Tower of David Critique of "The Necessity of Being Catholic," by James Akin. Part I

Dear Reader, a friend of Tower of David Ministry asked if I would critique an article by James Akin of "Catholic" Answers in San Diego, CA. I offer it here mainly to fortify, edify and educate. The article contains the usual garbage and, as liberals usually do, Akin subjects that which is subject to nothing -INFALLIBLE DOGMATIC DEFINITIONS- to fallible non-definitive statements.

What you may find of extra value are the quick summaries provided at the end of both Part I and Part II.

I do it for the Glory of God, His Blessed Mother, Holy Mother Church and the vindication of Truth.

In the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady, Tower of David,
Adam S. Miller
Tower of David Ministry


[James Akin begins]

>Subject: Baptism of Desire
>"The Necessity of Being Catholic"
>by James Akin (Catholic Answers)
>One of the most controversial papal documents ever released was the
>bull Unam Sanctam, issued in 1302 by Pope Boniface VIII. Today the most
>controversial part of the bull is the following infallible
>pronouncement: "Now, therefore, we declare, say, define, and
>pronounce that for every human creature it is altogether necessary for
>salvation to be subject to the authority of the Roman pontiff."



Dear Reader,

Do you notice the definitive clause "altogether necessary for salvation"?

The Latin is "omnino de necessitate salutis." The Latin word "omnino" is translated "altogether" here, which is an adequate translation. Other translations have the word "absolutely" for "omnino"(see "The Church Teaches," by Fathers J. F. Clarkson, J. Edwards, et al., TAN Books, 1955, 1973, p.75; also "The Christian Faith," ed. by J. Neuner, S.J. and J. Dupuis, S.J., NY: Alba House , 1990, p. 234).

However, just look up the word "altogether" in the dictionary. It means: completely, with NOTHING left out. The Latin "Omnino" means just this: "utterly," "in all," "completely."

In other words, with nothing missing and thus without ANY exceptions.

"Omnino" does NOT mean "normatively" or "in general" as James Akin will attempt to mislead his readers into thinking. The Latin language already has words for "normatively" or in general ("normae," "generalitas", "in universum"). However, Pope Boniface VIII, protected by the Holy Spirit from error, infallibly used "omnino" in this definition, NOT any of the other words which James Akin wishes were used, as you will see.

Keep this in mind as we proceed. You will see whether or not if James Akin is truly faithful to "THAT understanding which Holy Mother Church has ONCE declared" concerning its dogmas, as Vatican I binds upon the faithful (see Dei Filius, chap.4: DNZ 1800).


>This doctrine is extraordinarily controversial. Some Catholic
>extremists claim (contrary to further Church teaching, including a
>further infallible definition) that this means everyone who is not a
>full-fledged, professing Catholic is damned. Non-Catholics find the
>claim offensive, sectarian, and anti-Christian in sentiment.
>Most Catholics who are aware of the definition find it embarrassing,
>especially in today's ecumenical age, and many try to ignore or
>dismiss it, though even liberal Catholic theologians admit it is a
>genuine doctrinal definition and must in some sense be true.
>Its truth was reinforced by Vatican II, which stated: "This holy
>Council . . . [b]asing itself on Scripture and Tradition . . . teaches
>that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation. . . .
>[Christ] himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism
>(cf. Mark 16:16, John 3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the
>necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a
>door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing the Catholic Church
>was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to
>enter it or to remain in it" (Lumen Gentium 14).
>Many moderns explain this doctrine in a way that robs it of its content.
>In the 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII, who admitted
>the possibility of salvation for non-Catholics,



Pope Pius XII did not admit such. This is simply an unsubstantiated statement, and in fact, a lie. On the contrary, Pope Pius XII condemned the very effort which James Akin is doing here. In # 27 from "Humani Generis," which was a document condemning numerous opinions which undermined Catholic doctrine, the Holy Pontiff stated:

"Some reduce to A MEANINGLESS FORMULA the necessity of
belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation."

