Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Having received a TPB from the "St. Blog's Monitoring Staff" (from two guys in impeccable Italian suits who are noticably burlier then I am) who wanted to "persuade" us to make a more frequent mention of the HMS weblog here at Rerum Novarum.

After they left we felt a collective desire for reasons we cannot explain to extol the HMS weblog - particularly the Godfather of HMS weblog Gregory Popcak who made us at Rerum Novarum an offer we could not refuse. (We cannot go into details on the negotiation but some of our benefits include a promise of "protection" from sudden blogger template loss for a "minor servicing fee".)

So we feel *compelled* for some reason to bring you the following bulletin from Greg Popcak on the Archdioceses of Boston and how it may be filing for bankruptcy: Click Here

Have I mentioned how Mark, Emily, and others at HMS - particularly Gregory Popcak - have such Gravitas???

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On the Truth in General and the Mystical Body in Particular:

You sum up our disagreement on this issue when you assert, “Any and all Churches, ecclesial communities, or other belief systems to the extent that they proclaim truth proclaim a portion of what the Church possesses and professes.”

To which I assert: The truth is indivisible. Though one may intellectually halve the truth and in some abstract, unreal, and worthless manner have part of the truth, functionally, such a one has no more of the truth than the barren woman would have had of someone else’s child whom she claimed as her own to the point of being willing to allow Solomon’s sword to divide that baby in two.

The truth is never worthless. Someone who (to use an example) was not generally pro-life who opposed partial birth abortions because they have a vague conception that the practice is evil are not incorrect for doing so. And I would gladly ally myself with them to see that objective achieved. I am sure you would too and would not see their stand as "worthless" or without merit. (However misconstrued their overall view of the subject is.)

Because the truth is indivisible, by a single heresy, we lose our claim to Catholicism and salvation. Clinging to all the other Catholic truths cannot bring a heretic to salvation any more than cradling a dead baby can bequeath motherhood.

This is true formally speaking. The difference between heresy and error is willful doubt or denial of a truth of divine faith. Someone who does not know they are denying such a truth is only a heretic in an improper sense of the word. These are generally referred to as "material heretics".

The holistic reality of the truth can be compared to health. We either have it or we are dead. We may speak of being in poor health, barely hanging onto life, as we may speak of Catholics who only poorly practice and barely believe their faith. It’s the moment they stop believing or practicing any aspect of their faith (like the moment the heart stops beating tho every other part of the body is alive) that they die.

Indeed. And fortunately for us and the rest of the world Truth conquered death on the Cross.

You say that the other churches may provide “salvific efficacy from the elements they possess [that] are derived from the Church, and [that] without such elements salvation is impossible.”

Yes.

I say that salvation comes from the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I think you are in some ways forging a false dichotomy here. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. So you are not incorrect to say that salvation comes "from the truth" because it does.

But salvation at the same time is gratuitous: it does not depend on the acquiring of knowledge on our part. Salvation comes from God and thankfully He will not be judging us with a catechism quiz. Because if He did we would all fail since there are mysteries that we do not know that are part of the "whole truth" you refer to.

It cannot be atomized. Unlike the elements that are mixed with and derived from one another to collectively form our physical universe, the “salvific efficacy” of the Mystical Body of Christ cannot be mixed with nor derived from untruth.

The salvific efficacy of the Mystical Body comes from Christ Himself. And you seem to be missing the point I was making. The elements of truth which other Churches and ecclesial communities possess are salvific because they are from God by way of the Church. Provided that there is not an obstinate refusal to honestly seek the fullness of Truth, these elements are salvific.

But to be of good will means precisely that one will accept what they believe is of God. Thus, someone who came to believe that the Catholic Church was the one Church of Christ yet who refused to accept certain teachings set forth by the Church would not find salvific efficacy in the elements of truth which they possessed.{1}

The Church is not a body-parts store at which the other churches can shop, mix and match, or barter.

No one said that the Church was this at all. There is a reason why the Church is referred to as the "Mystical Body". The reason is that the Church is primarily a mystery. Therefore explaining it in carnal overtones will miss the mark in many instances. Only to a certain extent can this be done and it can easily be overdone. Fr. Feeney was one who erred in this manner.

