Archive for the ‘Vatican II’ Category

Not So Much Mystery, as Error

December 10, 2015

Per Cardinal Koch (link to report), the RCC affirms salvation through an explicit or even implicit faith in Christ and says that Jews can be saved without explicitly confessing Christ:
“While affirming salvation through an explicit or even implicit faith in Christ, the Church does not question the continued love of God for the chosen people of Israel.” (17)
“That the Jews are participants in God’s salvation is theologically unquestionable, but how that can be possible without confessing Christ explicitly, is and remains an unfathomable divine mystery.” (36)
It would be better to characterize that as a real contradiction and consequently an error, not a divine mystery.

Interestingly enough, the report acknowledged the fact that this view is a departure from tradition:

On the part of many of the Church Fathers the so-called replacement theory or supersessionism steadily gained favour until in the Middle Ages it represented the standard theological foundation of the relationship with Judaism: the promises and commitments of God would no longer apply to Israel because it had not recognised Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God, but had been transferred to the Church of Jesus Christ which was now the true ‘new Israel’, the new chosen people of God.

(17)

The same section goes on to admit the novelty of the Vatican II position:

Arising from the same soil, Judaism and Christianity in the centuries after their separation became involved in a theological antagonism which was only to be defused at the Second Vatican Council. With its Declaration “Nostra aetate” (No.4) the Church unequivocally professes, within a new theological framework, the Jewish roots of Christianity.

It should be interesting to listen to the various attempts to deal with this from various “conservative” RC groups.

Possible ideas:

1) It’s only a report by a commission, it’s not a papal encyclical. Therefore, even though it’s on the Vatican website, it’s not “really official.”
2) The old standby, “well, this isn’t ex cathedra.”

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A Half Century for the Emergence of the Council

February 17, 2013

One of the supposed benefits of Rome’s councils is that they allegedly provide a clarity that is missing from Scripture. But those who think this should consider Benedict XVI’s comments on Vatican II:

I would now like to add yet a third point: there was the Council of the Fathers – the real Council – but there was also the Council of the media. It was almost a Council apart, and the world perceived the Council through the latter, through the media. Thus, the Council that reached the people with immediate effect was that of the media, not that of the Fathers.

We know that this Council of the media was accessible to everyone. Therefore, this was the dominant one, the more effective one, and it created so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering: seminaries closed, convents closed, banal liturgy … and the real Council had difficulty establishing itself and taking shape; the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council. But the real force of the Council was present and, slowly but surely, established itself more and more and became the true force which is also the true reform, the true renewal of the Church. It seems to me that, 50 years after the Council, we see that this virtual Council is broken, is lost, and there now appears the true Council with all its spiritual force.

(Original Link: Benedict XVI, “The Second Vatican Council, as I saw it” Updated Link: Meeting with the Parish Priests and Clergy of Rome, 14 February 2013 – the second ellipsis is part of the official text, the first is mine)

If a council is so easily misrepresented and so widely misunderstood, even when its writings are all easily obtained, how is that supposed to be a solution to the problem of alleged ambiguity in Scripture?

-TurretinFan

Hart Documents Vatican II Watershed

January 25, 2013

Darryl Hart has posted an interesting item on the effect of Vatican II (link to post).  It is a point others have observed, but his documentation on the question of justification in Roman Catholic encyclopedias is especially eye-opening.  Hat’s off to DGH for this good post.

-TurretinFa

For Those in the Roman Communion Who Want to Own Ryan but not Biden…

October 19, 2012

Consider that the corpulent Cardinal Dolan is willing to publicly call both Paul Ryan and Joe Biden “Catholics” in his speech (about one minute, twenty seconds into his remarks) at the Al Smith dinner. The easily offended might want to stop just after that bit, though, and before his joke involving Benedict XVI.

It was nice to see him identify Mormons separately from “Protestants.” However, Cardinal Dolan then shortly afterward suggested that both Obama and Romney have a “love of God and country.” Which god exactly do either of those men love?

