The first job is to determine what ‘beatitudo’ meant simply as a matter of ordinary language, reserving til later the question of its learned definitions (rationes). There are three options: happiness, well-being, and fulfillment. To see which option is best, one needs to consider the following facts.
In a notorious article of the Prima Secundae, Aquinas claimed that the first moral decision of an unbaptized child could not result in a venial sin. If the decision was bad, the sin could only be mortal. On the other hand, if the decision was good, the same unbaptized child was freed from original sin. The common doctor’s argument for these claims wove together threads of psychology, moral theology, and eschatology, to fashion a controversial doctrine — elegant, but hard to defend, and in conflict with his own work on faith and justification. This paper will unravel the threads and propose a revised doctrine, less elegant but more plausible, and free of conflict. Continue reading “Grace And Sin At The Dawn Of Moral Experience”
Orientale Lumen Conference
Washington DC 2004
San Diego 2005
I begin with this question: what is the right starting point for theological reflection on the structure of the Church? One might think, “Well, the New Testament, of course” But this answer is not enough. As Fr. Raymond Collins pointed out to us, last night, the New Testament evidence is “less than clear.” Fr. Collins indicated three New Testament pictures, as you may recall: the charismatic, the Christian rabbinic, and the household overseer. It is important to add, however, that the New Testament text itself does not tell us whether these are three structures or are three different ways of describing one structure.Continue reading “Structure Of The Church East And West”
The title assigned to my talk is an easy and peaceable one, but the subtitle I was given is a killer. It is the following question: Does the essential collaboration between bishops and theologians compromise the integrity of the university?
I shall proceed in three stages. First, I shall ask whether we have a real question here. Second, if we do, I shall present the affirmative answer (yes, the university’s integrity is compromised). Then, I shall consider some negative answers which I think are inadequate. Finally, I shall sketch what I think is the right negative answer (saying why the university’s integrity is not compromised). Continue reading “On The Collaboration Between Bishops And Theologians”
IMPLAUSIBLE DIAGNOSIS: A RESPONSE TO GERMAIN GRISEZ
W. H. MARSHNER
THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF JURISPRUDENCE
An International Forum for Legal Philosophy
NOTRE DAME LAW SCHOOL
natural law institute
For one who has learned a great deal from Grisez’s work over the years, it is an honor to be asked to comment on one of his papers. What is more (since wisdom is better than honor), I have found it rewarding to comment on a paper that covers the whole problem of human action: how it relates to volition, how it comes under norms, how it aims at personal fulfillment, and how it can achieve (when elevated by the love of God) a supernatural Kingdom. Truly systematic treatments of this are rare, even over the long haul of Church history. There was Augustine’s; then there was Aquinas’s (each tinkered with by countless subsequent disciples); now there is Grisez’s. Continue reading “Implausible Diagnosis: A Response To Germain Grisez”
Can A Couple Practicing NFP Be Practicing Contraception?
PONTIFICIA UNIVERSITAS GREGORIANA ROMA
Vol. 77, Fasc. 4, 1996
Among Catholics who follow the Church’s teaching, it is well accepted that a couple practicing Natural Family Planning (NFP) with an intention of a certain kind is doing a morally good act, quite different from contracepting. It is also accepted that a couple practicing NFP with an intention of a different kind is doing a morally wrong act, similar to contracepting. These two intentions — how exactly do they differ? Continue reading “Can A Couple Practicing NFP Be Practicing Contraception?”
Front Royal, Virginia
[Reprinted from The Thomist, 59, 3, July, 1995]
Among the questions dealt with in the Prima Secundae are those of what moral goodness “is” and on what basis it is attributed to some human actions but denied of others. Aquinas’s answers are currently a matter of contention between the proportionalists and their critics, as is his answer to the question of how human actions are classified. Continue reading “Aquinas on the Evaluation of Human Actions”
A high-powered Catholic/Protestant debate! Held before an audience of over 1,000 people at Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena, California in March, 1995.
