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The Father William Most Collection

Comments on R. McBrien, Catholicism, 3d edition

Did Christ Found a Church?

On p. 577 of his Catholicism, McBrien asks: "Did Jesus intend to found a Church? He answers: "'No' if by 'found' we mean some direct, explicit deliberate act by which Jesus established a new religious organization.... The majority of scholars today support the assumption that Jesus expected the end to come soon."

We can see the all-pervading notion of ignorance in Jesus peering out. If He thought the end was soon, why bother to found any organization?

So some have said that Peter was never Bishop anywhere. If we mean that he did not set up a chancery and bureaucracy, of course not. But did Peter serve as the spiritual authority? Yes, at Antioch, later at Rome.

So Jesus did establish an organization, to be entered by Baptism: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved. He who does not will be condemned." We pause to notice the word "save". It never has the silly meaning of infallible salvation by one act. There is no such thing. Kittel's authoritative Theological Dictionary of the new Testament simply ignores that notion, since there is no Scriptural or intellectual basis for it. But save means: rescue from temporal danger; enter the Church; enter heaven. The second sense is present here, as it is all through chapters 8, 9, 10, 11 of Romans.

He set up authorities (without a bureaucracy again). In Matthew 16 he promised the keys to Peter. In Mt 18:18 He gave all the Apostles power to bind and loose, which in the language of contemporary rabbis meant to authoritatively tell what is right or wrong. He demanded for salvation the reception of the Eucharist. He set up a means to forgive sins after Baptism in John 20. Is all this just nothing? And he promised to be with His Church to the end of time? No hint He thought the end was just around the corner. That is based only on total denial of the oft-repeated teaching of the Church on His human knowledge. McB clearly does not bother about the repeated teachings of the Catholic Church that the human soul of Jesus from the very start saw the vision of God, in which all knowledge is present (For evidence: Wm. G. Most, The Consciousness of Christ, Christendom College, 1980).

Incidentally, a fine theologian, who might not care to he named, was a seminarian when Karl Rahner was teaching in Austria. He told me that at that time Rahner used precisely the same theological argument I have given to prove that the human soul of Jesus not only happened to have the beatific vision, but had to have it. It is briefly this: Any soul will have that vision if: 1) it has grace 2) If the divinity joins itself to the soul without even an image in between. But that was the case with Jesus, since not only His mind or soul, but His entire humanity was as closely as possible joined to the divinity, in the hypostatic union.

Rahner tried to make light of the teaching of Pius XII in Mystici Corporis on the fact that the human soul of Jesus saw the vision of God from the first moment of conception. Rahner says that teaching was only given in passing. Not true. that Encyclical came in 1943, obviously intending to quiet the errors sparked by P. Galtier in 1939. Then, seeing his doctrine was not being accepted, Pius XII repeated it in Sempiternus rex in 1951, and again in Haurietis aquas in 1956, and Paul VI ordered the Holy Office to complain in 1966 that the teaching was still not being accepted. All agree that if a teaching is given repeatedly on the ordinary magisterium level, it is infallible: the repetition shows the intent to make it definitive. Yet even today the teaching of Pius XII is widely denied. On a recent visit to Rome I was told that of all the theology schools in Rome, only two did NOT contradict the Church on this point.

In line with that view he says the sacraments were not directly instituted by Christ (pp. 798-89). We presume he means that the Church and sacraments just evolved in the next century - Jesus was too ignorant to foresee any such structure, and, as said above, He expected the end soon.

McB clearly is not concerned about the fact that the Council of Trent defined that Jesus instituted the sacraments (DS 1601), and especially that he instituted the priesthood at the Last Supper when He said, "Do this in memory of me." (DS 1752).

Membership in the Church

Similarly the Catholic Church is really composed of many churches: Orthodox, Anglicans, Protestants (pp. 648 and 688).

We comment: It is true that the grace of salvation can be found elsewhere. Lumen gentium §16 says: "For they who without their own fault do not know of the Gospel of Christ and His Church, but yet seek God with sincere heart, and try, under the influence of grace, to carry out His will in practice, known to them through the dictate of conscience, can attain eternal salvation." John Paul II in his Encyclical on the Missions in §10 says the same [underline added]: "For such people [those who do not formally enter the Church, as in LG 16] salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church." We stressed the word "formally" to indicate that there may be something less than formal membership, which yet suffices for salvation. A similar thought is found in LG §14 which says "they are fully incorporated" who accept all its organization...." We will show presently that there can be a lesser, or substantial membership, which suffices for salvation.

