Friday, October 24, 2003

On The Controversy of the Unrevoked Old Covenant:

Bishops who teach in communion with the Roman Pontiff are to be revered by all as witnesses of divine and Catholic truth; the faithful, for their part, are obliged to submit to their bishops' decision, made in the name of Christ, in matters of faith and morals, and to adhere to it with a ready and respectful allegiance of mind. This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and sincere assent be given to decisions made by him, conformably with his manifest mind and intention, which is made known principally either by the character of the documents in question, or by the frequency with which a certain doctrine is proposed, or by the manner in which the doctrine is formulated. [Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium §25 (c. 1964)]

I have been intending to finish a thread on the subject of the covenants for over a year and emails like this may hasten that thread's completion. Nonetheless, the following email was in a stack of stuff at lycos and would seem to merit attention. I preface this response with a quote from Lumen Gentium §25 because the person I am responding to refers to the text. And as it factors into this discussion, I want the readers to see it in full so that they can see what my interpretive hermeneutic for this response is. But without further ado, here is the email sent yesterday with the heading "old covenant error". The emailer's words will be in darkgreen font.

To Sean Mclhinney

Of course misspelling both parts of my name is not the best way to get this letter going.

I totally disagree with your belief that the old covenant (the old mosaic covenant) has not been revoked.

If by revoked you mean terminated then yes, we are in disagreement.

If the Pope speaks using his authentic magesterium (as LG 25 teaches) then by all means,a religious respect/submission should be granted.

Which of course you do not do.

But when personal & unclarified opinions of a Pope are mentioned that's another story.

Personal and unclarified opinions according to whom??? Papal allocutions comprise part of a pope's magisterium. And reiteration of a teaching even in the form of an allocution requires assent. To my knowledge this statement has been made at least three times by the pope in three separate allocutions. Here they are -and I doubt these are the only ones out there:

The first dimension of this dialogue, that is, the meeting between the people of God of the Old Covenant, never revoked by God, and that of the New Covenant, is at the same time a dialogue within our Church, that is to say, between the first and second part of her Bible" (Allocution to Jewish Community on November 17, 1980 in Mainz, Germany).

And again:

"[The Jewish people are] partners in a covenant of eternal love which was never revoked" (Allocution to Jewish Leaders on September 11, 1987 in Miami, Florida).

And again:

"Just as we take note of the "covenant never revoked by God" (cf. Insegnamenti, 1980, [III/2], pp. 1272-1276), so we should consider the intrinsic value of the Old Testament (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 3), even if this only acquires its full meaning in the light of the New Testament and contains promises that are fulfilled in Jesus" (General Audience Allocution of April 28, 1999).

In reiterating this teaching of an unrevoked Old Covenant by virtue of the allocution, the pope's teaching on this subject commands your assent. Otherwise, you are not thinking with the mind of the Chuch which teaches that sincere assent be given to decisions made by [the Pope], conformably with his manifest mind and intention. While not having the same degree of authority as a constitution, encyclical/apostolic letter, or exhortation, a papal allocution is still authoritative -particularly when the teaching is reiterated. So it would do you and anyone claiming to be a faithful Catholic well to heed it. Otherwise you are not in touch with the Mens Ecclesia or "mind of the Church" and are outside of the Tradition you are so zealous to preserve.

Nobody in 2,000 years of Catholicism has said the old covenant has not been revoked.

I frankly get tired of this "2000 years" canard being bandied about by Catholics on a whole host of issues. I do not deny the value of this kind argumentation, only the scope with which many seek to apply it.

Further still, a universal negative only requires one disproof to crash and burn. I will supply two of them but not before noting that there are very few teachings which can be shown to have a 2000 year pedigree -and even those that can are not free from development. And what you are asserting is not one of them. Instead, this canard is foisted by those who either (i) do not know Church history very well or who (ii) do not understand Catholic Tradition well.

The Church's magisterium has said virtually nothing about the Jews in 2000 years on any subject whatsoever. And of those documents which do mention the Jews, in almost all cases they comprise decrees of the popes or canons of ecumenical councils regarding the presence of Jews in society. For example, Lateran IV required the wearing of certain markings to identify the Jews to non-Jews. (A matter of discipline that was later loosed by the magisterium.) Pope Gregory X along with many popes issued papal bulls regarding the protection of the Jews. Again these were not matters of doctrine but were governing provisions on the proper manner of treating the Jews in society. They were never loosed but at the same time, they were not heeded in all quarters either. And as the issue of the relationship of the covenants was never set forth doctrinally in Church history by the magisterium your argument is worthless to me.

After all, in speaking of Church Tradition, it is the magisterium's teaching on any matter of controversy which commands assent - not the opinions of individual Fathers or Saints however learned or brilliant they were. And without such teaching being set forth, this falls into the realm of theological speculation. Or at least before Vatican II it did at least in theory. I speculate though that since Scripture spoke on this issue that the silence of the magisterium over such a long stretch of time was not "coincidental." The teaching was clear even if *why* it was so was not. Nonetheless, when the Church finally focused on the Jewish question after the Shoah, the subject of the relationship between the covenants could no longer be avoided and the Church addressed it in a Declaration of teaching of no small weight in the fourth session of Vatican II. I will get to this in a direct manner shortly when addressing your prooftext from this document. In the meantime, the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes the following on this subject:

The Church and non-Christians

839 "Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways." {Lumen Gentium §16}

839 The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People.

When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People,{Cf. NA 4.} "the first to hear the Word of God."{Roman Missal, Good Friday 13:General Intercessions,VI.} The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God's revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews "belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ",{Rom 9:4-5.} "for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable."{Rom 11:29.}

840 And when one considers the future, God's People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus. [Catechism of the Catholic Church §839-40 (c. 1992)]

And the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes the following about the value of the Old Testament -the very root and matrix of the Old Covenant:

121 The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value,{Cf. DV 14.} for the Old Covenant has never been revoked.

122 Indeed, "the economy of the Old Testament was deliberately SO oriented that it should prepare for and declare in prophecy the coming of Christ, redeemer of all men."{DV 15.} "Even though they contain matters imperfect and provisional,{DV 15.} the books of the OldTestament bear witness to the whole divine pedagogy of God's saving love: these writings "are a storehouse of sublime teaching on God and of sound wisdom on human life, as well as a wonderful treasury of prayers; in them, too, the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way."{DV 15.}

123 Christians venerate the Old Testament as true Word of God. The Church has always vigorously opposed the idea of rejecting the Old Testament under the pretext that the New has rendered it void (Marcionism)...

"The Church, as early as apostolic times, and then constantly in her Tradition, has illuminated the unity of the divine plan in the two Testaments through typology, which discerns in God's works of the Old Covenant prefigurations of what he accomplished in the fullness of time in the person of his incarnate Son. Christians therefore read the Old Testament in the light of Christ crucified and risen. Such typological reading discloses the inexhaustible content of the Old Testament; but it must not make us forget that the Old Testament retains its own intrinsic value as Revelation reaffirmed by our Lord himself. Besides, the New Testament has to be read in the light of the Old. Early Christian catechesis made constant use of the Old Testament. As an old saying put it, the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New." [Catechism of the Catholic Church §121-23; 128-29 (c. 1992)]

Likewise, the New Covenant is foreshadowed and predicted in the OT and the Old Covenant is revealed in the NT as fulfilled in Our Lord Jesus Christ. In short, there is more to this than you casually presume.

To say otherwise is to speak of a dual covenant belief.

No it does not. Read your Bible carefully:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew v,17-20]

Unless you want to claim that the Lord has fulfilled all things already, you cannot conclude that a jot or tittle has passed from the law yet. And as Our Lord has not judged the world yet -at least according to us time-trapped mortals- all is not yet fulfilled. So you can do the math there.

Hence two peoples of God & Two paths of salvation.

No, one People of God and one path of salvation (cf. John xi,25-26). Do you deny that the OT is the Word of God and as such contains part of Divine Revelation??? If you do not deny this then you by implication affirm that the OT has salvfic value. Indeed, the very texts where Our Lord responded to the doctor of the law on the question "what shall I do to inherit eternal life" was to ask him "[w]hat is written in the Law?" Upon the man correctly interpreting the Law, Our Lord told him he "read correctly" and then said "Do this and you will live" (cf. Luke x,26-28). So the injunctions for what is required to inherit eternal life are written in the Law.

Matthew's Gospel outlined the man (a doctor of the Law) asking the question of what the greatest commandment of the Law was and Our Lord responded "Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matthew xxii,36-40).

