Monday, November 24, 2008

Conscience: Too complicated for a layman?

As you may know, I am currently an "enquirer" to become an "aspirant" to become a "candidate" to become a permanent Deacon in the Church. Its a long process (four years formation) and I am only at the end of the first year (the "enquirer" year), and there's no guarentee that the Church will judge my personal sense of vocation to be a sign of a genuine call.

I mention this, because when the Director of the Office for the Permanent Diaconate reviewd formal studies in theology from the Lutheran Seminary, he deemed it to be insufficient in moral philosophy. Hence, next year, I hope to enrol at the Catholic Theological College to remedy this deficiency.

I tell this little story because last night I was invited to give a talk on the topic of "Conscience" to a local Melbourne youth group. If I had been asked straight out to do a talk on this topic, I would have declined and referred them to an expert in the area - Bishop Peter Elliott, for instance, who wrote this little piece ("Moral Conscience") for Kairos (our archdiocesan rag) a few years ago.

However, that isn't how it happened. They booked me up some months ago to speak on the topic of ecumenical and interfaith relations - something I do know something about. I accepted. Then two weeks ago, I got a phone call asking if I could speak on a different topic. Okay, I said, what do you want me to speak on? Conscience.

Understanding the importance of Conscience and its role in living the moral life is just about the first plank in any system of moral philosophy - the aforesaid area of deficiency in my theological eduction. But, I thought to myself, surely it can't be too hard for a layman to understand? Afterall, everyday I (like you, dear reader, lay or otherwise) have recourse to my conscience on an endless number of issues. So, armed with Scripture and Catechism and a few essays by local chums, off I went to give my presentation.

You can find it here and evaluate it for yourself. The main idea, as far as I see it, is something like this. Conscience is (as the Catechism says at §1778) "a judgement of reason". Like a compass that always points North/South, Conscience always enjoins a person "to do good and to avoid evil." (CCC §1777). But as the same paragraph says, conscience "bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn [ie. God]". So the whole deal looks something like this:

God = Supreme Good = Truth
6
Authority = Witness to the Truth = Voice of God
6
Reason = Judgement = Conscience
6
Will = Discipline / Prudence
6
Concrete Action = Future / Present / Past

And thus, as the usefulness of a compass depends upon a the accuracy of the map with which it is used (and knowing where you actually stand in relation to that map), so the usefulness of the rational judgement of conscience will depend upon the authorities upon which one relies and trusts to hear the "voice of God" speaking to one.

While many and various are these "authorities", the Catechism suggests five such authorities on which Christians rely (CCC §1785):
- the Word of God
- the Lord's Cross.
- the gifts of the Holy Spirit,
- the witness or advice of others
- the authoritative teaching of the Church.
That last one is has become the sticking point for "dissenters" in the Church today. On this, two opinions are interesting, first that of Cardinal George Pell (as given in two addresses: The Inconvenient Conscience and Newman and the Drama of True and False Conscience):
“If we disagree with the Church’s message so seriously that we cannot follow its terms, we cannot reinvent that message to make it easier or more palatable. Rather, we enter into a period of prayer, study, and enquiry to try to understand the message and to understand why we find ourselves opposed to it. And if the matter that puzzles us is one of a binding Church teaching or a central moral teaching, then this may prove a lifetime’s work. .” George Pell, The Inconvenient Conscience
The other opinion, not differing from this, is in an essay by local Australian Catholic University theology, Brian Lewis. Lewis is actually writing in reply to another very good essay by Bishop Anthony Fisher, "The moral conscience in ethics and the contemporary crisis of authority". Although he does not share Bishop Anthony's evaluation of the authority of the Magisterium in matters of conscience, nevertheless he concedes that:
“For a Catholic to make a decision in conscience, deliberately ignoring the official teaching of their Church, would be to forfeit one’s claim to be acting as a committed Catholic and in accord with a properly informed conscience.” Brian Lewis , Conscience and the Teaching of the Magisterium on Morality
Anyway, what do you think? Do we need doctorates in moral philosophy just to understand the Church's teaching on conscience? Or is it all, in the end, very simple?

