I found this rather interesting, Pastor Weedon is one of the Lutherans I listen closely to. Yes, there are others. This is a series of videos that we will share with you. I am Lutheran, and even for me as an ELCA Lutheran, it highlights the differences. In any case, I think you will see parallels and differences with your church, whichever one it may be. My guess? The LCMS is probably closest to the Anglo-Catholics, as one of the original Protestant Churches.
Traditional Catholic theology is marked by its preference for Manualist Thomistic thought perhaps best represented under the lens of the pre-conciliar theologian, Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange. Naturally, after the Vatican II council, the dominate theological thought has been the Nouvelle théologie—a counter to Aeterni Patris and Neo-Scholasticism of the 19thCentury. The post here will not get into detail about the conflict between the two movements, but it’s important to understand that the shift and development of Neo-Scholasticism was a response to the Enlightenment dominated by skepticism with the introduction of Hume’s, Cartesian, and Kantian philosophical schools of thought. These particular schools of thought turned epistemology on its head and developed a “philosophy [that] turned inward…our understanding of the world…rather than coming to a knowledge of the object through the senses led to further regression of epistemology”
The Papal encyclical Aeterni Patris wriiten by “Pope Leo XIII explained the importance of returning to the Classical model of thinking, “And here it is well to note that our philosophy can only by the grosses injustice be accused of being opposed to the advance and development of natural science. From when the Scholastics, following the opinion of the holy Fathers, always held in anthropology that the human intelligence is only led to knowledge of things without body and matter by things sensible.”
In recent years, the Dominican House of Studies in Washington D.C. influence is growing in the younger Catholic academic circles. In some respect, they still hold on to the post-conciliar thought of the Nouvelle théologie of Hans Urs Von Balthasar’s Semi-Universalism and Henri De Lubac’s immanence of God being inherent in Man’s supernatural desire for Him; however, the development of the particular theology dominating these popular mainstream circles is the Nouvelle Theologie with a sprinkling of Thomism into a new development in the 20th and 21st centuries. The best popular representation of these positions is Bishop Robert Barron.
I have been naturally attracted to Augustinian thought rather than Thomistic thought. There’s something, perhaps, appealing to the notion of forms existing metaphysically in their own nature and that there’s an innate recognition of these things in the world. I’ve been musing over the idea of beauty; its role in axiological argument, and preferences being shaped by one’s capability to recognize the beautiful. Of course, I’m currently studying theology in a Thomistic setting where a tension grows by questioning of the said school of thought. In recent months, reflecting on what has been going on during the Amazonian synod in Rome, and being influenced by Neo-Scholasticism setting but still having a love for Augustinian thought, I’ve begun to read St. Bonaventure.
The words of St. Bonaventure are composed with the beauty and beating heart of Augustine and Divine Illumination and framed the Aristotelean thought of clarity. Pope Benedict XVI has experienced his preference for St. Bonaventure but being a proponent of the Nouvelle théologie I am surprised when reading St. Bonaventure that although he is Augustinian in his thought he is still very Aristotelean. At the moment, many are concerned of the allegations of paganism in Rome and the worship of nature and idols. By reading St. Bonaventure’s The Soul’s Journey, St. Bonaventure makes an appeal toward recognizing the vestiges from God’s creation to elevate the person toward God. St. Bonaventure recognizes that it’s the senses that moves the person toward God but being created in the likeness of God there’s light within us (awareness) that precedes the senses gaining knowledge. During my own studies of Thomism, I have thought that the idea that all knowledge coming from the senses is ultimately true, but yet, at the very basic foundation there is consciousness. Is this the same as Cartesian Cogito Ergo Sum? No. Descartes thought is one that is turned inward toward the I am of self; whereas, St. Bonaventure’s is turned toward recognition of the great I AM:
In the beginning
I call upon the First Beginning,
all illuminations descend
as from the Father of Lights,
comes every good and every perfect gift.
