Thursday, December 8, 2011


We believe as Roman Catholics in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception defined as dogma only in 1854. This dogma states that at the moment of the Blessed Virgin Mary's conception through the normal marital act (sexual intercourse) of her mother, St. Anne's and Blessed Mary's father, St. Joachim, God applied the eternal and supernatural grace of the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity to our Blessed Mother and preserved her in a singular way from the taint of Adam and Eve's Original sin which everyone else inherits. In other words, the Blessed Virgin Mary was full of grace from the moment of her conception.

The Church teaches that when we are baptized, we are born again with all our sins cleansed, either Original Sin or actual sin.

But can't we also say that at our baptism we are "immaculately conceived" and given all the grace we need to be made perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect? Obviously the great majority of us will sin again after Holy Baptism thus the gift of an additional way God will forgive us through the Sacrament of Penance. But nonetheless, the process by which we will be made perfect by God either now or at our judgment or in purgatory starts with our "immaculate conception" in Holy Baptism.

Is this correct or incorrect?


Anonymous said...


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The question is tossed out for discussion and needs an explanation more than a one word incorrect. Defend your position to help us understand.

Pater Ignotus said...

Yes, incorrect. One who is immaculately conceived is free from concupiscence. Mary was, while we, the baptized, are not.

Mary, like the mythological Adam and Eve, were free to choose sin, this freedom being the way in which we bear the "image" of God.
Misusing their preternatural freedom, Adam and Eve chose to sin. Mary, similarly free, did not.

You are correct in your assertion that baptismal grace is sufficient for living saintly lives. Grace is not a "commodity" that we have in greater or lesser amounts, as if one were filling and emptying a tea cup.

But the difference remains - we, the baptized, suffer concupiscence. Mary, who was THE Immaculate Conception, did not.

qwikness said...

I would say incorrect because we continue to sin. Since Mary was immaculately conceived she did not have original sin and was therfore unable to sin. If we were immaculately conceived in baptism we would never sin again. Also since Mary was born without sin she was assumed after death. We do not have such privelage.

Pater Ignotus' Mom said...

An analogy: Mary is a fine china plate that was never dropped and remains in pristine condition. We are plates that have been dropped and repaired with glue. Though well repaired, we are cracked, while Mary is not.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, Mary is singular in her "fullness" of grace but still had free-will and could have said no or could have chosen to sin and lived in the real world with real temptation and real sin. However, she also has the fullness of redemption at the moment of her conception unlike the rest of us and is fully redeemed in heaven with her body in tact according to the glorified body of her Son, Jesus. We, even when in heaven will only have our souls until the resurrection of the dead.
So I say we are "born again" in Baptism with all our sins forgiven, but not full of grace to the degree that the BVM is. We are not immaculately re-conceived at Baptism, only reborn!

Marc said...

I find myself actually agreeing with Pater here, except for his Modernist assertion that Adam and Eve were "mythological." (See Humani Generis 37.)

But, insofar as Fr. McDonald was speaking analogously, I think this blog post makes an interesting comparison and statement about justifying grace, aside from the concupiscence issue.

qwikness said...

Some things I always wondered. What if Mary said 'No' Did God have a plan B? Why isn't everyone immaculately conceived?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

There are some modernist theologians who do not believe in Original Sin as it is traditionally taught by the Church, thus everyone according to their ideology would be immaculately conceived too and all of us destined for heaven. They don't really believe in actual sin either as the Church has traditionally taught and thus we automatically go to heaven too. One wonders if they don't believe in Jesus Christ, either, as the Church traditionally teaches as many of them believe everyone will go to heaven regardless of their religious affiliations. So those who use the Funeral Mass to canonize the deceased are doing so in light of what I write above and it all now makes sense to me.

Templar said...

To tie into what qwikness posted, Mary obviously could have said "no" to the Archangel which informed her of God's plan for her as the Mother of God, which is why I support the notion of Mary as Co-Redemptrix.

No Mary, No Christ
Know Mary, Know Christ

And Marc is spot on in calling out the Modernist assertion that Adam and Eve are Mythological.

Aside from that I am on the side that says we are NOT immaculately conceived, although we are made immaculate at Baptism and could postentially lead immaculate lives. Several Saints may apply to that category, although I wouldn't what to attempt to judge them as such.

Pater Ignotus said...