39 Comments:

At Monday, November 24, 2008 11:26:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Well, that list of five authorities needs a little work.

The Word of God would be an authority except we don't know for sure what it says apart from the Church, says the Church.

The Lord's Cross would be an authority except we don't fully know that unless we think with the Church, says the Church.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit would be an authority except we cannot discern them privately apart from the Church (as in your "call"), says the Church.

The witness or advice of others would be an authority except they must be judged with regard to whether they too are in harmony with the Church, says the Church.

The authoritative teaching of the Church is an authority because it is confirmed by the authoritative teaching of the Church.

So you've got a list of one: the authoritative teaching of the Church, the spiritual American Express card, don't leave home without it. Hell, don't even stay at home without it. And stay in prayer, study and enquiry until you see that it's right.

There's your simple, Roman style.

 
At Monday, November 24, 2008 12:13:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Ah, we can't pull the wool over your eyes, PE. You've seen straight through our diabolical subterfuge...

 
At Monday, November 24, 2008 6:17:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a small nuance on "Will = Discipline / Prudence". For Aquinas, prudentia is an intellectual act (or perhaps better an interplay of intellect and will), but an intellectual act that issues in a practical syllogism (i.e. a decision to do or not to do something) rather than a theoretical syllogism. Like Augustine, he uses the term 'liberum arbitrium', which is better translated 'free decision' or 'free judgment', rather than 'free will'.

The point of all this is that the picture sometimes presented as 'traditional' - the intellect deliberating as if it were doing quadratic equations and the mysterious and unaccountable 'free will' then deciding whether to pick up and run with it or not - needs modification. For Aquinas, our will is always attracted to what we understand to be the good, so it is that understanding that first needs attention.

Incidentally, this perspective, which he shares with Aristotle, is similar to an influential contemporary school of clinical psycholgy known as cognitive behaviour therapy which, in a nutshell, says that if you sort out your thinking your feelings will (usually) follow. Notice the difference from the touchy-feely Californian stuff that engulfed Catholic education int he 1960s and 1970s? But that 60s stuff tapped into a longer tradition of voluntarist distortion of moral theology, as Pinckaers will tell you at length.

 
At Monday, November 24, 2008 7:11:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Nice job. Typical. Dismiss what you cannot address.

The fact remains that since the Word of God, the Lord's Cross, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the example and advice of others are not to be understood according to the Roman church apart from the teaching authority of the Roman Church, you have a list of one.

 
At Monday, November 24, 2008 8:55:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

We're trying to discuss conscience here, not grumpily carp - learn what manners are, don't intrude your endless miserable bellyaching!

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 1:53:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Nice job. Typical. Dismiss what you cannot address.

Re Conscience, the post said "the usefulness of the rational judgement of conscience will depend upon the authorities upon which one relies and trusts to hear the "voice of God" speaking to one." It then went on to list five such authorities from a suggestion in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The fifth authority listed is "the authoritative teaching of the Church". The other four, though, are not authoritative in themselves, but subject to "the authoritative teaching of the Church". This would then, would it not, reduce the list to in fact one, the authoritative teaching of the Church.

Learn what manners are, and don't intrude your endless miserable refusal to accept anything outside your a priori as carping or bellyaching.

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 2:38:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

The Word of God -- apart from the teaching authority of the Church.

Well, let me see. As far back as I can go in the "Roman" Church the Word interprets the "Word", in other words, the teaching of Jesus Christ as it exists in the "Roman" Church.

That Word has consistently upheld the nature of the Christ, true God and true Man. It has consistently upheld the nature of the Eucharist a the true Body and Blood, the same Body broken on the Cross, the same Blood shed thereform.

Which Word, which teaching authority indeed.

The Word of the Amish -- who believe that it tells them using electricity is sinful.

The Word of the Baptists -- for whom the Lord's Supper is merely an ordinance.

The Word of the Churches of Christ -- who say that the New Testament forbids the use of musical instruments in worship.

