Monthly Archives: September 2015

A Bite in de Lubac’s theory on Nature and Grace? Part 11

Last of all, let us note some Magisterial authorities in the matter. I make reference to D (= old Denzinger numbering; you can find the references in Sources of Catholic Dogma) and to DS (= new Denzinger numbering; you can find these in 43rd edition through Ignatius Press, Latin-English). All Catholic theologians need the Denzinger text in their libraries.

  • See the condemnations of Pelagius (DS 371ff): Grace is not owed to man.
  • Condemned proposition of Michael Baius in year 1567 “The elevation and exaltation of human nature unto a participation of the divine nature were due to the integrity of the first condition, and thus should be called natural, not supernatural.” DS 1921. Here, we see Holy Mother Church condemn the proposition that grace is due. Now, if the category “due” is absolutely empty, then the condemnation is effectively meaningless and a waste of time; the same can be said of many of the condemnations that follow.
  • Condemned prop of Baius = “Absurd is the opinion of those who say that man from the beginning, by a certain supernatural and gratuitous gift, was raised above the condition of his nature, so that by faith, hope, and charity he cherished God supernaturally” (D 1023 / DS 1923)
  • Condemned prop. of Baius = “The integrity of the first creation was not the undeserved exaltation of human nature, but its natural condition” (D 1026 / DS 1926). Here, we have an important reference to the natural condition.
  • Condemned prop of Baius = “The fact that having lived piously and justly in this mortal life even to the end of life we attain eternal life, should not be imputed to the grace of God, but to the natural order instantly ordained in the beginning of creation by the just judgment of God; neither in this recompense of goods is regard paid to the merit of Christ, but only to the first institution of the human race, in which it is ordained by the natural law that by the just judgment of God eternal life is paid for obedience to His mandates” (D 1011 / DS 1911) Baius effectively denies a purely natural end, asserting that the only end man can have is beatific union with God.
  • Pius VI, Auctorem fidei, art. 16: “… in so far as, understood comprehensively, it [a proposition in the synod of Pistoia, not magisterial] intimates that that state [of integrity and holy justice] was a consequence of creation, due to man from the natural exigency and condition of human nature, not a gratuitous gift of God – false” (D 1516 / DS 2616).
  • Pius VI, Auctorem fidei, art. 17: “… insofar as, under the deceitful mention of the name of the apostle, it insinuates that death, which in the present state has been inflicted as a just punishment for sin by the just withdrawal of immortality, was not a natural condition of man, as if immortality had not been a gratuitous gift, but a natural condition” (DS 2617)
  • Pius VI, Auctorem fidei, art. 19: “… insofar as it generally intimates that man became a transgressor through the nonobservance of the law that he was powerless to observe, as if ‘he who is just could command something impossible, or he who is pious would be likely to condemn man for that which he could not avoid’ [citing Pistoia] is false, scandalous, impious, and condemned in Baius.” This is a very important condemnation. It teaches, conversely, that God supplies creatures with the capacity to fulfill their duties. In fact, the category is dynamical debitum naturae.
  • Pius X, Pascendi, art. 10: The modernist thesis goes beyond the old error: “The question is no longer one of the old error which claimed for human nature a sort of right (ius) to the supernatural order.”
  • Pius X, Pascendi, art. 37: Some hold falsely “there is in human nature a true and rigorous need (exigentia) for the supernatural order”.[1]
  • “The saintly Doctor describes another order of things set above nature and eluding the grasp of reason, an order which man would never have suspected unless the divine goodness had revealed it to him…” (art. 17, Pius XI Studiorum Ducem).
  • Pius XII, Humani generis (1950): “Others destroy the true ‘gratuity’ of the supernatural order when they say that God is not able to establish beings gifted with intellect without ordering and calling them to the beatific vision.” (DS 3018)

[1] Nos iterum oportet, non desiderari e catholicis hominibus, qui, quamvis immanentiae doctrinam ut doctrinam reiiciunt, ea tamen pro apologesi utuntur; idque adeo incauti faciunt, ut in natura humana non capacitatem solem et convenientiam videantur admittere ad ordinem supernaturalem, quod quidem apologetae catholici opportunis adhibitis temperationibus demonstrarunt semper, sed germanam verique nominis exigentiam.

