Friday, July 5, 2019

"Whenever it has appeared as an organized movement in modern times, atheism has always allied itself with pseudo-science."

     John Gray, Seven types of atheism (New York:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018), 14.  Gray himself:  "repelled by the first five varieties, I am drawn to the last two":  "atheism without progress" (Santayana, Conrad) and the "atheism of silence" or "an unnameable God" (Schopenhauer, Spinoza, Shestov).

Theology as "enjoy[ing] a real epistemological transcendence by relation to the philosophies that it utilizes"

"Christian theology, as St. Thomas Aquinas understands and practices it, is not philosophy [as] applied to religious questions.  It has its own object, its own source of illumination, its own method, its own finality, and, if it has recourse to philosophy, does so always as 'master' and never as 'servant'.  It is, in fact, in the light of its own principles and methods that the theologian takes note of [(repère)], assumes, and integrates in a critical fashion certain notions or doctrines elaborated by the philosophers.  The history of theology cannot, therefore, be a [(le)] simple reflection of the history of philosophy."

     Serge Thomas Bonino, "Aristotélisme et angélologie chez Saint Thomas d'Aquin," Bulletin de littérature ecclésiastique 113, no. 1 (Janvier-Mars 2012):  34 (3-36).  Bonino cites, at this point, ST 2 on sacra doctrina.  The heading is from p. 4.

"The angel Gabriel is distinguished from the angel Raphael as horses are distinguished from lions, and not as Bucephalus is distinguished from Rocinante."

     Serge Thomas Bonino, "Aristotélisme et angélologie chez Saint Thomas d'Aquin," Bulletin de littérature ecclésiastique 113, no. 1 (Janvier-Mars 2012):  32 (3-36).
     Presumably this, though condemned in 1277, is now an "approved thesis of Thomistic philosophy"?
Quantified matter is the principle of individuation, that is, of numerical distinction, which cannot exist in pure spirits, of one individual from another in the same specific nature. 
Quantitate signata materia principium est individuationis, id est numericae distinctiones, quae in puris spiritibus esse non potest, unius individui ab alio in eadem natura specifica.
DH 3611 (Decree of the Sacred Congregation of Studies, 27 July 1914).  But see the note appended thereto in the Ignatius (or 43rd) edition of 2012, underscoring mine.
     Thus, the number of human beings who have existed and will exist is dwarfed by the number of the species of angels who exist, as at ST I.50.3.Resp., underscoring mine:
the angels, even inasmuch as they are immaterial substances, exist in exceeding great number, far beyond all material multitude. This is what Dionysius says (Coel. Hier. xiv): 'There are many blessed armies of the heavenly intelligences, surpassing the weak and limited reckoning of our material numbers.' The reason whereof is this, because, since it is the perfection of the universe that God chiefly intends in the creation of things, the more perfect some things are, in so much greater an excess are they created by God. Now, as in bodies such excess is observed in regard to their magnitude, so in things incorporeal is it observed in regard to their multitude. We see, in fact, that incorruptible bodies, exceed corruptible bodies almost incomparably in magnitude; for the entire sphere of things active and passive is something very small in comparison with the heavenly bodies. Hence it is reasonable to conclude that the immaterial substances as it were incomparably exceed material substances as to multitude.

"beatitude does not destroy nature, since it is its perfection."

"beatitudo non tollit naturam; cum sit perfectio eius."

     St. Thomas Aquinas, ST I.62 ("The perfection of the angels in the order of grace and of glory").7.sed contra.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Can "an act of speech or expression . . . be [any longer] offensive in principle"?

     "The "notion of religion, purged of any standards of moral judgment, contains a flaw that destroys it from within. . . . .  If we detach the understanding of religion from any moral test of what counts as legitimate or illegitimate in a moral teaching, then we have also removed the moral ground for treating religion itself as a good.  If there is no truth underlying our judgments of good and bad, then what is the ground on which we claim religion to be a good that should be honored in public life? . . .
     "Indeed, we have heard these questions from the adversaries of religion.  They have asked why these 'beliefs' should be accorded any higher degree of deference than the other things that people care strongly about. . . .  The response to this challenge cannot be seeking to protect religion by denying that the religious may be rightly governed, along with everyone else, by laws that truly command what is rightful and forbid what is wrongful."

     Hadley Arkes, "Backing into relativism," First things no. 294 (June/July 2019):  35-36 (33-37).

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The apostle of love is also the apostle of the truth

"in the events of the world but also in the weaknesses of the Church, there is always a risk of losing faith, hence, also love and brotherhood. Consequently, it is a specific duty of those who believe in the Church of love and want to live in her to recognize this danger too and accept that communion is no longer possible with those who have drifted away from the doctrine of salvation (cf. II Jn 9: 11).

"That the newborn Church was well aware of the possible tensions in the experience of communion is clearly shown by John's First Letter:  no voice is more forcefully raised in the New Testament to highlight the reality and duty of fraternal love among Christians; but the same voice is addressed with drastic severity to adversaries of the Church who used to be members of the community but now no longer belong to it.