Dolan went on to identify something he called the “five finger gospel.” It’s a handy mneumonic for “You (1) do (2) it (3) to (4) me (5).” On the other hand (UPDATE: no pun intended), that’s not the gospel – that’s the law.

Here Cardinal Dolan’s remarks:

You can also find Romney’s remarks here (link) and Obama’s remarks here (link). Personally, I thought Romney’s jokes were more funny, though for some reason he felt it necessary to make about three references to the fact that he totally abstains from alcohol.

– TurretinFan

Proof that Rome is a Sect of Islam

May 5, 2011

Steve provides an argument (from Bnonn, I think) that tries to prove that those in the Roman communion actually worship Allah. The argument hinges on a statement made by the Second Vatican Council and affirmed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The logic of the argument seems sound, but the conclusion is obviously absurd.

There are a few possible responses to such a reduction to absurdity. One is just to decry the conclusion is absurd and move on. This way is the way of someone who doesn’t understand the significance of a reduction to absurdity. The point is not really to affirm the absurdity as truth, but to demonstrate an inconsistency. The first response is not legitimate at all.

A second way to respond to a reduction to absurdity is to challenge the reduction. Perhaps the argument doesn’t really reduce to absurdity. After all, there is no need to accept an argument just because Steve Hays (or Bnonn or whoever) made it: even though he’s a smart guy, we don’t invest him with infallibility. This is a legitimate response, or at least it can be.

This particular case, however, may present us with a case where we should look at the third category of responses. When the conclusion is absurd, and the reasoning is sound, we need to acknowledge that there is an inconsistency or error. Why not just admit that Vatican II was fallible and wrong? That seems to be the most reasonable conclusion to draw.

-TurretinFan

Obama is a "Vatican II" President

June 3, 2009

So declares John W. O’Malley in a recent article in America: The National Catholic Weekly. John W. O’Malley, S.J., is university professor, theology department, at Georgetown University and author of What Happened at Vatican II. I found the article interesting on several levels. Not simply because he promotes Obama, but because he seemingly views the “spirit of Vatican II” as largely lost in at least the American branch of the Church of Rome.

He writes:

We have a Vatican II president. … [W]hen I heard his speech at Grant Park in Chicago the night he was elected, and more recently his commencement address at Notre Dame, that is what immediately struck me. On those occasions he embodied and professed in his public persona the spirit of the council. … The expression [“the spirit of Vatican II”], used widely at the time of the council and given a certain official standing at the Synod of Bishops in 1985, has lately in Roman circles been quietly downgraded, if not dismissed as meaningless. … In my book, What Happened at Vatican II, I argue that beneath the particular issues the council dealt with—episcopal collegiality, for instance, and religious liberty—more profound and far-reaching issues lurked. I call these the issues-under-the-issues. I ground them in the texts of the council and in that way ground “the spirit of the council” and give it verifiable substance. Among the issues-under-the issues was style, the issue especially pertinent for grounding “the spirit of the council.” The council spoke in a new style, a style different from all previous councils. It eschewed words implying punishment, surveillance, hostility, distrust and coerced behavior-modification that characterized previous councils. It employed words that espoused a new model for Christian behavior—not new, of course, to the Christian tradition as such, but new to council vocabulary. I am referring to words like brothers and sisters, cooperation, partnership, human family, conscience, collegiality and especially dialogue. The new words cannot be dismissed as casual asides or mere window dressing. The council used them too insistently, intentionally and characteristically for them to be that. This new vocabulary made the council a major language-event in the history of the church. … I often hear laments that the spirit of Vatican II is dead in the church. Is it not ironic that not a bishop but the President of the United States should today be the most effective spokesperson for that spirit? To judge from the enthusiastic response he received from the graduates at Notre Dame, his message captured their minds and hearts. Maybe through young Catholics like those at Notre Dame who are responding to Obama’s message the spirit of Vatican II will, almost through the back door, reenter the church.