Therefore, Pius XII condemns exactly what James Akin is attempting to do.


>Pope Pius XII, who admitted the possibility of salvation for
>non-Catholics, lamented that some Catholic theologians
>were "reducs an exclusivist view of salvation, this teaching
>does not mean that anyone who is not a full-fledged Catholic is damned.



Where does Pope Pius XII teach such? Akinís provides no substantiation from this document. He cannot, for it is NO WHERE in Humani Generis.

Does James Akin presume that his readers are to take HIS word for it?

This is both arrogant and deceptive.


>As further Church teaching has made clear, including a further doctrinal
>definition, it is entirely possible for a person to be saved without
>being a professing Catholic. Formally belonging to the Church and
>formally being subject to the Roman Pontiff are normative rather than
>absolute necessities.



Two points here:

A. The phrase used here, "further Church teaching has made clear," exposes James Akin's utter misunderstanding (or dishonesty) concerning the nature of a solemn infallible dogmatic definition such as Pope Boniface VIII's Bull Unam Sanctum.

This lack of proper understanding (or is it rejection?) is FATAL to Akin's entire argument and position.

Once a dogma, and those dogma directly related to it, is defined by the extraordinary Magisterium, then the meaning of that (those) dogma(s) has ALREADY been determined and DEFINED for all time. This is the very PURPOSE AND NATURE of a dogmatic definition: TO DEFINE for ALL time what the Church means and HOW we are to understand and believe it. And, as Vatican II confirmed, these definitions are irreformable by their very nature" (Lumen Gentium, 25).



Pope Pius IX made it clear that:

The very definition of a dogma must be held to be BY ITSELF a SUFFICIENT
demonstration, very sure and adapted to all the faithful. Moreover, this is why
such dogmatic definitions have always been and are necessarily an unchangeable
rule of faith. (Inter Gravissimas, 1870)

So what the Church has declared in each dogma is sufficient in itself to teach what it is we are to believe. This necessarily means that that understanding which the Church has of her sacred dogmas, and by which we must believe them, is exactly what she has once declared. Again, this is precisely what was infallibly defined at Vatican I (Dei Filius, ch.4):
Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be
perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared;
and there must never be recession from that meaning under the
specious name of a deeper understanding. (DNZ 1800)

The Church at Vatican I has made it clear that what She means to teach and define is precisely what She "has once declared," and that this declared understanding can never change. There is no meaning to these or any dogmas beyond what the words themselves state and declare. In other words, there is no "meaning" distinct from the words of the formula, for this is the VERY POINT of a dogmatic definition -to make clear, to define what She does mean and believe. Thus, the Church at Vatican I has made clear that what She means to teach and how she understands it is exactly what she "has once declared."

B. The idea of "normative" vs. "altogether/absolute" in regards to what conditions the Church teaches as necessary for salvation are simply the personal (and erroneous) notions of theologians. This idea is NOT contained or presumed in ANY infallible Church document. This is why Akin does not (because he cannot) produce such a document which makes the distinction between normative and absolute on matters concerning salvation.

Notice, James Akin presumes that YOU-the-reader have already forgotten that the Pope says "ALTOGETHER necessary for salvation." As you will see, he builds his entire case upon ignoring this definitive word.

Donít be deceived by his omissions!


