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Santorum is the one with the “phony theology”

February 21, 2012

A lot of people are piling on Rick Santorum for his inopportune comments about Obama’s supposed “phony theology”. But most of these critics are missing something fundamental. They assume, albeit implicitly, that Santorum is speaking from the perspective of orthodox Catholic theology, and then denounce him for seeking to impose his theological views on a secular state. But this misses the point entirely. Santorum’s theology is most certainly not an orthodox Catholic position. His worldview owes far more to American evangelicalism and exceptionalism than historic Christianity. It is no accident that Santorum’s core support comes from right-wing evangelicals.

For me, the kicker was when Santorum stated that Obama’s theology was “not based on the bible”. This, right here, is the defining Protestant sola scriptura position, where the bible is the sole source of Christians belief. Catholics don’t talk that way, and they certainly don’t think that way. Catholics believe that revelation comes from scripture and tradition. Specifically, the Church teaches that the union of sacred tradition and sacred scripture  together form a “single sacred deposit of the word of God” (Dei Verbum). The deposit of faith contains the memory of Jesus, and everything that goes with it, and preserving this memory is entrusted to the Church.

This system of belief is the backbone of the Catholic faith and the key source of disagreement during the Protestant reformation. Protestants and Muslims both see themselves as “people of the book”. Not so for Catholics. We do not treat the library of writings, which are compiled as the Bible, in this way. We insist that in a primary sense, Jesus the person is God’s Word. The collection of writings labeled the Bible is the Word of God only in a secondary sense, insofar as when rightly interpreted it enables us to get to know Jesus. The true Word of God has a human face.

Rick Santorum, therefore, is talking and thinking more like an American Protestant than a global Catholic. It is no accident that Santorum was talking about environmental theology – there is no clearer example of how his thinking diverges from the Church’s thinking. Worst things first – Santorum slams the overwhelming scientific consensus on man-made global warming. He calls it a fake, and claims that God gave the planet to mankind “for our benefit not for the Earth’s benefit”.

I believe Santorum is influenced here by a number of Protestant-inspired “phony theologies”:

  • First, Gnosticism – the metaphysical dualism that sees the world and all of creation as evil, from which the soul seeks liberation. If creation is not fundamentally good and in need of renewal, then why should be it not exploited through violence and environmental degradation? Christians, on the other hand, believe in the essential goodness of all creation.
  • Second, a Calvinist-inspired American exceptionalism – the belief that the United States of America is especially chosen by God, and whose residents are granted a divine mandate to use its resources as they see fit.
  • Third, voluntaristic anti-intellectualism, in mocking and dismissing an overwhelming scientific consensus. Catholics have always believed in a certain intelligibility to creation, meaning that faith and reason cannot be separated. Santorum is ripping them apart.

Ironically, while Santorum parades himself as the shining knight of “conservatism”, his position on the environment tells us something different. True conservatism is about prudence and temperance, about the cultivation of virtues in all aspects of life. But Santorum, like so many American liberals of the right, takes this approach when it comes to human sexuality, but tosses it out the window when it comes to economic and social activity. On the environment, like so many on the American right, Santorum adopts an almost Saruman-esque approach of plunder for immediate gratification, far removed from real conservative notions of stewardship.

It is also far removed from the thinking of Pope Benedict XVI, who addresses head-on the “threats arising from the neglect – if not downright misuse – of the earth and the natural goods that God has given us”.

Pope Benedict uses the bible – Santorum’s principal point of reference – to make his point. Biblical revelation tells us that the earth is a gift of the Creator. The response to such a gift is to care for and cultivate creation, to become God’s co-worker. The sin at the origin of the human race broke the harmony between the Creator, mankind and the created world. As Benedict puts it: “Human beings let themselves be mastered by selfishness; they misunderstood the meaning of God’s command and exploited creation out of a desire to exercise absolute domination over it. But the true meaning of God’s original command, as the Book of Genesis clearly shows, was not a simple conferral of authority, but rather a summons to responsibility”. Santorum’s theology seems to embrace this phony notion of absolute dominion.

