Dealing with apparent contradictions in Church teaching
(08-23-2012, 02:20 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote:
(08-23-2012, 05:52 AM)TrentCath Wrote:
Quote:The point here is that St. Paul talks about pagan religion as pointing toward God. He does not think that it is totally false or manmade, as the secularists would have it. Instead, he tells us that man's natural religious impulse finds its fulfillment in the worship of the true God. The fact that he cites the pagan poet Aratus is also relevant.

a) not quite, he points to an unknown God and claims that it is actually God or uses it as a stating point for saying that the true God etc... he by no means suggests that any of their pagan religions pointed towards God or are good, you are not comparing like with like, as has been pointed out to you numerous times
b) you are confusing false and manmade, a religion can be false and made up or inspired by the devil without being made up by man and vice versa, moreover secularists believe the religions are false because man made them up, on the other hand we believe that false religions are false because the devil inspired them

Go read what St. Paul says again:
Quote:That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

The image presented here is of a man blindly feeling his way toward God. In a sense, St. Paul is saying that he has come to redeem this natural religious impulse. What the pagans were searching for ignorantly, St. Paul has come to teach them in full. This is similar to the St. Clements metaphor earlier in which the truths discovered by the pagans are compared to small torches and the revelation of Christ, the sun. The paradox of Christianity is that it finds its foundations in man's natural beliefs and practices, but always in an unexpected way that reveals more of the truth than was previously known.

(08-23-2012, 05:52 AM)TrentCath Wrote:
a) all right
b) I think the Patristic evidence makes it fairly obvious that spiritual beings were not understood in the way that you and other modern people understand them. You might read St. Paul if you wish to learn more about this. Consider that for him even the Old Law was given to Moses by an angel:
Galatians 3:19 Wrote:Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

He then notes:
Galatians 4:3 Wrote:Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:

All I am saying is that it is important to understand the verse you cited in its fuller historical context.

Again, I don't see the relevance, none of that disproves what was previously said or even casts doubt on it.

Okay, but I think it is important to understand what St. Paul and many of the early Fathers thought about the elements and powers of the world. For them, these intelligences are powerful intermediaries through whom God exercises his providence over the world, so they were not thinking in terms of a mechanical universe in which angels and demons only occasionally intervene. And one of the quotations I posted earlier claimed that angels were mistaken for gods by some peoples, so I would not dismiss the idea that the word "daemons" was being used in a broader sense to include different sorts of spiritual beings.

(08-23-2012, 05:52 AM)TrentCath Wrote:
Not quite. Original sin tarnishes creation, but it does not completely destroy its natural desire for God, in whom we live, move, and have our being. And, of course, the whole point of the Atonement was to break the devil's grip on the world, so I do not think that original sin gives us license to create some sort of autonomous realm of the secular. Creation has been corrupted, surely, but its telos remains intact.

Again you are going off on a tangent about secularism etc... things which have nothing to do with the discussion. Now it is quite clear that Satan has a strong grip on this world and that our fight is very much against satan, principalities, powers etc... The world is still marred by original sin and unless you are saying its returned to its original state of innocence, it has not been re-centered around God completely insofar as the consequences of original sin remain and man has further perverted it and himself.

As I said above, the world and the Image of God in man are marred, but this does not mean that the Fall completely destroys the world's connection with God. One can still come to know God through the world, as creaturely being still participates in the beauty, goodness, and truth of God. Really, the world can only ever be centered around God because it exists only as a participation in God, who is Being itself. It has no autonomous existence of its own, and its inner desire for God, which is hypostatized by mankind and the angels, is not changed. And as St. Paul says:
Colossians 2:15 Wrote:And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

(08-23-2012, 05:52 AM)TrentCath Wrote:
but we should acknowledge the fact that pagan philosophy, poetry, and, for St. Thomas, even pagan oracles can be divinely inspired. Pagan doctrine as a whole is not true, but it can contain many true and divinely revealed elements. I think the general sentiment of Patristic and medieval writing on this subject was summed up by Joseph de Maistre when he said that paganism "sparkles with truths, but all distorted and out of place. . . ."

But they are still as a whole:

a) false
b) from the devil

a) no one is saying otherwise.
b) I think we can agree that the devil would actively attempt to continue the existence of these religions when their adherents are confronted with Christianity.