The root of McBrien's trouble is likely to be in a line in LG §8: "This Church, in this world as a constituted and ordered society, subsists in the Catholic Church... even though outside its confines many elements of sanctification and truth are found which, as gifts proper to the Church of Christ, impel to Catholic unity."

But we must not miss the words in LG §8 which speak of "this one and only [unica] Church of Christ, which we profess in the Creed...." Similarly the Decree on Religious Liberty in §1 says that "it [this decree] leaves untouched the traditional Catholic doctrine about the duty of men and societies to the true religion and the one and only [unica] Church of Christ."

So there really is only one true Church. But really, McBrien seems to think that protestant churches are as it were component parts of the Church of Christ. And he probably thinks that follows from the words about "subsisting in" and the statement that elements of sanctification can be found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church.

But it does not really follow that there are other legitimate forms of Christianity. Pope Gregory XVI (DS 2730. Cf. Pius IX, DS 2915 and Leo XIII, DS 3250) condemned "an evil opinion that souls can attain eternal salvation BY just any profession of faith, if their morals follow the right norm." So although people who do not formally join can be saved, as LG §16 says, and Redemptoris missio §10 also says, they are not saved by such a faith. It is in spite of it.

Yet we can account for the words about subsisting in and about finding elements of salvation outside. For this we need the help of the Fathers of the Church.

We begin with St. Justin the Martyr who c. 145 A.D. in Apology 1. 46, said that in the past some who were thought to be atheists, such as Socrates and Heraclitus, who were really Christians, for they followed the Divine Logos, the Divine Word. Further, in Apology 2. 10 Justin adds that the Logos is in everyone. Now of course the Logos, being Spirit, does not take up space. We say a spirit if present wherever it produces and effect. What effect? We find that in St. Paul, in Romans 2:14-16 where he says that "the Gentiles who do not have the law, do by nature the works of the law. They show the work of the law written on their hearts," and according to their response conscience will defend or accuse them at the judgment.

So it is the Logos, the Spirit of Christ, who writes the law on their hearts, that, it makes known to them interiorly what they need to do. Some then could follow it without knowing that fact. So Socrates: (1) read and believed what the Spirit wrote in his heart; (2) he had confidence in it; (3) he obeyed it. We see this obedience in the fact that Socrates went so far as to say, as Plato quotes him many times, that the one who seeks the truth must have as little as possible to do with the things of the body.

Let us notice the three things, just enumerated: St. Paul in Romans 3:29 asked: "Is He the God of the Jews only? No, He is also the God of the gentiles." It means that if God made salvation depend on knowing and following the law of Moses, He would act as if He cared for no one but Jews. But God does care for all. Paul insists God makes salvation possible by faith for them (cf. Romans chapter 4). Faith in Paul includes the three things we have enumerated which Socrates did.

So in following that Spirit of Christ Socrates was accepting and following the Spirit of Christ, But then, from Romans 8:9 we gather that if one has and follows the Spirit of Christ, he "belongs to Christ". That is, He is a member of christ, which in Paul's terms means a member of the mystical body, which is the Church.

So Socrates then was a member of the Church, but not formally, only substantially. He could not know the Church. So he was saved, not by his false religious beliefs but in spite of them. He was saved by faith, and similarly protestants and others who do not formally join the Church today are saved not as members of e.g., the Baptist church, which McBrien seems to think is an integral part of the one Church of Christ -- no, they are saved as individuals, who make use of the means of sanctification they are able to find even outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church.

Many other Fathers speak much like St. Justin. A large presentation of them can be found in Wm. Most, Our Father's Plan, in a 28 page appendix.

Lumen gentium also likes to speak of the Church as a mystery. This is correct, for it is, since it is only partly visible. It does have visible structure, and no one who knowingly rejects that can be saved. It has members visibly adhering. But it also has members who belong to it even without knowing that, and without external explicit adherence. Hence there is much mystery, to be known fully and clearly only at the end.

So all other forms of Christianity are objectively, not necessarily formally, heretical and/or schismatic. So they are not legitimate.

The sinlessness of Jesus

He admits that Jesus did not sin, yet He was capable of sinning (p. 547). He as not immune to sexual desires (pp. 562-63).

