Dealing with apparent contradictions in Church teaching
(08-22-2012, 07:15 PM)JayneK Wrote:
(08-22-2012, 06:34 PM)INPEFESS Wrote: The faithful must be able to understand the Faith and know what it teaches.

You tend to support your position with quotes from works that I would guess over 99% of Catholics are not familiar with.  The vast majority of the faithful do not think that the Magisterium has abandoned the Faith.  I propose that this is precisely because they understand the the Faith and know what it teaches.  It is a small "gnostic" minority that tries to undermine Magisterial authority with obscure quotes.

???

Ignorance, not even mass ignorance and mass delusion or mass loss of faith, do not make right or truth.
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(08-22-2012, 07:09 PM)TrentCath Wrote:
(08-22-2012, 07:06 PM)JayneK Wrote:
(08-22-2012, 04:35 PM)Scotus Wrote: However, you then go on to say
Quote:However, at times one needs a fairly strong background in theology and/or history to understand why two teachings are different.  People who do not have this background should go to the default position - Church teaching is not in error.  They should assume their lack of knowledge is the reason for their perception of a contradiction.

Now, while this may be true in certain truths that are inherently difficult to understand, however, this surely does not apply to those truths - such as the Divinity of Christ, the moral necessity of belonging to the Church of Christ for salvation, the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin, and so on - that can be grasped easily by a person with an average intellect.

The idea that the truths of the faith can only be understood by those who have formally studied theology or history finds its rebuttal in the saying of Our Lord "I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to the little ones." (Matthew 11:25) A person who is striving to live a virtuous and holy life is more apt to comprehend the truths of the Catholic faith than a theologian or historian who "[has] not the spirit of Christ" (The Imitation of Christ I, 1)

Note that I did qualify my statement by saying "at times" (I have bolded it above). I was not saying that the truths of the Faith can only be understood by those who have formally studied theology or history. However, you are right that I did not clearly deal with the situation you are describing.  A complete treatment of the question I raised would need to include this.

??? Didn't you admit you were wrong to state this?

I admitted that my OP was unclear and over-simplified.  I do still think that "at times one needs a fairly strong background in theology and/or history to understand why two teachings are different."
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(08-22-2012, 07:19 PM)TrentCath Wrote: Ignorance, not even mass ignorance and mass delusion or mass loss of faith, do not make right or truth.

Your position appears to be that the faithful can know the Faith but if they disagree with your conclusions that means they are ignorant of it.
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(08-22-2012, 07:24 PM)JayneK Wrote:
(08-22-2012, 07:19 PM)TrentCath Wrote: Ignorance, not even mass ignorance and mass delusion or mass loss of faith, do not make right or truth.

Your position appears to be that the faithful can know the Faith but if they disagree with your conclusions that means they are ignorant of it.

A caricature and a sophism, this accusation is always used to attack people who have different points of view 'You're just saying that because you disagree with them... ' 'No I'm saying it because its true' 'No its because..'

You get the point.
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(08-22-2012, 07:22 PM)JayneK Wrote:
(08-22-2012, 07:09 PM)TrentCath Wrote:
(08-22-2012, 07:06 PM)JayneK Wrote:
(08-22-2012, 04:35 PM)Scotus Wrote: However, you then go on to say
Quote:However, at times one needs a fairly strong background in theology and/or history to understand why two teachings are different.  People who do not have this background should go to the default position - Church teaching is not in error.  They should assume their lack of knowledge is the reason for their perception of a contradiction.

Now, while this may be true in certain truths that are inherently difficult to understand, however, this surely does not apply to those truths - such as the Divinity of Christ, the moral necessity of belonging to the Church of Christ for salvation, the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin, and so on - that can be grasped easily by a person with an average intellect.

The idea that the truths of the faith can only be understood by those who have formally studied theology or history finds its rebuttal in the saying of Our Lord "I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to the little ones." (Matthew 11:25) A person who is striving to live a virtuous and holy life is more apt to comprehend the truths of the Catholic faith than a theologian or historian who "[has] not the spirit of Christ" (The Imitation of Christ I, 1)

Note that I did qualify my statement by saying "at times" (I have bolded it above). I was not saying that the truths of the Faith can only be understood by those who have formally studied theology or history. However, you are right that I did not clearly deal with the situation you are describing.  A complete treatment of the question I raised would need to include this.

??? Didn't you admit you were wrong to state this?