And of course, these injunctions were written in the Law:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. [Deut. vi,4-9]

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. [Lev. xix,18]

The New Covenant is an amplification and completion of the Old Covenant which foreshadowed it and which set forth the principles that the New Covenant would be built on like a house is built on a foundation. To claim the Old Covenant has been revoked is to claim that the foundation of the house has been destroyed. It is also to make a liar of Our Lord who came by His own admission "not to destroy, but to fulfil" (Matt. v,17). It also makes a liar out of St. Paul. And I will take their words over yours any day. Furthermore, the last time I checked, they both lived about 2,000 years ago; ergo your broadbrush application of the "2000 years" apologetic crashes and burns.

This certainly is not catholic teaching which acknowledges only one Covenant,the new by Christ. In Short Hebrews 8:13 "When he said"a new covenant",he has made the first obsolete"

That is not what it says:

In that he saith, A new [covenant], he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old [is] ready to vanish away." [Hebrews viii,13]

Hebrews does not say that the first covenant has actually vanished - only that it "is ready to vanish away." There is an ambiguity there that cannot be accidental. And to interpret Hebrews as you do is to make a liar out of St. Paul who clearly stated that there was no revocation of the calling from God that the Jews received. (More on this in a moment.)

Nostra Aetate "...In which God in his inexpressible mercy CONCLUDED the ancient covenant"

Here is the full section:

[T]he Church of Christ acknowledges that, according to God's saving design, the beginnings of her faith and her election are found already among the Patriarchs, Moses and the prophets. She professes that all who believe in Christ-Abraham's sons according to faith (Cf. Gal. 3:7)-are included in the same Patriarch's call, and likewise that the salvation of the Church is mysteriously foreshadowed by the chosen people's exodus from the land of bondage. The Church, therefore, cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in His inexpressible mercy concluded the Ancient Covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles. (Cf. Rom. 11:17-24) Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles. making both one in Himself. (Cf. Eph. 2:14-16)

The Church keeps ever in mind the words of the Apostle about his kinsmen: "theirs is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the law and the worship and the promises; theirs are the fathers and from them is the Christ according to the flesh" (Rom. 9:4-5), the Son of the Virgin Mary. She also recalls that the Apostles, the Church's main-stay and pillars, as well as most of the early disciples who proclaimed Christ's Gospel to the world, sprang from the Jewish people.

As Holy Scripture testifies, Jerusalem did not recognize the time of her visitation,(Cf. Lk. 19:44) nor did the Jews in large number, accept the Gospel; indeed not a few opposed its spreading.(Cf. Rom. 11:28) Nevertheless, God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues-such is the witness of the Apostle.(Cf. Rom. 11:28-29; cf. dogmatic Constitution, Lumen Gentium) In company with the Prophets and the same Apostle, the Church awaits that day, known to God alone, on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and "serve him shoulder to shoulder" (Soph. 3:9).(Cf. Is. 66:23; Ps. 65:4; Rom. 11:11-32) [Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: Declaration Nostra Aetate §4 (c. 1965)]

Notice if you will the preponderance of references to Romans 11 in the above text. Indeed a reading of that chapter is worth your time since (i) it is referenced so much in the text and (ii) it controverts your assertions on the subject. Here is the entire chapter of Romans 11 with particular parts of interest noted:

I say then: Hath God cast away his people? God forbid! For I also am an Israelite of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Know you not what the scripture saith of Elias, how he calleth on God against Israel? Lord, they have slain thy prophets, they have dug down thy altars. And I am left alone: and they seek my life. But what saith the divine answer to him? I have left me seven thousand men that have not bowed their knees to Baal. Even so then, at this present time also, there is a remnant saved according to the election of grace. And if by grace, it is not now by works: otherwise grace is no more grace. What then? That which Israel sought, he hath not obtained: but the election hath obtained it. And the rest have been blinded. As it is written: God hath given them the spirit of insensibility; eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear, until this present day. And David saith: Let their table be made a snare and a trap and a stumbling block and a recompense unto them. Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see: and bow down their back always.

I say then: Have they so stumbled, that they should fall? God forbid! But by their offence salvation is come to the Gentiles, that they may be emulous of them. Now if the offence of them be the riches of the world and the diminution of them the riches of the Gentiles: how much more the fulness of them? For I say to you, Gentiles: As long indeed as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I will honour my ministry, If, by any means, I may provoke to emulation them who are my flesh and may save some of them. For if the loss of them be the reconciliation of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? For if the firstfruit be holy, so is the lump also: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken and thou, being a wild olive, art ingrafted in them and art made partaker of the root and of the fatness of the olive tree:Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root: but the root thee.

Thou wilt say then: The branches were broken off that I might be grafted in. Well: because of unbelief they were broken off. But thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear. For if God hath not spared the natural branches, fear lest perhaps also he spare not thee. See then the goodness and the severity of God: towards them indeed that are fallen, the severity; but towards thee, the goodness of God, if thou abide in goodness. Otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. For if thou were cut out of the wild olive tree, which is natural to thee; and, contrary to nature, wert grafted into the good olive tree: how much more shall they that are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this mystery (lest you should be wise in your own conceits) that blindness in part has happened in Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles should come in.

And so all Israel should be saved, as it is written: There shall come out of Sion, he that shall deliver and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. And this is to them my covenant: when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are most dear for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance.

For as you also in times past did not believe God, but now have obtained mercy, through their unbelief: So these also now have not believed, for your mercy, that they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded all in unbelief, that he may have mercy on all. O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments, and how unsearchable his ways! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and recompense shall be made him? For of him, and by him, and in him, are all things: to him be glory for ever. Amen. [Epistle to the Romans xi,1-36]

Now if you want to conclude that St. Paul was a liar in stating that the gifts and calling of God are without repentence (or "irrevocable" as some biblical translations say), that is your business but keep your blasphemy to yourself. If you want to conclude that Romans and Hebrews contradict, you can do so and be proximate to heresy.{1} If you want to claim that Nostra Aetate contradicts the very Romans xi that it cites so copiously, again, feel free to do so but do not waste my time with it. I see no contradiction whatsoever between them, merely an acknowledgement that the Ancient Covenant of anticipation brought about the Messiah to which it was directed towards Him who was to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.

Of course to "bring about" something is to "conclude" it. Likewise, to "fulfill" something is to "complete" or "conclude" it. The reason concluding the Ancient Covenant was "merciful" was because Our Lord by entering into human history by His atoning sacrifice transformed the Ancient Covenant of rules into a new covenant of grace: a covenant that fulfills the Old but does not revoke it. But of course the ways of the Lord are mysterious -indeed there is a reason why all of this is referred to as a mystery.{2} Maybe you need to start exercising a bit more faith in the magisterium you claim to believe teaches with divinely vested authority.

A Catholic professes belief in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition as mediated by the Magisterium. On this subject, Tradition has been silent; however that does not mean that the mind of the Church cannot be known on this matter. For the Scriptures teach that the Old Covenant has not been revoked. Likewise, the Pope in his Magisterium teaches that the Old Covenant has not been revoked. Furthermore, the Universal Catechism this pope approved by virtue of his Apostolic authority teaches that the Old Covenant has not been revoked. I am wondering how much more do you need before you will recognize and accept this despite (perhaps) personal difficulties. Take up your cross and follow Christ or else have the honesty to admit that you are setting it aside. There is no other alternative.


{1} In our own time the Vatican Council, with the object of condemning false doctrines regarding inspiration, declared that these same books were to be regarded by the Church as sacred and canonical "not because, having been composed by human industry, they were afterwards approved by her authority, nor merely because they contain revelation without error, but because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God for their author, and as such were handed down to the Church herself."{Session III, Cap. 2i Ench. Bibl. n. 62.} When, subsequently, some Catholic writers, in spite of this solemn definition of Catholic doctrine, by which such divine authority is claimed for the "entire books with all their parts" as to secure freedom from any error whatsoever, ventured to restrict the truth of Sacred Scripture solely to matters of faith and morals, and to regard other matters, whether in the domain of physical science or history, as "obiter dicta" and -- as they contended -- in no wise connected with faith, Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Leo XIII in the Encyclical Letter Providentissimus Deus, published on November 18 in the year 1893, justly and rightly condemned these errors and safe-guarded the studies of the Divine Books by most wise precepts and rules. [Pope Pius XII: Encyclical Letter Divino Afflante Spiritu §1 (c. 1943)]

{2} St. Paul uses this term ("mystery") a lot including in Romans 11 which I quote above.

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On the Papacy and Ideas:
(Dialogue with Tim Enloe)

Apparently my last Points to Ponder entry got some people pondering a bit over at Societas Christiana. This post will be a brief response to some of the points made in response to the posted quote.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Shawn McElhinney posted this quote regarding the manner in which historians approach the Roman Papacy:

I replace Tim's verbatim quote of that post with a link to the post itself to conserve space. Go HERE to read it in full.