"The Church of love is also the Church of truth, understood primarily as fidelity to the Gospel. . . ."

     Pope Benedict XVI, "Safeguarding the gift," General audience, Wednesday, 5 April 2006, underscoring mine.

2 John 9 read in the light of contemporary theological "progressivism"

"Anyone who is so 'progressive' [(Πᾶς ὁ προάγων)] as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ [(καὶ μὴ μένων ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ τοῦ Χριστοῦ)] does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching [(ὁ μένων ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ)] has the Father and the Son."

     2 John 9, NABRE.
2 John 9 OL Sabatier (1751)
     On the basis of 1) an Old Latin version of the passage (qui recedit, incl. departs from, abandons, separates or withdraws from, rather than the qui praecedit of the Vulgate, in Lucifer of Calaris), plus 2) three apparently regressive military uses of προάγω (in company with μένω) in Polybius (208-125 BC) and Diodorus Siculus (1st century BC), Terry Griffith, seeking to "put a brake on progressive interpretations running away with themselves", argues that "2 John 9a is . . . best translated in a more neutral way as 'Anyone who goes forth [or leaves] and . . . does not remain in the teaching of the Messiah'" (144):  "2 John 9. . . . need not reflect . . . a value judgment of 'progressiveness'" (142) considered "as a description of those holding to gnosticising or docetic trajectories of development" (144).  Terry Griffith, "The translation of Ο ΠΡΟΑΓΩΝ in 2 John 9," Tyndale bulletin 67, no. 1 (2016): 137–44, which, however, I find more cautionary than decisive.  I mean, my initial reaction to the first of his military examples in particular—But what if, in context (and having defeated Demetrius), Ptolemy had already started for Egypt, at least in intention?  Wouldn't the decision be, in that case, to proceed with the former plan of returning to Egypt?—is echoed later by Griffith himself when he says, "In these examples, the context alone determines whether the movement is viewed as a negative or a positive outcome, but the verb hardly means 'advance' and is probably better translated as 'proceed'" (143), in which case we would be back to a root sense without ruling out a metaphorical usage.
     Note, however, that the best critical edition of the Old Latin ed. Thiele (Epistulae Catholicae (Freiburg:  Verlag Herder, 1956-1969), 389-392), not cited by Griffith, presents a far more complex picture of the text than he does, with (though I have not mastered the apparatus) plenty of the Old Latin sources and church fathers opting for praecedit.
     Cf. Pope Francis to the German bishops:
The Pope further warns - with reference to a book by Pope Benedict XVI - against the 'temptation of the promoters of Gnosticism' who 'have always tried to say something new and different from what the Word of God has given them. ... What is meant by this is the one who wants to be ahead, the advanced one, who pretends to go beyond the "ecclesial We".' The passage from the Second Letter to John (2 John 9) mentioned in the text is revealing here: 'Any one who goes ahead, and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ, has not God'. The pope [adds] that there is 'a temptation by the Father of Lies …, who … ultimately dismembers the Body of the holy and faithful people of God'.
That from the "Schreiben von Papst Franziskus an das pilgernde Volk Gottes in Deutschland" 9, dated 29 June 2019, and composed originally in Spanish.  The reference is to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Der Gott Jesus Christ:  Betrachtungen über den dreieinigen Gott =The God of Jesus Christ:  meditations on God in the Trinity, trans. Robert J. Cunningham (Chicago:  Franciscan Herald Press, 1979), 104-105, underscoring mine.
     John formulated quite knowingly these affirmations within the struggles of his own time as a sign that distinguished the Spirit from the anti-Spirit.  The great teachers of gnosis were interesting because of what they said in their own name, and they created a reputation for themselves.  They caused a sensation because they had something new and different to say that went beyond the Word.  For example, they claimed that Jesus in fact was not dead at all, but that he was dancing with his disciples while people believed him to be hanging on the cross.  The fourth Gospel opposed such gnostic novelties and some of their statements that were binding on on those who made them by using the ecclesiastical plural—this disappearance of the one who speaks behind the ecclesiastical 'we' really gives to the person who is speaking his true countenance and keeps it from dissolving into nothingness.  In John's epistles the same model was followed:  the author simply called himself 'the presbyter' [elder].  His adversary was the proagon, the one who advances (2 John 9).  The whole gospel of John as well as his epistles sought to be only a mobilization of memory, and in this respect it is the Gospel of the Holy Spirit.  To the extent that the Gospel does not invent something new but recalls its subject by meditating on it, it is fruitful, new, and deep.  The nature of the Holy Spirit, which is the unity of the Father and the Son, is forgetfulness of self (in which memory consists).  It is the true renewal.  A Church of the Spirit is a Church that, by remembering, penetrates more deeply into the Word, and thus becomes more alive and richer.  True forgetfulness of self and a detachment from self in order to reach Everything—this is a sign of the Spirit and a copy of his trinitarian nature.