The journey for St. Bonaventure is a six step journey in the image of the Seraph that gave St. Francis the stigmata to rest in the presence of God on the seventh day. Bonaventure writes, “There is no other path but through the burning love of the Crucified, a love which so transformed Paul into Christ when he was carried up to the third heaven(2 Cor. 12:2) that he could say: With Christ I am nailed to the cross. I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me(Gal. 2:20). This love also so absorbed the soul of Francis that his spirit shone through his flesh when for two years before his death he carried in his body the sacred stigmata of the passion.
There is no immanence within the thought of St. Bonaventure, the journey toward God is one that always goes through Christ Jesus, he prays:
First, therefore, I invite the reader
to the groans of prayer
through Christ crucified,
through whose blood
we are cleansed from the filth of vice—
so that he not believe
that reading is sufficient without unction,
speculation without devotion,
investigation without wonder,
observation without joy,
work without piety,
knowledge without love,
understanding without humility,
endeavor without divine grace,
reflection as a mirror without divinely inspired wisdom.
To those, therefore, predisposed by divine grace,
the humble and the pious,
the contrite and the devout,
those anointed with the oil of gladness,
the lovers of divine wisdom, and
those inflamed with a desire for it,
to those wishing to give themselves
to glorifying, wondering at and even savoring God,
I propose the following considerations,
suggesting that the mirror presented by the external world
is of little or no value
unless the mirror of our soul
has been cleaned and polished.
Therefore, man of God,
first exercise yourself in remorse of conscience
before you raise your eyes
to the rays of Wisdom reflected in its mirrors,
lest perhaps from gazing upon these rays
you fall into a deeper pit of darkness.
Thus, after St. Bonaventure’s Prologue, he begins the journey by the recognition of God with the rejection of the Albigensian heresy that rejected the good of creation, St. Bonaventure points towards the good of the creature as a ladder that will lead the soul to rest in God.
Phillip, The Affirmation of Real Objective Metaphysical Objects in Catholic Thought, unpublished paper, Holy Apostles College and Seminary, 2019.
Aeterni Patris (August 4, 1879) | LEO XIII. Accessed March 17, 2019. http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_04081879_aeterni-patris.html.
Phillip, The Affirmation of Real Objective Metaphysical Objects in Catholic Thought
Bonaventure, Bonaventure: The Soul’s Journey into God; The Tree of Life; The Life of St. Francis, ed. Richard J. Payne, trans. Ewert Cousins, The Classics of Western Spirituality (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1978), 53.
Bonaventure, Bonaventure: The Soul’s Journey into God; The Tree of Life; The Life of St. Francis, ed. Richard J. Payne, trans. Ewert Cousins, The Classics of Western Spirituality (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1978), 54–55.
Bonaventure, Bonaventure: The Soul’s Journey into God; The Tree of Life; The Life of St. Francis, ed. Richard J. Payne, trans. Ewert Cousins, The Classics of Western Spirituality (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1978), 55–56.
St. Augustine’s Confessions Book 7 Chapter 14
In this particular section of the Confessions, Augustine gives several short arguments that will be later used by the Scholastics. In a short amount of space, Augustine covers a multitude of ontology and cosmology that really need to utilize within the faith communities as a means to evangelize the world consumed by scientism.
Augustine discusses how a plurality of gods would contradict the nature of God. Naturally, this idea will be further developed by Thomas Aquinas in Chapter 42 of the Summa Contra Gentiles. Aquinas explains in relation to the divine:
“ For it is not possible that there be two highest goods, since that which is said by superabundance is found in only one being. But God, as we have shown, is the highest good. God is, therefore, one.
 Again, it has been shown that God is absolutely perfect, lacking no perfection. If, then, there are many gods, there must be many perfect beings. But this is impossible. For, if none of these perfect beings lacks some perfection, and does not have any admixture of imperfection, which is demanded for an absolutely perfect being, nothing will be given in which to distinguish the perfect beings from one another. It is impossible, therefore, that there be many gods.
