Whats So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief


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Such a philosophy, however, existed among the pagans of old, and was carried to an eminent degree of perfection by Aristotle. God De Deo uno et trino As God is the central idea around which all theology turns, dogmatic theology must begin with the doctrine of God, essentially one, Whose existence, essence, and attributes are to be investigated, While the arguments, strictly so called, for the existence of God are given in philosophy or in apologetics, dogmatic theology insists upon the revealed doctrine that God may be known from creation by reason alone, that is, without external revelation or internal illumination by grace.

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From this it follows at once that Atheism must be branded as heresy and that Agnosticism may not plead mitigating circumstances. Nor can Traditionalism and Ontologism be reconciled with the dogma of the natural knowableness of God. For if, as the Traditionalists assert, the consciousness of God's existence, found in all races and ages, is due solely to the oral tradition of our forefathers and ultimately to the revelation granted in Paradise, the knowledge of God derived from the visible creation is at once discounted.

The same must be said of the Ontologists, who fancy that our mind enjoys an intuitive vision of God's essence, and is thus made certain of His existence. Likewise, to assume with Descartes an inborn idea of God idea Dei innata is out of the question; consequently, the knowableness of God by mere reason, means in the last analysis that His existence can be demonstrated, as the anti-Modernist oath prescribed by Pius X expressly affirms. But this method of arriving at a knowledge of God is toilsome; for it must proceed by way of denying imperfection in God and of ascribing to Him in higher excellence eminenter whatever perfections are found in creatures; nor does the light of revelation and of faith elevate our knowledge to an essentially higher plane.

Hence all our knowledge of God on this earth implies painful deficiencies which will not be filled except by the beatific vision.

The metaphysical essence of God is generally said to be self-existence, which means, however, the fullness of being Gr. The so- called positive aseity of Prof. Schell, meaning that God realizes and produces Himself must be as uncompromisingly rejected as the Pantheistic confusion of ens a se with the impersonal ens universale. Intermediary between these two objectionable extremes is the formal distinction of the Scotists. But the virtual distinction of the Thomists deserves preference in every regard, because it alone does not jeopardize the simplicity of the Divine Being.

If self-existence is the fundamental attribute of God, both the attributes of being and of operation must proceed from it as from their root. The first class includes infinity, simplicity, substantiality, omnipotence, immutability, eternity, and immensity; to the second category belong omniscience and the Divine will.

Besides, many theologians distinguish from both these categories the so-called moral attributes: veracity, fidelity, wisdom, sanctity, bounty, beauty, mercy, and justice. Monotheism is best treated in connection with God's simplicity and unity. The most difficult problems are those which concern God's knowledge, especially His foreknowledge of free future actions.

In treating of the Divine will, theologians insist on God's freedom in His external activity, and when discussing the problem of evil, they prove that God can intend sin neither as an end nor as a means to an end, but merely permits it for reasons both holy and wise. Being the cornerstone of the Christian religion, the doctrine of the Trinity is thoroughly and extensively discussed, all the more because the Liberal theology of the Protestants has relapsed into the ancient error of the Antitrinitarians.

The dogma of God's threefold personality, traces of which may be found in the Old Testament, can be conclusively proved from the New Testament and Tradition. The combat which the Fathers waged against Monarchianism, Sabellianism, and Subordinationism Arius, Macedonius aids considerably in shedding light on the mystery. Great importance attaches to the logos-doctrine of St.

John; but as to its relation to the logos of the Stoic Neoplatonists, the Jewish Philonians, and the early Fathers, many points are still in an unsettled condition. The reason why there are three Persons is the twofold procession immanent in the Godhead: the procession of the Son from the Father by generation, and the procession of the Holy Ghost from both the Father and the Son by spiration.

In view of the Greek schism, the dogmatic justification of the addition of the Filioque in the Creed must be scientifically established.

Dogmatic Theology

A philosophical understanding of the dogma of the Trinity was attempted by the Fathers, especially by St. The most important result was the cognition that the Divine generation must be conceived as a spiritual procession from the intellect, and the Divine spiration as a procession from the will or from love.

Active and passive generation, together with active and passive spiration, lead to the doctrine of the four relations, of which, however, only three constitute persons, to wit, active and passive generation Father, Son , and passive spiration Holy Ghost. The reason why active spiration does not result in a distinct fourth person, is because it is one and the same common function of the Father and the Son. The philosophy of this mystery includes also the doctrine of the Divine properties, notions, appropriations, and missions.

Finally, with the doctrine of circuminsession which summarizes the whole theology of the Trinity, the treatment of this dogma is brought to a fitting conclusion. Creation De Deo creante The first act of God's external activity is creation. The theologian investigates both the activity itself and the work produced.