McB grants that the Church does teach, as does the NT, that Jesus was without sin. But he has trouble about the impeccability, inability to sin, of Jesus. He quotes the Third Council of Constantinople (381) saying that His human will is "compliant, it does not resist or oppose, but rather submits to the divine and almighty will." We grant this does not explicitly state impeccability. McB continues saying it seems better to conclude that it is the "clear and constant belief and teaching of the Church that Jesus Christ was perfect in his humanity." He seems then to think of the Council of Chalcedon which he cited earlier saying He was "like us in every respect apart from sin," and the similar statement of Hebrews.

So McB says the NT does not go in for theological speculation. And the official texts do not formally teach impeccability. This is true.

Nor are there many patristic texts on impeccability, not enough to satisfy the requirement of being practically unanimous. St. Cyril of Alexandria wrote (R 2141): they are stupid, who affirm, I do not know how, that even Christ could have sinned." St. John Damascene is more helpful (R 2386): "Because there is one person of Christ, and in Christ, there is one who wills through each nature: as God, in approving, and as man, being made obedient." (Cf. also St. Athanasius in R 798).

But we can sharpen this up a bit: We do not say it is nature that sins, but a person sins. But in Christ there was only one Person, even though two natures. If He had sinned, the sin would have been attributed to the one Person, a Divine Person. Which of course is impossible.

Finally we mention Canon 12 of the second General Council of Constantinople, in 553 (DS 434) which spoke of Theodore of Mopsuestia as "impious" because he spoke of Christ as "suffering from passions of soul and desires of the flesh, and gradually going away from the worse things, and so becoming better by advancing in works... merited divine sonship...."

The Great Sacrifice

As to the death of Jesus, McB says it was not a sacrifice of expiation-- just a peace offering (p. 457).

McB here does not understand what a sacrifice is. We can gather the nature of sacrifice from the words of God in Isaiah 19. 13: "This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." So we see there are two elements, lips, that is, the outward sign, and heart, the interior dispositions.

On Holy Thursday the outward sign was the seeming separation of body and blood, standing for death, as if He said to the Father: "Father, I know the command you have given me: I should die tomorrow. Very good, I turn myself over to death - expressed by this separation - I accept, I obey". He made that pledge Thursday night, and carried it out on Friday. Then the outward sign shifted to the physical separation of body and blood. In the Mass He goes back again to the same outward sign as on Holy Thursday. |So the Council of Trent defined that the Mass is a true sacrifice: DS 1751. Obviously, for the same two elements, outward sign, and interior disposition, are present there again.

The fact that all forgiveness and grace was "bought and paid for" by the cross, does not make the Mass empty. God willed that there be a Mass 1) so that we might join our obedience to His --mere answering of prayers is not enough: cf again Is 23. 19. And Romans 8. 17 says that we are, "fellow heirs with Christ - we inherit with Him - provided that we suffer with Him, so we may also be glorified with Him." 2) In His love of good order, He is pleased to have one thing in place to serve as the title or reason for giving a second thing: Cf. Summa I. 19. 5. c.

But on all three occasions, the essential, the interior is His obedience to the Father, without which the external sign, even His death, would not redeem anyone. On the altar now He does not repeat that attitude of obedience, rather it is continuous from the first instant of His conception in which He said, Heb 10. 7: "Behold I come to do your will O God."-- Incidentally we note that even then He knew who He was! That obedience was the theme of His whole life: "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me" (Jn 4. 34).

Perpetual Virginity

It has become the fashion today to attack the perpetual virginity, in fact, even the virginal conception of Jesus. Martin Luther, archheretic, was kinder to her than McBrien and some others today. In His work On the Gospel of St. John (In: Luther's Works, American Edition. vol. 22, p. 23) we read: "Christ... was the real and natural fruit of Mary's virginal womb.... this was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that." And in his Commentary on the Hail Mary (Works, vol. 43, p. 40): "... she is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin…. God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil...."

But McBrien says( p. 541) that "the arguments against historicity [of virginal conception] are also strong." First, he seems to say that if Mary and Joseph knew He had no human father, and they had not kept it from Him, then He would not have been so ignorant about who He was. He is so convinced of ignorance in Jesus that he can used it as an a argument against the virginal conception. (Later we will see his arguments for ignorance in Jesus).

