Sunday, May 31, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
A Response to James Swan and Dave Armstrong Regarding my Luther Post.
The other day I posted an article called “The Tragedy of Luther's Hatred: The Last Days”. In it I painted a picture of why Luther should not be looked at as an example of Christian virtue. Two of the paragraphs in it drew a stark contrast to the way Luther looked at death. I used two contrasting examples to demonstrate how far off off the reservation Luther had gone. The first example was how he mocked his Protestant counterpart Zwingli regarding his demise in battle, which Luther claimed, “"'he got what he deserved.... His death proved I'm right and he's wrong;.." I then turned around and looked at how Luther acted when his own daughter died and quoted two sources that looked at his spiritual condition after the tragic event in his life. I wrote the following text to substantiate my conclusion which was taken from C.D. Merriman's biography of Luther and the Catholic Encyclopedia. Here are the two paragraphs in their entirety.
“This is hardly the example of a holy person. How easy it is to take joy in your enemies destruction. This is however the opposite to how Christ acted in the Scriptures. While Luther scoffed at the death of his enemies, Luther could not deal with death in his own family at all, in fact it brought him despair. The Saints did not act like this when faced with obstacles such as these. They looked to God in their trials of life, while Luther looked to himself. In fact after his daughter died it was said that instead of being at peace with God he went into depression. One writer says, "Whilst the plague was sweeping Europe, the untimely death of his daughter Magdelena sets him off into a deep depression and ruminations on the signs of the End Days." (C.D. Merriman)(2)
These are not the only examples of his pathetic spiritual condition. It is written that his last sermon was not one of hope but of despair, "His last sermon in Wittenberg (17 Jan., 1546) is in a vein of despondency and despair. "Usury, drunkenness, adultery, murder, assassination, all these can be noticed, and the world understands them to be sins, but the devil's bride, reason, that pert prostitute struts in, and will be clever and means what she says, that it is the Holy Ghost" (op. cit., XVI, 142-48). The same day he pens the pathetic lines "I am old, decrepit, indolent, weary, cold, and now have the sight of but one eye" (De Wette, op. cit., V, 778). Nevertheless peace was not his." (1)”
Now the Catholic Encyclopedia itself uses the terms, despair and despondency in regards to his spiritual condition in writing his sermon in his last days. I formed my own conclusions based on these sources that Luther was affected deeply by his daughters death, and he even reached a state of despair following the event. What followed my post was an all out unjustified attack on my character by James Swan on his blog called Beggars All, and soon after, a fellow Catholic, or whom I thought to be a fellow Catholic Dave Armstrong on his blog. Rather than solely attack my argument based the sources I used to come to my conclusion, they just attacked me personally trying to hi-jack the argument and demonize me instead.
James Swan got on his blog and posted the following. Please read what he attacks in his post. It is not even relating to anything that I posted. I never said that one could not be sad or even mourn the loss of a loved one. I referred to a state of despair, which is a sin against hope in God. James Swan however never got that. He posted,
“Jesus wept? What? Why didn't Jesus act with the same stoic demeanor of one of his saints? Death impacted him, he wept and was "deeply moved in spirit and troubled." The Bible presents death a dreadful thing, even the Lord realized this. That someone feels the pain of loss is not a sign of spiritual weakness. If Roman Catholicism really teaches this is what it means to be a saint, to not feel the pain of loss, then I consider Catholicism not only theologically wrong, but morally wrong. Perhaps Bellisario has yet to suffer loss. I dare him to find a Catholic who's recently lost a child or a spouse, and put forth this type of stupidity, to let them know if they don't claim "peace" but are rather depressed, they aren't acting like one of the saints.”
Where did I say that it was wrong to feel pain? What audacity does Swan have in saying, “ Perhaps Bellisario has yet to suffer loss. I dare him to find a Catholic who's recently lost a child or a spouse, and put forth this type of stupidity,...” You see Swan never acknowledged the fact that I referenced the state of despair vs the the state of sadness, so I responded to clear up the misunderstanding. I posted a simple explanation which was again ignored and more personal attacks were waged on me by Swan and his henchmen. I posted, “Hey James, in case you didn't know. Despair and weeping are two entirely different things. Would you say Jesus went into depression and despaired? Think carefully before you answer. the two actions of weeping and despair are not synonymous. Try again.” All Swan could respond with was, “Matthew, You are truly ignorant.” You can see where Swan was heading in his emotionally charged rants that followed, all the while ignoring what I wrote in my post.
Swan then soon after posted, “I rarely get angered by the anti-Luther sentiment, but the type of rhetoric Matthew put forth was probably one of most offensive things I've seen used against Luther: the death of a young child and subsequent sorrow is proof to support the blog entry, The Tragedy of Luther's Hatred: The Last Days. Indeed, L.P. is right, his is a glory theology.” Once again Swan ignored my claim that Luther was in a state of despair rather than sorrow. In case anyone is wondering what this is called, it is character assassination. Swan took my words and twisted them into something I never said, despite multiple statements clarifying that I was referencing something other than an expected sadness. Even other bloggers went on to Swan's blog to clarify the terms.
Swan then later posted an addendum to prove that my conclusion was wrong, which I never objected to. It is possible that my conclusion is wrong, but that is not where Swan wanted to lead the reader to. Swan wanted to destroy my character because he thought that I had no business even looking at how Luther acted in response to the event, which is something entirely different. Swan even admits the following in a post soon after, “I have found only one source so far that mentions Luther had a "loss of faith" for a time after his daughter's death, but no documentation is provided. I'm really not going to keep looking. Since Matthew made the argument, it's up to him to provide his proof.” So even Swan admits one source corroborates my claim. He just cannot stand the fact that I brought it up because frankly he is emotionally attached to Luther in a way that drives him to attack anyone who speaks ill of him.
Swan continued contradicting himself by misrepresenting me again, he wrote, “While I can appreciate Ben's categorical distinctions, even if I were to find the documentation for a temporary "loss of faith" I would still not consider Luther as fulfilling the image portrayed by Matthew.” How is that different than what I demonstrated in my original post? I said that Luther despaired after the death of his daughter, which constitutes a poor spiritual condition according to Catholic theology. Swan dug himself in deeper, by saying, “I've included a few letters from Luther in the above post from shortly after his daughter's death. If Luther suffered some sort of "loss of faith" it certainly did not last that long.” Did I say how long it lasted in my post? No, I merely pointed out that he did despair after the event, which demonstrated his poor spiritual condition. I also demonstrated that Luther was in a state of despair and despondency in writing one of his last sermons. Swan even admits that my conclusion is plausible. Swan however continued his attack. “Matthew's caricature is not only a vilifying caricature, but a cruel caricature, and one that I doubt he would articulate to a parent who has recently lost a 13 or 14 year old child.” Need I say more? Swan was so emotionally engaged in the response that all he could do was question my personal experiences. Swan just could not stand the fact that I even brought up the subject that Luther may not have acted in accordance with Christian virtue.
After that several of Swan's followers got on and attacked me personally again, and then to my sad surprise, my fellow Catholic, Dave Armstrong read Swan's post without even reading mine and he posted another attack on me not even considering the context of my original post. Dave Armstrong said, “My positions on Luther are often quite "moderate" compared to what is seen in some Catholic circles. For example, there is a current controversy going on (I've only skimmed it), where a Catholic has apparently claimed that Luther lost faith because two of his children died. I think that is outrageous and disgusting, to make such a tragic issue fodder for Luther-bashing.” I attempted to show Dave that he got the wrong impression of the whole post by reading Swan's response only. I responded with, “If you would have looked at things more closely you may have realized that as usual James Swan is running on a red-herring. I merely pointed out from 2 sources which claimed that Luther went into despair after his daughters death. I pointed out that this reaction was not a pious one. Despair is quite different from sadness. Swan came unglued and blew everything out of proportion as usual. If you read my full post you may have a different opinion on the matter.”