I admitted that my OP was unclear and over-simplified.  I do still think that "at times one needs a fairly strong background in theology and/or history to understand why two teachings are different."

Perhaps, but certainly not all or even most of the time.
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(08-22-2012, 07:15 PM)JayneK Wrote: You tend to support your position with quotes from works that I would guess over 99% of Catholics are not familiar with.

It is not a fault of my position that 99% of Catholics aren't familiar with what the pre-Vatican II popes had to say--yet they know all about the theology of the body, finding the good in all false religions, and praying with pagans. Their lack of knowledge of traditional teaching could have something to do with why they accept the Novus Ordo as being perfectly orthodox. They have no idea what the Church was like prior to Vatican II. The encyclicals that I have been citing are not at all obscure.

Interestingly, you will find that those who oppose what I present here (such as SaintSebastian) appeal to much more obscure texts than I in order to justify the Novus Ordo. Somehow, the "Dialogue of Comfort" always manages to come up, as if a passing comment on what truths make heretics and Catholics similar somehow justifies an entire religion (or "movement," if you prefer) formulated upon that simple admission, which has never been denied by any pre-Vatican II ecclesiastical authority. It is well-understood, but insignificant as it pertains to practical issues concerning the flock, which is why the Church, guided by the Holy Ghost, has always dealt with heresy according to what it lacks, not according to what it contains.

Did you know that St. Thomas teaches that all sin is still "good" in a certain sense, since it still contains an element of "good"? Yet, each man is damned for committing sin despite the fact that every action for which he was damned contained some measure of good. It isn't the good the act contained that made the action evil; it was what the act didn't contain that made it evil.

If we take this common denominator approach, which reverses the essential distinction between Catholics and heretics, we could argue that we should create an entire revolutionary movement to no longer recognize sin for the evil it contains but rather for the good present therein. All sinners should come together in a great assembly and commit their favourite sin, since contained in each sin is a kernel of good. This common element of good in sin makes all of our actions--both virtuous and blasphemous--alike in a certain sense. Ridiculous, right? Exactly. This is where this sort of reasoning can lead. Treating only of the "good" in that which is distinguished by its lack of good is a dangerous principle that leads to ridiculous conclusions which, if applied consistently, lays waste to Christianity over time as it is slowly advanced. (This is just an analogy; I don't claim that the Novus Ordo is arguing this at the time.)

As it concerns the texts I am citing, I am quoting from basic and well-known encyclicals. If Catholics today are indifferent to (or ignorant of) what the Church has taught on these matters, then that only strengthens--not contradicts--my position. Cherry-picking Church history for obscure quotes to try to smooth over the discontinuity between the pre- and post-reform periods is certainly not better for anyone's position than quoting from standard encyclicals that are practically ignored by the teaching body of the Church. In fact, it was Benedict XVI himself who stated that some of them were "no longer relevant," since the threat of Modernism was long since passed. That's ironic, especially considering that such a statement is the exact opposite of what St. Pius X said. He said that he had only temporarily silenced the Modernists, but that they would be back worse than before; he expressed sincere worry for the future of the Church and cautioned Catholics to be on guard. But just as that time was approaching when their return was imminent, most of the safeguards that St. Pius X had put in place were coincidentally removed; and we're just supposed to think that everything's alright . . .

Quote:  The vast majority of the faithful do not think that the Magisterium has abandoned the Faith.

(1) This isn't a religion of popular opinion; this is a religion of dogma. (2) Most Catholics don't even know what the pre-Vatican II magisterium teaches, so how do you expect them to think that there's any contradiction? (3) I don't propose that the "magisterium abandoned the Faith," as you so often misrepresent me as arguing. I say only that those who ordinarily would execute the authority of the magisterium have abandoned the Faith. This is an entirely different argument and one that is possible.

Quote:  I propose that this is precisely because they understand the Faith and know what it teaches.  It is a small "gnostic" minority that tries to undermine Magisterial authority with obscure quotes.

O.K. But just so that you understand, the texts appealed to by SaintSebastian in response to the encyclicals that I have cited are much more obscure than mine, so there appears to be a bit of double standard here. All I am looking for is a little bit of internal consistency in your position.
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I'm not sure there is much point in this discussion, but here we go.

(08-22-2012, 08:21 AM)TrentCath Wrote:
(08-21-2012, 09:00 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: You dismissed the whole Patristic era as irrelevant. It's like with like.


a) No I didn't
b) you didn't read what was written and just wrote a reply to complain about something I did elsewhere

I'm not at all sure what you mean by this.