In short, tho we agree on the “what” (that non-Catholics may be saved), we disagree on the how. You seem to be saying that the partial truths non-Catholics hold to in the hierarchy of truths plays a salvific role.

I am in essence saying that those who do not have the Faith yet who act in accordance with what the Faith dictates to the best of their knowledge (and not shunning future enlightenment on the matter) are on the right path. For such people salvation is possible through the elements of truth that they possess which belong by divine right to the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church.

The principle is outlined by St. Paul in Romans 2 when he speaks of "the Gentiles who have not the Law" who "do what the Law requires". Those who obey the Truth to the extent they are aware of it can be saved because salvation is by the grace of God, not by knowledge or by human efforts.

I am saying that, like with a partial ship, with partial truths, we’re sunk.

Well if we were handed scan sheets, bluebooks, a list of abstract theological questions, and some #2 pencils at the judgment, I would agree with you. From my understanding though we will be judged by how we follow the twofold love of God and neighbour; which are fused into one in the furnace of divine love. (See Rom. xiii,9-10; Gal v,14; 1 John iv,20.)

Note:

{1} For example someone who denied the supreme authority of the Roman pontiff not only in matters of faith and morals but also in matters of discipline and government of the universal Church. Or someone who refused to be in communion with their diocesan bishop who within his territory has supreme authority.

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Monday, December 02, 2002

Some "Reflections" of a Non-USCCB Kind:
(aka "A Rerum Novarum Spiritual Triple Spin")

First we start with Gerard Serafin's "Catholic BLOG for Lovers" and this story about Dorothy Day. Here is a small sampling:

Dorothy Day...gave herself wholeheartedly to the scaling of this mount of perfection, the perfection of love. She has been in our time a luminous example of the twofold love of God and neighbor fused into one in the furnace of divine love...

Go Here for More...

The second is from Karen Marie Knapp's "Anchor Hold" BLOG and is a Meditation on Detachment from St. Thomas More:

Give me Thy grace, good Lord to set the world at nought;
To set my mind fast upon Thee, and not to hang upon the blast of men’s mouths;
To be content to be solitary, not to long for worldly company;
Little by little utterly to cast off the world, and rid my mind of all the business thereof;
Not to long to hear of any worldly things, but that the hearing of worldly phantasies may be to me unpleasant;
Gladly to be thinking of God, piteously to call for His help;
To lean unto the comfort of God, busily to labor to love Him;
To know my own vileness and wretchedness, to be humble and meeken myself under the mighty hand of God;
To bewail my sins passed, for the purging of them patiently to suffer adversity;
Gladly to bear my purgatory here, to be joyful of tribulations; To walk the narrow way that leads to life, to bear the cross with Christ...


For More Click Here

The third entry is from Donna Lewis' Quenta Narwenion BLOG and is a "Hymn for Advent Vespers" translated by Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman. Here is a small sampling:

Creator of the starry pole,
Saviour of all who live,
And light of every faithful soul,
Jesu, these prayers receive.


Who sooner than our foe malign
Should triumph, from above
Didst come, to be the medicine
Of a sick world, in love...


For More Click Here


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"Stirring Up a Hornets Nest (Perhaps)" Dept.

In reading Lane Core's weblog on the Leonine prayers I found the following comments interesting:

I don't oppose the restitution of the Leonine Prayers; I don't support it either: I have no opinion about doing so.

This will undoubtedly stir up some hornets but (frankly) there is no reason to mandate them in the Counter-reformational myth of liturgical BORG-like uniformity. I wish I had a dollar for everytime I heard "traditionalists" talk about how "wonderful" the idea of the Church being "like McDonalds" (to use the expression of a friend) and having Big Macs in Seattle taste the same as the ones in Hemit; the ones in Hemit tasting like the ones in Gisborne (NZ), etc. For those who are slaves to those who control the externals, this may be reassuring but my view is akin to the following summation by academic Orientalist Fr. Robert Taft:

There was a time not so long ago when some sort of proof for the universality of the Church was found in the false belief that, "Wherever a Catholic goes, he will feel at home when he enters a Catholic church because there he will find the familiar Mass celebrated in the common language of the Church." Not only is this untrue, but if it were true, it would be not the glorious thing we might have once imagined, but a chilling commentary on the narrowness we had imposed on the Body which Christ fashioned for all mankind. To impose one Rite on everyone does not render that Rite, or the Church, more universal. It only impoverishes the catholic expression of the Church’s life...

