Tag Archives: heresy

Does God Need Man?

Of course He doesn’t!

Catholic Dogma is absolutely clear. God is infinitely perfect in himself, infinitely happy in himself, infinitely simple. God therefore needs nothing whatsoever. He is the source of all things else. He is the absolutely gratuitous source of all things else. Creation is an absolutely free act.

This means that creation need not have occurred, and God would be the same God he is “now.” The “now” is said from our perspective, for God is simply God. The “now” of God is just this: GOD. There is no “now” that measures him, unlike our own “now.” There is a “now” that measures us. God is his own measure, which means he remains unmeasured.

It is heresy to state that God created anything at all out of a need. Out of necessity. Out of any necessity whatsoever. Vatican I declares “IF ANYONE … HOLDS THAT GOD DID NOT CREATE BY HIS WILL FREE FROM ALL NECESSITY BUT AS NECESSARILY AS HE NECESSARILY LOVES HIMSELF, … LET HIM BE ANATHEMA” (DEI FILIUS, CANON 5 OF CHAP. 1).

Excluded here is any kind of necessity whatsoever. God does not need us in order to gain happiness. God does not need us just because he is God: That is, he is not a kind of naturally self-diffusing good that simply must create, just like the sun simply must radiate light.

If God created all things without any need or necessity whatsoever, then he needs not one of them. Now, man is a created thing.  Thus, God does not need man. He remains God, whether or not man continues to exist. This is the constant Tradition of the Church. This is the Formal Teaching of the Infallible Magisterium, to which all Catholics are forever bound. This is Truth.

Does this truth denigrate God’s love for us? Does it denigrate us? Absolutely not!

First, a lie denigrates us. A truth builds us up. If you tell me I am a great windsurfer, you denigrate me, because it is a lie. We know that the person who tells false things about our greatness flatters us. We know that who flatters us is not offering us true love; however noble his intentions, he is quite misled. I want to be lifted up by Truth. By God.

Second, only if I get God right can I get myself fully right. If I have a false conception of God, I will have a false conception of myself. But to say that God needs anything is to make God a creature, a fellow finite being struggling to make ends meet. If I do this, then how can I rely on this weak and pathetic god? Sure, I might confide in him and have a beer with him. But can I trust him with my all? Can I count on him being omnipotent? Able to overcome all things? No I can’t. Thus, if I think God needs me, I no longer can count on him. But I know my weakness. I know I need him. That is why I reject every claim that God needs me. Such claims are poison.

Third, to get it right that God does not need me makes his love all the more surprising and exhilarating. He does not need me, but he calls me into being. He does not need me, even now, but he sustains me. He woos me from my laziness and apathy. He redeems me from my sinfulness. He heals me from self-inflicted wounds. He kisses my sinful heart, to make it new. He touches my eyes, which have darkened themselves, to make them see. He strengthens my faltering limbs. He builds me up. He calls me home. Without any need. Steady love, totally for me. Why, O Lord, do you look on mortal man? A worm and no man? I thank you. Help me to receive your gifts well.

Conquer your enemies with your Truth, converting their minds and their hearts. And, lest they be found to poison the wells of your saving waters, remove the rebels from your holy house.

Luther’s Implication: Same Sex Attraction Damns

That is indeed what Luther’s thought implies. Really implies. Not just insinuates. But entails. If you hold what he holds, you have to hold this.

Why? For Luther, the greatest of all sins is that which Catholics call “concupiscence.” Concupiscence is the non-free inclination of the appetites to acts deviating from the good. Such deviation can be of sundry sorts: Inclining to the good of ice-cream, but beyond the measure that is due. Again, inclining to the good of heterosexual sex with one’s lawful spouse, but beyond the due measure. Or, it could be an inclination to an object that is evil, such as unnatural sexual relations.

The key is this: Concupiscence is NON-FREE. It is not the object of choice. It is not freely chosen. Because it is non-free, Catholicism defines that it is NOT SIN. Thus, it deserves no punishment. Of course, unnatural sexual actions freely chosen constitute gravely evil sin. Thus, freely chosen actions are the big concern, according to Catholic doctrine. BUT LUTHER REGARDS CONCUPISCENCE ITSELF AS THE GREATEST OF SINS. Thus, he holds that it merits of its nature eternal wrath and punishment.

Shall we stamp approval of that?

