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On the God of the Christians: (and on one or two others)
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On the God of the Christians > A God Who Forgives Sin

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message 1: by John (new)

John Seymour | 1902 comments Mod
If God asks nothing of us, what is there to forgive?


Fonch | 1264 comments In my opinion this is the best chapter of the book.


Manuel Alfonseca | 1515 comments Mod
Fonch wrote: "In my opinion this is the best chapter of the book."

I agree.


message 4: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 699 comments He seems to be saying that only through forgiveness does sin take on its power/reality.

I am the only one who can (know that I) sin; in others, I can observe misdeeds but can never know to what extent the doer is culpable; only God can know the inner motivation and other relevant factors.

He broadens/deepens "remission" to involve liberation and transformation.


message 5: by John (new)

John Seymour | 1902 comments Mod
I found this the most disappointing chapter in the book. I am a little surprised to see I am alone in that assessment. I will sleep on it overnight and address my concerns in the morning.


Mariangel | 560 comments I am not sure I'd say it was disappointing, but I didn't understand this chapter as well as others. I need to reread it.


message 7: by John (new)

John Seymour | 1902 comments Mod
A minor point, but at least in the United States the Act of Contrition still often includes the phrase: "O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you." And in the Catechism, 1850, "Sin is an offense against God."

"The human being who sins only wounds himself, by depriving himself of his good." While of course sin doesn't wound God, all sin has communal impact, or as the Catechism puts it "injures human solidarity." (1849) Perhaps I am hypersensitive to the point, given the recent news in the U.S., but to claim that the actions of the priests and bishops recounted in the Pennsylvania grand jury report wounded only those clergy strikes me as obtuse. For someone who parses words as carefully as Brague, this is bizarre.

But then to argue, as I take Brague to be doing, that without forgiveness there is no sin, is, I think, sheer lunacy. Brague puts significant emphasis on the difference between forgiveness and remission, but in the English translations of both the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed, we profess belief in the "forgiveness of sin."

Yes, when I am pondering the source of sin, I do best to look at my own heart. But am I forbidden from pointing out sin in any other person in any other circumstance? Can I not look at the perversions of a cardinal and say they are sin? Or when a priest rapes a child or procures an abortion for his lover, can't I determine that he has sinned? Besides the fact that this seems to ignore Matt. 18: 15-17 ("When your brother has sinned against you . . ."), it seems to lead to a "who am I to judge" mentality of ignoring cultures of sin, both inside and outside the Church. This mindset is, it seems to me, at the very root of the current crisis in the Church.

Later, Brague goes on to say that in order to be forgiven (remitted?) sin must be acknowledged. But if it must be acknowledged before it can be forgiven, then sin must have existence and meaning independent of acknowledgement and wholly independent of forgiveness. I found this chapter to be incoherent and indeed dangerously wrongheaded.


message 8: by Manuel (last edited Aug 20, 2018 06:54AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Manuel Alfonseca | 1515 comments Mod
John wrote: "A minor point, but at least in the United States the Act of Contrition still often includes the phrase: "O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you." And in the Catechism, 1850, "Sin is ..."

Let me try to explain.

A sin is a human act. But for a sin to be a mortal sin, three conditions must hold:

a) The act must be seriously wrong.
b) The perpetrator must have perfect knowledge that the act is wrong.
c) The perpetrator must have perfect intention to perform the act anyway, knowing that it is wrong.

We can look at ourselves and come to the conclusion that we have sinned, for we can know whether we have fulfilled the three conditions. However, with respect to the act of others, we cannot know whether they fulfilled conditions b) and c), for we don't have inner knowledge about them. At most, we can know that what they have done is wrong (condition a), we can assert that they have done wrong, but we can never assert that they have sinned. The fact that we know that they have done wrong forces us to try to fight that wrong, by speaking to them, explaining that it is wrong, and so on, but we cannot go further.

I'll give an example: a young woman is pregnant and decides to have an abortion. I know that this is wrong, therefore I must try to prevent her doing it. Otherwise, I would sin. If I learn about it after the fact, I can still reason with her, but I cannot assert that she has sinned. Perhaps she has been educated in the wrong belief that abortion is a right of women, that an embryo or a fetus is not a human being. She may not have had perfect knowledge of what she was doing, or perfect intention to perform it (she may have been pushed by others). In those cases, she wouldn't have sinned.

Recognizing that one has sinned is a previous condition to the remission of sins. The sin does not exist until it is seen as a sin by the sinner. In this sense, Rémi Brague says that the sin and the pardon are simultaneous.

This is how I see the nub of the last chapter of the book, and this is how I think Rémi Brague intended it to be understood.


message 9: by Mariangel (last edited Aug 20, 2018 06:31PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mariangel | 560 comments I thought that Brague didn't argue his point very clearly in this chapter. I did understand that we cannot know for sure if another person had perfect knowledge and intention.