(source – Obviously, I’ve heavily edited it, including adding emphases)

-TurretinFan

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 17

September 21, 2008

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 17

Some folks seem to find relying on councils a comfort. For these folks, there are some inconvenient facts that they must face. This post is the seventeenth in what has become a multi-part series.

Second Vatican Council (1962-65) – Freedom of Religion Promoted

You will recall that in a previous section, we noted that the “ecumenical” council Lateran IV canonized persecution of the Jews, even to the point of coercing them to prevent their reversion to Judaism if they once freely converted to Christianity. Vatican II contrarily declared:

2. This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

4. The freedom or immunity from coercion in matters religious which is the endowment of persons as individuals is also to be recognized as their right when they act in community. Religious communities are a requirement of the social nature both of man and of religion itself.

15. The fact is that men of the present day want to be able freely to profess their religion in private and in public. Indeed, religious freedom has already been declared to be a civil right in most constitutions, and it is solemnly recognized in international documents.(38) The further fact is that forms of government still exist under which, even though freedom of religious worship receives constitutional recognition, the powers of government are engaged in the effort to deter citizens from the profession of religion and to make life very difficult and dangerous for religious communities.

This council greets with joy the first of these two facts as among the signs of the times. With sorrow, however, it denounces the other fact, as only to be deplored. The council exhorts Catholics, and it directs a plea to all men, most carefully to consider how greatly necessary religious freedom is, especially in the present condition of the human family. All nations are coming into even closer unity. Men of different cultures and religions are being brought together in closer relationships. There is a growing consciousness of the personal responsibility that every man has. All this is evident. Consequently, in order that relationships of peace and harmony be established and maintained within the whole of mankind, it is necessary that religious freedom be everywhere provided with an effective constitutional guarantee and that respect be shown for the high duty and right of man freely to lead his religious life in society.

Frankly, it is hard to imagine a more clear example of a 180 degree change in position from 1215 to 1965 than on the issue of religious freedom. Who knows what a Roman bishop 750 years hence will do with Vatican II? It is an inconvenient truth that the canons and decrees of councils (even those designated “ecumenical”) cannot necessarily be counted on to represent the dogma of Rome, if she chooses to say something different at a later time.

-TurretinFan

Response to Paul Hoffer – Salvation of Muslims

August 29, 2008

This article is in response to one by Paul Hoffer (link to PH’s article). I had written:

Question for my readers who follow Vatican 2’s proclamation that “the plan of salvation includes” Muslims: Can you see from the example above that zealously following Islam leads to eternal destruction? If so, how do you justify to yourself your church’s claim? Can you not admit that your church has erred on this point?

Mr. Hoffer has characterized my statement by claiming that “TF suggests that Catholics believe that Islam is salvific.” Let’s leave aside whether Mr. Hoffer’s ability to extract suggestions is correct, for now.

Assuming this to be the case, Mr. Hoffer complains for a full paragraph about how this is an “prime example” of “plurium interrogationum.” Again, for the moment, we will leave aside whether Mr. Hoffer has actually found a p.i. or not.

Mr. Hoffer proceeds by stating what he believes to be my motive: “Turretinfan hopes to create the impression in the minds of his audience that the Catholic Church teaches that Islam is salvific …,” meanwhile disputing as untrue this impression that he supposes I intended to convey. Again, let’s set aside, for the moment, whether he has correctly divined my intent.

Mr. Hoffer then offers “Proof” of his “contention that TF’s questions are based on a false premise … .”

Mr. Hoffer first confirms that my quotation “plan of salvation” is accurate, and provides a context for that quotation. I appreciate the fact that he has acknowledged that I accurately quoted the document, and I think it is fair to observe that the quotation must be understood as it was intended in context, and not simply according to what serves one’s apologetic or polemic needs.

Mr. Hoffer provides the following excerpt:

Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God. In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”, the Church fosters the missions with care and attention. (Emphasis Mr. Hoffer’s).

The first sentence that Mr. Hoffer highlighted makes sense: it is the sentence from which my quotation was taken. I found Mr. Hoffer’s second highlighting an odd choice. I would have thought in fairness he should highlight second, “Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.”