Santorum also seems to eschew all notions of solidarity. On the other hand, Pope Benedict reiterates the well-established Church teaching that “God has destined the earth and everything it contains for all peoples and nations”, that the goods of creation belong to humanity as a whole. And here, he is quite blunt: “Large numbers of people in different countries and areas of our planet are experiencing increased hardship because of the negligence or refusal of many others to exercise responsible stewardship over the environment..the current pace of environmental exploitation is seriously endangering the supply of certain natural resources not only for the present generation, but above all for generations yet to come”.

Here, the pope is on solid ground. Despite Santorum’s convenient denialism, global warming is not just a theory or an imagined future. It is real, and it is hitting the poorest countries hardest. Africa is already suffering from desertification, water shortages, drought, low crop yields, flooding in fastly-urbanizing cities, water stress in river basins, increased disease, a decline in fisheries, and increasing population displacement. Low-lying regions are prone to extreme flooding, and the existence of some low-lying islands is even in question.

In addressing remedies, the pope explicitly condemns the “pursuit of myopic economic interests”. Noting that “the ecological crisis shows the urgency of a solidarity which embraces time and space”,  he calls for richer countries to embrace “more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption and improving its efficiency”. What’s more, we need to think not only about our individual choices, but also about our economic system as a whole: “Prudence would thus dictate a profound, long-term review of our model of development, one which would take into consideration the meaning of the economy and its goals with an eye to correcting its malfunctions and misapplications”. 

It should be clear from this perspective that Santorum’s environmental theology is the real phony theology. The Catholic position on the environment runs straight into Santorum’s American exceptionalism and narrow nationalism. It runs straight into his materialism and consumerism, hallmarks of liberalism, right or left. As for Santorum’s invective against global warming, he again rebukes the pope, who has called for urgent action to reach an international agreement to halt global warming. Despite the pope’s call for greater solidarity across the globe, Santorum’s theology remains a theology of the USA.

Fundamentally, this is a moral issue. As Pope Benedict puts it, “our duties towards the environment flow from our duties towards the person, considered both individually and in relation to others”. Environmental ecology is thus intricately related to human ecology. It is entirely inconsistent to respect sexuality while taking a hedonistic approach to the exploitation of nature, and vice versa. “The book of nature is one and indivisible,” says the pope. But Santorum seeks not only to divide the book of nature, but to violently rip it apart. Is it any wonder that his theology can be twisted into disrespecting immigrants and the poor, supporting torture,  and promising war and destruction on his country’s enemies?

I will end with how Pope Benedict ends his environmental message: If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation”. There’s a lesson for Santorum in there somewhere. A true theological lesson.

44 Comments
  1. Chas permalink
    February 21, 2012 6:41 pm

    The main thing I want to dispute is this:
    “Worst things first – Santorum slams the overwhelming scientific consensus on man-made global warming. He calls it a fake, and claims that God gave the planet to mankind “for our benefit not for the Earth’s benefit”.”
    First, the consensus claim is disputable.
    Second, and most importantly, Santorum’s claim that God gave the planet to mankind for our benefit is essentially correct, and will find support in the Church’s magisterium, the Fathers and the Doctors of the Church, as well as in the writings of modernists like Teilhard de Chardin.

    • February 22, 2012 12:41 am

      “The consensus claim is disputable.” I suppose anything is “disputable,” but this statement skates on thin ice at the edge of “simple contradiction of objective fact.” Ambiguity alone saves it from falling in completely. If the intended statement is “I [Chas] don’t believe climate change is caused by human activity,” well, OK; I can welcome that as a point of bold disputation. If, however, the intended meaning is “there is no scientific consensus that climate change is real, and that it is substantially caused by human activity”… In that case the statement is a “simple contradiction of objective fact” and probably shouldn’t be posted.

      What irritates me most about statements of this sort is that I’m left wondering whether Chas made the statement deliberately vague and is motivated by a desire to post falsehood, or whether he is just unaware of the ambiguity. It’s similar to the irritation MM expressed with Santorum detractors: do they even notice that Santorum’s perspective is not recognizably “Catholic?”

