In this podcast, the first of two, we take up a dogmatic or speculative analysis of the varieties of heresy concerning the Trinity. The two major extreme heresies are these: Monarchianism (which denies the distinction of persons) and Tritheism (which denies the unity, simplicity, and unicity of substance or essence). Question is: What about Subordinationism? We will take up that topic next podcast.
In this podcast, we make the pivot from Scripture to Dogma. The topic is Trinity. This is the podcast “in between.” We offer some guidelines for sound Catholic study of history. An absolute must is the historian’s commitment to this proposition: Dogma is infallible and unchangeable. The historian who refuses to acknowledge this will almost always go astray in the reading of history. After all, we are reading theologies. Theology is a sacred science. The historian who refuses to accept dogma as infallible (certainly true) and unchangeable will fail to have the equipment necessary to read things in the best light.
We do see the Fathers and Doctors struggling in this early time. Hence, the image above of “furrowing the ground.”
With this podcast, we begin our treatment of the Most Holy Trinity, the heart of Christian faith. We explore various biblical points of departure for this Mystery. We do so in the manner that dogmatic theology does. This does not involve re-inventing the wheel of labor in biblical theology. Rather, it involves reaping the harvest of the heavy labors of those in biblical theology. We reap, also, with the aid of dogmatic theological precision and of Magisterial Dogmas and Doctrines.
All know about the four cardinals who submitted several dubia (questions) to Pope Francis. They are seeking clarification on certain issues that seem to be confused in people’s minds ever since March 2016.
Some portray their action as aggressive. As confrontational. As non-obedient. These cardinals are portrayed as going against the common man.
What is the truth? The truth is that the Church has already in her constant and universal teaching given us the answers to these various dubia. The answers are infallible. All adultery is evil. All fornication with one not one’s spouse is adultery against one’s spouse. There is no such thing as divorce. It is a sheer chimera, a figment of the imagination. An “Annulment” is not a divorce. It is a simple declaration: “We are morally certain that a valid marriage never took place.”
Now, if all adultery is evil, it harms the perpetrator as well as the victim. The spouse being cheated on is the victim. Counselors will tell us that adultery is often an act of great anger against one’s own spouse. It is victimizing one’s spouse. Dashing the spouse against the rocks of indifference. Since marriage is so central to life, adultery is practically a moral murder of the spouse.
So, whose side are the Cardinals on anyway? They are on the side of the victim, the one who is cheated on. The helpless one. They are also on the side of the sinner, the perpetrator. For the perpetrator cannot go to heaven having committed adultery, unless he/she repents. Let no one deceive you. No One. Let no one deceive you. The Church has already infallibly clarified these matters. No one who has committed grave sin is going to heaven without repenting of grave sin. The one who stuffs that truth under a bushel barrel is not helping the poor sinner. The poor and the outcast. Rather, the one who silences this message is ushering the sinner to eternal perdition. It might look gentle and caring to be holding the sinner’s hand. But if this holding of the hand is a walking towards a cliff, rather than a call to turn aside from the Abyss whose jaws salivate, then it is not gentle and caring in the least sense of the word.
“No Scripture contradicts another; [so], I shall admit rather that I do not understand what is recorded, and shall strive to persuade those who imagine that the Scriptures are contradictory, to be rather of the same opinion as myself.”
Many 20th century theologians, even Catholic ones, present us with a God that changes. “The unchanging God is dead,” they say. They premise their musings on God, esp. on his inner Trinitarian life, on this thesis that God changes.
In fact, the thesis that God changes is heresy. The Church in her constant and universal teaching condemns it. Thus, a good theologian should condemn it. Not to do so is heresy.
It helps us to see why God must be immutable. We attempt to do that in this podcast. We also consider and reply to various objections from recent thinkers who argue that God is mutable. While these thinkers are trying to get God closer to them, in fact they push him away. For the God who is beyond all change is more interior to me than is the god who changes, who is on the level with me, only bigger … but in a corner of the universe, far away.
In this podcast, we examine God’s simplicity. The upshot of the proofs for God’s existence has tremendous yield. In order to be the Act without potency that is source of the world, God must be utterly simple. So, we have a theological reason for affirming divine simplicity. We also have a dogmatic reason for affirming it: The Church teaches it. And since the Church teaches it, there is a Scriptural basis for this affirmation as well. If it is not explicitly in Scripture, it is at least not contradictory to Scripture. But the great Old Testament is built around the unicity and oneness of God. So, it is a Scriptural affirmation as well. If you’d like to follow the argument more closely, you might acquire my text (linked here) that outlines this and other treatments of dogmatic issues.
In this podcast, I first indicate the range of the “First Way,” its analogical extensions. These extensions indicate the richness of the yield of the first way. I consider the First Way to be demonstrative; however, even if one only considers it invitational to thought, the yield to which it invites is rich.
Second, I offer a reading of the Fourth Way indebted to some great thinkers of the 20th century and also to Edward Feser. As sketched in the ST, the 4th Way needs supplementing. It is, as are the other arguments, a “thumbnail sketch” of a deep line of argumentation. The 4th Way is often called the “Platonic” way. However, Aquinas cites only Aristotle. Indeed, elsewhere, when he approaches God’s existence in this line of argumentation, he cites Aristotle. I suggest, following the above thinkers, that there is an Aristotelian causal argument underlying this way. The global, macroscopic picture is Platonic, in the manner of Christian Platonism, but the underlying argument is Aristotelian. In short, Platonic Participation calls for an Aristotelian causal analysis. But Aristotelian causal analysis is shored up and macroscopically expressed in the Platonic idiom.
Today, the first of two podcasts concerning proofs for the existence of God.
If you’d like to follow the argument more closely, you might acquire my text (linked here) that outlines this and other treatments of dogmatic issues.
Just as St. Paul reasoned with the Athenians towards the existence of the God he proclaimed, so human reason can argue with those of good will towards the existence of the God who transcends all reason, who is a Fire, Terrible and Marvelous, Forgiving and Tremendous.