Saturday, November 02, 2019

A summary of the faith

"God so loved the world..."

A thumbnail of the full Christian faith, the Catholic faith: God, Christ, Trinity, hypostatic union (Christ, true God and true man), Mother of God, communion of saints, intermediate state for some of the dead, infallible church, bishops, Mass, and the right, not a requirement, to use images in worship (all can, some should, none must).

The flashpoint of all orthodoxy vs. all sin is where God and his creation in the flesh meet: the fallen angels vs. humanity, who Jesus is, the Eucharist, and sex. Iconoclasm falls under this. (It's related to who Jesus is. You don't have to use images but can't condemn them.)

With only the Vincentian canon or the first seven church councils you pretty much get Catholicism. How about that?

Liberals admit that early on you end up with it, but say it was a human process, not an infallible church.

Every ancient church, even the heretics, thought only they were the true Catholics.

Today, according to Catholicism, you have what I call the great Catholic family of valid orders, of real bishops and real Masses, our corrected branch theory. Valid orders: basic credal orthodoxy (the Nestorians pass!), unbroken apostolic succession, and unbroken true teaching about the Eucharist (sorry, Anglicans; Reformed doesn't pass - we take your framers at their word).

That leaves you with these contenders: Rome, the biggest communion, Catholic splinters such as the Old Catholics and their American offshoot, the Polish National Catholics, and all the separated Eastern churches (not "the Eastern Church": there's more than one and they long didn't recognize each other): the Orthodox (the second biggest communion), the Monophysites/Miaphysites, and the Assyrians/Nestorians.

Let's clarify the thumbnail by adding some negatives: no adulterous second marriages (without annulments) and no contraception. Related to sex, part of the flashpoint of all rebellion against God.

Who's been faithful to this?

Who's not limited to one rite or set of cultures?

Who has fulfilled Jesus' Great Commission to teach all nations?

"On this rock I will build my church." Not the man (he can be a private heretic or unbeliever); the Pope's office as part of the episcopate and part of the church's infallibility, explaining our teachings.


  1. Yes bergolio is doing a superb job in transmitting the Faith once delivered.

    1. We don't have to pretend he is. His office, not the man, is part of the church's teaching authority.

    2. But this is where it gets sticky; can one separate the man from the office? The documents of Vatican I declare that the Pope's infallibility is not based upon the consent of the Church but is personal to the person of the Pope and, at least in older editions of the Catholic Encyclopedia, Papal Infallibility is explained as a "personal charisma."

    3. I admit it's sticky. I don't have a pat answer. I submit to the judgement of the church of course, but if I'm wrong I wouldn't throw away my missals, breviaries, and rosaries and be baptized de novo by some Old Calendarist sect that makes excuses for remarriage after divorce and even contraception, with a big side dish of culture worship (and I do like the strong cultures in Byzantine Christianity) and (former) empire worship. God is not stupid. Disprove Catholicism and I would no longer be Christian.

    4. Here's a try: the office doesn't get its infallibility from the church's consent but has it from the beginning, but the man can still be wrong in his private opinions and on things not doctrine.

    5. But as it it now understood, if the Pope declares his private opinions to be ex cathedra, they then do indeed become Catholic dogma.

      I do know that there is general rejoicing over the canonization of Henry Newman, but many are losing sight of the fact that some of his teachings, especially his application of Darwinism to theology in is development of doctrine theory can, and I think, is, very dangerous to Catholic practice and doctrine.

      The application to this novel theory was one of the driving forces in the invention of the novus ordo.

    6. No: the Pope's not like the Episcopal Church's General Convention or the Mormon Prophet. His office literally can't make heresy Catholic doctrine. Newman's theory of doctrinal development is useful. It works because doctrine can't contradict itself, so the heretics lose.

      I appreciate the separated Eastern churches' and classic Anglicans' attempt to appeal to antiquity vs. Rome. Maybe the old high churchmen really thought we'd be the ones with women bishops marrying two men by now. Meanwhile the Orthodox are out of communion with each other - Constantinople vs. Moscow as Soloviev predicted - and make excuses for remarriage after divorce and for contraception. So the "conservative" case against Rome fails.

      The Novus Ordo may be unfortunate but our doctrine didn't change. It can't.

    7. The folly of thinking one knows better than the church, left or right: something called the Latin Tridentine Church ended up ordaining Sinead O'Connor.

    8. Maybe your chief of police is a crook who takes bribes from organized crime to look the other way, and has his men shake down passing motorists with bogus tickets. He's a bad police chief, but that doesn't mean your town can do without a police department and somebody to run it.

    9. “if the Pope declares his private opinions to be ex cathedra, they then do indeed become Catholic dogma.”
      They have to be regarding faith and morals. If they are declared ex cathedra, they are no longer his private opinions.
      Yes, there is a leap of faith that he won’t do this. It seems like he’s had awhile to do this (6 years). Why wouldn’t he have done this (if he’s capable of doing this) already?

    10. Bruce, my own feelings, that really do not matter to anyone, is that in the near future many will look back on Pope Francis as the last somewhat Catholic Pope. He has already stacked the next vote for someone who will be far more "advanced" than he is in most issues of Faith and Morals.

      But here is a real problem; everything is in some way a matter of Faith and Morals, everything. When the Pope can declaim who is Christian or not on a single issue of building walls, I have one around my own garden, then nothing is off the table.

  2. “no adulterous second marriages (without annulments)”
    An annulment (declaration of nullity) is not infallible. It is a legal verdict that only carries moral (not absolute) certitude. I don’t like the use of the term “annulment” – it sounds like the Church can dissolve a real marriage (it can’t.).

    1. That seems to explain the multitude since the Sixties who appear to have gamed the system. Our teaching on annulments is still sound.

  3. I agree with the aforementioned response re:annulments. I don't trust them. A legal process not a theological one. After-the-fact testimonies that I doubt would stand up to the rules of evidence in a secular court. At best only a small set of circumstances would lend themselves to a correctly delivered decree of ecclesiastical nullity. I am referring to cases of the exterior forum i.e., John marries Mary but later on finds out that John and Mary are biological siblings or half-siblings. Or perhaps John marries Mary but Mary is really Jane [multiple personality disorder(s)]. The Orthodox may be wrong in their pastoral treatment of failed marriages but I hesitate to criticize them if only because Catholics are in no position re: the Church's pastoral treatment of failed marriages to boast.

    1. The Orthodox are wrong in principle (they haven't elevated it to defined doctrine so arguably they're off the hook but need to clean up their act) and Catholicism is not.

      "Sometimes adultery is okay for pastoral reasons," as Orthodoxy's great minds teach, is crappy theology.

      Sure, people, mostly Americans, are bilking the annulment process, but the church's teaching on annulments is sound.


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