A Bite in de Lubac’s theory on Nature and Grace? Part 10

I consider de Lubac’s discipleship of Ockham down into these loveless depths a rather serious “cost” for his thesis. But it is an inexorable cost. This horrific possibility is the hidden foundation on which de Lubac builds the gratuity of grace. So horrible is the foundation that few theologians even suspected it laid at the root of his effort to shore up the gratuity of grace.

In short, in the face of the issue of the gratuity of grace, de Lubac has two routes he takes. On the one hand, he simply implies that grace is in fact due (unless we sin). The implication is against the faith.

On the other hand, he contends that there is no such thing as dynamical debitum naturae. This contention implies that God could create an utterly meaningless world, a world in which innocents are damned. But how does the implication square with the wisdom of God? How does it square with revelation? Wisdom reveals: “You love all things that exist and you loathe none of the things which you have made, for you would not have made anything if you had hated it”? Wis 11:24.

Finally, if we totally gut the category of dynamical debitum naturae we have no viable way to identify the precise gratuity of grace. If everything is utterly gratuitously given, what constitutes the specific gratuity of grace? After all, the Church’s faith is that grace is gratuitous in contrast to what is required. But if there is nothing to which to contrast grace’s gratuity, how can we specify that gratuity? Is the Church howling out meaningless statements when she makes the contrast?

A Bite in de Lubac’s theory on Nature and Grace? Part 9

We can count the cost immediately. To throw away the category dynamical debitum naturae is to assert the possibility of a meaningless world. That is, to say that there is no such thing as dynamical debitum naturae is to say that there is no requirement of divine wisdom such that any world must be such that its chief parts – intellectual creatures – are capable of reaching a meaningful end. It is to say that God can create intellectual creatures and not see to it that they can and do attain meaningful completion. It is to say that, even without their sinning and even with their obeying natural law and God’s directives, a meaningful end can be per se impossible for them to attain. That is to say, even should they do well and not sin, eternal life for them would be impossible. And what is the “frustration” of such a creature? De Lubac has already said it: The Pain of the Damned. Everlasting Hell! So, de Lubac holds that is possible that God create a creature that remains innocent, even does well, and yet is damned eternally by God.

Here, de Lubac is following the thought of the voluntarist William of Ockham, who abolished all dynamical debita naturae and clung statically only to definitional debita naturae. For Ockham, “If the finite goodness of a created nature does not constitute a decisive reason for God to love it enough to create it, the fact that certain conditions are required for its finite flourishing does not combine with divine self-love to generate an overriding reason to situate the nature in advantageous circumstances either.”[1]

Ockham takes his principle to its conclusion: God could in justice refuse eternal life to one whom he has made deiform through charity. Moreover, God could damn such a one, even though he has actually kept God’s precepts:

“Punishment is owed [to the sinner] because God has thus ordained it. For, as God creates any creature by his mere will, so by his mere will he can do with his creature whatever pleases him. For, just as, if someone were always to love God and do all the works acceptable to God, God could annihilate that person without injury [to his justice], so after all those works God could give him, not eternal life but eternal punishment, without injury [to his justice]. And the reason is that God is no one’s debtor, but whatever he does to us, he does out of mere grace. Therefore, by the fact that God does something, he has done it justly. For it is obvious that Christ never sinned, yet he was punished most vehemently unto death.”[2]

For Ockham, this is the way to secure the gratuity of grace. Since nothing other than essence is owed (if the creature is freely created), therefore anything beyond essence is utterly gratuitous.

[1] Marilyn McCord Adams, “Ockham on Will, Nature, and Morality” in The Cambridge Companion to Ockham, ed. Paul Vincent Spade (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 264.

[2] William of Ockham, In IV Sent. (Reportatio), q. 5 (Opera theologica, vol. 7 [St. Bonaventure, NY: 1984], 55:11–21). See also William of Ockham, In I Sent. d. 17, q. 1 (Opera theologica, vol. 3 [St. Bonaventure, NY: 1977], 452:1–5, 453:11–22, 454:12–17). One must hold this thesis “so that God may be necessitated by nothing to confer eternal life on anyone. Thus, this opinion greatly diverges from Pelagius’s error” (In I Sent., d. 17, q. 1 [Opera theologica, vol. 3, 454:26–455:2]).

A Bite in de Lubac’s theory on Nature and Grace? Part 8

On the other hand, de Lubac had another, contradictory, explanation that few critics saw.

