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Catholicism on knowledge/authority

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  • Dan Fraas
    As per the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, Roman Catholicism teaches that God has not determined everything that shall be and shall occur. Therefore there
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 2, 2003
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      As per the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, Roman Catholicism
      teaches that God has not determined everything that shall be and
      shall occur. Therefore there must be a realm of possibilities and
      facts outside of God's control. Furthermore, man is partly
      automomous in his reasoning capability. That is to say, he may
      arrive at knowledge independently of God's revelation. To the extent
      that man may discover truth on his own without God he is autonomous.

      Hence, the Catholic view of knowledge requires that man must be
      somewhat autonomous. This leads to the Catholic view of authority,
      which is subject to man's interpretation. Since man may gather and
      posess true knowledge apart from God, he may interpret facts
      independantly to determine God's truth. There is no reason for him
      to take God's revelation at face value because that is only one
      option for his discovery of truth. He may also investigate and
      determine it on his own by using reason and examining the facts.
      Therefore all truth is interpreted by man in the Catholic view.
      There is no authority higher than man. In the interest of order and
      uniformity Rome has designated a hierarchichal group of "expert" men
      to interpret truth and teach the rest of mankind, especially
      the "pope". She requires dogmatic adherance to their dictates. Yet
      she cannot provide the unbeliever with a convincing reason to follow
      these "experts" rather than his or her own conclusions.

      The natural man sees himself as autonomous and seeks knowledge by
      examining data and interpreting it against his own experience. The
      Catholic apologist supports this conception of himself as fitting and
      proper. He expects the natural man to examine the facts to come to
      truth. The Catholic presents facts and evidences for Christianity in
      expectation that the autonomous individual will examine them and
      realize that it is the truth. Yet the natural man is not neutral in
      the matter. He is a rebel against God, and has much at stake in the
      question. He does not want the Christian God to exist because in
      that case he is in big trouble. Therefore the natural man will
      always "suppress the truth in unrighteousness." Rom 1:18 The
      Catholic does not challenge his conception of individual autonomy so
      he has no reason to accept any more of Christianity than what may
      seem reasonable to him personally. Catholicism is unable to
      challenge the natural man's independent interpretation of truth.

      In Contrast the Protestant position recognizes God as the source of
      all knowledge and all being. These attributes rest on his exhaustive
      (complete) self-knowledge and self-existence. God needs to reference
      point outside of Himself to define His existence. It is self-
      defined. God has created the universe outside of Himself as a
      separate realm of existence, which owes its existence to Him in every
      point. God is the ultimate reference point by which all things
      exist. Nothing can exist except in relation to the self-existent
      one. God is determinitive in that he determines all things, all
      knowledge, and all existence. Nothing may occur outside of His
      sovereign will. He has foreordained everything that happens. There
      are no neutral facts independent of God, for they all reflect Him and
      exist in relation to Him. In this man is dependent on God for all
      knowledge. Man may only have the knowledge that God pleases to give
      to him of the universe. Man may have perfect knowledge as God grants
      it to him, but must always have incomplete knowledge because he is a
      finite being.

      God created man to recieve knowledge from Him and reconstruct it in
      creation. He was not to arrive at knowledge independently, but
      recieve all knowledge from God. At the fall of man, Eve questioned
      whether God was the ultimate source of all knowledge. She desired to
      have an ultimate authority of her own to determine and interpret her
      own existence independently of God. Once she rebelled against God as
      the source of all knowledge, she lost the ability to make any sense
      of herself or the world around her. Apart from God no knowledge is
      possible. Although fallen man examines evidences from nature to
      determine his own existence, his efforts to explain his own existence
      must always fall short because he has cut himself off from the
      fountain of knowledge, the ultimate reference point by which all
      things exist.

      Only by confronting the sinner with the mistake of his entire system
      of thought can the Christian lead him to the truth. The sinner views
      himself as autonomous, and it is the Christian's job to show him that
      he cannot arrive at any knowledge independently of God's revelation,
      and that he is a rebel against God deserving His wrath. However the
      natural man does not want to abandon his own intellectual
      independence. Though the Protestant can conclusively demonstrate the
      necessity by logic, only the Holy Spirit can enable the natural man
      to accept what he already knows inside. He must start with the
      source of all knowledge if he is to understand anything for what it
      is. The Catholic, by validating the sinners peception of self-
      autonomy, cannot provide him any logical reason for abandoning his
      own authority of interpretation.

      Proverbs 1
      7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools
      despise wisdom and instruction.

      For Christ's Crown and Covenant!

      Riley
    • weeping_calvinist
      ... Where does Aquinas say this? I can find where he says that God knows all things, God s providence extends to all things, God predestines and reprobates
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 2, 2003
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        --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Dan Fraas"
        <fraasrd@y...> wrote:
        > As per the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, Roman Catholicism
        > teaches that God has not determined everything that shall be and
        > shall occur.

        Where does Aquinas say this? I can find where he says that God knows
        all things, God's providence extends to all things, God predestines
        and reprobates men, but I cannot find him saying that God has not pre-
        determined that which shall come to pass.

        gmw.
      • Dan Fraas
        And thus in the state of perfect nature man needs a gratuitous strength superadded to natural strenth for one reson, viz., in order to do and wish
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 3, 2003
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          "And thus in the state of perfect nature man needs a gratuitous
          strength superadded to natural strenth for one reson, viz., in order
          to do and wish supernatural good; but for two reasons, in the state
          of corrupt nature, viz., in order to be healed, and furthermore in
          order to carry out works of supernatural virtue, which are
          meritorious. Beyond this, in both states man needs the Divine help,
          that he may be moved to act well." Thomas Aquinas--Summa Theologica,
          Vol 7. p. 150

          Here Aquinas speaks of a finite capacity to do good that he describes
          as incomplete and in need of God's "superadded gratuitous strength"
          to do what is good. Man before the fall and after the fall simply
          needs divine "help" to make his own right decisions. This capacity
          to make "meritorious" decisions independently and autonomously of
          God's will creates a realm of possibility beyond God's control. God
          cannot determine all things if he does not determine all human
          decisions and actions.

          Riley
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