Thursday, December 4, 2008

Moral Theology's Return to Thomism: Don't Call It a Comeback

He's been here for years.

Zenit has a good story about the current blossoming interest in Thomism that is occurring among moral theologians. Note that 1968 is given as the period when St. Thomas began to fall out of popularity in this field. The effects of Humanae Vitae are legion. I think that His Eminence is a bit off with that date, though. Pick up any book immediately pre- or post-Vatican II and you'll see the same anti-Scholastic crap being spewed. Two good examples would be Fr. Cyprian Cooney's book Understanding the New Theology and Fr. Frederick Crowe's A Time of Change.

Weird thing about these "new theology" guys. The first item of practical application for the Faith that always went out the window for them was the Church's doctrines on moral issues and sin. All of a sudden, you had folks spouting insanities like spotting married couples a few divorces before getting serious about the sacrament. Or that maybe contraception, fornication, etc. really aren't so bad. Or that there really isn't such a thing as mortal sin at all.

This led us to the theological trash heap known as the "fundamental option." Some folks might be surprised to hear me say this, but this is probably the most poisonous heresy of the last century. Yes, you can say it's just a manifestation of modernism, but modernism, by its nature, takes so many forms that even describing it is tough (as St. Pius X admitted).

If you've never heard of it, fundamental option (hereafter- FO) is the idea that folks, over time, build up this "fundamental" perspective/orientation/choice/whatever that is either for God or against God. This isn't defined by any specific actions, but rather by a sort of collective appraisal of where you come down on loving God and others or basically pursuing your own selfish needs. In other words, just being a generally swell guy/gal is what really matters. Where it really goes off the rails is when its supporters begin claiming that individual actions are rendered meaningless, as no single act of sin is sufficient to separate you from God because all God cares about is whether your FO is still for Him. Mortal sin, of course, is immediately eliminated from our theology at this point.

This is the source of the new Pelagianism. This teaching has been so thoroughly disseminated amongst the laity that folks don't really mind sin so much anymore. Why? Because they know they are a "good person." The rampant religious indifferentism in the Church? All rooted in this same idea that Person X is just "too nice" not to go to heaven. Personal preferences reign while grace is ignored. I helps people feel good about themselves and others, though, when they aren't having to actually behave themselves or consider their accountability for their actions.

It's all been very condemned, naturally. Veritatis Splendor was the most recent document doing so. Check sections 65-69. Even so, you still have this idea wreaking absolute havoc on the faithful. I can almost guarantee that this kernel is at the heart of just about every modern heresy problem that we have. Why should heresy matter, as long as you don't kick puppies and help little old ladies across the street?

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