This is a temptation that I still suffer from by my own admission despite my roots in the Orient through my maternal Ukrainian ancestry. And if someone who actually *has* this advantage over most westerners still succumbs at times to it, I have to wonder the degree of difficulty exists amongst those who have no knowledge or conception of the necessary diversity in expression of the one, holy, catholic, and universal Church. (Particularly self-styled "traditionalists" or converts who are predisposed towards certain forms of Counter-reformation piety and practice.)

How does all of this affect my view of the Leonine prayers??? Well, for starters there is nothing stopping people from staying after mass and reciting quietly the Leonine prayers. I admittedly do not do this but I see no reason people who want to cannot. There is no need to make them obligatory; ergo they should remain optional. Besides, one can always add the prayers to their recitation of the rosary if they do not already do that. The rosary itself is to be preferred to the Leonine prayers if there is a distinction to be made - and certainly Pope Leo XIII who wrote about eight encyclicals on the rosary would not disagree with this assessment.

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Sunday, December 01, 2002

"Catholic Light" Dept.
(aka A Rerum Novarum "Double Spin")

Two posts here of slightly different temperaments. We will deal with the one that has a bit of comic relief possible to it first and then the one of a more serious nature.

First there is Pete "Canonicus Majorus" Vere and the following entry about the subject of the Talmud. A small taste can be read here:

As many of you know, there was somewhat of a controversy this past fall at St. Blog's when someone appeared to claim that the Jewish Talmud permitted sexual intercourse with three year olds. don't wish to revive this controversy, however, I've just come across Russ Gold's following excellent explanation of the passage in the Talmud that sparked this controversy.For more go here

All your host will note on the matter is that it is another example of a self-anointed "super genius" whom we need not mention here crashing and burning on another position he has taken. Will the comedy of errors have no end???

In other news the following link is courtesy of Sal Ravilla who had posted a link from the Washington Times on Millie Kondrake and her Parkinson's disease. For those who do not recognize the name, she is the wife of longtime McLaughlin Group stalwart Morton Kondrake. Your humble servant has had his times when he has screamed at Morton on TV for some of the things the latter has said.{1} It was kind of a thing where I liked Morton but disagreed with him probably over half the time in the process. Nonetheless, reading the Times article shows a different side of Morton then the Beltway player that people who pay attention to that sort of thing are accustomed to. Here is a small taste if you will:

In his book, "Saving Millie," Mr. Kondracke said that, after the diagnosis, he determined to be a loving husband and help Millie fight the disease. "I decided that my career was now secondary as the purpose of my life. I did not know what helping Millie fight Parkinson's might involve, and I did not want to know. I was afraid that if I had a forecast of how bad things could become I might shrink from the ordeal. I figured I would simply deal with whatever happened, as it happened. This has become my philosophy of life: Do the best you can playing the hand you are dealt, and ask God's help every single step of the way. Mr. Kondracke does not claim to be "born again," nor does he claim to have a "personal relationship" with Jesus Christ. But, he has set a standard for himself to be "consistently loving, caring, patient and supportive" of Millie and he meets regularly with a men's Christian fellowship group and considers Jesus' message of "love, self-sacrifice, and total commitment" to be an "ideal for humanity." His fellowship friends have formed a support group for him and they have memorized Proverbs 3:5 together — "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all ways, acknowledge Him and he will direct your path."

Mr. Kondracke said, "This is gradually becoming my ultimate rule for living, and it's perfect for my kind of stoicism: I will, I must, play the hand that's dealt me and trust in God to help me do the right thing." Mort prays repeatedly throughout the day and reports that he asks God, "What's my purpose here?" He admits that each time he hopes there will be a new and important mission for him, but the answer, he says, is always, "Take care of Millie." In the process, Mort says, "I've become a different, better person — someone I never expected to be. I have put someone else's happiness ahead of my own advancement." For more go here...

We at Rerum Novarum extend Our prayers and best wishes to the Kondrake family.

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Bastiat's Corner:

The previous installment of this series can be read HERE. Those who are just tuning in can start from the beginning of this thread HERE.


