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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 14, No. 11. September 6, 1951

No Thomist Me — A Critique of "Logician"

No Thomist Me

A Critique of "Logician"

Sir,—Your contributors are somewhat unlucky in their choice of pen-names. Your first contributor, who could not even report contemporary events accurately, called himself "historian." Now you have a contributor who misinterprets my statements but calls himself "Logician." May I suggest that your contributors acquaint themselves with the meaning of the words "history" and "logic"?

I did not say that a rationalist historian has no presuppositions. In order to make quite clear what my presuppositions are, I said that I took my stand with Schweitzer, Loisy and Klausner. Surely this is plain enough. Furthermore, neither Schweitzer nor Klausner are rationalists. Schweitzer is one of the very few practising Christians of our ago and Klausner is a Jew. Your contributor may be interested in knowing that one of the most recent great works of Catholic scholarship, the "Church History," edited by Martin and Fliche, refers respectfully to the views of these scholars in a footnote. As a wise Catholic, the author of the first volume does not discuss the issue of the historicity of the N.T. at all. But, as a good scholar, he refers to the views of other scholars in a footnote, without abusive comment. I have adopted no pose. I do not call myself a rationalist; and in order to make quite clear what my presuppositions are. I referred to other scholars who are well known for not being rationalists. Therefore there is no point in the first three paragraphs of "Logician's" letter.

His fourth paragraph is a matter for controversy. Ever since St. Thomas Aquinas many Catholics have asserted that faith cannot contradict reason. This is a bold doctrine and needs considerable proof before it can be accepted. The burden of demonstration is upon the upholders of the doctrine. I simply disbelieve it because I have studied St. Thomas and have failed to be convinced in favour of this proposition. It is not for me to disprove it; but for the upholders of the doctrine to convince me. Until they have convinced me, I shall presume that the doctrine is unfounded.

As to the fifth paragraph: one need not be a specialist to know that Loisy had good reasons for disagreeing with the Popes. Loisy thought he had. And as he was an honest man, the Catholic church should have treated him as such. Like any historian, he was liable to err. But excommunication is no sensible way of dealing with the likelihood of error.

I did neither insinuate nor state that the Catholic Church teaches that the end justifies the means. In fact, I did not Insinuate anything. But I stated that "Historian" apparently believed in this maxim. I took It for granted that "Historian" did not speak In an official capacity for the Catholic Church.

As to the last paragraph: I did not say that I knew so little about the primitive church. I said that I was not a specialist In this field. I know quite enough In order to say that transubstantiation was not part of the beliefs held by the primitive church, because the very word is first met only during the 12th century. It is possible that at every celebration of the Eucharist transubstantiation takes place. But the belief that It does take place became an official belief only at the Fourth Lateran Council—roughly 1200 years after the period I was talking about.

Yours faithfully.

Peter Munz.