Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Debate? What debate?


Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong seems to be a well-meaning fellow, but I have to say that I am finding some of his behavior very odd.  To my great surprise, I learned this afternoon that he has grandly announced the following on Facebook:

Dr. Feser and I Will be Debating the Biblical Passages Purporting to Support the Death Penalty…

This will no doubt be a vigorous (and possibly voluminous) debate…

I respect Dr. Feser for being willing to vigorously defend his positions. That's as rare as hen's teeth these days. I'm the same way, so I am really looking forward to the discussion.

End quote.  I see that some of his readers are expressing interest in this debate, asking when and where it will occur, etc.   I am sorry to disappoint them, but I have to say that I have no idea what Armstrong is talking about. 

That Armstrong and I are about to engage in a “vigorous” “debate” – and indeed one of “possibly voluminous” length! – is news to me.  I was never invited to debate him, would not have agreed to do so had I been asked, and have zero time for or interest in doing so.  This is entirely an invention of Armstrong’s.

Yesterday at his blog Armstrong had announced that he is opposed to capital punishment and directed his readers to the critical remarks that Fastiggi, Brugger, Hart, and McClamrock have made about By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed.  I posted a comment in his combox to the effect that if he was going to link to those critical reviews, then to be fair he ought also to link to my replies to them.  He has since done so, and we exchanged a couple other remarks in his combox.  That’s all.

Again, where he got the idea that I had agreed to a “debate” with him of possibly “voluminous” length, I have no idea.

I also have to take exception to another remark Armstrong made in his Facebook announcement.  He wrote:

[Feser’s] reply to patristics scholar David Bentley Hart's review of his book was entitled, "Hot Air vs. Capital Punishment: . . ." And he wrote, "Hart’s review in Commonweal is so rhetorically over-the-top and dishonest that the effect is more comical than offensive”…

Low blows such as these poison the well and are unnecessary.  I hope Dr. Feser refrains from them if he debates me.

End quote.  Since Armstrong had directed his readers to Hart’s review, I assume he knows that Hart compared my co-author Joe Bessette and me to Torquemada and attributed to us “a moral insensibility that is truly repellant,” among other unmerited insults.  Why it is OK for Hart to say such things but a “low blow” for me to object to Hart saying them, Armstrong does not explain.  In my response to Hart, I also documented several cases where Hart had undeniably and gravely misrepresented what Joe Bessette and I say in the book.  That is why I used the word “dishonest.”  It was not a gratuitous insult but a conclusion based on evidence – evidence to which Armstrong offers no response.

I would recommend to Armstrong that, if in future he wants someone to take seriously the prospect of debating him, it would be a good idea for him not to make such gratuitous and unfair remarks from the get-go.  It would also be a good idea to announce the debate only after an actual invitation and acceptance, not before.

157 comments:

  1. I think he was talking about debating it in the comments on his blog, although you are right that he should not have assumed you would be willing to do that.

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    1. I've now explained (below). My fault, but it was really no big deal.

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  2. Dr. Feser,

    Having interacted with Dave on Facebook over the years, I can assure you he means well. I think it was a just a miscue on his part giving the announcement of a debate. This gives the impression that you accepted something formal.

    Here's what Armstrong clarifies in the comments underneath when someone asks the setting/format:

    It's not formal like that (per my usual modus operandi). I told him I would be looking at his arguments regarding the Bible passages he brought to bear. I assume he will respond because he's been replying to every critique of his argument, and showed up in my combox."

    Obviously, this is not what most people think when they hear "Dr. Feser and I Will be Debating. . ."

    Anyway, Dave is a solid Catholic guy, and I think this was just a complete miscue.

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    1. Thanks for the kind word on my behalf. I assumed my regular readers on my Facebook page would know what I meant, in the context of following my activities through the years. I just deleted it, in any event.

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  3. Dr. Feser, I'm here to inform you that you will be debating me tomorrow on the subject of the Kalam cosmological argument. I hope it will prove to be a fruitful discussion. Thank you, see you tomorrow

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  4. To echo what John was saying, Dave Armstrong really does mean well and is a great defender of the Catholic faith. I follow both your work, Dr. Feser, and Dave's on a regular basis. He did clarify with that comment John mentioned. I hope any interaction between the two of you is cordial and fruitful.

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    1. Thanks for this kind word as well. I appreciate it. Misunderstandings online can quickly get out of hand.

      The first thing I said to Dr. Feser when he appeared in my combox was, "I have admired your work for a long time and massively linked to it (not just on this topic)." That remains true.

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    2. As for admiring people's work, Mr. Armstrong, you were a big part of my decision to become a Catholic. Many thanks.

      And, of course, Prof. Feser, you know I think you are a wondrous Act of God, part of a Thomistic renewal needed now more than ever.

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    3. Praise God for His mercies and grace!

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  5. Interesting approach. I wonder if they the banns were published before or after he proposed to his wife.

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  6. I just don't get where Armstrong is coming from, regarding his position on capital punishment. He says he agrees it would be troublesome to "cross the line" and say death penalty is always and in any situation immoral and unnacceptable. But then how doesn't he also accept that it would be troublesome to think the Church *could* do such a troublesome thing? I understand these are not exactly the same thing, but they are very similar nonetheless, and if we are troubled by the suggestion that capital punishment is an intrinsic evil, we should probably be troubled by the idea that the Church could declare such a view to be true.

    Feser and Bessette have argued that we can still have the death penalty in practice even today. But that's not their main point at all; it's actually just their additional, more ambitious view. Their main point is actually showing how the death penalty *cannot* be an intrinsic evil that is always unacceptable. Whether or not we agree with the DP in practice for prudential or some humanitarian reasons, it is a far more ambitious claim to say the DP can NEVER be justified in ANY situation. 50 years ago there wouldn't even have been such a debate in the church, the idea is nonsense. I find it sad how so many catholics are taking up this radical anti-DP view, and seem unable to understand the gist of the debate.

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    1. I agree (and so does Dr. Fastiggi) that it is not intrinsically immoral. We also both don't believe it'll be promulgated as such. If it is (as so many seem to be afraid of), I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

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    2. So, if you hold (and if Fastiggi holds) that the death penalty is not intrinsically wrong, then is the disagreement merely one concerning the prudence of its application today? If so, then I'm not sure what the fuss has been about.

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    3. Largely, yes. It is believed that the death penalty is contrary to the gospel and Christian charity and witness to a pro-life worldview, and a maximum opportunity for the criminal to repent, to execute them, when society has other ways to protect itself from them without doing that.

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    4. If the death penalty is not intrinsically evil and thus at least in in principle justified for certain crimes as a just penalty, then how can it be contrary to the gospel and charity? Are justice and charity at odds with each other? Is the gospel opposed to justice?

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    5. Because it's contrary to charity to kill someone if we don't HAVE to for the sake of society. Justice is served by their incarceration, and mercy and charity are served by sparing their life and giving them time to ponder and repent.

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    6. Dave, I'm sorry but your comment appears to be a clear case of self-contradiction. You say that you, and Dr Fastiggi (contra to his public remarks), do not believe that capital punishment is malum in se. However, you then say that the death penalty is "contrary to the Gospel". If the death penalty is "contrary to the Gospel", then how is it not fundamentally contradictory to the divine and natural law? If it is fundamentally contrary to the Gospel, why do great doctors of the Church and the Council Fathers of Trent (in the catechism produced by them) teach the opposite?

      I simply do not see how one can maintain that the death penalty is not malum in se and yet it be "contrary to the Gospel". It appears to be a contradiction in terms.

      In response to it being contrary to a "witness to a pro-life worldview", are you saying that St Thomas Aquinas and St Alphonsus Ligouri did not hold to a pro-life worldview? Further, are you saying that modern opponents of the death penalty, which tend to be pro-abortion once you get outside of the Catholic blogosphere, really witness to a pro-life worldview? These same allies which you will find yourself with also tend to oppose life in prisonment without the possibility of parole, especially if it includes long episodes in solitary confinement (to protect prison staff). As that amounts to torture.

      Also, I have to call out the notion that the dispute is a matter of prudence. Fastiggi's public remarks has all the marks of an argument from justice, not an argument from prudence. As Fastiggi has made it very clear in his public work that he is objecting to the first point Feser and Bessette are making in their book, not the second. Denial of the second follows from denial of the first, and the refusal to affirm the first and enter into legitimate debate on the second is telling of what his position is. If he has claimed to you that his position is that Feser and Bessette are correct on the first but not the second, then he needs to state that publicly. As any impartial observer would take his position to be that the death penalty is intrinsically immoral, given the form and structure of his argumentation and exactly what in Feser's arguments he is objecting to. As he doesn't object to any of the prudential arguments and sociological points that appear later in the book, but to the arguments from natural law and moral theology from the first half of the book. The conclusion of the first half of the book is "Capital punishment is morally licit", that is that it *may* be done without sin. Not that it *must* be done (pace the strawman of Hart).

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    7. Again, I'm still a rookie as a total anti-, so I would urge folks with all these questions to go to the scholars I link to in my first post on the topic. But here goes:

      "You say that you, and Dr Fastiggi (contra to his public remarks), do not believe that capital punishment is malum in se."

      That's correct. To my knowledge, Bob has not said otherwise.

      "However, you then say that the death penalty is "contrary to the Gospel". If the death penalty is "contrary to the Gospel", then how is it not fundamentally contradictory to the divine and natural law?"

      I thought I gave a pretty decent reply right above your comment.

      "If it is fundamentally contrary to the Gospel, why do great doctors of the Church and the Council Fathers of Trent (in the catechism produced by them) teach the opposite?"

      Because in those days it wasn't as possible to protect society from evil men short of the death penalty, as has been made clear in the rationales provided by Pope St. Paul II for nearly total abolition of the death penalty.

      "I simply do not see how one can maintain that the death penalty is not malum in se and yet it be "contrary to the Gospel". It appears to be a contradiction in terms."

      Not helping the poor, for example, is contrary to the gospel and commands of Jesus. That's not intrinsically evil, I don't think, as a sin of omission, but it's not the "full gospel" either, is it?
      Polygamy is now co nsidered contrary to the gospel (hence we all have one wife only). But in the past, God permitted it (e.g., the concubu=inage in the OT, including Abraham, David, and Solomon). If He permitted it, it can't be intrinsically evil. Incest was permitted in the early days, for the sake of populating the earth. Now it isn't.

      "In response to it being contrary to a "witness to a pro-life worldview", are you saying that St Thomas Aquinas and St Alphonsus Ligouri did not hold to a pro-life worldview?"

      No; different times, as I explained above, and as JPII does. I love St. Thomas. I put together an abridged Summa and used to have a web page devoted to him.

      "Further, are you saying that modern opponents of the death penalty, which tend to be pro-abortion once you get outside of the Catholic blogosphere, really witness to a pro-life worldview?"

      They don't, because they are radically inconsistent, and espouse intrinsic evil. You can't nail me here, either. I was arrested five times and went through three trials, in attempts to save baby's lives.

      "These same allies which you will find yourself with also tend to oppose life in prisonment without the possibility of parole, especially if it includes long episodes in solitary confinement (to protect prison staff). As that amounts to torture."

      That gets into true reform and rehabilitation and repentance, which is another complex issue. I'm all for it. It usually has to be Christian-based, to be effective.

      If you're so sure of your positions, why don't you provide your real name? What are you afraid of?

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    8. It's "Liguori" by the way; not "Ligouri." Common mistake, but we ought to get saints' names right.

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    9. "Polygamy is now co nsidered contrary to the gospel (hence we all have one wife only). But in the past, God permitted it (e.g., the concubu=inage in the OT, including Abraham, David, and Solomon). If He permitted it, it can't be intrinsically evil. Incest was permitted in the early days, for the sake of populating the earth. Now it isn't." Oh my God, Does Ed have to repeat everything he has said? Please go read everything he has written. permitting vs commanding distiction etc

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    10. murder is intrinsically evil and God permit it all the time...

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    11. I've read quite a bit of his stuff. He needs to read some of mine now. :-)

      Like I said, "Again, I'm still a rookie as a total anti-, so I would urge folks with all these questions to go to the scholars I link to in my first post on the topic."

