Monday, December 20, 2010

Is Our Knowledge of God Analogical of Univocal?

As a matter of first principles in apologetics, we can ask, “What does the unbeliever know about God?” However, the biblical apologetic is shaped not only by what Scripture says the unbeliever knows, but also by what it reveals he can know; is capable of knowing, as a believer. So we might also ask, “Is it our hope that the unbeliever can know God as God knows himself or that he can know God reflectively, in a creaturely way?” This is the univocal/analogical problem in Christian epistemology. 

The question arises in the context of the structure of human thought. It bears its own unique dilemma. If we stress too excessively that knowledge of God is univocal we run the risk of lowering the incomprehensible God to the level of the finite and make God as one of us. But if we stress too emphatically knowledge of God per analogiam we may very well deprive God of all likeness to the humanity he has created with the result that all we are left with is a barren, abstraction.

To a considerable extent the argument took fertile shape in the debate of the 1940s between Cornelius Van Til and Gordon H. Clark. At issue was God’s incomprehensibility with both men claiming biblical precedent minus the faux pas of excess. It is a matter of regret that we can only provide an abbreviated review of the controversy. Van Til was jealous to protect the Creator/creature distinction both in reality, or what Frame calls “two-levels of reality,” and in knowledge.[1] “All [man’s] knowledge is analogical of God. God is the original knower and man is the derivative re-knower.”[2] John M. Frame stands with Van Til. Thus “To be a creature is to be limited in thought and knowledge.”[3] And “God’s thoughts are the originals of which ours, at best, are only copies, images.”[4] Earlier, Herman Bavinck said, “There is no knowledge of God as he is in himself. We are human and he is the Lord our God . . . he infinitely transcends our picture of him, our ideas of him, our language concerning him. He is not comparable to any creature.”[5] This led Bavinck to verify a staple of Continental Reformed thought: the archetype/ectype distinction. “Of course, all our knowledge of God is ectypal or derived from Scripture. Only God’s self-knowledge is adequate, underived or archetypal.”[6]

 Clark, on the other hand, feared that if man’s knowledge was derivative of God’s then this would lead to skepticism. “It seemed to him that if there was some discrepancy between man’s ‘This is a rose’ and God’s (concerning the same rose). Then the human assertion must somehow fall short of the truth, since the very nature of truth is identity with God’s mind.”[7] Van Til, however, insisted that analogical sapentia though incomprehensive and derivative is nonetheless true knowledge.[8] “We may safely conclude then that if God is what we say he is, namely a being who exists necessarily as a self-complete system of coherence, and we exist at all as self-conscious beings, we must have true knowledge of him . . . All this we express theologically when we say that man is created in God’s image. This makes man like God and assures true knowledge of God. We are known of him and therefore we know him and know that we know him. God is light and therefore we have light.”[9]

In addition to our knowledge being analogical, Van Til held that it is also partial—or as he used to say, “non-exhaustive.” Phrased in a question, “What is the correspondence between God’s self-knowledge and the created reflection known by man?” Strictly speaking, does ectypal theology contain everything that is contained in its archetypal counterpart or do we know only what God wants us to know?” According to Clark, God knows more than we do, but the quality of our knowledge can be the same as his. Van Til argued that both the quality and the quantity of God’s archetypal knowledge differ from our ectypal knowledge.

Finally, both men agree that all knowledge is given by natural and special revelation. But for Clark, that revelation is propositional in the sense that it always conveys univocal truth. Per Van Til, God’s revelation to man is accommodated truth. Accommodated revelation is coherent to man, but true coherence does not afford identity of content between the revelation God gives and what man receives. “Van Til, therefore, insisted that even when God and man were thinking of the same thing (a particular rose, for example), their thoughts about it were never identical—God’s were the thoughts of the Creator, man’s of the creature.”[10] Here we see a precursor to Frame’s covenantal lordship principle. Because man cannot know the essence of God one-to-one, but always and forever as a servant (analogically), even now in the face of Scripture “Man knows in subordination to God; he knows as the covenant-keeper.”[11] Scripture, then, is better thought of a “system of truth.”[12] This is really what Van Til meant by “analogical”—our knowledge must accept God’s revelation as the ultimate standard of truth.[13]