The Word of the UCC -- that says the Word authorizes them to ordain women and bless gay marriage.

The Word as expounded in the BoC, which nevertheless has not been able to keep Lutherans ecclesially united with one another.

I was hearing "Brother Dave" of the Trinity Gospel Temple in Canton, Ohio expounding "the Word" on Sunday morning. Come next Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent for Lutherans and Catholics, Brother Dave won't be participating in the lighting of the Advent wreath. He won't be expounding on the glorious scriptural passages that speak of the Lord's coming, past and future. But you can order a free video about the Rapture.

But he is firmly rooted in "the Word."

Am I making a judgment on his salvation? Absolutely not.

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 3:32:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

My point exactly -- since the Word of God in your view is inseparable from the teaching authority of the Roman church, it is neither appropriate nor accurate to list it as a distinct source unto itself for the formation of conscience, since it and all the others are subject in the end to only one, the Roman church.

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 4:21:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

My point exactly -- since the Word of God in your view is inseparable from the teaching authority of the Roman church, it is neither appropriate nor accurate to list it as a distinct source unto itself for the formation of conscience, since it and all the others are subject in the end to only one, the Roman church.

No, my view is that the Magisterium of the Catholic Church has been a diligent guardian of the deposit of faith as received from Apostolic times.

From the Reformation to the Radical Reformation one can't always make that claim. Ergo, all those "sectarian" ways of reading it.

And please note I usually refer to the ancient title, the Catholic Church. I don't much use the "Roman" church except around here, unless we are specifically speaking of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church or the Church of Rome proper.

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 4:42:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

My point exactly -- your view is that the Magisterium of the Catholic Church has been a diligent guardian of the deposit of faith as received from Apostolic times. Therefore, in that view, the five sources listed for the formation of conscience are really only one, since the first four are subject to the fifth, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

(As an aside, your comments about the exact name of the church body in question of course reflect its belief that is IS the church in its fulness subsisting, and of course my usage of the term "Roman" church reflects the belief that it is not. I'm quite happy to call it the Catholic Church too, as long is it is not taken therefore as referring to the church mentioned in the Creed, any more than the Apostolic Holiness Church down the street from me is identified as that church either by the use as proper adjectives of the marks of the church in the Creed.)

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 5:55:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Nein, nein, und nochmal nein, Donnerwetter!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states that the Church lives under the authority of the Word of God. The teaching office of the Church is given to guard the deposit of faith given in the Word.

In other words, when my local Jehovah's Witness friends knock on my door and tell me that Jesus is not the Son of God I can point them to the canonical Scriptures which were assembled by and passed on by the Church and say nyet, my friends, you are mistaken. Your Bible doesn't contain the correct translation of the Scriptures. You are in error.

Sorry PE, but the Catholic Church is still very much the Church of the Creed.

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 8:42:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

False.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says it lives under the authority of the Word of God. Fine. What does the Word of God say then? Any references in there about a bishop in Rome and bishops in communion with him, who will use this book as their authority?

No. It's a totally circular argument. The Roman, oh what the hell, the Catholic Church is under the authority of the Word because its magisterial catechism says so; the Catholic Church is the same church as the catholic church of the creed because the magisterium of the "Church" says so; the authority if the magisterium is confirmed by Scripture because the magisterium so confirms it, on and on and on.

First, last and always, it's the authority of Catholic Church that defines and/or confirms everything else.

To begin to see that is to begin to see why worrying about Roman, Catholic, catholic or whatever words for it really isn't the issue, because call it what you will, it's its own god.

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 11:08:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

The fact remains that since the Word of God, the Lord's Cross, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the example and advice of others are not to be understood according to the Roman church apart from the teaching authority of the Roman Church, you have a list of one.

I am open to hearing your alternative, PE.

It seems that what Christine has pointed out is that there is only two alternatives: either you rely on your own private judgement with regard to the interpretation of the Scriptures, or you rely on the judgement of some external authority. It matters little in this alternative whether that external body is the Catholic Church, or any other confessional, institutional or exegetical authority.