(08-23-2012, 05:52 AM)TrentCath Wrote: a) from God
b) worthy of praise

Again there is a difference from classical paganism, where some of the pagans were indirectly paving the way for God, with righteous pagans such as Cicero, Seneca etc.. and present modern day false religions, for example buddhism which falsely includes demon worship or Islam which was almost certainly inspired by Satan and is a perversion of judaism and Christianity.

a) No one is saying that they come from God as a whole. It is only being suggested that they contain some truths that are from God.
b) Okay

Yes, classical paganism played a special role in preparing the way for Christianity, but I do not see why other religions could not, to a lesser extent, do the same thing in their own cultures. For example, certain schools of Hindu or Taoist thought could be said to be compatible with Christianity in the same way that Neoplatonism was, even though their adherents, as with many of the later Neoplatonists, adhere to paganism. The fact that Plotinus or Proclus remained pagan did not keep the Fathers and scholastics from making extensive use of their work.

Even with Islam, one could say, as certain medieval authors did, that the introduction of monotheism and a stricter code of morality was an improvement over the pagan religions it replaced amongst the Arabs and other pagan peoples.

(08-23-2012, 05:52 AM)TrentCath Wrote:
And if we can say that Homer, Pythagoras, Aeschylus, Plato, Virgil, Hermes Trismegistus, and the Sibyls could have spoken under divine inspiration, I do not see why we should immediately rule out the possibility that the same thing occurred in, say, Hinduism. Classical pagan literature and philosophy obviously hold a special place in Christianity, but this does not mean that other traditions do not also contain some amount of truth. 

But do the fathers actually speak of other pagansim or just classical paganism? Certainly the idea of righteous pagans cannot be applied without distorting it completely to modern day false religions which most certainly do not prepare the way for Christ. 

I don't see why you think that modern religions cannot prepare the way for Christ. The truths that these religions introduce to a people can prepare them for Christianity. Also, "paganism" is just an abstraction. The Fathers often talk about the beliefs and practices of specific peoples. I'm not quite sure they really had the idea of a monolithic paganism.

(08-23-2012, 05:52 AM)TrentCath Wrote:
Quote:Yes, I do not believe that the popes accept the doctrine of total depravity. As I said, though, no one is saying that the post-VII treatment of religions has been perfect. The point is only that believing that Christ is the Divine Word requires us to recognize elements of truth that exist outside of the Church. However, the fact that Christianity is worship of the Divine Word means that these elements of the truth can find their true home only within the Church. None of this allows us to see Christianity as just one religion amongst others against the meaningless backdrop of a nihilistic secularity. Rather, it requires us to say that Christianity just is religion.

Although the popes have in fact said as much?

I don't think the quotations you provide show that any pope has endorsed the position I describe above. Anyway, the idea of "religions" is a modern concept originating in the 16th or 17th century. If you went back to the Middle Ages and started talking to someone about "the religions," he'd think you were talking about the religious orders. "Religion" was also used to denote a virtue, religio, which had to do with the proper worship of God. People in the Middle Ages did not have a term for the modern sociological concept of a religion as some sort of distinct, sealed-off body of doctrine.

(08-23-2012, 05:52 AM)TrentCath Wrote: We can see then quite clearly that:

a) the popes did not have one word of praise for these false religions
b) that those who followed them were in darkness and error
c) that they were totally ignorant of the divine light
d) that they were enemies of the catholic faith
e) that hinduism was vile and full of superstitions
f) even classical paganism is condemned
g) that pagan natons were full of immoral customs and idolotary

What you and people like you don't get is that 'partial truth' 'partial good' is still error, is still darkness, drinking poison mixed with water only prolongs ones inevitable and miserable death.

a) Well, I don't think you've made that obvious, but I would not to expect any pope to praise a false religion in its entirety.
b) Yes
c) I think "totally" would have to be seen as being slightly hyperbolic. If they were totally ignorant of the divine light, they would not know anything at all.
d) Well, that appears to refer only to the Muslims fighting the Crusaders in the Holy Land, but I suppose all followers of false religions can be said to be enemies of Christianity in a certain sense.
e) I don't think anyone is saying that it does not contain many superstitions.
f) As a whole, yes.
g) Right, I don't think anyone would disagree. The claim is only that, while pagan religions contain much error and superstition, they also contain some seeds of the truth.

A) you are still going off on a tangent
B) you haven't read what the popes teach as what I said was a direct quote, so how can you claim it was hyperbole?
C) st Paul does not praise the false religions
D) you have not responded to any of the papal teaching
E) you have not provided any papal teaching to support your claims

The fact is that modern popes teach the opposite of all these previous popes, you haven't even answered or attempted to answer these points but gone on about random stuff.

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Re: Dealing with apparent contradictions in Church teaching - by TrentCath - 08-23-2012, 06:27 PM

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