Guerilla blogfare…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I have been visiting family in the Appalachian mountains, staying in a guest cottage, so my access to the Internet has been quite restricted. Whenever I can, however, I have been peeking in at FCA to moderate comments, and to work on an upcoming post about… wait for it… the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I will not be able to return to blogging with my usual regularity until at least January 2. For now, though, I will address two topics.

First, I was pleased by the results of the survey I posted on the 26th. My hunch was that, in light of the recent confusion about the Church’s understanding of Mary’s total  sinlessness and utter freedom from concupiscence, most readers would not be able to discern a contemporary Catholic voice from an Eastern Orthodox voice on the topic. More to the point, I wanted to indicate how advocates of the Semimaculate Heart of Mary are merely painting an Orthodox rather than a consistently Catholic picture of Our Lady.

From a 20th-century Catholic catechism  36.51% 

From an Eastern Orthodox author  31.75% 

From a 16th-century Catholic scholastic manual  23.81% 

Other:  6.35% 

From the creative keyboard of the Codgitator  2%  

While I did not make up the quotation, I did modify it in order to elide “dead giveaway” phrases, and now I will reproduce the quotation with emphases that reinforce my (vindicated) hunch behind the survey. It comes from Michael Pomazansky’s Orthodox Dogmatic Theology (although I will not be able to explicate which pages until I get back to Florida):

“Christ’s flesh was true human flesh, but not sinful flesh; rather, it was completely pure of every sin and corruption, both of original sin and of voluntary sin. In His earthly life the Lord was free of any sinful desire, of every inward temptation; for the human nature in Him does not exist separately, but is united hypostatically to God. [In other words,] Christ did not assume the corruption of human nature and inclination toward sin that all other people have inherited from Adam. In this sense, Christ remained free from original sin. While passible (that is, subject to suffering), He was completely free of sinful passions and of the disease of sin. As […] writes, ‘[Mary] gave birth to Christ the Victor, for He was the only one [human] neither shapen in iniquity nor conceived in sin (Ps. 50:5), that is to say, in the fleshly pleasure, passion, and unclean thoughts that belong to our nature defiled by transgression.’ … The Most Holy Virgin was born as subject to the sin of Adam together with all mankind, and with him she shared the need for redemption. In other words, the Virgin Mary was born with the inclination toward sin [i.e. concupiscence] which was a consequence of the fall of man. None of the Fathers say that God [perfected] the Virgin Mary while yet in the womb; and many directly indicate that the Virgin Mary, just as all men, endured a battle with sinfulness, but was victorious over temptations and was saved by her divine Son.”

As mentioned, in the next few days, I will be posting another, rather long article about the Church’s magisterial understanding of Mary’s sinlessness, but let me close by addressing the second topic that has been under discussion here of late: the plausibility, in light of the Church’s ordinary magisterium, of Hans Urs von Balthasar’s claims about the hope that all men shall be saved.

In the first place, I am not making any hard claims against Balthasar’s thesis (BT). I was merely presenting an insight I had about how a major prayer of the past century seems entirely at odds with one possible extension of BT (i.e. that even demons will be delivered from Hell). As I admitted, I have not even read Balthasar’s entire book on the topic, so I will not make a rigorous argument against it. For all I care or know, it is a perfectly brilliant development of the Tradition; for now, though, it strikes me as an arcane theologumenon, a sort of theological catnip for debate. It does not, as they say, “move” me.

In the second place, I want to address a claim made about my instinctive resistance to BT, namely, that I am “in the teeth of” outdated Thomism, and therefore subject to a narrowly propitiatory understanding of the Incarnation. I have, apparently, attracted many new readers in the past few months, so my blogging background is important to understand my current reflections on various topics. This blog is effectively a reboot of my previous blog at veniaminov.blogspot.com. As I noted a few weeks ago, one of the topics that I spent a great deal of time on there is the work of Fr. Keefe in Covenantal Theology. My patron saint is St. Francis de Sales, and he subscribed to a more Scotist view of the Incarnation. Indeed, as I just read this morning in one of his sermons on Christmas (Dec. 25, 1622; p. 83):

[God] intended to create [the world] for the Incarnation of His Son, the Eternal Word. The end or goal of His work was thus its beginning, for Divine Wisdom would assume our nature in coming to earth. This was His intent even before Lucifer and the world were created and our first parents sinned.