Note how the Papacy, a profoundly historical institution is exempted from the messy vicissitudes of history and treated as an "independent" phenomenon that historians must learn to treat as a "theological proposition" quite different from the texts about it which they assemble and analyze.

I never of course said that the papacy was exempted from history whatsoever. All I noted in that quote -which was not something I said by the way- was that there is one principle that does not cross the minds of most of those who analyze the papacy and that is the possibility that we are dealing with a principle that to some extent transcends the mere vissitudes of history.

This is just plain wrong-headed. I'll try to write more on this later.

Here is what Tim wrote on the manner in his followup thread:

What's Wrong With this Picture (see below)

Below I reproduced a citation about the Papacy given by Catholic Shawn McElhinney on his blog. The citation opines that historians need to think about the Papacy as a "theological proposition", and "part of the divinely willed order of things". The reasoning compares the "idea" of the Papacy to the "idea" of the Trinity, asserting that just as there is something in the latter that is "independent of all the words that have been heaped on top of it" so too with "the papal idea".

That is an accurate summation of the point to ponder segment which was posted.

In a nutshell, what's wrong with that citation is precisely that it treats the Trinity and the Papacy as "ideas". Not just any ordinary ideas, mind you, but ideas that are independent of the historical circumstances which surrounded their formulation.

Not independent of historical circumstances, simply that there is more to them than the historical circumstances.

In asking us to consider that the Papacy is "part of the divinely willed order of things" just like the Trinity is, the reasoning essentially parallels a contingent entity with a necessary one, thus confusing categories and violating what the Reformed tradition calls "the Creator / creature distinction".

Of course now Tim is trying to posit a Reformed principle that I do not accept: an attempted dichotomization between God and His creation. Christianity is a revealed religion and the central tenet of that religion is that the Infinite God became man in order to restore to man what he had lost through sin. But there is more to it than that of course:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name [was] John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all [men] through him might believe. He was not that Light, but [was sent] to bear witness of that Light.[That] was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. [Gospel of John i,1-14]

So as essentially the One who created all things took flesh and dwelt among His creation. He in other words "became a creature." So this dichotomization that the Reformeds have in their tradition is in a certain sense contrary to the very words of the Gospel of John.

Further, the reasoning implicitly asks us to believe that the "real" Papacy is a metaphysical thing standing behind or underneath the physical realities that we ordinarily associate with it.

The papacy is both physical and metaphysical. Just as the very Lord whom Catholics believe established it.

In short, like many other "ideas" promoted by Roman Catholicism, the Papacy really is not a contingent feature of the world and of the Christian Faith that plays out within the world, but a necessary feature, as ultimately and "consistently" undeniable as the doctrine of the very Godhead itself.

Rather than the "either/or" that Tim is suggesting, I am merely opining that it is a "both/and" scenario.

Now it is true in one sense that the Papacy is "independent of the words that have been heaped on top of it", and even independent of the texts that historians assemble and weigh. But this is precisely because, contra the ambiguous use of the words in the statement, the Papacy is not an "idea", but a flesh-and-blood thing in the flesh-and-blood world. It grows and changes with time, as all living, breathing things do.

Again, why the "either/or"??? There are ideas in the abstract and there are ideas which being put into a specific form thereby move from the merely intangible to the tangible. But that does not mean that they lack an intangible element to them.

What the statement is really asking of us under cover of the ambigous term "idea of the Papacy" is to think and act like Platonists--that is, to capitalize "Idea" and imagine that that "Idea" (or in Platonic language, that "Form") is the metaphysically-independent, ontologically-unchangeable archetype for every physical manifestation of "pope" that ever has or ever will appear in the world of space and time.

Before continuing this subject, it would behoove the readers to take note of how Platonist many parts of the Scriptures are. Some examples worth noting are these:

1) The Wisdom books of the OT commonly formalize Wisdom as a "Holy Woman" which is a way of applying to an abstract universal principle a kind of visible form. This is a Platonist principle akin to the notion that the human race all participate in a single "form."

2) The importance of "good-will" is commonly mentioned in the NT. (For an example of this, see Luke ii,14.) This is another Platonist concept as "good-will" represents a love of objective truth vs. "bad-will" which represents the individuals subjective predispositions contrary to objective truth.

3) The Divine Logos according to St. John the Evangelist "enlightens every man" (John i,9). Again we have Divine Logos -or Truth Itself- as the universal which manifests itself to the "form" of man through enlightenment. (The same man who is made "in the image and likeness of God.") There is no shortage of Platonist notions here.

4) The imagery of the Church as "the Mystical Body of Christ" in Ephesians (i,23; iv,4,11-16; v,21-33), 1 Corinthians (xii,12-30), and Colossians (i,18) is Platonist to the core.

5) Consider what St. Paul said about the Christian at baptism becoming "a new creature" (2 Cor v,17; Gal. vi,15) and how man goes from bearing the "natural body" of Adam to the "spiritual body" of Christ (1 Cor. xv,44-49). This is also Platonist in concept.

6) Consider how the new man St. Paul speals of is "sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. i,13; iv,30) who dwells within us (Eph. iii,17) and fills us with "the fullness of God" (Eph. iii,19) so that we have "no fellowship with the works of darkness" (Eph. v,11). All of this is Platonist in concept as well.

7) Consider how we are said to share in Christ (Heb. iii,14) and how St. Paul refers to us "being baptized into" and "putting on Christ" in Galatians (iii,27). Again, what philosophical model of reasoning does this emulate???

8) Consider how St. Paul says in Philippians that Jesus is "by nature God" who then took "the nature of a slave" to thereby be made "like unto men" in "the form of man" (Phil. ii,6-7) and how he was "the first born of all creation" in which "all created being converges" so that the fullness of Divinity dwells within the material" to be "reconciled to [Christ]" (Col. i,15-20). And of course the fullness of the Godhead dwelling bodily within Him (Col. ii,9) is also a Platonist notion.

More could be mentioned but I think I have more than made my point with the Words of God and not those of men. So if the Catholic approaches the papacy with a degree of Platonist rationale, it would seem that there is no shortage of precedent set in the Scriptures for doing this. But enough on that matter for now.

Correlatively in the Platonist system, this Form of "the Papacy" is, like all other Forms, infallibly-known by the human intellect as it abstracts itself from all the space-and-time particulars that attach themselves to individual "popes" in history.

Catholics believe essentially that the papacy is an idea as well as an institution that transcends any individual pope.

By means of this ingenious epistemology, the "real" Papacy (the Form) is thus entirely removed from possibility of being either verified or impugned by the "illusory" See of Rome (the historical particulars).

I disagree. The papacy as containing a physical or tangible reality to it exists in time and history. Therefore, the manifold exercises of the idea in history can be both verified as well as criticized.

"Rome" is a physical city that one can physically travel to and do all sorts of interesting historical work in; "the Papacy" is an intellectual abstraction that can only be contacted by "faith" (here meaning "(infallible) intellectual cognition of the (immutable) Forms".

Notice, I did not use the word "only", Tim did.

Shawn quoted a Catholic historian in his favor, so I will likewise quote one in mine.

Writing against the view discussed above against a particularly dogmatic (in the bad sense) critic of his, the erudite Brian Tierney...

I will out of charity not note what I think of the acumen of Brian Tierney at this time. Suffice to say, Tim, you refer to him as a "Catholic historian." I however highly doubt that Brian Tierney could honestly make any of the Church's Professions of Faith;{1} therefore, I ask that Tim not refer to him as a Catholic historian unless my doubt can be reasonably mitigated by him. I was not remotely impressed with the claims made by Tierney in the quotes you supplied Tim, and I have to ask you to kindly if you want to quote Catholic sources to make a better discernment.

For I doubt Tim that you would accept me quoting from a source claiming to be Reformed who rejected The Westminster Confession of Faith or claimed to reject the 5 points of TULIP. Therefore, kindly do not refer to anyone as a Catholic (or Roman Catholic if you must) who does not profess all that the Catholic Church teaches. In fact, let us test this thesis of mine with a real life example akin to what is noted above.

I doubt you would like me quoting as "authoritative Reformed sources" people such as this who explicitly proscribe as reprobate the following people:

John Murray
Ned Stonehouse
Thomas Chalmers
Thomas Boston
J. I. Packer
Charles H. Spurgeon
Horatius Bonar
Louis Berkhof
Loraine Boettner
A.A. Hodge
Gordon Clark
John Reisinger
Charles Hodge
Robert Schuller
Billy Graham
John Calvin
A.W. Pink
David Gay

Virtually all of the above -with the exception of Billy Graham- would all be pillars of your Reformed tradition right??? If you can accept someone claiming to be Reformed who anathematizes everyone above as unsaved I will reciprocate with not taking issue should you quote Brian Tierney, Hans Kung, Edward Schillebeckx, Charles Curran, Richard McBrien, or other likeminded "Catholics" as "Catholic theologians" or "Catholic historians."

