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Old 9th December 2009, 02:47 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Default Faith and Reason

The teachings of the Catholic Church are based on both faith and reason, not on faith alone. Even each particular dogma depends on both faith and reason, not on faith alone. For no dogma or doctrine can be understood without the use of reason. And every dogma and doctrine is subject to interpretation, that is, to the use of reason to understand the meaning of the teaching in accord with all the other teachings, and in accord with reason. Athough the teachings of the Church include mysteries beyond complete comprehension by reason, nothing taught by the Faith is contrary to reason.

Those who attempt to divorce faith from reason inevitably end by misunderstanding and distorting every teaching. This error of faith-ism often shows itself in contempt for speculative theology, and in a disregard for, or denigration of, all theological arguments. Nothing is believed by such persons unless it was explicitly stated in a magisterial document. All theological arguments are treated as of little value or use, apart from a definitive magiterial pronoucement. Although such persons often think themselves to be more faithful, they have in fact abandoned the true faith.

There is a concept used by theologians called 'dogmatic facts.' Such facts are both establish with certitude by reason and necessary to the Faith and to salvation. For example, dogmatic facts would include, that the first and second Vatican Councils are Ecumenical, that Pope Benedict XVI is the valid Pope, that Anglican orders are invalid, and any similar assertion that is not a teaching on faith or morals, but which is essential to the work of salvation of the Church. But despite the term 'dogmatic facts' such facts are not dogmas (infallible teachings) and are not infallible in the sense that a teaching is infallible. The certitude of dogmatic facts is a certitude primarily of reason, not primarily of faith. And this does in no way weaken the Church, for the Faith has always been based on both faith and reason.

Prior to Divine Revelation, prior to the Jewish Faith, human persons found salvation solely by living in accord with reason. And now that Divine Revelation has been given, we also are guided by faith. But we sin if we attempt to live by faith alone, and not also by reason.
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Old 12th December 2009, 10:34 PM
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On the interpretation of dogma:

Every teaching of the Church, from infallible solemn definitions of Popes and Councils, to infallible teachings of the Universal Magisterium, to non-infallible teachings of Popes and Bishops, is subject to interpretation. And this interpretation uses both faith in those teachings, and faith in the other teachings of Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium, as well as reason, in order to properly understand the truths being taught.

Here is the infallible teaching of the Council of Florence: "It [the holy Roman Church] firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the catholic church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the catholic church before the end of their lives; that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only for those who abide in it do the church's sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the christian militia produce eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed his blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and the unity of the catholic church."

But this teaching is subject to interpretation. The narrow interpretation would say that non-Catholics cannot be saved unless they formally join the Church. A somewhat broader intepretation would say that non-Catholics cannot be saved unless, through no fault of their own, they did not know about the Catholic faith. But the correct intepretation is that all who are in a state of grace are members, at least in a hidden mystical way, of the Church; therefore, many non-Catholics are saved, despite their rejection of formal membership in the Church.

Here again is that nice quote from Pope John Paul II, which explains this rather succintly and fully:

Pope John Paul II: "Since Christ brings about salvation through his Mystical Body, which is the Church, the way of salvation is connected essentially with the Church. The axiom 'extra ecclesiam nulla salus' -- 'outside the Church there is no salvation' -- stated by St. Cyprian (Epist. 73, 21; PL 1123 AB), belongs to the Christian tradition. It was included in the Fourth Lateran Council (DS 802), in the Bull 'Unam Sanctam' of Boniface VIII (DS 870) and the Council of Florence (Decretum pro Jacobitis, DS 1351). The axiom means that for those who are not ignorant of the fact that the Church has been established as necessary by God through Jesus Christ, there is an obligation to enter the Church and remain in her in order to attain salvation (cf. LG 14). For those, however, who have not received the Gospel proclamation, as I wrote in the Encyclical 'Redemptoris Missio,' salvation is accessible in mysterious ways, inasmuch as divine grace is granted to them by virtue of Christ's redeeming sacrifice, without external membership in the Church, but nonetheless always in relation to her (cf. Redemptoris Missio, n. 10). It is a mysterious relationship. It is mysterious for those who receive the grace, because they do not know the Church and sometimes even outwardly reject her. It is also mysterious in itself, because it is linked to the saving mystery of grace, which includes an essential reference to the Church the Savior founded. In order to take effect, saving grace requires acceptance, cooperation, a 'yes' to the divine gift. This acceptance is, at least implicitly, oriented to Christ and the Church. Thus it can also be said that 'sine ecclesia nulla salus' -- 'without the Church there is no salvation.' Belonging to the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, however implicitly and indeed mysteriously, is an essential condition for salvation."
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Old 12th December 2009, 10:49 PM
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Unfortunately, there is a trend among conservative Catholics to represent the teaching of the Church as if it were not subject to interpretation. It is as if reason had no substantial role to play in doctrine. They quote a teaching from a document or from the Catechism, but they don't really understand what it means. They have not studied enough other sources of theology to put the wording in the proper context.