      So I may not have perfectly presented some arguments; even botched some stuff. No biggie.

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    12. "I've read quite a bit of his stuff. He needs to read some of mine now. :-)"
      No, you havent, thats obvious for your comment. Take for example your claim that Genesis 9,6 is proverbial, so what? Have you read what he said if it were true Genesis 9,6 is proverbial? Maybe you are afraid of the Church making an error in this matter and you are preparing yourself to defend that error in future, what a shame sir

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    13. Yes I did. You can psychoanalyze and second-guess if you like. I'm not interested in that at all.

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    14. Dave Armstrong: I've read quite a bit of his stuff. He needs to read some of mine now. Like I said, "Again, I'm still a rookie as a total anti-

      No offense, but wouldn't it be more productive — not just for someone as busy as Dr. Feser, but for any of us — to spend the time reading someone who isn't a rookie on the topic?


      This is something about which I've been thinking in general. The Internet makes it as easy to talk with an expert professor as with some high-school schmuck, and it tempts us to treat it all as having the same worth. But, as with feeding trolls, we need to discipline ourselves to spend our time constructively. It's not possible to come up hard and fast rules, obviously, but it bears consideration.

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    15. Exactly. That's what I've been saying. I'm just answering questions that are being fired out at me here. I'm making no pretense to having all the answers on this topic; only doing as best as I can.

      Hopefully, all the questions will die out soon so I can get back to my regular work.

      In fact, I'll take this opportunity to end my participation here, for that very reason and others. If someone wants to interact with me, they can go to my Facebook or blog.

      Cheers and happy Advent to all.

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    16. Because in those days it wasn't as possible to protect society from evil men short of the death penalty, as has been made clear in the rationales provided by Pope St. Paul II for nearly total abolition of the death penalty.

      The key concern for me is the idea of intrinsic evil. I'm glad you don't believe that the death penalty is intrinsically evil. I just wish Fastiggi would clearly state that as well and not via personal email conversations with yourself. And preferably, publicly to Ed as well. Because then, as far as I can tell, the conversation would become far more reasonable.

      I like your interpretation of what Pope Francis meant by "contrary to the Gospel". If the pope could flesh out explicitly what he means by that term, it would be of great help. If your interpretation is correct, I think there are a great many things that are contrary to the gospel that the church will have to tolerate this side of judgement day, but that are not intrinsically evil.

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    17. Doesn't execution, especially relatively swift execution (i.e., not the decades people usually spend on death row in the US), actually make someone more likely to repent, in many cases? It brings someone face to face both with their lives and their mortality. It's fictional, but think of Barnadine in Measure for Measure.

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    18. Dave wrote:

      “Because it's contrary to charity to kill someone if we don't HAVE to for the sake of society. Justice is served by their incarceration, and mercy and charity are served by sparing their life and giving them time to ponder and repent.”

      Several errors here. The death Penalty’s primary purpose is to serve justice, not protect society. That is it’s secondary purpose. Now, we can debate when to use the death penalty for what type of crime, but to constantly argue as if protection of society is primary, is wrong. Secondly, giving a person a death sentence in the future still gives them time to repent because they now know what day they will die. If the death penalty was issued instantly, then I would argue against that for reasons of repentence.

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    19. Just one last thing before I go, because it is a crucial aspect of this debate:

      "I'm glad you don't believe that the death penalty is intrinsically evil. I just wish Fastiggi would clearly state that as well and not via personal email conversations with yourself. And preferably, publicly to Ed as well."

      He DID indeed do so underneath one of Dr. Feser's articles. He wrote:

      "Prof. Feser seems to assume that I have committed myself to the position that the death penalty is intrinsically immoral and it has been so throughout history. But I have never taken that position, and I agree with Feser that it’s not clear whether Pope Francis has himself taken that position in his Oct. 11, 2017 address. My position is more modest. I simply argue that there is no definitive, infallible teaching of the Church in favor of the legitimacy of capital punishment. I also argue that recent papal teachings of the death penalty merit religious assent on the part of the faithful even though they have not been set forth as definitive or infallible."

      http://www.catholicworldreport.com/2017/11/21/yes-traditional-church-teaching-on-capital-punishment-is-definitive/#comment-28308

      So, one last time, so everyone will "hear" and grasp it:

      DR. FASTIGGI DOES NOT CONTEND THAT CAPITAL PUNISHMENT IS INTRINSICALLY EVIL. NOR DOES POPE FRANCIS NOR DO I.

      The first thing necessary in order to grapple and/or refute an opposing position is to understand it and get it right.

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    20. Once you agree that the primary purpose of the death penalty is to serve serve justice and hence natural law, then there will be no more debate. Don't fall into to the personalism of certain 20th centuries theologians and pseudo-saints.

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    21. Hi Dave,

      I am happy to see that Fastiggi has clarified his position in the comment box for Ed's article on whether the death penalty is intrinsically evil.

      Having said that, he does state that it is not clear whether Pope Francis has not himself taken that position, as per the quote you provided.

      With regard to the topic of religious assent - Ed has laid down his case for different levels of assent required for various statements from the papacy. Do you have a similar schema to offer? I'd be interested in comparing your views to Ed's on this subject. Specifically with regard to past and current teachings on the death penalty.

      Last I heard, Jimmy Akin was working on a book regarding this topic as well.

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    22. Also, if the death penalty is not intrinsically evil then it is at least morally neutral. And if it is morally neutral, then it is not contrary to the Gospel. You can’t have this both ways. If the death penalty is not intrinsically evil, and it’s not morally neutral – then the only thing left is intrinsically good, which is certainly not contrary to the Gospel.

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    23. Armstrong sure is a novice. He seems to have not noticed the distinction between these: DR. FASTIGGI DOES NOT CONTEND THAT CAPITAL PUNISHMENT IS INTRINSICALLY EVIL.

      and his earlier comment:

      I agree (and so does Dr. Fastiggi) that it is not intrinsically immoral.

      Fastiggi has not said that, and more properly I don't think that characterizes his position.

      Fastiggi has NOT SAID whether he thinks it is intrinsically immoral. He has been cagier than that. He has indicated that he leans toward the position that it is not intrinsically immoral. But he has not definitively decided the issue for his own judgment, he remains aloof from a definitive position on whether it is intrinsically immoral.

      His central point is that THE CHURCH has not determined "definitively" that it is morally licit. The Church has certainly leant strong weight to the thesis, but not taught it in such a way that the teaching is certain and infallible (so he claims). Therefore, it remains something that could be reversed. That's what his claim is.

      Feser and Bessette argue otherwise, that the teaching is infallible through the ordinary magisterium. But for this present point, Armstrong is missing the distinction. Armstrong thinks that the DP is indeed morally licit, but we should not USE it, because using it is against the Gospel. This is NOT the same thing that Fastiggi is saying, Fastiggi does not take a position on whether the DP is morally licit. If he thinks that it is morally licit, he seems to hold that only as a probable position, not a definitive holding.

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    24. "Prof. Feser seems to assume that I have committed myself to the position that the death penalty is intrinsically immoral and it has been so throughout history. But I have never taken that position, and I agree with Feser that it’s not clear whether Pope Francis has himself taken that position in his Oct. 11, 2017 address. My position is more modest. I simply argue that there is no definitive, infallible teaching of the Church in favor of the legitimacy of capital punishment. I also argue that recent papal teachings of the death penalty merit religious assent on the part of the faithful even though they have not been set forth as definitive or infallible."

      http://www.catholicworldreport.com/2017/11/21/yes-traditional-church-teaching-on-capital-punishment-is-definitive/#comment-28308

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    25. Also, in correspondence with me, that he gave permission to publish on my blog (which I did, in the piece on Genesis 9:6), he wrote:

      "I think so many people think that if you don't hold that capital punishment is intrinsically evil then any arguments against it are simply "prudential." This does not follow as I tried to explain in my comment to Feser's article:

      http://www.catholicworldreport.com/2017/11/28/hot-air-versus-capital-punishment-a-reply-to-paul-griffiths-and-david-bentley-hart/

      "In my one comment (below) I explain that I have never argued that capital punishment is intrinsically evil. I think, though, it's acceptable for Catholics to argue that position. Fr. Ginno Concetti OFM argued for that position in an article published in the Jan. 23, 1977 issue of L'Osservatore Romano. According to Feser, Concetti's position is heretical. This would mean that the Holy See gave permission for a heretical article to be published in L'OR."

      [the quotation I provided above, in my previous comment, from underneath one of Feser's CWR articles]

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    26. Trying to leave this discussion, but people keep asking me questions! :-)

      "Ed has laid down his case for different levels of assent required for various statements from the papacy. Do you have a similar schema to offer? "

      This is a paper of mine from 1999, where I quote a lot of people (a lot of Fr. William Most). It's on Internet Archive; allow time t upload:

      "Vatican II: Is it Orthodox and Binding? / The Infallibility and Sublime Authority of Conciliar and Papal Decrees / Different Levels of Church Authority" [7-30-99]

      https://web.archive.org/web/20150907221433/http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/01/vatican-ii-is-it-orthodox-binding.html

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    27. Also I asked Dr. Fastiggi in a letter (we are good friends "in real life"):

      "If I misrepresent you in any way, please correct me. They keep saying you believe capital punishment is intrinsically evil (one guy today charged you with public equivocation on that score), and I keep saying that neither you nor I believe that; nor do we believe it will likely be promulgated as such. But I've also noted, as you did, that it could theoretically happen, since past teaching was not infallible."

      He replied:

      "I think you've been fair to my position."

      Then he restated his position again and provided the link to where he said the same thing: both of which I posted above.

      People may (amazingly) continue to pretend that he believes otherwise. I think it's rather silly; amounting at a certain point to accusing him of outright lying and misrepresenting his own position.

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  7. Hi Ed,

    As always with me, I meant debate in a purely informal sense. I've never done a formal debate per se. So all I meant was that I was gonna write about a few Bible passages that have been brought up. I said that to you more than once on my blog.

    I *assumed* (perhaps erroneously) that you would reply because you've been replying to everyone who has done a critique of your articles and/or book. And I also felt that you were goading me a bit to enter more into this dispute, with your comments on my blog such as "unless you *are* willing to address what both sides have said, you really have no business claiming that the critics are right and Joe Bessette and I are wrong."

    I took that as an indirect challenge. If I read more, then I was gonna respond (with my long debating history: in the informal sense), and if I did that, I assumed you would counter-respond, which you seem to do with every challenger.

    My apologies for any misunderstanding. That was my fault. I did write a paper today devoted to Genesis 9:6, and including some of our exchanges in my combox also. It'll be posted tomorrow morning, around 10-11 EST.

    If Hart insulted you, of course I condemn that as well. That stuff wrecks constructive discourse. And of course, two wrongs don't make a right. I don't think Dr. Fastiggi insulted you, and you still implied that he was a dishonest scholar, right in your title, and called his exegesis "perverse." This is wrong. He's my longtime friend. I know of HIS character firsthand. I was actually a bit shocked to see you use this sort of pointed rhetoric, because I admired it when you refrained from it in your dealings with Mark Shea, who is notorious for that.

    Tomorrow I'll do a second paper regarding Romans 13:4. Whether you feel it is worth your time to interact with is, of course up to you. I've apologized for any misunderstanding caused; hopefully clearing that up.

    God bless,

    Dave

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    1. Good job for stopping by and sorting it out

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    2. Hear hear! What Callum said.....

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    3. Ed's point was that calling Dr. Hart's "so rhetorically over-the-top and dishonest that the effect is more comical than offensive” was a descriptive an just characterization of his work.

      Calling this a mere insult is unjust as Dr. Feser substantiates his characterization. A piece which insults the personal morals of Dr. Feser based on misreadings and such novel theology can be justly characterized as having done so.

      In Denzinger, Pope Innocent III including the following in one of his documents: "Almaricus, whose mind the father of lies has so blinded that his doctrine must be considered not so heretical as insane".

      I wouldn't want to be unjust towards you, so if you have justification for claiming its a mere insult and unjust I welcome your argument.

