It may sound too simple or even too silly to be taken seriously- but I would say that looking back over my own life, and being in a perpetual teen world courtesy of my employment as a high school religion teacher- it would be hard to overplay the damage of this “Problem-Free Philosophy”.
Continuing on with my series on the Seven Notes, I would call them tests, which Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman developed for determining whether some aspect of Church teaching is a development of doctrine or a corruption of doctrine. We began with Note Six-Conservative Action Upon Its Past, and I would highly recommend that any one who has not read the first post in the series read it here before reading this post. We then proceeded with an examination of the First Note-Preservation of Type here, the Second Note-Continuity of Principles here and the Third Note-Power of Assimilation here. This post will deal with the Fourth Note-Logical Sequence.
It is possible as an idea develops during the history of mankind, to logically trace its development. Afterwards, however, this logical character which the whole wears becomes a test that the process has been a true development, not a perversion or corruption, from its evident naturalness; and in some cases from the gravity, distinctness, precision, and majesty of its advance, and the harmony of its proportions, like the tall growth, and graceful branching, and rich foliage, of some vegetable production.
Newman notes that in the political history of states, it is often easy to see development of ideas at work. It is illustrated by the words of Jeroboam, “Now shall this kingdom return to the house of David, if this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem … Wherefore the king took counsel and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, Behold thy gods, O Israel.” Idolatry was a duty of kingcraft with the schismatical kingdom.
Newman concludes: A doctrine, then, professed in its mature years by a philosophy or religion, is likely to be a true development, not a corruption, in proportion as it seems to be the logical issue of its original teaching.
Newman on the Fourth Note.
Expecting heroism from politicians is rather like expecting chastity from prostitutes: you are almost certain to be disappointed. Therefore when a politician signs his own political death warrant on a matter of principle, attention should be paid.
Representative Anh “Joseph” Quang Cao is the Congressman representing the second congressional district of Louisiana. His district is in New Orleans and is overwhelmingly Democrat in voter composition. He is there by virtue of defeating the unbelievably corrupt former Congressman William “Cold Cash” Jefferson.
When ObamaCare came up in the House he was the lone Republican to vote for it. Now he is a no vote. Lifesite News explains why:
He said he could only vote for the bill if the abortion funding were removed, which Democrats have refused to do.
He said he has been flooded with calls and emails but will vote his conscience.
“We have people knocking at our doors, we have groups coming in, lobbying,” he said. “It comes down to me and my own conscience and that’s what I have to deal with.”
“We do need some kind of health care reform to assist many people in the district,” he said. “But again, my decision to support the health care bill cannot contradict my conscience.”
Obama on Wednesday met with Cao and asked him to take a new look at the abortion language in the bill — something Cao promised he would do.
“He’s asked if I would restudy the Senate language and that I would approach it with an open mind. And I promised that I would go back and study the Senate language again,” Cao said, according to the New Orleans Times Picayune.
“He fully understands where I stand on abortion, and he doesn’t want me to vote against my conscience because he, like me, believes that if we were to vote against our conscience, our moral values, there is really nothing left for us to defend,” Cao said. “I’m glad that the president is very understanding. He really shows his own moral character.”
“He did not whip me on the vote,” he said.
Where Cao stands is firmly against abortion funding — which is clearly a part of the Senate health care bill.
Continuing on with my series on the Seven Notes, I would call them tests, which Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman developed for determining whether some aspect of Church teaching is a development of doctrine or a corruption of doctrine. We began with Note Six-Conservative Action Upon Its Past, and I would highly recommend that any one who has not read the first post in the series read it here before proceeding with this post. We then proceeded with an examination of the First Note-Preservation of Type here. This post will deal with the Second Note-Continuity of Principles.
Newman distinguishes in this Note between a principle and a doctrine:
Principles are abstract and general, doctrines relate to facts; doctrines develope, and principles at first sight do not; doctrines grow and are enlarged, principles are permanent; doctrines are intellectual, and principles are more immediately ethical and practical. Systems live in principles and represent doctrines. Personal responsibility is a principle, the Being of a God is a doctrine; from that doctrine all theology has come in due course, whereas that principle is not clearer under the Gospel than in paradise, and depends, not on belief in an Almighty Governor, but on conscience.
Continuing on with my series on the seven notes, I would call them tests, which Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman developed for determining whether some aspect of Church teaching is a development of doctrine or a corruption of doctrine. We began with Note Six-Conservative Action Upon Its Past, and I would highly recommend that any one who has not read the first post in the series read it here before proceeding with this post. We will now take the remaining notes in numerical order. This post will deal with the First Note-Preservation of Type.
In regard to Preservation of Type, Cardinal Newman takes pains to point out that the idea underlying the doctrine remains of the same type while the external manifestations of the idea may change greatly. His illustration from Roman history conveys his point well:
On the other hand, real perversions and corruptions are often not so unlike externally to the doctrine from which they come, as are changes which are consistent with it and true developments. When Rome changed from a Republic to an Empire, it was a real alteration of polity, or what may be called a corruption; yet in appearance the change was small. The old offices or functions of government remained: it was only that the Imperator, or Commander in Chief, concentrated them in his own person. Augustus was Consul and Tribune, Supreme Pontiff and Censor, and the Imperial rule was, in the words of Gibbon, “an absolute monarchy disguised by the forms of a commonwealth.” On the other hand, when the dissimulation of Augustus was exchanged for the ostentation of Dioclesian, the real alteration of constitution was trivial, but the appearance of change was great. Instead of plain Consul, Censor, and Tribune, Dioclesian became Dominus or King, assumed the diadem, and threw around him the forms of a court.
In other words in determining whether there has been the preservation of type in a development of doctrine we must look at the substance and ignore the form. For example, in the Middle Ages laymen would often receive communion once a year out of great reverence for the body of Christ. Now we are encouraged to be frequent communicants. However, the underlying reverence that the Church commands for the body and blood of Christ remains the same.
Cardinal Newman concludes:
An idea then does not always bear about it the same external image; this circumstance, however, has no force to weaken the argument for its substantial identity, as drawn from its external sameness, when such sameness remains. On the contrary, for that very reason, unity of type becomes so much the surer guarantee of the healthiness and soundness of developments, when it is persistently preserved in spite of their number or importance.
Newman on the First Note:
I was inspired to transfer my brain goo to the computer screen over the last couple of hours. Here are the results. Here’s to a more fruitful discussion.
I haven’t talked extensively about why I rejected atheistic communism and made my way back to Catholicism. There were a number of reasons; being shown the logical and moral bankruptcy of materialism, the corruption I personally witnessed in the movement, the fact that I could never bring myself to really embrace any of the tenants of the cultural agenda, and so on. The idea of fighting for anything in a universe that did not, and could not care about the outcome of human events could no longer captivate me. I suppose some people are able to convince themselves of the possibility, even the certainty, of “goodness” in a reality that owes nothing to consciousness and will; to me, such a belief, no matter how comforting, would be a lie. And I cannot live a lie.
Since 2002 Ken Masugi, a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute and lecturer in Government at Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC, has conducted Advent interviews with James V. Schall, S.J., author of over thirty books on political theory and theology. Fr. Schall teaches in the Government Department of Georgetown University.
The interviews themselves are a delight to read and span a variety of topics from current events to the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI to issues in philosophy, theology and ethics — and sometimes, in addition, what books Fr. Schall himself is reading at that particular moment in time.