1993 Christendom College Summer Institute Guest Lecture Series
Copyright 1993 Christendom Educational Corporation
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”
W. H. Marshner
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”
W. H. Marshner
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.
By WILLIAM H. MARSHNER
MARIAN STUDIES, Vol. 28 (1977)
University of Dallas
Irving, Texas 75061
As a critique of recent proposals by E. J. Yarnold, S.J., and R. E. Brown, S.S., to re-think the “meaning” of certain Marian dogmas, a method is proposed for establishing the sense and reference (hence verifiability conditions, falsifiability conditions, axiomatic connexions, and metalinguistic “properties”) of these and other dogmas. It is shown that such a method forms an integral part of a general criteriology for doctrinal development. At the outset, then, the possibility and necessity of such a criteriology is defended against certain “theological theories” of doctrinal development, especially that of K. Rahner, S.J. Finally, the relevance of Henri Bouillard’s problematic of “reconceptualization” to the here proposed method and general criteriology is evaluated. Several philosophical and theological issues closely related to the main thesis are handled in footnoted discussions.
Continue reading “Criteria For Doctrinal Development In The Marian Dogmas: An Essay In Metatheology”
The Scripture Game II
W. H. MARSHNER
The first part of this commentary on modem biblical scholarship argued that the Catholic biblical revival is producing suspicious fruits because the philological-critical method of exegesis has been misapplied to the task of Christian exegesis. It remains to show what Christian exegesis is, why it is theologically inevitable and how it can be defended against the charge of obscurantism.
The Scripture Game
W. H. MARSHNER
No Christian can object to increasing the knowledge or the influence of Sacred Scripture. Yet the wide diversity of benefits that are expected to flow from the current “progress” in biblical studies suggests anything but unanimity as to how the subject ought to be approached. Continue reading “The Scripture Game”