Unless you accept that there is an authority external to yourself that you can trust to interpret the Scriptures, you are thrown back on the only remaining authority: yourself.

Show me how your criticism does not end up with using yourself and only yourself as your final authority by which you hear the Voice of God speaking.

And then explain to me why my "self" should have any greater claim to authority than the Pope?

Or do you concede that there IS an external and reliable authority by which we can interpret the Word of God? If so, what is it? I would be only too glad to hear from you on this point.

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 11:42:00 am , Blogger Louise said...

You know, PE, when people turn up on a blog and carp on and bellyache, they are normally considered to be "trolls." And indeed, there is something terribly troll-like about most of your postings here.

Normal discourse normally includes basic decency and I cannot quite see why anyone here should feel obliged to answer anyone who disagrees with them, when they behave so much like "trolls." In short, there is good reason for ignoring you most of the time. However,

The Word of God would be an authority except we don't know for sure what it says apart from the Church, says the Church.

For Heaven's sake, man! We don't even know what *constitutes* the Word of God without the Church, so yes, essentially the Church is it. As you say. Congratulations.

Now, what I do want to know is this: if I were to suddenly grow brain or merely come to my senses - or whatever you think is necessary - and began to realise that, by George (not Pell), PE is right and the Church really isn't what I thought it was all these years, then what should I do by your counsel?

Remain in the Catholic Church and try to change it?

Join another church and which one?

Is there any church which is, in fact, close enough to the early church for your liking?

Also, could you then tell me whether I should ditch my Catholic Bible for a Protestant Bible and by what authority am I to know which is the correct one?

Thankyou.

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 11:57:00 am , Blogger Louise said...

It's a totally circular argument.

Actually, it's a spiral argument, but I'll have to wait til later to give a quick rendition of it.

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 2:28:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

Okay, I think I have a bit of time now.

There are 3 things we need to establish:

1. The existence of God
2. That Jesus is both God and Man
3. That the Catholic Church is the Church He founded.

Since I think I am speaking to theists here, I will not bother establishing the first point and I assume we all have enough natural apologetics to do it ourselves.

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 2:37:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

So, to examine the second point.

First, we approach the Gospels in particular (since they are all about Christ on earth) not as the Word of God, initially, but as a historical text.

(BTW, this is just a very short sketch of the argument. A fuller one is at my blog here and a fuller explanation exists in the references I cite there)

We know from studies that as texts, the Gospels are very good in their accuracy (better than most ancients texts).

We know, too, from Tacitus and others that Jesus Christ really existed in history.

We read about Him in the historical documents called The Gospels.

Because I know I'm speaking to Christians as well as theists, I will skim over this bit and just say that we arrive at the conclusion that Jesus is God, via something like the "Lunatic, Liar or Lord" process.

The evidence is pretty clear that Jesus is Lord and not wither of the others or anything else we might think up.

So, the main point here is that we conclude the Lordship of Christ, without even considering the Church's authority and only by looking at the Gospels as a text.

(This is why mine is not a cicular argument).

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 2:43:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

On then, to the third point.

We look at what Our Lord Jesus Christ (for so we now know Him to be) did and said.

He founded a Church, with Peter and the Apostles as its earthly authority.

Now, it is by this authority that we know that the Gospels are The Word of God and not the gospel of St Thomas, for example.

We know that St Paul's 2nd and 3rd letter to the Corinthians are scriptural (and renamed as 1st and 2nd Corinthians) by this same authority. We know that all the various books of the Bible are scripture for this reason, also, and that the Protestant Bible is therefore wrong.

Bottom line: Protestants don't really have a leg to stand on when it comes to the Bible, unless we wish to make the argument that the Christian faith is irrational.

Protestants are right that it's the Word of God, but we only really know this through the authority of the Church.

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 2:52:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

To put things another way, let us suppose that PE is right that the Catholic Church worships itself as its own god. Well then, why should I worship myself instead? Because this really is the only alternative as David and Christine have demonstrated.

