VOICE FROM THE SOUTH
By FR. EMETERIO BARCELON, SJ
Father is the critical word in our understanding of faith. Recently I have been watching Scott Hanh on YouTube. I find him excellent. He was a Protestant minister who converted to Catholicism in the 1980’s. I also watch Franciscan University modules as well as inspirational talks on business on U tube and I find them immensely helpful. (ABS-CBN is sponsoring an inspirational talker and charging ten and five thousand pesos for tickets to listen to him. U. Tube has business and inspirational talks for free.) But Scott Hanh is something else. I hope you listen to his talks. The last talk I listened to was on the precursors of the Protestant revolution. And he goes on to explain the different revolutions that Western civilization went through; from the theological revolution to the enlightenment down to our present day sexual revolution.
A ruler can use both his intellect and his will. If he uses only his will and his power the result is that he can be arbitrary. There would be no guide lines to his use of power. It will then be a relationship between master and slave. Whatever the master wants, that is to be followed. As far as we know this is the relationship with Allah. It can be benevolent but it can also be arbitrary. There are no intellectual guide lines. Allah is all powerful. In the Christian tradition both the will and the intellect are used by God in his rule over his people. God is all powerful. But besides his all-powerful will, He uses his intellect to consider the nature of His creatures. This smooths the rough edges of power. He can be arbitrary but He is not, because his intellect reminds Him of the nature of his creatures whom He loves. He considers the nature of the creature He loves. Unfortunately, some Christian Catholics still live only in fear of judgement without the love that a father shows his children. This is unfortunate because he has a Father in God which prevents His being arbitrary. He is all powerful but his love for his creatures prevents Him from being arbitrary.
Scott Hanh writes that there were precursors to the revolutionists in Machiavelli, Ockham and Marcellus of Padua. These were the people who started to tinker with deposit of faith set by Athanasius, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas. Athanasius in the Nicene Creed, which we recite at Mass every Sunday, mentions the fatherhood before the might of God: “I believe in God the Father Almighty,” This was the old faith or the via antigua which the revolutionaries tried to change into the via moderna. The modern way of thinking, basically separating the intellectual from the will.
All the great men of history claim they are sons of God from the pharaoh of Egypt to the Roman emperors to the emperors of Japan. But their claim is only figurative. In Jesus, His claim to sonship is literal or in truth that He is the Son of God. So the Jews crucified Him and many of his followers went away. His kingdom is not of this earth but in the next. But truly the son of God. To claim sonship figuratively like the pharaohs of Egypt and the emperors of Japan is acceptable but to claim this in reality is blasphemy if it is not true.
I may not be doing justice to Scott Hanh so please listen to him directly in YouTube. The via antiqua, or the old way, professes Jesus as the Son of God who uses both intellect and will. In the via moderna of the revolutionists this god is all powerful and can be arbitrary. “The end justifies the means.” It is a separation of will and intellect. The concept of fatherhood is omitted. So this god can be arbitrary. His subjects then are not sons but slaves who have to obey whatever he wills. The concept of fatherhood therefore is critical. It smooths the vagaries of power with the kindness of father’s love.