Fr. Robert Barron on Garry Wills’ Ridiculous “Why Priests?”

The man is a fraud and a charlatan who only persuades people who don’t know anything about the Bible that the Bible opposes the priesthood and the Real Presence. He is part of a long tradition of anti-Catholic enemies of the Church who trade on their bona fides as former Catholics in order to gain money and fame among people who don’t know a thing about the Faith. I hope he enjoys his 30 piece of silver.

Meanwhile, jeepers Fr. Barron is good!

  • http://www.chesterton.org Sean P. Dailey

    Wills goes through all that work and hoop-jumping and erecting of straw men only to deny the divinity of Christ on the last page of his book. Fr. Barron quite rightly likens him to a Muslim.

  • Andy, Bad Person

    Yikes. If it were a boxing match, the fight would have been stopped halfway through. Fr. Barron simply eviscerates Wills’ book. I find that I can’t start watching a video with Fr. Barron without staring at it transfixed until it’s done. He’s quite the engaging speaker.

    Please, someone chime in on why we should listen to Wills because of his Theology Degrees again.

    • ivan_the_mad

      When I was in college, I was interested in a theology degree, so I took a couple of theology courses. In the second and last, the teacher, a priest, said “As difficult as it is to believe, there are still people today who believe that angels and demons walk the earth”. Then he made an incredulous face to the class and explained how such things were merely personifications of the psyche or some such twaddle.

      One of the many reasons I hold a BS instead of a BA, and one of the many reasons I don’t consider a degree to be an indicator of domain knowledge.

      • Subsistent

        I wholeheartedly agree that a theology degree does not imply real knowledge in theology. So does the Church, apparently, which has declared doctors — i.e. teachers — of the Church such non-degreed authors as Therese of Lisieux and Hildegard of Bingen. But actually, that “angels and demons walk the earth” is indeed false according to Thomas Aquinas, who maintained that they don’t really have bodies with which to walk.

        • dpt

          “I wholeheartedly agree that a theology degree does not imply real knowledge in theology.”
          True. I’ve encountered some who in a discussion or debate attempt to silence the other with a statement along the lines of “I have a masters in theology.”

          That is a power trip. How many of the apostles or, in the early church, disciples have a masters in theology.

    • dpt

      “Please, someone chime in on why we should listen to Wills because of his Theology Degrees again.”

      We don’t need to listen to his tired thoughts, though the media deems him–because he counters the old men in the Vatican–as a person of substance when it comes to discussing church teachings. The media needs controversy and conflict to survive and to profit, so Mr. Wills is a convenient means to that end.

  • astorian

    Father Barron is great, but I thought Stephen Colbert (whom I generally have no use for) already made mincemeat of Wills weeks ago.

    • Claire

      Exactly. I like Colbert better than you seem to, but he did an excellent job of making Mr. Wills look pretty silly.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Unfortunately, Colbert’s shows are not available in Canada. Any time I click on a link given by Mark to one of Colbert’s videos, I get that same message. Is there a way to get around this? By the way, I never watch TV and cannot really afford the fees to get connected to cable or something else, for something that I am only interested to see maybe once or twice every few months.

  • Claude

    It seems to me that it makes Garry Wills fundamentally identical to a Muslim.

    Haha. Next thing you know Fr. Barron will be demanding to see Garry Wills’s birth certificate. Wills said he was one of millions of followers of Jesus, and Muslims, of course, follow (though they do not worship) Mohammed. If I recall correctly, Wills affirmed the divinity of Jesus during his appearance on the Colbert show.

    Fr. Barron neglects to mention that Henri de Lubac lost his teaching position at the Catholic University of Lyon over Corpus Mysticum:

    Six years passed before the Vatican pressured de Lubac’s superiors to dismiss him from his faculty post, remove his book from their houses, and forbid its dissemination elsewhere.

    (Why Priests?, pp. 56-57.)

    De Lubac and other liberal theologians were effectively silenced under Pope Pius XII. Their suppression ended under Pope John XXIII, who named de Lubac an expert for Vatican II.