It appears that Aquinas isn’t the only scholastic to borrow and develop of Augustine. Augustine gives a sort of proto-ontological argument to illustrate his understanding of unity of God. He writes, “For no soul ever has been able to conceive or ever will conceive anything better than You, the supreme and perfect Good.” Of course, if anyone’s taken a theology or philosophy course this statement may sound familiar, as the idea is usually attributed to St. Anselm of Canterbury who put forth what is known as the Ontological Proof for God’s existence.
In Chapter 3-7 of the Proslogion, one discovers St. Anselm’s argument for the existence of God. The basic argument comes from this statement from St. Anselm is that “O Lord my God, You exist so truly that You cannot even be thought not to exist…For if any mind could think of something better than You, the creature would rise above the Creator and would sit in judgment over the Creator—something which is utterly absurd.”
I find it interesting that St. Anselm proposes that God cannot even be thought not to exist. Recently, I’ve been in conversation with a few Atheists who claim not to believe in God, and yet God ever preoccupies their mind to search out theist to discuss him. Again, it goes back to St. Augustine, our heart is restless until it rests in God.
Augustine also addresses challenges to the omnipotence of God. It’s fairly common for skeptics to challenge Christians by asking, “Can God create a rock so heavy that he could move it?” The question appears at face value to be a formidable objection to the concept of the nature of God. Naturally, when one understands what is God’s nature, he will see the question be absurd. So, if we start with the premise that God is all-powerful because of his omnipotence God could not do anything that would contradict his very nature of being all-powerful. Another example would be could God make a square a triangle? Well, no, they couldn’t be the same thing because for a square to be a square it has to have four sides; therefore, by having three sides it would no longer possess the nature of a square.
Anslem of Canterbury, 94.
One of the new commenters to All Along the Watchtower claimed that the Historicity of the Acts of the Apostle’s to him was a boring endeavor. Nonetheless, the same person, replied to some of my comments on the topic two separate times. Of course, the person attempted to claim that the book is not to be considered historically accurate. The first time, I was simply going to let him have the last word because I thought it fruitless to add anything more to the conversation because the historical consensus is moving toward my position–TheActs of the Apostles can be trusted–on the subject anyway. However, it appears he needed some sort of validation from me as he commented again; unfortunately, the comment section closed before I could reply to him. So, I’ve decided to go ahead and make it a post.
The scholarship that Acts isn’t to be trusted is outdated. The commenter did offer to post the link to me if I need it; however, I don’t find the need to be deceptive with my sources
A graduate student Jonathan Blake has posted on a scholarly forum on the Historicity of Acts. The academic paper is a good source for the current scholarly understanding of this particular book found in the New Testament and its relation to historical events. It has an incredible amount of citations for anyone to view the many different takes on historicity on the Acts of the Apostles.
Blake acknowledges that “current scholarly attitudes to the historicity of the New Testament book of Acts range widely,” which shows that there is hardly a scholarly consensus on whether it should be accepted or dismissed, so whether it should be accepted as history can still be considered by serious scholars.
Blake mentions that British scholarship on Acts has tended to view the Acts of the Apostles as historical, whereas German scholarship has been more critical of the document. Blakes writes, “Ramsay to W.L. Knox and Bruce. German scholarship has, for the most part, evaluated negatively the historical worth of Acts, from Baur and his school to Dibelius, Conzelmann, and Haenchen. In North American there is no scholarly consensus on the Acts of the Apostles.
The entirety of scholarship agrees that the book is reliable in its depiction of the first-century period. “Professor of Religion Charles Talbert judges Acts to be consistently accurate with regard to many details,” writes Blake.
Blake gives examples of these accurate details:
- Thessalonican city authorities called politarchs (Acts 17:6, 8)
- Grammateus is the correct title for the chief magistrate in Ephesus (Acts 19:35)
- Felix and Festus called procurators (Acts 23:24, 26; 24:27)
- Centurion Cornelius, tribune Claudius Lysias (Acts 10:1; 21:31, 23:36)
- The title proconsul (Greek anthypathos), used for the governors of two senatorial provinces (Acts 13:7‐8; 18:12)
- The prohibition against Gentiles in the Temple’s inner court (Acts 21:27‐36)
- The function of town assemblies (Acts 19: 29‐41)
- Soldiers in the tower of Antonia descended stairs into the Temple precincts (Acts 21:31‐37)
Blakes also mentions that Historian Justin Taylor likewise describes the accuracy of Acts positively,10 and lists many examples.
