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Letter: O'Shea missed the mark

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Responding to the editorial by John Donald O'Shea on May 29, I make the following observations:

Mr. O'Shea apparently speed read the Cliffs notes for Pascal’s Provincial Letters and the Pensees, as he cherry picks one item (Pascal’s Wager) from the 18 letters and the Pensees which compose the works. The Letters were initially composed (1656) as a response to the Jesuits efforts to make Jansenism a sin. Among other theological differences from Catholicism, Jansenists subscribed to the doctrine of pre-destination (as did St. Augustine, Luther and the Calvinists), which negates the doctrine of free will and renders good works in one’s life moot, conflicting with Catholic doctrine- heresy

Pascals sister, Jacqueline, had taken vows and entered Port-Royal-des-Champs as a nun (1651). Port Royal was a hot bed of Jansenism at the time, Pascal visited his sister there several times, and in 1654 became a member. I will leave the story there for readers to complete.

Mr. O'Shea’s determination to subscribe to belief in God as a response to Pascals Wager begs a point. Whose God? Any Baptist will tell you if you are not saved within the terms of Baptist faith, you will burn in hell forever. A Catholic will tell you must subscribe to the doctrines of Catholicism or suffer eternal punishment. I could go on. Pascal advocated for Catholicism. Salvation requires right belief. It seems the odds of making a correct wager have declined significantly since the Reformation.

Kenneth Erwin



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