Or to put it differently again: I asked PE which church I should go to if I come to the same conclusion as he has. But why should I do anything PE says?

He will perhaps say, "but you should do what you think you should do" or "do what God tells you." But how do I know that God is telling me to go to this church and not that one? In the end I will make my decision as best I can, but surely I might be wrong.

So, I cannot see any gain in following my conscience to Pastor Bob's church down the road, when maybe I ought to be in the Catholic Church after all, or Pastor Bill's Church up the road.

I have come to the more reasonable conclusion that the Church has teaching authority in all matters relating to faith and morals, but does not worship itself, it worships and serves Our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be all glory and praise forever and ever!

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 8:24:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Absolutely incredible. Slim as any hope may be of penetrating a priori defences which do not allow anything to exist apart from them:

The sole point I make in this thread is this: a list has been proposed of five authorities to whom one may appeal in the formation of conscience, however, within the mindset proposing these five authorities, the first four do not stand on their own and are only validated and normed by the fifth, therefore, the fifth is in fact the only authority to whom one unltimately appeals in the formation of conscience.

That's it.

Except "it" is not heard at all. One responder calls it bellyaching and a lack of manners. Another, also avoiding the issue entirely, demands an alternative and says really there are only two, yourself or this (Newman lives!). Yet another reinvents the wheel only to come to this, since the only options are this, the Catholic Church, or yourself, which church should I go to if I come to the same conclusion about the list of authorities and why should I care what you say about it anyway.

Are there five authorities for the formation of conscience as listed, or, by the same authority which lists the five including iteself as fifth but which judges the other four, only one, itself?

That's it. It's not about well what else would I propose, it's not about sola scriptura, and it's sure as hell not about "sola ecclesia" and if ecclesia ain't the Catholic Church then what is it.

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 9:58:00 pm , Anonymous Arnold I. Reeves said...

David Schütz asks:

"Do we need doctorates in moral philosophy just to understand the Church's teaching on conscience?"

Well, St Bernadette, St Jean Vianney, and, indeed, most canonised saints seem to have had consciences which got them into heaven without such doctorates! Indeed without much education of any formal sort.

I am not having a shot at any individuals here, but I do get restive when modern Catholics adopt the Protestant-Puritan-American belief that they gain spiritual insights from prodigious quantities of postgraduate schooling. My restiveness increases when the schooling is obtained from a college that is either blandly liberal or aggressively secular.

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 10:36:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

I said:

We don't even know what *constitutes* the Word of God without the Church, so yes, essentially the Church is it. As you say. Congratulations.

Which pretty well addresses the point you made.

As it happens, I provided a rational basis for my beliefs, so either address that or don't. As you please.

But don't accuse me of not addressing your point, which in any case was more than your manners deserve.

Why don't you just demonstrate to us why Newman is wrong instead of carping and bellyaching?

 
At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 10:39:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

It's not about well what else would I propose

Not on this thread, no, PE. But it's not as though we don't have a whole history here with you. If you're so sure we're wrong and you're right, why don't you provide a rational (and preferably civil) argument for this and persuade us instead of all this damned hectoring.

If you can't, then why should we listen to you?

 
At Wednesday, November 26, 2008 1:31:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

What does the Word of God say then?

It says "Do this in rembrance of me", which the Catholic Church has been doing faithfully for the past 2000 years.

Any references in there about a bishop in Rome and bishops in communion with him, who will use this book as their authority?

That's why I call you a fundamentalist, PE. I don't look to the Bible as the sole authority of all things ecclesiastical so there is no reason at all why I need to accept your version of church history. Been there and done that as a Lutheran.

The Keys of Kingdom were given to Peter and the Apostles by the Lord.

Enough said.