Dr. William Marshner joins Patrick Madrid and Bob Sungenis, a team of three Catholic apologists, against a three-man team of Protestant apologists: Dr. Robert Godfrey (Calvinist; president of Westminster Theological Seminary, Escondido), Dr. Rod Rosenbladt (Lutheran; professor of theology, Scripture, and apologetics at Concordia University), and Dr. Michael Horton (Reformed Episcopalian; author and host of “The White Horse Inn” radio show). Continue reading ““What Still Divides Us?” Debate”
0.0 The following text is a hypothesis as to how the late Karl Rahner, S.J., applied in his theology a certain fixed pattern in construing the mysteries of the Faith. I call this pattern his stencil. Under my hypothesis, certain conceptual moves distinctive of his theology were made so as to put him in a position to apply the stencil. By its repeated applications he was able to impose upon the mysteries both a far-reaching isomorphism and a transcendental meaning. The first and basic application was as follows.
Human Life International
Volume II, Number 12
Superlatives are rash, but I am going to risk two: Veritatis splendor is the most comprehensive teaching on morality in the entire history of the Holy See, and it is the most important papal encyclical since Vatican II.
My first superlative can be proved. The second is trickier. Richard McCormick, S.J., has told the readers of America that he is betting on the future. History will bury this encyclical, he thinks, as it has long since buried the warnings of Pius XII against “new theology.” Well, this writer is prepared to bet on the other side, and I’ll match any sum Fr. McCormick is prepared to put up. I’ll bet that in ten years the doctrine of John Paul II will be triumphant in the Church, and the “proportionalism” of McCormick will be well on its way to oblivion.
It is a central claim of Christianity that certain teachings formulated in the Mediterranean world two thousand years ago are divinely revealed. It is also a central claim that this revelation has been grasped and repeated ever since as the “same Gospel” — an achievement which heresies did not prevent and from which legitimate developments did not detract.
Traditionally, these two claims have been understood to demand the following explanation: the expressions used in formulating the original teachings have been understood within the main body of the Church with enough invariance, over all the intervening centuries and in widely different civilizations, to ensure that the “same doctrine” has been handed down.Continue reading “Concept, Judgment, and Dogmatic Relativism”
Episcopal conferences grew up with little or no theory behind them. Invented here and there for local reasons, they were marked off from synods and councils by expensive traits: the bishops had to meet on an annual schedule, with by-laws and elected officers, and with the interim support of a permanent staff. Everything seemed affordable in the golden years of Pius XII and John XXIII, and so the creation of more conferences was strongly recommended at Vatican II (especially in the decree ChristusDominus). Before long about a hundred of them had come into existence throughout the world.
Review of Russell Hittinger, A Critique of the New Natural Law Theory (Notre Dame, 1987), 232 pp.
By W. H. MARSHNER
FAITH AND REASON
Vol. XVI, No. 2
The job of ethics is to tell us which actions are right and wrong, while the job of a “grounding” for ethics is to tell us why. For example, a “grounding” might show that right actions measure up to something, and the wrong ones don’t, and then tell us why this measure matters. Different kinds of grounding have been tried in the history of ethics; one is called “natural law” theory, and the three authors at issue in this review — Thomas Aquinas, Germain Grisez, and Russell Hittinger — all favor some version of it. Continue reading “A Tale Of Two Beatitudes”
Suppose God pulls me up by my armpits to make me stand. If my legs stay jelly, does He succeed in making me stand? No. My muscles and sinews must become such that, in real terms, I am standing on them. The same is true when we take ‘stand’ more broadly to refer to our being alive and upright before God spiritually. God lifts me up by His grace to make me alive and upright. If my inner faculties remain dead as doornails, does He succeed in making me alive? If they remain utterly prostrate in sin, does He succeed in making me stand? No. My mind and will must be-come such that, in real terms, I am living-for-God in them. This point Calvinism recognizes (against Luther) and rightly so: in those whom He is saving, God accomplishes a real work of sanctification.
