Faith is belief based on the authority of God. Because God can neither deceive nor be deceived faith is certain. More certain than the first principles of reason. For the same reason the medium between the believer and the Divine revealer must be infallible and the obstinate doubt or denial of a single article of faith destroys the supernatural virtue of faith in the soul. Formally, heresy and apostasy are the same. The minimum material content of the faith concerns the divinity of the one revealing and the character of the means of revelation. Thus, unless one assents to the doctrine of the Trinity and Incarnation one cannot possess the supernatural virtue of faith.
>
If you think about this it is clear that a great many theologians do not possess the supernatural virtue of faith. They literally have no idea what they are talking about. For them theology is a kind of game. There are terms like ‘grace’, ‘original sin’, ‘sacrament’, ‘church’ and ‘God’ and their job is to give a meaning to these word and work out a way of using them that appears to render them meaningful in the context of scripture and the writings of Christian authors without challenging the comfortable assumptions with which their readership have been imbued by the spirit of the age. This is easy to illustrate. Don Cupitt the Anglican ‘non-realist’ (he doesn’t believe in God) argued once that Angels can’t exist because the necessary wingspan to lift a human body is considerable and skeletal remains would certainly have been discovered. In his magnificent Will There Be Free Will in Heaven? Simon Gaine O.P. quotes an Anglican theologian who when asked this question answered (correctly) ‘yes’ and then went on to say that we must never forget the example of the fallen angels. I personally heard Keith Ward explain how he is a Nicene Theologian and then went on to explain that the Father is ‘God as transcendent’ the Son is ‘God as known in creation’ and the Spirit is ‘God as active in creation’ and that there are no imminent distinctions in God and to say there are is absurd. He then asserted that he is a Chalcedonian Theologian and went on to attack as ridiculous the communication of idioms (that is the application of created activities to God in virtue of the Incarnation e.g. ‘God bled on the cross’). I and a colleague pointed out that his positions entail that ‘there was when the Son was not’ (because the world didn’t exist) which is anathematised at Nicaea and involve the denial of the title ‘Mother of God’ to Our Lady which denial was anathematised at Chalcedon. He just got annoyed and refused to discuss the matter.
>
But such absurdity is not confined to Anglicans. Modernists who fancy themselves members of the Catholic Church display an equally absurd ignorance of the basics of the faith and manifest the ‘unreality’, as Newman characterised it, of their ‘faith’. Their discourse and its corrosive emptiness sucks in the naive and unwary and drains away their faith. I went to a catechesis given at the 2000 World Youth Day in Rome by a Canadian bishop. It took place in a church where the clergy leading their groups sat in a semicircle around the apse behind the bishop who stood at the lectern. The bishop’s catechesis was vapid and insubstantial, peppered with the usual symptoms of modernism. When it came to the questions a girl asked “why do you have to be in a state of grace to receive communion?” The bishop was smoked out by so precise a question “well y’know, I’d have to ask where you were coming from with a phrase like ‘state of grace’ and what kind of theology that would reflect. I mean you’d have to say to yourself ‘do I really hate Jesus?’ and if y’know you couldn’t say that or at least you weren’t saying that when you took communion, well then I’d say go ahead”. Behind him at the apex of the apse invisible to the bishop and most of the other clergy but in full view of the packed congregation was one of the priests leading our group ( A “Faith Movement” priest, it should be said, lest anyone think this blog sees no good in that society). He made a grimace and a prominent, arms-length, thumbs-down gesture at these words of the bishop’s.
>
The priest made the bishop look bad but he helped a lot of people that day. He probably prevented a good many sacrilegious communions. But the important thing was the girl’s question. It cut through the liberal verbiage and forced him to show his colours because it was a precise and technical question grown out of a culture that knows of what it speaks. That has been “taught by a kind of yet more Godlike instruction; not only by learning Divine things, but also by suffering them.”