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    4. I already granted that above. But neither you nor Dr. Feser, nor anyone else has proven that Dr. Fastiggi was personally insulting or dishonest. He simply honestly holds a different opinion.

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    5. I'm not sure what you granted: you just said that Dr. Hart shouldn't be insulting you did not acknowledge that this is all that Dr. Feser was saying with the original quotation you pulled.

      I just reread Dr. Feser's response to Fastiggi again to make sure I wasn't hallucinating but I couldn't find any evidence of insults to Fastiggi. The title of that piece is "Yes, traditional Church teaching on capital punishment is definitive". Neither the word "dishonest" nor "insult" appear in the piece. "Peverse" is an accurate way of describing any exegesis that butchers the piece. Fastiggi tries to argue that BXVI says Gen 9:6 God forbids executions (which is would mean to say that the Noahide laws did not have capital punishment--find me any historian that holds that position). He argues this from the English translation but the German translation (BXVI native tongue) it's:
      "Er verbietet den Mord, sogar den des Mörders" hence "murder"="Mord" is being used as opposed to "killing"="Töten" (the Italian version also works the same way--I haven't checked the other languages). In formal written English one wouldn't refer to executions as "killing" either. Particularly in light of Ratzinger's mention of the licitness of the death penalty potentially in some cases, the particular interpretation given is perverse since if God had actually condemned the death penalty as divine law it would mean that it has always been contrary to the divine law and would mean that the Waldensians were orthodox and Innocent III the heretic. Indeed, Innocent III would have promulgated a heretical document. That is the perverse implication of Fastiggi's questionable interpretation of BXVI sentence (also not sure why he went to the French which I don't think was the original language the exhortation was written in)--Council of Nicaea II calls it perverse to discard any of the legitimate traditions of the Church. If God condemned the death penalty to Noah then we must necessarily conclude that the Mosaic law contravenes the divine law: a perverse implication indeed. Dr. Feser's argument is sufficient, though: no theologian pre-20th century interpreted Gen. 9:6 as condemning capital punishment. Even the heretical Tertullian in claiming the death penalty is evil describes it as "[a] sword, which the Lord has taken away" since it was licit in the Old Testament.

      Instead of addressing the substance of Dr. Feser's argument, the use of the word "peverse" is critiqued. Does this critique of Dr. Feser's language also extend to the Council of Fathers of Nicaea II, Innocent III, Pius IX, Vatican I, Leo XIII, Pius XII? I believe that doing so would be manifestly perverse.

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    6. The name of the insulting article was, "Catholic theologians must set an example of intellectual honesty: A reply to Prof. Robert Fastiggi"

      http://www.catholicworldreport.com/2017/10/30/catholic-theologians-must-set-an-example-of-intellectual-honesty-a-reply-to-prof-robert-fastiggi/

      Then he goes on to argue that Dr. Fastiggi is asserting intrinsic immorality, which he is not, as I have clarified over and over, with quotations and his direct answers to my queries.

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    7. I *honestly* had not seen that article but was referring to a different Feser to Fastiggi article (http://www.catholicworldreport.com/2017/11/21/yes-traditional-church-teaching-on-capital-punishment-is-definitive/)

      A reminder on honesty in debate etiquette I think is warranted given the article that you cited: http://www.catholicworldreport.com/2017/10/24/capital-punishment-and-the-papal-magisterium-a-response-to-dr-edward-feser/

      The article conspiculously implies that Dr. Feser does not address certain examples Dr. Fastiggi thinks are important because Dr. Feser knows his own arguments to be week:

      "These two citations, however, argue against Feser’s position on the conclusive scriptural evidence in favor of capital punishment’s legitimacy. Perhaps this is why he ignores them."

      At the same time Dr. Fastiggi does not address the most important of Dr. Feser's arguments with respect to what Pope's have taught (Innocent I, Innocent III, Pius XII pro-death penalty teaching are ignored). Also his explanation of BXVI is quite weak (as I showed above) and would need a much stronger argument to have force.

      If the above characterization is true (it appears as much based on my reading), and Fastiggi is aware of what he's doing, then at least a gentle reminder about debate etiquette is justified and not insulting.

      Dr. Feser never states that Dr. Fastiggi is asserting intrinsic immorality. "intrinsic" appears three times in that article and each time Dr. Feser is discussing the claim by Dr. Fastiggi that Pope Francis is potentially teaching its "intrinsically immoral". There is no sentence in the cited article where Dr. Feser says Dr. Fastiggi himself is arguing its intrinsically immoral. Dr. Feser and Dr. Fastiggi both agree on that point. Dr. Feser in the article does not manifest much interest in Dr. Fastiggi's personal opinions on whether the death penalty is intrinsically immoral but on the objective question of whether it has been taught or not.

      As this is a subtle issue I don't think people are necessarily being dishonest when they characterize Dr. Feser as saying Dr. Fastiggi teaches the death penalty is instrinsically evil, but continuing to say so is an error.

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    8. "There is no sentence in the cited article where Dr. Feser says Dr. Fastiggi himself is arguing its intrinsically immoral. Dr. Feser and Dr. Fastiggi both agree on that point."

      That's fascinating, since Tony and others here have been vigorously arguing just the opposite: that Dr. Fastiggi is saying it is intrinsically immoral, and I've been saying it's untrue, over and over.

      We (in this combox) have VASTLY different perceptions of the same exchanges. We can't all be right. Someone is mistaken, by the laws of logic.

      Delete
    9. What Tony and others are doing is irrelevant to a discussion of what Dr. Feser did (which is all that I'm discussing). Pax.

      Delete
    10. Be that as it may, it's still fascinating that people come to polar opposite conclusions about the same material.

      Delete
  8. Note also some of my quoted words above: "I hope Dr. Feser refrains from them ***IF*** he debates me."

    This shows that I was not assuming that the "debate" (again in my informal sense) would certainly occur -- I didn't use the word "when" --, but rather, that it *probably* would, due to your vigorous responses to so many who have been critical of your opinion.

    Granted, they are all scholars like yourself, so I was probably assuming a bit much. Whatever. My two critiques will be up by tomorrow night.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dr Feser and I have agreed to debate whether Crossfit is a real sport or not (it isn't). I hope it will be a vigorous and fruitful debate. Nobody should miss it!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Replies
    1. I think Crossfit won.

      It was a close call though.

      Delete
    2. Who is this Crossfit fellow? Is he an analytical philosopher?

      Delete
  11. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what Mr. Armstrong thinks about any issue since he and all Catholics are completely and utterly LOST due to embracing a false gospel. Boniface VIII taught that "it is altogether necessary for salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff". THAT, my dear people, is a false gospel, and Jesus Christ no more inspired Boniface to say that than there is a man in the moon. Paul threw a fit in the book of Galatians when the Judaizers thought to add even ONE thing to the gospel. But Catholicism has added FAR MORE requirements, and thus the entire system and its people, will suffer the wrath of God on that final day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 2000 years of Tradition
      vs.
      One shitpost

      Who will win?

      Delete
    2. Fortunately the Catholic Church was around to collect Paul's Epistles, and the Gospels, into a codified and approved book, distinguishing them from the many other versions of Christ circulating in written form. Otherwise Unknown would be unable to inform us of the nature of the fits Paul threw.

      Delete
    3. Miguel...you speak like the typical foul-mouthed, unsaved Catholic we have all come to despise, not to mention the perversion of your priesthood, which we also despise, and which has played out on the 6:00 news for the last 20 years, to the end that every Catholic church website has a hotline number for suspected perverts! Jesus Christ no more founded the RCC than there is a man in the moon. Furthermore, for the last 2,000 years, all true Christians have been reading their Bibles and have never once come across the office of a sacerdotal priesthood...let alone a papacy...so we are quite confident Catholicism is counterfeit Christianity. Boniface VIII, as previously mentioned, only confirms the lunacy and madness of putting your trust in a man in Italy FOR salvation. You are welcome to believe that miserable doctrine to your eternal doom I'm afraid. Oh...and by the way.... kindly do spare me the garbage about your traditions, which you dare to put on the same level as Holy Writ, but in fact, could not identify in all their fullness if your life depended on it. So if you can't actually identify your traditions, and can't identify how many times the Pope has spoken ex-cathedra and how many times the RCC has officially defined Scripture, then all talk about having the "fullness" of the faith is nothing but jabberwocky.

      Delete
    4. 2000 years of Tradition
      vs
      2 shitposts

      Who will win?

      Delete
    5. Maybe I'm just forgetful, but did Unknown always come off as this cracked? Maybe I'm confusing him(?) with Untenured, who always seemed reasonable.

      Delete
    6. Please don't confuse me with this yahoo.

      Delete
    7. Hi Unknown! Sorry for the late response... I came across a good resource that you might be interested to take a look into.

      Regarding the priesthood:
      http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2015/12/fulton-sheens-biblical-account-of-the-catholic-church-as-christs-mystical-body/

      Regarding the papacy:
      http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2012/08/papacy-roundup/

      God bless you.

      Delete
  12. Since Dr. Feser strongly urged me to add six more links to his papers from mine, making it a total of sixteen. I'm sure he won't mind me posting links to my two papers today, regarding Genesis 9:6 and Romans 13:4:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2017/12/genesis-96-capital-punishment-contra-ed-feser.html

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2017/12/romans-134-capital-punishment-contra-ed-feser.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll stop by later tonight to wow you with my own response and thoughts.

      Cheers man.

      Alba Gu Brath!

      Delete
    2. Except we are not interested, so save your breath. If you call me a troll when I gave MY thoughts, where do you get off by not being classified as a troll by YOURS? Methinks you are a hypicrite.

      Delete
    3. Hi Unknown! The guy is sincerely trying to engage with ideas; please try to comment better in the future, as your previous remark was quite unnecessary.

      (And, I presume, so were remarks made by others about you in that other page you mentioned. But I hope you'd let it pass, rather than pass it on...)

      Delete
  13. Why resent being compared to Torquemada? Wasn't Torquemada a good Catholic?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is an irrelevant question; the label was not intended as a compliment.

      Delete
    2. Torquemada did nothing wrong.

      Delete
  14. Just one thought. Here is how Armstrong characterizes Fastiggi's thought:

    It does matter if teaching was definitive, magisterial, infallible or not. He says it wasn’t on this topic.

    But we laid this issue out earlier: "definitive" can be taken in more than one way, and more than likely the equivocation is here doing the work for saying that the Church has not "definitively, magisterially, infallibly" declared that the DP is morally licit.

    The problem is looking for "definitive" in the wrong sense. There is this sense:

    we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus

    That is, a specific ACT declaring a defined thesis - by someone with the authority to so define. This is one way you get an infallible teaching.

    But there is another way you get an infallible teaching, which is that of the "ordinary magisterium". The process there is different specifically in this way: There is no one, specific, declarative, defining moment that intantiates that the teaching is authoritatively and infallibly taught. The teaching is infallibly taught, rather, in the inchoate but entirely real sense that it has been taught consistently by the Apostles, the Fathers, the Doctors, the theologians, and the bishops in the past (not, though, all in exactly the same degree or way). The teaching does not take on its infallible character with any one or even several of these sources, it is the consistency across the whole body that does it. Hence, you DON'T don't find any ONE of these people saying things like "I hereby define that Mary was assumed into heaven", they aren't doing that kind of action. They are faithfully handing on the faith that they received from the past, and (if a bishop) doing so with the authority Christ gave to bishops, but a mere bishop does not have the authority to DEFINE for the whole Church.

    So those teachings that are infallible through the ordinary magisterial teaching of the Church don't have "definitions" for them, they just have constant "teachings" by all those men. If you are demanding that there be some explicit definition, i.e. some single act whereby someone with authority said "I define...", you are looking for the wrong kind of evidence.

    Feser and Bessette have made an argument that the teaching is infallible by the ordinary magisterial teaching of the Church. You have to take on THAT claim, not attack the position that there has never been any "definition" of the position by the Church.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the lesson in Ecclesiology 0101. I was writing about this stuff at least as far back as 1999, as can be seen by the link to a paper of mine in another sub-thread in this combox.

