The greatest threat to Christianity is found not in the arguments of the atheist but in the assumptions of the apathetic. The “new apathy” is a more dangerous threat than the new atheism.
States that do not recognize both natural law and the transformation of law and public reason brought about by the raising of religion to a supernatural good will become confessors of false belief opposed to Christianity, and their great power will turn from supporting Christianity to opposing or even repressing it, especially in relation to its moral teaching.
Removing religious exemptions will not promote tolerance or inclusiveness. It will forcibly strip religious organizations of their ability to operate as religious organizations.
According to sociologist Mark Regnerus, the birth control pill and the rise of internet porn decreased the cost of sexual access so substantially as to affect a fundamental shift from a world in which sex served higher goods to a world in which sex is the higher good.
Despite the vast amount of ink spilled in the current controversy over capital punishment, there’s been a real hesitancy to make explicit its analogy with the longer-running and arguably more important debate respecting the Church’s teaching on religious liberty.
For C.S. Lewis, the body and the erotic procreative relationship between men and women are not mere nature, to be manipulated and embellished. They are not mere matter, to be shaped in any way that we please. They are, rather, an indicator of a larger order, something that offers us a clue to that larger order and that has to be understood in the light of it.
The problem with modernity’s conquest of nature is that it works toward obliterating the distinction between creature and creator, a distinction that is essential for maintaining a humane and non-totalitarian politics.
Michael Rectenwald’s new book offers up passionate intellectual debate in a climate where the discursive righteousness, sexuality, sex, skin color, and feelings of the speaker too often matter more than the thoughts espoused. It is a portrait of the contemporary scene of academic freedom, which is anything but free, and even less academic.
When we lie to ourselves about the moral status of other human beings, we not only unjustly injure other people, we also injure ourselves and our culture. We transform ourselves into a people who believe the lie. The costs of self-deception are internal and reflexive as well as external and consequential.
The Church’s own history teaches us that her theology matters more than her politics. Now as in the past, those who make robust arguments that coherently develop our understanding of Christ and his message will endure, while those whose arguments diminish the meaning of the cross and resurrection are likely to pass away.
Leslie Rubin’s portrait of Aristotelian America and American Aristotelianism is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of our situation.
Leslie Rubin’s brilliant study argues that the fault, dear America, lies not in our stars but in ourselves—our repudiation in the past century of the moderate liberal philosophy of Federalists and Anti-Federalists alike, which was steeped in Aristotelian wisdom about favoring the decent republican virtues of a middle class.
Rebecca Todd Peters’s new book is titled Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice. Yet she totally dismisses the arguments and decisions of pro-life women. Perhaps a better title would have been “trust pro-choice women to make pro-choice decisions.”
The new antiliberals are not wrong to worry about the dire state of American politics and culture. But they persistently fail to adequately ask, much less clearly answer, three pressing questions that must be part of any adequate treatment of the problem, and they virtually ignore the thoughtful conservative alternatives to antiliberalism that do address these questions.
All human beings share certain universal human rights. But I am not just a human. I am also an American, a Kansan, a university instructor, and a member of a church body. Each one of these relationships generates specific goods, rights, and responsibilities that are unique to me. The same is true for nation-states, each of which have a distinct culture and unique responsibilities to its own citizens.
On August 2, 2018, Pope Francis announced an update to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, making a prohibition on the death penalty official Catholic teaching. Prior to this change, many scholars believed that the historic teaching of the Church did not declare capital punishment intrinsically immoral, even if the practice is, as a matter of prudence, not required in countries with modern prison systems that can safely isolate dangerous criminals. Other scholars argued that the natural law duty to respect all human life does in fact render any intentional taking of human life morally unacceptable, and that this development of doctrine does not contradict any infallible teaching. The articles below lay out this debate, with clear summaries of the arguments on both sides.
Intentional killing is always wrong, and support of capital punishment often stems from a misunderstanding of the nature of human dignity.
If one accepts the legitimacy of punishment and the principle of proportionality, then it is impossible to claim that capital punishment is intrinsically wrong.
Nothing that a man does can change his nature as man, and so, considered in himself, it will always remain wrong to kill him. This should be the final judgment of practical reason when brought to bear on the question of capital punishment.
While not explicitly denying the principle of proportionality, Tollefsen implicitly rejects it, leaving his argument not only counterintuitive but incoherent.
The presumptive starting point in the natural law and, more specifically, Christian tradition is one of absolute opposition to intentional killing of beings created in the image of God, for which exceptions must be earned; but the traditional justifications for such exceptions fail.
Edward Feser and Joseph M. Bessette’s new book asserts that Catholics cannot legitimately reject the death penalty as wrong always and everywhere. They are wrong. Part one of a two-part essay.
Four conditions must be met for a teaching of the Catholic Church to be considered infallible. Acceptance of the death penalty meets none of them. St. John Paul II laid down theoretical markers that provide a clear basis for a Catholic teaching rejecting the death penalty in principle. Part two of a two-part essay.
Arguments against the death penalty can be made not only on the basis of theology but also on the basis of natural law philosophy. The first in a two-part series.
There is a genuine tension, not just in Aquinas but in Church teaching more generally, between claims about the intrinsic goodness, sanctity, and inviolability of human life, and claims about political authority to kill. The second in a two-part series.
E. Christian Brugger is wrong: neither scripture nor tradition could justify a reversal of the Church’s millennia-old teaching on capital punishment
If E. Christian Brugger is right, then the Church has been teaching grave moral error and badly misunderstanding scripture for two millennia. Nothing less than her very credibility is at stake.
Aquinas taught the principle that a punishment ought to be proportionate to the offense, where death is a proportionate punishment for the gravest crimes.
It’s three times more likely that you’ll die of lightning than that Aquinas will turn out to be wrong about something. The same cannot be said of New Natural Law philosophy.
Reason operating without error judges that no human being should ever intend the death of another human being for any reason whatsoever. No achievable good can justify such a choice. And that is the foundation for the case against the death penalty.