- Trial scenes throughout Acts11
- Reference to Phrygo‐Galatia (Acts 16:6; 18:23)12
- The voyage from Troas (Acts 16:11‐12)13
- Lydia a historical figure (Acts 16:14)14 15
- Magistrates named correctly (Acts 16)16
- Paul objects to a beating without examination (Acts 16:37)17
- A synagogue in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1)18
- Jason before the city rulers (Acts 17:5‐9)19
- Jews in Berea (Acts 17:10)20
- Athens full of idols (Acts 17:16)21
- The Athenians’ curiosity (Acts 17:21)22
- Paul on the Areopagus (Acts 17:19) 23 24 25
- The ‘unknown god’ (Acts 17:23)26 27
- Paul’s visit to Athens (Acts 17:16‐33)28
- Jews expelled from Rome (Acts 18:1‐2)29
- Gallio the governor of Achaia (Acts 18:12)30
- The tribunal of Gallio (Acts 18:12‐16)31
- Events in Ephesus (Acts 19:28‐41)32
- Paul’s appeal to Caesar (Acts 25:11‐12)33
Blake acknowledges that Peter’s address: Acts 4:4 is a point of contention for historians. However, even if historians challenge the notions of 5,000 converts, as discussed I’ve discussed on this blog many times with other ancient histories such as Alexander the Great, the use of numbers in ancient historical documents are consistently used for grandeur and symbolism, not for accurate numbers.
There is some objection to this particular passage but Blake notes that Historians such as Bond, Speidel, Hilhorst, and Saddington see no difficulty,
The Jerusalem Council: Acts 15
Blake writes, “The description of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, generally considered the same event described in Galatians 2 is considered by some scholars to be contradictory to the Galatians account.”
The Jerusalem Council is probably the most contested historical part of the narrative of Acts of the Apostles because of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. What is important though is that in the past, what appears to be a contradiction “Recent scholarship is inclined to treat the Council and its rulings as a historical, though this is sometimes expressed with caution,” as Blake explains. He further explains that “There is an increasing trend among scholars toward considering the Jerusalem Council as historical event. An overwhelming majority identifies the reference to the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 with Paul’s account in Gal. 2.1‐10, and this accord is not just limited to the historicity of the gathering alone but extends also to the authenticity of the arguments deriving from the Jerusalem church itself.’”
The “we” passages
There currently is no scholarly consensus on the “we” passages.
The three most common theories on the “we” passages as examined by Blake:
- the writer was redacting existing written material or oral sources, whether by genuine eyewitnesses or not.
- use of the second person plural is a deliberate stylistic device which was common to the genre of the work, but which was not intended to indicate a historical eyewitness,
- the writer was a genuine historical eyewitness.
Blake does acknowledge the critical commentary citing that “Critical scholars Gerd Lüdemann, Alexander Wedderburn, Hans Conzelmann, and Martin Hengel have treated Acts with scepticism, tempered with occasional acknowledgments of historical validity.” However, as Blake does preface, “Recent modern studies are far more positive in their assessment of the historicity of Acts than many previous critical commentaries.”
I will quote the entirety of Blake’s conclusion
“Current scholarly attitudes towards the historicity of Acts remain mixed, with extremist views expressed at both ends of the spectrum. However attitudes have generally become more positive since the publication of influential works by writers such as Hemer and Hengel, and historians of Rome have renewed their interest in the use of Acts as a valid source of information on the social, legal and political milieu of the empire in the first century. A number of objections to the historicity of specific events in Acts have now been dismissed conclusively, and a new consensus has emerged concerning therelationship of the ‘we’ passages to the question of authorship.”