      Delete
    2. Which responds to the point not at all.

      Either Fastiggi bothers to actually address Feser's point, or he doesn't. Either Fastiggi makes an actual argument that all of the mass of Apostles, Fathers, Doctors, and theologians common consent from ages past is not adequate to comprise the body of a teaching that is infallible by the ordinary magisterium, or he does not. If he does, show us where. if he does not, then he fails to address the issue.

      Delete
    3. And, by the way, we saw that Jimmy Akin, who has also been doing this stuff for a long time clearly failing on this distinction about "definitive", where he quite obviously failed to distinguish between definitive pronouncements and the ordinary teachings which, en masse, are infallible. So it's not an automatic that just because you've been doing some of this for a while means you didn't mis-place a distinction or two.

      Delete
    4. "just because you've been doing some of this for a while means you didn't mis-place a distinction or two."

      That was not your initial claim, which was far more sweeping: implying that I'm so ignorant that I don't even grasp that there is such a thing as the ordinary magisterium. So I replied with the info. that I was writing about that in 1999.

      Dr. Fastiggi, as a professor, doesn't have unlimited time to take on topics in magazines unrelated to his primary work as a theologian. He's done a significant amount on this topic (as much as time enables him to do). I'm sure he'd' agree that it is not exhaustive. He obviously hasn't treated it at book length like Dr. Feser has. His book projects are things like being one of the translators and editors of the latest Denzinger, and of the upcoming revision of Ludwig Ott's "Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma."

      He lays out his case in two articles, and further, in various additional comments underneath his articles or Dr. Feser's:

      http://www.catholicworldreport.com/2017/10/24/capital-punishment-and-the-papal-magisterium-a-response-to-dr-edward-feser/

      http://www.catholicworldreport.com/2017/11/10/is-there-really-a-definitive-teaching-of-the-church-on-capital-punishment/

      Delete
    5. Who are you, anyway ("Tony")? Are you, too, scared to reveal your true identity? Would the sky fall down if you did? What are your academic and/or published credentials? You talk a big game. I wanna know who you are and what you've done, in terms of Catholic writing or ministry, etc. You call me a "novice." I certainly have plenty of credentials in the world of Catholic writing, publishing, and apologetics.

      Delete
    6. I’m not understanding why you are reacting that way, Dave. Tony’s statement and question are a legitimate response to those who make the argument that the church has not taught, as a matter of dogma, that DP is morally licit. It’s pretty clear historically that the Church has taught this via the ordinary magesterium, as well as, used Scripture as evidence for it as well.

      Asking about his “credentials” seems pointless in terms of the argument.

      Delete
    7. I fully agree that it has nothing to do with the *argument.* Neither does classifying me as a "novice" and making out that I've never heard of the ordinary magisterium. If he wants to fire those shots, I've fired a few back at him.

      But my questions (unlike his) are perfectly relevant: if one is gonna talk with an air of authority about fine classifications of Catholic dogma, it's quite fair and sensible to ask what credentials they have to do so. Tony may be a professor or otherwise have the knowledge to do so. I just wanna know who he is. I detest Internet anonymity; always have.

      Dr. Fastiggi has those credentials. He's a full professor of systematic theology and editor and translator of Denzinger and the revised Ott (upcoming). If that's not qualified to make statements about what has been taught in the ordinary magisterium and what hasn't, I don't know what is. It doesn;t mean that HE is infallible; only that he knows what he is talking about and renders informed opinions (agree or no). The very least he is owed is having his opinions understood properly and not distorted and twisted, as we have seen in this combox.

      I don't claim to be an authority on every jot and tittle of what is magisterial not. I simply noted that I am quite aware of this thing called "ordinary mnagisterium": as indicated by a lengthy post of mine about it from 1999, when Bill Clinton was still President.

      Delete
    8. Dave: This is my argument 1,2,3,4 scholar,s quotes and I agree with them, therefore Genesis... What the heaven is Dave,s proposition? He agree DP is not intrinsically evil, soooo? He is very unclear as Dr. Fastiggi is

      Delete
    9. Ok... so since you are aware of the ordinary magisterium, how would contend with the claim (and the support presented for that claim), of Feser's et al that the allowance of capital punishment as retribution is part of the Church's ordinary magisterial teaching? Let's get back on topic here.

      Delete
    10. Hi Mary,

      I haven't attempted to make that particular case, as it is very complicated; and I wouldn't feel qualified to do so, anyway. I think it is the area of canon lawyers, bishops, theologians, and Church historians (none of which I am). Dr. Fastiggi has made a case, in two articles (as much as is possible to do so in that limited space).

      I made it very clear in my paper on Genesis 9:6 that I was concentrating only on exegetical considerations regarding Genesis 9:6; and in a second paper the same as concerns Romans 13:4.

      What I did was simply cite folks who *are* exegetes or otherwise Bible scholars.

      Delete
    11. Jaime,

      I don't engage in one-sentence Twitter fluff like you obviously do. I have serious discussions, and that takes some ink. What I was arguing was clearly expressed in my three papers on the topic. All you had to do was read the one on Genesis 6:9, then you couldn't possibly make an asinine comment like this (mocking my alleged beliefs and approach). I stated very clearly in that paper:

      "I freely grant — as regards the present passage — that historic and current exegesis of Genesis 9:6 is indeed overwhelmingly in favor of a death penalty interpretation, as Dr. Feser observes. That’s not, of course, fatal to the anti-death penalty position, since there are other considerations of how Old Testament law applies in the new covenant, etc. In any event, my meager goal is to show that there is at least some serious thinking among biblical scholars that Genesis 9:6 is of a proverbial nature, which would undermine the “legal” case that Dr. Feser builds up from it."

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2017/12/genesis-96-capital-punishment-contra-ed-feser.html

      Delete
    12. Anti-DPers make the Old Testament seem seriously immoral with its support for death penalty. Of course the not all of the OT law applies in the new covenant, but ideally a catholic should want to take OT law as morally acceptable as possible. There is clear support for the death penalty in the Old Testament, as there SHOULD be. Quite frankly, we need to analyze this situation philosophically as well, and the case for ALWAYS suspending capital punishment when we can just imprison the offender is overtly ambitious and quite absurd to common morality. To say we can't condemn to death a man who brutally murdered a 100 children, for instance, and that we'd be giving a witness to the dignity of human life by sparing him (!!!) instead of giving him the harshest available punishment for such a horrifying crime, is, well, not a very plausible view -- I'll just put it like that. And I hope Catholics will stop abandoning the traditional and historical view, which is much more sensible and moderate. I'm grateful for Feser and Bessette's work, and the opposition it has generated -- sometimes vicious, like in DBH's case -- only shows how important it really is to defend the traditional catholic view of capital punishment, how much we as a culture are in need of that.

      Delete
    13. The "traditional and historical view" also included the various Inquisitions. Do you think they were "much more sensible and moderate" too? If so, Holy Mother Church disagrees with you, since it has long since abandoned the idea and process of Inquisitions, and explicitly espoused religious toleration and freedom on Vatican II.

      The Church learns things as she goes through history.

      Delete
    14. I am just stating that we should be careful when going against the traditional catholic position of the last 1950 years. Ideally we'd want as much consistency and continuity as possible, avoiding sharp ruptures whenever possible, so we ought to be more cautious with the modern revisionist view instead of the traditional view.

      Moreover, I don't think there's anything to "learn" about sparing a serial killer of children the just punishment for his actions. And I seriously don't think it bears witness to the dignity of human life, on the contrary I feel that a society that takes human life to be sacred would make sure to execute a monster who murdered a 100 children. I think the idea that we should ALWAYS refrain from capital punishment as long as we can imprison people is, again, not a very plausible one. I think the suggestion that we should not execute a serial killer as long as we can imprison him would be shocking, and not in a holy way, to most people. And I don't think it bears witness to the sanctity of human life. As Sacred Scripture says, "whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His own image".

      I can appreciate that some Catholics would want to go against the death penalty for some prudential and humanitarian reasons (so long as they don't hold DP is outright intrinsically immoral), but I have a hard time seeing any plausibility in the idea that we should ALWAYS, when provided with the option of imprisonment, choose not to condemn a criminal to death no matter how odious and grave his crime was.

      Delete
    15. Besides, mr. Armstrong, I find cause to worry in the fact that the same rhetoric pushing certain Catholic authorities to denounce the death penalty could also be used to denounce Just War theory. There seems to be a number of "new natural law" thinkers who believe killing should NEVER be justified, and set their aims against Just War theory as well. Radical pacifists trying to get the Magisterium to say that war is NEVER acceptable in any case, which is a nefarious and false position that, rather than seriously stop any unjust wars in the world, would only harm the Church's credibility and make it seem less like a serious moral guide than an idealistic and deluded institution incapable of accomodating the necessary good sense for dealing with the real world.

      I'm not accusing you or prof. Fastiggi of defending such views, merely stating that I think there's reason to worry about the radical anti-DP movement in the Church today.

      Delete
    16. And I don't intend these as "jabs" against you or prof. Fastiggi. I think you both do good work, and I'm glad you do what you do, and I'm glad you've clarified that you don't think capital punishment is intrinsically evil. I'm just expressing my view that I don't think we should ALWAYS refrain from exercising the death penalty if we can imprison the criminal instead, no matter how horrible his crime was. I don't think that's a very plausible view. And I find cause to worry in the fact that many radical anti-DPers are also setting their sights against Just War theory.

      Delete
    17. Dave, Thank you for your response. My thoughts on Genesis 9 are as follows. I think that it requires more than a naive restatement of the verse followed by a mental QED, so I'm in agreement that it's not a zinger for the pro-death penalty people. There isn't any sort of reference to the state like there is in Romans 13. Having said that, the context does indicate that God will require a sort of reckoning for taking one's life. He does so for taking both a man's life and for an animal's life, but in the latter, allows the killing for food, so long as you do not eat the blood (an indication that we should respect life in general). For the former, there is always a reckoning of sorts. So when we read "who ever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed", I don't think that we can read it apart from the discussion on the reckoning for taking an innocent life. At the very least, what we see is that whether or not we see an endorsement of the state, there is an affirmation that those who murder deserve death and that when one is executed for a murder he committed, it's God's way of carrying out his reckoning.

      Considerations of OT law vs NT law wouldn't really work here, since the Noatic covenant isn't OT law... it was universal in scope, and was commonly understood (by Jews and Christians alike) as a summary of principles of natural law. However, it's not like the creational covenant. There is a sort of "demotion" since the introduction of sin. I think the permission to eat animals is an evidence of this. So if capital punishment is being allowed by this verse (and I think there is some argument there), it's a sort of "compromise" allowance. At the very least, one shouldn't really like capital punishment any more than one likes war, for example.

      There is a lot more I can say on this, but I will leave it there for now.


      Delete
    18. So, Dave, you seem to have gotten your shorts in a knot because I called you a "novice" way up above. Sorry that it got you riled so much, but I do think your reaction was a bit odd.

      (And, by the way, Ya'kov, thanks for standing up for me, I love ya, man.)

      If you look up above, in this particular part of the thread, I did not call you a novice, when I noted the distinction about "defined" teaching. I made it in a DIFFERENT part, where I was noting something not about the theology, but about being clear on who said what, who stands behind which proposition. And so, no, I was NOT saying you don't know your theology, and in addition, no, I was NOT saying you don't even know there is such a thing as the "ordinary magisterium". But even granting that a person knows about the ordinary magisterium, he might simply forget to connect up separate facts, so that when we are talking about the teachings that are upheld by the ordinary magisterium, he might forget that we don't get get them in form that would be called a "definition". I am sure Jimmy Akin knows all about the ordinary magisterium, but he forgot to connect those dots. Others might. It's not that big a deal.

      And, by the way, I was not actually ASSERTING that you have forgotten the distinction, I was noting it as a distinction that Professor Fastiggi might be leaving by the way side, because it was HIS words that included "definitive": "that there is no definitive, infallible teaching..." I was concerned, primarily, whether it was Fastiggi who had made a mistake in insisting on "definitive" in that phrasing. You were merely quoting him, right?