I would think that sentence, and particularly that phrase, and most especially that word “also” would inform the reader that the comment about the people in the two previous sentences (1) “in the first place” the Muslims and (2) “those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God … ,” were comments about people who “can attain to salvation.”

Mr. Hoffer, however, argues that the reason is that “they claim to profess a belief in the God of Abraham” and that this is “a step closer to accepting the fullness of His Gospel even if there is much error in what a Muslim may otherwise believe.” Mr. Hoffer goes on to claim that, “If we accept that Muslims do in fact believe in the God of Abraham, then such a belief would make them more receptive to accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ and thus be saved.” We’ll return to this briefly.

Mr. Hoffer then tries to support the idea that truth contained in a pagan religion can prepare adherents to accept the Gospel of Christ. Of course, I don’t think anyone doubts this. That is to say, God can use truth contained in anything to prepare people for the Gospel.

Mr. Hoffer, however, does not rest on this argument, but quotes from Dominus Jesus (2000), which states that “It would be contrary to the faith to consider the Church as one way of salvation alongside those constituted by the other religions, seen as complementary to the Church or substantially equivalent to her.” I found it a bit odd that Mr. Hoffer (after seemingly chastising me for providing only a snippet) does not even quote the whole sentence. Since he would doubtless not be opposed, I provide the entire paragraph:

21. With respect to the way in which the salvific grace of God — which is always given by means of Christ in the Spirit and has a mysterious relationship to the Church — comes to individual non-Christians, the Second Vatican Council limited itself to the statement that God bestows it “in ways known to himself”.83 Theologians are seeking to understand this question more fully. Their work is to be encouraged, since it is certainly useful for understanding better God’s salvific plan and the ways in which it is accomplished. However, from what has been stated above about the mediation of Jesus Christ and the “unique and special relationship”84 which the Church has with the kingdom of God among men — which in substance is the universal kingdom of Christ the Saviour — it is clear that it would be contrary to the faith to consider the Church as one way of salvation alongside those constituted by the other religions, seen as complementary to the Church or substantially equivalent to her, even if these are said to be converging with the Church toward the eschatological kingdom of God. (emphasis in original, though form of emphasis changed from italics to bold)

What is especially interesting is the tail of the sentence that Mr. Hoffer snipped off, the part about these other religions “converging with the Church toward the eschatological kingdom of God.” Also of note is the initial sentence of paragraph, “With respect to the way in which the salvific grace of God — which is always given by means of Christ in the Spirit and has a mysterious relationship to the Church — comes to individual non-Christians, the Second Vatican Council limited itself to the statement that God bestows it “in ways known to himself”.”

Mr. Hoffer also provides another quotation, from the next paragraph, “If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation” (emphasis omitted by Hoffer restored). This quotation seems rather helpful to the idea that in fact followers of other religions receive divine grace, even if they do not have the fullness of the means of salvation.

Mr. Hoffer provides a further quotation from John Paul II, in which the pope notes that “Islam is not a religion of redemptino.” Mr. Hoffer, however, appears not to appreciate the fact that JP2 is simply describing Islam for what it is (forgiveness of sins in Islam is arbitrary, not based on redemption), not suggesting that Islam cannot serve as a means of divine grace.

Next, Mr. Hoffer links to an argument from Mr. Armstrong, which I plan to address some other time. Since Mr. Hoffer does not reproduce the argument, and since it appears to reflect Mr. Armstrong’s rather unique views on the subject, I trust Mr. Hoffer will not mind me passing it by for now.

Mr. Hoffer concludes his line of thought by stating in bold capital letters (not shown here): “The Catholic Church does not believe that a person can be saved through adherence to Islam.” Even if that is true, it is somewhat moot. After all, a good adherent of Catholicism will insist, consistent with the following, that the “Catholic Church does not believe that a persona can be saved by adherence to” Catholicism:

However, “all the children of the Church should nevertheless remember that their exalted condition results, not from their own merits, but from the grace of Christ. If they fail to respond in thought, word, and deed to that grace, not only shall they not be saved, but they shall be more severely judged”.93 (Dominus Jesus, 22)

The question is whether God graciously rewards those who follow Islam, not whether adherence to Islam is itself meritorious in the sense mentioned in the above block quotation. Catholicism claims not to believe in such salvation through meritorious adherence to religion.