 
At Wednesday, November 26, 2008 3:53:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Christine -- still no answer on why it is OK to Dresserise the OT but not the New, huh? I'm not asking you to accept my version of church history, I'm asking you where in Scripture is there a reference to a bishop in Rome and bishops in communion with him as the arbiters of Scripture? If your answer is nowhere, that's fine. All my versions, including Jerome's, say Thou art Peter, not Thou art a Petrine Ministry. I did not say Jesus did not say to the Apostles receive the keys etc. Enough said? Not said at all. The question is, what happened next? It's fine to say "next", being the authority of the Petrine Ministry (read, Pope) and the magisterium of the Church (read, bishops in line with the Pope), is confirmed by the constant witness ever since of the Petrine Ministry and the magisterium of the Church. Assuming first what one later proves therefrom is generally known as begging the question, but that's OK, it wasn't the question here at all.

Geez, Louise, (now there's a phrase, wonder if it'll catch on) I guess I would have thought your point about the role of the church in the formation of the canon was addressing the point, except that wasn't the point, the formation of conscience was. As to Newman, he was referred to parenthetically; parenthetical comments are, well, parenthetical. You say you agree, yes, the "Church" is essentially it, then what, serial post six times to get over having said it? And then to stay on topic on this post I must defend what I did not say on the topic on other posts? Wow. Catholic apologetics has come a long way!

Mr Reeves makes an excellent point. In which list of canonised saints we could underline a bunch of fishermen, a tax official and a terrorist.

 
At Wednesday, November 26, 2008 5:14:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Christine -- still no answer on why it is OK to Dresserise the OT but not the New, huh?

I believe I answered that question. I accept the person of Jesus Christ because it is the witness not of a book but the Christian community from the getgo.

The God of the OT is most fully revealed in the NT. When Jesus Christ speaks it is of a different nature than the story of Job or Jonah. The Pharisees who searched the Scriptures in order that they "might have life" but would not come to Christ. With Luther I agree that Scripture is the cradle of Christ but I would go one step further. For me the Word is primarily Jesus the Messiah, not the entirety of Scripture. And we do remember Luther's struggles with James, Hebrews and Revelation, right?

I'm not asking you to accept my version of church history, I'm asking you where in Scripture is there a reference to a bishop in Rome and bishops in communion with him as the arbiters of Scripture? If your answer is nowhere, that's fine.

No, its not in the Bible and that doesn't trouble me in the least. The Church was worshipping and witnessing long before the OT/NT were assembled. By the time the canon of Scripture was finalized the episcopacy was firmly in place under the leadership of Peter the Rock. The Pope and bishops don't arbitrarily decide on the interpretation of Scripture but in concert with the entire Apostolic witness as it came down from the beginning. The Patristic writings span a great deal more than the musings of Jerome.

Catholics see the early centuries of the church as the seed that was grown by the Holy Spirit into the fullness of Christ's teaching.

I also think Mr. Reeves was making the point that faithful Catholic witness does not so much involve academic tomes as lives lived in union with Jesus Christ.

 
At Wednesday, November 26, 2008 8:20:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Which beginning was that? The one where Paul ran all over the Empire countering others running all over the Empire? The one where Hippolytus left Rome accusing Pope Zephyrinus and Callixtus of being Monarchians, then got himself elected bishop of Rome while Urban and Pontian were already bishops of Rome. I mean, as they say in that other mythological character, The Highlander, There can BE only ONE! Except there weren't.

 
At Wednesday, November 26, 2008 8:31:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

No, the beginning of a small dedicated community that met in house churches and the catacombs that moved out into the Roman world when Constantine legalized Christianity and made it possible for larger buildings where more Christians could worship at liturgies presided over by the bishop until there were so many that the bishop appointed presbyters (priests) to preside over local liturgies and .... oh rats, I'm running out of breath.

As my good Irish friend Rita, a most amiable person and dedicated Catholic (may perpetual light shine upon her) once said, "The Catholic Church must be the true church. No other church has made so many mistakes!"

And yet, at every Mass, preaches Jesus Christ crucified and risen and feeds His people with His Body and Blood.

Doesn't get any better than that.

 
At Wednesday, November 26, 2008 11:29:00 am , Blogger Louise said...

Geez, Louise

Yeah, thanks, PE.

I guess I would have thought your point about the role of the church in the formation of the canon was addressing the point, except that wasn't the point, the formation of conscience was.