Despite his Scotist view of the Incarnation, however, St. Francis did not deny the likelihood of Hell for some souls (viz. he mentions Hell at least twice in the same sermon series). My point is that I think it’s facile to say that having qualms about BT is fundamentally due to a rigorist commitment to Thomism, as if a commitment to Thomism were a bad thing, besides. St. Francis was not a “dogmatic” Thomist (i.e. although he was deeply committed to Thomistic principles, he was not averse to drawing upon Augustinian and Scotist perspectives), yet he would have at least balked at BT. Likewise, I am a Thomist by default, as it were, and I am still diffident about BT.

Thanks for your concern, I’m doing fine! Stay tuned!

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About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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20 Responses to Guerilla blogfare…

  1. Brock Fowler says:

    My concern is that we, and the hierarchy, should follow the example of Christ. Christ spoke directly and often about the possibility of damnation–and he made it sound as though it were rather the norm.

    My other concern is that if pretty much everybody is going to heaven, then nothing much particularly matters. There is no need to be Catholic, for the Catholic Church to exist, for us to pray… There is little reason to convert, and little reason not to leave. Add to that the Church’s approach of endlessly praising other religions (and sects), and virtually never saying anything specifically negative about them, and the disasterous results were utterly predictable.

    The IMPRESSION that the Church has given for the last 50 years is something like this. You are almost definitely going to heaven (unless you are Hitler…maybe). But, if you are Catholic, you will get there in a Cadillac! If you are not, you will have to get there in a Buick. Well, people are kind of OK with Buicks. That’s not much reason to convert, and not much reason to stay when it is not convenient.

    But what is left out is the notion that there is a very real chance that you will not get there even if you are Catholic, and if you are not a Catholic…it’s not like being in a Buick…it’s like being in an car in bad repair which will probably break down!

    There was one (1) sentence in Vatican II that clearly indicated the problem: and it got buried in the flood of verbiage that seemed to say: “Don’t worry, be happy.” Plus the flood of words and actions–including at the Papal level–which seemed to indicate that there was not much wrong with being a Protestant…or Jew…or Muslim…or Hindu…or Buddhist…or atheist…

  2. Tony Jokin says:

    I think Mr. Fowler’s post above captures most of my concerns as well.

    If there is good reason to hope that all are saved, then we really shouldn’t bother with evangelizing. The “hope” for such a thing implicitly destroys the responsibility for us to evangelize and also for others to accept the message. Because if we admit that our hope for all being saved is dependent on our success at evangelizing and also of others accepting the good news (so not just on God’s mercy with no regards for our free-will), then we must conclude from empirical evidence that we cannot have such a good hope for all being saved. Because empirical evidence indicates that

    1. Not all men (and women) accept the good news.
    2. Not all men (and women) are enthusiastic to evangelize.

    So for us to hold a “good hope” that all are saved is therefore unreasonable. But Balthasar insists we can, which only seems possible if we disregard the need for evangelizing and accepting the good news.

    Regarding Scotist perspective on the incarnation, I feel St. Thomas’s argument is good enough to dismiss it entirely. St. Thomas in the Summa states

    “There are different opinions about this question. For some say that even if man had not sinned, the Son of Man would have become incarnate. Others assert the contrary, and seemingly our assent ought rather to be given to this opinion.

    For such things as spring from God’s will, and beyond the creature’s due, can be made known to us only through being revealed in the Sacred Scripture, in which the Divine Will is made known to us. Hence, since everywhere in the Sacred Scripture the sin of the first man is assigned as the reason of Incarnation, it is more in accordance with this to say that the work of Incarnation was ordained by God as a remedy for sin; so that, had sin not existed, Incarnation would not have been. And yet the power of God is not limited to this; even had sin not existed, God could have become incarnate. ”

    So I see personally see Scotists as people who used answers to such hypothetical questions and then set off to use them to come up with other novelties.

  3. Tony Jokin says:

    Oh and a Happy and Blessed New Year to all as well! 🙂

  4. ErnstThalmann says:

    Tony,

    Let’s take these things one at a time:

    1. “If there is good reason to hope that all are saved, then we really shouldn’t bother with evangelizing. The “hope” for such a thing implicitly destroys the responsibility for us to evangelize and also for others to accept the message. Because if we admit that our hope for all being saved is dependent on our success at evangelizing and also of others accepting the good news (so not just on God’s mercy with no regards for our free-will), then we must conclude from empirical evidence that we cannot have such a good hope for all being saved. Because empirical evidence indicates that.”