>An absolute necessity is a necessity which holds in all cases with no
>exceptions. A normative necessity is usually required, though there
>are exceptions. An example of normative necessity in everyday American
>life is the practice of driving on the right hand side of the road. This
>is normally required, but there are exceptions, such as emergency
>situations. For example, if a small child darts out from behind parked
>cars, it may be necessary (and legally permitted) to swerve into the
>left hand lane to avoid hitting him. Thus the necessity of driving on
>the right hand side of the road is a normative rather than an
>absolute necessity.
>Whether it is a normative or an absolute necessity to be united to the
>Catholic Church depends on what kind of unity with the Church one has
>in mind, because there are different ways of being associated with the
>Catholic Church.
>A person who has been baptized or received into the Church is fully
>and formally a Catholic. Vatican II states: "Fully incorporated into the
>society of the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ,
>accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with
>her entire organization, and who -- by the bonds constituted by the
>profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and
>communion -- are joined in the visible structure of the Church of
>Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops"
>(Lumen Gentium 14, Catechism of the Catholic Church 837).
>But it is also possible to be "associated" with or "partially
>incorporated" into the Catholic Church without being a fully and
>formally incorporated into it. Vatican II states: "The Church knows
>that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the
>name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety
>or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter"
>(Lumen Gentium 15). Those "who believe in Christ and have been
>properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion
>with the Catholic Church" (Unitatis Redintegratio 3; CCC 838).



Notice that none of these documents say that those with "imperfect communion" or those who are "partially incorporated" can actually be saved, WHERE THEY ARE. Akin fails to demonstrate with Magisterial documentation that these persons can be saved while having this status of imperfect/partial incorporation.

At the same time, a very important point must be made concerning the use of documents from Vatican II and other non-definitive, non-infallible statements.

The Catholic principles of authority and interpretation demand that EACH of these NON-definitive and NON-infallible documents/statements MUST be interpreted in light of and in subjection to previous infallible definitions, decrees and canons. Otherwise, the authority of the Church is turned upside-down and nullified and the protective benefits of infallibility are lost.

The Church is well aware of this and this is why in NONE of these statements do you actually see stated that those with "imperfect" communion will be saved WHERE THEY ARE. So we cannot read into these statements what James Akin wants his readers to see.

Akin is undermining Church authority in this way:

a. he is subjecting an infallible pronouncement to statements which are not necessarily

protected from error, but which are fallible;

b. he is subjecting a dogmatic definition to NON-definitive statements.

Therefore, in accord with the Catholic principle of interpretation we MUST hold that:

1) NON-definitive statements cannot DEFINE for us what definitive statements mean,
otherwise definitions are NOT definitions, and thus the very concept and practice
becomes obsolete. Besides, the nature and intent of a dogmatic definition already
accomplishes this for us.

2) Infallible dogmatic definitions cannot even be interpreted or modified by NON-infallible
statements. Otherwise, two problems would follow from this:

A) We would have a document NOT protected from error determining for us the
meaning of a document which IS protected from error, which nullifies the entire notion of infallibility.

B) We would have a statement of higher authority made subject to a statement of lower
authority. This would turn upside-down (i.e. invert) the entire notion of authority.

As a result of Akin's use of non-infallible and non-definitive statements to determine for us how to interpret an infallible dogmatic definition, he is guilty of these very errors.

All that follows on his part thus has no foundation.


>Those who have not been baptized are also put in an imperfect communion with the
>Church, even if they do not realize it, if they possess the virtues of faith, hope, and
>charity. Pope Pius XII explains that the "juridical bonds [of the Church] in themselves
>far surpass those of any other human society, however exalted; and yet another
>principle of union must be added to them in those three virtues, Christian faith,
>hope, and charity, which link us so closely to each other and to God. . . .
>[I]f the bonds of faith and hope, which bind us to our Redeemer in his
>Mystical Body are weighty and important, those of charity are certainly no
>less so. . . . Charity . . . more than any other virtue binds us
>closely to Christ" (Mystici Corporis 70, 73).
>Understanding this distinction between perfect and imperfect
>communion with the Church is essential to understanding the necessity of
>being a Catholic. It is an absolute necessity -- no exceptions at all -- to
>be joined to the Church in some manner, at least through the virtues of
>faith, hope, and charity. However, it is only normatively necessary
>to be fully incorporated into or in perfect communion with the Catholic
>Church. There are exceptions to that requirement, as the Council of
>Trent taught (see below), though it is still a normative necessary.



