Christendom Press Presents the 1994 Christendom College Summer Institute
“Defending the Faith: The Catechism of the Catholic Church”
Copyright 1994 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.
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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”
By WILLIAM H. MARSHNER
This paper is devoted to refuting the so-called debitum hypotheticum or conditionatum. In general, a debitum is expressed by the claim that Mary, thanks to her connexion with Adam, was under a necessity to contract original sin; the debitum conditionatum is expressed by the claim that, thanks to the same necessity, she would have contracted original sin, if one or another condition had been fulfilled (e.g., if God had not preserved her).
Continue reading “A Critique Of Marian Counterfactual Formulae: A Report Of Results”
A LOGICIAN’S REFLECTIONS ON THE DEBITUM CONTRAHENDI PECCATUM
By WILLIAM H. MARSHNER
Reprinted from MARIAN STUDIES (1978)
The long-standing theological debate over whether Our Blessed Mother can be said to have had a debitum peccati begins and ends, it seems, with both sides admitting the truth of the following contrary-to-fact condition:
(A) If she had not been preserved, Mary would have contracted original sin.
The necessity of affirming this or similar counterfactuals is usually said to lie in the Church’s doctrine that Our Lady’s redemption was a “preservative” redemption. It is asked, what can “preservative” mean, if an assertion like (A) is not true?
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Membership in the Church: Fundamental Questions
by WILLIAM H. MARSHNER
FAITH AND REASON
Vol. 2, No. 3
A pressing question before the Church today is precisely “Who is a member?” The importance of this matter, which seems on the surface to be rather obvious, stems from two scandalous but simple facts. First, the division of Christianity into competing sects has created the difficulty of defining the relationship of these sects to the true Church. Second, modern Catholics who deny even the most basic of Church teachings often confuse the issue by refusing to admit that they have left the Church. It is in this context, then, that F&R publishes the following rigorous, careful and technical treatment of Church membership by William H. Marshner. The argument demands and deserves careful reading and rereading with full attention to the notes. It is true that the casual reader will find certain traditional attitudes toward Church membership reinforced by the author’s conclusions. But the painstaking student of this article will find much more, for presented here are basic distinctions which go far toward ending the confusion about who is a member in good standing of the Catholic Church and who, in fact, is not.
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