A Confusion of Terms

Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.

The Influence of Socialist Writers

How did politicians ever come to believe this weird idea that the law could be made to produce what it does not contain -- the wealth, science, and religion that, in a positive sense, constitute prosperity? Is it due to the influence of our modern writers on public affairs?

Present-day writers -- especially those of the socialist school of thought -- base their various theories upon one common hypothesis: They divide mankind into two parts. People in general -- with the exception of the writer himself -- from the first group. The writer, all alone, forms the second and most important group. Surely this is the weirdest and most conceited notion that ever entered a human brain!

In fact, these writers on public affairs begin by supposing that people have within themselves no means of discernment; no motivation to action. The writers assume that people are inert matter, passive particles, motionless atoms, at best a kind of vegetation indifferent to its own manner of existence. They assume that people are susceptible to being shaped -- by the will and hand of another person -- into an infinite variety of forms, more or less symmetrical, artistic, and perfected.

Moreover, not one of these writers on governmental affairs hesitates to imagine that he himself -- under the title of organizer, discoverer, legislator, or founder -- is this will and hand, this universal motivating force, this creative power whose sublime mission is to mold these scattered materials -- persons -- into a society.

These socialist writers look upon people in the same manner that the gardener views his trees. Just as the gardener capriciously shapes the trees into pyramids, parasols, cubes, vases, fans, and other forms, just so does the socialist writer whimsically shape human beings into groups, series, centers, sub-centers, honeycombs, labor corps, and other variations. And just as the gardener needs axes, pruning hooks, saws, and shears to shape his trees, just so does the socialist writer need the force that he can find only in law to shape human beings. For this purpose, he devises tariff laws, tax laws, relief laws, and school laws.

The Socialists Wish to Play God

Socialists look upon people as raw material to be formed into social combinations. This is so true that, if by chance, the socialists have any doubts about the success of these combinations, they will demand that a small portion of mankind be set aside to experiment upon. The popular idea of trying all systems is well known. And one socialist leader has been known seriously to demand that the Constituent Assembly give him a small district with all its inhabitants, to try his experiments upon.

In the same manner, an inventor makes a model before he constructs the full-sized machine; the chemist wastes some chemicals -- the farmer wastes some seeds and land -- to try out an idea.

But what a difference there is between the gardener and his trees, between the inventor and his machine, between the chemist and his elements, between the farmer and his seeds! And in all sincerity, the socialist thinks that there is the same difference between him and mankind!

It is no wonder that the writers of the nineteenth century look upon society as an artificial creation of the legislator's genius. This idea -- the fruit of classical education -- has taken possession of all the intellectuals and famous writers of our country. To these intellectuals and writers, the relationship between persons and the legislator appears to be the same as the relationship between the clay and the potter.

Moreover, even where they have consented to recognize a principle of action in the heart of man -- and a principle of discernment in man's intellect -- they have considered these gifts from God to be fatal gifts. They have thought that persons, under the impulse of these two gifts, would fatally tend to ruin themselves. They assume that if the legislators left persons free to follow their own inclinations, they would arrive at atheism instead of religion, ignorance instead of knowledge, poverty instead of production and exchange.

The Socialists Despise Mankind

According to these writers, it is indeed fortunate that Heaven has bestowed upon certain men -- governors and legislators -- the exact opposite inclinations, not only for their own sake but also for the sake of the rest of the world! While mankind tends toward evil, the legislators yearn for good; while mankind advances toward darkness, the legislators aspire for enlightenment; while mankind is drawn toward vice, the legislators are attracted toward virtue. Since they have decided that this is the true state of affairs, they then demand the use of force in order to substitute their own inclinations for those of the human race.

Open at random any book on philosophy, politics, or history, and you will probably see how deeply rooted in our country is this idea -- the child of classical studies, the mother of socialism. In all of them, you will probably find this idea that mankind is merely inert matter, receiving life, organization, morality, and prosperity from the power of the state. And even worse, it will be stated that mankind tends toward degeneration, and is stopped from this downward course only by the mysterious hand of the legislator. Conventional classical thought everywhere says that behind passive society there is a concealed power called law or legislator (or called by some other terminology that designates some unnamed person or persons of undisputed influence and authority) which moves, controls, benefits, and improves mankind.

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