      • Chas permalink
        February 22, 2012 9:45 am

        My point about the consensus claim is that it is disputable at the level of empirical science and is simply not a matter of theology at all. Sorry for the ambiguity. I should have written that Santorum’s view on climate change (by the way, the proper term is global climate disruption these days) has absolutely nothing to do with his orthodoxy as a Catholic. You can deny climate change and be a good Catholic. To call his climate change denial the “worst thing” about his “phony theology” is just plain silly.

      • February 23, 2012 2:30 am

        Chas:

        I’d agree that Santorum’s climate change denial probably is not the worst thing about his political posture, and I’d agree that this is only indirectly a theological matter. The potential loss of human life is, after all, only a potential outcome of predictions supported by current scientific consensus.

        “You can deny climate change and be a good Catholic.” If that’s the case, you can also deny abortifacient pathways for Plan B’s activity and be a good Catholic. After all, the science of horomonal action on female reproductive physiology is not a matter of theology at all, and the consensus of medical research is that the drug’s primary mode of action is to prevent ovulation and conception, and only rarely acts by causing failure at implantation. Therefore, you can treat Plan B like any other contraceptive product (it’s use is contrary to the letter of Church teaching, but not as grave a matter as abortion).

        My point is, why would a faithful orthodox Catholic like Rick Santorum take risks with the wellbeing of entire countries like Bangladesh, when the consensus of scientists really does raise grave alarms over climate scenarios? How is it that in one case, it’s important to take the science seriously because lives might be at risk, but not so much in the other?

    • February 22, 2012 5:27 am

      And how is our “benefit” in plundering it and laying it waste? It seems to me that your “benefit” is entirely a materialist one, and thoroughly ignores the spirtual benefit of treating the material world–God’s creation–with reverence. If mankind’s sexuality is to be treated with reverence–as so many of you “theological conservatives” are constantly trumpeting–why isn’t the planet and her creatures–which are ALSO God’s work, and also “good”–to be treated with similar, if not thoroughly equal, reverence? Smaller sins lead to bigger ones, and it seems to me that a certain amount of the sexual exploitiveness to be found in our culture has, at its root, capitalism’s despoliation of the natural world–all part of what the late pontiff called “the culture of death.” If it is permissible to eat animals, it seems to me to be necessary under the NEW Covenant to eat with reverence and a minimum of cruelty–and, perhaps, a prayer for their well-being, as the Native Americans do.

      • Chas permalink
        February 22, 2012 9:55 am

        I never said that it is to our benefit to lay it waste and neither has Santorum. Certainly how we use the resources God put at our disposal is a way to order all things to God. The main point is that in Christian theology (as well as pagan philosophy) man is the telos of the visible cosmos as the only being who can attain the end of the cosmos. For the Christian, the point of the universe is the glory of God. Because man stands at the pinnacle of the cosmic order, all material things are ordered to him as their end. At any rate, I think it’s just plain wrong to say that Santorum’s theology is phony because he thinks that the environment is for our benefit. To say that this or that project he proposes would be disastrous for the environment should be argued on its own terms. And what is disastrous for the environment is to be judged by the benefit or harm it brings to human beings. To protect the environment for the environment’s sake is a neo-pagan attitude (no respectable pagan would have thought such a stupid thing).

    • Mark Gordon permalink
      February 22, 2012 10:01 am

      Chas, the dictionary defines “consensus” as “a majority of opinion;” “general agreement or concord.” There is consensus among climatologists on climate change, which is not say that there aren’t dissenters. There are, especially on the anthropogenic origins of climate change, but they remain few and far between. And let’s not forget that there are also still people who believe that the earth is the “unmoving center of the universe.”

  2. Mark Gordon permalink
    February 21, 2012 7:56 pm

    Bravo, MM.

    In addition to the Holy Father, I call two genuine (if long forgotten) conservatives to refute Santorum:

    Russell Kirk, from The Conservative Mind:

    The modern spectacle of vanished forests and eroded lands, wasted petroleum and ruthless mining… is evidence of what an age without veneration does to itself and its successors.”