There is much more that could be said on this topic (and indeed, I have said much more in various Roman Catholic forums over the last two years), but this should suffice for now to demonstrate the critical point that a form of Christianity which claims to be "the ancient and constant faith of the Universal Church" because it follows faithfully the well-documented views of the Church Fathers and Medievals really should not go around trying to pre-emptively silence criticism of its central doctrine by simply removing that doctrine from all possibility of verification or falsification in the very realm which it itself claims is so overwhelmingly on its side--history.

The central doctrine of Catholicism is the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God for the salvation of mankind who fell as a result of sin. The papacy like the aforementioned doctrine is both physical and metaphysical; however, you are wrong to claim that it is not the central doctrine of Catholicism. Indeed the doctrine of the Eucharist is much more central to Catholicism than the papacy is.

And by saying this there is no intention whatsoever to stifle inquiry by anyone -indeed I have not shied away from discussing these and other matters as you well are aware.

If "the Papacy" is an (I)dea and (I)deas are known infallibly, the only conclusion that can be stated is that if one rejects "the Papacy" as "a part of the divinely willed order", one is intellectually perverse--and perhaps, to highlight the similarity between Roman Catholic epistemology and Enlightenment Calvinist epistemology, even "discontent with truth".

Now you are appearing to confuse infallibility with certainty as if the former is required for the latter.{2} Obviously as a Catholic I recognize the papacy as willed by God and therefore "a part of the divinely willed order" as you put it. I do not though believe that those who do not accept the papacy are necessarily intellectually perverse. After all, if part of the equation is metaphysical, obviously physical faculties can only take someone so far.

History is sufficient to testify to the doctrine of the papacy; however history is not sufficient to conclusively prove it any more than history can conclusively prove anything. (Which it cannot do.) All this means is that as valuable as history is, it has its limits as any natural discipline does.

This is the peril that comes with theological and historical Platonism.

What about biblical Platonism??? (See my examples above.)

When you encounter this sort of thing, the best way to open your response is to simply deny the Platonic dualism and ask for its adherent to give you a good bit more than maxims about "theological propositions" and the "divinely willed order of things".

I used to refer to the policy of simply denying propositions without offering cogent counter-proposals as "The Reformed Shuffle" after my many encounters with Reformed apologists who engaged in various forms of it. That you seldom took this route with me was something that I always saw as to your credit Tim. However, now you seem to be recommending it as a kind of "strategy" for other Reformed believers to take. I hope that I am mistaken in what I think I am seeing here.

It may be that the dualism is correct, but it surely cannot be established by mere repetition of axioms.

Then do what any philosopher worth their salt does with a proposition: presume it is correct a priori and then construct a counter to it with a corresponding proposition of your own that someone else can take to in like manner. But make sure you frame the proposition correctly first or else you will run in vain seeking to disprove it.

Before closing this response, a few side comments also ask to be interacted with.

Yes, I think that understanding the lousy epistemology does help equip Protestants to resist Rome's bad ideas.

Yet oddly enough you would seem to encourage a poor epistemological practice on the part of Protestants.

I've received numerous letters from Protestants who have profited from this approach I've spelled out.

Well, the "Reformed Shuffle" in any of its derivatives is quite profitable if the goal is to avoid interacting with arguments. Centered as it is on denial, they can basically take anything that someone says whose view differs from theirs and criticize it all day and not feel the need to posit an alternative scenario. And like many Catholics do with their axioms, Reformeds accept their own traditions as a priorisms refusing to be amply critical of them.

again and again so far in my experience even the most knowledgeable RCs themselves don't have much to say in response to the shiny robe of sanctity being ripped off their epistemology and themselves challenged to explain why they as Trinitarians take their most fundamental epistemological cues from pagans.

I do not see you taking the same criticisms towards St. John and his usage of the concept of the Word of God: so obviously drawn from the Greek notion of Divine Logos. Obviously if Catholics are blamed for utilizing Greek philosophical concepts in the enunciation of doctrine, then St. John cannot receive a "get out of jail free" card for doing the same thing. So much for your vaunted the shiny robe of sanctity being ripped off [Catholic] epistemology argument.

After all, if you are criticizing a method of knowledge on the part of Catholics, then you cannot see St. John framing doctrine with pagan terms as acceptable. I explained in an earlier weblog entry the position of the Church on the subject of reason. With regards to pagan philosophies, the position of the Church on this matter was aptly explained by Pope Pius XII in his Encyclical Letter Evangelii Praecones:

The Church from the beginning down to our own time has always followed this wise practice: let not the Gospel on being introduced into any new land destroy or extinguish whatever its people possess that is naturally good, just or beautiful. For the Church, when she calls people to a higher culture and a better way of life, under the inspiration of the Christian religion, does not act like one who recklessly cuts down and uproots a thriving forest. No, she grafts a good scion upon the wild stock that it may bear a crop of more delicious fruit.

Although owing to Adam's fall, human nature is tainted with original sin, yet it has in itself something that is naturally Christian {Cf. Tertull., Apologet., cap. XVII; ML, 1, 337A}; and this, if illumined by divine delight and nourished by God's grace, can eventually be changed into true and supernatural virtue.

This is the reason why the Catholic Church has neither scorned nor rejected the pagan philosophies. Instead, after freeing them from error and all contamination she has perfected and completed them by Christian revelation. So likewise the Church has graciously made her own the native art and culture which in some countries is so highly developed. She has carefully encouraged them and has brought them to a point of aesthetic perfection that of themselves they probably would never have attained. By no means has sherepressed native customs and traditions but has given them a certain religious significance; she has even transformed their feast days and made them serve to commemorate the martyrs and to celebrate mysteries of the faith. [Pope Pius XII: Encyclical Letter Evangelii Praecones §56-58 (c. 1951)]

One of those feast days which was transferred was the feast of Christmas which was placed in the fourth century very near if not right on the Feast of Sol Invictus - a pagan festival worshipping someone they believed was the god of the sun. Unless you plan to boycott this feast on December 25th, you are implicated in the same kind of "fundamental problems" that other Christians are who celebrate this holiday. And of course as you are not about to rip the first chapter of the Gospel of John from your Bible, please avoid throwing rhetorical jabs which will only boomerang back at your own positions. (And avoid teaching other Protestants the same thing.)

I wasn't saying the RCC obscures its axiomatic understanding of "the Church". Rather, I'm trying to point Protestants to possible ways of dealing with that.

I do not consider "The Reformed Shuffle" a viable approach for anyone to be taking Tim.

In my experience, Catholics like to just toss their axioms out there and then offer all kind of "evidence" that they say support the axioms.

The fact is, none of us likes to reinvent the wheel on every discussion. And for those who do, there is recourse to axioms. But kindly do not pretend that you do not have your own axioms as well. History because of its complexity can be used in cut and paste fashion to support a whole variety of opinions. I will not deny that Catholics can see more in there than there is; however non-Catholics often ignore or downplay parts that do not bode well for their particular outlooks. (Presuming of course that they even care what history says and do not write it off completely.)

But strangely enough, when one actually gets "deep in history" as they are always telling us to do, and becomes able to rebut their most well-developed historical arguments...

Tim, I have seen no substantial confutations of many Catholic arguments from history by Protestants or Orthodox. And I have been dialoguing with Protestant and Orthodox apologists for years. In truth, with very few cases,{3} Protestants tend to embarrass themselves when they discuss Church history and Catholic teaching as it pertains to the latter. This is in large part because the Catholic position can shed a lot of stuff and still remain solid - stuff that often tangles Catholic critics and causes a lot of majoring in minors.

...they just retreat to the axioms and say "Well, you just don't have faith in the Objective Revelation." It may be that there's no way to get them to stop doing this.

Tim, as Catholics hold that (i) Christianity is a revealed religion and (ii) certain tenets we hold as core parts of that religion are also revealed, then obviously (iii) there is a natural axiomatic element to it to some extent.{4} This is no different than what Reformeds do with Westminster Confession and TULIP -as you by your own admission in dialogue a few years ago told me that these were accepted as "derivatively infallible." So, if you still hold to this view, then you are just as axiomatic with them as any Catholic is with the papacy.


{1} Except maybe Pope Paul VI's 1967 Professio. But if Tierney took this thinking that it abrogated the Professio from Vatican I he would be seriously in error as Paul's profession must be understood in light of the Vatican I professio. And I doubt Tierney could in conscience take the professio from Vatican I. (To say nothing about the Professio promulgated in 1989 by Pope John Paul II which is required for any theologian or scholar who would claim to teach in the name of the Church.)

