Monthly Archives: January 2017

Irenaeus Exposes Secret Heresies

From Book I, chap. 1 of his monumental Against Heresies, as found in ANF, p. 315:

“Inasmuch as certain men have set the truth aside, and bring in lying words and vain genealogies, which, as the apostle says, minister questions rather than godly edifying which is in faith, and by means of their craftily-constructed plausibilities draw away the minds of the inexperienced and take them captive, [I have felt constrained, my dear friend, to compose the following treatise in order to expose and counteract their machinations.] These men falsify the oracles of God, and prove themselves evil interpreters of the good word of revelation. They also overthrow the faith of many, by drawing them away, under a pretence of [superior] knowledge, from Him who rounded and adorned the universe; as if, forsooth, they had something more excellent and sublime to reveal, than that God who created the heaven and the earth, and all things that are therein. By means of specious and plausible words, they cunningly allure the simple-minded to inquire into their system; but they nevertheless clumsily destroy them, while they initiate them into their blasphemous and impious opinions respecting the Demiurge; and these simple ones are unable, even in such a matter, to distinguish falsehood from truth.

Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself. One far superior to me has well said, in reference to this point, A clever imitation in glass casts contempt, as it were, on that precious jewel the emerald (which is most highly esteemed by some), unless it come under the eye of one able to test and expose the counterfeit. Or, again, what inexperienced person can with ease detect the presence of brass when it has been mixed up with silver? Lest, therefore, through my neglect, some should be carried off, even as sheep are by wolves, while they perceive not the true character of these men,— because they outwardly are covered with sheep’s clothing (against whom the Lord has enjoined Matthew 7:15 us to be on our guard), and because their language resembles ours, while their sentiments are very different—I have deemed it my duty (after reading some of the Commentaries, as they call them, of the disciples of Valentinus, and after making myself acquainted with their tenets through personal intercourse with some of them) to unfold to you, my friend, these portentous and profound mysteries, which do not fall within the range of every intellect, because all have not sufficiently purged their brains. I do this, in order that you, obtaining an acquaintance with these things, may in turn explain them to all those with whom you are connected, and exhort them to avoid such an abyss of madness and of blasphemy against Christ. I intend, then, to the best of my ability, with brevity and clearness to set forth the opinions of those who are now promulgating heresy.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori on Luther and his Marriage

The words of the man of God, Alphonsus:

“Luther was now quite taken with Catherine Bora, a lady of noble family, but poor, and who, forced by poverty, embraced a religious life, without any vocation for that state, in a Convent at Misnia, and finally became Abbess. Reading one of Luther’s works, she came across his treatise on the nullity of religious vows, and requested him to visit her. He called on her frequently, and finally induced her to leave her Convent, and come to Wittemberg with him, where, devoid of all shame, he married her with great solemnity, the Elector Frederic, who constantly opposed it, being now dead; and such was the force of his example and discourses, that he soon after induced the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order (6) to celebrate his sacrilegious nuptials, likewise. Those marriages provoked that witticism of Erasmus, who said that the heresies of his day all ended, like a comedy, in marriage” (Alphonsus Liguori, History of Heresies [Dublin, 1857], p. 267).

AND TODAY SIGHS DEEPLY, “OH, THE IRONY.”

Dogmatic Theology 1.3: Scripture and Tradition

How is the once-given Revelation passed on to you and me? God spoke to the prophets and as our Incarnate Lord, but how does that speech, how do those deeds, get passed on to you and me? How do we come to learn of them?

Through Scripture and Tradition. These are the Two Sources of Revelation. The Magisterium is the interpreter of these two sources. (Note: An earlier version stopped at about 36 minutes. Apparently, the file was too large. I’ve fixed this.)

The Rosary, Bible, The Scriptures, Cross

New Title to Podcast Series: DOGMATIC THEOLOGY

A couple of suggestions regarding my podcast series have come in.

  1. That I should make the content a little more accessible. I like this suggestion. I’ll not change the past two but will change the level of future ones. The level will be for a wider audience, though the judgment informing the contents will, hopefully, be responsible and with sufficient precision and nuance.
  2. The title. I’ll change the series to DOGMATIC THEOLOGY. This title is classical.
  3. Some have suggested that I charge. It takes considerable effort to produce. I will continue to consider this suggestion, but meanwhile I am trying to accomplish my primary aim, which is to serve in the knowledge of Christ and his only Church, against the many agitations against the faith, both witting and unwitting, both outside the Church and (more treacherous) inside the Church.
  4. Spread the word. I cannot spread the word, but you can. Share the links with your friends if you think these are of help in theological formation.

Does Justin “Judge” by Preaching Truth?

The question will be raised, By preaching to his Jewish companions the Truth of Jesus as Christ and God, does he not judge their persons?