Clark’s seminal idea is that “The intelligibility of the Scriptures presupposes logic.”[14] Clark interprets and paraphrases John 1:1 to mean, “In the beginning was Logic, and Logic was with God, and Logic was God . . . In logic was life and the life was the light of men.”[15] Clark, then, makes the stunning admission that “Logic is God.”[16] Clark does not mean that human logic is God, but that God thinking is logic and that the connection of his logic to ours is univocal. By virtue of this, knowledge of God in se is possible. The source of univocal knowledge is the Bible. Contra empiricism, Clark maintained a very wary view of what we can know through sense experience, arguing instead that knowledge of God was what we learn from Scripture. So then there is a direct correlation between God’s thought and Scripture. “What is said in Scripture is God’s thought”[17] and since our logic is univocal of God’s there exists a direct continuum from God’s thought, to Scripture, to us.[18] Van Til and Frame deny such an epistemological continuum between man and God.

Anticipating a critique of his views based on Isaiah 55:8-9, which stipulates that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, Clark replies, “If for example, we think that David was King of Israel, and God’s thoughts are not ours, then it follows that God does not think David was King of Israel. David in God’s mind was perchance prime minister of Babylon.”[19]

In an essay, Nathan Pitchford succeeds in countering Robert Reymond’s exact exploitation of Clark’s example. “On the contrary, given the basic legitimacy of the system, it is entirely possible to prove that God’s knowledge is in actuality analogical to what we understand by Nebuchadnezzar’s being King of Babylon; because God himself framed the symbolical/analogical essence of human language as well as the corresponding and uniform human apprehension of that absolute knowledge, he is entirely capable of making the analogical an accurate reflection of the absolute.”[20]

Pitchford charges Clark and Reymond with twisting the Nebuchadnezzar motif. Their point is at base unfair because Van Til nowhere suggests that actual reality and analogical reality are substantially different, as their critique portrays. “On the contrary, Van Til means that every human perception of actual reality (uniform and consistent to the whole race), although not absolute, nevertheless reflects that pure truth in a unique way that corresponds precisely to that real truth, much as the image in a mirror corresponds precisely to the actual thing it reflects, even though it is not that thing . . . Thus, analogical knowledge does not cast one into the morass of ambiguity as Reymond suggests.”[21]

We agree with Pitchford's assessment wholeheartedly and, generally speaking, side with the analogical interpretation of human knowledge as expressed by Van Til.