Dave in fact went and read my entire post and then went on to react the very same way as Swan did. I was completely blown away. Even another Catholic got on Dave's blog and tried to talk some sense into him, but Dave ignored it. Dave posted another complete article against me. Dave made some errors right in the beginning by saying that I was wrong to even look at Luther's reaction, and secondly that it didn't matter if he did despair. Dave wrote, “From what I know so far, I think you have staked out an extreme position, and not one that I would argue. We have no business, in Christian charity, analyzing how a man reacts at the death of his children. Heaven forbid that that would happen to any of us. Even if Luther did undergo some despair, so what? That's not far different from the Dark Night of the Soul endured by many saints, such as St. Therese.” So Dave Armstrong does not even know the difference between despair, which is the loss of hope in God, and the Dark Night of the Soul, which is not synonymous with despair. He continued, “We need not go there. It's bad form and bad argumentation to attack a man based on how he reacted after such a personal tragedy.” So I can conclude from his reasoning that a person can act in any way he chooses to act as long as the reason is that the person underwent some sort of tragedy in his life? You see Dave's initial reaction was not even the fact that he disagreed with my conclusion, it was the fact that I even brought it up. For me to look at ones reaction to a personal tragedy was to him repulsive. I guess he forgets that the Catholic church does this all of the time in the canonization process of Saints.
Dave Armstrong then leveled a disgusting personal attack on my character by saying, “So we are to condemn a man because he was depressed after his daughter's death? I continue to think that this is atrocious. Has Matthew ever experienced the death of a close loved one? Has he ever experienced serious depression?” First of all where did I “condemn” Luther for being depressed? I clarified already that I was referring to a state of despair which was not the same, and I never said that the despair he underwent from the tragedy condemned him to hell. I merely pointed out that it was not an example of Christian virtue. Dave however made the comment without ever knowing that I lost my mother at the age of 20. But it was so much more important to attack my character rather than my original argument. Dave then went off on a tangent talking about Luther's mental problems and closed his article by demanding that I retract and apologize for my article. A fellow Catholic went on Dave's blog to once again demonstrate that Dave was attacking a straw man, but Dave ignored it.
Alex, another blogger wrote, “I find the concept of addressing Luther’s reaction to the death of his loved one acceptable (even though it can be the case that the conclusion derived in this case was in error). The Church certainly examines these things when addressing someone’s cause for canonization. We are to emulate Christ, and the Saints provide practical examples of exemplary living. Despair is the anti-thesis of the virtue of hope, and as such, despair is a sin. Are your beliefs at odds with this statement? I believe that this is perfectly in line with Catholic teaching. Whether or not Luther embodies the example of someone who lacks the virtues deemed necessary for exemplary Christianity is what should be argued, is what Matt is arguing, and not the straw men and ad hominem argued here.”
Dave ignored that response and never even addressed his argument in full only expressing that he already refuted his fallacies. Dave then went on to my blog and piece-mealed together some sentences from some of my other articles on Luther to demonize me, never once looking at the context in which they were used. On his blog I asked him politely to take the discussion to private email, but he could not resist in attacking me again in an effort to gain some popularity points with people reading his blog. Alex, a fellow Catholic tried again to reason with Dave by posting the following, which summed up what my original post was about.
He wrote, “Allow me to form it as a syllogism.
Premise A: Despair is opposed to Christian virtue as exemplified by the Saints.
Premise B: Martin Luther displayed despair over the loss of his child.
Conclusion: Therefore, Martin Luther did not posses Christian virtue in this instance as exemplified by the Saints.
Instead of simply denying one or both premises (which you did, Premise B), you also irrationally attacked Matt in a personal way, as well as use emotionally laden arguments claiming that his possible lack of personal experience in the pain and suffering found in losing a loved one somehow disqualifies his argument. That is an emotional fallacy. You were clearly appealing to emotions instead of focusing on his argument. Are you also of the opinion that we need a female Hispanic Supreme Court Justice in order for the Court to embody prudential judgment?
You have also failed to substantiate why Luther’s reaction to his daughter’s death is off limits. As Ben Douglas stated, and to which you agreed, despair (in the Catholic sense) is an act of the will; therefore, it is inconsistent of you to attack Matt’s argument, condemning his addressing Luther’s reaction as being off limits. You are rapidly cruising towards a slippery-slope with that line of argumentation. Are you claiming that people’s reactions are above scrutiny by others? All reactions are justified due to the experience of tragedy? Sure, culpability can be diminished, but Matt is drawing a contrast between Christian virtues exemplified by the Saints with Luther’s reaction (as Matt’s source contends).”
The blog responses then went off on to other tangents never going back to look at my original post or the context that I used it in. This is what happens folks when you take an unpopular and un-politically correct stand against Martin Luther. Instead of actually refuting what I wrote in reference to the sources I used, which I documented in the original post, Swan, Armstrong and their friends instead attacked a straw-man, and built a phony, emotionally charged representation of what I actually wrote. I call it hot air! I am now asking for James Swan, Dave Armstrong and all of those who demonized me on their blogs to reconsider their statements and personal attacks against me in regards to my post. I never once attacked them personally, and I only resorted to my original post trying to clarify my position repeatedly without any reasonable responses from them. The evidence of these entire events can be followed on my blog, Beggars All blog, and Dave Armstrong's blog. Thanks for taking the time to look at this and hear my side of the story.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
It seems that some die hard Martin Luther fans have come unglued over my last post pointing out some of the defects in the character of Martin Luther. That was not my intention but I guess the truth hurts sometimes. Although there were many flaws that I pointed out in the last article I did not touch on the the division that Martin Luther brought down upon the Christian world, or the tactics and mentality that fueled him. Although Jesus came to bring division between the heavenly and wordly orders, he taught against disunity among his own followers. Luther however made a lifelong career in sowing division and the seeds of hate among all he encountered.
As I touched on earlier, Luther was quite happy when Zwingli was killed in battle. Luther actually thought that God was on his side in seeing Zwingli's death, since Zwingli disagreed with him on the central doctrine of the Eucharist. He also did not even get along with his so called friends. He was known to be an angry and foul mouthed person in general. But the most telling of all were the seeds of disunity he planted among the body of Christ. After his rebellion the world would see the birth of hundreds of mainline rebellious churches come into existence, all using his Scripture Alone methodology. A methodology I might add, that was unknown to the Christianity that came before him.
Although Luther was not the first man to rebel against the Church, his rebellion was unique and ultimately became the central catalyst in forming division amongst Christians. What made him such a strong catalyst in the beginning of his "career" was that Luther sided with individuals that were not even religious. Luther's hate for the Church and the Pope was so fierce that he sided with anyone he could find, including secular humanist individuals, who could care less about God or the Church.
The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us, "In the meantime Luther was saturating himself with published and unpublished humanistic anti-clerical literature so effectually that his passionate hatred of Rome and the pope, his genesis of Antichrist, his contemptuous scorn for his theological opponents, his effusive professions of patriotism, his acquisition of the literary amenities of the "Epistolae Obscurorum Vivorum", even the bodily absorption of Hutten's arguments, not to allude to other conspicuous earmarks of his intercourse and association with the humanistic-political agitators, can be unerringly traced here.
It was while living in the atmosphere surcharged with these influences, that he issued his first epochal manifesto, "Address to the German Nobility". It is in "its form an imitation of Hutten's circular letter to the emperor andGerman nobility", and the greater part of its contents is an abstract of Hutten's "Vadiscus or Roman Trinity", from his "Lament and Exhortation", and from his letters to the Elector Frederick of Saxony. This seems to be admitted by competent Lutheran specialists. He steps from the arena of academic gravity and verbal precision to the forum of the public in "an invective of dazzling rhetoric"."
Luther detached himself from the Church in such a way that much of his learning and speech model was based on secularism rather that of Christianity. In fact the more he immersed himself in that setting the more he took on the characteristics of a mere politician. He became an emotional wreck and his attitude was no longer recognizable as being Christlike. The Encyclopedia continues, "He addresses the masses; his language is that of the populace; his theological attitude is abandoned; his sweeping eloquence fairly carries the emotional nature of his hearers -- while even calm, critical reason stands aghast, dumbfounded; he becomes the hieratic interpreter, the articulate voice of latent slumbering national aspirations. In one impassioned outburst, he cuts from all his Catholic moorings -- the merest trace left seeming to intensify his fury. Church and State, religion and politics, ecclesiastical reform and social advancement, are handled with a flaming, peerless oratory. He speaks with reckless audacity; he acts with breathless daring." It is a fact that Luther became more of a hero not because of anything religious, but because he was inline with the political climate of Germany at the time. "He was the hero of the hour solely because he stood for the national opposition to Rome" (ibid., 148)" So although Luther may have thought he was riding on a religious high, he was actually riding on a political agenda. Luther however would use any means at his disposal to topple the Papacy.