The response: Why should God bind Justin in an impossible situation? For command him to preach He our God did do. And not to render definitive judgment on the soul of another he did do. Justin can share the good news, while not rendering definitive judgment on those who are slow to or finally reject his words (see Dialogue with Trypho, chap. 9, opening lines). Yet, he knows that if he shares not the Love of Truth, he shall not be able to say “That I myself may be innocent in the day of judgment” (chap. 38).

The Gospel is a gift from God to be shared, prudently and with tact, but really and truly. To take shame in sharing it is to suggest that it is the invention of man, and what mere man could Lord a Gospel over another?

Did Justin “Proselytize”?

St. Justin the Martyr (2nd Century) addresses his Jewish companions out of love:

“Since I bring from the Scriptures and the facts themselves both the proofs and the inculcation of the, do not delay or hesitate to put faith in [my words], although I am an uncircumcised man; so short a time is left you in which to become proselytes” (Dialogue with Trypho, chap. 28, from ANF, vol. 1, p. 208).

Of course, there is a form of spreading the faith that is lacking in prudence and tact. Such we call nowadays “proselytism.” However, let us not throw out the baby with the bathwater. There is a form of spreading the faith enjoined upon every disciple of Jesus Christ by none other than the Master Himself, Jesus Christ. This we call “Evangelization.” To it all Christians are obliged. The Second Vatican Council also reminds Catholics of this obligation in Lumen gentium. Justin so loved his neighbor that he risked losing a friendship by his effort tactfully and lovingly to present the faith.

Thank you, O Great Saint!

Dogmatic Theology 1.1 What IS Dogmatic Theology?

Today, I begin my series of podcasts on Dogmatic Theology. In the first two podcasts, however, I call it (in the podcast) “Systematic Theology,” following the (unfortunate) trend for the past 1 or 2 centuries in some Protestant circles, also imitated in many Catholic circles and now nearly universal in academia.

I divide my coverage of Dogmatic (aka Systematic) Theology into two main sections: I and II. Dogmatic Theology I covers: What is Systematic Theology, Faith and Revelation, God’s Existence, The Trinity, Creation, Grace, and Original Sin.

Dogmatic Theology II covers: Sin and the Grace of Justification, Christology, Church, Sacraments, and Eschatology.

As I will reiterate, it will be of considerable help to obtain a copy of Outlines of these podcasts. For today’s podcast, the Outlines for Systematic Theology I are relevant.  I will likely bounce back and forth between the first section and the section section. To organize the blog, I will number the podcasts according to Section and Podcast. Today is Section 1, podcast 1. That amounts to the following look:

Systematic Theology 1.1

I will follow this with a brief title of the contents of the podcast. Further, I have created a Folder for “Systematic Theology I” and will create another for the second section. In this way, you will be able to listen to these in order. Since they are lengthy (20-30 minutes each, sometimes longer), I will post less frequently.

May whatever is both true and useful in this podcast be of benefit to you.

Continuing, For Now, And Two Publications Available

I have decided to continue, for now.

Where to go? What to blog on? Of course, there are the sundry imminent dangers to the Church, posed by her enemies, within and without…, especially within. The faith does not change. The faith gives life. True mercy leads towards repentance. Anything else is Presumption (Romans 2). But presumption is a lie about God, a falsification of his Beautiful Face. For God is the Power by which we are saved. And salvation is both from and for. It is from the narrow confines of sin, which hem us in. It is for the broad vistas of truth and love and life. Salvation is life with God. But the sinner cannot live with God. Now amount of declarations that the sinner is “ok” or that he should just “follow his conscience” can produce that life within him. Only imitation of God is life. All else is death. True mercy leads towards that imitation and hence towards life and hence towards God. Do we want good for the sinner? Or rather, his death? If we want his good, we want his repentance. All messages that falsify or obstruct this call to repentance are false; if wittingly uttered, they are lies.

So, I could blog on these matters, and perhaps I will.

However, I think I will get a series of Podcasts going on Systematic Theology. What the heck is Systematic Theology? What are its resources? What, its manner of proceeding? What does it treat? Who is God? Can we answer the atheists? Can the One God be also Triune? How? Is it any use speaking of God, or should we all fall silent? What is “creation”? Etc. Etc.

It may help the hearer to have organized outlines of these Podcasts, with a few footnote references here and there. To do so, you could purchase the Outline Booklets that are geared towards the contents of these coming Podcasts. There are two such booklets:

  1. Systematic Theology One
  2. Systematic Theology Two

I am one day going to get round to publishing a two volume Systematic Theology. The podcasts will help me organize and formulate the text to be submitted. However, currently, I have a monograph under contract and several articles that need to be finalized.

All the best on a New Year that promises to be very significant in various ways (__17),

Christopher Malloy