Humani Generis #37 does not refer to the literary character of the Creation accounts of Genesis or to the "historical" nature of Genesis.

In HG 37 it is important to note the very careful wording used by Pius: "Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled..." The pope was taking a very nuanced approach saying "it is in no way apparent." He could not see it, but he did not say "It cannot be reconciled." Since then I think it has become apparent how to reconcile the Church's teaching on Original Sin with historical anthropology.

As early as Augustine (see his "On the literal meaning of Genesis") a literal understanding of the Creation accounts was not being employed. In fact, Augustine bemoaned the fact that some Christians were doing so, making themselves and the Church look foolish.

The Catechism (cf # 390) specifially notes the "figurative language" (mythology) used in the Creation accounts.

It is not necessary to understand the Creation accounts as literal history in order to believe in the Church's teaching on Original Sin.

Adam and Eve are mythological.

Jenny said...

“Heavenly Father, you offer us abundant grace, mercy, and forgiveness through your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Help me to live a grace-filled life as Mary did by believing in your promises and by giving you my unqualified “yes” to your will and to your plan for my life.”

Gene said...

Augustine: "non posse non peccare..." not possible not to sin. Through the Fall and through our own concupiscence, we lost our moral freedom. Though Baptism removes the taint of Original Sin and any actual sins to that point, it does not remove concupiscence, our desire for doing evil. With the taint of original sin removed, we are no longer blind to the Image of God in us and can come to know God through His Son Jesus Christ and actually desire to do good. We can then allow His Grace to work in us toward sanctification. Perfection in this life? Only, perhaps, as some Saints have been granted the supernatural Grace by God to live sinless lives. This is an old theological argument. Augustine has a deeper understanding of the bondage to sin than later Catholic theologians. Even Aquinas, who cuts man more slack, is doubtful that the "Vision of God" is possible in this life, that is, to know God as He truly is, which would require a total freedom from sin and concupiscence. Conversely, a perfect life would imply no barriers to the "Vision of God" that Aquinas talks about.

Calvinism, and protestantism generally, have a very strong doctrine of the bondage to sin. Total Depravity means that the Image of God was completely shattered in us in the Fall. Only Christ's triumphal Grace can restore it and cover our sins with His Redemption. There is no possibility of perfection in this life, indeed, even a good life is a struggle. This is the other extreme from Catholic liberal theology (read neo-protestantism).

Pater Ignotus' Mom said...

There is nothing "Modernist" in understanding that the bible contains a variety of forms of literature, or that each type of literature must be understood properly if one is going to grasp what it being revealed through that genre.

"In order to discover the sacred authors' intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, THE LITERARY GENRES IN USE AT THAT TIME, and the modes of feeling, speaking, and narrating then current, 'For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression.'" CCC #110

Gene said...

Well Pater, you and I could have a pleasant lunchtime theological discussion because we are actually probably not that far apart...on paper. It is the conclusions we draw from the theological implications that would cause the food fight...LOL!

RE: Adam and Eve. I do not have a huge issue with this either way because I believe either can be squared with Catholic belief and with current evolutionary/anthropological thinking. However, even anthropologists are suggesting that there was a threshold at which we became "human" and, therefore, we might say there was one original "human" mother and father. This may be reaching, but it is not without the realm of anthropo-logic. So, at some point in the primeval slimes somebody on two legs became morally aware, saw the signs of the Creator around him, felt temptation, sought to escape the guilt, and fled from the Presence of God.

Marc said...

Pater, it pains me as a member of the laity to have to be the one who stands against you when you espouse heresy as this is the role of those in the clerical state. However, since no one else will call you on it, I am forced to do so.

Pope Leo XIII - Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae: "We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep."

The Church has taught and continues to teach that God literally created Adam and that from Adam He created Eve. These were historical figures who actually lived. Your nuanced reading of Humani Generis is wrong.

You are correct that there is nothing inherently Modernist in recognizing the Bible contains different literary forms. However, it is a Modernist tactic to misapply the interpretations based on those forms, as you are doing. Pope St. Pius X actually specifically addresses that Modernist tactic in Pascendi.

If you were a priest, Pater, I would suggest you review the Oath Against Modernism, which even though no longer mandatory, seeks to root out Modernist clergy. Since I am hoping against hope that you are not ordained (given your heretical points of view), I would suggest you simply read that Oath and bring your views into line with the Holy Church while taking the Oath as an example of how to believe correctly.