He argued that there is no such thing as dynamical debita naturae. He completely abolished the category! He states,

“Every demand [i.e., dynamical debitum naturae] must be banished.”[1]

Therefore, he concludes, grace is absolutely free. It need not be given. If it is given, it is out of pure and free love.

Let us be quite clear: De Lubac abolishes the category absolutely. For him, sin has nothing to do with the abolition of the category. For him, it is erroneous to admit any debt in either order, even if men were without sin.[2] Hence, he admits implicitly that even his own above solution (that the just God could not frustrate de Lubac unless de Lubac sinned) is erroneous. Let us hear de Lubac at length and precisely:

“God could have refused to give himself to his creatures, just as he could have, and has, given himself. The gratuitousness of the supernatural order is true individually and totally. It is gratuitous in itself. It is gratuitous as far as each one of us is concerned. It is gratuitous in regard to what we see as preceding it, whether in time or in logic. Further—and this is what some of the explanations I have contested seem to me not to make clear—its gratuitousness remains always complete. It remains gratuitous in every hypothesis. It is for ever new. It remains gratuitous at every stage of preparation for the gift, and at every stage of the giving of it. No “disposition” in the creature can ever, in any way, bind the Creator.”[3]


It now sounds as though de Lubac has made grace both relevant and free! Incredible! Dance and sing. He has met the demands of both norms in this theological issue. Or has he? If he has, at what cost?

[1] Henri Cardinal de Lubac, Augustinisme et théologie moderne, no. 63, Théologie (Aubier, 1965), 47.

[2] See Mystery, 183f.

[3] Mystery, 236f. See also Augustinianism, 233; and Mystery, 84–86 and 130.

Annulments and Catholic Teaching on Marriage

I issued this a while ago but thought it timely to re-issue it again. A “streamlining” of the process of annulments ought not obscure the solemn doctrine of the Church and the very serious responsibility in conscience that everyone has to be entirely honest in this process. Also, ecclesiastical judges ought to be called to conscience in their decisions. God forbid man should try to deceive God!

The solemn and irreformable teaching of the Church: No authority whatsoever can break the marital union that God establishes between a baptized man and a baptized woman. A valid and consummated sacramental marriage cannot be broken even by the hand of St. Peter. This is the solemn teaching of the Holy Church.

Now, the practice of granting annulments makes some think that the Church is breaking that bond, sanctioning divorce. The appearance is deceptive. An annulment is simply a “declaration of nullity.” It is an appointed authority’s declaration that in fact no bond ever took place. Therefore, annulment is not Catholic divorce. It is simply a declaration of fact that there was no bond, not a breaking of a bond. If there was no bond, then the person whose non-marriage was declared to be just that, a non-marriage is free to marry. However, not all are approaching the matter in this way. Many approach annulments as though they were “Catholic divorce.” This is an egregious error. Let us look at some very important points for moral and pastoral concern that should go into a Catholic approaching such a matter.

All sacramental marriages are unbreakable. They last until the death of one of the spouses. They cannot be broken. Therefore, each spouse must be faithful until the death of one dissolves the marriage. Faithful means, negatively, not having intercourse with any other person than the spouse. Faithful means, positively, tenderly loving the spouse, etc.

What to do in the case of serious spousal abuse? Serious spousal abuse – say physical harm is being done, etc. – calls for a solution. One solution is separation. “Separation” is not divorce. Separation is “separation from bed and board.” The two spouses no longer live in the same dwelling. However, each is called to that fidelity that the bond entails as solemn obligation. Infidelity is mortal sin! And mortal sin has everlasting damnation as its consequence, unless it is repented. Repentance entails, minimally, the firm purpose of amendment. That is, I must, if I repent, decide with determination, “I will not commit this sin again.” Short of that, my repentance is only regret. The fidelity must last because the bond still obtains, until one or both die. However, the abusing spouse has forfeited in practice his use of the matrimonial rights. He has forfeited his right to have intercourse with his wife. Thus, she is freed of her obligation to have intercourse with him. The bond remains, the rights forestalled. This is not divorce. It is separation. (Some states in the United States even recognize a reality called separation and distinguish it from divorce.)

Annulment is not separation. For annulment is the declaration that there never was a bond.

But who is it who “declares” a marriage null? Only an ecclesial judge of the Catholic Church. Now we come to the crucial issue: Is this judge “infallible”? BY NO MEANS. He judges the case in virtue of the evidence presented. It is possible that he makes a mistake. If he makes a mistake, does the marriage become null? NO IT DOES NOT. No judge “performs” anything. The judge can only “declare” something. And if he declares what is false, he does not make it to be true. This point has pastoral implications about which almost no one speaks.