Secondly he says that the infancy narratives, the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke, "suggest a nonhistorical rather than historical accounting of the conception of Jesus." He says that the two accounts are "virtually irreconcilable." As one example, he mentions that Matthew tells of a flight into Egypt, while Luke in 2:39 goes straight from the presentation in the temple to a return to Nazareth. McBrien seems not to know there can be a compendious or even a telescoped account of events, e.g., most scholars think Acts 15 telescopes two meetings of the Apostles in Jerusalem (the reasons given are useless, but that is another question. There is also telescoping in Isaiah 37.37-38).

He says (p. 542) that Matthew shows "artificiality in format" because he has groups of 14 generations in the genealogy of Jesus. Yes, he does have one thing that is artificial there. But that says nothing about the rest of the infancy narratives. Latest research shows there was a special genre of genealogy in ancient times: genealogies were not always just family trees, but were made up to bring out some special point. Matthew wanted to show the relation to David, whose name has the numerical value of 14.

It is surprising McBrien does not bring up the case of the census in Luke. Perhaps he has read and accepted the remarkable work of E. L. Martin, The Star that Astounded the World, a work that has caused hundreds of planetariums both here and in Europe to change their Christmas star programs.

Then McBrien asserts that the rest of the NT is silent on the virginal conception. Of course. There was no special reason to mention it.

Finally, he asks how that fact could have been known to anyone but Mary and Joseph. Right. But she, according to John Paul II (General Audience, Jan 28, 1988), did give much information to the early Church. What is more natural? In fact, we might even speculate that the reason why Matthew centers his account on Joseph, while Luke does on her, is that she was still reticent -- the Gospels show she did not even tell Joseph at first-- so perhaps at first she told Matthew and others only the things that pertained to Joseph. Later Luke, perhaps getting to know her better, managed to get further data from her and used it.

After all this, McBrien thinks the virginal conception may have been just a theologoumenon. That would mean that physically there was no such thing, that to say it is just a way of asserting her holiness. To that we reply: Where else in Matthew and Luke do we find even one clear case of a theologoumenon? Further, the Church shows no sign of considering it such. From the earliest creeds on she is called simply ever virgin, aei parthenos. Pope Leo the Great, in his Tome to Flavian at the Council of Chalcedon wrote (DS 291): "She brought Him forth without the loss of virginity even as she conceived Him without its loss." What point is there in talking about keeping virginity if it was only a theologoumenon? What would that add when extended to during and after birth? Following Pope Leo, the Council of Chalcedon in 451 taught (Mansi 7. 462): "As was fitting for God, He sealed her womb." St. Ambrose in De institutione virginis 8. 52 (PL 16. 320) wrote: "What is this gate but Mary, closed for this reason, because she was a virgin. So Mary was the gate through which Christ entered and did not lose the genital barrier of virginity." (The gate is mentioned in Ezek 44:2). The Lateran Council of October 649 (DS 503) with the Pope present and approving, taught: "If anyone does not, in accord with the Holy Fathers, acknowledge the holy and ever virgin and immaculate Mary as really and truly the Mother of God, inasmuch as she in the fullness of time, and without seed, conceived by the Holy Spirit... and without loss of integrity brought Him forth, and after His birth persevered her virginity inviolate, let him be condemned." Finally, Vatican II, (Lumen gentium §57) says that "she joyfully showed her firstborn Son to the shepherds and the Magi, he who did not diminish but consecrated her virginal integrity." That word integrity is clearly physical, does not express a mere theologoumenon. Let these people who boast so loudly of the great theology of Vatican II find how to reject this. And in passing we note the matter of fact way in which Vatican II spoke of the shepherds and the Magi.

Still further, Vatican II, in LG §12, wrote: "The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief." That is, if the whole Church, pastors and people, have ever, for even one period, believed something as revealed, that belief cannot be in error, is infallible. Now of course the people have never dreamed that her virginity is a mere theologoumenon.

Similarly, John P. Meier in A Marginal Jew spends page after page trying to disprove perpetual virginity. More Protestant than Luther again!

Our Lady's Faith

More than one scholar today has said that the passage in Mark 3. 20-35 may man she did not believe in her Son. On pp 1079-80 McBrien seems not to understand this passage of Mk 3:20-25, seems inclined to take it as negative, as differing from Luke's Gospel.

The verses he indicates are part of a three part passage in Mk 3:20-38.

But to really get the picture, we should go over that three part passage. 1) In the first part, those about Him -- not clear if His Mother is included -- think Him out of His mind, and come to take Him by force (kratesai) 2) In the second part, the scribes charge He casts out devils by the devil. 3) In this third part His Mother and "brothers" come to a crowd where He is speaking. He says: who is my Mother...?