Anonymous said...

Pater Ignotus: I spot at least one gloss,one incorrect definition, and one non sequitur in your post.

The gloss: Pius said it wasn't apparent. He didn't say it wasn't apparent _to him_. That's your addition. He may just as well have meant that it isn't apparent to us as fallen human beings, which would void your appeal to things that have occurred "since then," such as developments in historical anthropology.

The incorrect definition: Figurative, as in CCC 390, doesn't mean mythical. It means figurative. Big difference. Figurative comes from the French "figuratif," i.e., metaphorical. If I use figurative language thus--"It's raining cats and dogs"--that doesn't mean the rain I'm referring to is mythical. On the contrary, it means that the rain is even more real, at least quantitatively, than usual.

The non sequitur: Your implicit assertion in your final two paragraphs that because the creation accounts use figurative (or, arguendo, mythical) language, one _must_ accept _everything_ in those accounts --including Adam and Eve--as figurative (or, arguendo, mythical). By that rule, you must also state that God didn't create anything at all, since the creation accounts state that he did.

I seem to have misplaced my _Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma_--maybe Marc can check on this for me--but I believe that the historical existence of Adam and Eve are an article of faith, not open to debate.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc, I am quite content that I am well within the bosom of Holy Mother Church in this understanding of 1) the nature of Sacred Scripture, 2) the mythological nature of the Genesis accounts, and 3) the reading of HG that I espouse.

As a lay person you are free to make charges of heresy against anyone you choose, chambermaid to pope. You are also free to be wrong, as you are in this case.

Gene said...

Pater, When one is with the chamber maid, accusations of heresy are rarely a concern...

Templar said...

Another favored tactic of the Modernist is to take things out of context. Why not quote the sentence immediate prior to the one you quoted and put the passage in it's proper context?

HG37 "For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents."

"..the faithful CANNOT embrace..." seems pretty straight forward. Heck the subtitle of HG is "..CONCERNING SOME FALSE OPINIONS
OF CATHOLIC DOCTRINE." HG was about as unnuanced as Pius XII got.

As for CC390, on again the Modernist selectively edits.

CC390: "The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents."

"...affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place..."

Tell me Pater, have you got your congregation so thoroughly brainwashed that they take you at face value and never fact check you?

Marc, PI is indeed a Priest, and in our own Diocese of Savannah no less, more's the pity. Now you clearly understand why I have stated previously and maintain that whatever good may be in the man, he is clearly the enemy of all that I hold Sacred.

Marc said...

Anonymous at 12:20: You are correct that this is an article of faith that is not open to debate.

Templar: We all know there are Modernists in the clergy. I suppose we like to believe that they are far off spreading their falsehood elsewhere. It is sad to hear they are at our doorsteps.

Pater: You are clearly wrong and this is, quite frankly, the latest in a long line of overtly Modernist ideas you have espoused on this blog. I will offer my Rosary today for you and for the souls of those under your charge. I can only hope that you personally come back to the Truth and that you don't infect the souls entrusted to you with your errors.

Robert Kumpel said...

I think it is unfair and presumptuous to accuse Fr. McDonald of espousing heresy. It strikes me that Fr. has simply taken and idea, proposed it and thrown it open for debate.

Personally, I am bound to believe in the power of the sacraments, especially Baptism and Confession, to remove our sins. However, even if my sins are forgiven in Confession, I still have attachments to my sins and the temporal effects of the sins I have committed. There is no possible way I could hope to place myself, even the second the words of absolution are pronounced, on the same level as God's greatest creation--His mother.

I remember reading The Sinner's Guide by Venerable Louis of Granada and being struck by his explanation of concupiscence:

"The first two powers make use of the flesh, as Satan made use of Eve, to tempt and incite us to every kind of iniquity. Therefore, the Apostle calls flesh "sin," giving the name of the effect to the cause, for there is no evil to which man is not incited by the flesh. (Rom. 7:25). For this reason theologians term it fomes peccati – that is, the germ and fuel of sin; for, like wool and oil, it serves to feed the fire of sin. It is more commonly called sensuality, or concupiscence, which, to speak more plainly, is our sensual appetite. Hence, St. Basil tells us that our desires are the principal arms with which the devil makes war upon us; for, carried away by the immoderate desires of the flesh, we seek to gratify them by any means in our power, regardless of God's law. From this disorder all sins arise.