{2} It is very common, doubtless, especially in religious controversy, to confuse infallibility with certitude, and to argue that, since we have not the one, we have not the other, for that no one can claim to be certain on any point, who is not infallible about all; but the two words stand for things quite distinct from each other. For example, I remember for certain what I did yesterday, but still my memory is not infallible; I am quite certain that two and two make four, but I often make mistakes in long addition sums. I have no doubt whatever that John or Richard is my true friend, but I have before now trusted those who failed me, and I may do so again before I die.

A certitude is directed to this or that particular proposition, it is not a faculty or gift, but a disposition of mind relative to the definite case which is before me. Infallibility, on the contrary, is just that which certitude is not; it is a faculty or gift, and relates, not to some one truth in particular, but to all possible propositions in a given subject-matter. We ought, in strict propriety, to speak not of infallible acts, but of acts of infallibility...

I am quite certain that Victoria is our Sovereign, and not her father, the late Duke of Kent, without laying any claim to the gift of infallibility as I may do a virtuous action, without being impeccable. I may be certain that the Church is infallible, while I am myself a fallible mortal; otherwise, I cannot be certain that the Supreme Being is infallible, until I am infallible myself. It is a strange objection, then, which is sometimes urged against Catholics, that they cannot prove and assent to the Church's infallibility, unless they first believe in their own. Certitude, as I have said, is directed to one or other definite concrete proposition. I am certain of proposition one, two, three, four, or five, one by one, each by itself. I may be certain of one of them, without being certain of the rest; that I am certain of the first makes it neither likely nor unlikely that I am certain of the second; but were I infallible, then I should be certain, not only of one of them, but of all, and of many more besides, which have never come before me as yet. Therefore we may be certain of the infallibility of the Church, while we admit that in many things we are not, and cannot be, certain at all. It is wonderful that a clearheaded man, like Chillingworth, sees this as little as the run of everyday objectors to the Catholic Religion..." [John Henry Newman: An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent pg. 224; 225-26 (c. 1870)]

{3} Among a few examples I could mention here amongst Protestants would be Edwin Tait, Walt Tappert, Keith Mathison, and of course yourself. That is not to say that you guys are the only ones -as I can think of a few other personages I have dialogued with some of whom I know only by internet monikers- but the list is a short one. And none of the bigtime highest-profile Protestant web apologists are on it.

{4} For revealed (or supernatural) truths cannot by their very nature be fully discerned from the light of reason alone (or sola ratio if you will).

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Thursday, October 23, 2003

Weblog Reclassifications:

I have not done much with the weblog margin links for many moons - basically just adding new ones and reclassifying inactive ones. Thus, it was necessary to get to it now before I update the site again and end up losing that part of the sequence in the shuffle. However, even what was done today is not all that needs to be done but I will touch on this briefly in the post you are now reading.

Basically, I have grouped the St. Blog's weblogs in sequence of most frequently read to least frequently read amongst the Catholic weblogs categorically. However, it would be wrong to read the order they are in as a kind of "ranking" of frequency read because that is not what I was doing with these classifications. (I was merely making a distinction between the blogs in the frequency I read them and nothing more.) And of course what I read most frequently is not a set-in-stone thing and depends a lot on the subjects I want to read about and who writes most on them/least on them, etc. Anyway, I wanted to note this lest anyone scanning the list get the wrong idea.

Some of those classified as "not as frequently read" would be read more frequently if the people blogged more. Others simply at this time are not read as frequently - though again all of this is subject to future change. The "occasional indulgence" is just that: a grouping of those weblogs that I have come to only occasionally read in recent months. None of the weblogs under Ecumenical Jihad or the political categorizations are subject to the same kinds of shifts but then again, they tend to be pretty single subject oriented to some extent and often provide a balance or emphasis in a particular area that the Catholic weblogs often do not.

Far be it from me to tell anyone what they should write on - indeed I quite like the variety of different weblog themes at St. Blogs and in the blogosphere in general. However, I do like everyone have certain reading patterns and until I get RSS on this weblog -which will require me updating my operating system first and upgrading to Blogger Pro- I can only go on what I have the inclination to read from others as well as interact with my mail. (Neither of which I ever have enough time to do to the extent I would like to.)

As far as additions and adjustments of the weblogs go, more than the current reshuffling of St. Blog's member blogs took place. I finally got around to changing the links to the new Fructus Ventris BLOG and also to Greg Krehbiel's BLOG. I also finally reclassified John Betts' weblog to inactive status: something I should have done a couple of months ago but kept forgetting to do.{1} Among the new weblogs added were Alan Phipp's Ad Altare Dei BLOG (which I have been reading more of lately) as well as Mary H's Ever New BLOG.

When I get RSS, the manner of classification as well as how many weblogs I can monitor at once will probably go up dramatically. But until then, the current primitive pattern I follow will have to remain as is.


{1} I still have the old JunkYard BLOG site up there now as I keep forgetting to change the margin blog link. (I hope to remember to do it before the weekend is out.) I also forgot to add Apolonio's weblog link again and hope to do that soon as well.


Wednesday, October 22, 2003

You're good. Almost as good as a Sig but are cheaper. Thats why the US military chose you. You're kinda scary.
Beretta92fs. You're good. Almost as good as a Sig
but are cheaper. Thats why the US military
chose you. You're kinda scary.

What handgun are you?
brought to you by Quizilla


For additional perspective on the Terri Schiavo situation, please consider this link from De Fidei Oboedienta.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2003

A mighty fine fisking of the idiotarian Register Editorial Board can be read HERE.

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"Turn Back the Clock" Dept.
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

[I jotted most of these notes down the Sunday before last after a training session: my first in eons. -ISM]

Tired of lying in the sunshine
Staying home to watch the rain...
And you are young and life is long
And there is time to kill today...

And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun...

A couple of months ago when cleaning up my home office and sorting through boxes of papers and other saved items, I ran across the last pages of my old training log. As I had been contemplating a return to regular workouts for the first time in over seven years, the journal was helpful in knowing not only what was successful last time but what mistakes were made that made progress slower than it otherwise could have been.

Pardon me while I digress a bit as this will provide another side to this weblog writer that has hardly if ever been touched on in recent years - regardless of the particular subject of the forums I have been involved in. (Religious, political, social, philosophical, etc.)

The pages I found from the journal span from February 2, 1996 through April 24, 1996 comprising of twenty-two training sessions. (I hope to dig up the entire journal spanning from 1993-1996 - as it was only in 1993 that I really began implementing the principles I am now talking about in a systematic method.{1}) The wonder of it all (in retrospect) is not as much that we made gains practically every session for two and a half years out of our three year tenure but that we made any at all under the circumstances.

I say this with all seriousness in retrospect because about all we had going for us at the time we started this endeavour other than the relative youth{2} of a couple of post-college kids and good health was my study of exercise science which used to be something that I was zealous to perfect. Having years earlier concluded that the stuff commonly taught in gyms and even in training magazines was deficient in numerous ways,{3} I had come to recognize in essence what I believed then (and still believe now) to be the only valid scientific approach to productive bodybuilding exercise - one that maximized stress and minimized time as well as duration spent in the endeavour.

If memory serves (and it has to as I cannot find the journal notes to substantiate it), my training partner and I peaked strength-wise in November -December of 1995. I say this because the poundages we were using in these pages on the compound exercises (bench presses, squats, barbell rows, etc) are not what we used in the last two months of 1995.{4}

In retrospect, we should have taken a month off to rest -as that would have facilitated a continued improvement in training sessions when we resumed- but at the time the telltale signs were not as clear to me as they should have been. For one thing, I notice on 2/02 that only my training partner trained legs and I did not. (Instead, I did only cardio -five sets of 100 with the jump rope-followed immediately with a fifteen minute treadmill session.)

My guess since I cannot recall the immediate reason for this was that I was trying to reduce the overall stress on my body at the time and -in my case- missing a leg workout was the most viable way to do this. (Since leg training was the most intense of all the sessions and I was not hurting for thigh strength and size.) While it is true that this kind of approach enables the body to recover quicker, at the same time if the problem area is in need of direct rest, this approach is not as beneficial.

Sandwiched between this and the next weight training session was a period of only cardiovascular training which I will touch on in a moment. Looking at the workout from 2/19, I notice that we were doing less reps with lighter weight than we were in late 1995. (Where we were handling about forty pounds more on the bench and the barbell row, thirty pounds more on the squat, and about twenty pounds more on various arm exercises.) Many reasons present themselves as possible but in retrospect, as I scan these pages, we were training too much at the time.

I say this despite the fact that the sessions were all between 30 and 45 minutes. I also say this despite the fact that we totalled less work sets training the entire body in a week than many bodybuilders would do for an individual body part in a single workout.{5}) If I had a wayback machine, among the things I would tell the younger me to avoid would be doing too many workouts a week and to not extend our sets as far past failure as we were wont to do.