Akin presumes that this "other principle of unity... added" nullifies the necessity of Baptism. But the document nowhere says nor implies this. And again, he adds the word (and notion) of normative where no such notion is put forth in the document. We know that Pope Pius XII did not teach what Akin says he was teaching because elsewhere he clearly states:

"Only those are to be included as REAL (Latin is "reapse") members of
the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith and have
not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body."
(DNZ 2286)

His predecessor also repeated this doctrine previously defined at the Councils of Florence and Trent. Pope Pius IX declared in Quas Primas (1925):

"The Catholic Church, is the kingdom of Christ on earth... The Gospels present
this kingdom as one which men prepare to enter by penance, and CANNOT
ACTUALLY enter EXCEPT by faith and by Baptism..."

So, there is no REAL or ACTUAL membership in the Church without sacramental Baptism (which is in water only as infallibly defined by the CHurch).


>In our discussion below, the word "necessary" will mean "normatively
>necessary," not "absolutely necessary."



Says who? Other than James Akin and liberal theologians, says who? By what authority does he say this?

Certainly not by THE CHURCH in her infallible definitions, decrees and canons! The Churchís infallible statements on this topic are stated for us WITHOUT ANY exceptions being allowed. The ONLY time this concept is ever allowed by the Church is in reference to the necessity of the Sacrament of Penance/Confession for salvation. At no other time and in no other document is this distinction ever used or allowed.

Shame on James Akin!


>>Necessity of Means and Precept
>Theologians also differentiate between things that are necessary by
>precept and things that are necessary as a means.



Be careful here. We are NOT bound in conscience to theologians, nor to ANY of their ideas, categories, distinctions, etc. We are bound ONLY to the Magisterium and to what SHE has declared. Pope Pius XII made this clear in "Humani Generis" (#21) when he stated:

"God has given to His Church a living Teaching authority to elucidate and
explain what is contained in the deposit of faith only obscurely and implicitly.
This deposit of faith our Divine Redeemer has given for authentic interpretation
not to each of the faithful, NOR EVEN TO THEOLOGIANS, but ONLY to
the Teaching Authority of the Church."


>The same example of driving on the right hand side of the road serves to illustrate
>both. In America driving on the right hand side of the road has a necessity of
>precept because the law requires us to do so. However, it is also necessary as
>a means because if one wishes to safely navigate the highways in America then
>one must drive on the right hand side of the road. If you wish to arrive safely at your
>destination, the means to that end is driving on the right hand side.
>Thus driving on the right side of the road is a normative necessity by precept
>(because the law normally requires it) and a normative necessity of means
>(because it is normally necessary to safely arrive at one's destination).
>However, it is not an absolute necessity of precept (because the law makes
>exceptions for emergencies) or an absolute necessity of means (because safely
>arriving at one's destination sometimes requires a swerve into the other lane as an
>emergency maneuver).



Dear Reader, carefully read the above again. All James Akin has done is explain what HE means by this distinction between normative necessity and absolute necessity. He has not yet shown WHERE the Church uses this distinction in any of her definitions, decrees or canons on salvation.

In other words, His explanation does not PROVE his position represents THE CHURCH"S position, it only explains what HE means by it. Do not be fooled by this ploy. (If it is not a ploy, then Akin simply does not know what he is doing.)


>When it comes to the question of being a Catholic, that is both a
>necessity of precept and a necessity of means. It is a necessity of
>precept because God commands it, for "the Catholic Church was founded
>as necessary by God through Christ," Lumen Gentium 14 (CCC 846). It is a
>necessity of means because the Catholic Church is the sacrament of
>salvation for mankind, containing all the means of grace. "As sacrament,
>the Church is Christ's instrument. 'She is taken up by him also as
>the instrument for the salvation of all,' 'the universal sacrament of
>salvation,' by which Christ is 'at once manifesting and actualizing
>the mystery of God's love for men'" (CCC 776, citing Vatican II's Lumen
>Gentium 9:2, 48:2, and Gaudiam et Spes 45:1).
snip, snip........
[James Akin simply expounds upon this with Protestants in mind. It does not have any bearing on our particular topic. So I have snipped it out. -Adam Miller]
>Akinís continues]
>A Catholic thus might construct an argument for Unam Sanctam's
> definition like this:
>1) To be saved it is necessary to be a Christian.
>2) To be a Christian it is necessary to be a member of Christ's Church.
>3) To be a member of Christ's Church it is necessary to be a member
>of the Catholic Church.
>4) To be a member of the Catholic Church it is necessary to be subject to
> the Roman Pontiff.
>5) Therefore, it is necessary for salvation to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.
>In this argument, the necessities are all normative necessities and
>the kind of membership being discussed is formal membership.