    Fr. Barron cherry picks from Corpus Mysticum to demonstrate de Lubac’s orthodoxy. If de Lubac was so orthodox, why did the Vatican silence him for nine years?

    • Mark Shea

      I notice you have not answered a single point Fr. Barron makes and instead introduce irrelevancies to distract from his devastating takedown of Will’s BS. Lots of theologians have had their work regarded with suspicion for a time (one things of St. Paul, St. Thomas, St. John of the Cross) and then been vindicated by the Magisterium.

      And no, Wills will not be among them. Rejection of the deity of Jesus is kind of a deal-breaker in Catholic theological circles. The man is a quack and an apostate.

      • Claude

        I notice you have not answered a single point Fr. Barron makes…

        Really. Let’s review.

        Point, Fr. Barron: Garry Wills is wrong, Henri de Lubac is orthodox!

        Counterpoint: As Wills explains in his book (which you, Mark Shea, have vowed not to read) the Vatican silenced de Lubac for nine years for the theology presented in Corpus Mysticum, a book, as Wills writes, that “traced a line of theologians in the first Christian millenium who drew on Augustine to provide a theory of the Eucharist opposed to transubstantiation.” Therefore, there are grounds to challenge Fr. Barron’s confidence that there’s nothing to see here.

        Whether or not de Lubac was vindicated in time does not negate the fact that his ideas were regarded with suspicion and suppressed by the Vatican. You may disagree with my view that Fr. Barron is being disingenuous, but you are wrong that I am evading “a single point.” Fr. Barron is trying to recast Wills’s argument as a denial of the divinity of Jesus instead of one carefully determined by taking seriously a theory of the Eucharist with an ancient and worthy pedigree.

        Amazing that you spin Wills’ affirmation of Jesus’s divinity (Colbert: “Is Jesus God?” Wills: “Yes.”) as “rejection of the deity of Jesus.” Up is down!

        • Mark Shea

          Actually, Barron’s point is that de Lubac is simply not saying what Wills puts in his mouth. The question of de Lubac’s orthodoxy is not really the point. Wills does not “explain”. He misrepresents. And as Barron points out, the Fathers–including Augustine–believe in the Real Presence (transubstantiation is an anachronism post-dating Augustine by a thousand years). De Lubac also affirms the Real Presence, which Wills calls a “fake”. Will theory has no ancient pedigree. It is the coinage of his own brain and goes back to Zwingli at best.

          I’m glad he backed down on denying the deity of Jesus for Colbert. Might have been sincere, might have been in order to maintain his cred as a “Catholic”. But what he has written, he has written. Until he addresses that directly, Barron’s critique is right on the money, as is the rest of his devastating evisceration of Wills’ pseudo-scholarship on the NT and Hebrews. The man is a fraud.

    • http://www.chesterton.org Sean P. Dailey

      “If I recall correctly, Wills affirmed the divinity of Jesus during his appearance on the Colbert show.”

      And in his book, Wills denies it, unless you want to make the case that Fr. Barron was lying when he read from the last page of Wills’ book. I guess we can all watch the Colbert clip again to see what Wills really said, but even if he affirmed Jesus’ divinity, it’s nice to see what he’ll say under pressure in front of a nationwide TV audience while being questioned by someone who knows his stuff, like Colbert.

      • Claude

        Right, Garry Wills is so very concerned with the opinion of the Colbert Nation that he pandered to them! That’s just absurd. I checked the Colbert clip, and Wills did affirm the divinity of Jesus (Colbert: “Is Jesus God?” Wills; “Yes”; Colbert: “God raised Jesus from the dead…” Wills: “Yes…”)

        Furthermore, in the concluding chapter of Why Priests, Wills identifies precisely what he believes in as a Catholic:

        God.
        The Creation (which does not preclude evolution.)
        The Trinity.
        Divine Providence.
        Prayer.
        The Incarnation.
        The Resurrection.
        The Gospels.
        The Creed.
        Baptism.
        The Mystical Body of Christ (which is the real meaning of the Eucharist).
        The Eucharist
        The Second Coming.
        The Afterlife.
        The Communion of Saints.

