Grace and Sin at the Dawn of Moral Experience
William H. Marshner
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”
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?”
AQUINAS ON THE EVALUATION OF HUMAN ACTIONS
BY William H. Marshner
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”
Rahner’s Basic Stencil
W. H. Marshner
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.
WILLIAM H. MARSHNER
Front Royal, Virginia
How does the grace of the Immaculate Conception illuminate the problems of ecclesiology? How does it clarify the new being to which we are called in the Church of God?
The purpose of this paper is to answer these questions with respect to a specific and crucial issue: the sinlessness of the Catholic Church, which is, as St. Ambrose put it, ex maculis immaculata. In order to address this issue, I must begin again with the original questions and summarize for the reader the pre-requisite clarifications which I have tried to bring to them in previous papers. Continue reading “The Immaculate Conception And Recent Ecclesiology”