      My basic point in correcting you, Dave, (farther up the chain) was that you are being a little sloppy. Just a little. You sloppily implied that Feser would be debating you. Good for you that you apologized and corrected that, fine work! You sloppily implied that when Fastiggi has said things in support of the thesis that the DP is morally licit, that he AFFIRMS (in a definite way) that the DP is morally licit, but he hasn't made that a *definite* position of his. He has made it in a more tentative way. In fact, his personal attitude toward the DP seems to be that he thinks that it is morally licit, but he holds that as a probable position - and something that could be changed; whereas he claims that the Church has never taught it infallibly. But I have yet to see an argument that clearly defeats the evidence brought forward by Feser & Bessette on that. The best one might say about those arguments (trying to show that Feser is wrong) is that they might shed doubt that some of the theological authorities upheld the licitness of DP. They are not clear defeaters, even at best.

      Dave, I love the fact that you have been doing apologetics for many years. Keep at it. Just be a little more careful, and less sloppy, OK? Thanks.

      Delete
    19. Oh, and by the way: credentials are pretty poor stuff at Feser's site. We have had professors of philosophy debate here, and they had crap for arguments, REALLY crappy stuff. Just ask Ya'kov. My colleague over at

      http://whatswrongwiththeworld.net/

      Lydia McGrew, just put up, over the last 2 months, several posts which definitively show how numerous Christian exegetes and biblical scholars have crap for arguments about the Bible. These are guys with Ph.Ds and university positions behind them, and they stink anyway. REALLY stink. Go look at how bad they are. Now, I am no professor. I just have a bit of solid undergirding, and have read a fair amount. Not nearly as much as some, more than others. But I can often identify a distinction that someone missed. Doesn't mean I am a great thinker. I am not as original as some. But harping on your credentials and Fastiggi's, here at this site, comes off as if you have little else to defend yourself with. I advise just staying away from that sort of thing over here, and just stick to the arguments. It works better with this crowd anyway.

      And thanks for the lively debate.

      Delete
    20. Thanks for the clarification. I like *this* Tony a lot better than the other one, whom I find a bit odd. This one is a lot more human and likable. You would do well to show forth this one more. Just my $00.02' worth.

      "You sloppily implied that when Fastiggi has said things in support of the thesis that the DP is morally licit, that he AFFIRMS (in a definite way) that the DP is morally licit, but he hasn't made that a *definite* position of his. He has made it in a more tentative way."

      Again, this is untrue, as I have pointed out over and over. I don't know what else he can say to make it clear to you. I quoted him replying publicly to Dr. Feser:

      "Prof. Feser seems to assume that I have committed myself to the position that the death penalty is intrinsically immoral and it has been so throughout history. But I have never taken that position, . . ."

      He reiterated this to me in private and gave me permission to share it: "I have never argued that capital punishment is intrinsically evil." That IS his position. He's not playing games. He's not being "jesuitical." He's not trying to fool anyone or engage in obscurantism or sophistry.

      What appears to be confusing many here about his position is a failure to distinguish between different senses (how ironic!) of what he is talking about, as regards the DP. He has talked about:

      1) His own personal opinion (the DP is not intrinsically immoral).

      2) What the Church has taught, or at least a lot of people in the Church; he says, not "definitively".

      3) What the Church is teaching now.

      4) What the Church might (actually and permissibly) teach in the future.

      Thus, he writes about his own opinion, but also puts on his systematic theologian hat and analyzes what it is possible to hold, what is not possible, and what may theoretically happen.

      I've been through all this in my paper on Genesis 9:6 where I quote him at length. Anyone here could interact with that if they so wish, but instead you want to wrangle with me: a guy who has had this opinion exactly four days.

      Fastiggi holds that the pope probably will not pronounce it as intrinsically evil, because he feels that that is a tension with existing doctrinal history (as I do). He believes in faith, therefore, that it won't in fact happen. And he doesn't want to see that happen. Nor do I.

      I think that if we're wise -- with the eyes of faith --, we will stop fretting and speculating about hypothetical future scenarios and concentrate on what the Church is teaching now. If you don't like Pope Francis, then deal with Pope St. John Paul II, who said virtually the same thing, just a little less strongly.

      If you want to critique someone who believes the DP is intrinsically immoral or evil, that's E. Christian Brugger, NOT Dr. Fastiggi. Hit the right target . . .

      If you can't figure that out about his position, you'll never understand it. I think that's why even Dr. Feser is befuddled by Dr. Fastiggi, because he appears to wrongly believe this about his position (as Dr. Fastiggi himself noted in his comments underneath Dr. Feser's article. That's why he also insinuates that he is a dishonest scholar, right in the title of his reply. He's not. Dr. Feser has deeply misunderstood this aspect of his opinion.

      You wrote a lot about big scholars making mistakes. This is one of them, right before your eyes. And I'm the non-scholar pointing it out. Even the beloved Dr. Feser can make a mistake and call a great theologian dishonest when he is not at all.

      Whoever persists in misrepresenting Dr. Fastiggi in this respect after I have now clarified it for about the eighth time, citing his own words, clearly does not WANT to understand his expressed opinion, and is stirring up additional controversy (not to mention disunity) unnecessarily. There is already quite enough disagreement here without introducing mythical stuff.

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    21. Can we trust Francis to refrain from declarations that don't conflict with established doctrine? Look at his recent endorsement of a heretical.interpeetation of Amoris Laetitia.

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    22. If you want to critique someone who believes the DP is intrinsically immoral or evil, that's E. Christian Brugger, NOT Dr. Fastiggi. Hit the right target . . .

      If you can't figure that out about his position, you'll never understand it. I think that's why even Dr. Feser is befuddled by Dr. Fastiggi,


      Dave, I am not "befuddled" by Dr. Fastiggi's position. I get it.

      You were glossing over a distinction I am making. So to clarify, let me lay out 4 possible positions on DP.

      1. The DP is morally licit in principle. Period. This position is held definitively: it IS morally licit, not "it may be" morally licit, or "it is probably morally licit", or "it is not clearly contrary to Christian teaching to hold it is morally licit in principle." The person who holds this position holds it with confidence. Most likely, he holds it with that confidence because it is knowable from the natural light of reason (i.e. from the natural law), and also because that conclusion from the natural light of reason is well supported in the Bible and Christian tradition about revelation. But the second is not inherently necessary for the confidence, any more than "do good and avoid evil" needs to be attested in the Bible in order to be held with confidence.

      2. The DP is, more likely than not, morally licit in principle. (Or various nearly equivalent alternatives: the DP is most probably morally licit in principle; or the DP is reasonably considered morally licit in principle.) The person who holds this position DOES NOT hold #1 above, because he does not hold the position without reservation. He holds it with reservation. So, although he may well argue in favor of the DP being morally licit, he is not asserting it in the manner of #1 above. The person who holds #2 probably does so because he is generally uncomfortable with strong claims about what is knowable from the natural light of reason, or based on the natural law. He may ALSO dispute whether the Christian tradition regarding revelation is clearly enough in support of the thesis that the DP is morally licit as to make it "certain", but this alone would not be enough for his reservation, because the Christian tradition about revelation says very little about a LOT of things that are part of the natural law. (It is, after all, not the primary purpose of the the Jewish and Christian revelation to spell out the natural law, since the natural light of reason can spell it out without revelation.)

      3. The DP is not not definitely morally licit in principle. That is, we don't know whether it is morally licit in principle. We don't know because we cannot know the natural moral law with sufficient certainty, and the Christian tradition on revelation is indeterminate on whether the DP is morally licit in principle.

      4. The DP is not morally licit in principle. We can be certain of this. We can know this from the New Natural Law, as well as from those passages from Scripture that tell us not to use it.

      My central point here is that the person who is in #2 who says “the DP is morally licit” does not intend to affirm just exactly what the person in #1 intends to affirm, for he intends to affirm it reservedly. So, although they may both say “the DP is morally licit” they are not ‘saying (quite) the same thing’.

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    23. I am pretty comfortable that Dr. Feser would place himself in #1.

      So far as I can see, nothing Dr. Fastiggi has said, either in the 2 articles you linked, nor in the green sections of your blog post, not one single sentence, reads like he would put himself in #1. Rather, every single comment he makes works well coming from a #2 position, and most of them work poorly or not at all as coming from #1.

      This is not saying Dr. Fastiggi is being "cagey" in the sense of being sly or underhanded or intentionally obfuscating.
      No, it is Dr. Fastiggi refusing to take a definite stand. That's what I meant by my expression. Sorry if that came out looking like he was being underhanded. My point is not that Dr. Fastiggi "does not support" or "does not argue in favor of" the DP, it is that he does not do so definitively, he does so with reservation. He does not take a definitive stand in favor of DP. The stand he takes is a qualified one.

      Now, not taking a definitive stand is perfectly legitimate when there is insufficient evidence to take such a stand. That's actually one of the intellectual virtues (one sadly neglected by the uninformed): not saying "I know..." when you don't have the grounds for it. But when the evidence is sufficient for a definite stand, not taking a stand is no longer an act of the intellectual virtue, it is defective. Those who hold that the natural law is clear and certain on this matter (i.e. who put themselves in #1) naturally HAVE concluded that there is sufficient evidence for certainty, for drawing a definitive rather than a probable conclusion. And so, often enough they naturally find something lacking in those who refuse to make that stand definitively, when the needed information is present.

      This is why some of them object to Fastiggi's presentation of the thesis. I, however, do not bother myself with such an objection. If he wants reserve judgment, let him.

      On the other point: It is logically possible for the DP to be morally licit in principle, AND STILL for the DP to be prohibited for Christians by the Gospel - the Gospel could have contained such instruction. Christ might have said: “while it is morally licit in principle to use the DP, I tell you that you must not use it." He might have had OTHER reasons in mind. If it were true that it is morally licit in principle but that the Gospel tells us Christians not to use DP (ever, under any circumstances), then we would have the odd situation that those who argue position #1 above would be RIGHT, but that correctness would be irrelevant with regard to present obligatory practice.

      But getting "but Christ said not to use DP ever, under any circumstances" out of the Gospel given the correctness of #1 is NOT a trivial exercise. David Bentley Hart seemed (more or less) to be willing to allow such a situation, but his argument for "Christ said not to" (in his articles against Feser) - if you could call it an argument - was pitiful. The pope's comments are clearly more in the nature of merely a summary of pointing in a general direction of such a thesis, not a developed, point by point argument for it. I have yet to see an argument for it that passes the laugh test, frankly. Which doesn’t prove that there isn’t one, but I would have hoped that those who intend to push the position would also intend to argue it reasonably. Not all hopes come true.

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  15. The issue here is very simple. Punishment is defined not as a merely a protection from someone who may commit a crime in the future. The modern age does not change this fact. Punishment is primarily for the injustice of a past crime to restore the moral order and to exact a form of justice on the criminal in reparation. If possible, it is to rehabilitate, and the punishment should also deter future crime if carried out in proper proportionality. Since capital punishment has always been a legitimate form of punishment according to the Catholic Church no modern progress in culture can alter this fact. The punishment, no matter how much our prison system has advanced can change the fact that someone who rapes and kills 13 women merits the highest penalty. Thus, the state can if it deems so, carry this punishment out and it does not go against charity or the gospel of Jesus Christ. In making this claim what these people do not realize is they are redefining the very nature of punishment, making it merely a tool to keep the heinous criminal from acting out again. Why can't they see this? It is because they have no idea what justice and mercy are. Punishment first looks back to the crime committed. It is retributive in nature and no one on God's green earth can change this fact, let alone thinking that time and technological progress can change it. Sorry, this truly shows how bad most modern Catholic thinking is these days.

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    Replies
    1. Matthew Bellisario,

      Punishment […] is retributive in nature and no one on God's green earth can change this fact

      Right, punishment is indeed retributive. And God incarnate explicitly and clearly speaks against it in the Mount Sermon when He explained that “an eye for an eye” is not the final word and is not the way to become as perfect as the Father in heaven.