    If there is good reason to hope that all might be saved – note that I didn’t misrepresent von Balthasar here as you have by saying “are saved”, thus placing an outcome on the question that he doesn’t – then the requirement for evangelism becomes all the more critical, not less so. Why that wouldn’t be crystal clear to you from the facts, one can only speculate. We do what God asks of us enthusiastically in this connection knowing all along that in the final analysis the work of conversion is God’s, not ours, so there can be no such thing as success or failure when it comes to us. To believe otherwise is simply the most egregious arrogance. By all means evangelize! One takes hold of Christ by giving Him away. He is his own reward.

    2. “There are different opinions about this question. For some say that even if man had not sinned, the Son of Man would have become incarnate. Others assert the contrary, and seemingly our assent ought rather to be given to this opinion.

    For such things as spring from God’s will, and beyond the creature’s due, can be made known to us only through being revealed in the Sacred Scripture, in which the Divine Will is made known to us. Hence, since everywhere in the Sacred Scripture the sin of the first man is assigned as the reason of Incarnation, it is more in accordance with this to say that the work of Incarnation was ordained by God as a remedy for sin; so that, had sin not existed, Incarnation would not have been. And yet the power of God is not limited to this; even had sin not existed, God could have become incarnate.”

    And these the words of the Angelic Doctor. I’ll offer the words of Pope Benedict XVI, a great theologian in his own right, in response. Speaking of Dun Scotus he says:

    “First of all he meditated on the Mystery of the Incarnation and, unlike many Christian thinkers of the time, held that the Son of God would have been made man even if humanity had not sinned. He says in his “Reportatio Parisiensis”: “To think that God would have given up such a task had Adam not sinned would be quite unreasonable! I say, therefore, that the fall was not the cause of Christ’s predestination and that if no one had fallen, neither the angel nor man in this hypothesis Christ would still have been predestined in the same way” (in III Sent., d. 7, 4). This perhaps somewhat surprising thought crystallized because, in the opinion of Duns Scotus the Incarnation of the Son of God, planned from all eternity by God the Father at the level of love is the fulfilment of creation and enables every creature, in Christ and through Christ, to be filled with grace and to praise and glorify God in eternity. Although Duns Scotus was aware that in fact, because of original sin, Christ redeemed us with his Passion, Death and Resurrection, he reaffirmed that the Incarnation is the greatest and most beautiful work of the entire history of salvation, that it is not conditioned by any contingent fact but is God’s original idea of ultimately uniting with himself the whole of creation, in the Person and Flesh of the Son.”

    Now, while I don’t wish the critique of St. Thomas’ position implied here to impose too great a burden upon the Angelic Doctor’s apologists, explain please how it is that apart from some kind of abracadabra, an Incarnation confined solely to aspects of humanity could explain the return of all things by the Son to the Father at the Consummation. I’m afraid St, Thomas comes up distressingly short in this respect.

    By the way, the words of Pope Benedict XVI that I’ve quoted above were part of a General Audience of July 7, 2010. The full text of his remarks – and they’re worth reading – can be found at the following link:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20100707_en.html

    In addition to considering the positive aspects of Duns Scotus teaching on the Incarnation above there are the negative consequences of choosing the alternative Thomistic theory, a project in its own right. A simple reflection on the course of Christian history from the Reformation to appearance of Karl Barth in the 20th century with its endless – and fruitless – speculations on predestination will cover that ground in spades, however. For an account of this history, one benefits from Edward J. Oakes, SJ, Pattern Of Redemption.

  5. ErnstThalmann says:

    Brock,

    There’s much to be said for having an accurate understanding of von Bathasar’s assertions in this regard. The misrepresentations are legion. It’s almost as though a long surpassed and encrusted neo-scholasticism was vying for a rematch. Try reading, “Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved”. I think you’ll come away feeling that the example of Christ is being followed.

  6. Tony Jokin says:

    Mr. Thalmann,

    Let me try and address some of your objections as best I can.

    You said: “If there is good reason to hope that all might be saved – note that I didn’t misrepresent von Balthasar here as you have by saying “are saved”, thus placing an outcome on the question that he doesn’t – then the requirement for evangelism becomes all the more critical, not less so. …. ”

    The problem with your analysis is that the empirical evidence already exists that

    1. Not all men (and women) accept the good news.
    2. Not all men (and women) are enthusiastic to evangelize.

    This evidence exists in the past (history) as well as in our current times. So the idea that the need exists for evangelizing for it is our actions that bring about the truth of our hope that “all are saved” is meaningless. We cannot change what has happened in history.

    In short, what you say does not solve the problem for it denies the empirical evidence of the past. In doing so, it has already rejected evangelizing and acceptance of the good news as necessary. To then speak of our evangelizing actions is what brings about this great reality is a contradiction.