Now, let’s return to some of those issues we previously deferred.

1) “TF suggests that Catholics believe that Islam is salvific.”

In response, I should point that many Roman Catholics do actually believe that following Islam will save you. “I believe that all roads lead to the same place,” is the way I once heard a very elderly Roman Catholic put it. That, however, is a moot point. Inclusivism, as popular as it may be amongst the laity, is not (as such) official church dogma, at least not yet.

Next, I should point out that saying that Muslims who practice Islam faithfully will be saved is different from saying that Islam itself is salvific. In fact, given the emphasis on grace, a consistent, conservative Roman Catholic would be hard-pressed to argue that even Catholicism itself is salvific (since salvation is by grace, not adherence to religion).

Finally, I should note that Mr. Hoffer doesn’t ever seem to dispute that Muslims who are Muslims (not Muslims who become Christians) are able to be saved as such. Furthermore, that is the best and plainest sense both of Vatican 2’s Lumen Gentium and JP2’s Dominus Jesus (which, again, Mr. Hoffer does not seem to expressly dispute).

2) This is an “prime example” of “plurium interrogationum.”

No. This is not a prime example. Even if it were what Mr. Hoffer suggests, it would not be a prime example, because of the fact that (at a minimum) Mr. Hoffer seems to have overlooked an alternate premise upon which the questions can be founded, namely that practicing Muslims (as such) can be saved (i.e. that Muslims can be saved without becoming Christians). That lesser premise Mr. Hoffer only reaffirms via his quotation of church documents. Thus, even if I were guilty of what Mr. Hoffer tries to charge (i.e. loading the question), this is not a prime example.

3) “Turretinfan hopes to create the impression in the minds of his audience that the Catholic Church teaches that Islam is salvific … .”

No. I actually directed the question to those who hold to Vatican 2. I was assuming that my audience would be familiar with Lumen Gentium, and consequently place the snippet quotation I provided in its proper context. I assumed (perhaps rashly) that the reader would recognize that modern Catholicism does seem to teach that non-Christians can be saved, without becoming Christians, as demonstrated above.

In fact, popular apologist for Catholicism, Jimmy Akin recently (about two years ago) stated:

Thus any atheist who could say, “I don’t think that God exists, but if I was shown convincing reasons to believe that he does then I would go and get baptized immediately and become one of his devout followers” then this person’s heart is such that God will not hold his ignorance against him and will allow him to be saved.

On the other hand, if an atheist says, “Even if there is a God, I’ll still refuse to believe in him and I’ll spit in his face when I die” then this person is toast.

Between the two would be atheists who display some openness to God but who also to one degree or another resist compelling reasons to believe that he exist when they encounter such reasons. These individuals would seem to be in an ambiguous condition. If their openness to believing in and following God is their more fundamental motive then they would be open to his grace and be saved. If their resistance to believing in or following God is their more fundamental motive then they would be closed to his grace and thus lost.(emphasis changed from italics to bold)

(source)

At the end of the day, I’m afraid I feel that Mr. Hoffer’s comment in his first paragraph, “I have been accused at times of reading things into what people write,” is supported by the present illustration. Mr. Hoffer read something into what I wrote, and got it somewhat wrong.

Against Mr. Akin and Vatican 2, I insist that the only way to be saved is by explicitly believing on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Thus, I deny that non-Christians can be saved as such. Of course, the only sense in which “the plan of salvation includes” non-Christians is in the sense that there are some non-Christians today who are among the elect: men for whom Christ died, who will – some day – come to a saving faith in Him and be justified by faith alone in Christ alone, thereby being saved by grace alone.

