Author Topic: Discussion: Devine on Heresy  (Read 126 times)

Vinny Zee

Discussion: Devine on Heresy
« on: January 12, 2018, 04:27:05 PM »
The Creed Explained; or An Exposition of Catholic Doctrine
Rev. Arthur Devine (1897)
https://books.google.com/books?id=WT08AQAAIAAJ

pp.26-29


5. Therefore one who errs through ignorance, even vincible ignorance, is not a formal heretic. If the ignorance is vincible, the man has sinned against the precept of learning his faith; but his error is not heretical, as it is not accompanied by that pertinacity of will which belongs essentially to an act of heresy; so that, Christians outside the Church, and living in ignorance of the truth, cannot individually be called heretics, or pronounced guilty of heresy, even if the ignorance be vincible, and even if it be so grave as to be what Theologians call affectata. Although they may be sinners, they cannot be called heretics as long as they are in a state of ignorance. Those who are in invincible ignorance. and live according to their conscience, are not only free from heresy, but even from sin in their errors.

That a man incur the excommunication of the Church, as the penalty inflicted for the sin of heresy, it is necessary that he manifest externally his error by some human act, either in word or deed. If, thinking of the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, he should disbelieve the real presence in his mind, he would be guilty of the sin of heresy; but, if he should express that by saying "I do not believe that Christ is really present in the Blessed Sacrament", he would incur the penalty of excommunication, and this, even though no one might be present to hear the expression.

The first 4 points I suppose were rather self-explanatory, but I have a question on point 5.  What does it mean that, "Christians outside the Church, and living in ignorance of the truth, cannot individually be called heretics, or pronounced guilty of heresy, even if the ignorance be vincible, and even if it be so grave as to be what Theologians call affectata?" How can this be? How is this any different than Lumen Gentium, particularly #16, "Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience?"

1. How can one call someone who is outside the church a Christian, "Christians outside the Church, and living in ignorance of the truth, cannot individually be called heretics?" My understanding of the entire position of Catholicism is that those outside the church could not be saved? Who are these "Christians outside the Church" he is referring to?
2. Being that this was written in 1897, do you agree with this, but at the same time rail against Lumen Gentium's argument, "Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own?"

The reason I bring these two together here, (though I see Devine is talking about heresy), but quite exactly this is the argument of Protestants.  Many claim (or possess) total ignorance of Catholicism, start churches and preach the most blasphemous heresies. I am quite perplexed we could not call one "outside the church" a heretic.  Isn't heresy from the Greek word heresis which means one who chooses for themselves in matters of faith an morals? This is Protestantism in a nutshell.

However, I see a second problem, which is "Christians separated from the Church." Who is this? If we accept this, then would we have to say Lumen Gentium did not err in saying, "Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience?"

I'm assuming we'd all declare the Gospel of Christ comes through the Church.  In Gaudium et spes it also says, "All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way. For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery."

I'm assuming these are some of the statements of Vatican II which are considered to have begun the crisis including ecumenism. However, if this was written in 1897, then did these issues start before Vatican II, finding their fulfillment there? I don't want to question this outside this thread, but I hope there is a clearer answer to what I am reading and understanding. Thanks.

[Initially posted in response to this, moved per resources discussion rules--Mithrandylan]
« Last Edit: January 12, 2018, 11:20:40 PM by Mithrandylan »
 
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Mithrandylan

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Re: Discussion: Devine on Heresy
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2018, 11:38:19 PM »
Great questions, Vinny.

1) I think if you pay careful attention to the qualifier "formal" (heretic), this will make more sense.  That's the topic sentence, so when he goes on to say that certain people (like protestants) aren't heretics, I'm understanding that in the formal sense.  Note that he hinges it on ignorance, also, and while it may be true that plenty of people claim ignorance, Devine is right that ignorance mitigates guilty when it is present, at least to some degree or another.  Whatever the case, pretty much any theologian you'll find, when discussing the distinction between a formal and material heretic, will only ever discuss non-Catholics as being capable of being material heretics, so I don't think Devine is saying anything remarkable here.

2) Christians outside the Church are pretty self-evident-- those who take the name Christian (Lutherans, Anglicans, and so on) who are not Catholic.  Some people protest at using the word (Christian) in reference to those who are heretics, and there's an argument to be made for such an approach, but plenty of pre-conciliar authors grant the descriptor to Protestants so I don't see a huge problem, supposing that distinctions are made as necessary.

3) I don't think the sentence you quoted from LG is, of itself, wrong.  Seems a simple restatement of the doctrine of invincible ignorance applied to the "virtuous pagan."  Where things become more problematic is when Dignitatis Humane teaches that men actually have a positive right to believe wrongly. 

4) Modernism, the liturgical reform, etc., all predate Vatican II.  No doubt about it.  But these things were summarily suppressed, controlled, and combated by the popes who came before the council.  Vatican II didn't happen over night, but it couldn't happen until the papacy itself had become infiltrated and compromised.
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Joe Cupertino

Re: Discussion: Devine on Heresy
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2018, 11:54:46 AM »
Thanks Mith.  I was going to say it had to do with material heretics and the moral sphere, but you articulated it better than I would have.  I think Devine should've used a little more precision there.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2018, 11:56:36 AM by Joe Cupertino »
 
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Mithrandylan

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Re: Discussion: Devine on Heresy
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2018, 02:03:31 PM »
Thanks Mith.  I was going to say it had to do with material heretics and the moral sphere, but you articulated it better than I would have.  I think Devine should've used a little more precision there.

Agreed. 
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Rubecorks

Re: Discussion: Devine on Heresy
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2018, 03:25:18 PM »
Words can have more than one meaning, and even the same word opposite meanings, depending on the context.

The word "Christian" is used in papal documents to refer ONLY to Catholics.

However, if you read the Preface to this book, you see the source and direction of the book is apologetic, so it is more on a lay level to oppose non-Catholic criticisms. The term "Christian" is used by Protestant sects, and so is often used unofficially for them because they claim to be "Christian". Post-ecumenical tragedy Vatican II, I am sure Devine would have different terminology!

On another note, according to Church usage, strictly speaking, when the word "heretic" is seen by itself, it means a formal heretic, one who there is no question of being so because of the connection with a Church condemnation.

Thus, Luther was excommunicated by name and therefore became both a moral and canonical "heretic" (formally in both respects). Those who followed him were formally canonical heretics, but were not formally heretics morally because their personal guilt was not judged. This is why sometimes you will see Protestants referred to as formal heretics and sometimes as possibly material heretics. It depends on the context of whether we are speaking morally, or canonically.
 
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