[1] “Christians believe in two levels of existence as derived from the level of God’s existence as self-contained and the level of man’s existence as derived from the level of God’s existence. For this reason, Christians must also believe in two levels of knowledge, the level of God’s knowledge which is absolutely comprehensive and self-contained, and the level of man’s knowledge which is not comprehensive but is derivative and re-interpretive” [Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology, vol. 5 In Defense of the Faith, 12].  
[2] Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology, vol. 5 In Defense of the Faith, 167.  
[3] Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 21.
[4] Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 23.
[5] Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol 2. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 47.
[6] Ibid. 95. Peter J. Wallace, in a review of Timothy Phillips’ work on Francis Turretin’s (1623-1687) theological method, notes that “Crucial to Turretin’s discussion of theology is his distinction between archetypal theology and ectypal theology; and the further distinction between the ectypal theology of vision, which is the theology of the saints in heaven, and the ectypal theology of the traveler—‘the theology of revelation’—with which we must remain content” [Peter J. Wallace, “The Doctrine of the Covenant in the Elenctic Theology of Francis Turretin,” http://www.peterwallace.org/turretin.txt.The Turretin reference is in the first volume of his Institutes of Elenctic Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992), 4-5.] The distinction was also significant to Amandus Polanus (1561-1610). “Archetypal theology is the exemplar: ectypal theology is the exemplum, which ought to agree with, correspond with, and resemble the exemplar. Thus ectypal theology is, in rational creatures, a part of the image and likeness of God according to which they were created” [Quoted by Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1993), 135]. In Divine Discourse by Sebastian Rehnman, the author notes the use of the archetypal/ectypal theology distinction in the puritan divine, John Owen (1616-1683), in which God’s knowledge of Himself (in se) is understood to be related to, but different than, our knowledge of God (pro nobis). In his Reformed Dogmatics, Heppe says of the older dogmaticians that “Regularly they discuss the distinction between theologia archetypa (i.e. ‘the knowledge which God has of Himself and in Himself’) and theologia ectypa (i.e. ‘man’s knowledge of God’). The latter they divide into theologia beatorum and theologia viatorum, the second being theology proper” [Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, (1861, repr., Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1978), 5].
[7] Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 22.
[8] Bavinck puts it like this, “Ectypal knowledge must not be seen as merely symbolic, a product of poetic imagination . . . While our knowledge of him is accommodated and limited, it is no less real, true, and trustworthy” [Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol 2. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 95]. On the fact that accommodated knowledge is nonetheless true knowledge, R. Scott Clark, says, “Ectypal theology, as the adjective suggests, is a reflection of the archetypal theology.  It is true, but it is accommodated to human creatures” [R. Scott Clark, foreword to The Free Offer of the Gospel, John Murray].
[9] Cornelius Van Til, Defense of the Faith (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1967), 57.
[10]Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 21-22. In an extreme polemic against univocal reasoning, Van Til therefore states, “The distinguishing characteristic between every non-Christian theory of knowledge on the one hand, and the Christian concept of knowledge on the other  hand, is, therefore, that in all non-Christian theories men reason univocally, while in Christianity men reason analogically” [Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology, vol. 5 In Defense of the Faith, 11]. Similarly, Augustine gave expression, “We are speaking of God. It is any wonder if you do not comprehend? For if you comprehend, it is not God you comprehend. Let it be a pious confession of ignorance rather than a rash profession of knowledge. To attain some slight knowledge of God is a great blessing; to comprehend him, however, is totally impossible” [Augustine, Lectures on the Gospel of John, tract. 38, NPNF (1), VII, 217-21].
[11] Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology, vol. 5 In Defense of the Faith, 167.
[12] Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology, vol. 5 In Defense of the Faith, 173.
[13] Indeed, Van Til often says that unless knowledge from Scripture is analogical, there is no possibility of knowing the truth; for all truth is a revelation of the incomprehensible God. The man who thinks he comprehends truth as God does, has made himself out to be God, which in turn precludes the possibility of his knowing the truth.
[14] Gordon H. Clark, An Introduction to Christian Philosophy. 2nd ed. (Jefferson, Maryland: The Trinity Foundation, 1993 ), 64.
[15] Ibid. 67.
[16] Ibid. A favorite retort of Clark’s focused on the consequences of the analogical position that verified coherence but not content. So he asked if God has a different arithmetic, in which 2+2=5? [Ibid. 76]. Van Til replied that to know 2+2=clearly, as Clark suggests, is to know it exhaustively, which violates the incomprehensibility of God. But we can know that 2+2=4 on the basis of an “identity of reference point” [Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology, vol. 5 In Defense of the Faith, 167].  
[17] Gordon H. Clark, An Introduction to Christian Philosophy. 2nd ed. 77.
[18] Followers of Clark are thus given to say that there are no paradoxes or discrepancies in Scripture. If such are thought to exist it is only due to a breakdown in the logical and exegetical study of Scripture. See W. Gary Crampton “Does the Bible Contain Paradox?” The Trinity Foundation (November/December 1990). http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?isbn=76.
[19] Clark, An Introduction to Christian Philosophy. 76.
[20] Nathan Pitchford, “Van Til: His Logic, Epistemology, and Apologetic,” http://www.reformationtheology.com/2006/06/van_til_his_logic_epistemology.php.
[21] Nathan Pitchford, in a personal email to the author, dated September, 28th, 2010.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Rousseau and Social Contract

Long before Arendt, we have Jean-Jacques Rousseau attempting freedom without authority in society. Once Rousseau experienced the conversion of his soul from academies and culture to the freedom and warm sentiment of nature, in 1750, he wrote his Discourse (First Discourse), in which he tried to show that the arts and sciences were the result of human vice, not virtue, and the cause of the slippery slope in Europe toward moral decline. He developed this thought further in his second Discourse on the Origins of Inequality, where he set over and against the genuine misery of the social conditions of his day the ideal of the “nature state.”  Here the potential for people living together with the charm of nature as the central defining emblem of life compelled them to live as a free, sane, and good; in peace and solidarity, not in warlike aggression. 


 In his Social Contract, he envisions the state emerging from a hypothetical contract in which the citizens do not surrender their rights, but instead combine forces into one voluntary sovereign entity. In this romanticized fiction the people, rather than limit freedoms, allow freedom to flourish at its optimum level, they curb crime, and live for neighbor with unfeigned love.