        (Why Priests?, pp. 256-57.)

        And Shea calls Wills an “apostate”!

        • Mark Shea

          Will is *intensely* concerned with maintaining credibility as a Catholic who is trying to steer the Church back to the “What Jesus Meant”. If he simply outs himself as an apostate who rejects the deity of Jesus, as he sure looks like he is doing in what he wrote, then he loses significant market share from progressive Catholics who, though they are hostile to Rome, are not willing to abandon faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Given that he has already shown his mendacity (as Fr. Barron makes abundantly clear) I think the burden is on him to explain what he meant in that conclusion to his book, because yeah, he is basically denying the deity of Jesus. That he denies he is doing so on a TV show designed to promote the book only demonstrates to me that, yes, he is mendacious.

          • Claude

            Well, Mark, maybe if you actually read the book you would understand what Wills means. In his last chapter Wills cites Luke 9:49-50 (Wills usually translates himself from the Greek):

            John said, “Leader, we found a man casting out devils in your name, and we stopped him, since he was not working with us.” But Jesus said, “Why did you stop him? You see, whoever is not against us is with us.”

            Wills goes on to write:

            All those acting in the name of Jesus are our brothers and sisters….The great scandal of Christians is the way they have persecuted other Christians, driving out heretics, shunning them, burning their books, burning them.

            Wills appeals to the unity of all believers in Jesus, but he goes further:

            But so far I have been speaking of fellow Christians, my brothers and sisters. That does not mean we can forget out foreparents, the Jews….Nor do I count out monotheistic believers of other sorts. Though they do not accept our Creed, they are also children of the same one God (there are not two), who cares about them in ways we may not comprehend. All believers in God set off on broken and blind adventures into mystery. None of us gets all the way to the inner heart of that reality.

            He then cites Augustine who makes the same point about the limits to understanding God. Finally, he writes the concluding sentence of the chapter and the book:

            In that spirit, let me simply say this: There is one God, and Jesus is one of his prophets, and I am one of his millions of followers.

            Wills here makes a gesture of reconciliation with Muslims: You are not against Jesus, so you are with us, children of the same and only God. It is a marvelous and deeply Christian sentiment, one reminiscent of Father Christian’s farewell in “Of Gods and Men”:

            My death will of course quickly vindicate those who hastily called me naive or idealistic, but they must know that I will finally be freed of my most burning curiosity and will be able, God willing, to immerse my gaze into the Father’s in order to contemplate with him his children of Islam as he sees them….And may we meet again, happy thieves in paradise, if it pleases God, the Father of us both.

            AMEN! INCH’ALLAH!

            • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

              For a Christian to write, “There is one God, and Jesus is one of his prophets,” is gravely evil.

              In Wills’s defense, he may be too stupid or foolish to realize that.

              • Subsistent

                Actually, I see nothing heterodoxly un-Catholic about saying that Our Lord was and is one of God’s prophets. Just that it’s a whopping understatement, reminiscent of the understatedly ambiguous *homoi-ousion tōi patri* formula favored by 4th-century crypto-Arians. And speaking of Arianism, I remember being told by a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses that, in keeping with the New Testament, the Witnesses freely admitted that Jesus was “God”: just that he was not “Almighty God”. They told me they held he was originally the greatest of the angels, who was changed into a human for his 30-some years on earth, and then was changed back into the greatest of the angels. May Garry Wills similarly affirm/deny that Jesus is God, depending on what the meaning of the word “God” is?

                • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

                  Did Jesus reveal Himself to be one of God’s prophets? Is that what it says in the Gospel?

                  • Subsistent

                    Yes; He revealed Himself to be that and more: “formally-eminently” one of God’s prophets. The contradictory, which is false, is that He was not any of God’s prophets. (Similarly, a Christian presbyter has not ceased to be formally-eminently a deacon; nor a bishop, to be thus a presbyter, and to be formally-eminently a deacon.)

