Thursday, May 12, 2005

Schism

Randy, like Hahn and Armstrong and other conservative converts to Rome, is trying to carve out a little niche within the church. Theirs is a church within the church. This is not Roman Catholicism, but an inner schism--a homegrown chapel within the Church of Rome.

A while back, after quoting the above statement of mine, Jason Cardona said the following:

<< Perhaps you should take a look at the first page of Scott Hahn's (and most other Catholic apologist's) books. They are usually submitted to the local Bishop for an imprimatur (an official review and declaration of its suitability insofar as Catholic doctrine goes).

You'd think a schismatic group would try to IGNORE the Bishops, rather than seek their approval. >>

I didn’t respond to this at the time because I’ve had a lot to respond to already. But by way of reply, I’d make a few brief remarks:

1.Some do, some don’t. Reaching over to the bookshelf on my right-hand side, I pull down two titles. One is by Karl Keating: Nothing But the Truth. To my knowledge, Keating is the most popular contemporary Catholic apologist. His book carries no imprimatur.

Another book is by Stanley Jaki: And On This Rock. Jaki is a distinguished philosopher of science who has also written books on Newman and Chesterton. His book carries no imprimatur.

Point being: there’s no rule of thumb on this score.

2.There’s quite a difference between a group which pays lip-service to the magisterium while going its own way, and one that publicly defies the magisterium. My allegation is that Armstrong is schismatic in the first sense, not the second.

3.Suppose Armstrong, or Scott Hahn, were to submit a book to the local bishop in which he said that Ratzinger’s forward to the PBC’s guidelines on Biblical criticism did not represent the authentic voice of Catholic tradition? Do you still think he would be granted the imprimatur?

You can get away with an awful lot in Catholicism as long as you don’t openly challenge the system.

The fact that Scott Hahn is to the right of the magisterium doesn’t mean he can’t get the imprimatur. It all depends on the subject-matter. If he writes a devotional book on the Virgin Mary, he can get the imprimatur.

The acid test is if he sought the imprimatur for a book in which he went out of his way to disagree with the magisterium.

4. Finally, if you scroll down to the bottom of Armstrong’s website (www.biblicalcatholic.com), you will find the following disclaimer:

<< To the best of my knowledge, all of my theological writing is "orthodox" and not contrary to the official dogmatic and magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church. In the event of any (unintentional) doctrinal or moral error on my part having been undeniably demonstrated to be contrary to the Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church, I will gladly and wholeheartedly submit to the authority and wisdom of the Church {Mt 28:18-20; 1 Timothy 3:15}. >>

Now, if Armstrong already had the imprimatur for all his theological writing, he'd hardly need to issue this general-purpose disclaimer, would he?

19 comments:

  1. Steve,

    I don't think you are correct that there is an "inner schism" of people like Armstrong and Hahn.

    Most catholic apologists I'm familar with support the majority of post-Vatican II changes. For example, they generally support JPII's rabid ecumenicalism, his kissing the Koran, and his opposition to the death penalty. Some have even adopted von Balthasar's "we all might be going to heaven" theology on the belief that JP adopted it.

    On the other hand, on certain matters they tend to be to the right of the magesterium, particularly biblical criticism and liturgical matters.

    You are right about being able to get away with alot as long as you voice support for the church. A bishop can let the schools and colleges in his diocese go the hell, but so long as he "supports the pope," he probably won't get in trouble.

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  2. Thanks, Steve.

    The question, though, is whether an observant Catholic can be selective in his submission to the magisterium. The dilemma is especially acute in the case of someone who converted to the RCC because the Evangelical church has no magisterium.

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  3. BTW, Steve, I agree with you about the insidious removal of BC/AD abbreviations from "Christian" publications.

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  4. The book in question was THE FACE OF NEW TESTAMENT STUDIES, edited by McKnight and Osborne.

    I doubt that some of the contributors (such as Blomberg and D. Bock) support this nonsense, so I imagine the choice was imposed by the editors or the publisher.

    Pretty pathetic.

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  5. I confess that I don't think either Osborne or McKnight are top-drawer. By contrast, Bock and Blomberg are both first-rate--although I have my share of disagreements with both.

    BTW, what's the book by Ratzinger where he denies the 6C date of Daniel?

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  6. THE GOD OF JESUS CHRIST (1979, Franciscan Herald Press).

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  7. Expensive book. $75! No wonder I haven't read it yet! Well, that guantees a small market for Ratzinger's liberal views.

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  8. "We have today good reason to date the book of Daniel in its present form from 167 to 163 B.C., that is, to a time when Israel's faith was harshly persecuted by the Hellenistic kind, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Through extreme tribultations the faith of God's people and its historical hope seemed to have definitvely reached a dead end. As a result, however, the prophert had a new vision of history in its totality." (p. 55)

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  9. Thanks, Steve. This is a complement to his liberal dating of the Pentateuch.

    In pre-Vatican II days, the rap against the RCC is that it had a sound, conservative foundation, but added to the gospel. Now, however, it has lost most of its conservatism as well.