But one must speak of these implications. These implications mean that all parties must give as fair and objective a testimony about the facts as possible. Should anyone approach the judge with a deceptive intent, they sin against Almighty God and violate already the sanctity of marriage. If one wanted to “manipulate” the judge, “manipulate” the Church into granting an annulment, one essentially is treating the process like divorce and therefore trampling on the fidelity proper to marriage and running roughshod over the holy bond of matrimony. This is a sin. Further, such sins could lead to a false outcome. And a false outcome does not change the truth. Therefore, a false outcome might invite the other spouse, let us say the other one is “innocent” of deceptive intent, to lead a false life – to remarry when in fact the bond really exists, even though the judge erroneously decided.

Because no judge is infallible in these matters, there always remains the possibility that either spouse might appeal a declaration of nullity to a higher court. True story: The Protestant spouse of an important US senator actually believed in her heart that the declaration by the court in Boston was false, that the judge declared something in error. She thus appealed to the Roman Rota. I do not know whether the Rota ever issued a decision on her appeal. However, she retained that right.

And God bless her for taking marriage so seriously. She gives us all a lesson. No one should approach annulments with a cavalier attitude. Rather, one should examine one’s conscience very solemnly before ever approaching a canon lawyer, much less the bench of a judge. One should examine oneself before God. That examination must involve the desire to do God’s will, not my own. The “desire to manipulate” is totally contrary to a Christian approach and already indicates sin, and probably grave sin.

If one determines that one’s conscience is clear, one must present evidence as accurately and as fully as possible. If one misleads the judge, lies, is dishonest in any way, one must stand in the judgment of Almighty God on the last day. If one “won” a decision of nullity by crafty deceit, Almighty God knows the truth. If one “won” a decision falsely and then went on to another marriage, one is guilty of trampling the first marriage. One cannot justly acquit oneself of guilt here. Therefore, one is guilty should one go and remarry on these grounds.

These points have implications for the judges and canon lawyers. They must take their duties as duties before God. They must take them very seriously. If they have the attitude of “we can get this nullified” or “we can get a declaration of nullity on anything,” then they shall stand before the Judgment seat of Almighty God. God is not mocked!

The problem is, the practice of annulments in America seems very close to, if not is, a mockery in many cases. It appears a mockery on a couple of fronts. On the one hand, priests are pressured to marry about anyone who presents themselves desiring marriage. Most priests have very little say in being able to delay or deny couples who present themselves. Even when they have serious grounds for doubting the potential spouses’ capacity to contract a marriage validly. Now, there is a serious reason priests are under this pressure. The reason is that the members of the Church are blessed with free access to the Sacraments. A priest cannot forbid someone from receiving Holy Communion unless he has clearly established legal grounds for doing so. The people have free access to the Sacraments. And this principle is most important. However, it does seem that this principle can be taken to an extreme, if priests cannot in practice delay or refuse to marry people who really have little maturity for the serious duties of marriage. On the other hand, annulments are readily granted. And often for reasons of “immaturity.”

Let us reflect on these two facts. If very many Catholic couples can get their marriages declared null, especially for reasons of “immaturity,” then very many Catholics are premising their lives on a falsity. They get married, premising their life on the idea that they were mature enough to undertake this life. But then when the going gets tough, they easily get out of this tough obligation and go on to another marriage – supposedly they are more mature because they have left a difficult task! The priests had to marry them a couple of years ago, and now the canonists and the judges have to declare that false marriage “null”.

This double practice … how does it not make a mockery of the sacrament?

Finally, let us reflect on this message. If X% of Catholic marriages are easily annulled for grounds of immaturity, then we can forecast that 2X% of Catholics are immature people, incapable of the serious commitment of life, and so far untrustworthy of intimacy. They are like adolescents. Sure, they have free will, but not for the total gift of self. But they expect to be treated as adults at the same time.

(Note, by “Catholic marriages” I indicate marriage of two Catholics. This could be applied analogously for all sacramental marriages.)

A Bite in de Lubac’s theory on Nature and Grace? Part 7

Ok, we have laid the laborious groundwork for assessing de Lubac’s thesis. How much labor this has required! How much thought! Not mere emotive guesswork. We are seeking the truth, not simply our (unformed, often ill-begotten) feelings about it. Let us now examine his thesis.