"This appetite of the flesh is one of the greatest tyrants to whom, in the language of the Apostle, the sinner has made himself a slave. By this we do not mean that the sinner loses his free will, for free will is never lost, however great the multitude of his crimes. But sin so weakens the will, and so strengthens the appetites of the flesh, that the stronger naturally prevails over the weaker. What is there more painful than the consequences of such a victory?

"Man possesses a soul made to the image of God, a mind capable of rising above creatures to the contemplation of God; yet he despises all these privileges and places himself in subjection to the base appetites of a flesh corrupted by sin and incited and directed by the devil. What can man expect from such a guidance, or rather from such a bondage, but innumerable falls and incomparable misfortunes?"

Marc said...

I'm not sure if Mr. Kumpel's remark is directed at me, but I'd like to be clear: I am not accusing Fr. McDonald of heresy. I think his post is a good one that raised a good question for discussion.

I am, however, pointing out that Pater Ignotus is espousing heresy. I am not saying he is a heretic as (1) that's between him and the Church and (2) sometimes people say strange things on the internet just to get a rise out of others. I don't know Pater personally, so I don't know if he would espouse the same erroneous idea in person.

Robert Kumpel said...

My apologies, Marc. Perhaps I overreacted. I saw the words, "pater, it pains me..." I forgot one of the people here were using that name. Sorry.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 12:20 - I have this strange notion that when a pope writes something, he actually believes what he is writing. So when Pius wrote "Now it is in no way apparent..." he was expressing his belief. By the nature of his office he was also speaking in the name of the Church. I think that Pius wrote what he, personally, believed to be true.

The Church teaches that Sacred Scripture is made up of various kinds of literature, and that we must understand these kinds of literature in order to understand correctly the Truth that is revelaed through them. The creation accounts are not metaphor, they are mythology. A myth is an imaginative story that uses symbols to convey truth, but a truth that is beyond human understanding.

The creation accounts teach divinely revealed Truth through the genre of mythology.

Temp - you quote well HG 37. And it is a condemnation of polygenism, not a definition of the literary genre of the Creation accounts.

Of course a primeval event took place. Matter didn't come into existence of its own accord. I am not suggesting otherwise.

Marc, I am clearly right in asserting that the Church teaches that 1) Sacred Scripture is made up of a variety of literary genres and that if one fails to understand the genre one is very likely going to err in understanding the Truth contained therein; and 2) that the Church does not teach that the Creation accounts must be understood as literal history.

Catholics may choose to believe that the Creation accounts are literal. We are also free to believe they are not literal.

I assure you, I am not posting these things to get a rise out of anyone. In person I will stand by what I have written. If you (or anyone) thinks that I have espoused I would invite and encourage him/her to report me to our bishop.

I will not hold my breath...

Anonymous said...

Pater, under your interpretation:

(1) Did God literally create a first man (by some means) and his soul (from nothing)?

(2) Did God then create a first woman from that first man?

(3) Did those two first people then beget all human life?

Please respond as clearly and succinctly as possible, if you are willing to do so.


Anonymous said...

Would the term 'apocryphal' be more appropriate than 'mythological'? It would not seem to be contrary to Church teachings to understand that the techniques employed in the Creation was not only beyond our kin, but beside the point of the lesson in that scripture.

I am likely to damn myself, but I do recall that particular question when I was very young and having no problem reconciling the Genesis with the thin theories man has created.

As far as the concept of the single father, Adam, again, I think that is more for the purpose of ensuring we are not able to denigrate each other as 'subhuman' for our selfish purposes. Even from a science perspective this is understandable and supported by the remarkable uniformity of human gene structure and its 'simianlarity' to the apes, yet the obvious distinction between the species.

The Hebrews were not stupid people. It is vanity for us to think that we can find fault with the story of Genesis when we are actually not understanding it at all.


Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - God created the first humans and their souls. The process by which God created the human race is Darwinian evolution. The soul is directly created by God. No evolution there.

God did not create the first woman "from man" if by that you mean the expanded rib story. The creation account in Gen 1 says male and female were created at the same time. Male and female appeared together.

We don't know if all humans descended from one pair of "first" humans, but it is very, very unlikely.

Anonymous said...