Many raise the objection that here the NT speaks of "brothers and sisters" of Jesus. A full reply would take many pages. Let us note these things: Hebrew ah is very broad, can mean almost any kind of relative. John P. Meier of Catholic University (in A Marginal Jew) adds that the Gospels are in Greek which did have such terms for relatives. He forgets that the speech habits of one's first language may carry over. There are numerous examples of that, e.g. St. Paul uses Greek dikaiosyne not in the Greek-Roman sense, but in the Hebrew sense. Paul uses yada, to know, not in our narrow sense, but in the broader Hebrew sense. He knew there are words in Greek for more and less, degrees of comparison, yet Paul usually ignores them and speaks like a Hebrew: "Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach." So was Paul wrong in baptizing? Not at all. The one is more than the other. Similarly in Luke 14. 16 Jesus Himself says we must hate father and mother - meaning: love less than you do me.

Out of many other things on this point, we might mention that even John P. Meier (pp. 340-41) admits that starting with Philo, the rabbis taught that Moses after his first encounter with God, never again had sex with his wife. What then of her who carried Him within her for nine months? What of St. Joseph too?

McB seems certain that since she is in unit 3, she must be in 1. If he knows Form Criticism, he should know that is not clear. Passages are often put together out of originally independent units. And the second unit, the charge of the scribes, hardly provides a connection to parts 1 or 3.

But even if she were in the group of #1, are we certain she did not believe in Him? Vatican II insists in Dei verbum §12 that we must pay attention to the unity of all of Scripture. Yes it is all right to suppose each Evangelist had his own special slant. But since the Holy Spirit is the chief author, there can be no contradiction. McB admits that Luke pictures her as the first believer. Vatican II, Lumen gentium § 56, said that at the annunciation, "she totally dedicated herself to the Person and work of her Son."

McB ignores the rules given by Vatican II. He also ignores Mt 7:1: "Judge not". It means we must not state as certain the interior of a person, for we can seldom know it. Yet He seems certain she did not believe, with no reason for saying that, and with contrary reason from Luke and Vatican II. We said he seems certain because of what he said earlier on the same page: "it is not possible to establish the time when Mary's own belief in her son's messianic significance began, or even the cause of it."

We reply: Just any ordinary Jew, even if not full of grace, as soon as Gabriel said that He would reign over the house of Jacob forever -- any ordinary Jew would at once see that this meant the Messiah, for only He would reign forever.

Still further, even if we grant she was in the group of unit one and went along, it would not follow that she did not believe in Him. Rather, she could have gone along to try to hold down the others. We know that even a very ordinary mother is apt to stand up for her son even when he is clearly in the wrong. So McB seems to make her less than just an ordinary mother!

About the words of Jesus in the third unit, Who is my Mother? -- Vatican II explained it in LG 58, "In the course of His public life, she received the words of His preaching, in which her Son, extolling the Kingdom more than reasons of flesh and blood, proclaimed blessed those who heard and kept the word of God, as she was faithfully doing." In other words, He was teaching, in a dramatic way, as He often did, that of two kinds of greatness - being physically the Mother of God, and hearing and keeping the word of God -- the second was greater. Yet she was at the peak in both classes. As Vatican II had said in §56: already at the annunciation, the start,"she totally dedicated herself to the Person and work of her Son."

That chapter 8 of The constitution on the Church is very remarkable. It starts with the fact that she is joined with her Son eternally, by the eternal decree for the incarnation. Then it goes through every one of the mysteries of His life and death, and shows her role in each, and continues on into eternity after the end of time, where she is and always will be Queen of the Universe along with Him. That is a marvelous base for strong marian devotion, since objectively, we can do nothing better than to imitate the ways of the Father, who has put her everywhere in His approach to us.

In LG 67 the Council said that everything the Church has ever taught in regard to marian devotion is still "of great importance". No mention of this by McB. Nor does he report what John Paul II did in his Redemptoris Mater, In his earlier document on St. Joseph, he said he intended in Redemptoris Mater to deepen the theology of the Council on her faith - a remarkable thing! Now faith includes obedience, conformity to the will of the Father. So she was called on at the time of His death to positively will that He die, die then, die so horribly, for she knew well that such was the positive will of the Father -- and this in spite of her love which, as we gather from Pius IX (Ineffabilis Deus) is so great the "only God can comprehend it." (He spoke of her holiness, but that in practice is equivalent to love).

