Am I Being Taught Heresy?


#1

A professor taught our formation weekend class on the Pentateuch. Here is one thing he wrote in the May 2007 edition of Catholic Update. These were handed out to us.

Original sin “is about the concrete situation of human life and society rather than about some kind of taint or blot passed on biologically throughout history.”

The Catechism states [FONT=Courier]“We therefore hold, with the Council of Trent, that original sin is transmitted with human nature, by propagation, not by imitation” and that it is. . . proper to each" (para. 419).[/FONT]
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[FONT=Comic Sans MS]So, how is original sin passed on?[/FONT]
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[FONT=Comic Sans MS]If heresy is a denial of what one knows to be true Catholic teaching, then am I being taught heresy?[/FONT]
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#2

Yes, you are. Unfortunately, “Catholic Update” is notorious for often falling short of the mark in adequately expressing Catholic doctrine. :frowning:

Here’s a good corrective to the professor’s article:

bringyou.to/apologetics/num54.htm


#3

“How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam “as one body of one man”. By this “unity of the human race” all men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as all are implicated in Christ’s justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state. It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice.” - CCC Paragrahp 404

The transmission of original sin is a mystery. But I do not think it is like hair color or eye color that is passed along genetically. Scientists will never identify the “sinful gene.” Rather it is a part of human nature. I think the point of the quote from the Coucil of Trent is that we are all born with an inclination to sin (propogation) rather than developing this inclination because of the sinful nature of the world around us (not imitation).

I personally do not see a conflict between the Catechism and what you quoted from the professor’s handout.


#4

Original sin “is about the concrete situation of human life and society rather than about some kind of taint or blot passed on biologically throughout history.”

Sounds like heresy to me. Death is passed on biologically, which in the Eastern Church is Original Sin’s blot. All humans are destined to die which was brought about by Original Sin. The RCC teaches that the blot doesn’t end there however. But nevertheless, it is definitely passed on biologically, as no one enters the world, or becomes a member of the human race non-biologically.

The comment “is about the concrete situation of human life and society” is about as fuzzy and meaningless as you can get.


#5

Again, I can but say, that I cannot fathom why any diocese bothers to try to teach a thing. They should simply send their parishoners over to CAF, where even the laity has a much clearer and more correct understanding of dogma than any priest, nun, professor, theologian or biblical scholar could possibly have. the utter disdain expressed on every thread for clergy in this country is simply shocking.

Hopefully most do realize that they are getting a very strangely ultra right wing take on things. Thank God we do not suffer many of these folks in our parishes en mass. Everyone would simply quit.


#6

It is not wise to politicize the faith. There is really no “right wing” or “left wing” in Catholicism. You either affirm what the Magisterium of the Church teaches or you don’t, and if you don’t then you’re not in a very enviable position as a Catholic (to put it kindly). Such people certainly should not be teaching Catholicism to others, who, as eager students, deserve authentic teaching.


#7

[quote=SpiritMeadow]They should simply send their parishoners over to CAF, where even the laity has a much clearer and more correct understanding of dogma than any priest, nun, professor, theologian or biblical scholar could possibly have. the utter disdain expressed on every thread for clergy in this country is simply shocking.
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Have courage SpiritMeadow. You are usually reading posts about problem teachings, not about all of the many good priests, nuns, professors and theologians. It because we (the laity) have been taught by them that we are able to discern erroneous teaching. That is their job, and they have been doing a good job too!

No one disdains the clergy, it is only erroneous teachings that we disdain. There’s a difference! :wink: The Laity are not to be disdained by the intelligentsia however. The Holy Spirit speaks through them as well. The lambs will hear the Master’s voice, and will not give ear to any other. :slight_smile:


#8

Amen. And thank you for that. Your last comment is very encouraging to me. Much of what I am taught is very good and orthodox. My spiritual director is a wonderful homilist. Check out his website: elpadrecito.com/


#9

I don’t see a specific problem with it. Sin is not GENETIC in nature, and therefore actually ISN’T biologically passed (unless you’re debating that certain people are born genetically dispositioned towards sin, which reopens the can of worms in the direction of the predestination debate/heresy). I’m not entirely sure that the first part refers to original sin being learned by imitation either… but rather that it’s a solid aspect of human NATURE (rather than biology). That much would be correct.

And for the record, disease can be passed biologically, death can’t. Death is a result from a complex set of influence including genetics, but also influenced by environment, nutrition, fitness, sickness, stress, corosion (via oxygen), mutation of cells/DNA structure, and MUCH more.


#10

It helps to think of original sin from a genetic standpoint. But, there are limitations to thinking of it strictly as corruption of our DNA. First, we have both physical and spiritual aspects.

We do know that the original sin seems to have affected both aspects of mankind. For example, the heritable DNA was somehow damaged by Adam’s sin … bringing limitations on lifespan of man. Our genes became susceptible to mutations … so that ageing, cancer, etc is now able to take its toll on our physical bodies.