      Perhaps part of the confusion is this: No-one perfectly obeys the Mount Sermon. Is disobeying the Mount Sermon “intrinsically evil”? As a practical matter it is not, so for example it makes no sense to say “That person did not turn the other cheek, so she is intrinsically evil”. It’s absurd to characterize everything that is not perfect is intrinsically evil. There is a continuum between imperfection and perfection. Christ is the ideal, the very embodiment of perfection.

      God’s self-revelation is an ongoing process both in history and in an individual’s life. And the Christian church slowly and arduously is to grow in perfection too. On that path towards perfection the teaching and practice of the church evolves towards the perfection that is Christ. In that path it is certain that the church will teach against capital punishment. Why? Because that is the kind punishment that most gravely contradicts Christ in the Mount Sermon. If anything I criticize the church for being too slow.

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    2. Jesus never says anything about outlawing punishment. The sermon on the mount says no such thing. How about reading Scripture in context?

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    3. Here we may observe an interesting mixture of anti Christian thinking masking itself as Christian, mainly the hegelian, the chardinian and the tolstoyan. The sermon on the mount as contrary to the Old Testament, the rest of the New Testament and to the continuity of Christian teaching and thinking as well as the revelation as an ongoing process which hasn't really ended with the ascent of Christ to Haven, but is a historical ongoing process that often involves self contradiction.
      This post is a perfect summary of all the modernist heresies Pius X. was thinking of when he instituted the anti modernist oath.

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    4. These are probably a little rude your your taste, Dianelos, but Matthew Bellisario is right, and you need that context badly.
      Here are two videos by James Patrick Holding on the Olivet Discourse.
      Be A Moron Unto Others
      Resist Not the Morons
      I'll admit that I have a few disagreements with him on other issues, but he seems spot on here.

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    5. Ivan Knezović,

      The sermon on the mount as contrary to the Old Testament [..]

      I would say that when Christ repeatedly says “It is written that A but I tell you B” it is at least fair to say that Christ’s ethics supersedes that of the Old Testament, and in that sense contradicts it. I mean isn’t that natural? Don’t we Christians believe that the OT was in preparation for Christ and that Christ brought us the *new* covenant?

      [..] the rest of the New Testament and to the continuity of Christian teaching and thinking [..]

      But there is continuous Christian teaching and thinking. I mean haven’t you noticed? :-) It’s called Christian theology. Through the millennia it has advanced by leaps and bounds with splendid results both in the theory and the praxis of the Christian life. And continues to do so. Our church is nothing but alive.

      [..] as well as the revelation as an ongoing process which hasn't really ended with the ascent of Christ to Haven [..]

      Christ’s bodily presence did end with His ascent, but the idea that thereby God’s revelation also ended makes no sense. Consider the dogma of the Trinity – an amazingly important theistic insight – which was developed centuries later. Surely it’s not like God did not guide the church into that insight. Or consider the writing of the gospels which too was written many years after the ascent.

      Some respond that the dogma of the Trinity was based on the interpretation of scripture, but even then how was that interpretation guided towards the truth? I mean it’s not like it is easy to interpret scripture. And what about the writing of all of the New Testament in the first place?

      Now a possible answer here is that it was not God’s ongoing revelation that guided our theological understanding, but our natural sense of the divine. We are after all made in the image of God, so perhaps that image was sufficient guidance. Well, I say this view is incomplete. Why? Because a major part of the experience of the life in the church is that of the recurrent presence of Christ in our midst. Not an in-your-face dominating kind of presence (Christ incarnate’s presence wasn’t this way either), but still a remarkable presence, which is powerful and gentle at the same time. Both demanding and forgiving, both a giver of joy and a heavy burden. And being Trinitarians we also recognize the presence of the Spirit, not active as Christ’s but a continuous ever present spirit – the eternal smile in all things of creation. Not like Christ’s presence one hails as a friend, but one calling us to an embrace like a mother’s.

      The idea that we are just left behind with a text paints a really lonely picture of creation and makes great injustice to the Father’s loving care for us.

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    6. The idea that God’s revelation ended with the ascent of Christ sounds so wrong to me that I had to see what the CC catechism says about this. It says that Christ’s “public revelation” has ended until the Second Coming, which if of course true. It also says that in rare cases the Church accepts instances of private revelation to saints, but here the idea must be of some mystical experiences where Christ appears as a bodily presence. And indeed who can claim that within special providence God will never choose to give this kind of revelations? The Catechism also says that Christ is the fulfillment of Revelation (with capital R), and that in Christ the Revelation is complete. Which too makes sense: of course there is no revelation beyond or in addition to the Word of God, and there will be no new covenant. The claims of additional revelation on which some Christian-like sects are build and which contradict Christian tradition are also false. Actually this is an important issue: It’s not only the case of the more or less comical modern sects that claim to based on some special revelation. Even from the first centuries (perhaps as an influence of the Greek practice of the so-called Mysteries) the idea arose that deep knowledge is reserved for the most special people and given in secret. But there are no secrets in the way of God.

      All of that makes perfect sense. So from what the Catechism says it does not follow that God’s revelation (in the sense of the supernatural guidance for the deepening of spiritual understanding) has stopped. It is all for Christ, it is all by God, and it is also an ongoing and unending process until the realization of the Kingdom.

      I wondered how people might have misunderstood the idea. One bit in the Catechism that is confusing is this: “God has said everything in his Word”. I think there are two ways that statement can mislead the reader:

      First of all “Word” (with capital W) stands for Christ but some people may take it to mean the Bible and thus may understand that all that needs to be said is in the Bible. Luckily the scripture itself says that this is not so: So in John 16:12ff "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears". So, after the Christ’s ascent the revelation of truth would go on. And in the same way that the Spirit has not gone away when the last disciple died thus the Spirit’s work didn’t end either. Not to mention that Paul was not there when Jesus spoke that “you”, so it’s not like He was meaning only the people present.

      The second potential confusion concerns the tense of the verb which suggests that God has already said everything. This should be understood in context, namely in the sense that Revelation is complete and that there will be no new covenant. But taken in isolation the use of past sense is very misleading.

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    7. While I agree that in some sense guidance in the truth is an ongoing gift of the Spirit, nonetheless, I do believe public revelation ended at least with the death of the last Apostle. The Church speaks of the deposit of faith as something already had that it behooves the Church to communicate unchanged from generation to generation.

      Truth is of course a vary broad and expansive thing, so I would agree there is necessarily something on going about its determination and understanding; however, and at the same time, I always got the sense from the Church that Revelation is something more definite and as it were concrete that is only enlarged by logical development from what is already contained in it. Otherwise I think it's easy to see how you could easily get unlimited sects each claiming a revelation as their basis; still, historically, the bishops and the institutional Church and finally the Papacy has always had the final verdict on what is and is not part of the deposit of faith or compatible with Christian belief or practice/living.

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    8. @Dianelos
      º One shouldn't blithely assume that the Old Testament is being contradicted just because we find Christ saying "It is written A, but I tell you B," and you seem to be doing exactly that. On a "plain reading" (and we should of course be mindful about how to read the text) we find that in most or all of those cases, He is extending the passage, which is not to contradict it, even if we agree to say these passages "supersede" the Old Testament passages (and I think that term is misleading).
      º If you agree with me on that point, then it seems you should realize that what is at issue between us is whether Christ actually condemned all retributive punishment (at least implicitly), when He spoke about the maxim of "an eye for an eye." A number of reasons have been given for saying that He did not--that the passage is about personal disputes rather than public ones, that His point was to prevent abuses of the old maxim, that the early Christians always regarded capital punishment (and thus punishment in general) as morally licit in certain situations (even when they favored merciful treatment), and others. So far, it seems that all you have is a rather idiosyncratic interpretation of one passage.
      º We should also understand that appealing to how Christian theology has advanced over its long course carries no weight by itself, because an advance is not a willy-nilly change, but must be consistent with what has already been established. At this point, it seems that you're going against what has been soundly established in theology, and so are not looking for an advance, but a deterioration. (You may challenge that it is established, but since we're talking about Catholicism in particular, this is finally a matter of the Church's standards for establishing dogma and official teaching, such as ordinary magisterium and ex cathedra statements.) Saying the Church is alive does not grant this kind of attitude, any more than calling the Constitution alive gives jurists a right to go against its principles on a whim. Life is homeostatic, and you're moving away from the equilibrium.

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  16. Same-sex marriage legal in Australia! Woo-hoo!

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    1. Murder is legal in America! Woo-hoo!
      (as long as the person is not yet born).

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    2. Anon,
      A meaningless battle victory for the SJW cause. Just remember, you are bound to ultimately lose the WAR, because people who realize that sodomy destroys societies will eventually out-reproduce you.

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  17. This is OT, but relevant to the site: Has anyone figured out why Blogger is being such a pain lately? I'm wondering if Norton is partly to blame.

    And has anyone figured out a workaround?

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    Replies
    1. Not sure if this is what you mean, but from here I see the comment count in certain posts increasing all the time, but then, when I go check them out, there’s nothing new in there! This has been going on for quite some time now.

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    2. You need to click on "load more" down the page.

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    3. No, I don't mean the load more feature. But it's harder to post a comment; every time it makes me log in anew. Others have mentioned a problem, and even have posted comments which came out Anonymous, followed by a "that was me, X" comment.

      But this time I logged in to Norton vault before coming here, and it still happens. I used to just comment and my name was already set. Now I have to log into Google account each time. A pain.

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  18. I am a regular Reader of Dave Armstrong(& for all intensive purposes a partisan of Feser's view on CP contra my fellow Scotsmen and Allied Clansmen Dave Armstrong) and I pretty much concluded he meant he would be interacting with Prof Feser's arguments (i.e debating) & not having a formal public debate in some forum. Also he has been debating and having a dialog with me back and forth on the subject.

    But I can see how he might have been misinterpreted. I am glad he corrected his mistake but I vouch for him.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, buddy! The bottle of Scotch whisky is in the mail. Enjoy!

      Delete
    2. I'm just lurking on this thread, but I'm now having a fainting spell because Ya'kov used "for all intensive purposes." :-) :-)

      Ahhhhh! No!!!! Staaahhhhp! That's not a real phrase!!! It's "for all intents and purposes."

      Okay, sorry chaps, carry on. I just had to share what was on my heart.

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    3. Thanks. I miss individual people such as yourself but not Facebook itself. It's such a freeing thing being off. My only regret is that I left so quickly that there may be nice people out there who think I unfriended them.

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    4. There is something Diabolic about Facebook.

      In the course of a week I unfriended and blocked two people.

      It's evil.......

      Evil I say. I'll stick to Comboxes as is my want.

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    5. He won't say "wont" because he doesn't *want* to say "wont" (as is his wont).

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    6. He wants to say "want" instead of "wont", and we won't understand, but that's his wont, so . . .

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    7. hehe, that's terrible, Dave. Don't use up all your puns in one place. You know what they say: "waist not, wont not."

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    8. Many decades ago, William Safire told Dick Cavett "Never apologize for a pun. The worse they are, the better they are."

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    9. I have a friend with two daughters. He says being on Facebook (and other soc media) is essential in his position. Since I have no daughters, I don't bother.

      His presence did result in a great daddy line. One of his daughters posted online a selfie from a college party, just about this time of year. He commented: "I know what you're getting for Christmas. Clothes and a Bible." I think it was the same year, they came by on Christmas Eve, and I told the daughter her skirt was too short. He looked at me (we were college roommates) and said, "That's the first time I've ever heard you complain about that."

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  19. The death penalty as mercy:

    The Death Penalty: Mercy, Expiation, Redemption & Salvation
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-death-penalty-mercy-expiation.html

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    1. Tomislav, that there is mercy for the victim is what the link argues (along with other things.)

      I suspect another example of the underlying assumption that death is the greatest evil.

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    2. Perhaps I overlooked something in that article, but everything in that link is about how state execution prepares the murderer for salvation. Killing the murderer does nothing for him or her.

      I suspect another example of the underlying assumption that death is the greatest evil.

