Friday, June 27, 2008

The Remnant Church

Here's a bit that might please Protestants in some ways if not in others:

Nihilominus tamen verum est quod sacramentum Baptismi prodest parvulis merito fidei Ecclesiae militantis, quae, quamvis possit deficere in aliquibus personis specialiter, generaliter tamen nunquam deficit nec deficiet, iuxta illus Matthaei ultimo, 20, "Ecce ego vobiscum sum usque ad consummationem saeculi." Unde sicut species semper salvatur in aliquo individuorum, sic fides in aliquo fidelium, et hoc, divina providentia faciente. Nec unquam fuit, postquam incepit Ecclesia, quin semper esset aliquid qui Deo placeret; sic nec unquam erit.

"Nevertheless it is true that in the sacrament of Baptism the merit of the faith of the Church Militant profits the children [i.e. the ones baptised], which [faith], although it can fail in some persons specially [as individuals], nevertheless never generally fails nor will fail, as that statement in the last chapter of Matthew says, verse 20, "Behold I am with you even until the consummation of the age." Whence just as the species in always preserved in any one of [its] individuals, so is the faith [preserved] in any one of the faithful, and this by the working of divine providence. Nor ever, since the Church began, has there failed to be someone who pleased God, as also there never will be."

--St Bonaventure, IV Sent., dist. 4 pars 1 dub.2.

Protestants love the idea of a remnant Church holding out against the tide of the unfaithful. Of course they also like to imagine that they themselves are the remnant Church, and that the remnant of the faithful across the ages were just like them, rather than being faithful Catholics. They certainly do not like the idea of the merits of the faithful remnant helping to remit the sins of others, nor of their faith serving for infants in making their baptism valid, if their parents are faithless. All in all an interesting passage.


Anonymous said...

To Denizens of "The Smithy":

Would you kindly shed some light on Jonathan Prejean's remarks:

"...And it doesn't help that scholars, even good ones, looking for a neat account of intellectual history are all too quick to drop people into a little box without looking at their specific beliefs on specific subjects. Ask Lee Faber and Michael Sullivan over at about that problem."

I am attempting to gain a perspective on the whole debate currently taking place at Sacramentum Vitae as regards The Filioque.


rmrsullivan said...

There's yet another debate on the Filioque over at Dr Liccione's place? Goodness, who can keep up?

I'll check it out and get back to you, anonymous, but I wouldn't be surprised if this didn't have something to do with Energetic Processioners.


Lee Faber said...

I suspect it is the tendency of nearly all non-experts (and even some of those) in high medieval or
"scholastic" thought to take Thomas Aquinas' views as normative for the period. I myself think this to be a product of the 19th century neo-thomistic revival and the sooner we get over it the better. In the current debate going on at Liccione's sight, the thing I noticed was a comment (originally by Photius) subsequently repeated on several blogs, that the "scholastics" held that the persons are distinguished by mutally opposed relations. While there was some bickering about how to interpret that, no one even considered the idea that the only view they were considering was the Thomistic one. Scotus and probably Henry of Ghent, for example, were critical of this view (for Scotus, see Ord. and Rep. I d.11; I am not quite sure yet of his own positive position so don't want to say more). The point being, however, that the "scholastics" are taken to have a single united doctrinal front which simply wasn't the case, however comforting that idea may be to us moderns.

energeticprocession said...

"[T]he thing I noticed was a comment (originally by Photius) subsequently repeated on several blogs, that the "scholastics" held that the persons are distinguished by mutally opposed relations."

I think you are generally correct that non-experts on medievalists and scholasticism take Thomas Aquinas as normative FOR scholasticism at least on Triadology (though said folks usually don't think he is normative on the analysis of the De Deo Uno). I'm no doubt one of them. I'm more aware of the partisan parties at Trent on justification/predestination between the Dominicans and the Francisicans and how each appropriated those decrees. On this question however...