But, the Spirit of man is not found in the DNA code … at least not that scientist will claim. Our Spirits enter at somepoint in the conception / birth process … and leave upon our deaths. Thus, able to separate from the DNA code of body.

However, since our Spirit became corrupted … somehow our DNA also saw corruption. It is only when Christ enters into a person … that the Spirit regains its ability to overcome the darkforces of sin. Yet, two Christian parents don’t produce children w/o original sin.

So, its a mystery we will never fully understand. But, it is helpful to explain it in genetic terms … since people today can understand the concept of inheritable traits.


#11

No one said sin was GENETIC. I said it (the penalty of original sin) was definitely passed on biologically because we will all Die. That has NOTHING to do with genetics or any other influences. EVERYONE WILL DIE NO MATTER HOW PERFECT THEIR DNA IS OR HOW WONDERFUL THEIR ENVIRONMENT AND OTHER EXTERNAL PHYSICAL SURROUNDINGS. DEATH IS A RESULT OF ORIGINAL SIN! That is what I meant by being passed on biologically. There’s not a DEATH gene or whatever. (-not that I’ve ever heard about.) Death was NOT part of our Nature before Original Sin. I further said that the RCC teaches that Original Sin has brought on us all more than just DEATH. The nature of, and transmission of Original SIN was not what I was referring to. :wink:


#12

Yes, the teaching that you cite is heretical. It contradicts the teaching of the Council of Trent and of the Universal Magsiterium on original sin.

We all have original sin because we were conceived of parents who have a fallen human nature. Children are like their parents. If the parents have a fallen human nature, then the children will have a fallen human nature. When a second thing is derived from a first thing, the second will be like the first.


#13

Well, but see, that’s the point I was getting at. Nothing in our DNA specifically causes us to die. It’s more like the sun’s rays, toxic environment, disease, mutation, and the fact that oxygen itself is extremely corrosive (ironic that we need it to live). We don’t inherit death as a nature of our biological make-up (on the whole, not considering genetic failures, etc). We inherit death as a fundamental nature of human existence in a broken world… it is the nature of the world we live in which eventually causes us to die, YOUR bodily original nature was to live (the nature which was created by God, vs the effects of original sin)


#14

I don’t think that’s what he’s saying in his quote, though. I think what he’s driving at is merely that sin is not biological (ie, genetic) in nature… that it’s a character of existence of human being, that original sin is a flaw of one’s nature, not biological structure.


#15

Below is the text of my email to this particular priest and his reply. What do you make of his reply? He seems to ignore my points. (I cut my introduction so it wasn’t too long.

Father …:

First, you state that original sin “…is about the concrete situation of human life and society rather than about some kind of taint or blot passed on biologically throuought human history.” However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says [FONT=Courier]“We therefore hold, with the Council of Trent, that original sin is transmitted with human nature, by propagation, not by imitation” and that it is. . . proper to each" (Para. 419). Given what the Catechism says, how best can one understand the way original sin is transmitted (if transmitted is even the right word)?[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, courier, monaco, monospace, sans-serif]Second, you ask “was there then an historical Adam and Eve? Cain and Abel? Noah and the flood generation? Builders of the tower of Babel?” And answer, “Not in a literal sense.”[/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New, courier, monaco, monospace, sans-serif]My reading of the Catechism is that it suggests that Adam and Eve were real persons (although perhaps not named Adam and Eve). "[FONT=Courier]All men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as St. Paul affirms: “By one man’s disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners”: “sin came into the world through one man and death through sin…” (Para. 402) And, “[FONT=Courier]Adam and Eve committed a personal sin…” (Para 404). And finally, paragraph 375 calls Adam and Eve “our first parents.”[/FONT][/FONT][/FONT]

[FONT=Courier][FONT=Courier][FONT=Courier New, courier, monaco, monospace, sans-serif]Perhaps I am reading into the text, but it seems to suggest that Adam and Eve may have been real people because they committed a personal sin and the Catechism calls them “our first parents.” [/FONT][/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Courier][FONT=Courier][FONT=Courier New, courier, monaco, monospace, sans-serif][/FONT][/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=Courier][FONT=Courier][FONT=Courier New, courier, monaco, monospace, sans-serif]My question is, how should I read the Catechism and understand its sense? [/FONT][/FONT][/FONT]

[FONT=Courier][FONT=Courier][FONT=Courier New]I am finding in this formation process that many of my assumptions are being challenged, but I am continuing to learn and my faith is definitely growing. I appreciate you taking the time to read this lengthy email and any clarification you can offer.[/FONT][/FONT][/FONT]

[FONT=Courier New]His Reply:[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial]thanks for your note, and you have indeed discovered a problem. Different sections of the Cathechism were written by different people and then sort of stuck together. This produces a number of “tensions in the text,” which in fact were noticed and commented on from the time it first appeared. Perhaps one of the areas where this is most dramatic is in its use of Scripture. In #101-141, it presents a discussion of Scripture which is very good and based pretty squarely on the teachngs of Dei Verbum of Vatican II. Unfortunately, those who wrote some of the sections in systematic theology did not follow these guidelines, and the work of Scripture scholars is largely ignored. What I presented is pretty much a consensus among Catholic (and other) scholars; it is not only my view and it is not new. When I was a student in graduate theology at The Catholic University of America in 1967, I took a graduate seminar on developments in the Catholic teaching on original sin; this section of the Catechism seems either to be unaware of this or chose to ignore it.