Luther justified his terrible temper and harsh language against the Church by claiming that it was God inspired. "The "gospel", he now sees, "cannot be introduced without tumult, scandal, and rebellion"; "the word of God is a sword, a war, a destruction, a scandal, a ruin, a poison" (De Wette, op. cit., I, 417). As for pope, cardinals, bishops, "and the whole brood of Roman Sodom", why not attack it "with every sort of weapon and wash our hands in its blood" (Walch, XVIII, 245). This shows us the violent mentality of Luther. Some Luther fans have tried to downplay Luther's harsh temper and hate-filled words by claiming that this was common for the time period. We however know that this is not the case because the Church never stooped to this level in refuting Luther. In fact, even in reading the excommunication bull written by the Pope, it is nothing like the rhetoric that Luther regularly spouted off in his temper tantrums. No one in their right mind can say that the Church handled the whole absurd situation in any other fashion than with greatest of charity. How many chances can the Church give a heretic to repent? Luther was given great charity by the Church during the whole rebellious, heretical spectacle.
If we look at Luther's prayer life we will see that it was extremely demonic, at least at certain times of his life. He is recorded as saying that he could not pray without cursing. Where did Jesus tell us to curse our enemies in prayer? I must have missed that in the Gospels. The Catholic Encyclopedia records Luther's words as, "For I am unable to pray without at the same time cursing. If I am prompted to say: 'hallowed be Thy name', I must add: 'cursed, damned, outraged be the name of the papists'. If I am prompted to say: 'Thy Kingdom come', I must perforce add: 'cursed, damned, destroyed must be the papacy.' Indeed I pray thus orally every day and in my heart without intermission" (Sammtl. W., XXV, 108)." Even his friends thought that Luther had lost his mind. The CE continues, "Need we be surprised that one of his old admirers, whose name figured with his on the original Bull of excommunication, concludes that Luther "with his shameless, ungovernable tongue, must have lapsed into insanity or been inspired by the Evil Spirit" (Pirkheimer, ap. *Döllinger, "Die Reformation", Ratisbon, I, 1846-48). "
Martin Luther was also overjoyed by the destruction of the Augustinian order. His pride gave him great joy in seeing others abandon their lives from the monastic communities. All Luther scholars attest to Luther's self will and arrogance. He could not stand anyone who contested him. This also exhibits quite the opposite attitude of Our Lord. The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us, "Luther had one prominent trait of character, which in the consensus of those who have made him a special study, overshadowed all others. It was an overweening confidence and unbending will, buttressed by an inflexible dogmatism. He recognized no superior, tolerated no rival, brooked no contradiction." Once Luther saw that the political end of his plan was not going to work out the way he though it would, he shifted directions. I will continue in my next post.
Monday, May 25, 2009
This post is not written to mock Luther or those who love to read Luther's works. It is meant to inform those who maliciously attack one anaother as to the state of soul one can develop from hate. Luther's life is indeed a tragedy that rivals that of Shakespeare's works. Luther was a sad man who used hate as his fuel for life. Whether we be Protestant or Catholic we can all fall into this trap. Often times apologetics can get very personal and very heated, leading to uncharitable acts by all involved and I can admit that I have unfortunately fallen into this as well. For those whom I have offended by these actions I apologize to them. That being said I do not apologize for my beliefs, or for defending the Catholic Church and my faith in Christ Jesus. As they say, it is often not what you say, but the "tone" in which you say it.
It is important to look at Luther's life. More specifically in this article, his later life. Luther's hatred really took form when he burned Pope Leo X's bull (Illustrated above), rather than repent of his heretical positions. When looking at the later writings of Martin Luther we can see that he was not a humble individual who was at peace with his fellow man. He liked to attack the Church Fathers and insult their character as well as oppose anyone that did not go along with his personal interpretation of Scripture. I have posted before the many insults he hurled at Saints such as St. Jerome, St. Chrysostom, and St Basil to name a few. When looking at Martin Luther and his character, he is the complete opposite of how the Saints lived. This is something we want to avoid. Luther was a tormented individual. It can be seen that he was not at peace with God or the Church at the end of his life. Martin Luther's last days were filled with hate and discontent. Luther could not deal with others that followed his lead in interpreting Scripture alone for themselves. In fact he was often at odds with fellow "Reformers". He was known to have temper tantrums which often drove friends away from him. This is hardly a good method for demonstrating the gospel.
"It was this "terrible temper" which brought on the tragedy of alienation, that drove from him his most devoted friends and zealous co-labourers. Every contradiction set him ablaze. "Hardly one of us", in the lament of one of his votaries, "can escape Luther's anger and his public scourging" (Corp. Ref., V, 314). Carlstadt parted with him in 1522, after what threatened to be a personal encounter; Melancthon in plaintive tones speaks of his passionate violence, self-will, and tyranny, and does not mince words in confessing the humiliation of his ignoble servitude; Bucer, prompted by political and diplomatic motives, prudently accepts the inevitable "just as the Lord bestowed him on us"; Zwingli "has become a pagan, Œcolampadius . . . and the other heretics have in-devilled, through-devilled, over-devilled corrupt hearts and lying mouths, and no one should pray for them", all of them "were brought to their death by the fiery darts and spears of the devil" (Walch, op. cit., XX, 223); Calvin and the Reformed are also the possessors of "in-deviled, over-devilled, and through-devilled hearts"; Schurf, the eminent jurist, was changed from an ally to an opponent, with a brutality that defies all explanation or apology;Agricola fell a prey to a repugnance that time did not soften; Schwenkfeld, Armsdorf, Cordatus, all incurred his ill will, forfeited his friendship, and became the butt of his stinging speech." (1)
Scripture Alone was a great system for Luther until someone disagreed with his interpretation, as we can see from above. Luther also fought Zwingli over the words of Christ in the Gospel of John chapter 6 regarding the Eucharist. Zwingli argued to take Christ's words only symbolically or to be taken as "in the mind of the believer" while Luther claimed that the correct interpretation was that of "consubstantiation". They both disagreed on a fundamental interpretation of Scripture. This is a fact. Luther hated Zwingli so much that when Zwingli was killed in battle he said, "'he got what he deserved.... His death proved I'm right and he's wrong;.."
This is hardly the example of a holy person. How easy it is to take joy in your enemies destruction. This is however the opposite to how Christ acted in the Scriptures. While Luther scoffed at the death of his enemies, Luther could not deal with death in his own family at all, in fact it brought him despair. The Saints did not act like this when faced with obstacles such as these. They looked to God in their trials of life, while Luther looked to himself. In fact after his daughter died it was said that instead of being at peace with God he went into depression. One writer says, "Whilst the plague was sweeping Europe, the untimely death of his daughter Magdelena sets him off into a deep depression and ruminations on the signs of the End Days." (C.D. Merriman)(2)
These are not the only examples of his pathetic spiritual condition. It is written that his last sermon was not one of hope but of despair, "His last sermon in Wittenberg (17 Jan., 1546) is in a vein of despondency and despair. "Usury, drunkenness, adultery, murder, assassination, all these can be noticed, and the world understands them to be sins, but the devil's bride, reason, that pert prostitute struts in, and will be clever and means what she says, that it is the Holy Ghost" (op. cit., XVI, 142-48). The same day he pens the pathetic lines "I am old, decrepit, indolent, weary, cold, and now have the sight of but one eye" (De Wette, op. cit., V, 778). Nevertheless peace was not his." (1)
His torments also carried over to his hatred for the Jewish people. It is a fact that Luther was an anti-Semite and of course anti-Catholic as well. "It was while in this agony of body and torture of mind, that his unsurpassable and irreproducible coarseness attained its culminating point of virtuosity in his anti-Semitic and antipapal pamphlets. "Against the Jews and their Lies" was followed in quick succession by his even more frenzied fusillade "On the Schem Hamphoras" (1542) and "Against the Papacy established by the Devil" (1545)." (1) I quoted a few posts earlier on the his "Against the Papacy" work which was nothing more than emotionally charged rhetoric with little or no theological substance. The work he wrote in 1543 called 'On the Jews and Their Lies', can be found here. I think it is safe to say that his work was not "inspired" by the Holy Spirit. I will let you be the judge of that.