In short, as much as this might sound too good to be true,{6} there was a downside to this approach as well. At the time my training partner{7} and I were starting to feel the grind of averaging 4-6 hours a night sleep coupled with (i) an often physical work day regimen (ii) ultra intense training sessions with (iii) mediocre nutrition at best. It was only a matter of time before the threads began to show on the tread and I can see them in these journal pages. However, I could not see them then which is a testament to what happens when one is wearing blinders.

This is not to say that there had not been the occasional injury while training before of course. But I can vaguely recall the circumstances involved here and it was a case of the stresses of work and mediocre nutrition making us susceptible to injuries in the gym - even when one strives to use fairly strict form as we did.

I notice for example that on the list I have written "2/05-2/16 - all cardio M-F." For us, cardio was a minor prelude to the workout sessions except early on when we would do fifteen minutes before all training sessions and an all cardio day on Wednesdays. But by this point in the sequence, I would not have had two weeks of "all cardio" if not for the fact that there was some nagging soreness with a couple of body joints or muscles.

If memory serves it was the shoulders in both cases -particularly my training partner's left shoulder which had been an occasional problem all along. Even though we did nothing but isolation shoulder exercises (no compound pressing movements as most people are taught to do) the stress on the shoulders from training chest as we were wont to do was still ultra intense.

The arm workout of 2/21 was reasonable but the fact that I specifically wrote "no delts today" seems to confirm my presumption on the matter. The leg workout from 2/23 was a good one -so much so that I added some strongest range squat partials to the routine for that session after a heavy superset of leg extensions and squats. (Why on earth I did this when the delts needed recuperation is beyond me.) Apparently we did not have time for calves that day and it is probably for the best that we did not train them anyway considering the circumstances.

From there we took the usual weekend off and (unexpectedly) Monday as well so we did chest and back on Tuesday including doing the last three sets of the bench press in rest-pause fashion with two negative reps. (An ultra intense method that requires additional rest from rep to rep to complete properly.) The reason I decided to do this (apparently) in the case of my training partner was (as the journal says) "energy problem and stiff shoulder." In my case I managed 1 negative and according to the journal had an "energy problem."

With the decline press which followed (presumably to take some direct stress off the shoulders) I wrote "no more energy and stiff shoulder" for my partner and "no energy left" in my case. The fact that we had not even started training the back and were out of energy is not a good sign - particularly since we were coming off of a three day rest period.

In doing the pulldowns (reverse grip palms up a close grip is the only way to do pullups properly for best progress btw), my training partner had a regression in weight and I handled more weight but for less reps. With rowing, my training partner improved over the previous session in both weight and form whereas my form was "ok" and I had a grip problem. And both of us had grip problems with the shrugs that day, my partner had to regrip at reps 4 and 6 whereas my grip gave out at 6 and apparently I was not able to re-grip at all.

The next session was legs which we did on 3/01 after skipping the arms and shoulders session to give the shoulders a rest. Again I am wondering why I was not seeing the writing on the wall here. The leg routine was an improvement over the previous week but we had both done a lot better in other sessions in late 1995.

The workout on 3/04 was good as far as the bench press goes but on the decline press I noted that (in my partner's case) "shoulder binds again" and in my case "shoulders sore more than usual." The back workouts were plagued with grip problems again which should have been a hint to me that a scheduled layoff was needed. Moving right along, the leg session was another improvement but not where we had previously been so I will not dwell on it at all.

The workout on 3/11 appears to have been the final straw in the sense that I had to modify the next workout and make one compound chest exercise preceded in pre-exhaustion fashion with an isolation chest exercise. (As our shoulders could not handle two compound movements with the kind of intensity we utilized - along with other factors like sub par nutrition and a lack of solid sleep.)

On the 3/11 workout we were approaching the levels we had achieved previously with the bench press three months earlier- except with the reps where we only got four apiece. The notes are again instructive to these much wiser eyes but somehow at the time I was oblivious to it writing (though I will not mention names) "xxxx's shoulders were much worse than normal, mine were completely shot beyond belief." Rather than call it a chest workout we decided to do dips instead of decline press which "compounded problem for both of us." And apparently it was so bad that it affected my pulldowns - despite an improvement from the previous session and the rows (which do not even work the muscles in question).

The notes from 3/13 are a testimony to what happens when someone does not read the signs of the times - which in our case was the onset of overtraining. In retrospect, this had been haunting us since January of 1996 - as we had peaked physically in the week before Christmas, 1995.

A person of youth does not recognize the limits that the body has in these kinds of areas. Even those a couple of years out of college (as we were) can be obtuse to it in their attempts to push on towards greater progress. And as we made a continuous progress almost every training session up to around December of 1995,{8} there is an addiction to that as most people do not make progress in training on a predictable pattern as we were --due to faulty training principles on their part.{9}

We though used proper methodology and therefore were able to make progress predictably and constantly: two factors which conventional wisdom would claim cannot be done without (i) favourable genetics or (ii) chemical enhancement. Those who wonder why I have little use for "conventional wisdom" in *any* field: it all goes back to this. But of course, as much as I prided myself at figuring out what few people in the field could do with this endeavour, I nonetheless still had an insufficient understanding myself - particularly with regards to the subject of exercise tolerance. As I told my training partner before we started this endeavour in early 1993: "forget what you know about weight training because you have never remotely done anything like we are about to do."{10}

Nonetheless, all stresses take their toll and by March of 1996, we were clearly at the breaking point. My notes for the 3/13 workout bear this out as they read "Due to extreme shoulder pain, arm training was limited. Xxxx also had sore arms, esp. the right one. I worked out with Tiger Balm on shoulders (esp. the right one) which helped somewhat." And amazingly enough, we still did isolation exercises for the delts. (Which though not touching the same muscles which were sore nonetheless were close enough to warrant not doing the exercises.)

From there we took four days off and went through a lot of Tiger Balm before resuming on Monday the 18th with a reconstituted chest workout. From there through the month the workouts were productive with every session again and I had finally gotten the message as to just how intense the kind of training we were doing really was - even with a workload about half as much as it was in the first year of our sessions.{11} My training partner's back was sore on 3/22 which warranted him doing isolated T Bar rows on 3/24 instead of the usual barbell rows. (I look back now and think "just take a day off".)

The workout on 3/29 brings to mind a very scary memory. We were training legs and I had just completed a heavy set of leg extensions to failure and immediately gone to the piled up squat bar to finish off the thighs.{12} After four reps, I was starting a fifth rep when according to my journal "belt came off in mid rep." I remember this because it freaked me out at the time but we got the bar back to the rack without me being injured. (Apparently since I followed it up with four strongest range partials with the same weight to compensate for the set being terminated short of failure.)

However, the note on my set of leg curls was that I completed 8 reps and "my back prevented further reps." So I am guessing (as I do not recall that part happening) that I had some back spasms as a result of the squat incident. Fortunately it did not apparently affect the calf sets as we finished those sets strong. From there, we took two weeks off from training with weights.

From there, we did only five more sessions before terminating training for what at the time was going to be a temporary layoff. Little did I suspect that the "temporary layoff" would stretch seven and a half years -an interim in which I did a handful of training sessions at best and though all were intense, none were done with the same kind of intensity that I did previously. (For reasons too numerous to detail in brief.) On the last two chest and back sessions, our poundages for the bench were down but that is because we were pre-exhausting chest first.{13} For that reason, I have no problem with the fact that we were handling thirty fewer pounds for the exercise. The workout following that saw another increase in weight both for the isolation exercise as well as the compound exercise.

With the arm exercises we were utilizing possibly the most ultra intense principle there is on three of the reps of the set. (Though only my partner did them that session and only with barbell curls: presumably he felt extra strong that day.) The last leg session was 4/18 and I handled less weight that session deliberately because of what happened with the previous session. (Twenty-five pounds less actually.)

I note though that after four reps "vertebrate went out" but I do not remember that happening. Nonetheless, that would explain the programmed layoff starting on 4/25. (In my training partner's case, to rest his shoulder and other aches.) It would also explain why I did no bent rows on the back session of 4/22 - though neither did my training partner. He did an extra set of shrugs though and I for some reason still did shrugs that session.

The last arm workout we used the same weight but increased the number of reps with curls - and both did used ultra intensity on three reps of the set of curls. By this point, we had moved from two compound movements for the arm muscles to only one - and had ceased super-setting triceps training as was our wont to do probably because of the need to reduce overall stress. (Indeed we ceased this all the way back on 3/13 - the notes of which I already posted and which explain themselves.)

Lots of food for musing as I have gotten back into the swing of things - determined to turn back the clock physically as much as I can in the coming year. My last chest and back workout was twenty minutes of hellish intensity.{14} As I gear up for my next session of chest and back -which I will do on Wednesday or Thursday and which will comprise twenty minutes of its own hell- looking back on these notes reminds me of what worked and what did not.