Seven years ago today, a humble little Christian blog raised its head up to look over the parapet at an increasingly hostile world. It has grown much and occasionally waned since that day, but has never lowered its head, nor has it changed its mission from that first day, as expressed in our tagline:
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you … John 13:34.
None of us who actively contribute here, were here that day. Scoop and I are probably the oldest contributors left, and I’m not very active at present, but my heart remains here.
If you are newer than we are, I’d recommend that you poke around in the archives, there is much to enjoy and much to learn, from many viewpoints.
All of those who are listed in our sidebar as contributors gave us much wisdom and remain in my thoughts and my prayers. Those no longer active are missed and I give thanks daily for those who have carried the load, before and now as well.
Mother Julian of Norwich, a great favorite of us here leaves us a couple of thought on this day.
“He said not ‘Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased’; but he said, ‘Thou shalt not be overcome.”
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” ..
Both are important to keep in mind.
So raise a glass and thank God, that there are those who keep their head up and their eyes on the prize of Heaven, and then drink to the next seven years, that they may see us continue the Lord’s work.
I have been attempting to rehabilitate St. Anselm’s the ontological argument for God. However, no matter how hard I try my own understanding of discovering knowledge is similar to Aquinas’ that it begins with the senses and the recognition of the world. The issue that I’ve developed is that I disagree with St. Thomas Aquinas/Aristotle in regards to universals/forms like beauty and truth. Therefore, my ontological argument has more or less become an epistemological argument for God which is Augustinian in nature and tied to Augustine’s theory of knowledge of Divine Illumination.
I’ve been reading a bit on Divine Illumination and Aquinas’ Aristotelian Agent Intellect synthesis into his first principle of knowledge. And not surprisingly, it appears that there are those who claim that Aquinas makes a strict separation from Augustine in regards to Divine Illumination. However, it’s not a settled debate and Peter Kreeft argues in the Summa of the Summa that Aquinas is more Platonic/Augustinian in his understanding than Aristotelian, albeit many Thomist would disagree with his sentiment–I’ve personally asked one. Nonetheless, I am of the opinion that what Thomas does is merely move the understanding of Divine Illumination to the material sensory of understanding. For instance, two different husbands may look at their respective spouses and believe their own is more beautiful than the other. Some would argue this indicates that Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However, what appears to be innate from the two husbands is beauty itself. Sure, it’s their senses that tell them what is beautiful, nonetheless, it is not their senses that is the source for understanding the concept of beauty itself. If this is true, then, it would render that not all knowledge is gained through the senses.
The more I think about this interpretation of knowledge with Aquinas’ synthesis on the sense revealing knowledge, the more I agree with it in accord to Augustine’s philosophy of Divine Illumination in regards to Romans chapter 1 and 2 which speak about knowing God “is manifest in them” and the “law written in our hearts,” I firmly agree with Augustine that we’re in possession of certain knowledge by God; however, we’re only moved to discovering by interactions with creation as attributed by Aquinas emphasis on Participation. So, when we judge beauty, for instance, the concept of the beautiful is divinely instilled by God; however, it is through our experience with a sunrise, a mountain, the ocean, or our loved ones that stir the understanding of the beautiful.
Upon doing more reading on the topic, I find this to be very similar to Bonaventure’s assessment. Perhaps, I need to read more Bonaventure. Naturally, the above is just a short examination of my current work. I am at the moment writing a more detailed treatise on the subject of illumination.
Bishop Paprocki does call for this investigator and committee to be led by the laity, but as he says his view is for those names to be sent to the Pope for the removal of Bishops, it is still within this culture of clericalism that the those in the Church who call for action still operate with the Church and outside of the secular law. It stops short of what absolutely needs to be done; the investigator and committee need to provide names and evidence to the secular judicial system to arrest, to try, and to send to prison any citizen, whether it be a member of the clergy, for breaking both secular and divine laws.