There are some people in recent times who try and lesson the anti-Catholic rhetoric of Luther by downplaying his later written works. Yet if we read history without revising it to suit our own tastes it is obvious that Luther hated the Catholic Church so much that even some of his friends thought he went too far in his mockery of the papacy. "Accompanying this last volcanic eruption, as a sort of illustrated commentary "that the common man, who is unable to read, may see and understand what he thought of the papacy" (Forstemann), were issued the nine celebrated caricatures of the pope by Lucas Cranach, with expository verses by Luther. These, "the coarsest drawings that the history of caricature of all times has ever produced" (Lange, "Der Papstesel", Gottingen, 1891,89), were so inexpressibly vile that a common impulse of decency demanded their summary suppression by his friends."(1) While it would be nice to think that Luther came to his senses in the end, it appears that he was as anti-Catholic as ever when death came to his bedside.
We can all learn a lesson from this sad and tormented individual. We often die as we live. Luther's life was a life full of anger and hatred. His life did not resemble that of Our Savior's. It did not resemble that of the Saints who lived their lives in humility and love for others, even their enemies. Luther had the audacity to attack Saint Basil, yet did Saint Basil act like Luther? No, even when Saint Basil disagreed with the Holy See he did so with humility. He even admitted to being hasty in his actions when trying to petition Rome for better relations with the Eastern Church of the time. We however never see one ounce of humility from Luther towards anyone who disagreed with him.
This is a lesson we can all learn from whether we be Protestant or Catholic. I myself often find it all too easy to attack others in anger who disagree with the Church rather than resorting to prayer or a charitable response. It is far to easy to attack evil with evil rather than do it God's way. Recently one of our priests gave a great sermon on charity. It was one that I knew God was directing at me. Father made it clear that few are won over by pure logical argumentation alone, and fewer are won over by anger-filled, logical argumentation alone. Charity must come before rational arguments, because it is the heart that listens to the gospel, which is more often expressed by actions rather than words. So we can see that while there is a place for logical, rational arguments, most often people are won over by people who are simply living the gospel in their everyday actions and charity. This is the higher test of the Christian, rather than resorting to hate filled responses, which are admittedly all too easy to write. Apologetics should not lead others or oneself to hate-filled language. Luther unfortunately found himself in that very situation. Christ had every right to attack everyone who disagreed with him as well as personally destroy the character of every person walking the face of the earth who opposed him, but He didn't. This is lesson to all of us.
Finally I find it fitting that Luther died at the hour opposite of Christ's death on the cross. It is fitting because he often prayed for the papacy to be attacked, and in fact some say one of his last acts was to petition God for the destruction of the papacy. "His last act was, as he predicted and prayed for, an attack on the papacy. Summoned to Eisleben, his native place, a short time after, to act as an arbiter in a contention between the brothers Albrecht and Gebhard von Mansfeld, death came with unexpected speed but not suddenly, and he departed this life about three o'clock in the morning, 18 February, 1546, in the presence of a number of friends." (1) Just in case you do not like the Catholic Encyclopedia as a source, the final written account from Justus Jonas reads, "Luther's last breath was taken at 2:45 am.." So 3AM is not far off the mark if we go by this account. Luther died a fitting death, the opposite of our Lord's. Let us all pray that we do not follow in Luther's footsteps. Charity is the hardest part of the gospel to live.
(1) Catholic Encyclopedia.
(2) Martin Luther by C.D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc 2005
Sunday, May 24, 2009
In an effort to discredit the Catholic Church's use of images Protestants often try to rewrite history to make it seem as if the early Church knew nothing of this practice. If you however show them examples from early archeological finds like the house church of Dura Europos or the catacombs or early christian burial art, the only argument they have is to say that they were only used in sparse areas and met resistance from other Christians. The only problem is we have no examples of any resistance of the use of images on any large scale until the 700s. They ignore however every piece of archaeological evidence that came before that. I have written a couple of articles on this subject a couple of years ago. I wanted to post the links to them as well as some others that I think are good to read if you are curious about the use of Sacred Images. The Church has always embraced the use of sacred images. First depictions were mosaic tile icons and carved bas-relief images and soon to follow, the illuminated manuscripts. There are plenty of good Catholic and Orthodox sources to check out, so enjoy.
Saint John Damascene's defense of the Holy Images- Matthew J. Bellisario
Universality and the use of Sacred Images among the ancient Churches. Matthew J Bellisario
The Illuminated Manuscript-Matthew J Bellisario
Index of early Christian Images- Belmont EDU
Orthodox Art and Architecture-John Yiannias
Icons 'Their history and Spiritual Significance'-Dr. Zakaria Wahba
The Christian Catacombs of Ancient Rome : An Introduction (by Dr. Joseph Byrne, Belmont University)
Apologia Against Those Who Decry Holy Images-St. John of Damascus
The Icon-Michel Quenot
A History of Icon Painting-L. Evseyeva
The Churches of Egypt-Gawdat Gabra
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The author Dan Brown has apparently outdone himself again with his new movie and best selling book Angels and Demons. The movie, loosely based on the book takes many cheap shots at the Catholic Church. As we know, the Da Vinci Code was riddled with historical errors despite the claims of the author to have done done his historical research. It appears to be more of the same with his latest release. There is a great article on the Catholic Education Resource Center that goes through and fact checks Brown's latest work. The article writes, "Brown claims that his narrative use of works of art and architecture is "entirely factual": "References to all works of art, tombs, tunnels, and architecture in Rome are entirely factual (as are their exact locations)," he writes in an author's note in Angels & Demons." After reading this article you have to wonder if Brown was ever in Rome at all! Check out the article. It is amazing that people actually read and take this literature serious. Enjoy!
If you want some great articles to read then stop by the Fr. John Hardon Archive Site. I ran across a great article on the Eucharist regarding the true Body and Blood of Christ. Now it has been the folly of many Protestant apologists, James White is one example, who try and proclaim that no one in the Christian world believed in the Real Bodily Presence of Christ in the Eucharist until the 11th century. In fact, White used this argument in one of his debates. We all know that this is nonsense, but this article again points to an incident in the 9th century where a monk in France actually challenged the teaching. If it did not exist until the 11th century then why do we have written accounts of someone challenging the teaching and also being condemned for it in the 9th century? The fact is all of these pitiful arguments by these "apologists" always show up for the fugazis they are. The arguments they present simply are not true. I recommend reading this article called "This is My Body, This is My Blood" by Fr. Hardon. It is not a long article, so if you have 5 minutes or so to spare it is well worth the read. Below is the excerpt where he talks about the monk in France challenging the teaching. So much for an 11th century invention.
"The first ripples of controversy came in the ninth century, when a monk from the French Abbey of Corbie wrote against his abbot, St. Paschasius (785-860). Ratramnus (d. 868) held that Christ’s Body in the Eucharist cannot be the same as Christ’s historical body once on earth and now in heaven because the Eucharistic is invisible, -impalpable, and spiritual. He wanted to hold on to the Real Presence but stressed the Eucharist as symbolic rather than corporeal. His book on the subject was condemned by the Synod of Vercelli, and his ideas, it is held, influenced all subsequent theories that contradicted the traditional teaching of the Church."
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I ran across an interesting article by a Protestant professor, Rev. Prof. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee. He wrote an article on how Luther viewed the Catholic Church as well as Islam. Martin Luther apparently thought the two not very different from each other and referred to them both as being from the devil. There are many Protestants today who distance themselves from Luther's writings, or who try and water down his hatred for the papacy. This professor here however makes it clear that to be a true Protestant you must hate the Catholic Church. I wanted to pull a few quotes from the professor's paper to illustrate how twisted Martin Luther really was. In fact as I have said before, most of Luther's writings are nothing more than emotional, personal rants with little or no substance to them. One example would be the work he titled, "On the Papacy at Rome, Founded by the Devil."
I find it interesting that Luther, much like John Calvin could only rely on his personal pride and emotion rather than sound arguments when it came to refuting Catholic teachings. Luther also made it a practice to attack early Church Fathers personally as well, making accusations that would make it appear as if he had known them personally. For instance he once said in referring to the great Saint Jerome, "I know no doctor whom I hate so much, although I once loved him so ardently. Surely there's more learning in Aesop, than in all of Jerome" (LW 54, 72) Let us assume that humility was not one of Martin Luther's virtues. In fact if we compare Luther's character to that of the Saints like Jerome we find a stark contrast. The Saint's lives were similar to Christ's while Luther's fell in line with rebellion. He also said similar rude things about Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Basil as well, who would have made Luther look like a fool when it comes to Biblical scholarship and holiness of living.