    And Richard Weaver:

    Nature is not something to be fought, conquered and changed according to any human whims. To some extent, of course, it has to be used. But what man should seek in regard to nature is not a complete dominion but a modus vivendi: a manner of living together, a coming to terms with something that was here before our time and will be here after it. The important corollary of this doctrine, it seems to me, is that man is not the lord of creation, with an omnipotent will, but a part of creation, with limitations, who ought to observe a decent humility in the face of the inscrutable.

    • Sean O permalink
      February 21, 2012 8:20 pm

      Excellent quotes. They should be read out in Congress but especially to those who think the world is their to despoil as they please.

  3. February 21, 2012 10:57 pm

    I caught the whole “Biblical” comment by Santorum as well, and had similar thoughts. However, I would not discount him as a total Protestant simply put. I have read somewhere that he is in the orbit of the Opus Dei, and Juan Peron once called “la Obra” “the Catholicization of the dollar”. In other words, his transforming of political Catholicism into Protestant fundamentalism with rosaries might be more than just a local thing in the United States. It might just be part of a whole movement of neoliberal reaction within the Church started under John Paul II. In that, the religion plays in the key of the hegemonic power, in this case, the United States.

    If I might be permitted a miscellaneous comment somewhat related to this, I think that the problem with American Catholicism is that it doesn’t have a Mardi Gras or a Carnival. In the American Church, everyday might as be Ash Wednesday or Good Friday. For the most part, I blame the Irish, especially the clergy. But how is one to know what the Cross and fasting is like when there is no collective feast? How are people to know what virtue is if both vice and virtue are commodities to be bought and sold on the market. Heck, it’s painful to even read this site because most of the writers speak of religion like it is a self-help guide for decent people, and how proper religion helps us to be more decent. Yawn. Seriously. If I wanted to read the world as if from the point of view of a cloistered nun, I can always go to the original and not the cyber knock-off. In all of this, religion is a self-absorbed exercise that has no relationship to the consciousness of the nation or the people.

    To prove that this is not completely tangential, I would say that the inevitable result of this lack of festivity in American Catholicism, and the total lack of penetration into the culture is Santorum simply put: someone who has to steal from the wider Puritanical cultural mobs to have some traction in the society at large. In traditionally Catholic countries, no matter what their problems, at least the Church penetrates the imagination, and atheists in Mexico have to read John of the Cross, and heathens in Venice celebrate Carnival, even if they have no intention of observing Lent. What do we have hear? Catholic singing “Amazing Grace”? Sometimes I think Americans would be better off being atheists.

    • February 22, 2012 9:24 am

      Yes, Irish Jansenism fit quite well with American Calvinism, didn’t it? It explains the ease of assimilation, and the fact that Santorum can be a Catholic and speak and act exactly like an evangelical.

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
      February 22, 2012 11:03 am

      I would reply more fully, but as in past years I have a hangover on Ash Wednesday! :-)

  4. JL Liedl permalink
    February 22, 2012 12:17 am

    By saying Santorum is “the one” with the phony theology, are you saying Barack Obama’s religious beliefs are perfectly in accordance with whatever “non-phony” theology is?

    • February 22, 2012 9:25 am

      Obama is a Protestant, so I would expect him to have a Protestant theology.

    • Mark Gordon permalink
      February 22, 2012 9:45 am

      Cramped, binary thinking anyone?

  5. Julia Smucker permalink*
    February 22, 2012 9:11 am

    Good insights here. I would only quibble that Catholics are indeed “people of the book”; we just define “the book” more dynamically. I might also add that (in my heavily biased opinion) Mennonites – who, although lacking a Catholic view of tradition, don’t tend to be very sola scriptura – often come closer to this dynamism in their reading of scripture than do the mainline Protestant traditions, certainly more so than an Evangelical approach.

    But that’s a digression from your main point, with which I agree. And I am becoming increasingly convinced by my fellow Vox Novians of the odd and often contradictory character of the way that a term like “conservative” is touted in US politics (by both sides).