The religious inclination of Rousseau was to see redemption, then, as a turning from culture to nature; from complex society to its original state of innocence and feeling. He posited the existence of God, but the problem is that according to him very little can be known of God. Rejecting the authority of Scripture, Rousseau argues that the Creator can only be known by observing nature and looking within one’s self. He also argues that humanity does not need the Bible, but will naturally worship the Creator, stating, “I do not need to be taught this worship; it is dictated to me by nature itself” (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile: or, On Education, ed. Alan Bloom [Basic Book, 1979], 278). 

In Rousseau’s opinion, to seek any other source than nature for how to worship God would be to seek the opinion and authority of men, which he rejected as harmful. As such, Rousseau contends that that humans are autonomous creatures, and that humanity is free to do evil, but that doing evil detracts from satisfaction with oneself. Rousseau thanks God for making him in His image so that he can be free, but it is hard to determine from Rousseau if this God” if his is not nature. Frame remarks, “. . . Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78), the father of Romanticism, thought that everything good in the world is the outworking of good feelings” [John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (P&R Publishing), 77].

Friday, November 5, 2010

Will Evangelicalism Die or Revive: An Excerpt from My Almost for His Highest

Evangelicalism is dying. The glory of God is ready to depart. As a movement, we're growing more and more content in the world. Rather than preferring to be absent from the body and present with the Lord, far too many of us prefer to be present with the body and with our future plans. We attend church. But mainly our interest is to learn how to improve our own lots in life. We're repeating the error of the impenitent thief on the cross to whom Jesus was only a matter of convenience. You can hear it in our prayers. Entreaties and petitions that once reflected verses of the Bible are now strangely at odds with Holy Writ. The way He taught us to pray, with hearts submitted to his Kingdom rule, are more and more becoming images of modern man and his quest for successful living. 

What has become of the spirit of brokenness and humility in our churches? We are forgetting to bow the knee. What has happened to the cry of the penitent thief who, in unassuming contrition, cried from the depths of his sin-sick soul, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" We are forgetting we are thieves. Daily repentance and walking in true faith and holiness before God are being pushed aside to make room for the idols of personal relevance and the settled life.

What has become of our commitment to the crucified life? Have we forgotten His promise that we'll be persecuted for the sake of righteous­ness? To scores of Protestant believers the cross is a symbol, but that is all. What was once our joy to bear His cross turned to apprehension of it, and in our apprehension of it, we soon came to revile the very thought of losing face for His gospel. We are losing our saltiness.

Once there was a highway to heaven, full of born again souls set on pilgrimage to their heavenly Zion, a place not of this world. But now the highway is quickly being paved over with the veneer of casual Christianity. Other than the remaining trappings of ecclesiastical tradi­tion found in some of our churches, or the name of Jesus heard through the loud speakers of culturally-sensitive extravaganzas called worship services found in others, very little evidence remains in the evangelical movement of what might be coined "evangelical."
What is the cause of our sickness? Evangelical leaders, and their followers, are relinquishing their commitment to the fundamentals of the Bible in order to induce church growth, regardless of the cost to the purity of the Church. As a result, though many of our churches look prosperous on the outside, they are dying on the inside. What's so very sad is how few know it, and if they do know it, are unwillingly to admit it.

But there is hope for the future. Spiritual awakening is on the horizon. Though modern evangelicalism is dying, God is com­ing to revive His people. God is already at work raising a people with a Christ-centered and Christ-focused theology and manner of life. This move of God will bring reformation to many churches, ignite personal and proclamation evan­gelism, convert scores of people -- many of whom have been members of churches for years -- and kick off a fresh wave of missionary activity. The concerned Protestant is therefore incorrect to interpret the swelling tide of worldliness, which is now overtaking our churches, as the final word. No power on earth can resist almighty God when He flexes His awakening muscle.

This very moment God is preparing a generation of people like John the Baptist, reared in the wilderness, who truly grasp the anoint­ing of the Holy Spirit and are fathered, mentored, and taught by God Himself through servants who proclaim His Truth. Their theology will be both scriptural and supernatural. They will feed on the works of the Reformers of old while contending for the wonders of Acts, not for the sake of spectacle, but for the unveiling of a Living, Holy God who can only be beheld through the sin-demolishing blood of Jesus Christ, the Son and Savior. It all goes back to the cross, however. When that becomes central in the body of Christ again, the sleeping giant, the Church, will arise and will be one army, united behind one cause -- the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

How will God bring revival? Precisely the way He's done it in the past. He will cleanse the house of Israel of its cultural carnality and vindicate His name among the nations. In this special season, we will em­brace the "words in red" -- which we've conveniently quarantined under the "hard sayings of Jesus" -- the way an asthmatic embraces oxygen. The waste places shall be restored. The ancient fields replanted. He will put a "new Spirit" within us. No longer will we permit the culture to set the agenda for the Church. The Church will again set the agenda for the culture.