    You said: “And these the words of the Angelic Doctor. I’ll offer the words of Pope Benedict XVI, a great theologian in his own right, in response.”

    As much as I appreciate PBXVI, it must be said that you cannot counter argue what St. Thomas said by just quoting someone else (unless you are quoting doctrinal pronouncements of course). The argument presented by St. Thomas is a logical one based on the objection that if it is not in divine revelation, then to speak of “what IF” is purely speculation.

    Even worse, to then build more theological conclusions on speculation is just outright absurd.

    To that end, it must be pointed out that PBXVI has not helped in the passage you quoted. He merely describes how Scotus arrived at his conclusions which is not really any justification that it is true. In fact, though Scotus states that “To think that God would have given up such a task had Adam not sinned would be quite unreasonable!” is itself something he does not demonstrate and is a lie and almost heretical. There is nothing in REASON that neccesitates the incarnation. The incarnation is a freely will act of God. So unless God reveals this fact to us, for us to claim it to be true IS speculation (and the more unreasonable position to hold given that Divine revelation only reveals that it was certainly to save us from sin).

    “In addition to considering the positive aspects of Duns Scotus teaching on the Incarnation above there are the negative consequences of choosing the alternative Thomistic theory, a project in its own right.”

    I like to think that we move away from trying to judge the system by the consequences for not many were purely Thomist though they might identify themselves as such. So lets stick to the frameworks they propose. St. Thomas’s framework is reasonable. His argument in this case is also reasonable. He points out the obvious that who are we to speak of a “WHAT IF” situation when Divine Revelation has not revealed such things? The answer is therefore speculation. To then build other theological conclusions on speculation is, well as far as reason goes, unreasonable. Who knows what absurd conclusions it will give for its foundations are based on a speculation.

    Also, the fact that Thomism leaves a certain question unanswered is NOT reasonable grounds to therefore adopt a system based on speculation. I reject the scotist position not because it cannot explain some Theological matter at the moment. It falls because of its acceptance of the idea of building theological conclusions based on speculative truths like this fact we are arguing upon.

  7. Tony Jokin says:

    Well, we can all say that every heresy in history has been grossly misrepresented and that an orthodox reading of them exists. Then we can take the words and try and give them a favorable spin.

    That does not change the fact that Balthasar came up with a conclusion that is contrary to the traditionally held position. In fact, he quotes scripture passages in favor of his view by ignoring the traditional solutions that already existed for such passages. That much is enough to put Balthasar under suspicion.

    So I am sure most people do not understand all the details on how Balthasar arrives at his conclusion. However, you cannot just say people do not understand his conclusion itself. His conclusion is nothing like Christ considering Christ never spoke of such hope and to the contrary stated

    “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.”

    Even if we twist the above as Balthasar does to make in to just a “warning”, it still shows that Balthasar is only undermining Christ’s warning then. So I fail to see how Balthasar is following the example of Christ.

  8. ErnstThalmann says:

    Tony,

    1. “Well, we can all say that every heresy in history has been grossly misrepresented and that an orthodox reading of them exists.”

    We can say it, but that bears no correspondence to von Balthasar in this instance. And to imply that what von Balthasar offers is heresy is nothing more or less than a cheap shot. You can do better than that, or can you?

    2. “That does not change the fact that Balthasar came up with a conclusion that is contrary to the traditionally held position. In fact, he quotes scripture passages in favor of his view by ignoring the traditional solutions that already existed for such passages. That much is enough to put Balthasar under suspicion.”

    The man is building his own case in his own way and you expect him to introduce solutions that satisfy you? That’s novel. What responsibility does he have to satisfy you?

    So you’ll know, here’s report from Nick Healy on how von Balthasar deals with the relevant Scripture:

    “In his book Dare We Hope “That all Men be Saved”? Balthasar draws attention to two series of passages in the New Testament that pertain to judgment and damnation. The first series speaks of individuals being condemned to eternal torment. Those who have rejected Christ are accountable for their actions and they will be cast into “the outer darkness,” or “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt 25:30ff.; see also Mt 5:22,29; 8:12; 10:28; 2 Pet 2:4-10; 3:7; Rev 19:20f.). The second series of texts speaks of God’s desire, and ability, to save all mankind. “God our Savior…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). Anticipating his suffering and death, Jesus proclaims, “Now is the judgment of this world,…when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:31). “God has consigned all men to disobedience that he may have mercy upon all” (Rom 11:32; see also 2 Pet 3:9; Titus 2:11; Rom 5:14-21; Eph 1:10; Col 1:20)”.

