Tuesday, April 2, 2019

2019-04-03 - Grace, Faith, Works, Love


  1. Wow, Proverbs almost sounded like a Psalm today! At least the first half. The second half had some interesting analogies.

    I am really interested in Ephesians 2:8-10. It refutes Pelagianism, and out of curiosity, for I might be misunderstanding it, does verse 10 refute Sola Fidei?
    Ephesians has a very different theme running through it than Galatians or Corinthians, which were mainly disciplinary.

    I find the shepherd/sheep thing very interesting. I think that the Protestants of the US discovered Psalm 23 and liked it and turned the sheep into fluffy white balls on the hills with bright green pastures. Which they are not.

    The works come after the grace. The works are the fruit that must be shown. Faith without works is sterile. I didn't understand that for the longest time.

    1. "Faith without works is dead" - James 2:20.

      Please talk about sheep in class on Monday, Gabby!

  2. I stopped reading The Imitation of Christ about halfway through because it aggravated my scruples in the worst way. Which was a pity, because there were some gems in there. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the stoicism/harshness of the older Catholics stuff is an overreaction to Protestant Sola Fidei. Though The Imitation was written a century before the Reformation...

    Perhaps the right attitude is one of willful acceptance. You accept God's grace, the only means of salvation, but with full knowledge that it is a life-changing event and must be treated as such.

    Yeah, Proverbs was actually fairly interesting today. Is verse four of chapter thirty (particularly the last sentence) a prophecy about Christ? It's like the "thrones were set up" verse in Daniel.

    Studying all the Passion accounts is great. Seeing the similarities and differences between them all is fascinating.

  3. Jesus Himself refers to Proverbs 30:4 in John 3:13 - "No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven— the Son of Man."

    The good that's in "The Imitation of Christ" is hard to separate from the almost Buddhist denial of all desire and the almost Gnostic disdain for the flesh and the truly Protestant contempt for a sacramental worldview. Yes, some of it is beautiful and helpful - if taken in the right way. But I can't really see that book helping anybody - either normal people now, in the 21st century, or the monks for whom it was written in the 15th century.

    It seems there was a long decline into the morbid moralism that Vatican II supposedly tried to address. The defensive obsessive compulsive rigorism we see in some Catholic circles was what sanctity was for Thomas a Kempis, it seems. I keep trying to be fair to the book as I'm reading it, and I keep thinking I'm missing something - and there are some really beautiful insights into the rejection of worldliness - but all in all, it seems hardly Catholic to me.

    "Enthusiasm" is the book we should study: Ronald Knox's masterpiece about the dangers of a religious lack of balance.

    Gabby, what if we did one big book every summer? I could maybe handle that. I think we should do Voegelin on Plato this summer and "Enthusiasm" next summer (I have to do a one-man show as Knox lecturing on that in 2020 at the Chesterton Conference). Maybe we should do "Crime and Punishment" the summer after that. Meanwhile, take my HSC classes on Shakespeare next fall and spring. What do you think of that?

    1. Yesterday I had a phone appointment with Dr. Ray (yes, the EWTN Dr. Ray), which was a refeshing, "tough love" dose of reality. He showed me, to my great surprise (yet it made total sense given the way I've been struggling), that I'VE succumbed to the obsessive-compulsive-rigorism = sanctity mindset. Thank God for those who can tell us what's in our "blind spots"!

  4. Out of curiosity, how do you get out of that?