This particular paper that I have linked to however makes reference to Luther's last days and some of his writings just before he died. There are some who have said that Luther toned down his anti-papal rhetoric before his demise. According to this particular professor however this does not appear to be the case. It appears that Luther went to his grave a raving, mad, anti-Catholic heretic. Here are some of Luther's last words according to this professor who is from Queensland Presbyterian Theological College in Brisbane, Queensland, Commonwealth of Australia.
The Professor writes,
"Luther died in 1546. Just before he did, he wrote in his Preface to the Reader in his Complete Works:139 "Farewell, dear reader in the Lord! Pray that the Word may be spread further abroad, and may be strong against the miserable Devil.... The kingdom of his vicar, the Antichrist in Rome, is sore beset.... May the God of all grace and mercy -- strengthen and complete in us the work He has begun!" In his last sermon before his death, Luther refers140 to the words of Christ:‘Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest!’ Luther then paraphrases Christ’s words as follows: “I will give you the heart to laugh -- even though Turk, Pope, Emperor, and everybody else be filled with horrible wrath and rage.... If you are facing oppression, death or torture -- because the Pope, the Turk and Emperor are attacking you -- do not be afraid! ... I give you the Spirit!...
“Let misfortune, sin, death and whatever the Devil and the World loads upon you -- assail and assault you!If only you remain confident and undismayed, waiting upon the Lord in faith -- you have won already!”
Dear reader, do you believe as Luther believed? In our dark days, yet at the dawn of Christianity’s third millennium -- are you really a Protestant Christian? Do you believe, with the great German Church Reformer, that the powerful Protestant preaching of the Word of God will yet destroy the Papacy--and also Islam? May the faith of Martin Luther yet become yours too!
by Rev. Prof. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee,
Professor of Systematic Theology and
Caldwell-Morrow Lecturer in Church History
at the Queensland Presbyterian Theological College
in Brisbane, Queensland, Commonwealth of Australia.
For Reformation Day, October 31st, 2000 A.D.
Luther's last words give an example of a demise to those who live according to their own gospel and not the one Christ gave us through His only Church. Most people die as they live, and it appears that Luther's life ended with one foot in hell and the other on a banana peel of pride, conveniently left by the devil next to Luther's dying bedside. It is sad to say that although many Protestants have distanced themselves from this type of anti-Catholic bigotry, they are still in the same position that Luther was in. How many Lutheran's do you find like this professor who will own up to his Lutheran heritage openly? Not many that is for certain. But it remains a fact that every professing Lutheran has their foundation of faith built on this madman's phony "gospel". In fact the proof is in the pudding. Look at the professors closing words of his paper. He says, "May the faith of Martin Luther yet become yours too!" I pray that those who follow Martin Luther will have a change of heart and come home to the Catholic Church. Luther's end is not one I would wish on anyone.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
I ran across these two great articles on the HLI website. One deals with contraception, and the other deals with priestly celibacy. For those who followed the exchange between me and Turretin Fan regarding the subject of clerical celibacy, you might enjoy Fr. Euteneuer's article. Check them out. Both articles are well worth reading. HLI.org is a great website to stay in touch with. Enjoy!
The Dynamics of Celibacy
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer
Eastern Othodoxy and Contraception
Contemporary VS. Traditional Views
By Taras Baytsar
Friday, May 15, 2009
The Mother of God, the Errors of Turretin Fan.
By Matthew Bellisario 2009
In reading Turretin Fan's reflections and thoughts on his debate with William Albrecht I have found some serious errors on Turretin's part. It was not enough for Turretin to take his debate loss and go home, he had to try to justify himself afterwords because he didn't get it done during the debate. I wanted to address one post in particular. That is the article he titled Thoughts on Reflection Part 6. Due to time constraints I can't address every part that he wrote on his blog. I picked this particular post because it is the perfect example of why Sola Scriptura is not a Christian practice, and that without the Holy Spirit giving us the rest of the Oral kerygma that goes with it, we would all be as lost as Turretin Fan is. Turretin seems to forget that it took the Church the better part of 300 years to digest and define Mary's motherhood. Yet he thinks that he can just sit back and peruse the New Testament, and then interpret it all for us accurately and without error for us. Yet the entire early Church had to have divine guidance to navigate the complete Word of God, both oral and written to define these things. They had to have several Ecumenical Councils to decide what the implications of definitions were. Turretin has defined his own gospel, one that was not known to the early Church as a whole.
I will post parts of his post with my replies in between as needed. Take the time to digest the arguments. If you are a Protestant who denies some of these Catholic teachings please take the time to research this topic yourself. I will provide as many links and sources as possible for you.
This is the sixth part of some reflections on the recent debate conducted with Mr. Albrecht on the subject of the veneration of Mary. One of the topics that came up briefly in the debate was the subject of calling Mary, the mother of Jesus, "Mother of God." As I noted, such a title is not Biblical and is actually somewhat against the Biblical description of Jesus as being motherless with respect to his divinity. Connected with this, someone has recently asked me directly two questions, which help to explore this issue a bit more.
Someone asked: "Do you believe that Mary was the MOTHER OF GOD?"
I believe that Mary is the mother of Jesus, who is both God and Man, in two distinct natures and one person. Mary thus had, in her womb, the God-man and she is properly called Theotokos (the God-bearer). Mary, however, was only mother to Jesus' humanity, since only his humanity was derived from her. Thus, Mary was not the mother of the divinity of Christ, and consequently although the phrase "Mother of God" could be interpreted in an orthodox way, it is misleading title that requires clarification.
I think Theodoret put it well in his letter to Ireneaus (Letter 16 - obviously, this is not to the famous Irenaeus, but to another bishop of the same name), when he wrote:
What does it matter whether we style the holy Virgin at the same time mother of Man and mother of God, or call her mother and servant of her offspring, with the addition that she is mother of our Lord Jesus Christ as man, but His servant as God, and so at once avoid the term which is the pretext of calumny, and express the same opinion by another phrase?
Turretin appears to be confused in just these few opening lines. He says in the first sentence that Mary is the Mother of Jesus, who is both God and Man, in two distinct natures and one person. He then says just a few sentences later, Mary was not the mother of the divinity of Christ. What Turretin fails to recognize, even though he pays lip service to it, is that the divine and human natures cannot be separated. Therefore Mary is not the Mother of a nature at all, but the Mother of a person. That person is Jesus Christ, true God and true man. Maybe the title of mother is confusing Turretin? Just so that we all understand what a mother is, let us define what it is not and then what it is. It does not mean creator. It does not mean a divine creator, it simply means that she personifies motherhood to Jesus Christ the person, which includes his divinity. The dictionary defines the term as, “a woman who conceives, gives birth to, or raises and nurtures a child.”
Does Turretin propose that Mary did not nurture and give birth to the whole person of Christ? I do not think he intended to imply such a thing, but he refers to Mary as being a Mother of a nature and not a person. This also includes his divine nature. Remember it is the person she gives birth to and is the mother of, not a nature or natures. No, we all recognize that his divine nature is not created by the birth, nor was his human nature really created by the birth. God is the ultimate creator, we are just willing vessels that participate. Jesus took on a human nature through Mary, but that does not make her the creator of the person. It does however make her his mother. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and took on flesh and was born of a women, that being Mary. Yes he took on his human nature mystically through her womb, but Mary gave birth to both natures in the one person. The whole person of Christ came through the Virgin Mary's womb, not just his human nature or divine nature. If you have this any other way you destroy the incarnation of Christ. The point I am trying to get across is that Mary is the Mother of a person which cannot be separated from his humanity nor his divinity. This is something that Turretin Fan is missing since he makes the statement that she is a mother of his human nature alone. Let us look to the early Church to clarify. As far as the term not being Biblical, I will prove that to be false later.
I think it is necessary to quote paragraph 1 of the Second letter of Cyril to Nestorius to understand this more clearly. It is important to also understand that this letter was upheld by the universal Church.
