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View Diary: Reflections of a Roman Catholic (100 comments)

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  •  Perhaps I misread or I missed something (0+ / 0-)

    I read the author's claim of being an atheist in college. I saw no claim about the author presently being an atheist.

    But as for the rejection of the Nicene Creed, I stand by my assessment that the topic is not as simple as rejecting one or more parts of it and being automatically excommunicated. Even priests and bishops have doubts about this bit or that bit from time to time. Whether or not someone who rejects an article of faith can receive the holy mysteries in good conscience is an issue between that person, that person's spiritual director under the authority of the diocesan bishop.

    •  You were right about the atheism point. (0+ / 0-)

      The diarist and I had an interesting discussion of that above.

      You're also correct that rejection of a part of the Creed doesn't lead to automatic excommunication. Indeed, excommunication is extremely rare these days.

      But I don't think there can be much dispute over my claim that somebody who specifically denies the divinity of Christ cannot be considered a Catholic.

      That's not a controversial or authoritarian view. It's just common sense.

      To say a person can't be considered a Catholic due to their views is not to say anything else. It implies no moral condemnation, no claim of damnation, no nothing like that. It's just a statement of tautology.

      Now people can quibble with anything, especially people who don't think any of these beliefs matter. But some things really are clearly correct or incorrect as a matter of logic.

      •  I agree with some of that (1+ / 0-)
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        ``That's not a controversial or authoritarian view''

        It is certainly not an authoritarian view. It does happen to be somewhat controversial. For better or for worse (mostly worse in my opinion) we live in a world where the very belief that there can be a canon is deemed to be `patriarchal' in the most pejorative sense of the word.

        ``excommunication is extremely rare these days''

        It is not as rare as one might think, especially if one's view of Catholicism is restricted to North America. And the reason it might be seen as rare is really more of a function of the declining numbers of priests. A priest at a parish that serves a Saturday evening mass and multiple Sunday morning masses simply does not have the ability to know his flock well enough to know who has been to confession recently and who has not. There is a tremendous break down of liturgical discipline in most of the Catholic Church in North America. So even if one is excommunicated, if one simply goes to a different parish, that parish priest will be none the wiser.

        ``But some things really are clearly correct or incorrect as a matter of logic.''

        Logic, according to the traditions of the Church, is a second order level of knowledge. Discursive reasoning, of which logic is one branch, is subordinate to direct apprehension of the truth. Situations that appear to be illogical can still be true because logic, in and of itself, knows nothing of higher realities but only serves to pull out conclusions latent in the premises. Thomas Aquinas did argue that faith and reason will never be opposed. But even there, his understanding of reason was quite a bit broader than the field of logic.

        •  You give an interesting and sophisticated reply, (0+ / 0-)

          but I can't help but think you're kind of missing the point.

          My wife is a Catholic grade school catechist, and I'm sure we have a rather simplistic view of some things.  And it was many years ago that I majored in philosophy of religion.

          But I just don't think it's reasonable to assert that it is controversial to say, as I do, that a person who denies the divinity of Christ can't be a Catholic.  People can grump all they want about patriarchy and the heavy burden of the canon and so forth.

          But the core idea of Christianity is that Jesus is God. You can't deny that and still be Christian!

          Now I'm well aware that some people will claim anything. I saw a lecture just a few years ago by some guy who is a tenured professor in the religion department of one of the big universities in the D.C. area, and he claims to be a "Christian" although he also claims to be an atheist.  I think that's just obviously nonsense.

          •  Controversy isn't always reasonable (1+ / 0-)
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            On the one hand, I would certainly agree with the statement that if one denies the divinity of Christ, then one isn't authentically a Christian. But on the other hand this leads to problems in a world where we have to discuss history. Many groups that claimed to be Christian, from the Arians and Nestorians right up to the Jehovah's Witnesses today, deny the divinity of Christ. On a sociological level, it seems absurd to deny this movements that self-identified as Christian movements were Christian. Nevertheless, at a doctrinal level there is ample argument for the notion that they are not Christian.

            I would then go even farther and argue that this tension between what one ought to believe in order to be a Christian and how Christianity is viewed from without also exists within the Church. There is an old aphorism in Eastern Christianity that we know where grace is but we are ignorant of where grace is not. This general sentiment is echoed by Rahner's well know theory of `anonymous Christianity' that posits that people of many and widespread false beliefs about God are, indeed, authentically Christian on account of the way that they have authentic love for their neighbor and authentic love for God even if they intellectually differ from the doctrines of the catholic faith.

            But on the other hand, sometimes there is controversy that is patently unreasonable. To say that something is controversial is not necessarily to say that there are two equally reasonable sides to the discussion. Rather, it is simply to say that people disagree on the issue. Their reasons for disagreement may be reasonable or they may not be reasonable. That is neither here nor there to the fact that there is a dispute, a controversy if you will, on the matter.

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