    • Mark Gordon permalink
      February 22, 2012 9:54 am

      The real distinction is that as Catholics we don’t define ourselves by “the book.”

  6. johnmcg permalink
    February 22, 2012 10:05 am

    I’m not sure the problem is a “phony theology,” so much as a different finding of fact.

    We consider it nasty to call pro-choice politicians “pro-infanticide” etc. because charity demands that we give some credence to their claim that they don’t see the fetus as a human person, and thus don’t consider abortion to be killing. The problem is not that their theology sees killing of innocent human children as OK, it’s that their factual determination is that the unborn are not human children.

    In Santorum’s case, the general words he says about being good stewards of Creation are perfectly in line with the Church’s teachings. The problem is with his interpretation of the scientific data, concluding that AGW is not a problem.

    In both cases, there’s reason to suspect that the interpretation of facts is being driven by the conclusions they would lead to rather than the other way around. But I think saying that Santorum’s environmental polcy is driven by a false theology is about as productive as saying a pro-choice politician like infanticide.

  7. February 22, 2012 11:42 am

    Julia, I think it’s about time that Catholics started referring to the factions in American politics as “liberals of the Right” and “liberals of the Left,” because, from the point of view of Catholics–even Catholics whose theological position is “liberal”–American politics are too radically individualist, too socially Darwinist to be called “conservative.” All they want to “conserve” in America is the right to exploit materially, and they don’t understand at all that neo-liberal capitalism actually DOES satisfy the demand of Marx, that all indigenous or traditional cultures (he called them “feudal”) have to be up-ended by the system that he called the most efficient “transvaluator of all values” before his atheist utopia could be invented. The Americans ARE inventing that “atheist utopia” of perfect consumerism and commodification of all life and life-forms, and, as they’re doing it, they’re calling it “conservative”.

  8. Rodak permalink
    February 22, 2012 4:19 pm

    @ digbydolben —

    Are you repeatedly saying that “Americans” are doing this and “Americans” are doing that, simply because most the persons to whom you are addressing yourself happen to be Americans? Or are you really saying that Americans are uniquely the exponents of this kind of liberalism? I think a case can be made that the source of it was Western Europe, and the market for it is most of the world, to the extent that they can pull it off. I completely agree with you that it’s evil. But I don’t feel that the evil is uniquely American.

    • February 22, 2012 7:23 pm

      Rodak, Western Europe may have been the source of the ideology of Social Darwinist capitalism, but it’s pretty apparent to me, after having lived there for some time, that the Europeans have abandoned this kind of liberalism. You should hear the sneers in the voices of the French, for example, when they refer to the “Anglo-American version of capitalism.” And they and the other Europeans are correct that it is the Americans who attempt to forcibly spread this system everywhere in the world.

      • Rodak permalink
        February 23, 2012 11:43 am

        @ digbydolben —

        What would you say are the top three key points distinguishing French capitalism from Anglo-American capitalism?

      • February 23, 2012 8:43 pm

        Rodak, in the design and setting of public policy, which include regulation of industry and banks, the priority is always on how each and every mandate impacts on “l’homme moyen francais”–and NOT on how it affects the upper middle class or the rich. Furthermore, there’s a general and widely accepted recognition that medical services and education may not be managed as “businesses.” And, finally, France’s foreign policy is thoroughly predictable (and, therefore, peaceful) in that NOTHING will be done in the exercise of the nation’s sovereign power that is not strictly in the national interests–no “crusades” for “freedom,” no preventions of “crimes against humanity” and so on, which are not coordinated with international organisations.

      • February 24, 2012 8:58 am

        For example, almost all Frenchmen would have no difficulty considering this to be treasonous

        http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/02/201222385252948572.html

  9. J.D. permalink
    February 22, 2012 7:28 pm

    What is particular interesting about Benedict’s reflections on the environment is his exegesis of the Babylonian Exile. In his wonderful little reflection on Creation, “In the Beginning” his exegesis leads him to argue that the Exile may have been punishment because the Israelites did not let the earth have its Sabbath every 7 years. He cites a passage in Chronicles that seems to suggest that at least some Israelites interpreted their exile in this manner.