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With regard to the former, the interest centres in creation out of nothing, around which, as along the circumference of a circle, are grouped a number of secondary truths: God's plan of the universe, the relation between the Trinity and creation, the freedom of the Creator, the creation in time, the impossibility of communicating the creative power to any creature. These momentous truths not only perfect and purify the theistic idea of God, they also give the death-blow to heretical Dualism God, matter and to the Protean variations of Pantheism. As the beginning of the world supposes creation out of nothing, so its continuation supposes Divine conservation, which is nothing less than a continued creation.

However, God's creative activity is not thereby exhausted. It enters into every action of the creature, whether necessary or free. What is the nature of God's universal co-operation with free rational beings? On this question Thomists and Molinists differ widely.


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The former regard the Divine activity as a previous, the latter as a simultaneous, concursus. According to Molinism, it is only by conceiving the concourses as simultaneous that true freedom in the creature can be secured, and that the essential holiness of the Creator can be maintained, the fact of sin notwithstanding. The crowning achievement of God's creative activity is His providence and universal government which aims at the realization of the ultimate end of the universe, God's glory through His creatures. The work produced by creation is divided into three kingdoms, rising in tiers one above another: world; man; angel.

To this triad correspond dogmatic cosmology, anthropology, angelology. In discussing the first of these, the theologian must be satisfied with general outlines, e. Anthropology is more thoroughly treated, because man, the microcosm, is the centre of creation. Revelation tells us many things about man's nature, his origin and the unity of the human race, the spirituality and immortality of the soul, the relation of soul and body, the origin of individual souls.

Above all, it tells us of supernatural grace with which man was adorned and which was intended to be a permanent possession of the human race. The discussion of man's original state must be preceded by a theory of the supernatural order without which the nature of original sin could not be understood.

But original sin, the willful repudiation of the supernatural state, is one of the most important chapters. Its existence must be carefully proved from the sources of faith; its nature, the mode of its transmission, its effects, must be subjected to a thorough discussion. The fate of the angels runs in many respects parallel to that of mankind: the angels also were endowed with both sanctifying grace and high natural excellences; some of them rose in rebellion against God, and were thrust into hell as demons.

While the devil and his angels are inimical to the human race, the faithful angels have been appointed to exercise the office of guardians over mankind.

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Redemption De Deo Redemptore As the fall of man was followed by redemption, so the chapter on creation is immediately followed by that on redemption. Its three main divisions: Christology, Soteriology, Mariology, must ever remain in the closest connection. Soteriology Soteriology is the doctrine of the work of the Redeemer. As in Christology the leading idea is the Hypostatic Union, so here the main idea is the natural mediatorship of Christ.

After having disposed of the preliminary questions concerning the possibility, opportuneness, and necessity of redemption, as well as of those regarding the predestination of Christ, the next subject to occupy our attention is the work of redemption itself. This work reaches its climax in the vicarious satisfaction of Christ on the cross, and is crowned by His descent into limbo and His ascension into heaven.

From a speculative standpoint, a thorough and comprehensive theory of satisfaction remains still a pious desideratum, though promising attempts have often been made from the days of Anselm down to the present time.


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  4. It will be necessary to blend into one noble whole the hidden elements of truth contained in the old patristic theory of ransom, the juridical conception of St. Anselm, and the ethical theory of atonement. The Redeemer's activity as Mediator stands out most prominently in His triple office of high priest, prophet, and king, which is continued, after the ascension of Christ, in the priesthood and the teaching and pastoral office of the Church.

    The central position is occupied by the high-priesthood of Christ, which manifests the death on the cross as the true sacrifice of propitiation, and proves the Redeemer to be a true priest. Mariology Mariology, the doctrine of the Mother of God, cannot be separated either from the person or from the work of the Redeemer and therefore has the deepest connection with both Christology and Soteriology.

    Here the central idea is the Divine Maternity, since this is at once the source of Mary's unspeakable dignity and of her surpassing fullness of grace. Just as the Hypostatic Union of the Divinity and humanity of Christ stands or falls with the truth of the Divine Maternity, so too is this same maternity the foundation of all special privileges which were accorded to Mary on account of Christ's dignity. These singular privileges are four: her Immaculate Conception, personal freedom from sin, perpetual virginity, and her bodily Assumption into heaven.

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    Whats So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief Whats So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief
    Whats So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief Whats So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief
    Whats So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief Whats So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief
    Whats So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief Whats So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief
    Whats So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief Whats So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief
    Whats So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief Whats So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief
    Whats So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief Whats So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief
    Whats So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief Whats So Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief

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