De Lubac says that we as human have but one meaningful end, beatific union with God. More precisely, he said that human nature as such has but one meaningful end, beatific union with God.

The theologians at the time were up in arms over this statement. Why? Because they realized that we need grace in order to attain vision. But whatever is required in a thing that it be able to attain its meaningful end is a (dynamical) debitum naturae. Ergo, they concluded, on de Lubac’s supposition, grace must be a debitum naturae.

In point of fact, de Lubac sometimes implies that grace is just such a required thing. Let us read his own words:

“As a result—at least so it seems—how could the just and good God frustrate me, if it were not I who by my own fault turned myself away from him freely?”[1]

De Lubac here implies that grace is a debitum naturae. Why? Because debitum pertains to justice. The rhetorical question “How could the just God frustrate me” implies that God in justice could not frustrate me, unless sin be brought into the picture. But remember, we are thinking precisely and scientifically here. We must abstract from all our personal traumas, desires, emotions, etc., in order in a manly way to think this through. We are considering human nature as such.

Now, if – abstracting from sin – God could not in justice frustrate me with regard to X, then the things requisite for X are debita naturae. De Lubac therefore asserts that grace, which is necessary for beatific union with God, is a debitum naturae. But to hold that grace is a debitum naturae is to contradict the faith of Holy Mother Church. This is why so many theologians criticized de Lubac, and severely.

Pius XII, of immortal memory, in his must-read encyclical, Humani generis, art. 26, (1950), had this to say:

“Others destroy the true ‘gratuity’ of the supernatural order when they say that God is not able to establish beings gifted with intellect without ordering and calling them to the beatific vision.” (DS 3018).

[1] Le mystère, p. 80. See also “Le mystère du surnaturel,” 91.

A Bite in de Lubac’s theory on Nature and Grace? Part 6

So far, nothing of great interest. We are however approaching our game.

Finite things are not their ends. Finite things are oriented towards ends, towards flourishing. If each finite thing is oriented to its end, if it would be meaningless if it could not obtain that end, then there are requirements (concerning its flourishing) that if it be made, it be wisely made. Short of these requirements obtaining, it would not be wisely made. Hence, these requirements are debita naturae.

For instance, if I am to start an espresso business, I would need to amass the materials: cups, saucers, spoons, napkins, sugar, beans, grinders, water, the machine (the glorious espresso machine!). I would need to hire people, to rent space, to advertise, etc. So, let’s say I have the business up and running. But let’s say that I have absolutely no interest or intent that the business flourish. Let’s say I just want “there to exist a business”. But I make no provision for its flourishing. Nor do I intend to make provision. Everyone on the planet would say, “You are nuts.” Moreover, considering all the employees I have mobilized for this event, considering their dependence upon this initiative for their well-being, they would add, “You are a rotten, stinkin’, no-good….” And they would be right.

In our moving, messy world, things are not for their mere essence; things are not for their mere existence; rather, things are dynamically ordered. Moreover, they are ordered not only to any ongoing activity but to a specific flourishing. Things “crest out” as it were, reach their maturity / apex. The orange tree reaches for a certain range of height; it does not keep growing indefinitely. It reaches that maturity and then begins its cyclic enjoyment of its maturity, producing sweet nectar year after year until it grows too old to sustain this maturity.

In short, each thing is ordered to its flourishing. In this flourishing is where we find the meaning of the thing. If you were to say, “It just exists; it does not flourish and is not tending towards flourishing,” you’d be presenting some imaginary nonsense. Even the Oxygen has its tendencies. Boom! (But especially living things.)

With respect to this requirement, we speak of dynamical debita naturae. These are: The requirements in a thing such that it be capable of attaining meaningful flourishing and so be wisely made. For a man, that he has the seeds of truth in his intellect and the seeds of virtue in his will; that he is vital energy in his body, a certain threshold of motive power, etc.; ultimately, that he can use his powers, with these seeds, in order to attain meaningful flourishing – constitute dynamical debita naturae.

(Rambling Philosophical Aside: Now, to assert that there is such a thing as dynamical debita naturae is not a mere analytic judgment of an essence taken statically. It requires an insight into finite being, the insight traced above. Namely: Finite being is dynamical. To put it succinctly: To assert the truth of dynamical debita naturae requires a grasp of essence (first act) as ordered to flourishing (second act). In the end, this may well constitute an analytic judgment, provided we do not (mis)take analytic judgments for statements such as “Every XY is X.” Certainly, if the judgment is “synthetic,” the synthesis is in the order of the real; it is not the knower’s contribution to the constitution of either sensation or experience. )

A Bite in de Lubac’s theory on Nature and Grace? Part 5

The kinds of debita naturae are twofold: Definitional and dynamical.