With a few adjustments to accompany the fact that I am not the youthful specimen I was then -as well as the greater refinement of my knowledge in this field during the interim- I am confident that I can exceed my previous bests in lifting if not in 2004 then definitely in 2005. And I have these notes to remind me to keep a level head as well as my humility in this endeavour. Unlike before, I am more acquainted with the limitations of the human body now. And given a choice between younger, stronger, less informed, and more stubborn versus older, weaker, wiser, and more informed, I will take the latter any day of the week and twice on Sundays.


{1} Prior to that time I had about a three year hiatus between training sessions in which I formulated my understanding of these concepts. Prior to 1990, I trained in the same blind and non-theoretical way that most people do who step into a gym and acquire a personal trainer - and was not optimistic about obtaining regular progress. (Except with my thighs which for some reason have always gained reasonably well despite my relative ignorance of what I was doing from the earliest of ages.)

{2} Which the particular field we were involved in -coupled with factors like insufficient sleep and poor nutrition- was sapping from us at a rapid rate.

{3} Methodologically, physiologically, etc. without either excellent genetics or massive quantities of steroids.

{4} In terms of poundages used for exercises in reasonably strict fashion: we had doubled our strength in many exercises between mid 1993 and late 1995 and saw 50-75% increases in most other exercises as well. A bit of this was the regaining of previous capabilities but in all areas we broke new ground and significantly so compared to where we were at in high school and college. In retrospect, it could have been even better than it was if I knew then what I know now.

{5} Initially, we trained four times a week and later on reduced the workouts to three a week. (With the sets per session cut back from ten to twelve to about five to seven.) Most of the other in the gym who were training with weights -even a few who were much bigger than we were- were not increasing either their reps, their poundages or both on virtually a workout by workout basis as we were. (Yes, I was actually monitoring their progress.) On top of that, they were training much longer than we were as well as twice as often. This is not to come across as boastful but only to highlight that there *is* a value in using correct methodology regardless of the endeavour you are involved in. (We made enough mistakes ourselves to avoid having much room for boasting I assure you.)

{6} After all, who does not want to see progress on almost every set of every session of a workout???

{7} Who was also a business partner whom I was to have a falling out with about fifteen months later.

{8} I can recall reaching my peak three lift total around Christmas. However, as it was not a matter of pure singles but instead what one could do for 4-6 reps minus pre-exhaust or other means of fatiguing the target muscles before the set, I am not sure exactly what my highest poundages in those lifts would have been. (As I was too worried about injury to try and attempt them.)

{9} And this includes most certified trainers who do not properly understand the science of productive training.

{10} And I have said that or similar statements to everyone I have put through training sessions and not a single one of them has disagreed with that assessment.

{11} In 1993-1994 we were doing almost twice as much in volume as we did in 1994-1996. I reduced the volume because I sensed that we were handling too much weight and utilizing too many added intensity techniques and would have to cut back to avoid overtraining. (Plus one of my mentors in this field -and the one who most influenced my knowlege of exercise science and the application of its key principles- was advocating reduced volume from those original levels as well.) Even with our original sessions, we were still doing less in a week training the whole body than most people who train the conventional way do in a single workout session for only a portion of the body. (And of course making far more progress than those who trained via "conventional wisdom.")

{12} This was one of the very few exercises where I handled significantly more weight than my training partner did. (Generally we were about the same strength on most exercises.)

{13} Meaning that we were training with an isolation exercise to failure and immediately jumping to the bench with either no rest or as little as possible. (Usually it was about a five second interval to get situated on the bench and grip the bar: not exactly "rest" when you train in this fashion.)

{14} About a week earlier, I did a ten minute arm session. (Two total sets and my arms were sore for five days afterwards.) And it was at that session that I decided to start phasing back into things with the upper body. (The legs can wait for now.)


Miscellaneous Mutterings:

I worked a little on an update feature which I will post probably tomorrow - one of those multiple post updates from a favourite weblog of mine on certain subjects. In the meantime, a small sampling from Ann Coulter's book Treason can be read HERE. (If memory serves, it is from chapter three.) Liberal Democrats in particular should not skip the link as they have a lot of obtuseness that needs to be dislodged and they might as well start with the truth about Joseph McCarthy and the treason of the liberals since the Roosevelt Administration (with few exceptions).

Moving from that subject to my supposedly "classical liberal formulations" on the subjects of rights and conscience, the following will briefly clarify the matter as discussed on Jeff Culbreath's weblog. (Pertaining to my previous weblog entry titled Traditional Moral Principles.) Jeff's words will be in dark faded cyan colour and Jim Kalb's words will be in dark orange.

While I greatly appreciate his stalwart defense of my rights as a printer, nevertheless I am uncomfortable with the classical liberal formulations that seem to cement his argument. He writes:

"For one cannot demand liberty for a particular faculty for themselves which they then turn around and deny to others: this stance is blatantly hypocritical ... if one demands liberty for their own conscience, then they must extend the same to the consciences of others who do not agree with them. Thus, the homosexual activists who would appeal to not being coerced against their conscience -by enemies either real or imagined- cannot be credible in their complaints if they are hypocritically trying to coerce the consciences of those who do not agree with them."

Is this really true?

I believe it is, yes. One should be consistent with their principles. And prefacing the point noted above was the following statement:

Whatever your view is on Jeff's religious convictions, those who value being true to conscience and of not coercing people to violate their consciences (ala the "liberty of conscience" crowd) need to stop and consider whether they are being true to their own principles.

In other words, those who are making the claim for themselves have to in order to be consistent not deny it to others.

Many people make appeals to conscience in order to excuse their misdeeds.

No argument there.

The fact is that homosexuals should not be extended "freedom of conscience" when it comes to acting upon their homosexual desires.

If you notice, I did not refer to freedom of conscience apart from other key factors - including the notion of public order. And appeals to freedom of conscience in matters that involve the undermining of the public order cannot be sanctioned by any society interested in its own survival.

More to the point, public authorities should grant freedom to Catholic printers while restricting the propogation of homosexualist literature -- or any literature which undermines the social order.

Agreed. And all of that falls under the role of government in regulating the public order of society against those who would commit abuses under the pretext of freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, or any other alleged "freedom." As the subject of religious freedom is directly linked with all freedoms of conscience properly understood, the principles governing the exercise of both are in my view the same. And of course the principles governing religious freedom were spelled out in the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae from the Second Vatican Council:

It is in accordance with their dignity as persons--that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility--that all men should be at once impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth. However, men cannot discharge these obligations in a manner in keeping with their own nature unless they enjoy immunity from external coercion as well as psychological freedom. Therefore the right to religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature. [Second Vatican Council: Declaration Dignitatis Humanae §1 (c. 1965)]

Obviously a right that is founded on the nature of the person and not on subjective dispositions, does not stand alone but indeed has corresponding responsibilities attached to it. And in the sentence that completes the above statement, these are touched on briefly with the following words:

In consequence, the right to this immunity continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it and the exercise of this right is not to be impeded, provided that just public order be observed. [Second Vatican Council: Declaration Dignitatis Humanae §1 (c. 1965)]

In other words, the right is to stand unimpeded provided that there is proper observance of just public order. And to remind my readers, "public order" is not a vague or ambiguous sentiment but was defined by DH as follows:

The right to religious freedom is exercised in human society: hence its exercise is subject to certain regulatory norms. In the use of all freedoms the moral principle of personal and social responsibility is to be observed. In the exercise of their rights, individual men and social groups are bound by the moral law to have respect both for the rights of others and for their own duties toward others and for the common welfare of all. Men are to deal with their fellows in justice and civility.

Furthermore, society has the right to defend itself against possible abuses committed on the pretext of freedom of religion. It is the special duty of government to provide this protection. However, government is not to act in an arbitrary fashion or in an unfair spirit of partisanship. Its action is to be controlled by juridical norms which are in conformity with the objective moral order. These norms arise out of the need for the effective safeguard of the rights of all citizens and for the peaceful settlement of conflicts of rights, also out of the need for an adequate care of genuine public peace, which comes about when men live together in good order and in true justice, and finally out of the need for a proper guardianship of public morality.

These matters constitute the basic component of the common welfare: they are what is meant by public order. [Second Vatican Council: Declaration Dignitatis Humanae §7 (c. 1965)]

And as the guarding of public morality as well as the promulgation of governing norms in accordance with objective moral order are necessary to defend society from abuses under the pretext of religious freedom, the same is necessary with any claim to exercise a particular "freedom" claimed by individuals or groups. In short, Jeff and I affirm the same thing albeit by a different approach.

