'Fundamental Option' theory of morals

[Fundamental Option

Fr. Stephen F. Torraco
From EWTN Q&A message board](http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/dissent/fundoptn.htm)

Hello everyone. I would ask you to read this link if you want an explanation of The Fundamental Option theory of morality. My priest, I’ve heard, is a proponent of it and his adherence to this theory is implicit in many of his sermons, although he’s never given it this name. I found this out in researching the topic.

According to the Church it’s a heresy, but not without some merit. I will admit, I tend to side with my priest. I think each person has a fundamental orientation in life, either towards what is good and from God, or away from God and towards evil. I think this theory makes more logical sense that the legalistic explanation of mortal vs venial sin.

According to the Fundamental Option theory, no one sinful act can break our friendshop with God. We are judged by our fundamental orientation in life.

Sounds a bit like predestination to me.

I think that we’ve learned that your priest isn’t a very good theologian. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a good priest. You could have some very good and inspiring sermons from a “fundamental option” mentality. It’s just not quite so rosy a picture, philosophically.

I have a distaste for legalism too, but that doesn’t mean I have to become a Calvinist. Sin is separation from God. There are certainly different degrees of such separation, and “mortal” and “venial” sins indicate this difference of degree. It is simply true that if we know we have greivously offended God (mortal sin), and we don’t humble ourselves before Him for this (confession), we are in trouble.

But to say that “I am just good” or “I am just evil” is a cop-out. We have a fundamental option to choose for or against Christ – but it is our ACTIONS that make that choice.

By whose authority does anyone claim such error is true?

[quote=spiritblows][Fundamental Option

Fr. Stephen F. Torraco
From EWTN Q&A message board](http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/dissent/fundoptn.htm)

Hello everyone. I would ask you to read this link if you want an explanation of The Fundamental Option theory of morality. My priest, I’ve heard, is a proponent of it and his adherence to this theory is implicit in many of his sermons, although he’s never given it this name. I found this out in researching the topic.

According to the Church it’s a heresy, but not without some merit. I will admit, I tend to side with my priest. I think each person has a fundamental orientation in life, either towards what is good and from God, or away from God and towards evil. I think this theory makes more logical sense that the legalistic explanation of mortal vs venial sin.

According to the Fundamental Option theory, no one sinful act can break our friendshop with God. We are judged by our fundamental orientation in life.
[/quote]

I’ve read a morality book which spoke of a fundamental option but did not make so bold as to claim that no one act can sever our relationship with God. The benefit of viewing morality in the grand framework of a fundamental option for or against God is that it highlights how moral living is more than adherence to a legal code but also involves the cultivation of virtue. Now, I would think that anyone should still be able to see that committing mortal sin is an exercise of the fundamental option to reject God and remaining unrepentant is a continued exercise of that option. So it seems one might not have to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Just my two cents.

I don’t think that one’s fundamental option is predestined. The option is the choice of the person. We have free will on our journey in life to orient ourselves either towards God or away from him. We do this through our actions. Because we live in a fallen world, sometimes our actions may be flawed and sinful, but if our basic option is one towards God and goodness, then we have chosen to be open to God’s grace towards us.

And, we can choose to turn away and reject what God is offering us through Christ. We can say no to God. That is also an option available to us.

This makes more sense to me than the sin by sin accounting system of the legalistic approach, although I think some people need this put into black and white terms so they can have clear guidelines. I think the Church as spelled things out so in order to help people who aren’t able to grasp anything in any other way.

[quote=spiritblows]This makes more sense to me than the sin by sin accounting system of the legalistic approach, although I think some people need this put into black and white terms so they can have clear guidelines. I think the Church as spelled things out so in order to help people who aren’t able to grasp anything in any other way.
[/quote]

How do you come to this conclusion. Mortal sins must be confessed in kind and number. The reason is not legalistic, nor is it because people are too dumb to grasp anything else.

[quote=spiritblows][Fundamental Option

Fr. Stephen F. Torraco
From EWTN Q&A message board](“http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/dissent/fundoptn.htm”)

Hello everyone. I would ask you to read this link if you want an explanation of The Fundamental Option theory of morality. My priest, I’ve heard, is a proponent of it and his adherence to this theory is implicit in many of his sermons, although he’s never given it this name. I found this out in researching the topic.

According to the Church it’s a heresy, but not without some merit. I will admit, I tend to side with my priest. I think each person has a fundamental orientation in life, either towards what is good and from God, or away from God and towards evil. I think this theory makes more logical sense that the legalistic explanation of mortal vs venial sin.

According to the Fundamental Option theory, no one sinful act can break our friendshop with God. We are judged by our fundamental orientation in life.
[/quote]

Let me just comment that this view is actually very similar to Luther’s position.

Edwin

[quote=spiritblows][Fundamental Option

Fr. Stephen F. Torraco
From EWTN Q&A message board](“http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/dissent/fundoptn.htm”)

Hello everyone. I would ask you to read this link if you want an explanation of The Fundamental Option theory of morality. My priest, I’ve heard, is a proponent of it and his adherence to this theory is implicit in many of his sermons, although he’s never given it this name. I found this out in researching the topic.