    3. “So I am sure most people do not understand all the details on how Balthasar arrives at his conclusion. However, you cannot just say people do not understand his conclusion itself. His conclusion is nothing like Christ considering Christ never spoke of such hope and to the contrary stated.”

    As strikingly surprising as this may seem to you, I just said it. And I stick by it. And, again, where the requirement to adhere to some criteria of yours, this time a contrived positivism of Christ’s sayings, it would seem.

    4. “Even if we twist the above as Balthasar does to make in to just a “warning”, it still shows that Balthasar is only undermining Christ’s warning then. So I fail to see how Balthasar is following the example of Christ.”

    I see. Should we disinter von Balthasar’s remains and bury them in unconsecrated ground, Tony? You know, I guess we’ll just have to live with the fact that you fail to see how von Balthasar is following the example of Christ.

  9. ErnstThalmann says:

    The problem with your analysis is that the empirical evidence already exists that

    1. Not all men (and women) accept the good news.
    2. Not all men (and women) are enthusiastic to evangelize.

    “This evidence exists in the past (history) as well as in our current times. So the idea that the need exists for evangelizing for it is our actions that bring about the truth of our hope that “all are saved” is meaningless. We cannot change what has happened in history.

    “In short, what you say does not solve the problem for it denies the empirical evidence of the past. In doing so, it has already rejected evangelizing and acceptance of the good news as necessary. To then speak of our evangelizing actions is what brings about this great reality is a contradiction.”

    Not all men (and women) accept the good news? How do you know? Are you with them and God as they pass away? Until you are, you’ll need to be a good bit more cautious in making claims of this kind. It happens to be one of von Balthasar’s main contentions that no one knows with certainty the disposition that God makes of persons at the moment of their deaths. And I doubt if your “empirical evidence”, past or present, extends that far either. And as to not all men (and women) possessing evangelizing zeal, what’s to say, that that and a dime will get you a cup of coffee?

    “As much as I appreciate PBXVI, it must be said that you cannot counter argue what St. Thomas said by just quoting someone else (unless you are quoting doctrinal pronouncements of course). The argument presented by St. Thomas is a logical one based on the objection that if it is not in divine revelation, then to speak of “what IF” is purely speculation.

    “Even worse, to then build more theological conclusions on speculation is just outright absurd.”

    I can’t counter argue what St.Thomas said by quoting someone else? You entertain. I just did it. And if for one minute you think that the position of Duns Scotus is illogical or unscriptural, prove it, young man, don’t just make assertions.

    “To that end, it must be pointed out that PBXVI has not helped in the passage you quoted. He merely describes how Scotus arrived at his conclusions which is not really any justification that it is true. In fact, though Scotus states that “To think that God would have given up such a task had Adam not sinned would be quite unreasonable!” is itself something he does not demonstrate and is a lie and almost heretical. There is nothing in REASON that neccesitates the incarnation. The incarnation is a freely will act of God. So unless God reveals this fact to us, for us to claim it to be true IS speculation (and the more unreasonable position to hold given that Divine revelation only reveals that it was certainly to save us from sin).”

    You know, I’m really having a hard time uncovering a cogent line of reasoning here amidst all of the hysterical claims and confused assertions. I’ve studied theology for twenty years or more and cannot make head or tail of what you’re trying to get at. Think this one through and try to restate it. Perhaps we can pick it up another time.

    “I like to think that we move away from trying to judge the system by the consequences for not many were purely Thomist though they might identify themselves as such. So lets stick to the frameworks they propose. St. Thomas’s framework is reasonable. His argument in this case is also reasonable. He points out the obvious that who are we to speak of a “WHAT IF” situation when Divine Revelation has not revealed such things? The answer is therefore speculation. To then build other theological conclusions on speculation is, well as far as reason goes, unreasonable. Who knows what absurd conclusions it will give for its foundations are based on a speculation.”

    I’ve got it, if it’s conclusions agree with yours, its based on rock solid reason. If it doesn’t, it just has to be rank speculation. Can you see the silliness in presenting yourself in this way, Tony? Its simply not enough to rule an opposing construct out of court after having set self-serving criteria. It speaks more to ones insecurities than anything else. Surely you can do better than that.

    “Also, the fact that Thomism leaves a certain question unanswered is NOT reasonable grounds to therefore adopt a system based on speculation. I reject the scotist position not because it cannot explain some Theological matter at the moment. It falls because of its acceptance of the idea of building theological conclusions based on speculative truths like this fact we are arguing upon.”