I urge every Catholic to demand a different approach from the leadership of the Church. And let’s face it, the only power the laity has is the power of the purse. So, if the USCCB is still unwillingly to do what is needed, and it still appears to be the case, do not give one penny to any parish or diocese. Donate your funds to self-sufficient apostalates instead. It has to be a complete and utter shock to the Bishops that we will take no more.
Demand it! Stop posting normal Catholic posts, actually DO something, write a letter, stop your offerings, request meetings with priests and bishops. If you hear something that’s wrong in a meeting or even a homily–say something!
“A voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. ” Mk 1:3
ƒ*Below is a combination of two conversations that I’ve had with reformed Christians on the debate between Free Will and Divine Sovereignty. I listened to a podcast where the Professor said he often had his students construct dialogues. I liked the idea; most of this is not based on my imagination but actual conversations, as my first attempt. The bulk of the text is based from one reformed Christian ideas; however, many of his points I thought were weak, so I did tweak them a bit with another reformed Christian’s comments of a debate I’ve had almost a year ago. However, in both cases, it appears that when presented with either proof texts and philosophy they both relied on a sort of personal revelation conclusion. I still think the arguments are weak but I surmise it’s not due to reformed Christians not having good arguments. The two that I had conversations with seemed to want to rely on short deflective statements rather than a development of their position. Again, in searching for truth, I’d ask for any reformed Christian who reads this to comment and present their arguments for dialogue. There are many authors and commenters on AATW and it can be a good experience to develop our ideas. Also, note, the conversations at the behest of the reformed Christians avoided philosophy so topics like determinism were never brought into the conversation.*
Vinnie: Free will is a myth. It’s a philosophical concept that has nothing to do with theology. The concept of Free will is a contradiction of God’s Divine authority based on the idea that the individual’s will is outside the authority of God’s word.
Tomas: I believe you’ve mistaken the permeance of God’s omnipotence and the idea of what constitutes free will.
Vinnie: God is in control of every aspect of our lives. God is the creator; he sustains us and everything in His dominion. Why do you make petitionary prayers for a new job or a promotion, good health, or to have a safe trip unless God is completely sovereign over all things?
Tomas: Much of what you say is true, God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, etc. Of course, prayers are for our own good whether we receive what we’ve asked for or not, it’s purpose to build our habits of virtue through God’s grace. For we cannot pray without the Spirit. I suppose I need to ask, “Do you believe the Bible is the word of God?”
Vinnie: Of course! And the scripture shows that Free Will is a myth! Genesis 50:20!
Tomas: Oh yes, the intention of harm being a part of God’s plan for the greater good. Naturally, I have to ask why does the passage necessarily support God’s Divine Sovereignty instead of humanity’s free will? You believe God to be supremely in control and yet you’re willing to put constraints on His power by declaring that because He has Divine sovereignty.
Vinnie: I understand your point and I agree that there are certain ideas within Christianity that don’t make a lot of sense if God is sovereign. Nonetheless, I believe He is.
Tomas: Interesting, so you’re admitting to rejecting observations within your own ability to reason?
Vinnie: Things can be logically proven and still be wrong.
Tomas: Careful down that rabbit hole, The ole’ atheist quip, to argue against a concept of free will one must have a sort of prior knowledge of actions being a free choice of the will. A prior knowledge acts as a sort of proof by the definition itself and admits to the existence of free will by your own argument against it.
Vinnie: This is a prime example of why philosophers make poor theologians. I don’t accept your point, because I believe God is in control, and God has complete freedom. So there is free will, but it’s God’s freedom and not ours. As creatures under God’s sovereign control, we are not free in relation to God’s will.
Tomas: And yet you’re not presenting any substantial proofs for your positive claims here.
