June 29th, 2009
Augustine covers a lot of ground in this interesting quote from De Doctrina Christiana, Book 2, Chapters 31,32
There are also valid processes of reasoning which lead to false conclusions, by following out to its logical consequences the error of the man with whom one is arguing; and these conclusions are sometimes drawn by a good and learned man, with the object of making the person from whose error these consequences result, feel ashamed of them and of thus leading him to give up his error when he finds that if he wishes to retain his old opinion, he must of necessity also hold other opinions which he condemns. For example, the apostle did not draw true conclusions when he said, “Then is Christ not risen,” and again, “Then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain;” and further on drew other inferences which are all utterly false; for Christ has risen, the preaching of those who declared this fact was not in vain, nor was their faith in vain who had believed it.
But all these false inferences followed legitimately from the opinion of those who said that there is no resurrection of the dead. These inferences, then, being repudiated as false, it follows that since they would be true if the dead rise not, there will be a resurrection of the dead. As, then, valid conclusions may be drawn not only from true but from false propositions, the laws of valid reasoning may easily be learnt in the schools, outside the pale of the Church. But the truth of propositions must be inquired into in
the sacred books of the Church.
June 6th, 2009
Karl Rahner, “He Is the One Who Started It” [from Biblical Homilies]
[Speaking of Philippians 1:6-11] We are all the work that God the Father has begun in his grace through Christ Jesus in the Holy Spirit. He has begun the good work in us, we have not. But he has begun it through our freedom, and it is always questionable, as it were—it is always the one great all-embracing question, comprehending time and eternity—whether the work that has been begun will be brought to completion.
And when the apostle asks this question, when he asks whether what he has begun with words and tears, with penance, anguish, and all the power of his apostolic work and suffering will really be brought to completion or whether it will run down and atrophy—when he asks whether these men and women who have now made a start will one day enter into the glory of divine light as children of the light, asks with fear and trembling because no one is certain of his salvation—then he lifts up his eyes to God, his heart is filled with confidence, and he says: I am sure that God, who has begun this work, will bring it to completion.
And we too may say this, frail and helpless as we are, we whose Christianity is always running down and atrophying, we whom the stream of daily life is always threatening to swallow up, extinguishing whatever light and power, life and glory have begun to emerge in our Christianity. Instead of studying ourselves we ought to say: he who has begun this work—and it is not we who have begun it, not we in our weakness, even in our freedom—God, in the glorious power of his grace, will bring it to completion. And that is our bold assurance, our splendid sovereign confidence. He says: it is right for me to feel thus about you all, because, he says—and here something entirely personal and genuinely human comes into the power and grandeur of God’s work—because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.
Now if only Rahner would take our “splendid sovereign confidence” and move it into the realm of personal, subjective assurance in line with the Westminster Confession.