But I agree with John (and I also thought this while I was reading) that this chapter can be very bad reading for a poorly catechized person, or for some of the clergy out there whose idea of reaching out to sinners includes admitting to communion divorced couples, Protestants married to Catholics, etc.


Fonch | 1264 comments In my opinion it could be the problem, this book you need a big knowledge in the catholic doctrine to understand it. With all the regret of the sin it is not enough you have to change your behaviour and it is a big process. A lot of persons mistake in this thing.


message 11: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 699 comments "Catholics married to Protestants" is not necessarily a sin, even objectively!


message 12: by John (new)

John Seymour | 1902 comments Mod
Manuel wrote: "John wrote: "A minor point, but at least in the United States the Act of Contrition still often includes the phrase: "O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you." And in the Catechism, 1..."

I agree with you that this was how Brague sees it. But in stating that mortal sin requires perfect knowledge and perfect intention, which seems to me to go beyond the statements in the Catechism to the effect that no one is deemed ignorant of the principles of the moral law. And the complete consent the Catechism speaks of is "a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice."

So Brague is saying that without forgiveness there is no sin. But then why did Christ die on the Cross? For the remission of our sins. But without His death there would be no sins to be remitted?

I think this formula is too cute. I accept that I cannot know another man's heart. So I cannot say that McCarrick will go to hell. I don't know how he was formed, I don't know what he thought of what he was doing. I do know that a Cardinal ought to know what he did was sin. So much so that only grave mental defect could avoid it's being sin. But I do not know. And I do not know the state of his repentance. Fair enough.

But absent some mental defect that kept him from knowing that what he did was wrong (and intentional ignorance, of course, does not defeat full knowledge), his abuse of seminarians was sin, regardless of whether he has repented and obtained forgiveness.

So I guess it is the last of Brague's steps that I have the greatest difficulty with. It may be true that one doesn't have the fullest knowledge of exactly how wrongfully one has acted until after one has received forgiveness, but that does not mean, I don't think, that it was not already sin. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."


message 13: by Mariangel (last edited Aug 20, 2018 06:32PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mariangel | 560 comments Jill wrote: ""Catholics married to Protestants" is not necessarily a sin, even objectively!"

Sorry I wasn't clear, I edited the previous post. I meant that some Catholic priests want the Protestant spouses to be allowed to received communion, so that they don't feel excluded.


message 14: by Manuel (last edited Aug 21, 2018 12:32AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Manuel Alfonseca | 1515 comments Mod
Mariangel wrote: "Jill wrote: ""Catholics married to Protestants" is not necessarily a sin, even objectively!"

Sorry I wasn't clear, I edited the previous post. I meant that some Catholic priests want the Protestan..."


We can all be misunderstood when we don't express ourselves clearly. I'd also signal that the other part of your comment ("admitting to communion divorced couples") can also be misunderstood. You obviously meant "remarried divorced persons." Those Catholics who are divorced by their spouses and do not remarry, or start a sexual partnership with another partner, can participate in Communion.

Even the Bible can be misunderstood by a poorly catechized person, or by some of the clergy who have been taught that homosexual practice is not wrong, and is progressive.


message 15: by Manuel (last edited Aug 21, 2018 12:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Manuel Alfonseca | 1515 comments Mod
John wrote: "But in stating that mortal sin requires perfect knowledge and perfect intention, which seems to me to go beyond the statements in the Catechism to the effect that no one is deemed ignorant of the principles of the moral law."

This is nr. 1857 in the Catechism: For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."

John wrote: So Brague is saying that without forgiveness there is no sin. But then why did Christ die on the Cross? For the remission of our sins. But without His death there would be no sins to be remitted?

This is a counter-factual. I can only answer as Aslan answered Lucy in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: "Child, did I not explain to you once that no one is ever told what would have happened? :-)


message 16: by John (new)

John Seymour | 1902 comments Mod
Mariangel wrote: "Jill wrote: ""Catholics married to Protestants" is not necessarily a sin, even objectively!"

Sorry I wasn't clear, I edited the previous post. I meant that some Catholic priests want the Protestan..."


I understood.


message 17: by John (new)

John Seymour | 1902 comments Mod
Manuel wrote: "John wrote: "But in stating that mortal sin requires perfect knowledge and perfect intention, which seems to me to go beyond the statements in the Catechism to the effect that no one is deemed igno..."

Yes, but go on and the following paragraphs define "full knowledge and deliberate consent." That is the language that I quoted.

Maybe I'm just not bright enough to get it, but I do not understand the claim that without forgiveness there is no sin.


Fonch | 1264 comments Jill wrote: ""Catholics married to Protestants" is not necessarily a sin, even objectively!"

The mix marriage exist although there is a condition to bring up the sons in the catholic church faith.


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