Against Universalism

Someone sent me the following question via Curious Cat:

What is your view of David Bentley Hart’s argument for a form of universalism in his article God, Creation and Evil (and a lecture of which is available on YouTube)? Relatedly, how can a will teologically oriented to the Good and to the Truth fail to “choose”the Good/Truth/God, for example, in the case of the angels pre-Fall and humans after death?

I want to respond at greater length than is possible through Curious Cat.  I think the whole framework of Hart’s argument is wrong. The difficult question is not “how can God allow anyone not to go to Heaven,” but rather: “how can God elevate any human being so high as to bring them into Heaven, giving them a share of the Divine Life.” Continue reading


The Eighth Degree of Pride: “I meant well.”

There are many ways in which defence is made for sin. A man either says ‘I did it not’ or ‘I no doubt did it, but I acted rightly in so doing’, or ‘I may have acted wrongly but not to a serious extent,’ or, ‘If I was seriously wrong, I had no bad intention‘. If, however, he, like Adam and Eve, is proved to be guilty, he attempts to excuse himself on the ground that he was tempted by some one else. (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, The Twelve Degrees of Humility and Pride, XVII)

A Sign of Hope and Consolation

The sermon that I preached (more or less) in the village church of Grub im Wienerwald this morning, the Solemnity of the Assumption, the 10th anniversary of my first profession, the 7th anniversary of my solemn profession.

Our earthly life is a strange mixture of joy and misery. When we look at the wonder and beauty of our world— the blazing light of the sun turning the sky into a blue dome, flashing on the snowy tops of mountains, filtering through the green leaves of the trees, glittering on the waters. What wonders!  What joys! When we look at ourselves— these marvelous embodied spirits with eyes to see the brilliantly colored flowers, and ears to hear the rustling of the wind in the tree tops, and tongues to taste the sun-ripened peach; and above all, the light of intellect to penetrate to the depths and know the greater wonders of the first beginnings and causes of things. And the joys of friendship! Joys doubled and tripled by being shared in mutual benevolence and understanding. And the intoxicating ecstasy of young love! Beauty that transfixes the heart. And the joys of family life— to see new life come into the world, and take its first steps and begin to share the wonder of this world. The joy of growing old in faithfulness and seeing one’s children and one’s children’s children about one. And And the glory of the city at peace; noble, high and fair: rerum pulcherrima Roma. “The world is so full of a number of things, / I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” How do our hearts not burst with so much joy? Ich schnitt es gern in alle Rinden ein, / ich grüb es gern in jeden Kieselstein… Continue reading

Embarrassing sins as a cure for pride

And I make bold to say that it is useful for the proud to fall into an open and indisputable transgression, and so displease themselves, as already, by pleasing themselves, they had fallen. For Peter was in a healthier condition when he wept and was dissatisfied with himself, than when he boldly presumed and satisfied himself. And this is averred by the sacred Psalmist when he says, Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O Lord; that is, that they who have pleased themselves in seeking their own glory may be pleased and satisfied with You in seeking Your glory. (Saint Augustine, The City of God, XIV,13)

They say best men moulded out of faults;
And, for the most, become much more the better
For being a little bad; so may my husband. (Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act V, Scene 1)