Against Theodicy

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Since I wrote "Against Justification" yesterday, I thought it would be fitting today to talk about one of my hobbyhorses, which is the way people talk about theodicy, or the problem of squaring the presence of evil in the world with a good God.It seems to me that we get this completely backwards. I mean, yes, at the intellectual level it's an important topic to think about, and it's good that these arguments are there (for myself, I'm completely convinced by "free will" theodicy and I can … [Read more...]

John Adams On The Catholic Mass


While looking for something else, I read that American Founding Father John Adams had made some disparaging comments about the Catholic Mass.I thought, hey, interesting, and looked them up. Here they are, in a letter to his wife: I am wearied to death with the life I lead. The business of the Congress is tedious beyond expression…This day I went to Dr. Allison’s meeting in the forenoon, and hear the Dr.; a good discourse upon the Lord’s supper. . . . This is a Presbyterian meeting. I con … [Read more...]

Against Justification

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Recently, there was a debate between various learned people about "The Future of Protestantism," which I watched with interest. Although the (Roman Catholic) Church was not the main focus of discussion, it inevitably came up, and the participants agreed that the two main things separating Protestantism from Rome were the doctrine of justification by faith alone and the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.This was frustrating, because I view the issue of justification by faith as resolved since the … [Read more...]

Once More On Communion And Divorced-Remarried


The always-excellent Ross Douthat does me the honor to respond to my post on the issue of communion for the divorced-remarried. (I posted that one Divine Mercy Sunday, which was fitting; today is the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, make of that what thou wilt.) I can't really do Ross's post justice with a blockquote and I really encourage you to read it in full, but Ross's argument basically boils down to these few points:Ross reiterates that the position of the Church is one that has b … [Read more...]

A True Missionary Spirit


The first time the Tao Te Ching, the central text of Taoism, was translated into Western language was by a Catholic priest and missionary. A historical scholar I know showed me in his library an old edition of that translation, each page with three columns: Chinese, Latin and French. That's how I read it, knowing of course no Classical Chinese, but going back and forth between French and Latin to try to grasp nuances (which were almost certainly invented by me).This is something we see over … [Read more...]