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Faith and Unbelief

  /   Friday March 23, 2007  

When I was a resident in drug information during the 1999-2000 year, some things came up that told me that I needed to search and find whether the truth can be known and how. One book that I read along the way was Faith and Certitude by Fr. Thomas Dubay. At the time I didn’t know it, but he is one of the top writers on Catholic spirituality in the nation. I was a beginner, so the book was hard to read, and I would do well to re-read it at some point.

Ignatius Insight has posted this excerpt from the book. It is well worth reading. It reminds me a lot of what I have learned about the problem of dissent in the Catholic Church. People will often submit to the teaching of a book or even a watered-down notion of “tradition” because they can interpret it however they please. Once a living authority is involved, they have trouble. Simply submitting to an idea based on its intellectual merits is not faith. It is only an agreement based on your own intellect. Such a person is really following himself; he just happens to have come across an idea he believes is good. If it didn’t suit his fancy, he could just as well have discarded it.

One way that this has come to light for me is when I reflect on the recent discipline of a liberation theologian by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. No doubt the supporters of this guy will trump this up as, in the words of a priest I had heard from, the Church using “censorship.” Well, before I get into the meat of this, let me remind you that such a conclusion is completely untenable. How can I say this? Look at how few theologians have actually been disciplined. Second, look at what those who were disciplined were promoting.

Truthfully, if anything, there should be more censorship. Much of what passes for theology today disregards divine revelation and reduces theology to a mere empirical science or the “tradition” of a “community.” The empirical science approach works well for biology, for example, because we have no absolute truth revealed by God. Anything we believe could be found not to be true at any time. However, anyone who wishes to question widely accepted theories had better have some strong evidence to back up what he is saying. Theology is different because there is divine revelation. Such revelation is absolute truth, handed on from Jesus to the Apostles to their successors to this day. This is why we must not allow academic theologians to set up their own alternate magisterium. When theology is reduced to a mere academic exercise, the “theologians” can interpret any text or event in history any way they wish. Some have claimed that they know more that the people who were much closer to the time of Jesus, which is ludicrous.

As part of the divine revelation we have received, there is an authority to protect the faithful from those who would reject revelation. In reading parts of the linked-to statement on the discipline of Fr. Jon Sobrino, S.J., one can see that he has done such. The statement of the CDF has shown, among other things, that he recognized Jesus as not the incarnate Word of God, but only as a mere human being who saw human misery and felt he should do something about it. This strikes me as a very similar view that the Israelites had about the coming Messiah. He was to be an earthly king, and if Jesus was to be an earthly king, he was a complete and total failure.

This is not why Jesus came or what his mission was. He came first and foremost to free us from what separates us from God – sin. Sin is the ultimate bondage. Not knowing God is the ultimate poverty. Our desire to help the poor (whether spiritually or materially poor) must flow from our knowledge of Jesus Christ and his mission. If we try to do things any other way, we end up going astray from what Our Lord wants us to do. This is how we end up adopting the form of “theology” that is little more than warmed-over Marxism, commonly known as liberation theology.

Category: Posts imported from Danger! Falling Brainwaves, Uncategorized

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