Vinnie: To simply state, Reformed theology gives theological answers to theological questions in the context of the Reformed and Covenantal tradition in which it is presented. It really doesn’t advance the argument to erect straw men just to burn them down…
Tomas: Well, you’d have to show how I’ve erected a straw man on your position, which again you provide no proofs for such a claim. Furthermore, I can only surmise that your proofs would be weak arguments that Free Will doesn’t exist. In fact, what you do do is create a tautological argument by repeating words “reformed” and “theology” without implying anything of substance. Furthermore, as you indicate that only true theology can be done by doing theology—see the Tautology there?—you’ve erected a sort of Every True Scotsmen fallacy, as your saying, “Every true theologian uses theology, not philosophy.” I will use both philosophy and scripture as proof for the existence of the Free Will.
Thomas: If free will is a myth, it contradicts the theological doctrine of Original Sin and that of an omnibenevolent God. Naturally, if God creates and sustains all, including all of humanity’s will, then wills a programmed fall from grace; doesn’t give grace sufficient for all to be saved then he ultimately would be responsible for all subsequent evil actions made by humanity. Of course, in such a scenario, a judgment would be made on some who have no opportunity to cooperate with His grace–reprobate–to atone for sins they could not freely choose not to commit. As these concepts contradict with the essence of Divine Justice one cannot articulate the Augustinian view of the elect as double predestination because Augustine, in his Confessions book 7, explains quite clearly that humanity is solely responsible for evil, as it has no substance, as all of God’s creations share in his goodness and that evil is a privation of said goodness.
Furthermore, God gives humanity, government, the authority in scripture to punish criminals–Romans 13: 3-4. To give authority to punish criminals who are not responsible for their actions would be intrinsically disordered within the frameworks of divine justice. The Theologian makes the argument that the judgment of any action would be illogical if free does not exist unless of course, one argues that society’s response is a predetermined one.
Vinnie: if God has free will and man has free will, if the two come into conflict God’s free will wins. It’s called the Sovereignty of God…
Tomas: Okay, now take that to its conclusion. No Free Will means God is responsible for Adam’s fall. Therefore, it would contradict the need for atonement as Adam could not create a free act of disobedience against God, which consequently renders Christ’s ransom of our sins meaningless. So, let’s make this clear so a straw man argument cannot be claimed. if God’s will wins out, there’s no need for atonement of sins that one did not freely choose on their own. No need for atonement, no need for Christ. You’ve rendered Christianity as needless.
Vinnie: As I said, if God is truly sovereign (i.e. omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent) then this creates problems for the Christian worldview, which you rightly point out. Nevertheless, I believe that God is Sovereign because of the Divine revelation of scripture.
Tomas: So let’s move into scripture and let’s not forget the whole context of Hebrews 10:26-29:
26 For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. 28 A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?
Vinnie: The context in reformed theology expressed by James White is that “he was sanctified” means Christ. Your argument is not with me, but it seems at minimum you fallen into Semi-Pelagian heresy.”
Tomas: Shall we take the sentence to a linguist to graph the sentence? I would presume that the vast majority will choose the man as the one who was sanctified by Christ being God would have no need for sanctification. The heresy of Semi-Pelagianism is starting with Free Will without God’s grace. Of course, this isn’t the position I’m claiming to hold. Now, your statement is a prime example of a straw man fallacy, so let me explain why…
God’s grace gives each person sufficient grace to choose Him. It begins with Him but then we’re allowed by God, who is sovereign, to cooperate with Him. After this initial grace, we can certainly pray, choose to do his will through his Church; however, this isn’t a radical separation from God’s will. As God is existence, our will’s do not function outside of God. By God’s omnipotence, he can certainly will us to have free will and still operate within his Divine Providence. So, when we pray, help others as Christ commands in Mt. 25, or fast as Christ mentions in Mt. 5, etc. God continues to give us perseverant grace to actualize our will through His Grace to order our will toward His own. The will isn’t radically free but formed through the habits of virtue and vice. Again Hebrews 10:26-29 illustrates this by acknowledging those who are sanctified can fall from God’s grace.
Vinnie: It’s not that I’m mildly impressed with your ability to move effortlessly conflating one category with another but at some point to engage in such novelties is unproductive. I believe God is Divinely Sovereign. Good day.