It was the point of David's post, I grant you, but you simply asked if the various authorities he listed were really just one authority in the end.

I said:

We don't even know what *constitutes* the Word of God without the Church, so yes, essentially the Church is it. As you say. Congratulations.

But I suppose I'm expecting you to connect some dots here. If we can only know what constitutes the canon by Church authority, then it follows that Church authority must be our authority for understanding the Word of God and hence having our consciences formed.

As to Newman, he was referred to parenthetically; parenthetical comments are, well, parenthetical.

Okay. Fine. Maybe you could reduce the number of your comments referring to Newman parethetically. Just a suggestion.

You say you agree, yes, the "Church" is essentially it, then what, serial post six times to get over having said it?

Okay, I'm very frustrated with you, PE. You expect me to come up with short, snappy little rejoinders to your bizarre rants - I get that. I could have left it at my first post, but I was only trying to point out my rationale for believing as I do. Nobody is compelling you to read it, but you do spend an awful lot of time demanding that we respond to whatever you rant about (and I have already pointed out that your behaviour means that I am personally not inclined to do so, but have felt that I ought to try). I have merely tried to explain my position. You are obviously fundamentally not interested in anything I have to say, because it does not come up to your lofty standards. Pardon me for having a low IQ.

 
At Wednesday, November 26, 2008 2:40:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

I think I might rename Past Elder as "the artful dodger". He's better than superman dodging bullets when it comes to dodging a straightforward question.

PE (AKA the Artful Dodger): We've admitted your simple question (yes, it comes down to the Authority of the Church).

Our simple Question is still hanging there waiting for an answer:

What's your alternative, and why should we accept it?

 
At Wednesday, November 26, 2008 3:47:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Wow, 29 posts later, someone just says what I suggested analysis of the five authorities indicates -- there's only one, the authority of the Church, on the list. Then you make it an issue of what's my alternative.

And I'M the artful dodger?

Where, in saying the list of five is really a list of one, is anything said or implied that there is another than that one?

 
At Wednesday, November 26, 2008 3:51:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Asides:

Christine, you describe the origin of the Roman church only. Since Lucian hasn't jumped in, I'll point out that takes no account whatever of the equally ancient origin of other churches in the East.

Louise, if anyone is saying you have a low IQ, it is not I. Where did that come from?

 
At Wednesday, November 26, 2008 6:34:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

PE my point about my IQ entirely reflects my emotional state and has nothing whatever to do with anything which involves reason.

Suffice it to say that you have deeply upset me, not that I expect you to care.

As it happens, I know (rationally) that I'm reasonably intelligent and possibly even smart.

I think I answered your question earlier, PE, but you didn't accept that because either, I didn't connect the dots for you, or in fact I have made a leap in logic etc. If I have done the latter, I have no objection to you telling me so, I just don't see why you have to be so horrid about it.

As for my six posts, PE, they may be flawed etc, but I wrote them for you, only to let you know my general reasoning, not as some kind of defensive justification of what I believe.

I won't bother wasting my time again.

The reason we've been making an issue of the supposed alternative is because you've come here demanding we change our wicked ways, yet won't even do us the courtesy of telling us what we ought to change to and on what basis.

 
At Wednesday, November 26, 2008 6:38:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

To answer your question, David, which I ought to have done first instead of wasting my precious time:

Conscience: not too complicated for a layman, imho.

If it were, the stupid and/or ill-educated would be in danger of damnation by not having the brains/education to do the right thing (including believing in Jesus).

 
At Thursday, November 27, 2008 3:18:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

No, I do not demand you change, nor do I characterise your ways as wicked, nor, although I think it would the best fir you, do I seek to convert you to Lutheranism (that being the requested "alternative").

Re my appearances here in general to which you refer, it is for the sake of the very Catholicism you seek and no other path I say that what to you is normative I saw constructed from first to last, even being taught by some of its architects, and the violence with which it dismantled the Catholic Church and faith and assembled something else in its place was, to use your term, horrid indeed, so that Catholicism has no greater enemy than the post-conciliar entity travelling under the same name. None. Ever.