Pater: "The process by which God created the human race is Darwinian evolution."

From the dogmatic side, the Bible Commission of 1909 held that the first three chapters of Genesis contain narratives of historical events. The idea of materialistic evolution is not compatible with Church teaching. Presumably, when you reference Darwinian evolution, you are thinking of some sort of theistic evolution. So, how do you define "Darwinian evolution"?

Pater: "God did not create the first woman 'from man' if by that you mean the expanded rib story."

As Catholics, we are required to believe that God by a special act formed the body of Eve from the body of Adam. You seem to believe male and female were created simultaneously. This is incompatible with the Decree of the 1909 Bible Commission and the teaching of the Church. Please clarify your remarks, if possible.

Pater: "We don't know if all humans descended from one pair of 'first' humans, but it is very, very unlikely."

So, you believe in polygenism, then. That is specifically decried by Humani Generis 37, which we have now discussed at length.


Gene said...

The Creation story is Mystery, not mythology. Even anthropologists are suggesting that the human gene pool began, at some point,from some prototypical "couple."
Now, somewhere in pre-history there was a threshold at which we became "human." This threshold may be called the sixth day. So, in some primeval glade or oasis, this creature on two legs suddenly became morally aware, felt shame and guilt, attempted to rationalize these feelings, blamed the female of his species, and fled from the Presence of God..."then slowly, hand in hand, from Eden's gate they took their solitary way." That isn't such a stretch now, is it? It does not require all the elaborate mythologizing and philosophizing, twisting and turning that liberal theologians turned anthropologists are doing now, does it?
I think we will find the same with our astrophysical studies. As quantum theory leads to string theory, and indeterminacy and chaos theory lead to the break down of our paradigms and understanding, we may come to realize that, as with the Creation story, we are actually being given a glimpse of the Mystery...Christ have mercy!

Anonymous said...

Pater: You either misunderstand or misrepresent my first objection. I agree with you that the pope believes in what he's saying. But you've claimed that he's said something in that statement that he may well not have said--namely that what he's said was, and was intended to be, a statement subjective _ to him_. That claim is the reason for my label of glossing. The text could support equally well that he is stating that it is not apparent--that it cannot be apparent--to anyone. The text could also support the idea that it isn't logically apparent, i.e., apparent to anyone who uses the rules of logical discourse. In other words, only one of at least three meanings supports your argument. And when we take his statement in the context of the whole paragraph and document, as pointed out by Templar, that meaning isn't at all likely.

As to biblical text, your answer is nonresponsive. I am well aware of the different literary forms of scripture. I am further aware of the different modes of interpretation--viz., literal and spiritual, and the three senses of the latter. I am further prepared to concede that some aspects of the creation account may be, and even should be, taken in ways other than the literal. But none of this changes the fact that you rely on a non sequitur, and that in fact you've repeated it in your answer to me: viz., that because scripture contains _some_ figurative language, Adam and Eve _must_ be mythical. I'll be happy to send you a Venn diagram that displays your fallacy graphically, if you like. I'd also like you to provide Church documents that discuss myth--not spiritual senses of scripture, not figurative language, not figurative literature or phrasing, but mythology--as a form of scriptural literature.

Contrary to one of your later statements, the Church teaches that some things _are_ to be taken literally. While some things need not be--for instance, 6 days of creation--the historicity of Adam and Eve _is_ one of these things. Since that is de fide, are you saying that the Church has taught doctrinal error? Or do you deny that the historicity of Adam and Eve is de fide? If the latter, do you have any Church authority better than your gloss of HG to support your assertion?

Gene said...

That's funny...I was so busy thinking that Pater Ignotus was "full of it" I never got around to considering him as a heretic. But, heretics are serious business; Ignotus is a lightweight...

Anonymous said...

So, it is the nature of man, Original sin, that prevents us from being able to *effect* the coming of God into the world; Mary was, her essence, was conceived through the intervention of God Himself so that her act of supplication actually brought God, as Christ into the world. People have gotten really close to this Knowing, but without the intervention of God, it can't happen due to our very nature. We can recreate, become born again, through God as Christ, but our nature remains a factor we must deal with on a daily basis. I personally am grateful for this battle because it is a gift of Self from God. He respects and loves me.

