Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Atheists cannot be saved and cannot have clear consciences"

Now before anyone has what Fr. Z calls a "spittle-flecked nutty," let's remember that St. Paul in the first chapter of Romans denies that there is such a thing as a bona fide atheist. Speaking of the Gentiles (that is, the "pagans" of the time), he writes:
... what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools. (Rm 1:19-22, emphasis added)
Then again, the Psalmist (in both Ps. 14:1 and Ps. 53:1) also declares that anyone who says there is no God is a "fool" -- a point that wasn't lost on St. Anselm when he compiled his ontological proof of God's existence in which one of his minor premises are nothing other than the very words of the "fool"!

But the article that prompted this post is a sermon by a traditional mission priest that one can listen to in its entirety here (Audio Sancto podcast), or read in text form here: "Atheists cannot be saved and cannot have clear consciences" (Rorate Caeli, October 23, 2013).

The basic point is that even allowing for invincible ignorance, one cannot take refuge in that doctrine over the long haul:
It is held by eminent theologians like Ludwig Ott that “Inculpable and invincible ignorance regarding the existence of God is not possible for a long time in a normal, grown-up person ...” (cf. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 16). Such people choose to ignore their very nature. As, St. Paul says this is “inexcusable.” They are fools and foolish....
There's a lot more where that came from. Read more >>

If anyone finds this "unpleasant" or "undiplomatic," I would ask that he think of the matter in this way: Kierkegaard found himself living in a time when everyone around him seemed bent on doing everything he could to make life easier, whereupon he concluded that his mission in life must be to make things harder again.

Surely we live in such a time as Kierkegaard describes. Since Vatican II, those in charge of the Church have thought it best to make life easier, moving mid-week holy days of obligation to weekends, allowing Saturday evening vigil Masses to fulfil one's Sunday obligation, dispensing with the overnight fast before Mass, Friday penance, etc. Pastors have dropped from their vocabulary offensive words like contraception, fornication, masturbation, adultery, and the like, in preference for words like love, compassion, love, mercy, love, forgiveness, and more love. And pastors at Catholic funerals assure us that the departed are assuredly safely in heaven, smiling down on us, whether or not they darkened the door of a church in the last twenty years of their earthly lives, committed scandalous sins, or even committed suicide. All in all, the new "pastoral" approach has made life much easier all around.

So let's take it upon ourselves to do right by Kierkegaard and help make things harder again. A good place to start is thinking about death, hell, and damnation.

And might I add: have a nice conscience-troubling day!


6 comments:








JM

said...

"...Inculpable and invincible ignorance regarding the existence of God is not possible for a long time in a normal, grown-up person ...”

Yes, and parts of the post-conciliar pattern of speech seem almost immature in their bending over backwards to accommodate exceptions and their hyper-qualifications.

Just the headline of this piece is so different from all present Vatican speech that it is startling. To even talk now about salvation as a reality -- to really labor the point that people need "saving" from themselves, the world, and Satan, that destiny can be either very good or very bad -- is just too unHallmark to be be done. Even the Pope, while he mentions Satan, turns around and acts like we are all one big "Redeemed" cargo car bound for glory. Someone needs to commission a performance of "People Get Ready" for a nationwide parish tour. Whether it is a crisis of faith or of nerve, I don't know, but its onset has been so thorough that the old terms are foreign ground.

For the umpteenth time I will plug Ralph Martin's latest book. The fact it has been endorsed by a lot of leading clerics stuns me. Maybe there are a ray of hope then, although then we have Fr. Barron telling us all will be well. The old retreats with hellfire may have been theatrical overkill, but I doubt they were as entirely neutralizing as the current theological bland-out. Dostoevsky did say "Beauty will save the world," but I think as an apologetic it has proven pretty but pallid. That won't fly well with the Communio crowd, but while it was Giotto who won the popes' affections, I seem to recall that Savonarola also won his share of crowds.





Teófilo de Jesús

said...

Well, of all the things you've found objectionable I take issue with only one: the Sunday Vespers' Mass.

By biblical and Roman reckoning, the new day starts at sunset of the previous day. So a vespers' Mass is a Sunday mass. ;-)

+JMJ,
Theo





Teófilo de Jesús

said...

Well, of all the things you've found objectionable I take issue with only one: the Sunday Vespers' Mass.

By biblical and Roman reckoning, the new day starts at sunset of the previous day. So a vespers' Mass is a Sunday mass. ;-)

+JMJ,
Theo





Charles

said...

One of the oft-forgotten elements of ignorance is that there can be no invincible ignorance concerning things we can and ought to know.





JM

said...

Also relevant, at a skewed angle

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2013/10/23/why-an-atheist-philosopher-named-a-defense-of-christianity-his-book-of-the-year/





Johannes de Silentio

said...

Yes, let us help make things harder again. To think, Church teaching might not agree completely with the predilections of the present age. With society's common consciousness so darkened by sin, any minor attempt in this direction would look like the teleological suspension of the ethical on a massive scale.