I’ve recently enjoyed a few of Craig Truglia’s post on the debate of purgatory between Catholics and Orthodox on his blog Orthodox Christian Theology. One of the issues that bugs me is when someone attempts to tell me what I actually believe in accords with my faith. For example, when an evangelical attempts to tell me that Catholics worship Mary—what dumbfounds me is that people who worship gods don’t deny worshiping those gods!
As I’ve read Craig’s post on purgatory, I’ve felt at times he’s doing something of the nature of telling me what my faith’s beliefs are in regards to purgatory.
Craig writes, “Augustine’s Purgatory is clearly different. The fire, which he speculates and admits is possibly “doubtful,” burns the dross of our passions that was not worn off by our repentance in our worldly lives “in proportion as they have loved with more or less devotion the goods that perish.” Augustine viewed the process as “quick.” As we shall see in Parts II and III, this has much more in common with the modern Orthodox elucidation of what happens after we die than the dominant Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory.”
The strange thing is that my understanding of purgatory is actually very similar to what he presents as Augustine’s viewpoint. Of course, no surprise to the many readers on AATW, I’ve got an Augustinian soft spot, so it’s no surprise I would agree right? However, it doesn’t appear that I’m the only Catholic who has this notion on the topic of purgatory. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI in a general audience on the topic of purgatory wrote:
“Catherine’s thought on purgatory, for which she is particularly well known, is summed up in the last two parts of the book mentioned above: The Treatise on purgatory and the Dialogues between the body and the soul. It is important to note that Catherine, in her mystical experience, never received specific revelations on purgatory or on the souls being purified there. Yet, in the writings inspired by our Saint, purgatory is a central element and the description of it has characteristics that were original in her time.
The first original passage concerns the “place” of the purification of souls. In her day it was depicted mainly using images linked to space: a certain space was conceived of in which purgatory was supposed to be located.
Catherine, however, did not see purgatory as a scene in the bowels of the earth: for her it is not an exterior but rather an interior fire. This is purgatory: an inner fire.”
It’s interesting that when I look at more traditional Catholic websites about the above quote, they charge the Pope with a development of modernism, but does the history of purgatory hold out? The earliest known debate on the topic of purgatory between East and West took place in 1230 A.D. between a Franciscan friar and a Greek Bishop Bardanes of Corfer. In the debate it appears that the Greek Bishop misunderstood the Franciscan’s explanation on “the fire” point of purgatory and connected it to an irrational fear of universalism from Origenism, not realizing a proper distinction between the two concepts.
In fact, as evidence to indicate that the above statement by Pope Benedict XVI is not a development, in 1267 Pope Clement IV issued a profession of faith which was adopted in 1274 at Lyons II. The formula, as explained by Fr. Aidan Nichols:
So far as Purgatory is concerned, the ‘Clementine formula’ abstains from any reference to fire, though it does use the term “purgatorial”, in its Greek form. Those who die in charity, truly repentant but without as yet making satisfaction for their sins, whether commission or omission, by worthy fruits of repentance, will, so the formula maintains, be purged after death, poenis purgatoriis seu cathartiis, “by purifying or cathartic pains.”
It’s interesting to note that at the start of Craig’s initial post of his series, I asked him whether he knew that if Dante’s work influenced the more physical imagery of purgatory in the middle ages. Now, after examining the papal profession of faith in the 13thcentury, as well as noting that the first use of the word “purgatorium” occurs in the writings of Hildebert of Lavardin dating anywhere from 1056-1135 A.D.; it appears one can reason that either Dante’s work in the 14thcentury either influenced the cultural perception or the cultural perception of that particular time period influenced him.  However, the Augustinian viewpoint was still within the frameworks of Pope Clement IV profession of faith.
Further Reflections on the topic may be needed, such as the development of the sacrament of Confession in regards to the penance preceding absolution to the development of it in the future. However, I believe the topic needed a better examination of the development of theology within a historical timeline.
Aidan Nichols O.P., Rome and the Eastern Churches, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 293.