As far as Creation goes: It seems to me that the more we find out about the actual mechanism the more we should come to respect the Creator. Some people foolishly think that because it is so vastly complex One could not do it. Others think that the complexity disproves Genesis. The argument proves that Man is a fool and is personally willing to put as much effort as necessary into proving it.

The Theory of Evolution, or more correctly, Natural Selection, does not contradict Genesis. It actually confirms the vast complexity of our existence and is as misapplied to Theology as Genesis is to phylogeny.

So in the end, Mary through her Immaculate Conception did not challenge the Almighty to explain His plan, a plan she could not understand. Instead, her state of grace allowed her to express timeless wisdom, set her own will aside, and bring God into the world.


Pater Ignotus said...

rcg - I don't think "apocryphal" is an apt description for the Creation accounts. Apocryphal writings are "of doubtful authenticity, erroneous, fictitious." Also, "apocryphal" is not a literary genre while "mythology" is.

Mythology is not literary fiction. The definition of myth I use is "an imaginative story that uses symbols to talk about reality, but a reality that is beyond human understanding." (Borrowed from "And God Said What?" by Margaret Nutting Ralph.)

Marc, the Pontifical Biblical Commission is not an organ of the teaching office of the Church. It is a collection of scholars who take positions on problems of scriptural interpretation.

Darwinism is "descent with modification." It is "survival of the reproductively successful." It is a well founded explanation of natural events.

Catholic are not obliged to believe that "God by a special act formed the body of Eve from the body of Adam."

Regarding polygenism I said, "We don't know if all humans descended from one pair of 'first' humans, but it is very, very unlikely." Now, if you want to turn "We don't know" into my saying "I believe in polygenism" go right ahead, but those would be your words and ideas, not mine.

Pin - creation is a great, grand mystery, one that fills my soul with wonder and awe each day. "Mystery," however, is not a biblical literary genre, while mythology is.

Anon 11:05 Pius signed Humani Generis, therefore I attribute the contents to him personally as well as pontifically (if that is word.)

I do not assert that "because scripture contains some non-literal material, therefore Adam and Eve must be mythological." I assert that the literary form of the Creation accounts are mythology, therefore the "people" named in the mythological accounts are (wait for it...) mythological.

No, the Church does not teach that Adam and Eve are historical figures or that the Creation accounts are literal history.

Pater Ignotus said...

rcg - My studies biological have always led me to a deeper appreciation of God's role in creation. And you are right in saying that Darwinian evolution does not contradict Genesis.

Some howl that some scientists use Darwin's ideas to attack faith. But you can't blame the originator of the theory for the theory's misuse by contemporary scientists.
That would be like blaming Alexander Graham Bell for the $500 phone bill your teenager racks up.

Gene said...

Ignotus, "Mystery is not a Biblical literary genre...mythology is." Yes, but the mythology rests upon the Mystery; the Mystery does not rest upon the mythology.

Anonymous said...

Pater: Again, re attributing things to Pius personally, which seems of great importance to you, you again either misunderstand or misrepresent my argument (and by the way, interpretive theory is one of my scholarly areas of expertise). You are glossing the text, giving as a rationale the fact that the Pope is a human being and therefore must be writing his personal opinion in what purports to be, and is accepted, as an official document. You assign to "apparent" a personal, descriptive interpretation, and you don't seem to grasp (or reject out of hand for no expressed reason) that because it is in a papal document it may well have an official, prescriptive meaning here. Further, your claim that it must be personal or subjective because the pope is a person leads to the possibility that everything in scripture or Church documents may be potentially robbed of its official, and therefore magisterial and authoritative, character, since they were all written by people. I think we've done with this point.

You say that "Mythology is not literary fiction. The definition of myth I use is "an imaginative story that uses symbols to talk about reality, but a reality that is beyond human understanding." (Borrowed from "And God Said What?" by Margaret Nutting Ralph.)"

You further say that "Catholic are not obliged to believe that "God by a special act formed the body of Eve from the body of Adam."

I asked for magisterial authority for your positions here. As to the first point, Dr. Ralph's books, on their face, aren't magisterial, and on the second point you cite no authority at all. I thus conclude you have none, so we're done on these points as well. I choose to believe what the Church teaches, not what you personally seem to think is apparent.

Marc said...

Pater: "Marc, the Pontifical Biblical Commission is not an organ of the teaching office of the Church. It is a collection of scholars who take positions on problems of scriptural interpretation."