Glory to the One Name under Heaven whereby men are saved, Jesus,

-TurretinFan

P.S. It is something of a pet peeve of mine to note that what Mr. Hoffer has called “Begging the Question,” is more properly called the fallacy of the “complex question” or more colloquially, “asking a loaded question.” In logic, the fallacy of “begging the question” normally refers to petitio principii, where an argument is made in which the conclusion is smuggled in as a premise. I am especially sensitive to this, because of the rampant abuse of the phrase “begging the question” to mean simply “raising the issue.” Mr. Hoffer, thankfully, does not fall into that ditch. Likewise, the example of the question, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” is a prime example of the plurium interrogationum fallacy, although it can take several forms. Incidentally, “plurium interrogationum” literally conveys the idea of “many questions” – hence the English “complex question.”

Update: Mr. Hoffer, in a new post (link) seems to miss the point of my correction of his irregular use of the term “begging the question” to describe plurium interrogationum. So that things are clear for him, I’m saying that his accusation/objection should have been to “complex question” or “loaded question” if he was objecting to a fallacy of plurium interrogationum (and I have assumed that it was his intent to object to plurium interrogationum, as petitio principii would be an even less appropriate, for the formal reasons Mr. Hoffer outlines in his post). The phrase “begging the question” derives from the petitio principii fallacy, not the plurium interrogationum fallacy. As well, the preferred spelling of petitio principii is ending with two “i”s (i.e. four total “i”s in the word).

Update: In yet another new post (link), Mr. Hoffer has tried to continue to insist on his nomenclature. The fact that “begging the question” derives from the petitio principii fallacy, not the plurium interrogationum fallacy is something that would be obvious to anyone who knows Latin. I commend to Mr. Hoffer’s reading the following:

  • “Fallacies” by Alfred Sidgwick (link), particularly p. 175
  • “The Laws of Discursive Thought, Being a Text-book of Formal Logic” by James McCosh (link) particularly p. 184
  • “An Elementary Treatise on Logic” by William Dexter Wilson (link) particularly p. 184
  • “Logic” by George Hugh Smith (link) particularly pp. 174 and 189

Additional rudimentary books on Logic could be brought to bear to establish by authority what should be plain to everyone by now.

Only One Way to Heaven

August 26, 2008

The Bible is clear that there is only way to heaven:

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Thus, the idea that the plan of salvation includes Christ-rejecting followers of Judaism or Christ-rejecting Muslims (and yes, if you deny Christ’s divinity, you are rejecting Christ, even if you do not mean to do so) is clearly wrong and contrary to Scripture.

-TurretinFan

Indulgences for Reading Scripture

April 10, 2008

One Catholic blogger, who found a cute way to avoid mentioning Dr. White’s name without being offensive, has a post in which he points out that Indulgences can be gained in Roman Catholicism by reading Scriptures. (link) He believes this to be a counter-argument to Dr. White’s point that it is useless for Catholics (given Catholic epistemology) to read Scripture.

As his first commenter notes, however, the passage he quotes is a bit outdated, because it refers to indulgences that remit “time” in Purgatory. Now that Catholicism is changing to stop talking about “time” in Purgatory, these old indulgences do not make sense. Only the “plenary” indulgences make sense, and so those are the only ones left. (Update: there is still the concept of a “partial” indulgence – but now that time has been eliminated, it is somewhat difficult quantify parts in a way that would permit the indulgence to be coordinate with the act performed. Thus, as a practical matter, the plenary indulgences would be expected to – and do – dominate the indulgence scene.)

This provides a great example of one of the many changes in Catholic theology that took place in Vatican II. Oh – we know the counterargument: the idea that there is time in Purgatory had never been dogmatically defined, and consequently this isn’t a change.

But think about it. If all the popes and other Catholic teachers promulgated (and – in previous generations – sold) indulgences that were absolutely meaningless (if, in fact, there is no “time” in Purgatory) then what’s the explanation?

1) The “Church” didn’t know the truth about Purgatory; or
2) Something else?