  10. Bruce in Kansas permalink
    February 22, 2012 11:21 pm

    I apparently misunderstood the “phony theology” was referring to President Obama and, because Obama is Protestant, saying it was “not based on the Bible” was to support his point that it was phony for Obama. I did not realize Mr. Santorum was making an argument that his positions are all based on “non-phony” Catholic theology.

    • johnmcg permalink
      February 23, 2012 11:19 am

      I think what it was referring to was a notion that left-wing environmentalism is a “theology” that President Obama wants us all to to be in service of. I suspect Santorum would have made the same comment regardless of President Obama’s professed religion.

      In that context, I don’t think Santorum was making the case that his own positions were based on any particular theology — indeed I think he was arguing that environmental policy should be based on what can help people now rather than what serves any theology.

      Which of course, places the ball squarely on the tee for Stewart/Colbert to contrast Santorum’s theological approach to private sexuality to his “no theology” approach to environmental policy.

      • Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
        February 24, 2012 4:02 pm

        I have to agree with John here. The “phony theology” is just another phrase for the catch-all notion dear to reactionaries’ hearts that all points-of-view not agreeing with theirs are de facto secular civil religions. They believe that these are more “dogmatic” than theirs are, they being the very soul of fairness and desire for religious liberty. This notion of theirs appeals to left-leaning types too. Witness the demonstration of it by a number of folks on this blog no less!

  11. Bruce in Kansas permalink
    February 26, 2012 12:03 pm

    To be fair, wouldn’t you have to admit it’s a tough balancing act to call someone else judgmental without being judgmental yourself?

    • Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
      February 27, 2012 1:10 am

      Bruce,

      One must never tire of asserting with vigor that being intolerant of intolerance is NOT intolerance.

      • Bruce in Kansas permalink
        March 1, 2012 8:40 pm

        Is that anything like asserting with absolute certainty that there is no such thing as absolute certainty?

  12. February 26, 2012 8:54 pm

    Gary Wills rebuts Rick Santorum:

    http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/feb/15/contraception-con-men/

    • Thales permalink
      February 27, 2012 10:17 am

      Ugh. I don’t find the rebuttal very thoughtful — it’s filled with exaggerations and simplistic caricatures: it’s “religious dictatorship” to not want to pay for someone’s contraception? Um, okay. And its attempts at theological and philosophical arguments are so poor as to be laughable: the attempts to argue that there’s “no scriptural basis” for opposition to contraception, to argue that the contraception is not contrary to the natural law, that contraception is not against Church teaching…. they’re all so unsophisticated and unserious, I wonder whether he is truly that obtuse or whether he’s acting so on purpose. I’ll admit that there are half-way decent arguments in favor of contraception and the HHS rule, but this is not one of them them.

    • grega permalink
      February 27, 2012 10:31 am

      Thanks so much for this link digbydolben – tuesday we will see if the grand old party comes to it’s senses – I think they will -regardless of the political implications it is rather interesting to observe how even here in the supposedly ‘liberal’ Vox Nova sphere a number of folks so desperatly try to square this one. It makes me wonder . I view quite a bit of what excites the catholic right as totally unsustainable in reality. Clearly a good number are lusting for a much smaller more ‘elite’ church.

      • February 28, 2012 12:08 am

        I don’t think they will: I think that they’ve engrafted themselves too deeply into the heretic Protestant cults of America, and that it will take one or, perhaps, even two major landslide defeats for them to come to their senses. And, meanwhile, there’s a strong possibility of the rise of one or two “third parties.” This is going to contribute to a Presidency, under the “Messiah,” that will be, unfortunately, more “imperial” than even Dubya’s. This is unfortunate for America as a declining superpower, but I feat it’s inevitable, because cultural factors which are stonger than the political are at play here. There’s no way that a country so divided against itself as modern America is can remain a major player on the world’s stage. The “American Century” is well and truly over.