Original Sin

Speaking of original sin, McB says: "theologians today would probably agree with the philosopher Paul Ricoeur, who refers to the doctrine as a rationalized myth about the mystery of evil."

To follow this problem we need some background. In 1942 Pius XII, in his Scripture encyclical, Divino afflante Spiritu, encouraged the use of the approach by literary genres in Scripture study. It had not been forbidden, but he promoted it. This means that there are many patterns of writing in ancient and modern works, e.g., today we have the modern historical novel, for example, one about the Civil War. Such a novel has a main line of history, with background descriptions that fit the period, but there are fictional fill-ins. The key word is assert. What does the author assert? He asserts the main line is history, but not the fill-ins.

Now of course it would be folly to suppose the ancient Semites used exactly the same patterns as we do. So Pius XII said we need to study historically what patterns were in use then.

Once the Pope wrote this, things began to move more freely. Some scholars became very loose. As a result, he saw the need to warn about it in his Encyclical Human generis in 1950. He wrote about Genesis: "The first chapters of Genesis, even though they do not strictly match the pattern of historical writing used by the great Greek and Roman writers of history... do pertain to the genre of history." That means that they do report things that really happened, even though they do it in a special, different way.

What way? John Paul II, in his series of audiences on Genesis, on Nov 7, 1979 called the genre of the creation account myth. He explained carefully, however, the sense in which he used that word myth . He did not mean mere fairy tale, with no foundation. He meant the writer used an ancient story to bring out things that really happened.

How does this work? The account tells us chiefly these things: God made everything -in some special way He made the first human pair. He gave them some sort of command - we do not know if it was about a fruit tree or something else. They violated His order, and fell from favor or grace.

In passing, we can see from this last item, that Genesis does teach original sin, in that Adam and Eve -- or whatever names they may have used -- were not able to pass on grace to their descendants, since they had cast it away. For a baby to arrive without it is what we mean by original sin. So it is wrong for Mc B to say that the OT has no formal concept of original sin. We agree it is not explicitly and formally taught. But it is there none the less.

So now we return to McB and Ricoeur. Did Ricoeur mean the same as John Paul II? Hardly. We know Ricoeur said that in general, when a writing leaves the hand of its author, it can take on any of many meanings. We neither know nor care what the author intended. Clearly, this is not what John Paul II meant. He meant the account does tell us things that really happened, chiefly those we just enumerated.

McB comments: How can one be really guilty of a sin that someone else committed, without our knowledge or approval?

Vatican II, in the Decree of Ecumenism §7 said that if the language of older texts of the magisterium is less good, we should improve it, without say it was erroneous. John Paul II has done just that in the case of original sin. In two General Audiences, of October 1 & 8, 1986, he said that original sin consists in "the privation of sanctifying grace." Privation means the lack of something that should be there. He added that we call it a sin only in analogical sense. That means that we use a word twice, with the sense partly the same, partly different. So if we compare a new baby with an adult who has just committed a mortal sin, we find both are the same in lacking grace; but there is great difference: baby lacks it through no fault of its own; the adult lacks it by grave personal fault.

McB does admit this analogous nature, but not very clearly, on p. 190. But is not really as clear as he should be. We are left to wonder about our being culpable only by imitating Adam's sin (cf. p. 187).

His fuzziness is made worse in his Summary, starting on p. 194: "... the human person is constituted by social relationships with other persons, by history and by the world in which she or he lives. Indeed, the human person is in a sense, a co-creator of the world with God." If we are only constituted by such relationship, then an unborn baby would not be a person. And abortion would be all right.

In the same summary, in item 23 he adds:"... grace transforms not only persons but the whole created order (Romans 8:19-23)." He does not understand the beautiful vision of St. Paul, who says that at the end, the whole world will be freed from slavery to corruption. But that is in the future, not now.

Item 15 of the summary says "The Eastern tradition viewed grace as divinization." This is true, and beautiful. But McB gives no explanation of this, a thing much needed.

Also, on p. 186, McB says "Although later doctrine of Original Sin has been read back into Paul's Letter to the Romans, neither biblical scholar nor theologian would agree that it is in fact there." This is a surprisingly bold contradiction of a defined doctrine. He does not really deny original sin himself, but he says Trent merely read into Romans what is not really there.

To conclude, we wish very much McB had used the best current explanation of original sin, as given by John Paul II, and had added an explanation of what the divinization means.


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