Pope St. Pius X, Praestantia Scripturae: "Wherefore we find it necessary to declare and to expressly prescribe, and by this our act we do declare and decree that all are bound in conscience to submit to the decisions of the Biblical Commission relating to doctrine, which have been given in the past and which shall be given in the future, in the same way as to the decrees of the Roman congregations approved by the Pontiff ; nor can all those escape the note of disobedience or temerity, and consequently of grave sin, who in speech or writing contradict such decisions, and this besides the scandal they give and the other reasons for which they may be responsible before God for other temerities and errors which generally go with such contradictions."

Response of the Pontifical Biblical Commission on June 30, 1909:

Question I: Whether the various exegetical systems which have been proposed to exclude the literal historical sense of the three first chapters of the Book of Genesis, and have been defended by the pretense of science, are sustained by a solid foundation?--Reply: In the negative.

Question II: Whether, when the nature and historical form of the Book of Genesis does not oppose, because of the peculiar connections of the three first chapters with each other and with the following chapters, because of the manifold testimony of the Old and New Testaments; because of the almost unanimous opinion of the Holy Fathers, and because of the traditional sense which, transmitted from the Israelite people, the Church always held, it can be taught that the three aforesaid chapters of Genesis do not contain the stories of events which really happened, that is, which correspond with objective reality and historical truth; but are either accounts celebrated in fable drawn from the mythologies and cosmogonies of ancient peoples and adapted by a holy writer to monotheistic doctrine, after expurgating any error of polytheism; or allegories and symbols, devoid of a basis of objective reality, set forth under the guise of history to inculcate religious and philosophical truths; or, finally, legends, historical in part and fictitious in part, composed freely for the instruction and edification of souls?--Reply: In the negative to both parts.

Question III: Whether in particular the literal and historical sense can be called into question, where it is a matter of facts related in the same chapters, which pertain to the foundation of the Christian religion; for example, among others, the creation of all things wrought by God in the beginning of time; the special creation of man; the formation of the first woman from the first man; the oneness of the human race; the original happiness of our first parents in the state of justice, integrity, and immortality; the command given to man by God to prove his obedience; the transgression of the divine command through the devil's persuasion under the guise of a serpent; the casting of our first parents out of that first state of innocence; and also the promise of a future restorer?--Reply: In the negative.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 10:49 - The Church does not define what is or is not a literary genre or which books of the bible might belong to which genre. There is no "authority" that can be cited to determine what parts of Scripture are mythology, legend, narrative, parable, debate, didactic fiction, allegory, apocalyptic, etc.

You have set up a straw man and shot him down - congratulations.

But it doesn't change the fact that certain books of the Bible belong to certain categories of literature.

I guess I have never quite understood your point on whether or not Pius believed what he wrote in HG. I think he did, but that does not change the authoritative nature of the document.

Marc said...

Pater: "There is no 'authority' that can be cited to determine what parts of Scripture are mythology, legend, narrative, parable, debate, didactic fiction, allegory, apocalyptic, etc."

Yes, there is. Please see my previous post citing the Pontifical Biblical Commission's doing exactly what you claim no authority in the Church does. That Commission is clearly authoritative because the Holy Father (and Saint) Pius X said it was authoritative.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - So, as you understand the passages from the PBC you quoted at 11:23, what literary form does the PBC define the Creation accounts to be?

Templar said...

Pater Ignotus: While I still disagree with you on the subject of the factual existence of Adam and Eve, I want to at least take the time to thank you for engaging in what has been a spirited but actual debate. I have been critical of you in the past for not actually debating a subject, and being dismissive of another poster's counter points, but in this thread at least I think you have not done so. Thank you for that, hopefully it will continue.

Anonymous said...

With regard to the first three chapters of Genesis, the literal and historical forms within the parameters defined by the responses above.


Pater Ignotus said...

Since the literary genre to which a given book of the Bible belongs is not a matter of faith or morals, the Church is not competent to make such an assertion.

On the other hand, the Church is entirely competent to determine what matter of faith or morals is revealed by God through any biblical book or passage.

If one understands the PBC to be defining "de fide" that this book is didactic fiction or those chapters are literal history, I suggest one has misunderstood the PBC.

The "literal historical sense" is not a literary form. Genesis does indeed contain "stories of events which correspond with objective reality and historical truth" but "stories of events which correspond with objective reality and historical truth" are not literary forms.