According to the Church it’s a heresy, but not without some merit. I will admit, I tend to side with my priest. I think each person has a fundamental orientation in life, either towards what is good and from God, or away from God and towards evil. I think this theory makes more logical sense that the legalistic explanation of mortal vs venial sin.

According to the Fundamental Option theory, no one sinful act can break our friendshop with God. We are judged by our fundamental orientation in life.
[/quote]

With every freely committed mortal sin, he offends God as the giver of the law and as a result becomes guilty with regard to the entire law (cf. Jas 2:8-11); even if he perseveres in faith, he loses “sanctifying grace,” “charity” and “eternal happiness.” As the Council of Trent teaches, “the grace of justification once received is lost not only by apostasy, by which faith itself is lost, but also by any other mortal sin.”

I think this is an area where I disagree with the orthodox position. I do go to confession regularly, btw. I haven’t had a mortal sin in years, but I go to try and improve my walk with God and my faults, and try and overcome my sinful nature. But I don’t think people will go to Hell for not following the letter of the law. I think God’s grace is too big for that.

[quote=spiritblows]I think this is an area where I disagree with the orthodox position. I do go to confession regularly, btw. I haven’t had a mortal sin in years, but I go to try and improve my walk with God and my faults, and try and overcome my sinful nature. But I don’t think people will go to Hell for not following the letter of the law. I think God’s grace is too big for that.
[/quote]

With all respect, that you think such a thing does not make it objectively true.

It is not about a so-called legalism. Most folks can reflect on moral issues and follow the moral law because they accept it is God’s will and will make them happy.

They do not follow the law because someone forces them, rather they follow it because it is true. They know there are consequences to rejecting God as well.

But, I think that usually the 3 criteria are not met to make it a mortal sin. Usually people are swept away by their passions of the moment, even if their basic orientation in life is towards God.

[quote=spiritblows]But, I think that usually the 3 criteria are not met to make it a mortal sin. Usually people are swept away by their passions of the moment, even if their basic orientation in life is towards God.
[/quote]

Well, I cannot know the state of anyone’s soul. The 3 criteria are easily met and can be met in a second.

Take artificial birth control as one common example. I would think there are millions guilty of grave sin and most likely mortal sin. I can’t prove it is mortal in an individual case, but I am suspecious it is in most cases.

It is grave matter, they are giving full consent and as for full knowledge if they claim to be faithful Catholics they know very well that the Church teaches it is wrong.

Dear Fix,
I don’t think that people go to Hell for using birth control. I think they spend less time in Purgatory for learning to control their carnal natures and following Church law.

[quote=spiritblows]Dear Fix,
I don’t think that people go to Hell for using birth control. I think they spend less time in Purgatory for learning to control their carnal natures and following Church law.
[/quote]

Again, in all respect, that you think such a thing is an error. It is not a matter of opinion but truth. Mortal sin cuts of sanctifying grace and ABC is always evil.

[quote=Andreas Hofer]The benefit of viewing morality in the grand framework of a fundamental option for or against God is that it highlights how moral living is more than adherence to a legal code but also involves the cultivation of virtue. Now, I would think that anyone should still be able to see that committing mortal sin is an exercise of the fundamental option to reject God and remaining unrepentant is a continued exercise of that option. So it seems one might not have to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Just my two cents.
[/quote]

This presentation flies in the face of the example of the saints, those who are formally recognized as being closest to God in their faith walk and sanctification. The saints were deeply troubled and frequently sought confession for even the most venial sins as an offense to their relationship with God. Are we to accuse them of being scrupulous and legalistic? I hardly think so. The saints only manifest to us through their example that the closer we grow in our union with God, the more sensistive that we become of each sin offense against Him. The funadamental option would seem detestable to the saints.

[quote=felra]This presentation flies in the face of the example of the saints, those who are formally recognized as being closest to God in their faith walk and sanctification. The saints were deeply troubled and frequently sought confession for even the most venial sins as an offense to their relationship with God. Are we to accuse them of being scrupulous and legalistic? I hardly think so. The saints only manifest to us through their example that the closer we grow in our union with God, the more sensistive that we become of each sin offense against Him. The funadamental option would seem detestable to the saints.
[/quote]

If we read Fr. Ts essay about the concept of fundamental option is becomes very clear that the heresy surrounding this issue is common today and may account for much of the moral relativism that masquerades as love.

As he says:

The Holy See admitted the description of a person’s basic moral disposition as a “fundamental option.” What is NOT admissible is to claim that INDIVIDUAL HUMAN ACTIONS cannot radically change this fundamental option. A person’s moral disposition “can be completely changed by particular acts, especially as when often happens, these have been prepared for by previous more superficial acts. Whatever the case, it is wrong to say that particular acts are not enough to constitute a mortal sin.” Implicit in the heretical theory is the notion that there CAN be serious sins, such as murder and adultery, because these actions are gravely wrong. HOWEVER, the heretical theory suggests, NO MORTAL SIN is committed unless a person subjectively rejects God.

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