                  • Subsistent

                    *Autrement dit*, as Our Lord was *verus homo sed non purus homo*, so He was *verus propheta sed non purus propheta*.

                    • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

                      You’re right, of course.

                      I was trying to make what is fundamentally a rhetorical argument — that Wills’s conclusion functions as, at best, a diminution of Christ’s divinity, which is an objectively gravely evil thing for a Christian to do — into a theological argument, which doesn’t quite hold together for the reasons you state.

                      I would still say, however, that Jesus didn’t reveal Himself to be a prophet and more; rather, He revealed Himself to be the Son of God, which entails the office of prophet. This [post-infancy] revelation began with the Father’s voice at Jesus’ baptism. Even with the Samaritan woman, who called him “prophet” before calling him “Christ,” Jesus reveals Himself to be the source of life-giving water before He tells her about her husband. And in the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, the son is introduced and discussed *as* the master’s son, even as he does his father’s will just like the servants who came before him.

            • Faith

              I agree there has been great scandal and terrible sin in the way Christians have treated Christians. What has that got to do with the Eucharist or why Catholics have priests? I haven’t read the book so I don’t know how Wills tangles all that up. But again there is that equivocation going on. If he is attempting nothing more than reconciliation with Muslims why the dishonesty? There is a big difference in saying Jesus is the Messiah and saying he is one of the prophets. Frankly, I am more comfortable with the traditional Muslim view that I have heard. That Christians and Jews and Muslims are all people of the Book and therefore should be respected (though right now, by far the greatest religious persecutions are being perpetuated by Muslims against Christians.). But Muslims traditionally don’t equate themselves with Christians. They believe we are missing part of revelation, namely the Koran. So for Wills to state that what he believes is essentially the same thing as what Muslims believe is either a) just plain wrong or b) he isn’t really clear on what he believes. It seems pandering to me. I think I see what Wills is reacting to (the violent, hateful past when people were cruelly treated for differences) but he seems to go overboard in wanting to whitewash any differences.

              • Claude

                So for Wills to state that what he believes is essentially the same thing as what Muslims believe…

                Except, he does not say that. The point is, are Muslims against Jesus? No, they are not, because they think Jesus was a prophet. So this belief that Jesus was a prophet is the optimal point on which to appeal to Muslims as children of the one God. Jesus himself situates himself in the line of prophets:

                Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kill the prophets and stone those who have been sent to you, how many times have I wished to gather in your children, as a bird gathers her fledglings under her wings, and you would not let me. Behold, your house is lost. For I tell you, you shall not see me again, until you say: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

                • Stu

                  Yes, it’s almost like Peter being asked if he knew Jesus and denying it. Wills statement is a denial at least by omission. It’s a shrouding of the truth and at best it’s a cause of scandal. That being said, I don’t think the intended audience of his book is the faithful anyway. I think it is a “cheer guide” for those who claim disbelief yet can’t walk away either for lack of courage or because down deep they know they are wrong.

                • Vijay

                  Claude, you are a fool! I come from the second largest Muslim country in the world. Of course Muslims are against Jesus. Yes, they think the man Jesus was one of the prophets, but they believe that Allah left him before he died on the cross and the man that died on the cross was not Jesus. This they deny the Incarnation, that God came in the flesh ( read 1st John), the crucifixion and the Resurrection of Jesus. They do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, they believe that Christians are deceived, infidels and going to hell and persecute Jesus and Christians all over the world…just this week they burned the homes of a 100 Christian families in Pakistan. For you to say that Muslims are not against Jesus is delusional. It is one thing to be invent your own theology like Gary Wills (and I have read his book by the way), but you are an even bigger fool because you accept everything he says and ignore the Scriptures and the sound wisdom of the Holy Spirit, the Scripture, the fathers of the church, her theologians and her scholars throughout the centuries. If you are a non- Christian or a non- Catholic like I was, I will even accept that. But to even ignore the evidence of history and common sense is utter foolishness. I urge you my brother, throw off the utopia from your head. The Arabs and Muslims maybe children of Abraham, but Islam is not for Christ or Christianity. I know many Muslims who love God and faithfully follow what they know just like Hindus do. But only in Christ crucified and risen, will they or us know the full revelation of God the Father.