Or perhaps someone will come back with a new counter-argument that the post-Vatican II position also hasn’t been dogmatically defined, and just because there are no more time-based indulgences doesn’t mean that there is no time in Purgatory. On the other hand, the CCC now states that “death is the end of earthly time” (I don’t recall the citation offhand), and the CCC nowhere suggest that there is time in purgatory (to my knowledge).

On top of that we have, in Spe Salvi, essentially a promulgation of a denial that Purgatory is a place where time applies:

Who would not feel the need to convey to their departed loved ones a sign of kindness, a gesture of gratitude or even a request for pardon? Now a further question arises: if “Purgatory” is simply purification through fire in the encounter with the Lord, Judge and Saviour, how can a third person intervene, even if he or she is particularly close to the other? When we ask such a question, we should recall that no man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse. So my prayer for another is not something extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death. In the interconnectedness of Being, my gratitude to the other—my prayer for him—can play a small part in his purification. And for that there is no need to convert earthly time into God’s time: in the communion of souls simple terrestrial time is superseded. It is never too late to touch the heart of another, nor is it ever in vain.

(take from paragraph 48 thereof, emphases added, source)

Thus, I think it’s safe to conclude that this is an example of Catholicism teaching “X” 50 years ago (i.e. before V2) and “notX” now. That’s usually the standard that we’re asked to provide by Catholics who want a demonstration of the fact that the Roman Catholic church makes mistakes, and consequently cannot be trusted in the same way we trust Scripture.

In short, Dr. White’s point is emphasized by this very matter. If Catholics simply accept what Rome teaches, they are going to be accepting error as truth, because the Roman Catholic church makes mistakes.

-TurretinFan

UPDATE: “The Hidden One” has disputed several “factual matters.” He doesn’t specifically come out and say that it was not previously taught that there was time in Purgatory. It’s good he didn’t because, as Thomas Aquinas wrote in Summa Theologica, “the punishment of purgatory is temporal” (See reply to Objection 4, here) and “The fire of Purgatory is eternal in its substance, but temporary in its cleansing effect” (See reply to Objection 1, here) and “a man may be punished at the same time for sins committed in various places” (See main answer, here) and “And since that which clings more persistently is more slowly cleansed, it follows that some are tormented in Purgatory longer than others, for as much as their affections were steeped in venial sins.” (See main answer, here) and “Severity of punishment corresponds properly speaking to the amount of guilt: whereas the length corresponds to the firmness with which sin has taken root in its subject. Hence it may happen that one may be delayed longer who is tormented less, and “vice versa.”” (See reply to Objection 1, here)

Furthermore, it is not only a medieval belief, but one that was reflected in the modern era (before V2). For example, see the comparison of three days in purgatory versus three years of suffering on Earth in this aid to understanding the Baltimore catechism (link). See also the discussion in the right hand column, about mid-way down (with various citations) here.

Erasmus points out the belief that there is time and days in Purgatory according to the prevailing belief in his day (link). (See also, footnote 3, here – especially the portion on the following page).

There’s a very lengthy discussion here, if anyone is interested.

Likewise, numerous non-Catholics have recorded the same thing (see here for example, especially pp. 375-77).

In fact, we could go and on.

James Akin’s undocumented claim(s), “The number of days which used to be attached to indulgences were references to the period of penance one might undergo during life on earth.” (here) and “This document introduced the classification of indulgences as partial or plenary—a simplification of an earlier system of reckoning how many “days” of penance an indulgence represented that led some to suppose that an indulgence represented getting a certain number of days “off” their time in purgatory.” (here, emphasis in original – same website as previous quotation, but attribution to a particular author is unclear) do not persuade me to the contrary, since Aquinas and many many others are clear that Purgatory was temporal and temporary. Indeed, Aquinas believed that Purgatory was a place (not merely a “state”) and that it was either in or near hell. He also held that the fire of Purgatory was real physical fire (and the same fire as Hellfire), which would require time in order to burn, since burning is an action.


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