    More of the above, I’m afraid. Look, I asked you to explain how the Thomistic view of the Incarnation, restricted as it is to remedying human sin, could embrace the consummation of all creation on the Last Day and you offer me a diversion. Please, I think we’ve reached the end of this, eh?

  10. Tony Jokin says:

    Mr. Thalmann,

    You said: “Not all men (and women) accept the good news? How do you know? Are you with them and God as they pass away? ”

    That is another classic novelty from the Balthasarian view. Perhaps you did not realize this but you just destroyed the validity of any empirical evidence. So when I look at a country that is completely pagan, I would have to assume by your analysis that they might still convert at their death bed. Or that they have a private faith going good between them and God. All of this is dangerous to the faith and once again drifting toward Scotism.

    You can’t make speculations and then build on speculations. In this case, whether or not a person repents on their death bed (a perfect contrition at that and embraces the good news is pretty unlikely to begin with) IS SPECULATION. You cannot them build up on it and base your “hope” on it. That is absurd.

    You said: “I can’t counter argue what St.Thomas said by quoting someone else? You entertain. I just did it. And if for one minute you think that the position of Duns Scotus is illogical or unscriptural, prove it, young man, don’t just make assertions. ”

    Well if you read my reply carefully Mr. Thalmann, you should see I did a rough sketch of a proof that to embrace Scotus’s position that the opposite is “unreasonable” is pretty much blasphemy. For it necessitates the incarnation by REASON.

    The problem of Scotus’s argument is that to argue for his “WHAT IF” condition, he must do so by the attributes of the nature of God and so forth. But all of these do not necessarily require God to DO a good act. For if it necessitates it, then God is no longer free. Hence it is not even an act of love to begin with. Whether or not God wants to enter in to history is a FREE ACT of God.

    So what we have against Scotus’s case is
    1. Thomistic argument (the absence of God’s will made known about such WHAT IF matters in Scripture)
    2. The philosophical problem that one as to confront in arguing that God must necessarily perform the incarnation in a different world.

    If God was a “mechanism” I would agree that Scotus can make such claims. Since he is not, Scotus is most likely straying rather than getting anywhere.

    You said: “I’ve got it, if it’s conclusions agree with yours, its based on rock solid reason. If it doesn’t, it just has to be rank speculation.”

    Nice try but NO! The point is that you cannot build a theological system on speculation. No matter how much you write here (or Scotus himself), it cannot make the fact that God will be incarnate in history in a “WHAT IF” condition a premise in its theological development.

    If you cannot see this after twenty years of theology, it is not something that will make me very surprised. To not mean any disrespect here, if we take someone like Tertullian who was far more experienced than you, it did not take them much to go astray.

    So I am not sure if your years of theological experience really matters. It is possible that you were so in to speculative theology and the pictures it painted that you completely ignored checking the reasonable nature of the theological framework to begin with. That is not surprising.

    I think I have said enough here if you want to understand what I am saying. So I feel there is no need to repeat myself as well on this particular matter.

  11. Tony Jokin says:

    This is my final post in reply to you Mr. Thalmann

    You said: “We can say it, but that bears no correspondence to von Balthasar in this instance. And to imply that what von Balthasar offers is heresy is nothing more or less than a cheap shot. You can do better than that, or can you?”

    What exactly bears no correspondence? You are defending his view right above to me and now you insist here that there is no correspondence. I also did not just go “HERESY”. In fact, I never mentioned the word “HERESY” in my post. So you seem to want to unfairly belittle the content of my post.

    You said: “The man is building his own case in his own way and you expect him to introduce solutions that satisfy you? That’s novel. What responsibility does he have to satisfy you?”

    When a man builds his own case using interpretations of Scripture that contradict their previously understood and accepted sense of it, then it is reason for much suspicion.

    It has nothing to do about satisfying me.

    You said: “As strikingly surprising as this may seem to you, I just said it. And I stick by it. And, again, where the requirement to adhere to some criteria of yours, this time a contrived positivism of Christ’s sayings, it would seem. ……… You know, I guess we’ll just have to live with the fact that you fail to see how von Balthasar is following the example of Christ.”

    Let me try this again.

    1. Balthasar says that Christ when speaking of the fewness of the saved is speaking of warning terms
    2. But Balthasar in saying so, reduces the effectiveness of Christ’s warning.
    3. Therefore, Balthasar is certainly not acting as Christ did. For if he were to act as Christ did, he would want that warning to stand. Christ did not make the warning so that Balthasar in the 20th century can explain away his warning.