            • adele young

              @Claude….As you write here, promoting the agenda of Wills’ book, are you suggesting
              that Wills’ intention is to unite Christians? In all his writings, it would appear he is more of a divider by his redefining the meaning of the essential elements of Catholicism as we have understood it for centuries. He is more identifiable with Protestantism and seems to promote a course for the Church that would take us in that direction. In fact, having read this book, I find I have more in common in terms of belief with some of them ( for example,
              the Episcopalians ) than I can find in Wills stated beliefs. One is certainly hard-pressed
              to find any reason whatsoever for Wills continuing to believe/state his faith in the Catholic church. He is clearly way off the *reservation* and I can only conclude that it is greed
              that motivates him, certainly not theology. If he wrote his books as an ex-Catholic, he
              would lose his cache among the readership. Even still, he continues to confuse and show
              signs of his own inner conflict, as when he writes that Jesus is only a prophet, but professes
              his divinity when on the Colbert show. This alone should show his reading audience that
              the man is either mightily unsure of what he believes….or is as suggested, merely a fraud.

        • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

          Is he against the institution of the priesthood? If so, then screw him for an apostate.

          • Stu

            Even not seeing things eye-to-eye at times, I pick Pavel to be on my team.

            (After my brother Sean, of course.)

        • Faith

          But Wills doesn’t believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. So why is the Eucharist listed there among his beliefs? He’s got his own interpretation of what the Eucharist means and it doesn’t jive with what Catholicism teaches on this very basic fundamental precept. So there is some real equivocation going on there. And all the other stuff listed could be Protestant as well, so the list really doesn’t carry much weight if you are trying to defend Wills from the accusation of apostasy.

          • http://www.vatican.va CatholicScoob

            It’s because Wills disingenuously uses Augustine to deny the Real Presence (which Augustine actually didn’t) and yet bolster “The Eucharist of the People”, completely taking Augustine out of context. Horrid scholarship.

        • http://www.chesterton.org Sean P. Dailey

          Going through your list one by one, keeping in mind that Wills denied the divinity of Christ.

          God. Ok, but then again so does a Muslim, so so what.
          The Creation (which does not preclude evolution.) Ok.
          The Trinity. No. If Wills denies the divinity of Christ, then he does not believe in the Trinity.
          Divine Providence. Ok, but then again so does a Muslim, so so what.
          Prayer. Ok, but then again so does a Muslim, so so what.
          The Incarnation. No. If Wills denies the divinity of Christ, he does not believe in the Incarnation.
          The Resurrection. Iffy, but I’ll allow a gimmie.
          The Gospels. No. Jesus declares his divinity multiple times in the Gospels, either directly or indirectly. If Wills denies the divinity of Christ, he does not believe in the Gospels.
          The Creed. No. Seriously, how stupid are Wills’ readers?
          Baptism. If Jesus is not God, then baptism (and all the sacraments) are blasphemous. Wills denies the divinity of Christ, so he does not believe in baptism.
          The Mystical Body of Christ (which is the real meaning of the Eucharist). No. If Christ is not divine, then how can he have a mystical body?
          The Eucharist. No. See above what I wrote about baptism.
          The Second Coming. Ok, but if Christ is not divine, why is his second coming a big deal?
          The Afterlife. Ok, but then again so does a Muslim, so so what.
          The Communion of Saints. Ok.

          If Wills denies the divinity of Christ, then this list of what he claims to believe as a Catholic is just a whole lot of BS.

          • Claude

            Your premise is false. Wills did not deny the divinity of Christ.

            • Mark Shea

              Yeah, actually he does–in his book. By the way, note that you have totally avoided the heart and core of the discussion, his crappy scholarship on the NT teaching concerning priesthood, sacrifice, and Real Presence. You’re too busy chucking out red herrings to divert the discussion.