The literary form through which the stories that correspond with reality and truth is known as myth.
The Creation accounts teach revealed Truth through the use of mythology.

Snakes never had the capacity to chat up naked women in a garden. That is the myth. All of us face powerful temptation to do what we know clearly to be wrong. That is the Truth.

The Church cannot by decree make factual or historical that which is/was not factual or historical.

Gene said...

Ignotus RE: "Snakes never had the capacity to chat up naked women in a garden..." And, Virgins never had the capacity to give birth, men never had the capacity to come back to life after death, men never defied gravity to ascend into Heaven, bread and wine never had the capacity to become flesh and blood. So, just how far do you want to take your de-mythologizing? Have you read Bultmann? This is not a technique you can take half way. You cannot be a cafeteria de-mythologizer. You use such methods to taunt some on this blog but, my modernist friend, if you are honest with yourself(and us)you know where it leads. My suspicion is that this is exactly where you are and why you want the Church to be a great big humanistic, ecumenical social work organization...after all, what else is there?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Excellent points Pinanv! That is the problem with demytholigization and it has nearly destroyed the Catholic faith form scores of Catholics!

Pater Ignotus said...

I suspect we have the capacity, God-given, of course, to survive and flourish as believers when we understand the reality that the Bible contains mythology, as well as didactic fiction, narrative, apocalyptic, parable, debate, etc.

I don't think that the raising of Lazarus was a myth and I am surprised that you do. And by the way, virgins do give birth - it's called parthenogenesis.

Oh, and don't you dare say anything to children about Santa and the Easter Bunny.

When faith recedes, superstition proceeds.

Gene said...

Ignotus, you deliberately miss the point and twist my words. I did not say that the raising of Lazarus was a myth, nor do I believe such. I happen to believe the Mystery, the Revelation. You apparently do not since you are suggesting that Mary gave birth through parthenogenesis...which makes her either an insect, a type of fish, or a reptile...BECAUSE...there are no recorded instances of parthenogenesis occuring naturally in mammalian species. There are a couple of lab induced parthenogenic creations based upon stem cell research...which you must also approve since you so smugly cite the phenomena.

Pater Ignotus said...

Mary gave birth through the Holy Spirit. Every Catholic knows that.

I noted parthenogenesis in response to your comment that "Virgins never had the capacity to give birth. Indeed, they do.

Gene said...

Yes, virgins have the "capacity" in potentia to give birth...after they are no longer virgins. Since "virgin" is generally associated with the mammalian species and, in particular, human females, your effort at being clever only serves to make you look stupid.

Filippo Berio said...

We're approaching virgin territory here. It might be the Virgin Islands and they, in turn, might have a virgin queen. Wherever we are, the virgin forests will produce some mighty fine virgin timber. We can build an enclosure for our sheep and collect virgin wool, and a press to make virgin olive oil.

Templar said...

Perhaps my hopes PI were unfounded :(

Gene said...

Berio/Ignotus, Apparently, your brain is also virgin...

Bob the Chef said...

Here's the problem I have. Let's begin with a few clarification before I ask my questions.

1. Baptism absolves us of original *sin* but not the effects of that sin.

2. God did not need to make Mary immaculate because Jesus could have been born without original sin anyway. Instead we say it was fitting for Jesus's mother to be immaculate.

3. The Modernist assertion that Adam and Eve were mythical figures not only goes against the catechism, but diminishes and radically undermines the meaning of Christ's sacrifice. Christ's sacrifice was to atone for original sin. If original sin did not occur in some way, then Christ becomes moot.

Now, here are my questions:

a. If Mary was born immaculate yet free and thus able to sin, was God taking a chance with her remaining untainted? Would have sin caused her to repeat Adam/Eve's mistake? Or did God forsee that Mary was never going to choose to sin and thus chose her?

b. If Mary was conceived as immaculate, and FREE of original sin, then why doesn't God will the same for all of his children? In theory it is possible that each could reenact the Fall, but it would then be only his responsibility. Christ's redemptive power would remain in tact for exactly those who took the Fall upon themselves individually.

c. How is original sin transmitted exactly, and how does grace overcome its effects? All I've ever come across are vague explanation where human nature was altered and so this corruption is conferred by the parents unto the children, etc. Well, how exactly does it appear in human nature and why can't it be reversed?