Between Heaven and Earth[Record]

  • Charles De Koninck
QUODLIBETA Nous publions sous cette rubrique les questions qu’on nous fait par écrit et nous tâchons d’y répondre. Toute lettre doit être signée et porter l’adresse de Vexpéditeur. Les lettres anonymes ne seront pas lues. Le nom de l’expéditeur sera publié, à moins qu’il ne demande expressément le contraire. “Between Heaven and Earth”* During a recent stay in the United States I was astonished at the publicity being given by Catholic periodicals and bookshops to a work entitled Between Heaven and Earth. Let it be said at once that it is not from a Catholic pen. From one point of view there is no reason to be sur­ prised at the favorable reception it has received even among the devout, coming as it does from the author of the Song of Bernadette, the novel many found irreproachable and moving. Franz Werfel had written so well of Our Lady that his readers might have expected the same fidelity in Between Heaven and Earth. But having examined this work, I am obliged to say that it calls for the most serious reservations. In fact, it teaches errors clearly and directly contrary to the two most fundamental truths of our religion. “ In our faith,” says St. Thomas, “two things are principally to be believed: the mystery of the Trinity, and the mystery of the Incarna­ tion.” Surely Catholic readers should be put on their guard against the pernicious errors contained in this book; and it will also be failing in charity toward these outside the fold not to expose so false an understanding of our faith. Here are several propositions cited from the English text: “ The second person of the Trinity is the social aspect in the Deity. Verbum caro factum. This not only applies to the Son but, in another sense, to the world also. All created things are expressed words. The Son is that essence of God which does not contemplate itself, like the Father, but has to do exclusively with the world, as the first and uncreated and yet incarnate Word above all words” (p.144). In this brief passage are implicit several grave errors which are also closely interrelated. In truth, it is independently of all creation and in­ dependently of the Incarnation that the Word is the Son of God, consub- stantial with the Father, equal to the Father. He knows Himself as the Father knows Himself. Genitum, non factum. In God He is begotten and not made. The Word was made flesh. The Word that is exclusively concerned with the world is the incarnate Word as incarnate — not the Word as such. ' The begotten Word is concerned with creation only second­ * This note is the English version of a radio-talk delivered on the Laval University Hour of April 1945. The original text appeared at the time in the Quebec Semaine Religieuse. Several American priests have asked us to render it available to the English-speaking public, since the book in question is still being favorably reviewed by Catholic periodicals and on sale in Catholic bookshops. 1 3 2 LAVAL THÉOLOGIQUE ET PHILOSOPHIQUE arily1. Similarly, it is the incarnate Word only as considered in His humanity who is inferior to the Father. Aequalis Patri secundum divi- nitatem: minor Patre secundum humanitatem2. To identify the Word as such with the incarnate Word is to render the Word as such inferior to the Father, to lower His divinity and to make creation and the Incarnation necessary acts. Nor are we drawing inferences which the author himself fails to state. Here are his plain words: “ . . .The mystery ...