1. We too ought to follow these words and these teachings and consider what is meant by saying that the Word from God took flesh and became man. For we do not say that the nature of the Word was changed and became flesh, nor that he was turned into a whole man made of body and soul. Rather do we claim that the Word in an unspeakable, inconceivable manner united to himself hypostatically flesh enlivened by a rational soul, and so became man and was called son of man, not by God's will alone or good pleasure, nor by the assumption of a person alone. Rather did two different natures come together to form a unity, and from both arose one Christ, one Son. It was not as though the distinctness of the natures was destroyed by the union, but divinity and humanity together made perfect for us one Lord and one Christ, together marvellously and mysteriously combining to form a unity. So he who existed and was begotten of the Father before all ages is also said to have been begotten according to the flesh of a woman, without the divine nature either beginning to exist in the holy virgin, or needing of itself a second begetting after that from his Father. (For it is absurd and stupid to speak of the one who existed before every age and is coeternal with the Father, needing a second beginning so as to exist.) The Word is said to have been begotten according to the flesh, because for us and for our salvation he united what was human to himself hypostatically and came forth from a woman. For he was not first begotten of the holy virgin, a man like us, and then the Word descended upon him; but from the very womb of his mother he was so united and then underwent begetting according to the flesh, making his own the begetting of his own flesh.
This letter proves that Turretin is in grave error by stating that Mary was somehow a mother of the human nature but not the divine. Mary is the Mother of God. She bore the complete person of Christ. She held and delivered his whole being. I think that many people tend to think of the term “mother” and take it beyond its proper definition. I recommend reading the entire letters of the Council of Ephesus.
It is not a Biblical term and it is not a term favored by many of the fathers before the 5th century. Thus, for example, I cannot find any place in Augustine's genuine works where the term is used, nor likewise among Origen's authentic works. It is not a term used (to my knowledge) by any of the fathers of the first three centuries, including the Apostolic fathers.
To my knowledge, none of these terms about Christ's nature are explicitly found in the Bible. In fact the Bible never really says anything specific about the natures or the wills of Christ as the early Church defined it. This demonstrates why God gave us more than His Written Word Alone to deliver His Gospel. He gave us his divine Word through the Church which has lived and breathed the Gospel since it was established by Jesus Himself. It is however clear that the idea of the Mother of God is consistent among the Early Church, beginning with Sacred Scripture itself.
Sacred Scripture uses the term Mother of the Lord explicitly. I hope that we can agree that Lord can be used in context here as referring to Jesus as God. Luke 1:43, Elizabeth explicitly states, “And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” According to scholars the official title Theotokos was first used in the early 4th century. (O'Carroll 1982) Documents show that Alexander of Alexandria used it in 325. There is also a manuscript in the John Rylands library that may put it back to the year 270. (O'Carroll 1982.) Remember we only have a selected amount of material from this era. It is not tenable to think that we would have tons of documents using the term. The term and idea is given to us in Sacred Scripture and it was used in the early centuries of the Church. The divine motherhood was clearly accepted by the Church as we can see from many Saints like St. Athanasius, Saint Ambrose, and later Saint John of Damascus who gives us a detailed treatise on the subject. St. John Chrysostom (d. 407), composed in his Eucharistic Prayer for example "It is truly just to proclaim you blessed, O Mother of God, who are most blessed, all pure and Mother of our God. We magnify you who are more honorable than the Cherubim and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim. You who, without losing your virginity, gave birth to the Word of God. You who are truly the Mother of God." This prayer is still used today in the Liturgy that bears his name.
Turretin continued II,
Although I have noted above that I could not find the term in any of Augustine's genuine works, I did find a single usage of it among a work of Pseudo-Augustine, De Assumptione Beatae Mariae Virginis (probably 9th century) (Augustinini ... Opera Omnia, Volume 6, 1147). It also used in other ancient forgeries, including the Apocalypse of the Virgin, the Protoevangelium of James, the Revelation of Paul, the Gospel of Nicodemus, and Pseudo-Peter-of-Alexandria.
The same person also asked: "Also, do you believe this title is appropriate to be used towards Mary?"
Hopefully the discussion above has largely answered this question. As a description of the fact that Mary bore Jesus and Jesus is divine, it is descriptive. However, it has a tendency to be understood in a very exalted way, a way designed to treat Mary as particularly special or important....
I will stop the course of thought right here. Turretin here objects that Mary was important or special. Now this shows the fear that one can have if their attitude is that the Catholic Church is wrong no matter what. I know of few people, Protestant, Catholic or otherwise that would make a case that Mary was not a special or important person in the context of salvation history regarding Christianity. After-all, did she not carry God in her womb? Did she not give her reply to an angel of God accepting her role as God's servant and ultimately Mother of God? In any Christian's right mind this would be considered important or special. But not in the mind of Turretin Fan. The incarnation is just another day at the office for him. In fact we can see his attitude in this matter carry over to what he thinks about celebrating Christmas. See some of his older posts where is encourages people to not celebrate it. This fact in itself demonstrates the importance of this subject. When you have your theology twisted, your actions and words become twisted as well.
Turretin continued III,
It leads toward the worship of Mary, which is one reason it is inadvisable. Another reason it is inadvisable is that it suggests that Mary is the mother of the Godhead (and of both the human and divine natures of Jesus' person), and not simply of Jesus and particularly his human nature.
Here we must once again define terms. Turretin uses the word worship in the context of the modern perception of it. In other words worship as it is used in the English language today would refer to an act worthy to God alone. The English language however has its limitations and just as the word love in the English language can be used in many ways, the term worship was also once used that way. We however now use terms like veneration and so forth to show a distinction between what is owed to God alone, and what is fitting to God's family like the Mary and the Saints. I do not have the time to get into that subject here. Listen to the debate. William does a decent job of explaining it. Turretin Fan suggests that people will claim Mary is the Mother of the entire Godhead, which we all know, is not the case. We do not see this taught in Catholicism or Orthodoxy. Turretin refers to mother of natures again, which as I have already demonstrated is a wrongheaded way to look at motherhood. Mary is Mother of a person, not a nature. I must also ask, where in Sacred Scripture does it say that Mary is the mother of any nature, let alone just his human nature? To my knowledge Sacred Scripture does not say this, and so if Turretin Fan wants to hold to this argument he will have to admit evidence and authority which resides outside the realm of the Sacred Written Word. If he does this, so much for Sola Scriptura.
It is important to remember what Theodoret wisely noted, namely that with respect to Jesus' humanity, Mary was His mother, but with respect to Jesus' divinity, Mary was His handmaid by her own confession. Is the title potentially ok? I think Turretin put it well when he said:
The "Son of the living God" cannot be called the son of Mary according to that in which he is the Son of God. But because he assumed the human nature from her into unity of person, he is rightly and truly called also the son of Mary in this respect. Thus Mary can truly be called theotokos or "mother of God," if the word "God" is taken concretely for the total personality of Christ consisting of the person of the Logos (Logou) and the human nature (in which sense she is called "the mother of the Lord," Lk. 1:43), but not precisely and abstractly in respect of the deity. Thus she is called the mother of God specificatively (i.e., of him who is God), but not reduplicatively (as he is God).
Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 13:5:18 (p. 310 in the Dennison edition).
My closing response,
OK lets look at Theodoret that Turretin quoted earlier shall we? I have saved him for last because Turretin Fan uses one quote from him coupled with a quote from a complete loser, Francis Turretin, to help substantiate his idea of the Mother of God. This is not a wise move as we will see. Turretin Fan never mentioned the fact that when Theodoret wrote these words he was in the camp of Nestorius and he favored the heretical position confusing the two natures of Christ and the Mother of God. It is a known fact that later on in his life he recanted and upheld the definition delivered at the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon. He was barred from attending the Ecumenical Council at Ephesus which heatedly discussed the issue. Theodoret was unique in that he tried to compromise over the title of Theotokos. He remained between a rock and a hard place most of his life trying to appease those who rejected the title, and the Church which upheld its use. He was very disliked by the Nestorians and his work regarding the Theotokos was condemned by the Church. See the second council at Constantinople for more information on that. (New Advent information.)
Theodoret was indeed later exonerated as being a complete “heretic”, but the writings that Turretin Fan has quoted from have never been officially accepted by the Church. Therefore we follow what the Church taught in her Ecumenical Council documents and not what has been written by individuals alone. Turretin fan closes with a quote from the real Francis Turretin, but who really cares what this guy thought about Mary? In fact Francis Turretin steps outside the authority of Scripture as well to make his case against the Church. Read what he wrote again, and show me where in the Sacred Scriptures it says what was quoted above by him. I would suggest that people follow the wisdom of the Church and not cherry pick Church Father quotes to back up their own ideas. This little demonstration here gives a clear example of what happens when you make yourself the lord over Sacred Scripture. You end up trying to rehash controversies that were solved by the Ecumenical Church centuries ago, and yet Turretin Fan does not have the same tools the Church has to do this.