    With that, I leave this entire discussion with you. Thank you for your time. I feel I have nothing more to add and everything I need to say has been said sufficiently enough.

  12. Branch says:

    Let me try this again.

    1. Balthasar says that Christ when speaking of the fewness of the saved is speaking of warning terms
    2. But Balthasar in saying so, reduces the effectiveness of Christ’s warning.
    3. Therefore, Balthasar is certainly not acting as Christ did. For if he were to act as Christ did, he would want that warning to stand. Christ did not make the warning so that Balthasar in the 20th century can explain away his warning.

    Yes, that’s exactly right as I see it. What in the world would a warning mean if it has no basis? If it’s a hollow warning, also, then does that mean other of Christ’s statements (perhaps those more ‘positive’ ones) could also be hollow?

  13. ErnstThalmann says:

    Let me try this again: Read the book, Branch, its titled “Dare We Hope That all Men be Saved” and then come back with your concerns. We have quite a few people here either who have accused von Balthasar, a Cardinal of the Church, with heresy or with an unhealthy departure from the tradition who have not even touched the source material! At best, that’s dishonest; at worst, calumnious. I get the impression that in coming here I may have landed in a neo-scholastic backwater where, theologically anyway, things haven’t advanced past the Counter Reformation. I hope not.

  14. Proph says:

    I have to echo Mr. Thalmann’s remarks here. Balthasar’s claims are much more modest than is commonly attributed to him, and amount essentially to “Scripture speaks both of the threat of punishment and God’s intention to draw all men to himself; how these two can be reconciled, we do not precisely know; humility obliges us to refrain from speculation about the population of Hell, which means we must admit the possibility that it is empty as well as that it is bursting at the seams.” He explicitly avoids endorsing Origenist apokatastasis (so I do not understand why Codg thinks Balthasar endorses what he calls the “BT” view since the other view is explicit in the title of his book!) and even claims to reject it.

    I personally incline to the traditional view of an overflowing Hell (and we have much more data to support it than the opposite position) and I dislike Balthasar’s and his cohort’s gratuitous snottiness toward scholasticism but I understand him as trying to induce a change more in style than in substance — not to call the doctrine of Hell into question but to vitiate the loveless austerity of certain sectors of the scholasticism of his age.

  15. ErnstThalmann says:

    “I think I have said enough here if you want to understand what I am saying. So I feel there is no need to repeat myself as well on this particular matter.”

    “With that, I leave this entire discussion with you. Thank you for your time. I feel I have nothing more to add and everything I need to say has been said sufficiently enough.”

    Gee, Tony, and here I thought the first of these was your swan song. Do me a favor, introduce the next of these with “And furthermore …”. That way I’ll know its you. 🙂

  16. ErnstThalmann says:

    “I personally incline to the traditional view of an overflowing Hell (and we have much more data to support it than the opposite position) and I dislike Balthasar’s and his cohort’s gratuitous snottiness toward scholasticism but I understand him as trying to induce a change more in style than in substance — not to call the doctrine of Hell into question but to vitiate the loveless austerity of certain sectors of the scholasticism of his age.”

    So I have landed in a neo-scholastic backwater where, theologically anyway, things haven’t advanced past the Counter Reformation? 🙂

    All very condescending of you, Proph, but I hardly think that von Balthasar’s purpose was confined to inducing “a change more in style than in substance”. He introduces a real possibility, one which we may all come to see as quite substantial.

  17. Tony Jokin says:

    Branch,

    Exactly. Mr. Thalmann is working backwards to try and justify Balthasar so he does not seem to see the elephant in the room.

    Then of course there is the ironic argument that Balthasar was much more modest than this but then they proceed to defend the same conclusion that everyone is opposing.

    Proph,

    I think there is a question apart from what has been raised here as to whether Balthasar is sound in his argumentation (logically speaking). While he rejects the Apokstasis EXPLICITLY, it is not at all clear how Balthasar’s view will avoid the inevitable conclusion from it which is Apokstasis.

    So from a traditional perspective, I see no reason why anyone takes Balthasar seriously on this matter.

    1. He has reinterpreted Scriptural passages in a way that is opposed to the traditional interpretations of the same passages
    2. He has ended up with a view that is hard to see how it does not lead to a known heresy. (Balthasar’s view does amount in a sense to “having good hope” that the heresy is true)
    3. He is undermining the very warnings of Christ in his theological speculations.