(08-22-2012, 08:21 AM)TrentCath Wrote:
Acts 17: 23-28 Wrote:Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 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.

??? What's this supposed to prove? This 'Unknown God' was God or at least St Paul used it for such purpose, he certainly didn't go and say 'Mars is actually one attribute of God...' or 'The worship of Mars is great and...' You are therefore not comparing like with like and thus your comparison fails.

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.

(08-22-2012, 08:21 AM)TrentCath Wrote: This is a classic case of going off on a tangent:

a) I don't really see how most of what you have written is relevant
b) none of what you have written proves that the 'gods' of the gentiles are not devils

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.

(08-22-2012, 08:21 AM)TrentCath Wrote: It should be centred around the divine word, but it is actually not, in sofar as we refer to the perversions of man and the results of original sin, your argument ignores the consequences of both which profoundly disturbed and disturb the natural order of things and shift them 'away' from God (in the broad sense of the word) and twist them towards man and the devils own perverse purposes.

It would appear to be what people on here are suggesting as that is what the popes did.

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.

(08-22-2012, 08:21 AM)TrentCath Wrote: Almost all of this refers to the philosophers, not the 'gods' themselves, the little that does can be explaind as I said earlier. As a whole the religions are not praised nor falsely related to Christianity and again now that Christ's mission in the flesh in this world has (until the day of judgment) finished, there is no need for religions to 'prepare the way' as some have argued. Moreover it does not follow that because some western philosophies had seeds of the logos in them, other eastern philosophies must, in fact the opposite would seem to be the case. Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Cicero,  all lend themselves to Christinaity, hinduism and Islam very much do not.

Yes, no one is saying that the pagan gods are actual gods or anything like that. In any case, I know you don't put much stock in attempting to understand what is being said, 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. . . ."

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.

(08-22-2012, 08:21 AM)TrentCath Wrote: And yet this is exactly what is denied by the modern popes, the perversity of man, the corruption of these religions etc... False religions may have some good in them but it does not come from them and they are certainly not to be praised, esteemed, respected, prayed with or whatever other nonsense people make up.

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.
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(08-22-2012, 08:10 PM)INPEFESS Wrote: O.K. But just so that you understand, the texts appealed to by SaintSebastian in response to the encyclicals that I have cited are much more obscure than mine, so there appears to be a bit of double standard here. All I am looking for is a little bit of internal consistency in your position.

I think that if his quotes are cherry-picking then yours are too.  I don't see much difference between them.  You both pick quotes that back up your opinions.  Meanwhile, the basics of the Faith are in the Creed and these quote wars are not even relevant to most people trying to live as Catholics. 
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(08-22-2012, 09:29 PM)JayneK Wrote:
(08-22-2012, 08:10 PM)INPEFESS Wrote: O.K. But just so that you understand, the texts appealed to by SaintSebastian in response to the encyclicals that I have cited are much more obscure than mine, so there appears to be a bit of double standard here. All I am looking for is a little bit of internal consistency in your position.

I think that if his quotes are cherry-picking then yours are too.  I don't see much difference between them.  You both pick quotes that back up your opinions.

That isn't cherry-picking. I am presenting the teachings of the Church as enunciated by the ordinary magisterium (encyclicals). I am presenting eternal principles that the Church has used to formally condemn certain activity. Quoting a private discourse between two persons to show that it is true that heretics don't deny all the Church's teachings (so therefore we can trivialize the meaning of heresy and turn it into some sort of merely legal definition) is not the same thing. Of course heretics and Catholics agree on certain doctrines. That is why there is such a category as heresy and another as apostasy. They are two separate realities. Quoting such letters that are entirely besides the point in order to justify two apparently contradictory teachings is desperate, since it is technically speaking a strawman argument.
Quote:  Meanwhile, the basics of the Faith are in the Creed and these quote wars are not even relevant to most people trying to live as Catholics. 

The issues concerning us at Assisi certainly do concern us. Don't you understand the public scandal that is given by these public meetings, not just to Catholics but to the whole world?

Catholics (or even Christians in general) would never have thought this acceptable pre-Vatican II:
[Image: 058_BuddhistRetreat.jpg]

It's simply a joint service calling for peaceful living among Catholics and Buddhists. What's so wrong with that? After all, John Paul II thought that was really important.
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See:
John R. T. Lamont (2008). "Determining the Content and Degree of Authority of Church Teachings". The Thomist 72: 371-407.
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