On June 22, 431, the Council of Ephesus declared, "If anyone does not confess that the Emmanuel is truly God and therefore that the holy Virgin is the Mother of God (Theotokos) (since she begot according to the flesh the Word of God made flesh), anathema sit." We see that Mary is the Mother of the entire person of Christ which includes both his human and divine nature. None of these can be separated in any shape or form without confusing the person of Christ in His incarnation.
Theotokos by Michael O'Carroll CSSp. 1983
Declarations of the Ecumenical Councils.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Pope Benedict XVI in his visit to the Holy Land paid tribute to those killed in the holocaust. He prayed over the crypts of holocaust victims and remarked about how terrible the event was. Yet we read now that the Jewish people who were at the event are mad that he did not apologize to them. (Article Here) In fact they are insisting that not only he apologize to them, they also want him to tell them that they do not need to convert to Catholicism, but rather stay in their own state of possible damnation in rejecting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we know the Liturgy in the Latin Rite has always contained a prayer for the Jews to convert to the Gospel. The Jews, like everyone else have need of the Gospel to have eternal salvation. This is a teaching of the Catholic Church, although many want the Church to change it. Of course this will not happen. Here are some quotes from the article from some of the Jews who arrogantly demand apologies from the Pope.
"We're talking about the pope, who is also a representative of the Holy See, which has a lot to ask forgiveness from our people for," Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said during an interview on Israel Radio on Tuesday. "And he is also a German, whose country and people have asked forgiveness. But he himself comes and speaks to us like a historian, as an observer, as a man who expresses his opinion about things that should never happen, and he was - what can you do? - a part of them."
So the Pope has a lot to apologize for? And because he is German that somehow makes himself and all Germans alive today responsible for the holocaust? This man has a lot of nerve. Here is another for you.
"I came to the memorial not only to hear historical descriptions or about the established fact of the Holocaust. I came as a Jew, hoping to hear an apology and a request for forgiveness from those who caused our tragedy, and among them, the Germans and the church. But to my sadness, I did not hear any such thing," he said.
This guy has no clue as to how many Jews the Church saved during the war, so no the Church has nothing to apologize for. As for the Pope being German I find this guy's statement to be racist and arrogant in nature, assuming that since the Pope is German he needs to apologize for being German. If these Jews were sincere they would have accepted the apology of Pope John Paul II when he apologized on his trip. But this is not what they really want. (Article Here)
One Jewish person was actually upset that the Church saved Jewish children because many of them ended up converting to Catholicism, so he said; "Your Holiness, as you know, during the Holocaust many parents deposited their children in trust with the various churches throughout Europe," he said. "To our sorrow, six million Jews did not return. Many of the children who survived thanks to the Church, grew up unaware of their Jewish heritage. We ask that under your guidance the Church display transparency and reveal their roots so that they may choose their national and religious paths." "A lack of transparency on this sensitive issue may perpetuate the suffering of many Jews and ultimately obtain the Nazi's aim - the annihilation of the Jewish People."
What he meant by a lack of transparency here I do not know. Does he mean that the Church is aiding the Nazi aim to annihilate the Jewish People? What is your take on this? I would like to know.
I am one who believes that the holocaust was indeed one of the greatest tragedies in the history of human existence. I find those who marginalize the event to be out of touch with reality and I find their attitudes to be offensive. That being said, many of these Jews are taking advantage of this past horror, and they are using it try and influence and manipulate others to get what they want. So here they are trying to use the holocaust to get the Pope to do what they want. I also find this to be sad and I find it offensive. The holocaust should not be used as a tool of manipulation. Those who died in the horrific tragedy I believe would be hurt and saddened by the actions of many of these modern day Jews who have been using this tragedy to their own advantage.
The holocaust is is a terrible event that we should all never forget lest it happen again. But the holocaust is not an event personally owned by people to be used as a tool for manipulation. If the Jews do not want to convert to Catholicism then that is their own freewill, but the Church has nothing to apologize for, she saved many Jews during the war and the Church does not have to cave in to people who use the holocaust to try and neutralize the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The reason for this outrage by these people is clear. They do not want to have the Gospel preached to them, for fear that some may convert to Catholicism. The Vatican has responded to those attacking him with a brief retort. (Article Here) (And Here)Please feel free to post your thoughts on this issue. Do you agree or disagree with me?
Articles and picture from Jerusalem Post.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
James White in his usual character scoffs at the fact that the Pope is the most important Christian in the world. As we know, White has a rabid hatred for the Catholic Church and he attacks the Pope and the Church any time he can. The fact is if James White showed up in the Holy Land tomorrow, no one would give a damn. Someone pointed out to me earlier this evening the fact that James White would crap in his pants if he had to deal with the death threats the Pope receives each day for preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. If the Pope is so incapable of preaching the Gospel, then why do the Muslims hate him so much and feel so threatened by him? White loves to mock the Pope and he acts as if the Pope means nothing to the world, but we all no better do we not? The Pope right now is having more of an influence in the Holy Land than any Protestant has ever dreamed of doing.
The Holy Father has blessed the foundations of two new churches near the River Jordan which will bring more believers into the fold of Christ. The Pope has celebrated a Papal Mass in Jordan with thousands coming to receive Our Lord, and he has only begun his trip. Poor pitiful James White. I bet he sits behind his desk in tears as he realizes that neither he nor his mentor John Calvin, nor his heroes like Martin Luther ever had half the impact in history that this Pope is having right now in the Holy Land. The world knows who the head of Christianity is, and they recognize the Pope as the head of the Church no matter how many people like White hate him for it. The world does not care about Protestantism because quite frankly it isn't threatening. It is not the true Gospel and it does not carry the weight of Christ behind it like the true Catholic Church does. Name me one Protestant who would make one head turn if they showed up in the Holy Land tomorrow. None of them would, not Billy Graham, not Rick Warren, not Joel Osteen, not R.C Sproul and surely not James White. The fact is the Muslims do not care about any of them because they know they are not a threat. God bless Pope Benedict XVI in his trip to the Holy Land! You can follow the Holy Father in his trip through the Holy Land on the EWTN Holy Land 2009 site here.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
I ran across this writing of Martin Luther on a "Reformed" website and linked back to the original. It is the heretic Martin Luther writing against King Henry of England before King Henry rebelled himself against the Church. This document is what I call "a best of Martin Luther", because it captures the fullness of his rebellious essence and asinine arguments all in one document. It is Luther unplugged. When you read this keep one word in mind, pride. We can really see how confused and misled this man became in his hatred for the Christ and the Church. Below are a few of my favorite excerpts from the text. Please take the time to read the complete document. Do you remember how James White has persisted in telling everyone in his debates that transubstantiation was unknown until the 11th century? Then why does Luther condemn St Ambrose for believing it, even calling him a fool for doing so? Just an observation from reading this mess of a text. Let me know what you come away with from reading it.
By reading this I can really start to understand how pitiful and lost this guy really was, and likewise how pitiful and lost those are who follow him and hail him as some sort of "saint". We can see that his "gospel" was all about himself, he writes that his own teachings will stand and the Pope will fall, etc. Of course this pride is the fuel that runs Protestantism. I also think that this document has the record for the most insults ever put into one document. Check out some of Luther's greatest hits if you will....
"For that senseless, ignorant and monstrous body of the Papacy,...."
"With such blindness and madness has our Lord Jesus Christ stricken the whole kingdom of the papist abomination"
"Next since it is agreed that the Thomists are such a stupid and clearly lazy kind of Sophists...."
"My teachings will stand, and the Pope will fall....."
"This sacrilegious people have all one obsession; they wish to justify themselves in God's presence by works, and not by faith alone."
"The Papacy is the most pestilent abomination of Satan,....."
"Let us damn also Augustine......."
"Let the reader then see from this one argument how asinine is the ignorance of the Thomists...."
"He alleges that Ambrose asserts that nothing remains but the body and blood after consecration. What can I reply to such senseless and stupid fools?"
"And does not this blockhead see that the word of Ambrose is such that it defeats itself? For it is impossible that nothing should remain but the body and blood after consecration, unless it be that with these super-subtle Thomist thinkers, form, colour, cold and other accidents are said to be nothing. For these truly, since they are not nothing, we see remaining in such a manner that we can even by feeling them prove that Ambrose has here palpably erred."
