Every once in a while the Wile E. Coyote of contemporary liberal catholicism over at Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter) goes on a venom bender.
MSW can’t stand Acton Institute. He once wrote, “I confess that the mere mention of the words ‘Acton Institute’ get my teeth on edge.”
Nay rather, MSW can’t stand the people involved with Acton Institute. For MSW, anyone who supports expansive and dynamic free markets is labelled as a Randian who hates the poor and, *GASP*, a… I can hardly bring myself to write it… libertarian!
In today’s assault on Acton, MSW goes giddy over an article at Commonweal by David Bentley Hart, an Orthodox theologian. He all but swoons over Hart’s prose, especially when Hart allegedly sticks it to Acton Institute’s Sam Gregg.
Here is some chronology, as far as I can make it out.
- David Bentley Hart has an article praising Pope Francis in the December 2015 First Things. HERE
- Sam Gregg of Acton responds to Hart, also in December 2015, at Public Discourse. HERE
- Hart writes another piece at First Things in June 2016. HERE
- Gregg responds again at Public Discourse. HERE
- On 27 September 2016 Hart writes something for that bastion of fidelity Commonweal in which he refers to Gregg’s writings for “Public Interest” (getting the name wrong, but that’s no nevermind I guess). HERE
- MSW swoons over Hart at Fishwrap, today, 3 October 2016. HERE
But wait! There’s more.
You will want to read Edward Feser’s demolition of Hart’s 2015 piece at Public Discourse in April 2015. HERE
Eastern Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart has some kind of hang-up about Thomism. It leads him to do strange things. Two years ago, in First Things, Hart put forward a poorly reasoned critique of the Thomistic natural law approach to ethics. As his critics pointed out at the time, among the foibles of the piece was Hart’s conflation of the “new natural law” theory of thinkers such as John Finnis and Robert P. George with the “old natural law” approach of writers such as Ralph McInerny and Russell Hittinger. When the difference between these views is understood, Hart’s critique collapses.
Rather than trying to answer this objection and extricate himself from the hole he’d gotten himself into, Hart kept digging, relentlessly reiterating his fallacious conflation in a series of sometimes dyspeptic replies to his critics.
And be sure to catch Dylan Pahman’s razing of the Hart piece so lauded today from the swooning couch, also at Public Discourse today, 3 October 2016. HERE
In a recent article in Commonweal, “Christ’s Rabble: The First Christians Were Not Like Us,” Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart has doubled down on his controversial claims about the Christian view of wealth and poverty. He claims, like a caricature of the Protestants he unfairly dismisses, that the New Testament is on his side because he can read it in Greek. Well, so can I, and so can basically every theologian who has ever disagreed with Hart’s position. Fluency in Greek does not make one an authority on the New Testament or early Christianity.
The poverty of Hart’s hermeneutic can be seen by examining the sparsely substantiated claims he makes about the earliest Christians. Hart believes that “the New Testament … condemns great personal wealth not merely as a moral danger, but as an intrinsic evil.” Hart dismisses every New Testament qualification of this claim as being countered by a more absolute reading of other passages that has apparently escaped all other Christian readers for the last 2,000 years. In reality, Hart’s view cannot be found among early Christians.
Dylan Pahman is also Orthodox, as is Hart.
Poor MSW. He seems to have taken to someone whom one of my correspondents describes as a gnostic with his own secret knowledge that trumps 2000 years of reflection on Scripture.
I got a “trump” in there. I just want one more…