Vol. V No. 10, October 1988
ANGELA GRIMM, Editor
The Catholic Center
721 Second Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002
A Non-Profit, Tax-Exempt Educational Organization
A key item on the agenda of the meeting of the U.S. bishops next month is the Vatican’s draft guidelines on the theological and juridical nature of episcopal conferences. The central question up for debate is whether episcopal conferences, such as the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, possess any magisterial teaching authority of their own. Continue reading “Episcopal Conferences And Teaching Authority”
1500 Wilson Blvd., Suite 502
Arlington, Virginia 22209
If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away, behold all things have become new.— 2 Corinthians 5:17
Is there not a cause? – I Samuel 17:29
I am convinced that if ministers and other biblically oriented individuals understood “why” they should be involved in politics that they would more easily and effectively learn “how” to be involved.
This booklet “The New Creatures and The New Politics” by Dr. William H. Marshner, a member of the Council of 56 of the Religious Roundtable, is a veritable masterpiece from a scriptural and philosophical standpoint on the very important subject. It is a “must” reading for the person who really wants to have a basic knowledge on this vital matter. Continue reading “The New Creatures And The New Politics”
Lecture Notes: Reflections on Biblical Revisionism: R. Laurentin and the Infancy Narratives
W. H. Marshner
Lecture Notes taken by W. H. Marshner on Raymond E. Brown
September 29, 1984
René Laurentin has written a long commentary on the infancy gospels. I will say in a moment why this has come to my attention.
In this century, Biblical criticism has won a large place for itself in Catholic scholarship. But now suddenly there is much talk about historical criticism as being barren, passe, wrong. This sudden revisionism is being hailed by many sorts of people (though not usually by scholars). When their different motives are examined, two types of revisionism emerge.
English translation by W. H. Marshner and Joan Longua
Property of W. H. Marshner. Reproduction or distribution without his permission is prohibited.
This is a translation of a short but famous work by the great French monarchist writer, Charles Maurras, founder of the pro-monarchy movement L’Action Française (very active between 1895 and World War II). This book was written between 1905 and 1907 as a series of newspaper articles (really essays) dealing with the interesting figure of Mark Sangnier, son of a banker and prominent Catholic, but also the oratorically gifted leader of a pro-democracy youth movement called the Sillon. Continue reading “Marc Sangnier’s Dilemma”
In order to examine Christ as the ultimate Revelation of God, and to prepare for a consideration of his teaching, purpose and divinity, one must establish the authenticity of the documents which give us our information about his life. And when one inquires about the authenticity, historicity or reliability of the New Testament. there are at least three different fields of research about which one might be asking. These are the textual, the literary or form-critical, and the theological fields.
That which is enunciated by God and that which is proposed by the Church: dogma is both. As enunciated by God, dogma is the outcome of revelation in the strict sense; as proposed by the Church, dogma is the outcome of doctrinal development. ‘Doctrinal development’ is just the name for the process by which the Church reaches certitude that a given proposition, p, states exactly what God has said and hence may be proposed to the faithful as obligatory for belief. Thus a theory of doctrinal development is the obverse of a theory of revelation.
In today’s world especially since the advent of Modernism, it is insufficient to simply define the authority of the pope and leave the faithful to follow his teachings. It is unfortunately fashionable to deny that Church teachings are to be taken literally, fashionable in other words, to retain the precise wording of dogmatic formulations while interpreting them in purely symbolic or metaphorical terms. Therefore, a further defense is necessary, a defense which is at times technical, but nonetheless indispensable: it is the defense that Church teachings mean what they say. And in order to appreciate the ways in which dogma is under attack today—some of them quite subtle—and to meet those attacks, we must begin by taking special pains to be fully clear about exactly what dogma is.
A medical analogy aptly explains the laity’s role in social action. The idea is that the present social order is diseased and that Christian social action is a medicine, whose effect, if God wills it, will be social health.
The disease is probably the least problematic part of this analogy. Its symptoms are the assault upon the unborn, the assault upon the sanctity of marriage, the corruption of children through public education, the extinction of individual and corporate liberties through centralized and bureaucratic government—an enormous range of social ills which collectively constitute the disease of the social order. But, the analogy goes on, there is to this disease a contrary which is called health.