They often misunderstand a doctrine because they take an attitude similar to that of fundamentalist Protestants. The fundamentalist says that the Bible is infallible; I agree. But when discussing the meaning of the text, he does not realize that he is giving the text an interpretation. To the fundamentalist, the text means what it plainly says. But as a fundamentalist teaches from Scripture, he invariably gives an interpretation. Thus, his interpretation is presented as if it were identical to what Scipture teaches. And there is no arguing with him. To him, your interpretation is always a misunderstanding, and his interpretation is merely what the text plainly says.

There are some Catholics who have fallen into this same error. For example, the Magisterium has infallibly taught that 'Outside the Church, there is no salvation.' They assume that 'Church' means formal membership in the Church. To them, this is not an interpreation, but what the teaching plainly says. Of course, that particular understanding of the teaching is heretical. And many persons have fallen away from the Church, into the SSPX and other schismatic and heretical groups, because of this same approach. They assume that a teaching needs no interpretation, and that their understanding of a teaching is the same as the teaching itself. So when Vatican II taught ideas that were contrary to their own interpretation, they conclude that Vatican II taught ideas contrary to the teaching of Tradition. And so, ironically, they fell away from the true Church.

But this error can occur also to a lesser degree. It is not uncommon for a Catholic to read a paragraph in a magisterial document or in the Catechism, and make assumptions about what various terms and phrases means, and thereby to arrive at a misunderstanding about Church teaching. It is difficult to correct someone who uses this approach to magisterial teaching, because they don't admit that they are intepreting the text. The text plainly says 'A' (or so they think), and so no one can convince them that 'A' has a broader or deeper or more subtle or more complex meaning.
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Old 17th December 2009, 01:14 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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The Pope yesterday spoke about a theologian and philosopher, who taught on natural law and reason.
http://zenit.org/article-27867?l=english

"Faith, which grants a share in Godís perfect knowledge, helps reason to realize its full potential."
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/be...091216_en.html
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Old 17th December 2009, 02:46 PM
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But the correct intepretation is that all who are in a state of grace are members, at least in a hidden mystical way, of the Church; therefore, many non-Catholics are saved, despite their rejection of formal membership in the Church.

Ron, I personally know many "good" non-Catholics who all think that contraception is not a sin but know the Catholic teaching on the subject and reject it.

If they die without change, what does the chruch teach?
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Old 17th December 2009, 03:48 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGiftOfLife View Post
But the correct intepretation is that all who are in a state of grace are members, at least in a hidden mystical way, of the Church; therefore, many non-Catholics are saved, despite their rejection of formal membership in the Church.

Ron, I personally know many "good" non-Catholics who all think that contraception is not a sin but know the Catholic teaching on the subject and reject it.

If they die without change, what does the chruch teach?

For a sin to be an actual mortal sin, the person must have full knowledge that the act is gravely immoral, and choose that act with full deliberation. It is not full knowledge if a non-Catholic knows what the Church teaches, but sincerely thinks that the Church is wrong. Such a person does not fully know that the act is gravely immoral, and so the culpability is reduced to less than an actual mortal sin. Such a person might still be saved.
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Old 3rd January 2010, 11:21 PM
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"Faith by its specific nature is an encounter with the living God -- an encounter opening up new horizons extending beyond the sphere of reason. But it is also a purifying force for reason itself. From God's standpoint, faith liberates reason from its blind spots and therefore helps it to be ever more fully itself. Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly."

Pope Benedict XVI, God is Love, n. 28.
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