We try to take the conciliar decrees at Florence as the point of departure for the ultimate analysis and not necessarily any school. So when Florence says that, "[E]verything is one in God accept where a relation of opposition does not prevent this," seems spot on toward a Thomistic understanding. The leading Latin debater at Florence, Dominican John Montanero, arguments were that of Thomas Aquinas vis-a-vis St. Mark of Eugenikos. So...

If you think this statement can bear a non-Thomistic reading and is exegetically faithful, I would much like to see what that would look like.


Lee Faber said...

I think taking the decrees as the point of departure as the best practice. I had forgotten about that one (though Garrioug-lagrange regards it as definitive proof that the formal distinction cannot be held).

It could be indeed that the council endorsed thomas' views which would then be normative for catholics. But i'm not sure that it did; though the text of the decree does contain "oppositio", the footnote in denzinger to "Ioannes" describes a position I think Scotus would fully agree with: "only relation, which multiplies the persons in the divine productions, which is called the relation of origin"

THe council document doesn't quote any arguments, and when one examines scotus' treatment in d.12 of the Ordinatio he details something like 6 or 8 positions that may be versions related to that of thomas. His own view is that the relations are "disparate" not "opposed", but he is much more interested in discussing the distinctions between productions than really about the role of relations themselves. The decree "cantate domino" in context seems to be emphasizing that the persons are not each other simultaneously with trying to preserve the unity of God, rather than trying to resolve an exceedingly arcane scholastic dispute. That's my opinion. I give the text below:

Bull "cantate domino" [Den. 703]: "Sacrosancta Romana ecclesia, Domini et Salvatoris nostri voce fundata, firmiter credit, profitetur et praedicat, unum verum Deum omnipotentem, incommunicabilem et aeternum, Patrem et Filium et Spiritum Sanctum, unum in essentia, trinum in personis: Patrem ingenitum, Filium ex Patre genitum, Spiritum Sanctum ex Patre et Filio procedentem. Patrem non esse Filium aut Spiritum Sanctum; Filium non esse Patrem aut Spiritum Sanctum; Spiritum Sanctum non esse Patrem aut Filium: sed Pater tantum pater est, Filius tantum Filius est, Spiritus Sanctus tantum Spiritus Sanctus est. Solus Pater de substantia sua genuit Filium solus Fililus de solo Patre est genitus, solus Spiritus Sanctus simul de Patre procedit et Filio. Hae tres personae sunt unus Deus, et non tres dii: quia trium est una substantia, una essentia, una natura, una divinitas,una immen

Lee Faber said...

-sitas, una aeternitas, omniaque sunt unum, ubi non obviat relationis oppositio.

Michael said...

Also note that "relationis oppositio" does NOT mean "relation of opposition"--that would be "relatio oppositionis"--but rather "the opposition of relation"; in other words, everything in the Persons is one except for the relations of origin, which are opposed in the sense that one is not the other.

The nature of the relations is not opposition; rather, the nature of the opposition is relation.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I hope "The Smithy" adepts and the distinguished Photios continues the dialogue here.

This is most edifying -- especially the citing of original texts.

God Bless.

Lee Faber said...

Happily, I came across a passage where Scotus discusses this explicitly. Here he takes relative opposition of relation to be the same as his disparate relations. It is from Reportatio IA d.13 q. un n.36: "Ad primum quando dicitur quod omnia sunt unum in divinis etc., dico quod verum est 'omnia sunt unum ubi non obviat relativa oppositio', vel stricte sumendo oppositionem vel pro oppositione opposita vel disparata quae includit impossibilitatem; et tales relatoiones oppositae, id est disparatae, incompossibiles sunt, sicut sunt illae quae fundantur super produci passive, scilicet generatio et spiratio passiva".

rmrsullivan said...

In other words, the Son is not the Father only in virtue of having sonship rather than fatherhood, and vice versa. Being the son of the father is the "opposite" of being the father of the son, and the two are mutually incompatible, at the risk of incurring a contradiction.

If this is "dialectical", so be it. It's impossible to intelligibly think anything different.