      Good is defined to be anything that God desires or anything that God causes. If God desires someone to die or if God causes someone to die, that action is automatically good. If some potential action X is such that X is not something that God desire and that X is not something that God has caused, is causing, or will cause, then X is evil.

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    3. "...everything in that link is about how state execution prepares the murderer for salvation."

      "Killing the murderer does nothing for him or her."

      I don't see how preparing someone for salvation is doing nothing for him. Quite the contrary, to my mind.

      Of course, one can debate whether it does, and if it makes repentance more or less likely, but that is another matter.

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    4. Nonono. I mean killing the murderer does nothing for the victim of the murder. That's my question: the post talks a lot about mercy for the murderer, but what about for the victim of the murder?

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    5. I'm not sure what your point is. At that point, any mercy for the victim is God's.

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    6. Tomislav

      The only way you may receive mercy is if you are guilty. Victim receive justice

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  20. My own take on this is that the Church should do her usual thing, and say, "OK, let's think about this. Come back in 200 years."

    The worst possible thing to do is jump into following the spirit of the age. That trick never works (and I used to be Episcopalian; I know.)

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    1. I don't know if that's necessarily "usual," Mr. LeSauvage. Historically the Church has often had to deal with issues as history has thrust or compelled, so to speak, those issues on her. You are right however that the Church isn't exactly a vending machine for truth and that the Spirit will reveal or establish the truth in His own time- but with matters obviously touching on faith and morals the Church is basically compelled to determine the truth with some haste as otherwise Christian unity in faith and charity can be imperilled.

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    2. Something to that. But the way I see it is that sometimes a "no" comes quickly; "yes" takes time.

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  21. Dr.Feser, I would advise posting some notice about the "Load more" feature, I am seeing ppl complaining about not being able to see comments and posting multiple comments on previous threads and also something seems to be wrong about blogger these days.

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  22. @Dave Armstrong
    Holy Mother Church disagrees with you, since it has long since abandoned the idea and process of Inquisitions
    Liberation theology.

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    1. Also, I am pretty sure the SSPX was and probably still is subjected to a doctrinal inquisition at least on certain matters though I am pretty sure they are considered more schismatic than heretical, though as the old maxim goes no schism can justify itself without resorting to some heresy.

      Pope Saint John Paul II, if memory serves me, didn't say for example that he thought capital punishment was necessarily wrong or immoral only that today it isn't necessary to secure the safety of the community in most cases.

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    2. Too often "Inquisition" is read as entailing thumbscrews and piles of faggots. It really just means "investigation", the results are variable. It could be "no problem", or it could lead to excommunication, or suspension from a pastoral or teaching position, or just a reprimand.

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    3. Exactly. Seeing as Catholic unity rests on unity of faith/belief, it would be supremely difficult to imagine how you could do away with "inquisitions" - or the need for doctrinal agreement or unity, at least on certain things considered fundamental or established.

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  23. Hmm. An OT discussion on the classical theism board has managed to make me think of something in regards to the DP issue. I posted there the following and since it touches on use of the sword (i.e. recourse to violence and even lethal force) I think it is relevant:

    The Lord never said to withdraw the sword of the Spirit and truth. The Apostles and bishops and arguably by extension particularly the Pope are always to wield the sword of the Spirit and truth to combat evil, as well as to establish and build up God's kingdom (dominion) on earth; the physical sword, however, is optional - and certainly and especially when Christians would think to use it necessarily its use is subject to the Lord's judgment. Historically for Roman Catholicism, though, Saint Peter's successor is basically thought to be the one authority who can discern when using the physical sword is legitimate in the Lord's sight: the Catechism does give criteria for its use, particularly where there is tyranny because we believe he is the vicar of Christ on earth.

    The context was the Lord's command that Saint Peter sheathe his sword (implying also that Saint Peter was and had been armed, though the Lord did not tell St. Peter not to carry a weapon at all - an important point I think for Christianity and issues pacifism).

    The point, however, is that if the Lord can command one to sheathe the sword he can also command one to use it or authorize its use; and as for Catholics the Pope is also Christ's vicar on earth, presumably for us he above all can legislate or regulate the use of the sword - i.e. recourse to violent force, obviously especially including death - but only qua the vicar of Christ, I would think.

    Link: http://classicaltheism.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?pid=8257#p8257

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  24. On important point that has not been addressed is that Francis' comments COULD be taken to reject what Saint JPII said about the DP.

    To be as brief as possible (and hopefully not TOO brief): JPII can be understood as representing this thesis: the DP is morally licit in principle, but in addition to being used only when it is proportionate, an additional constraint is demanded: that it be used only when public safety necessitates it.

    In his 2015 comments, we have:

    In certain circumstances, when hostilities are underway, a measured reaction is necessary in order to prevent the aggressor from causing harm, and the need to neutralize the aggressor may result in his elimination; it is a case of legitimate defence (cf. Evangelium Vitae, n. 55). In fact, when the death penalty is applied, people are killed not for current acts of aggression, but for offences committed in the past. Moreover, it is applied to people whose capacity to cause harm is not current, but has already been neutralized, and who are deprived of their freedom.

    He seems to be holding the position that killing a prisoner for public safety purposes cannot possibly be justified (even in principle) on the same basis as self-defense against an immediate attack. If the offender is under restraint, he is not an immediate threat, and therefore the same rationale cannot be applied. Therefore, what Francis is offering is a position that is not full on consistent with what JPII said. If there is "development" going on here, it is developing in away that rejects what JPII said about it.

    I made this same point in other places in these DP posts. If you give up killing the murder for retribution as a sufficient moral basis, it is not clear that "defense of public safety" adds enough to make it licit.

    To make the point clearer: Cardinal Ratzinger in 2004 confirmed what Cardinal Dulles had said about JPII's thesis in the Catechism and EV: the angle that the DP should rarely be used because it is "rare, or even non-existent" that the state needs to resort to it for public safety is a prudential judgment about WHEN to resort to using it. Francis seems to be saying no to that: there cannot be a "prudentially appropriate" use of the DP for the sake of public safety, because the prisoner is NEVER presenting immediate threat when he is being executed. The conditions are not "rare", such execution simply is not permitted "for public safety" at all, ever. Therefore, he is removing it from the realm of prudential matters about which reasonable people can dispute the particular cases.

    What Francis needs to address is, if BOTH retribution and public safety are insufficient to provide a morally acceptable basis for the use of the DP, how is self-defense in the midst of an attack by an aggressor a basis for using what may be lethal force? Christ told us to turn the other cheek. That directive does not seem to admit of being used for self-defense. It seems to say: no, let the aggressor kill you, or have his way in any manner he chooses. Do not even resist the aggressor, even with NON-lethal force.

    How can the use of lethal force in self-defense be consistent with the Gospel in the face of this?

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    1. I have enough faith to believe the Holy Ghost will prevent Francis from going overboard. I do not have so much faith as to expect anything resembling a clear and coherent statement. Were he to do so, I would take that as a genuine miracle.

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    2. Hi Tony,

      I will pass your comments on to Dr. Fastiggi. If he has time, I'm sure he'll make some comment on them. If not, he won't.

      "Christ might have said: 'while it is morally licit in principle to use the DP, I tell you that you must not use it.' "

      Wouldn't the situation with the woman caught in adultery be that? Jesus didn't say, "you mustn't kill anymore for adultery because it's always been wrong" or "the Law is now null and void" (He said the opposite about *that* in the Sermon on the Mount).

      He didn't deny its validity at all. What He did was take the principle far deeper, into the new covenant realm of the primacy of mercy and grace (the "weightier elements" of the Law): "He who is without sin, cast the first stone."

      What think ye?

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    3. >On important point that has not been addressed is that Francis' comments COULD be taken to reject what Saint JPII said about the DP.

      That sums up the problem with Pope Francis' statement on CP. Thanks Tony.


      Nobody is saying Pope Francis has definitively changed the moral status of Capital Punishment. But this words come close to claiming he sees it as intrinsically immoral in all cases which is a clear theological error.

      Bring up this concern is not disloyal or an "attack" on the Holy Father.

      Granted among many of the Holy Father's self appointed critics there are many extremists who go over board (like some clowns who claim he is a closet supporter of gay marriage or he denies the existence of Hell and other slanders I could refute in my sleep) this in turn might generate the opposite backlash of kneejerk defending everything Pope Francis says off the cuff.

      Balance, loyalty, charity and respect for your Spiritual Father must be present at all times.

      I believe Feser has done this with the Pope.

      Those who claim otherwise we are going to have a problem you and I......

      Cheers all.

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    4. In certain circumstances, when hostilities are underway, a measured reaction is necessary in order to prevent the aggressor from causing harm, and the need to neutralize the aggressor may result in his elimination; it is a case of legitimate defence (cf. Evangelium Vitae, n. 55).

      Dave, I think that the woman caught in adultery requires MUCH more depth of analysis. For one thing, people don't make nearly enough of the fact that THE LAW said to stone both the man and the woman, but the Pharisees who "caught her in the act" only brought the woman to Jesus. They were not even pretending to follow the Law. (So much for their being "teachers of the Law".)

      Secondly, the Law demanded that there be two witnesses, and that these two also be the ones to throw the first stone. Where were they? They were, more than anyone else, the ones responsible for "condemning to death" the offender, for they were the witnesses and the primary executioners.

      Jesus could not either convict the woman on his own testimony, or condemn her by throwing the first stone, according to the Law. That required the witnesses - who did not come forward.

      The circumstances - where "the teachers of the law and the Pharisees" brought her to Jesus - but without the man, and where these oh-so-devout men were defying the law - leads us to ask WHY were they cognizant of her adultery, but did not bring the man? Was it, perhaps, because she was a woman of loose morals, with whom many of them had been immoral? There is a tradition that when Jesus stooped to write in the dust, he was writing their guilt, possibly with the woman. If so, then Jesus' cryptic comment "let him who is without sin cast the first stone" takes on quite a different cast in respect of the Law: how could anyone guilty WITH THAT WOMAN of adultery be one who could cast the first stone, and not condemn themselves under the Law?

      Jesus final comment "Neither do I condemn you" also is straight from the Law: he was not the eye-witness needed for a condemnation, so according to the Law he could not condemn her.

      Nowhere does Jesus tell us that these actions constitute a GENERAL norm for treatment of ALL wrongdoing. If we took "let him who is without sin be the one to carry out the sentence" apply to ALL judgment and to ALL offenses, then he would have been throwing out ALL punishment by ALL humans, for we are all sinners. But nobody seems to think that's what he is saying. Yet his actions - without a specific statement from him as to how far his example applies - could be taken to mean that: his actions are ambiguous as to their general import, they could mean LOTS of things, they are not clearly determinate about just how far they mean. Maybe Christ meant them only to apply to that one woman - he never said "apply this to X, Y, and Z". None of his words positively create a norm of behavior: he doesn't say "nobody should condemn you", nor "everyone should do like I do here", nor "let it be seen that this is how we are to treat all wrongdoing" nor "adultery is no longer to be considered a sin and so it must not be punished" nor any other generality. He merely says "I do not condemn you".

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    5. It's typically Hebraic exaggeration / hyperbole, as often with Jesus, but to me the bottom-line point is what I have highlighted: He is going to the very roots of the deepest meanings of the law, as in Matthew 23:23-28, which I alluded to:

      "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. [24] You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! [25] "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. [26] You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean. [27] "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. [28] So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity." (RSV)

      This is what I see recent popes doing with regard to the death penalty. They are highlighting and making central the "weightier matters" of the Law: "justice and mercy and faith."

      The passage certainly seems (at least prima facie) more supportive of the anti-death penalty position than the pro-death penalty view, and it is so without denying that the death penalty is intrinsically immoral.

      That's why Romans 13:4 is important to exegete properly, since (I believe) it is the primary proof offered of the death penalty in the NT. A growing consensus of scholarly exegetes are now saying that it is not about capital punishment at all, but about taxation and a possible insurrection regarding same.

      That's what my third article was actually about, that no one wants to touch with a ten-foot pole (minus James Scott). If anyone's interested in that, please let me know. The cricket sounds get boring after a while.