It’s wonderful to point out the positive elements in Luther. I have done so myself in sundry published works (esp. in Chap. 10 of my Engrafted into Christ and throughout my article “Sola Salus or Fides Caritate Formata: The Premised Promise of Luther’s Dilemma?”) However, whatever in these is harnessed to an evil end turns out to be evil. And there are sundry evil ends in Luther’s works. And sundry evil presuppositions. Call this an evil presupposition: Concupiscence is the worst of sins, and per se damnable. Such a horrible view of the human condition leads to the flipside horror: That God will just “turn a blind eye” to ongoing sins, because you have “faith.”

A Condemnable Pope Condemned? Yes

Issue: Whether Jesus Christ – the Word Incarnate – has two wills and two acts of will, one for each will?

Dogmatic Answer: Yes.

Pope Honorius (d. AD 638) failed to have that answer. In words, at least, he professed “not two wills” and “not two operations”. He was reluctant to answer the question. There were factions and battles. The empire was being ripped asunder. The Church, torn here and there. Infidels threatened from the East and South to wipe out large swaths of Christianity. It seemed best to compromise, not to lead, not to defend the truth. Thus the woeful weakness of that Pope.

But the Church survived his inaction that effectively constituted objective treachery (or, worse, as it seems some thought: his complicit treachery). The Holy Church survived and in her teaching members came to her senses: Under the reigns of Honorius’s successors, she condemned the heresy that denies two wills and two acts of will; she also condemned Pope Honorius.

Ecumenical Council Constantinople III: “After having investigated the teachings by Sergius … and the letter written in reply by … Honorius, and after having discovered that these are entirely alien to the apostolic teachings and to the decisions of the holy councils and to all the eminent holy Fathers but instead follow the false teachings of the heretics, these we entirely reject and loathe as soul-destroying” (DS 550). “… We have seen fit to banish from the holy Church of God and to anathematize also Honorius, the former pope of the elder Rome because we have discovered in the letters written by him to Sergius that he followed in everything the opinion of that one and confirmed his impious teaching” (DS 552).

Pope Agatho (NPNF II):

“Woe is me, if I cover over with silence the truth which I am bidden to give…. What shall I say in the future examination by Christ himself, if I blush (God forbid!) to preach here the truth of his words? What satisfaction shall I be able to give for myself, what for the souls committed to me, when he demands a strict account of the office I have received?”

Again, “Who, then, my most clement and most pious lords and sons, (I speak trembling and prostrate in spirit) would not be stirred by that admirable promise, which is made to the faithful:  “Whoever shall confess me before men, him also will I confess before my Father, who is in heaven”?  And which one even of the infidels shall not be terrified by that most severe threat, in which he protests that he will be full of wrath, and declares that “Whoever shall deny me before men, him also will I deny before my Father, who is in heaven”?  Whence also blessed Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, gives warning and says:  “But though we, or an angel from the heaven should preach to you any other Gospel from what we have evangelized to you, let him be anathema.”  Since, therefore, such an extremity of punishment overhangs the corruptors, or suppressors of truth by silence, would not any one flee from an attempt at curtailing the truth of the Lord’s faith?

Pope Leo II, in the year 682, a little under 50 years after the death of the notorious Honorius: “We in like manner anathematize … [list of heretics] and also Honorius, who did not purify this apostolic Church by the doctrine of the apostolic tradition, but rather attempted to subvert the immaculate faith by profane treason.” DS 563.

Profession of Faith in Rome: “The council Fathers have restrained under the bond of perpetual anathema the following authors of a truly novel doctrine: Sergius, … along with Honorius, who extended favor to their distorted assertions” (see Ignatius Press Denzinger, p. 681).

 

BUT YOU WILL OBJECT: THE POPE IS INFALLIBLE.

I RESPOND: STOP BEING AN ULTRA-MONTANEThe pope’s very action is itself formally infallible when and only when he is defining a matter of faith and morals. I say defining. Everyone who has any sense of fundamental theology knows that such events are rare. (Not as rare as some minimalists maintain, but rare nonetheless.)

Example to illustrate this point: John Paul II used very strong and final language in his declaration that the Church has no authority whatsoever to ordain women. Let’s listen to the wording. He writes with the thunder of truth:

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.

This declaration comes millimeters away from being in itself formally infallible. Still, in itself it is not infallible. Rather, it gives well nigh infallible witness to the already infallible and hence irreversible teaching of the Church. The content taught is infallible, but this declaration is itself not infallible.