If you doubt my anticipation of a great coming revival, then consider the following historical facts. The 16th-century European Reformation had a profound impact on virtually every area of European life. However, the spiritual danger facing Europe of the early 17th century was one that the magisterial Reformers Luther and Calvin would not have predicted. The rising sun of the Reformation that had shown such promise of being the standard-bearer of the light of the gospel to the nations had, within just several decades of their deaths, been eclipsed by a false gospel -- the "light" of reason. In the hands of Descartes and Locke, this light was said to aid men in their search for the truth of Christianity. In the hands of Tillotson and Toland, however, this light became the grid through which all revelation was to be judged.

By the mid-18th century, the gloves were off. When Voltaire and Rousseau referred to their activities as promoting the "Enlightenment," they meant that they were replacing what they per­ceived as the darkness, ignorance, and grip of Christianity that had ruled men's minds from the Middle Ages to the Thirty Years' War with the "light" of human reason, autonomy, and tolerance.

It took but a short time for the doctrines of the Enlightenment to reach the shores of America. By the late 18th century, the "best and brightest" of our still young nation were being captivated by its se­ductive grip. It's believed that by the time Timothy Dwight became the eighth President of Yale in 1795, there were fewer than twenty Christians in the entire college. Yet did God wring His hands in desperation? No. In response to the prayers, fasting, and supplications of godly men and women in Scotland and America, He raised up mighty, Spirit-filled preachers of the gospel, men such as Daniel Baker and Asahel Nettleton, to usher in the Second Great Awakening.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Art as a Language and the Social History of Art


Up until the mid-18th century, art functioned as an evolving yet relatively stable language of high culture with a vocabulary of conventional forms (style) and themes (subject matter) familiar both to artists and educated audiences. Because artists used vocabularies already familiar to their audiences, it was possible for them to say something significant and for art to have a serious place within a wider range of overlapping cultural forms and practices such as literature, music, theater, dance, religion, and political festivity. Like all forms of high culture, art also worked not just to reflect shared values but also to redefine them. As an active, creative, inventive force responding to individual patrons, artists, and new social circumstances, art provided a changing, flexible arena in which different social groups could interact, exchange and contest ideas, define new forms of group identity, and formulate new blueprints of "reality" and "maps" for human existence.  


While no single work of art or artist ever changed the world, the totality of artistic production served as a powerful outlet for the formulation, circulation, and legitimization of new ideas, values, and practices. Of course, these were generally defined by the social elites who monopolized the patronage and consumption of material culture, especially the luxury objects of fine art: painting, sculpture, prints, illustrated books, tapestries, stained glass, furniture, metal work, ceramics, and architecture. If politics was always an important aspect of art through the eighteenth century, we are only reminded that art had a more serious and central role in the past as a vehicle for defining reality in the orderly, largely hierarchical terms defined by European court, church, and burgher elites. For all the interest in aesthetic quality and innovation maintained by patrons, collectors, viewers, and artists, art was never a completely separate "aesthetic" realm held apart from daily life nor was it ever reduced to mere decoration (even in the days of the Rococo).

We can glimpse the social function of art before the nineteenth century by borrowing Augustine's description of the fundamental role of the sacraments as a collective language of visual signs in early Christianity.

In no religion, whether true or false, can men be held in association together unless they are gathered together with a common share in some visible signs or sacraments. [i]

 Taking into account the many striking national, social, and religious differences and conflicts between rulers, nobles, church officials, and burghers within early modern Europe (1300-1780), the social elites who purchased most art were to a large extent "gathered together ... with a common share" in a gradually evolving series of cultural languages and values until the later eighteenth century. To be sure, strong regional, social, political, economic, and religious differences operated within this larger, international system of material culture and generated strikingly different artistic languages from one region and moment to the next. Yet even here, art worked as a flexible medium of discussion, exchange, and mutual transformation across divisions and boundaries.

To return art to a more dynamic place within this unfolding social history, it helps to see art not just as a distinct group of objects which can be isolated from other objects and social processes but also as a medium of cultural exchange and social transformation. Aesthetic values themselves were always defined by social elites at particular historical moments and were inseparable from larger social circumstances. Even the idea of art, as we know it today, was largely an invention of the Renaissance (1400-1600) with significant contributions from the Romantic period (1790-1840).