    For all of the above, any Catholic I feel should feel uncomfortable in accepting Balthasar on this point.

  18. Tony Jokin says:

    To also add Proph,

    You said: ““Scripture speaks both of the threat of punishment and God’s intention to draw all men to himself; how these two can be reconciled, we do not precisely know;”

    Quiet the contrary, the issue had been answered and settled way before the 20th century. The traditional solution had no issue with reconciling the two truths. More importantly, the traditional solution took in to account and respected the “warning” of Christ regarding the fewness of the saved as well. So there is an implicit deception on the part of Balthasar in making it seem as if there has been no traditional solution to this problem.

  19. 1) I understand the claim that HUVB is merely trying to synthesize apparently “contradictory” scriptural data, as in the the De Auxiliis debates, but I think the debate about BT differs in that there’s a huge amount of magisterial evidence opposed to it prima facie, whereas the Church, so far, admits that the tension can remain in the De Auxiliis. As such, the best way to state BT seems to me to be this: “At any moment, we can reasonably hope that anyone still ‘this side of judgement’ will be saved (although, according to abundant Catholic Tradition, there’s little such hope for such universalism among those already dead).” HUVB loved him some Barth, so I’m not surprised that he might have imbibed the Calvinist jive about how the explicit scriptural warnings of the loss of salvation “should be understood as” mere minatory nudges which providentially strengthen the souls of the elect. Calvinists live to downplay the biblical risk of hell for believers, so HUVB just seems to be doing them one better by similarly deflating such warnings for EVERYONE.

    2) I think the instinctive worry about BT is that it universalizes something all too reminiscent of the sin of presumption. If it’s presumption on my part to hope that, despite all appearances and unfulfilled obligations, I will be saved, is it not a bit odd to valorize the claim that EVERYONE will be saved, despite their obvious unfulfilled obligations?

    3) Another serious defect of BT, as “Ernst Thälmann” is articulating it, seems to be that it endorses, and even requires, the notion of a “fundamental option” for God in extremis; yet John Paul II clearly opposed this notion (in Veritatis Splendor §§65-68, if nowhere else). Presumably, HUVB would hold that we’re all “anonymous Christians” at the moment of death.

    4) To return to the insight that began this discussion: if Satan’s main goal is to drag human souls into Hell with him, why would the Church pray against this fate if She secretly really holds that no such fate is likely? Indeed, if we can hope that all humans will be saved, then we can also hope that the demons will never be liable for any lasting crimes (viz. dooming any human to Hell), so what is their major sin, in the end?

    5) I’ve long since dispelled the red herring that a man becoming a cardinal is any sign of his freedom from heresy, much less his lasting value as a teacher of the faith. Kasper, Mahony, Martini, Bergoglio–all cardinals. Strange bedfellows for such a giant of orthodoxy, no?

    6) “Ernst”, knock off the theological snobbery. As I’ve explained, I’m no reactionary Thomist, and if you think this is a theological backwater, then happy trails. There is no Thomistic shibboleth here. (If I’m not careful, maybe I’ll get chastised for hosting discussions that are stuck on Chalcedon, too!) As I’ve said, until I read his book, I won’t make dogmatic refutations. For now I’m just stockpiling relevant evidence going into any reading of the literature. If it comes down to HUVB vs. … well, pretty much the entirety of Catholic orthopraxis, I know who’s getting my vote. If you want to know my position on Thomism and the Incarnation, read Fr. Keefe’s book and then get back to me.

    7) Along similar lines, your basic gripe with Pope Francis seems to be that he’s not as sharp or deep a mind as HUVB, Ratzinger, Wojtyla, et al. Big whoop. The painful reality is, he’s actually running with HUVB’s vision (and the entire V2 Tendenz), even if less gracefully than appeals to your high standards. My diagnosis is that he’s just the sour grapes you disown even as they blossom in your Nouvelle Theologie vineyard. As I intend to show in an upcoming post, Evangelii Gaudium is his Razing the Bastions.

  20. Branch says:

    I have read the book.

    The issue is simple: if Christ’s words were a warning, at worst, regarding Hell, then in saying it’s ‘just’ a warning, we empty the warning of its purpose. That’s a great insight from the commenter above.

    I think anyone who reads Christ’s words, with ears to hear, that is, realize that His words are a warning, but also a statement of reality. Or, rather, a statement of reality that has an aspect of warning to it. The reason He spoke those words, in part, was to warn, but that does not make them ‘just’ a warning. Hell is real and there is everything but a guarantee from Scripture that it’s a real possibility souls go there.

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