              • Claude

                Yeah, actually he does–in his book.

                No, actually, he doesn’t, as I explained at some length. If you insist on believing that he did, it’s pointless to debate the matter further with you.

                Of course, I’m not tossing out red herrings, but a response to the last, and rather striking point, Fr. Brennan made. I will have to go back over his critique to unpack his arguments about the priesthood, etc.

                • Mark Shea

                  Yeah, actually he does. In reducing Jesus to a prophet, he is denying the deity of Jesus. I expect as time goes on, he will make this more plain, just as he has made his contempt for the Eucharist (a “fake”) more plain.

                  And yes, you are majoring in minors here, because the real core of the discussion that Fr. ***Barron*** has is with Wills’ execrable claims that Hebrews is some ex post facto attempt to read Jesus through priestly and sacrificial lenses when, in fact (as I tried in vain to point out to you) the NT is shot through with priestly and sacrificial language about Jesus. Wills is a quack and a fraud. You defend him because he tells you what your itching ears want to hear.

        • Will

          And HOW DO ALL THE THINGS ON THAT LAUNDRY LIST MAKE HIM “CATHOLIC” AND NOT “PROTESTANT”? Yes, I am shouting, because every time I ask anyone that, I am greeted with earsplitting silence. Is Wills asserting that Protestants do NOT believe in all those things, and therefore anyone who does is “Catholic”, even if he rejects any and all Catholic distincives?

        • http://allpartoflifesrichpageant.blogspot.com James

          There is a name for Christians who have the same beliefs as Garry Wills: We call them “Presbyterians”.

  • http://remnantofremnant.blogspot.com priest’s wife (@byzcathwife)

    Fr Barron and Fr Mitch Pacwa are my favorite well-known priests- we pray for them a lot- Keep the faith, Fathers!!!!! (I just get veeeeery nervous when a priest has even a bit of mainstream ‘success’)

  • Faith

    Claude, you seem to be very disingenuous. You also seem to be living in the past the way Wills is. De Lubac was silenced for a period of time quite a while ago. Apparently it was his book Surnaturel that put him under suspicion, which eventually was cleared. He has since been accepted, lauded, taught and was even made a cardinal by JPII who openly admired him. You yourself admit he was influential at Vatican II. Ignatius Press, that hotbed of heresy, publishes his books! No way he can be orthodox!

  • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

    Bravo Father Barron!

  • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

    Claude, are you a Muslim?

    • Claude

      Haha! As I’ve said repeatedly, I am a lapsed Catholic and non-believer.

      • Stu

        Quite a counsel that Willis has defending his “orthodoxy.”

        • Claude

          Good point! It is certainly ironic.

      • http://www.chesterton.org Sean P. Dailey

        I hope you return to this side of the Tiber. I urge you, if you are looking for answers to deep questions, to not waste time with Wills.

        • Claude

          That is kind of you to say, thank you. I’m not looking for answers to deep questions. But I’m very interested in Christianity, and Catholicism is the Christianity most familiar to me.

          • Jon W

            I’m not looking for answers to deep questions. But I’m very interested in Christianity

            Christianity isn’t worth your time unless it has something to do with answers to deep questions.

            • Claude

              Right, one of the most transformative and persistent phenomenons in history is not worth my time.

  • Mark R

    How could a man with a Jesuit training before the Council end up like this?! Oh, wait…

  • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

    If someone were to say that they were not a Christian, but venerated Jesus, I could understand that. We could have an honest difference. But if someone claims to be a Christian but denies that Jesus of Nazareth is true God and true man, and that He rose from death in the flesh to fulfill the Paschal Mystery, then I have to conclude that this person is representing himself falsely as a Christian, and is only a Christian by his own gratuitous definition.

    • Claude

      But as I showed above, Wills believes in all the things you mentioned.