  13. February 27, 2012 1:43 am

    First of all, I’m writing this as an Evangelical Protestant, who believes the Bible is God’s revealed Word. I am also, for all intents and purposes, a political liberal–no doubt some will see a conflict there, but let’s leave that aside. I also want to leave aside for now the climate change debate–I believe it’s real, and Santorum doesn’t, but that’s not my issue here. I just want to point out that the idea of Biblical stewardship of creation is entirely in line with Scripture, and Santorum’s theology is wrong, but it’s not because he’s more conservative evangelical than Catholic–there is a certain strain of thought among certain evangelicals and cultural conservatives that Santorum is operating out of, but the problem here as I see it is not that Santorum is appealing to Biblical authority, rather that his views on this issue are in fact, not based on the Bible.

    The idea of Biblical stewardship is not to pillage or plunder God’s resources as we see fit, but to be stewards–to tend the Earth, to care for it, and to use it for God’s glory. When God gave Adam dominion over the Earth, he called Adam to tend it and care for it–the idea is not to elevate the Earth above man, but Santorum seems to elevate man above everything, including God. God told Adam to “dress the Garden, and to keep it ” (Gen. 2:15). The idea of using the Earth for whatever, without regard for limitations actually ignores human concerns and leads to waste, pollution, and plunder, as a poor steward is wont to do.

    I’ll say it again–the problem isn’t Santorum’s embrace of the Biblical teaching, but rather his rejection of it, in this case.

  14. February 28, 2012 12:03 am

    Kudos to Rafique, for explaining this so clearly that even those lunatic believers in the “Gospel of Abundance” can clearly recognise their theology’s perversion of orthodox Christian doctrine (whether Protestant or Catholic).

  15. Remus permalink
    February 28, 2012 8:52 am

    Santorum is a good Platonist, like St. Paul and St. Augustine. This notion that the material world is corrupt and therefore disposable goes back a long way, long before the Protestant/Catholic divide. Today’s evangelical theology bears the DNA of Calvin, who greatly admired Augustine, who studied Plato. So this idea that we shouldn’t get too worked up about planetary maintenance because the earth is just a corrupt rock on which our corrupt bodies spend some time before settling in for eternity has a legitimate claim in both Catholic and Protestant thinking. It’s a bad Greek idea disguised as Christian theology.

    • February 28, 2012 10:23 am

      Excuse me, Remus, but this type of Platonism is rejected by the orthodox Christian Church–and Calvin is a heretic who over-emphasized certain aspects of Augustinian theology, in order to hook up with Plato, as well as the Stoics. Some people–interestingly enough, especially the Prots who want eretz Israel–seem to forget that there is also a Judaic strain in REAL Christianity, and that the best of this Jewish influence will have nothing to do with world-hating Platonic Gnosticism.

  16. Douglas Naaden permalink
    February 28, 2012 9:56 am

    The article misses the mark pretty badly at the beginning. The 2nd-4th paragraphs criticize Santorum for saying Obama’s theology is not from the Bible (Obama claims to be Christian). It wouldn’t make sense for Santorum to criticize Obama’s theology for not coming from the Church any more than it would to criticize Joel Olsteen for the same thing–neither claim to take their theology from the Church.
    Furthermore, man wasn’t created for the Earth, but vice versa, see CCC #356, as Santorum rightly claims. There’s nothing gnostic or Calvanistic about that. Or course it doesn’t give us the right to plunder it.
    There are definitely problems with Santorum’s views, but the second half of the article, which seems to have much more substance, are undermined by the sloppy first part. Not sure how much of it is just some ill-deserved invective.

  17. rayontremblant permalink
    February 28, 2012 2:19 pm

    Reblogged this on A Catholic's Journey and commented:
    Interesting read. Goes to show how little the Catholic mindset fits into American political philosophy.

Trackbacks

  1. Rick Santorum’s Theology and his Evangelical Supporters | Subversive Thomism
  2. Rick Santorum, a bogus charge of false theology, and pantheism « Catholibertarian

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