As you begin to study theology and scripture in more depth, a lot of the more popular understandings will be challenged…I’ve been teaching for almost 40 years, and this is completely normal and even typical; …but hopefully this moves us to an even deeper understanding of our faith.

Good luck and keep growing!
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#16

Well, it sounds to me, like you are just using different words to say the same thing. You are saying “We inherit death as a fundamental nature of human existence in a broken world…” and I am saying death is the result of original sin. I am not arguing with HOW death is accomplished for everyone ever born. You yourself, after all used the words “inherit.” That sounds suspiciously like what I was saying all along! :wink:

The Jesuit teacher was saying that Original Sin was NOT something that was passed along biologically, and I still think that is wrong, as it is simple biology that all must eventually die. :slight_smile: That is a DIRECT result of Original Sin and is a reality for ALL, that are biologically born into this world. To say that it is NOT biologically passed on, is to say that Death is NOT a result of Original Sin, and that would be very wrong.

To look at it another way; to say that Original Sin is NOT biologically passed on implies that Original Sin is strictly some sort of spiritual blot (which it is) but nothing more (which it isn’t.) It has affected the whole world (as you say) and all mankind, in the physical, temporal realm.


#17

What I presented is pretty much a consensus among Catholic (and other) scholars; it is not only my view and it is not new.

The above is basically his authority for teaching the way he does.

A. a lot of other people (some not even Catholics) think this way.
B. It’s not new.

This is opposed to the Magisterial teachings of the RCC and even opposes the Catechism handed down by JPII.

Apparently teaching heresy is considered a good thing because:

A. a lot of other people (some not even Catholics) think this way.
B. It’s not new.

I wouldn’t have much trouble deciding what to make of his ideas. :wink:


#18

I think it’s a matter of scientific terminology here. To say something is biologically passed on is to say it’s genetic. If original sin, then, is biologically passed on, what would gene therapy do? could original sin (and hence death) be eliminated by scientists isolating the right gene? Is there any sort of biological treatment you can name that would get rid of original sin? Probably not, because original sin is a case of inherited nature, and not inherited biology.

I think a metaphor might be a better example: when i child is born to a rich family he inherits his family’s social status and wealth… but not because of some gene hidden in his DNA, but rather, it’s an external thing, a consequence of the nature of the family he was born into. In the same way, original sin is a spiritual blot, as you say, and it’s consequences (namely pain and death) echo throughout the world… however, just as the wealth that child inherits is external to the child himself, so the pain and death that flow from original sin is external to us.

So I think the OP’s quote is from a person who was using a rather scientific definition of “biologically” to discuss a subject, without considering that the terminology used my be confounding.


#19

On the one hand I can see where we have our difference of wording. I do not mean to imply that biological means by necessity DNA or genes etc. I mean that by being born biologically “according to the flesh” to use Biblical language, is how Original Sin and its penalty is propagated. On the other hand I think your metaphor is flawed because Original Sin is NOT external to us either physically or spiritually but actually internal to us. We are born with the mark of death upon us, brought about by Original Sin, and I hardly think that is external. If it was external, we should be able to isolate it from ourselves and deliver ourselves from it. No matter how much you argue that death is just some sort of external accident brought about by a variety of genes and environment it does not change the fact that no one has ever isolated themselves from this external “effect” and preserved themselves from death since Original Sin was committed. I would also deny that it is even possible to prevent death, no matter how far medical science progresses. Death may be postponed some small while, but nothing more. I would further aver that such views are contrary to Scripture and the Doctrine of the Church. Hence my initial comments regarding the Jesuit’s teachings.

The mark of death that is upon us to which I referred, is not something that can be examined scientifically. It is self evident and obvious. Science is actually clouding the issue by pretending to treat death as a sort of avoidable terminal situation that we just haven’t figured out yet, when in fact it is never going to be, (not by science that is.) That is a very important distinction. To the Christian death is the physical sign of Original Sin. To disbelievers, it is just natural. To scientists it is an avoidable situation given enough technology.

I sense that we may actually be arguing from opposite sides of the same coin however, in which case nevermind! :wink:


#20

What’s in green contradicts what’s in red.


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