      • Mark Shea

        Well, no. You haven’t. You’ve shown that, quite possibly for tactical reasons, he denies to a popular audience what he in fact said in his book: that Jesus is a mere prophet. In short, you’ve given evidence that he is mendacious, not that he is Christian or Catholic. To call the Eucharist a fake definitively marks him as no longer Catholic. Now the question is simply whether his remarks to Colbert were lies or repentance of what he wrote in Why Priests? Give that he was on Colbert to promote Why Priests? I have to go with “lies”.

        • Claude

          Mark, the list of what Wills believes at my 9:58 a.m. post is from the book..

          He calls transubstantiation, not the Eucharist, a fake.

          Wills explains it schematically as follows:

          paradigm elucidated by de Lubac

          Risen Christ
          Sacramental Christ-as-Church

          orthodox paradigm

          Risen Christ
          Eucharistic Christ apart from Church

          Wills does not invent an interpretation of the Eucharist more to his liking. His point is to expose an alternative view of the Eucharist that prevailed for “nearly a thousand years.”

          I’m aware that you’ve written an entire book on the Real Presence and certainly don’t expect Wills to change your mind. But–you misrepresent his views.

        • http://www.chesterton.org Sean P. Dailey

          Claude, please see my 2:23 post unpacking Wills’ list of his beliefs.

      • http://www.usmc.mil S. Murphy

        But as Wills seems to keep showing, he’s at best inconsistent about whether he believes them. Does he believe them, or does he believe in the way that Ben Kenobi believed Darth Vader betrayed and murdered Anakin Skywalker?

        Does he believe in the Eucharist, or does he believe that the Eucharist is “the Mystical Body of Christ (which is the real meaning of the Eucharist)” — which means what? We are the body of Christ, which is merely all of us in a formalized group hug? Because he was very clear, in the Colbert clip, that he doesn’t believe that the consecrated species are both the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ.
        And calling Jesus a prophet is more like declaring for Islam than reaching out to Muslims.

        • Stu

          Point of Order: I thought if we were going to geek out on this blog, it was going to be with Star Trek references.

          • http://www.chesterton.org Sean P. Dailey

            Just don’t mix Start Wars and Star Trek references.

            • Mark Shea

              Because, in the words of R2-D2, “It is not logical.”

        • Subsistent

          Sometimes, in defending a doctrine, one inadvertently misstates it, and thereby exposes it to ridicule. This, I submit, is what “S. Murphy” has done in asserting in effect “that the consecrated species are both the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ”. For the Council of Trent expressly admitted, on the contrary, that the species of the bread and wine remain UNchanged at the Consecration. By “species” Trent meant “appearances”, right? Probably “S. Murphy” really means something different, so that his contradiction of Trent here is only verbal, not real. But it remains a misleading statement, IMO.

  • Jeff

    Claude, in what way did you “show it above”?

    It was pointed out to you that Wills SAYS he believes in the Eucharist. But when you get right down to it, he doesn’t believe in what we mean when we say we believe in the Eucharist.

    So how do we know what he believes is the “real meaning” of all the rest of the things in the list? Plenty of modern disbelieving theologians SAY they believe in the Divinity of Christ, for example, but they don’t believe what the Church understands by that expression.

    Look: Wills utterly rejects the doctrine of the Real Presence and the sacramental priesthood. He says these things are utterly unChristian and should be rooted out.

    We Catholics say that they are centrally Christian and that Wills’ ideas should be rooted out.

    Somebody is right and somebody is wrong. I don’t see that it is any less charitable for us to condemn him and say that his ideas don’t fit with Christianity than for him to do the reverse.

    I have a vast number of Muslim friends. I talk to them every day. Just see if they would accept any expression whatsoever of the “Divinity of Christ” as anything less than a blasphemy. I don’t need to be “reconciled” with them. They are my dear friends! But we have a deep disagreement here, a fundamental one. And they know about it.

    For Wills to put forward this formulation about Jesus as one of the prophets in some other place in the book and as a limited truth which connects us to non Christians would be an act of charity and decency.