When I was business broker a few years back, I picked up a book on the desk of a colleague and was stunned at what I had read. It was a slick-looking book about how to commit mail order fraud and get away with it! No kidding! Yet this hideous book was legally printed and sold by mainstream book outlets. All in the name of "freedom of the press", no doubt. It is hard to imagine what kind of "conscience" would justify printing this book, but this is not harder than imagining what kind of conscience would justify the practice or promotion of homosexuality.

Agreed. And a government that conformed their juridical prescriptions in accordance with the objective moral order for safeguarding public morality would not allow such works to freely circulate. (As they contribute to the undermining of the public order of society.)

Therefore, I think Catholics should be very careful about adopting the language of "freedom" and "rights" unless they are unequivocal about the kinds of things to which legitimate freedom does not apply.

I believe I have been very precise and unequivocal - not only in my previous post but also in this one as well as all posts where I have discussed the subject of rights and free speech in general. My rationale is consistent.

The part of McElhinney's comment you quoted doesn't commit to liberal rights and the liberal conception of conscience, it just demands that those who assert such things be consistent. So it's consistent with the view that in fact the rights of conscience include neither the right to homosexual activity nor the right to print materials that favor it.


Having said that, I agree it's a bad argument to rely on, because I don't see that liberal rights necessarily require free speech for homophobes in this setting.

The point quoted was simply intended to shame those who would persecute Jeff for speaking his mind when they continually assert the right to say whatever they want to under the pretext of "liberty of conscience." Any theory if it is to be viable cannot be internally contradictory. And as the liberal theory -supported by the theses of an unfettered freedom of conscience and an unfettered freedom of speech- is internally contradictory, it cannot stand up as a viable paradigm to follow. A position that is consistent is not necessarily true; however falsehoods inevitably exist in a position that is intrinsically inconsistent. And the liberal position on this is inconsistent.

Furthermore, as I noted already, there is no separation in my theory of the concepts of liberty of conscience and the requirements of public order. While I agree that the passage Jeff quotes taken by itself is not a strong argument, taken with the other parts of the theory it contributes to a strong defense.

Our sexual practices touch us more closely than our commercial practices. That's why sodomy strikes traditional Catholics as worse than shortchanging a customer. That's also why liberals consider homophobia worse than violating commercial freedom.

True. But liberals who whine about "blacklisting", "inquisitions", and "oppression" come across as hypocrites when they try to get people to boycott the businesses of those they disagree with (read: blacklisting). Likewise, they are hypocrites when they harrass such people in the press or via government or private agencies (read: inquisition). And of course, when they try to shut off from the field of debate a person's viewpoint that they deem offensive simply because it differs from their own (read: oppression). In short, their very weltanschauung is marinated in hypocrisy.

It seems to me it would be quite rational for a liberal to say your lesbian customer should win: your disrespect for her sexual practices is a greater affront to the liberal conception of human dignity, because it relates to something that touches her more closely, than her disrespect for your commercial practices.

I disagree. Whatever the lesbian customer does in her private life is her business. But when she seeks to advertise it and solicits Jeff's business to provide the means of advertisement, she is then trying to get Jeff to sanction with his property her opinions which he does not countenance.

As the right to production is one of the three fundamental rights of man -and precede all legislation- she is violating a fundamental right of Jeff's while Jeff by exercising his freedom of conscience to not give her views airtime (or presstime) does not violate her right of free speech. She can say whatever she wants; however others are not required to give her a microphone or a forum to say it.

The basic problem with the arguement you quote is that it presumes to do a better job of drawing conclusions from liberal premises than liberals do.

Please read my entire argument Jim. You will see that the argument is not as "liberal" as you may presume it is.

There are lots of intelligent, philosophically-minded liberals, and most of them agree with your customer more than with McElhinney.

So??? I was unaware that truth was a matter of Zogby polling. If the position of the liberals you refer to is internally inconsistent and teeming with hypocrisy, why should I or anyone else take them seriously??? Intelligent people often defend facile arguments based on faulty presuppositions. My position is neither inconsistent or hypocritical. Therefore, on those points at the very least my thesis is head and shoulders above the "intelligent" or "philosophically-minded liberals" you refer to.

So why not trust them to draw correct conclusions from their own premises and concentrate on presenting premises and conclusions that are consistent with Catholicism?

My entire approach is based on the philosophical principles of a great economist and statesman of the nineteenth century who was heavily influenced by Catholicism{1} and also the teaching of the Catholic Church exercising her supreme magisterium in ecumenical council. In short, my premises and conclusions are quite consistent with Catholicism but at the same time are capable of being applied to those who are not Catholic as well.

"For one cannot demand liberty for a particular faculty for themselves which they then turn around and deny to others: this stance is blatantly hypocritical ... if one demands liberty for their own conscience, then they must extend the same to the consciences of others who do not agree with them."

I thank Mr. Kalb for his insightful comment. With respect to the quote referenced above, I demand liberty for my conscience as a printer, but do not wish to extend the same liberty of conscience to my adversaries. Is this hypocrisy?

It depends on how you are doing it Jeff. You are not required to extend to them your property (i.e. printing) to make their views known. Further still, as any right properly understood entails a corresponding responsibility, it becomes an issue of grounding one's right to express their views as subservient to the public order of society.

You and your adversary both claim a right to conscience. But of the two, which of you can show that your view is (to paraphrase DH) "in accordance with objective moral order" or involves "a proper guardianship of public morality"??? The one who can demonstrate this has a right to liberty of their conscience unimpeded by civil authority. The one who cannot does not.

The answer is that the highest Catholic standard is not ultimately one of liberty or conscience: it is a standard of objective truth and goodness.

I understand where you are going here; however how is this going to convince someone who asserts that your claims of objective truth are merely your opinions???

Liberty of conscience is a positive good because it is a practical concession to man's fallen condition.

Liberty of conscience is like religious liberty: it has its foundation not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature" (DH §2). In short, it is far from a concession to fallen condition since it is a part of human nature. However, it has certain restrictions on it much as any right does.

Liberalism, however, makes it an *ultimate* good, and therefore suggests moral equivalence where none exists.

True. The Catholic understanding of this right is that it is limited to the search for truth but ceases once the truth is attained. Or to again quote DH:

[A]ll men should be at once impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth. [Second Vatican Council: Declaration Dignitatis Humanae §2 (c. 1965)]

I go over this principle in more detail when I posted A Few Notes On Dignitatis Humanae back in July of this year.

Perhaps Shawn means to say that it is hypocritical of those who believe in the absolute supremacy of conscience to deny the free exercise of conscience to others.

That is exactly what I was saying - as a prelude thesis to my overarching theory on the three fundamental rights of man.

But we're not in that camp.

Not yet but we will be. Just as in chess or krokano, it pays to look at least a few moves ahead if not several. And that is what I set out to do with the thesis.

Yes, I think that's what Shawn means to say.

Yes, that is what I said.

And a problem with making the argument is that a lesbian customer's exercise of conscience can conflict with a traditionalist Catholic printer's exercise of conscience, because the latter's refusal to print burdens the former's free promotion of her conscientiously chosen way of life, and even her ability to live it freely and openly in an environment that doesn't cover it with shame.

Aah but you are making the mistake of presuming that just because she has a right to express herself that Jeff has to utilize his property to give her that means. Jeff is under no obligation to do that. He is no more required to do that than the lesbian is to make a generous contribution of her salary to the Catholic Church earmarked for printing and distributing materials which proscribe the homosexual agenda and lifestyle.

If you would assert that she is not required to utilize her property to promote an agenda contrary to hers, then you must also recognize that Jeff is not required to put his property up for promoting her agenda.

So a principled liberal has to resolve the conflict.

"Principled" and "liberal" are generally antonymous concepts in today's philosophical climate Jim...

Shawn is convinced that the principled liberal has to find in favor of the printer. I don't see why.

Because a principled liberal who espouses freedom of speech has to extend the same freedom to those who disagree with them, that is why.

If tolerance -- acceptance of what other people conscientiously choose for themselves -- is the supreme virtue, why shouldn't a principled liberal, in case of a conflict, favor conscientious activity that accepts tolerance over conscientious activity that does not?

But we all know that tolerance is not the supreme virtue to a liberal. (And it is not difficult to demonstrate this.) Therefore, since the first part of your question is falsified, the corollary extension you build from it does not need to be interacted with as it has no foundation left on which to stand.

Having noted that, I need to turn in now as it is my birthday and this aging body and mind need their sleep. With God's will and your readership, I shall blog again...


{1} See the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Claude-Frederic Bastiat. I came to his writings -and assimilated the concepts of his magnum opus- unaware that he was so thoroughly Catholic in his outlook.

The Law was written in the final year of his life around the time of his reacquaintance with the Church. I recommend it without hesitation to anyone of a conservative persuasion who wants to supply order to their thinking on the subjects of law and economics in a Christian society.

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