The most conspicuous features of Western art as a shared cultural language between 1400 and 1800 was the use of an elevated, heroic language of religious, mythological, historical and allegorical subjects taken from literature, an equally lofty figural rhetoric which turned increasingly to heroic nudes after 1500, and grand, highly organized, rhetorical compositions. In new artistic categories less tied to great literary subjects, similar qualities were apparent. For example, portraits focused on the heroic social roles and larger identities of princes and leading citizens. And after 1500, landscape slowly developed as a category densely inscribed with equally grand notions of history, class, religion, philosophy, gender, and science. Even newer scenes of everyday life and ordinary objects (still-life) were frequently infused with high moral, social, and philosophical values or with an earthy humor tied, inversely, to lofty ideals.

Finally, new notions of art and artistic practice as noble, intellectual invention rather than lowly, manual craftsmanship spread through Italy after 1400 and through the rest of Europe after 1500. Derived originally from a consciously high-minded court culture, this thinking rapidly assigned a new, heroic autonomy to artistic practice and to the luxury objects it produced. Thus Renaissance Europe created the modern understanding of art, prized above all for a high intellectual and poetic vision and tied to new notions of individual artistic originality (or, after the Romantics, to "genius"). From 1500 on, individual artistic innovation was increasingly prized and marketed as a major aesthetic commodity. Despite the growing market for aesthetic "originality," artistic innovation through the eighteenth century did not mean the invention of a radically new style or subject matter. The invention of something completely new would have sacrificed the intelligibility of the invention and left audiences bewildered. From the Renaissance to the early nineteenth century, artistic innovation generally meant the clever reworking of traditional images within a larger, coherent, shared system or language of art. This was well described in the seventeenth-century by the French painter, Poussin.

Novelty in painting consists mainly not in a subject never treated before, but in good and new groupings and expressions. By these means a subject that is common and old can become singular and new. [ii] 

To sum up, art from 1400-1800 was a slowly changing, collective language defined largely by social elites. It served to image and legitimize coherent views of the world and the changing place of elites within that world. For all of its conservative tendencies, art was also inherently dynamic in responding to changing social, political, economic, and intellectual circumstances and in producing new cultural maps, forms, explanations, and justifications, new forms of “reality” and of art.


[i]  Augustine, Contra Faustum Manichaeum, 19.11, cited in Bernard Leeming, Principles of Sacramental Theology, ed., Westminster, 1960.

[ii] Poussin, cited in Goldwater, ed., Artists on Art, p. 157.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vote November 2nd!


"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil, God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." Dietrich Bonhoeffer 








 "It does not require a majority to prevail but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set bush fires in people's minds." - Samuel Adams















"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." - Thomas Jefferson


"If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival.  There may be even a worse fate. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves." - Winston Churchill

Friday, October 1, 2010

Did God Kill Homosexuals the Night of Jesus' Birth?

We are all very much aware of the problem of pedophilia within Roman Catholicism. It is my personal view that this problem emanates from the vast presence of homosexuals in the Church of Rome. This general suspicion is not new. 

Homosexuals were occasionally condemned by medieval writers, especially monastic writers concerned about the sexual improprieties flourishing in all-male communities sworn to chastity. Citing early Christian authorities, Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend (1270-90) goes as far as to describe the annihilation of all “sodomites” on the night of Christ’s birth as one of a series of miraculous announcements of Christ’s birth. The writer enlists Jerome and Augustine for support, though no such statements can be traced to either. 

“To these shepherds, then, an angel appeared, and announced to them the birth of the Savior, telling them also how they might find their way to Him. And they heard a multitude of angels singing, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will!' In yet another way, the Nativity was revealed through the Sodomites, who that night perished throughout the world. In this regard Saint Jerome tells us: 'So great a light arose that night that it extinguished all those who were given to this vice.' And Saint Augustine says that God could not take flesh in the nature of man as long as there existed, in this nature, an unnatural vice.”  [i]
Jacobus de Voragine to the left with his Golden Legend in his hands
Evidently the problem of "sexual improprieties flourishing in all-male communities sworn to chastity" is nothing new. But the answer is not to invent history, such as de Voragine has done. The true Church must remain resolute in its stand against all sexual vice.


[i]  Quoted in Henry Suso, The Little Book of Eternal Wisdom, “Nativity,” p, 50.