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Old 22nd February 2009, 01:24 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Originally Posted by Sacredcello View Post
Christopher West has made some errors in his writings, however I would not characterize his understanding of the talks given by JPII, as entirely heretical. The Theology of the Body as described by West and others, helps the faithful to understand the deeper reasons behind why the Church teaches, for example, that homosexual acts and contraception are both immoral. Humanae Vitae, the papal encyclical that confirmed the Church's teaching on contraception, basically says that the faithful are to believe this because the Church teaches it. I am in complete agreement with Humanae Vitae, however I am saying that John Paul II's talks have been helpful in drawing out the reasons for it. In doing so, it is my understanding that the emphasis he placed on this subject has made it an infallible papal teaching, according to the conditions for papal infallibility outlined in Lumen Gentium.

There is much good in what West teaches, since of course whenever he teaches what the Church teaches that teaching is very good. He is faithful to Church teaching on contraception and abortion and premarital sex. But he does also make some significant errors.

There is a tendency among Catholics today to either accept all or reject all that a theologian teaches. See this thread:
The better approach is to find and accept all that is good in what is taught, but to also be able to think critically, amending or rejecting particular points, even in the writings of Church Fathers, Doctors, and Saints.

So some of the problems with West's work are:

1. particular points of moral theology where he errs

2. the distorion whereby he presents ideas from himself and from other moral theologians as if it all came from Pope John Paul II (even the erroneous points). This is patently false. I've read many of the TOB lectures by JP2 and these are substantially different from the type of theology called theology of the body (TOB)

3. TOB has a tendency to exalt sexuality above its proper place in human life and in married life, as if (as Salza points out) it were salvific or entirely spiritual or the most important aspect of married life. Whereas the marital act has a place within human life and marriage, but the higher goods must be given a higher place. If a married couple were to refrain, by agreement for a grave reason, from all marital relations, the marriage would still be very good and the Sacramental bond would remain intact and a source of grace.

But in criticizing West and others, I'm not denying that there is also much that is good in their writings.
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Old 2nd March 2009, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Ron Conte View Post
here is an excellent criticism of the so-called 'theology of the body' (TOB) being promoted by Christopher West and others:

I don't agree with every point that he makes, but this is one of the better critiques of TOB that I've read. Here is an excerpt on a point that I have been emphasizing for some time:

very interesting
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Old 10th March 2009, 11:30 AM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Here is another good article about the theology of the body:
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Old 19th March 2009, 05:29 AM
JV JV is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 19
Default TOB in the original

Reading the lecture series now titled theology of the body requires a clear mind - JPII can be very deep philosophically and theologically. Therefore, I appreciate those with the time and energy who make the effort to interpret this pope's works.

That being said, there is still no substitute for reading the original work. I would humbly compare it to reading Scriptures. You cannot just read what others write/say/think about Scriptures and expect to receive the grace of understanding. And in reading Scripture commentary you must, of course, discern the commentator's abilities and especially (unfortunately) his/her agenda.

I hold that the same is true for TOB - I have read many parts of the original and appreciated the "plain English" explanations by those like Christopher West. But as in all things regarding our precious faith, you need to be wise ... or better yet, ask for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit!
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