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    6. Correction (3rd paragraph from the end):

      "without denying that the death penalty is intrinsically immoral."

      should be:

      "without ASSERTING that the death penalty is intrinsically immoral."

      An edit function would be nice.

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    7. The passage certainly seems (at least prima facie) more supportive of the anti-death penalty position than the pro-death penalty view, and it is so without denying that the death penalty is intrinsically immoral.

      It is if we think Jesus was trying to make a point about death specifically as punishment rather than about having the right motive to punish, which is from love, not hatred or envy or any other evil. If Jesus' point is "none of you sinners who want to punish out of sinful desires want what the purpose of Law is, you want your own purposes. Let him whose love of the Law shines out, who loves justice and mercy both, who loves rightly, let him do the punishing." If that's the point, then it doesn't directly speak to whether death is never to be used rather than "only when it is seen by the man of justice and mercy to serve the purposes of Law is death to be used."

      For, if the DP is morally licit in principle, it is entirely possible that there WILL be times when using it is more in tune with justice and mercy. The assumption that the example of the outcome for the adulterous woman (no application of the DP) APPLIES EVERYWHERE is difficult to justify without running into also assuming that the FULL outcome in her case (no punishment at all, not just relief from the DP) also applies everywhere. Which, for most people, is an unwanted result. Maybe, then, cases must be considered, because cases can arise where justice and mercy are BEST served by using the DP, while in other cases something else for punishment, and in other cases no punishment.

      Ultimately, it seems impossible to prove definitively that the adulterous woman stands for the proposition "Jesus intended us to accept from his treatment of her that we must never use the DP", precisely because Christ's actual exhibited behavior is capable of being rooted in more than one reason - and he declined to explain his treatment of her explicitly, as he did in some other situations.

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    8. But who is claiming the death penalty is being applied for the sake of public safety and not to justify a demand of justice in certain cases? Indeed, to be fair, there are any number of crimes that arguably deserve death as the rightful dessert of a crime: the logic isn't based on public safety. Now we certainly can apply a merciful view and in lieu of one punishment perhaps substitute another but this would not alter the reality that the just penalty for some things just is the death of the perpetrator.

      The public safety argument would, I believe, apply in cases to police officers who have no choice except to resort to lethal force exactly out of the need or demand for public safety or self-defence: there at least the public safety factor certainly can play a role. But I don't think anyone believes people on death row are facing the DP to satisfy a need for public safety or have said that public safety is the reason for the DP in many cases: it's obvious a prisoner and a convict can be reasonably secured and prevented from being a meaningful threat or danger to the public; rather, the logic is usually that certain crimes are so heinous that the only just dessert for it is death.

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    9. it's obvious a prisoner and a convict can be reasonably secured and prevented from being a meaningful threat or danger to the public;

      Actually, that IS a contentious issue, not "obvious". Men who are members of gangs who are in prison, even on death row, continue to be involved in activities that subvert the justice system. If they are henchmen, they carry out "punishments" and threats and even killings to silence witnesses, to threaten families, etc. If they are leaders, they continue to give orders that are carried out by others, to corrupt prison guards, subvert police, to threaten jurors, and wreak havoc with the justice system.

      Not to mention the basic violent crimes simply carried out by ordinary violent criminals on other criminals, including rape and so on.

      The only plausible means of making sure that a violent prisoner is unable to pursue violence upon others (including guards and other prisoners) is to lock him solitary confinement where he has no physical contact with others - even if he gets sick. The only way to ensure that gang members who engage in ongoing conspiracy to pursue evil will be stopped from doing so is to put them in solitary confinement where they have no possibility of even communicating with others - and this includes with guards and with doctors...and with clergy.

      If you were to try to say that "to keep these gang members from doing any more damage we are holding them incommunicado for the rest of their lives", everyone from the Pope on down to the least bleeding-heart of liberals would scream until the cows came home that this is inhumane.

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    10. I've been taking exactly the same position as regards the most violent and obstinate of criminals. If we believe that society has to be protected from them, then we can't be naive as to what is entailed to assure that.

      This is why I'm not a bleeding-heart liberal. I ain't that naive. I'm a Sacred Heart conservative.

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    11. @Tony
      And I agree. I am sick of dumping our well-meaningfulness, so to speak, on people who actually have to deal with its consequences. It's terribly unfair to people charged with upholding our lofty idealism.

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    12. George said:

      I have enough faith to believe the Holy Ghost will prevent Francis from going overboard.

      I do too, George. If, that is, we understand "not overboard" as meaning something like "trying to teach error as an ex cathedra teaching".

      Several saints, and one who was a doctor of the Church, accepted the possibility that a Pope could try to issue error in his teaching. We have the example of a couple of popes in the past seem to have been in error about the faith and (at least) failed to uphold the truth in the face of others' erroneous teaching. My having faith in the Holy Spirit protecting the Church does not include faith that the pope (any pope) will not try to teach something in error, only that he will be unable to issue erroneous ex cathedra statements.

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    13. That's why Romans 13:4 is important to exegete properly, since (I believe) it is the primary proof offered of the death penalty in the NT. A growing consensus of scholarly exegetes are now saying that it is not about capital punishment at all, but about taxation and a possible insurrection regarding same.

      That's what my third article was actually about, that no one wants to touch with a ten-foot pole (minus James Scott).


      Dave, it took me a while because I am super busy, but I finally looked at your discussion of Romans 13:4. You ask us to accept the proposition “that there is at least some serious thinking among biblical scholars that Romans 13:4 does not necessarily directly refer to or sanction the death penalty”.

      The problem is that there is SOME “serious thinking” among “biblical scholars” who champion damn near any proposition possible about any passage of the Bible you would care to name, including whether Christ bodily rose from the dead. Feser’s main thesis, though, is about what the Catholic Church has taught, not about what “biblical scholars think”. So, it is not sufficient that the person be “a scholar”, nor that he has a degree, a university position, or a book behind his name. It is also necessary, for this discussion, that they (a) be Catholic or at least be a non-Catholic Christian in a way that does not militate against reading this or associated passages in a skewed way; (b) properly schooled in the Catholic principles and practice of interpreting the Bible (Richard McBrien and Raymond Brown need not apply); and (c) not coming to the interpretation with a pre-set bias against tradition, and (specifically) not biased against the death penalty.

      So let’s look at some of the quoted scholars you bring in: Brugger is a New Natural Law theorist, who believes that capital punishment is evil in principle, and therefore can hardly be expected to bring an unbiased effort to the case. I do not say Brugger is wrong, or that he cannot be trusted on many matters, but he has an axe to grind on this issue, so he can’t add much weight to THIS debate.

      David Bentley Hart is an Eastern Orthodox, who holds fairly extreme views about natural law all around, and therefore is unlikely to accept a Catholic reading of the passage that sits conformably with the Catholic Church’s understanding of natural law.

      Eardmans was a Dutch Protestant. While I have no clue whether his non-Catholic beliefs ran counter to Catholic perspectives on natural law and the Gospel directives that run over and above the natural law, I have no confidence in his company’s commentary on this score.

      A.T. Robertson was a minister of the Anglican Communion (Church of Scotland). I would note that his comment “Sword. Symbol of authority a to-day policemen carry clubs or pistols” asks us to envision an anachronism: In the Roman world outside Italy (and to a lesser extent even within Italy), the “police” powers, the “executive” powers, and the “martial” powers of the occupying Roman imperium were all carried out by soldiers under the command of the Roman governor. There was not a clear division between the power to suppress a violent criminal, the power to execute that criminal, and the power to put down insurrection. “The sword” was adequate to express all three of these. Even in Rome, the magistrate and his officers carried the sword not merely for police action but also punitively.

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    14. The quote from “Expositor’s” issues from a logical fallacy: “. . . to know that if an individual sets himself to subvert the moral order of the world, its representatives can proceed to extremities against him . . . is not to vindicate capital punishment as it exists in the law or practice of any given society. . . . it is the punitive ministry of the magistrate which is alone in view.” It doesn’t make any sense to argue that “the sword” stands for “the magistrate’s punitive ministry” and claim that “it does not vindicate capital punishment” tout court. If it stands for the magistrate’s punitive ministry, then without making distinctions it must it stands generally for that ministry, and without intending to set aside some part thereof. So it must – absent some additional qualifier - include implicitly ALL of that punitive ministry. But there is no portion of the ministry that specifically requires “the sword” (rather than, say, prison bars, the rod, the whip, or any other instrument of punishment), than the death penalty, for as punishment the penal officer would not use the sword except in the expectation of a giving a lethal wound. (As a policeman he might, but the Expositor expressly urges the magistrate’s PUNITIVE ministry”.) At least from a natural sense of language, if you are going to refer to the “tools of the trade” of the minister’s penal justice by citing just one tool, arguably citing the tool that stands for the most extreme of the minister’s penalties would stand for “and all the lesser punishments as well”, but not vice versa: you could not use "the whip" and intend to cover all of the penal officer's range of punishments.

      One might also note that this comment directly contradict’s Brugger’s claim that it “almost certainly” refers to police powers and not penal powers. As well as Clarke’s and Linzey’s in the “Dictionary of Ethics”, which clearly takes a contrarian view of retributivism as such rather than is just eliciting the meaning of the passage.

      https://books.google.com/books?id=Tj8zBgAAQBAJ&lpg=PA851&dq=translate%20macairan&pg=PA851#v=onepage&q=translate%20macairan&f=false

      If the Hebrew has 4 words which the Greeks generally translated into “macairan”, was often used to refer to a weapon of war, and could legitimately refer either to a dagger or to the standard Roman short sword that was the main personal armament carried by all soldiers and other state officers, it seems ridiculous to accept as definitive that Paul’s use of the word would necessarily distinguish between a dagger or non-capital weapon versus a gladius that was certainly used where killing was the main point. (I would also note that Linzey is an Anglican minister, who established a Centre for Animal Ethics. While I don’t know anything about his theology as such, I would suggest that (a) the field of “animal ethics” is, if anything, even worse off than the field of bioethics which is notorious for being incredibly degenerate. Hardly anyone (currently) makes animal ethics their life’s work without having a skewed sense of the hierarchy of good.)

      I won’t go on. My point is that (1) yes, there are lots of people who propose other readings of Romans 13:4. If these are the best of them, the position is very, very weak, and not nearly significant enough to pose real worries for the traditional reading of the passage in the face of many centuries of that reading by the best in Christianity. My attitude about them is “I’ll keep note of the theory, but until a stronger argument comes along they are not adequate to displace the tradition.”

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    15. And, by the way, those who are claiming that the passage is "not about capital punishment at all, but about taxation and a possible insurrection regarding same" need to re-read the passage. The tax of verse 6 is not the driving engine of the passage, it is more of an add-on. Even verse 7, which mentions taxes, includes it as one of 4 items, all of which fall under the generalization (stated explicitly) "what you owe them". Verses 1 through 5 speak generally about the governing authority, and verse 6 merely makes explicit regarding taxes what is implied in the foregoing: since the governor is God's servant, you should pay the taxes he needs to do his duty of serving God by governing. The "bearing the sword" earlier is not at the service of verse 6 taxes, but of a different point, i.e. a different aspect of the governing authority.

      I find the arguments that "the passage is about taxes" to be unbearably strained and implausible.

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  25. @Dave Armstrong

    >Christ might have said: 'while it is morally licit in principle to use the DP, I tell you that you must not use it.' "

    I think I brought this up in the past. Granted the Pope might not explicitly change the Church's moral evaluation of the DP being permitted in principle and not being intrinsically evil(same with the retribution principle coupled with the DP) but could the Pope use his authority as a matter of discipline to restrict Catholic advocacy of the DP?

    Off the top of my head I think he could. I mean if the Pope can ban a scientific theory that turned out to be true he could ban Catholic advocacy of the DP. I would obey. It might suck in my private prudent judgement but obedience is primary here for me & I would condone no rebellion.

    If I am right there are a lot of legitimate avenues for anti-Death Penalty Catholics too pursue rather then champion the meaningless speculation that the Pope will change doctrine on the DP.

    Cheers man.

    SCOTLAND!!!!!!!

    FREEDOM!!!!!!!!

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