A Catholic can have nothing to do with this preposterous and monstrous sham, precisely for the sake of Catholicism and the Catholic Church. That's it. As to what to do then, the "alternative", I don't know and I am not trying to encourage you to follow the path I did at all. For me, the utter violent and vicious apostacy of the Catholic Church to the Catholic Church itself was so intense as to render Christian belief impossible in any form for about twenty years. I am not saying you must do so too. The message is what I saw, not what I myself did about it. You may find another answer. Many have. If you want to find what I believe by the grace of God was shown to me as the answer, fine but I am not here to promote that, nor to challenge the Catholicism you seek, but to say for its own and very sake, what has been presented to you under the same name is nothing of the sort.

Re the specific topic, the formation of conscience and the proposed list of five authorities for doing that, there was no other point to it, none, but to say really there is only one authority there, the Church. Where in that is any statement or implication that that is wrong, or right, or that there is another I'm really getting at, or anything else but that there is really but one authority on the list?

In fact, I do not believe there is another authority. The solas I now believe are not understood apart from the church. My difference with the post-conciliar Roman church and, now, with the actual Catholic Church are not about the authority of the church at all, but about how does that authority, and that church, actually work out. I am not here to promote my answer for that. Brian proposes on this blog elsewhere another answer re how authority and church actually work and do so within the visible boundaries of the post-conciliar Roman church. His no less than mine nor any of the others with which I do not agree is born from not a rejection of authority and the church but a different understanding of what these things are and how they work out.

 
At Thursday, November 27, 2008 7:10:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

For me, the utter violent and vicious apostacy of the Catholic Church to the Catholic Church itself was so intense as to render Christian belief impossible in any form for about twenty years.

Gott hilf mir, sometimes when I read PE I'm reminded of Festus addressing St. Paul: "Your great learning has made you mad!"

A recovering academic indeed!

Louise, please remember that PE is addressing Catholics who for the most part were raised in or converted to the postconciliar church and are happy in it. There are plenty of Catholics who grew up in the same era as he did and don't feel the way he does. You don't have to prove a thing to PE or anyone else.

When you have some time to do it, research some of the articles written by Father Richard Neuhaus about his years as a Missouri Synod Lutheran and his eventual conversion to Catholicism. Father Neuhaus is one of several folks that put me onto the path of the Catholic Church as well as the witness of some wonderful(postconciliar, I might add) cradle Catholics in my life, generous, faithfilled and Christ-centered people.

Don't ever feel you have to justify being Catholic!

 
At Thursday, November 27, 2008 7:59:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Read the articles please! I have. Nothing could make clearer that the church to which he converted is the one constructed in the 1960s and would not have been possible before, and whatever he has joined, it is not the church that existed anywhere before Rome in the 1960s. Among the many. many evidences that the post-conciliar Catholic Church is not the Catholic Church, Neuhaus' writings are among the best I know!

I'm reminded of the words of St Paul too, something about if anyone, I or even an angel from heaven, deliver a message to you other than the one that has been delivered, let him be anathema.

Think he was just being rude, or using a little Jewish story telling to make a point?

The Catholic Church stands condemned under its very own anathemas, most recently for the Joint Declaration, a miserable travesty upon both Catholicism and Lutheranism, but predicatble enough as the Whore of Babylon gathers herself for the final struggle.

Neither you nor anyone else has to apologise for being Catholic. To paraphrase the joke David likes, when do you leave the Catholic Church, as soon as you realise it isn't!

 
At Thursday, November 27, 2008 8:43:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

To paraphrase the joke David likes, when do you leave the Catholic Church, as soon as you realise it isn't!

Except -- I don't think anyone here is leaving :)

 
At Thursday, November 27, 2008 8:45:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

As far as that "other Gospel" St. Paul was quite right. The gnostics were preaching a very different one.

The Catholic Church still preaches Jesus Christ Crucified. We do it at every Mass.

 

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