Abuse is assumed

October 20, 2013 § 19 Comments

A lot of our Christian separated brethren over the years have expressed a fear of becoming Catholic not because of any development of doctrine the successors of the Apostles have actually taught and affirmed over the last two thousand years[*]; but because of what they fear the Church might teach and affirm in the future.

Isn’t that a lot like a daughter refusing to obey her father because she fears he might become abusive?

[*] Once our particular Protestant friend has become familiar with what the Church actually does and does not teach, and with what authority. This of course does not encompass all Protestants, many of whom actually do reject Catholic doctrines with a clear understanding of the doctrines they reject.

§ 19 Responses to Abuse is assumed

  • Cane Caldo says:

    Isn’t that a lot like a daughter refusing to obey her father because she fears he might become abusive?

    No, because the RCC isn’t the father; more like uncles, or older brothers who used to be abusive drunks. Now in their sobriety they spend a lot of time trying to convince us that though it might seem they were somewhat misguided, it was really all for our own good and we deserved it anyhow.

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:
    From my POV the RCC has legitimate authority over all Christians, whether they recognize it or not. So even those Prots who think there has been actual abuse are like children with an abusive father, not an abusive uncle.

    But my post isn’t about them in any case.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    From my POV the RCC has legitimate authority over all Christians, whether they recognize it or not.

    I get that. Again; this chauvinism–the assumption of authority and responsibility–has a lot to do with what I find compelling about the RCC; especially compared to the Orthodox. They leave me with the impression that they could not care much less.

    Obviously, Protestants most often do not even rise to the status of being a law unto themselves, as Paul speaks of the heathens. Romans 2

    “12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”

  • Zippy says:

    I suppose a counterpoint to “abuse is assumed” is that from the legit RC POV, authority is assumed. That sounds so much better than “chauvinism” – though I’m not shy about owning the label.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    By the way: verses 15 and 16 would be a good thing for you to ruminate upon; judging the secrets, hearts, intentions, conscience and all that you frequently dismiss. Romans is really right up your alley. Seriously, I’m interested in your take on it.

  • I suppose a counterpoint to “abuse is assumed” is that from the legit RC POV, authority is assumed.

    Catholic here. Isn’t it less “authority is assumed” so much as, “From historical texts we have strong reason to believe that the Roman Catholic Church today is the same as the one founded by Christ, and as such we conclude from Christ’s statements and from the shared beliefs of the earliest Christians that we are to believer all of her infallibly defined doctrinal statements of authority”?

    And finally, what did you think of that offhand comment about Catholics allowing a dispensation for polygyny in the latest Sunshine Mary thread? I nearly waded in, then I saw the comments section and decided that getting into a flame war wasn’t something I was in the mood for.

  • Zippy says:

    The “polygyny in Paraguay” thing has taken on wikiality: it has been repeated enough times that people think they “know” it.

  • sunshinemary says:

    A lot of our Christian separated brethren over the years have expressed a fear of becoming Catholic not because of any development of doctrine the successors of the Apostles have actually taught and affirmed over the last two thousand years[*]; but because of what they fear the Church might teach and affirm in the future.

    Personally, this is not what keeps me from becoming Catholic because I honestly have just as much fear of what Protestant churches may teach and affirm in the future.

  • Zippy says:

    sunshinemary:
    If the number of people my post actually applies to turns out to be zero, at least we’ll be able to drive a stake into the heart of a common mode of argument. That is to say, it is entirely possible that every one of the numerous times various folks have brought this argument to bear, it has been a red herring.

    Now I’ll be able to dismiss it as such and point to this thread – where anyone who actually truly does have the concern can discuss it.

  • Elspeth says:

    Like.

  • Scott says:

    Well, your wish will not come true today. (That the number is zero). There are several things I worry about — gay “marriage,” women clergy, etc. It’s like, if I had a garauntee that they will not fall prey to these things (like the rest of them are about to) I would jump immediately.

  • Zippy says:

    Scott:
    That’s one place where faith (that is, trust in the promises of God-Who-Reveals) comes in. There is no guarantee that on some non-infallible level the Church will end up indulging very widely in terrible heresy — see the Arian crisis and read up on St. Athanasius[1]. She’ll always ultimately be corrected by the Holy Spirit, but you may not see it in your lifetime.

    A corollary of the doctrine of infallibility is that almost everything that the visible Church says and does is non-infallible. Ultimately conflicts tend to be over whether or not Christian men are obliged to submit to the messy, fallible, ordinary everyday authority of other men[2]. Infallibility creates a kind of lightning rod that distracts from the real issue.

    But what you will have – and this is the most important thing of all, objectively (not as a mystical emotional experience, but objectively) – is the Eucharist: the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ fully present.

    [1] I’ve done due diligence on lots of different claims that the Church has fallen into heresy or whatever. I almost always find them to be greatly exaggerated – more a reflection of the biases of the folks making the charge, and misunderstandings of ecclesiology, than of the objective facts. The Arian crisis is the closest thing I’ve seen to a real crisis of widespread teaching of heresy on the part of bishops of the Church.