Definitional debita naturae are those that pertain to its essence. If there is to be a man, then there must be an animal, a rational thing, a rational animal. That there is such a thing as definitional debita naturae rests on the principle of non-contradiction. You cannot assert X and not-X at the same time, in the same respect. If you say, “There exists a man,” you cannot simultaneously say, “There is not a rational thing”. The statement “There is a man” yields also these: “There is an animal”; “There is a rational thing”; and “There is a rational animal”. These requirements are definitional; hence, they are definitional debita naturae.

(To the sophistical, albeit interesting while at the same time distracting, objection that this requirement is tautological, my response is that it (the objection) is based on a failure to understand logic and the nature of human predication and for that matter human understanding itself. If I were a computer or an angel, the objection would stand. Computers only correlate without understanding. For a computer, the requirement would look as follows: Every XY is an X. [More precisely, Everything that is X and Y is X.] The statement is tautological. And a computer would waste its time with such a line-item. But the proposition is deeper than the stupid statement XY is X. Humans think under aspects and relate them to one another in judgments. This requires reaching universals with insight. Computers may “class” items under items, but they do not reach universals with insight. Men join (X is Y) and separate (X is not Y) these insights in judgment. The angel, however, does not think in discursive chunks; hence, it would waste its “time” with any human sentence at all. I however, am neither angel nor computer, but a man. But let’s save such philosophical ramblings for another post. For a summary response, buy and study Peter Kreeft, Socratic Logic. For a sophisticated response, see Henry P. Veatch, Two Logics and just about everything else he ever wrote on logic.)

A Bite in de Lubac’s theory on Nature and Grace? Part 4

Back to de Lubac. The dogmatic requirement here is that grace is a gift that is unowed to the existing person, qua simply human. This is a requirement of the faith. Challenge it and we are no longer theologians. (No longer Catholic theologians, that is.) Why not? Because theology does not prove the mysteries of faith; it embraces them. It may prove the preambles of faith, but not the mysteries. These are its starting point. Therefore, all theologians must hold that grace is unowed to the existing person, qua simply human.

What does it mean to be “unowed”? It means that it is the opposite of what is owed. Now, that is owed to a creature which is required so that its (the creature’s) existence is intelligible, meaningful, wisely brought about.

Principled theology, as it developed through time, calls such a requirement “debitum naturae,” a thing due to a nature. This requirement is hypothetical. It rests on the existence of the nature, in this case the human person. But as we also confess – and can prove rationally – the world is created freely. God need not have created man. So, the requirement in debitum naturae runs thus: IF there is to be a man (freely created), THEN such and such are required so that he be wisely made.


A Bite in de Lubac’s theory on Nature and Grace? Part 3

Recall the norms with which we began above. The first norm is a dogmatic consideration of which to take account. Good old dogma. Ever hear that word of late? “But you’re being fuddy-duddy. A real bore. Pouring cold water on our fun. Reminding us of grumpy Dad.” Nonsense. Well, maybe the grumpy part. But forgive me; let’s overlook what is per se accidental to the wisdom of theological science. Let’s get over our emotionalism, our shallow appeal to mere affectivity for a moment. After all, when the car starts to spin out of control on the highway, we’re all glad our Dad is driving, and not an emotivist. When the ship founders, and the captain examines the map and the stars, only the emotivist will complain. (Emotivist = someone who judges the truth of propositions by how they make him feel, not by the requirements of truth.)

Dogma is our pointer in theology. If theology does not begin and end with dogma, what is it? Philosophy? Only if it is based in sound principles and proceeds with valid argumentation. What is it theology it has not dogma? Sociology? Only if it meets the requirements of that science, and provided these requirements are soundly drawn. What is theology without the absolute and undying foundation of dogma? Usually, theology without dogma is either (a) a tour of some theologian’s own opinions, often emotively embraced, or (b) a smorgasbord tour of sundry theologians’ opinions, once again often emotively embraced.

Our Lord asks, “What do you seek?” Are we seeking Truth? The Psalmist exclaims: Your Face, O Lord; Your Face I seek.