“Says who?” pokes the doubting Thomas. “Says Ratzinger himself as Prefect of the CDF!” That’s who.

“On what grounds?” On the grounds that the Canon Law on the books at this time stipulated that such definitions must explicitly state that they are irreformable. But JPII did not do that. Ergo.

Now for an aside: JPII was a pope that followed canon law. If he wanted not to follow it, or to make it stricter, he changed the law before acting out of turn.

On that note, we close with a few relevant though seemingly scattered (but once again relevant and linked) lines of thought.

Sure, the pope can “act out of turn” since no one can authoritatively judge him. There is no tribunal by which he can be prosecuted – except by a successor pope, of course. But Truth judges him. Truth and Genuine Love judge him. Genuine Love wills the good for the sinner. But sin is evil for the sinner. Ergo, genuine love wills the separation of sin from the sinner. Now, when mortal sin clings to a sinner (i.e. a sinner does not repent by a determinate free act of repentance, which includes firm purpose of amendment, which entails willing no longer to sin and willing to take the needed action) then such a sinner cannot receive the Eucharist happily. Only miserably. Truth shepherds the sinner towards repentance, towards a cleansing, before it invites him to dine in celebration. If a man commits adultery, God forbid, he must repent and seek God’s forgiveness, the Church’s, and his wife’s. Perhaps she forgives him. If so, perhaps in time he can come to her as in the days of his youth. But if he is still shacking up with his concubine, then his wife would retain her dignity only by refusing him. And the on-going adulterer (e.g. “divorced” and “remarried”) retains his sobriety only be abstaining from communion. Even if an Angel were to tell him to receive, or that it would be OK to receive, he should shun such advice as contrary to all faith and reason and good sense and decency. After all, if he still has faith (isn’t that still a requisite for receiving???) then he knows that to receive in a state of sin is sacrilege that merits greater punishment after death. But hey – no one thinks about punishment anymore. None about sacrilege.

God is become in the minds of many a Lawless Sugar Daddy.

Modernism – Part 1

I have a number of irons in the fire. Here’s another set.

Modernism is a plague afflicting the Church violently and virulently today. We must understand what we are up against. Pope St. Pius X, declared saint under the most stringent standards of assessment for canonization, can teach us what we are up against. The portrait of the “modernist” that he paints will call to mind recent theologians, very influential on prelates today.

Today’s podcast is 28.5 minutes. I thank my good friend and brother-in-law Stephen for the awesome microphone. Much better than my previous use of the built-in computer mic.

 

Death of Arius

In his excellent Essays on Miracles, Newman recounts the death of Arius, one of the greatest heretics the Church has ever known.

Emperor Constantine had converted to Christianity early in the 4th century. However, he began to take up with Arius’s errors, despite the teaching of the First Ecumenical Council (Nicaea, AD, 325). He allowed him and his supporters to return from exile. They returned to Palestine.

Then, Constantine pressured Bishop Alexander of Constantinople to allow Arius to return to the Church and become Bishop. He brought Arius to Constantinople for this purpose.

Alexander spent several days in prayer and fasting, having confined himself to a Church. Then, he emerged and was ordered to appear before Constantine. He was commanded to accept Arius. Alexander refused, leaving the emperor’s presence and going to a Church. He fell prostrate and beseeched Almighty God:

“If Arius communicates tomorrow, then let thy servant depart, and destroy not the righteous with the wicked. But if thou sparest thy church, and I know thou sparest it, have respect unto the words of the Eusebians, and give not thine heritage unto ruin and reproach; and take Arius away, lest if he enter into the Church his heresy seem to enter with him, and henceforth religion be counted as irreligion.”

Meanwhile, Arius had been pompously parading around the streets, protected by the imperial guard. At last, one could see him thinking, I shall be vindicated.

That every evening, Arius suddenly took ill, violently. Some say terror seized him. He felt the violent urge to relieve his bowels. So, he asked to be directed to an appropriate place. When he let his excrement go, his very bowels left his body as well, his intestines having flowed out his anus, together with his spleen.

Thus ended Arius, perhaps the greatest open heresiarch the Church has known.

May God deliver us from heretics, whether seen or unseen. If the heretics do not repent and amend their ways, may God expose their hidden treacheries and expel them and grant the clarity of Truth prevail over hearts so that, freed from the slavery of error, we may return to him in tears that lead to joy.