Again, SAYS WHO? Who says that these "necessities are all normative necessities," other than James Akin? What authority does he have to make such a qualification? Where is his documentation?

Where does the Church teach that "necessities are all normative necessities" is in fact "THAT understanding which Holy Mother Church has ONCE declared"(Vatican I: Dei Filius, chap.4: DNZ 1800) concerning this dogma?


James Akin has once again made his own personal statement that certain necessities are only "normative' and not absolute WITHOUT ANY Magisterial documentation to buttress his statement. On this account alone, his entire argument fails. He is ignoring the VERY WORDS of the document he makes us believe he is explaining.

So far, he has failed to provide ONE infallible Magisterial statement which teaches that the necessity of submission to the Roman Pontiff (and membership in the Church) is NOT necessary without exception, that is, that it is not ALTOGETHER necessary as Pope Boniface infallibly defined. Whereas we DO have other popes declaring the ABSOLUTE necessity of submission to the Roman Pontiff for salvation.
    -Pope Clement VI (1342-52) in Super Quibusdam (1351) declared:

"No man outside the faith of the Roman Catholic Church and outside obedience to the Pope of Rome can finally be saved."

    -Pope Leo XIII made it clear in Officio Sanctissimo (1887) that there is absolutely no salvation without submission to the pope when he declared (quoting St. Thomas Aquinas)the importance of being:

"docile to the Roman Pontiff... and to whom it is absolutely necessary for salvation to remain subject."

    Notice in the quote from Clement VI where he declares that NO MAN outside obedience to the pope can be saved. This is an unqualified declaration. The term "no man" is thus all inclusive, which, by definition, means that there are no exceptions.
    I ask Mr. Akin: Why do the vicars of Christ -according to your assessment- keep making declarations with terms that do not mean what they state, nor state what the Pontiffs mean? Are these guys exercising poetic license? Are they deceivers? Or did they in fact mean what they said and said what they meant? The nature of dogmatic teaching makes it clear that it is always the latter.

    Concerning Pope Leo XIII's quote, need I say any more? His declaration clearly refutes Akin's arguments, and exposes his position as being contrary to infallible Catholic teaching. Sorry, Mr. Akin, but "absolutely necessary" means ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY!

   I could provide more quotes, but, as Blessed Pope Pius IX declared in Amantissimus (1862):

"It would be impossible to multiply indefinitely citations from the best witnesses, all of whom openly and clearly declare the necessity of submission and obedience which must be accorded the Apostolic See and the Roman pontiff in order to obtain salvation."


>The argument has a logically valid form ...snip, snip...
[Same point as above, this portion of his article is not germane to what we are discussing.]
>The Nature of the Church
>[In this section, Akinís presents a basic Catholic apologetic in defending the nature of the Church >against Protestants. It is also not germane to our discussion.]



We conclude part I of this critique with a summary conclusion. James Akin is guilty of the following:

Akin is guilty of subjecting:

a. that which is infallible to that which is not infallible;

b. that which is definitive to that which is not definitive

He thus subverts and inverts the Church's Teaching Authority.

This ends Part I of the Tower of David critique of James Akinís article. Please continue on to Part II for the rest of this critique and its conclusion.

Adam S. Miller

Tower of David Ministry

Onto Part II
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