A Widespread Modern Problem
There are many persons within the Church, persons who claim to be teaching Catholic doctrine and sound theology, who are instead undermining, distorting, and tearing apart, piece by piece, the teaching of the Magisterium on important matters of faith and morals. Some of these wolves in sheep’s clothing have Ph.D.’s in theology and teach at Catholic colleges, universities, and seminaries. Unfortunately, many theology faculties at Catholic institutions have become severely infected with heresy and even apostasy. Pope John Paul II spoke out against this problem:
Pope John Paul II: “In particular, note should be taken of the lack of harmony between the traditional response of the Church and certain theological positions, encountered even in Seminaries and in Faculties of Theology, with regard to questions of the greatest importance for the Church and for the life of faith of Christians, as well as for the life of society itself. In particular, the question is asked: do the commandments of God, which are written on the human heart and are part of the Covenant, really have the capacity to clarify the daily decisions of individuals and entire societies? Is it possible to obey God and thus love God and neighbor, without respecting these commandments in all circumstances? Also, an opinion is frequently heard which questions the intrinsic and unbreakable bond between faith and morality, as if membership in the Church and her internal unity were to be decided on the basis of faith alone, while in the sphere of morality a pluralism of opinions and of kinds of behavior could be tolerated, these being left to the judgment of the individual subjective conscience or to the diversity of social and cultural contexts.” (Veritatis Splendor, n. 4)
His papal encyclical Veritatis Splendor sought to dispel numerous heresies and doctrinal errors in the area of morality by teaching the basic principles of ethics. But since the publication of that encyclical, matters have only become worse. In addition to those false teachers who openly contradict definitive magisterial teaching, there are many false teachers who severely misinterpret and misapply the teaching of the Magisterium. They teach false doctrine with the claim that it is really a correct understanding of magisterial teaching. This attack is very effective at leading astray many Catholic, because most of the faithful are very poorly catechized.
Aside from false teachers at Catholic colleges and universities, the internet phenomenon has brought about a new problem in the Church. Any individual who wishes to do so, can now teach, publicly and worldwide, on any topic — even under cover of anonymity. There are many Catholics who have a very poor understanding of the Faith, and yet they purport to teach the Catholic Faith on the internet. This includes anonymous posters at various online discussion groups, as well as bloggers and persons who add commentary to blogs and various other sites. Grave harm is being done to many souls, both by persons openly rejecting magisterial teaching and by insidious false teachers who claim that the grave errors they present are a correct understanding of magisterial teaching.
One False Teacher Among Many
One of the more prominent false teachers among Catholics on the internet is Jimmy Akin, author, “Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, a contributing editor to This Rock magazine, and a weekly guest on Catholic Answers Live“, and a blogger at National Catholic Register. He also has his own blog at JimmyAkin.com. He is teaching is entertaining, easy-to-understand, and full of heresy and doctrinal error.
On the topic of contraception, he teaches an amazingly diverse array of grave errors, the sum total of which has the effect of completely destroying the infallible teaching of the Magisterium against contraception.
1. Akin claims that married couples who use contraception have neither the unitive nor procreative meaning in the marital act.
As explained in my previous post, this claim contradicts the infallible teaching of the Magisterium that contraception separates the unitive and procreative meaning into different acts. The Magisterium teaches that contraception is deprived of the procreative meaning, but not the unitive meaning.
2. He claims that there is a translation error in Humanae Vitae that, if it had been correctly translated, would restrict the condemnation of contraception only to its use in marriage.
3. He claims that the Magisterium has no teaching on the immorality of contraception outside of marriage.
4. He claims that the Magisterium should not answer the question as to whether contraception is immoral outside of marriage.
5. He claims that the use of contraception within marriage might be justified, in some circumstances, by the principle of double effect.
6. He also presents a long series of errors on intrinsically evil acts and the three fonts of morality, including the idea that intention, circumstances, and proportionality determine whether an act is intrinsically evil. Since contraception is intrinsically evil, Akin’s exceedingly severe distortion of magisterial teaching on intrinsic evil completes his absolute destruction of magisterial teaching against contraception.
Jimmy Akin’s attack on the magisterial teaching against contraception is one of the most insidious and harmful on the internet. By the time that he is done teaching on contraception and on intrinsically evil acts, there is nothing substantial left of the magisterial teaching against contraception, other than the hollow shell of a claim that it is sometimes immoral. Akin’s understanding of why contraception is immoral, and of why intrinsically evil acts are immoral is entirely incompatible with the infallible teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium.
This set of articles will explain and refute his many errors on contraception. I should point out to the interested reader that most of these errors are not unique to Jimmy Akin. Other authors and commentators, especially online, have asserted the same or similar errors. So this article is not only a correction of Akin’s set of heresies on contraception, but a correction of several widespread errors.
Why focus on Akin’s version of these errors? Two reasons. First, he uniquely brings together many different errors on this topic, combined as one. His writings are a convenient single-source for almost every error on the topic of contraception. Second, he is widely and incorrectly considered by many Catholics to be a reliable source for magisterial teaching, when in fact he is one of the most severe teachers of heresy, on many different topics, on the internet.
More in subsequent posts: Part 2