He writes concerning my observations about Protestants who talk a good game about “faith alone” but then live in ways explicable only by Catholic theology:
Mark Shea has it backwards I am afraid.
No sound thinker takes salvation by faith alone literally. However, I think that the American de facto religion is antinomianism for me, but not for thee. The great wonderful me is saved by faith alone without respect to works for me, but no salvation, no forgiveness for “those evil awful people over there” otherwise known as TEAPOTS whoever they are.
This is the religiosity of Bill Keller of the New York Times who believes that God wanted him and his wife to murder his defective unborn child, but waxes indignantly against John Geoghan who would have shown his flaccid wee-wee to a child and Cardinal Law who allowed such a thing to happen. Obviously those two will not escape hellfire for that, no sir!, unlike the warm compassionate me who blessedly took that child out of its misery from a life not worth living.
I agree with Arsebishop that there is something spectacularly… displaced… about a fanatically pro-choice media and culture waxing indignant about the abuse of children while struggling with might and main to see to it that every last parent who wishes to can order a child’s brains sucked out. My sense has long been that the more fanatically devoted American chattering class culture becomes to the “right” to murder children for any and all reasons, the more it tends to compensate for its flaming, bloody guilt by heaping bitter and unforgiving contempt on those who happen to commit sins against children that are still socially unacceptable. “See! I care about children. I’m not like that horrible Geoghan. I’m a good person.” It is also struggling to alleviate the tension by other means: such as making these other crimes against children socially acceptable (see “Levine, Dr. Judith”).
This is not to say that Geoghan’s sins aren’t heinous. But it is to say that the sins of a man like Keller go a long way toward explaining why his faith “collapsed”. It’s very… convenient to be able to hate the Church for hurting children while congratulating yourself on your compassion for killing your “boy-like” son.
That said, however, I was not speaking of non-Christians or apostate Catholics in my blog. I was speaking of serious, committed Protestants. Among this group, I’ve met many who say they believe in salvation by faith alone. I’ve never met any who, once they are done trotting out the phrase in some sort of “glories of Protestantism” polemic, actually go back to their ordinary lives and live as though they really believe it. They all live as though faith unincarnate in works of love is just a fiction. In short, they live in a way better explained by Catholic theology than by their own. I think that’s a good thing, since it shows we’re not all that far apart really (despite David Heddle’s desperate hopes to the contrary).