    But for him to use it to SUM UP HIS RELIGIOUS POSITION at the very end of his book means one of two things. Either Wills is utterly incompetent to state clearly what he believes as a Catholic about Jesus or HE is the one who is being disingenuous.

    He’s not concerned with “gestures of unity” toward those who believe in the priesthood and the real presence. Let’s see him write a book condemning the notion of Christ as merely a prophet and not the Son of God as a betrayal of the Christian ideal. But the idea of Jesus as a mere prophet hasn’t caused violence you say? Read the history of Islam.

    • Claude

      Well, thank you for this thoughtful response. For starters, it may be that my reading of Wills is off the mark. My interpretation should not be confused with Wills’ position, which it’s possible I’ve misrepresented.

      Wills certainly has a problem with transubstantiation and the authority vested in priests to effect it. But he still believes in the Eucharist in terms of the paradigm Henri de Lubac identified.

      Again, Wills does not deny the divinity of Christ, unless you think that describing Jesus as a prophet is a denial of his divinity. Wills is most certainly not attempting a theological reconciliation concerning the divinity of Jesus! I apologize if I gave anyone that impression. I meant “reconciliation” as an expansion of the “circle of sympathy” to include all monotheists (polytheists are out of luck, I guess), not as a gesture designed to ultimately resolve the conflict over the nature of Jesus.

      • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

        Describing Jesus as a prophet is a denial of His divinity. On fact, the question is asked: Is he the prophet? Oh no sir, Jesus is the One whose coming is prophesied.

        • Subsistent

          “Prophet” means “one who speaks for God”. Does not Our Lord speak for God? As Our Lord, being Perfect God, was *verus homo sed non purus homo*, so He was *verus propheta sed non purus propheta*.

          • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

            He is God.

            Let us not commit tautologies.

          • Subsistent

            Altho Jesus is indeed Perfect God, He nonetheless found occasion to apply to Himself the saying that a prophet is without honor in his own land. (Of course, Jesus was not ONLY a prophet; but a prophet He was.)

      • Mark Shea

        Wills’ conclusion is a calculated silence. When Petruchio asks Baptista if he has a daughter called Katherina, fair and virtuous, and Baptista replies, “I have a daughter called Katherina” Baptista is not affirming, but denying. That’s the game Wills is playing in his conclusion when he calls Jesus a mere prophet. And since his discussion of the NT priesthood is so thoroughly mendacious, as Fr Barron shows, I conclude he is being mendacious in hawking books on Colbert and appearing to affirm Jesus’ deity. I think his denials of Jesus deity, like his denials of Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist will only get more emphatic, unless he repents.

  • Jeff

    I’d also like to point out, Claude, that WHO you want to be reconciled with theologically tends to say a lot about your beliefs.

    Modern Catholics of the so-called “Left” tend to be VERY interested in reconciling with Anglicans and Presbyterians, a bit bored with the idea of reconciling with the Orthodox, and positively vitriolically opposed to reconciling the SSPX.

  • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

    THE HOUSE OF CHRIST

    The House of Christ, it is my own
    Symposium, my Bride, my Throne
    For as I give my gift of bread
    It is my flesh they take instead;
    I am the banquet and the Host,
    To each the meal, from each a toast
    Which is the oath that they proclaim:
    Christ the body, Holy Name

    And she is one to whom I pledge
    My loyalty, her privilege
    That I will never leave her side,
    She is my love, my faith, my Bride,
    And though she may have lost her way
    From time to time, then she will pray
    That I will lead her to her bower,
    She is my star, my pearl, my flower

    There is my Throne from which I reign
    And there my Glory must remain
    Even if my servants flee,
    The House was built for them by me;
    But when I open every door
    The House will not be needed more
    And that will be, my will be done,
    When joyful wonders have begun

    Pavel
    March 8, 2013

  • Cinlef

    Is there a transcript of the Colbert interview anywhere? As a Canadian I’m not able to watch the video online

  • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

    A non-believer is a planet without star.

    • SouthCoast

      And, like a planet without a star, is a benighted menace to celestial navigation.


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