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  10. When JP II died, all the references to his "conservatism" were exclusively to his moral beliefs.

    I recall the Dave Armstrong posted a list of Catholics (professors & clerics) who were disciplined under JP II's reign. There were something like 25 people who got in trouble in 27 years. That works out to less than one a year. Yet Armstrong's header was something to the effect that this refuted the traditionalist claim that JP II was soft on modernism!

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  11. For the record, I have several essays on the authorship of Scripture, which is why I was rather curt with Patrick on the subject of pseudonymity.

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  12. Thanks for responding, and emailing me to let me know.

    Reaching over to the bookshelf on my right-hand side, I pull down two titles. One is by Karl Keating: Nothing But the Truth. To my knowledge, Keating is the most popular contemporary Catholic apologist. His book carries no imprimatur.

    I don't have the book, so can't check. But I'll take your word. I don't know why this specific book wasn't submitted for an imprimatur (it may not have been eligible). I doubt it contains anything much different from "Catholicism And Fundamentalism", which bears an imprimatur from Roger Cardinal Mahoney.

    Another book is by Stanley Jaki: And On This Rock. Jaki is a distinguished philosopher of science who has also written books on Newman and Chesterton. His book carries no imprimatur.

    I'm not familiar witht he author, so again, I can't comment. But unless his book was intended for Catechesis, there is no obligation to submit it for an imprimatur. The imprimature is intended for books that bear on the formal education of the faithful, in the context of parish life (eg, textbooks).

    there’s no rule of thumb on this score.

    I agree with you there, especially considering that even if a book bears an imprimatur, it can still be deficient. Imprimaturs are prudential declarations. They are a general guide, but not the only consideration, unless a book is to be used for catechesis.

    There’s quite a difference between a group which pays lip-service to the magisterium while going its own way, and one that publicly defies the magisterium. My allegation is that Armstrong is schismatic in the first sense, not the second

    First, your language is a bit confusing here. Schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or those in communion with him (as opposed to heresy, which is a denial of dogma). In what sense has Armstrong (or any other of the well-known apologists) defied a lawful decision of the Roman Pontiff. For example, Archbishop Lefebvre refused to obey an order not to ordain someone. This is a manifestly schismatic act. Now, he would have been free to disagree with the order, so long as he didn't carry out. It seems you're throwing out the term "schismatic" in a sense which you define, rather than the sense it is given in Catholic theology.

    Suppose Armstrong, or Scott Hahn, were to submit a book to the local bishop in which he said that Ratzinger’s forward to the PBC’s guidelines on Biblical criticism did not represent the authentic voice of Catholic tradition? Do you still think he would be granted the imprimatur?

    It depends on what else he wrote. Imprimaturs are not declarations that the Bishop agrees with everything in a book. It is only a declaration on faith and morals. The PBC has no magisterial authority, and so merely criticizing something it wrote would be no problem. Ratzinger, as a Cardina, certainly had no magisterial authority in his forward. The book would have to be examined on whether it goes beyond criticizing the PBC, and denies a particular principle of doctrine (such as the inerrancy of Scripture).

    You can get away with an awful lot in Catholicism as long as you don’t openly challenge the system.

    As far as disciplinary action, this is true. But all are bound to the faith of the Church. The disciplinary measures of the Church's pastors (or lack thereof) is distinct from their doctrinal authority.

    The acid test is if he sought the imprimatur for a book in which he went out of his way to disagree with the magisterium.

    Actually, Scott Hahn, as a theologian, would have a right to disagree with the magisterium, in certain circumstances (see "Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian"). So Hahn isn't a good example (even though he doesn't try to disagree with the Magisterium; just the opposite).

    Now, if Armstrong already had the imprimatur for all his theological writing, he'd hardly need to issue this general-purpose disclaimer, would he?

    Armstrong's work is not created for catechesis in his parish. It is a private initiative. He has no obligation to submit it to a Bishop for an imprimatur. If he did (and I don't think writings on the Internet would even be eligible) he would receive an imprimatur without a problem.

    I think your chief problem with your objections is that it defines everything from your viewpoint, rather than through the viewpoint of Catholic theology. Catholics have freedom of inquiry in many things (see Canon 212). "Schism" has a very precise meaning. It can't be thrown about willy-nilly as you have.

    Now, it's possible for someone to have a "schismatic mentality", without being actually in schism. This is a spiritual problem, rather than an ecclesiastical one. Claiming Dave Armstrong or the other apologists you mentioned have a "schismatic mentality" is stretching it. They've all proved their loyalty to the magisterial teaching of the Church, and they are certainly no strangers to the Pastors of the Church. Catholic Answers has Bishops on its shows all the time.

    Your charges of quasi-schism have to be demonstrated with hard evidence. Theological disagreements with people in high places doesn't qualify for schism. The authentic magisterium of the Church is not to be confused with personal opinions.

    God bless,

    Jason Cardona
    http://beingquabeing.blogspot.com
    eremite_85@hotmail.com

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