Saint Thomas Aquinas

Monday, April 28, 2008

Back to Martin Luther and James White again...

A month or so ago I commented on an absurd video on James White concerning the excommunication of Martin Luther. I pointed out in some earlier posts on my blog how absurd his video was. Now I want to also show what Pope Benedict XVI said about this issue before he became Pope.

Question: Would it be realistic for the Catholic
Church to lift Luther's excommunication on the basis of the
results of more recent scholarship?

Cardinal Ratzinger: In order to do full justice to this
question one must differentiate between excommunication as a
judicial measure on the part of the legal community of the
Church against a certain person, and the factual reasons which
led to such a step. Since the Church's jurisdiction naturally only
extends to the living, the excommunication of a person ends
with his death. Consequently, any questions dealing with the
lifting of Luther's excommunication become moot: Luther's
excommunication terminated with his death because judgment
after death is reserved to God alone. Luther's excommunication
does not have to be lifted; it has long since ceased to exist.

However, it is an entirely different matter when we
ask if Luther's proposed teachings still separate the churches
and thus preclude joint communion. Our ecumenical discus-
sions center on this question. The inter-faith commission
instituted following the Pope's visit to Germany will specifically
direct its attention to the problem of the exclusions in the six-
teenth century and their continued validity, that is, the pos-
sibility of moving beyond them. To be sure, one must keep in
mind that there exist not only Catholic anathemas against
Luther's teachings but also Luther's own definitive rejections of
Catholic articles of faith which culminate in Luther's verdict that
we will remain eternally separate. It is not necessary to borrow
Luther's angry response to the Council of Trent in order to prove
the definiteness of his rejection of anything Catholic: ". . . we
should take him-the pope, the cardinals, and whatever riffraff
belongs to His Idolatrous and Papal Holiness-and (as blas-
phemers) tear out their tongues from the back, and nail them on
the gallows . . . . Then one could allow them to hold a council,
or as many as they wanted, on thc gallows, or in hell among all
the devils."5 After his final break with the Church, Luther not
only categorically rejected the papacy but he also deemed the
Catholic teachings about the eucharist (mass) as idolatry because
he interpreted the mass as a relapse into the Law and, thus, a
denial of the Gospel. To explain all these contradictions as mis-
understandings seems to me like a form of rationalistic
arrogance which cannot do any justice to the impassioned strug-
gle of those men as well as the importance of the realities in
question. The real issue can only lie in how far we are today able
to go beyond the positions of those days and how we can arrive
at insights which will overcome the past. To put it differently:
unity demands new steps. It cannot be achieved by means of
interpretative tricks. If separation occurred as a result of contrary
religious insights which could locate no space within the tradi-
tional teachings of the Church, it will not be possible to create a
unity by means of doctrine and discussion alone, but only with
the help of religious strength. Indifference appears only on the
surface to be a unifying link.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sola Scriptura debate to begin on June 1st

After having posted my challenge, I received an offer for a formal written debate on Sola Scriptura. Turretinfan has accepted the challenge to affirm the Westminster position of Sola Scriptura, while I will be denying it. The debate will be posted on his blogsite ( as well as my website ( or my blog. Both opening statements will be posted on June 1st to begin the debate. The debate will post as follows.

1. Affirmative Constructive Essay (5k words maximum) and simultaneously Negative Constructive Essay (5k words maximum) - due June 1
2. Affirmative Rebuttal Essay (5k words maximum) - due July 1
3. Negative Rebuttal Essay (5k words maximum) - due August 1
4. Affirmative Cross-Examination Questions to the Negative (5 questions - 1k words each maximum) - due September 1
5. Negative Cross-Examination Answers to the Affirmative Questions (5k words maximum) and Negative Cross-Examination Questions to the Affirmative (5 questions - 1k words each maximum) - due October 1
6. Affirmative Cross-Examination Answers to the Negative Questions (5k words maximum) - due November 1
7. Affirmative Conclusion Essay (5k words maximum) and simultaneously Negative Conclusion Essay (5k words maximum) - due December 1

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Open challenge: Formal written debate.

I have been visiting the blogsites of Beggars All and James White for a great deal of time. Usually their blog posts are nothing more than Roman Catholic bashing and mockery, with no substance to defend their claims. You saw a month or so ago how James White made a video on how the Pope was going to change the Church's teaching on Luther. We all saw how that played out, didn't we? I am putting out an open invitation to anyone who wants to formally debate me on the teaching of Sola Scriptura. I will take the denial position of the debate, refuting the claim that Christ intended to give us the Bible and the Bible alone for our source of Divine Revelation. I will also be glad to debate on other topics as well. No matter what topic it is, I have a formal written debate format that will be followed. For those used to cutting and pasting a frenzy of blog comments, this may seem to be a strange format, but it usually weeds out the men from the boys. The format will be as follows...

1. Each writer agrees to send his essay to his opponent on the designated blog on the 1st each month.
2. The blog entry will be for the debaters only, no comments from the peanut gallery.
3. Each writer agrees to the time limitation to complete the necessary essay of one month.
4. Each writer agrees that all rebuttals will be limited to the writing of his opponent. Small quotes from others, are allowed. However, the opponents agree to defend what they have written, not what someone else has.
5. Each writer agrees that his essays will simply be in black and white, no graphics or links.
6. Each writer agrees to conduct the debate in English and not primarily in Greek. Small quotes from Greek Lexicons or Greek Scholars will be allowed. However, the debate is to be conducted for the understanding of the average person.
7. Each writer agrees that no new material will be added in the fourth and final closing essay.
8. Each debater agrees that they will conduct themselves in such a way as to demonstrate charity. (No personal attacks, no name calling, etc.)
9. Each writer agrees that the time and page limitations of essays cannot be exceeded without the prior written acknowledgment of the opponent. The limit is 5000 words per essay.
10. Each writer agrees to use any of the following Biblical Translations: Confraternity-Douay Version, Douay-Rheims Version, and Catholic Edition-Revised Standard Version, The New American Bible, the New American Standard Version, King James version and the New King James Version.
11. The essay format will consist of an opening statement of each debater, one in affirmation the other in the denial position. Then we will have 2 rebuttal essays by each debater followed by each debaters closing essay, summarizing their position using the material they have presented from the first 3 essays. Thus 4 essays total will be presented not exceeding 5000 words each.