    [2] Within limits, of course. I’ve talked about what authority is and is not, and its inherent limits, at length elsewhere.

  • sunshinemary says:

    Well, your wish will not come true today. (That the number is zero). There are several things I worry about — gay “marriage,” women clergy, etc. It’s like, if I had a garauntee that they will not fall prey to these things (like the rest of them are about to) I would jump immediately.

    But Scott, don’t you think that Protestants will embrace these things far faster than Catholicism will? If anything, these matters make me more inclined to want to be Catholic despite theological differences because I believe Catholics will hold the line longer due to having an established hierarchy of authority. Rather than driving me away, it’s the authority that makes me long to return. But there are certain obstacles.

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:
    By the way: verses 15 and 16 would be a good thing for you to ruminate upon; judging the secrets, hearts, intentions, conscience and all that you frequently dismiss. Romans is really right up your alley. Seriously, I’m interested in your take on it.

    I am not sure what you are asking me. Here is the Douay-Rheims translation:

    [11] For there is no respect of persons with God. [12] For whosoever have sinned without the law, shall perish without the law; and whosoever have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law. [13] For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. [14] For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the law; these having not the law are a law to themselves: [15] Who shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them, and their thoughts between themselves accusing, or also defending one another,

    [16] In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

    Is it that you have (despite me explaining otherwise numerous times) taken me to mean that intentions and knowledge are irrelevant in God’s determination of moral culpability?

    The tyranny of the subjective is the intellectual destruction of objective standards of behaviour – the philosophical position that all that matters morally is the subjective state of the acting subject, and that moral qualities don’t inhere in the choice of objective kinds of behaviour. The natural law position is that as a union of body and soul human beings aren’t like that: that objectively immoral behaviours are only chosen when the acting subject suffers from a defect of knowledge or a defect of will. The former may even excuse the person of moral culpability (say he really, actually thought she was his wife when she wasn’t). But even that does not turn an objectively evil action into a good action: it is, at best, a mistake.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @Zippy

    Is it that you have (despite me explaining otherwise numerous times) taken me to mean that intentions and knowledge are irrelevant in God’s determination of moral culpability?

    I have read your explanations that they are relevant, but it seems to me that the bulk of what you write is that the subjective is is not as relevant as (what you think you know to be) the objective. There’s a sense to me that the subjective is God’s business alone, and–strangely then–should be of no concern to us humans.

    It seems to me that if you had to adjudicate the case of Judah and Tamar, that you would rule that Tamar had sinned by objectively practicing prostitution to procure her heir. If not, why not?

    Tamar, of course, did this because Judah’s son Onan spilled his seed on the ground instead of trying to give his brother an heir through Tamar; as he did not want his brother to have any glory.

    The natural law position is that as a union of body and soul human beings aren’t like that: that objectively immoral behaviours are only chosen when the acting subject suffers from a defect of knowledge or a defect of will. The former may even excuse the person of moral culpability (say he really, actually thought she was his wife when she wasn’t). But even that does not turn an objectively evil action into a good action: it is, at best, a mistake.

    What is the use of knowledge of natural law, then?

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:
    the bulk of what you write is that the subjective is is not as relevant as (what you think you know to be) the objective.

    No, much of what I write is that the (literally) vicious trick of making the objective into nothing at all – the disembodiment of morality – is a stinking pile of lies from the pit of Hell.

    …if you had to adjudicate the case of Judah and Tamar, that you would rule that Tamar had sinned by objectively practicing prostitution to procure her heir.

    Really?

    Um … yes. Prostitution, fornication, adultery etc (not to mention lying to Judah about being a prostitute) are always morally wrong to choose, period, even when people in the Bible did it.

    And? Are we to take it as implicit that everyone who ever does anything in a Bible story did not sin?

    What is the use of knowledge of natural law, then?

    What is the use of understanding what actions are objectively good and what actions are objectively evil?

    So we can choose what is good and avoid choosing what is evil, of course.

  • Scott says:

    SSM-Yes, of course. But one doing it now, and another doing it in 10 years makes me look toward things like the traditionalist Catholic groups so I don’t have to convert (again) in 10 years.

  • No, much of what I write is that the (literally) vicious trick of making the objective into nothing at all – the disembodiment of morality – is a stinking pile of lies from the pit of Hell.

    Heh, you reminded me of a common complaint I hear in my volunteer work as a youth formationator in LifeTeen. Parents often tell me or my boss that we’re going to scare the kids. I always reply that it’s pretty good odds that I am the only man they will ever encounter in their 18+ years of catechesis who talks at length on the existence of hell and the possibility of going there. I have to make the most of my opportunity.

    I much appreciate Zippy’s posts about the place of objectivity in Catholic moral reasoning. I’m a convert of only right years, but I’ve already met many Catholics, both clergy and laity, who subscribe to that aforementioned stinking pile of lies. I like to joke that arguing with a priest inside the confessional about “Fundamental Option” theory was what started me on the road to Reactionary Traddery as Mark Shea likes to describe it.

  • […] and thus destroys politics. It invalidates actual authority (authority in action), makes rejection of authority into the principle of authority, thereby unleashing the unconstrained […]

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