Friday, May 8, 2009
It seems that it has not taken long for Turretin Fan to realize the statement he made was absurd, and he has drawn up a list to divert attention away from his statement which was "Yes, sexual abuse may be a real problem in Catholicism. It may even be the necessary and natural outworking of the celibate priesthood that Rome imposes."
I demonstrated that clerical celibacy does not cause sexual scandal. Now let me look at the Top Ten list that Turretin Fan put together, address his points one by one, and add a few recommendations of my own for Turretin Fan.
10) If you're going to cite statistics, don't cite statistics that actually show Roman Catholic sexual abuse at about twice the rate once one adjusts for the size of the population generating the abuse cases.
If he had read the entire articles he would have noticed that no, it is not twice the cases per population. Either that or I know not what statistic he is talking about. The Fox News article says, "
Responding to heavy media scrutiny, the Catholic Church has reported that since 1950, 13,000 “credible accusations” have been brought against Catholic clerics (about 228 per year.) The fact that this number includes all credible accusations, not just those that have involved insurance companies, and still is less than the number of cases in Protestant churches reported by just three insurance companies, should be making front page of The New York Times and the network evening news. It’s not. The report is even more telling if we consider the plethora of independent or “store front” Protestant churches that don’t have insurance and whose numbers, therefore, certainly are not taken into I am comparing Protestant cases to Catholic cases in total." So I am not sure what Turretin is talking about when he tells us that with an adjustment for population size, the Catholic Church has twice the number of cases. Recommendation #1: when stating a fact please cite your sources like I did.
9) If you're going to argue that celibacy is not imposed on the priesthood, don't make your leading argument that no one is forced to be a priest.
As I have written in my first article, no one is forced to be a priest. It is a unique calling and a unique charism that must be discerned by the individual and the Church. So the idea that people are forced into being celibate is false, plain and simple. I also stated the fact that the Eastern Rites have married clergy and that the Latin Rite has made exceptions as well. The fact is, no man has ever been forced into priesthood. That means that if he has discerned correctly along with the Church, then he has been given the graces to live a holy life of celibacy. Turretin Fan claims in his video that the Catholic Church was thinking of changing this discipline, but once again never gives us a source to back up what he is saying. As far as I know, there is no official Church document or spoken announcement from the Vatican telling us that this will be changed.
8) Don't reveal your ignorance of Reformed churches by suggesting that their "clergy" are self-appointed.
If they are not appointed by the Catholic or Orthodox Church through apostolic succession, then they are self-appointed, plain and simple. There is no divine precedence for the election of your 'pastors' or 'clergy'. If one is not ordained and given faculties by a bishop, then that one is self-appointed, or appointed by another self-appointed person. You eventually regress to someone during the Reformation era who rejected the Church and therefore has never been able to pass on an ordination legitimately. So yes, they are all self-appointed. They do not carry the unbroken line of the Gospel through the Church. They carry their own inbred heresies that originated sometime after the 'Reformation', or re-emerging heresies that the Church rejected long ago.
7) Don't ignore common sense, which tells you that people who are forbidden the option of marriage are more likely to have their sexual desire burst forth in some inappropriate way.
It is common sense to see that they were never forbidden marriage, but chose the call to celibacy. Please do not deny the fact that people can and do choose to follow the charism that God has given them to live a celibate life. So no, they are not more likely to have a sexual outburst because of this. In fact even if they were not 'called' to this, that type of thinking comes directly from the Freudian view of sexuality. Turretin, you have bought into the modern fallacy that abstinence causes sexual deviancy. This is simply not true. Sex drives do not work as if some sort of pressure is building up which must be acted on. This is a lie of modernism. Priests are not forbidden marriage; they have given it up for the kingdom of God to serve Him more fully.
6) If you're going to quote Paul's writings about celibacy, remember that he actually confirms what we already know from common sense, namely that not everyone has the gift of celibacy, and that the result of not marrying for such people is that they burn with lust.
I did quote Saint Paul and I do recognize that those who burned with lust were not called to celibacy. Recommendation #2 for Turretin: read all of a post before chastising your opponent for not referencing something that he indeed referenced. As I stated already, those who discern a calling to the priesthood properly do have the gift of celibacy; Turretin, you have not brought forth any evidence to suggest otherwise. Remember we are not arguing whether there are people who are priests who should not be (homosexuals, etc), we are arguing whether or not celibacy is the cause of the deviation. These are two completely different subjects; but Turretin, you insist on conflating the two to obscure the fact that you made a bad choice of words in your previous post, stating, "Yes, sexual abuse may be a real problem in Catholicism. It may even be the necessary and natural outworking of the celibate priesthood that Rome imposes." No, it is not the natural outworking of clerical celibacy, this has been proven to be wrong. Where are your sources for making such a statement? You did not cite one. See Recommendation #1.
5) If you are going to pick a fight with someone on the issue of clerical celibacy and sexual abuse, find one of the many folks who assert that there is a connection, rather than one who asserts that there may be.
No, there is not even a chance that there may be. Someone who is called to live as a celibate priest has no greater chance of committing sexual deviancy than any other person. If someone becomes a priest who should not be, like a homosexual who can't help himself from acting out, then celibacy is obviously not the cause of it, nor the celibate nature of the priesthood. The person would act out whether he were a priest or not. The cause of it would not be celibacy, but a sexual problem that the person had before. Are you implying that all of the priests who committed these scandals developed them because of their celibacy? No, celibacy does not cause any of this.
4) If someone points out that one cause of sexual abuse is clerical celibacy, don't assume that this means that the critic thinks that marriage fixes all sexual deviancy.
I was merely pointing out the fact that those committing these atrocities would not be miraculously cured by marriage. I never used the word 'all'. The fact is, one's state in life, whether he be celibate or sexually active in marriage, has no bearing on whether or not he will commit sexual abuse.
3) If someone points out that one cause of sexual abuse is clerical celibacy, don't assume that this means that the critic thinks that it is celibacy itself (rather than an absence of the gift of celibacy) that causes this problem.
I never assumed anything. I merely read what you wrote and that was, "Yes, sexual abuse may be a real problem in Catholicism. It may even be the necessary and natural outworking of the celibate priesthood that Rome imposes." You never mentioned anything of the sort referring to the absence of any gift, did you? No, you only mentioned clerical celibacy itself, did you not? Recommendation #3: when making such grave statements regarding scandal, be clear as to what your accusations are. You are indeed a master of leaving yourself loopholes in language to try and slither out of bad arguments. Try writing in a direct manner for a change. Your sentence plainly suggests that the imposed celibate priesthood itself is the cause of the problem, not a problem of men becoming priests who should not be, who have not the call or gift of celibacy.
2) If you are going to bring up the issue of sexual deviance, don't forget that prohibiting marriage for priests is intuitively a way to statistically increase your chances of attracting closeted homosexuals.
No, again, those who discern that they are to be priests have already decided that marriage was not their vocation and that they are called to be celibate. As far as the priesthood attracting homosexuals, there is no doubt that there are priests who are homosexual who should not be priests. There have been conflicting studies on the percentage of priests who are homosexual and many honest sources tell that it is impossible to come up with any accurate number. For example, Time Magazine estimates range from 15% to 50%, and according to Bill Blakemore of ABC News, "...nobody knows what percentage of the American priesthood is gay; estimates range from less than 10% to more than 30%." I would say that any amount is too many, but the point must also be made that just because someone has those sexual tendencies does not make him an automatic sexual abuser. They may be more likely to do so, but again we are not arguing this matter. I would have to see real statistics to comment with any accuracy on this subject. Are there men who are priests who should not be? I think we can all agree that yes is the answer. Is the fact that priests in the Latin Rite are called to be celibate a cause of sexual abuse? Again, the answer is no.
1) Recognize that sexual abuse is a scandal, not something to be treated frivolously with cartoon clowns and empty-headed rhetoric. Take the matter seriously, it's a serious matter
I do recognize that it is a scandal. The cartoon as you can tell refers to you and the remarks that you make about the Catholic Church without any reference to facts or sources. The matter is taken seriously by me and I do not appreciate jerks like you who use any opportunity to slander the Catholic Church and her priesthood. I have many priests whom I consider to be good friends, and if you ever attacked them with such outrageous, asinine comments in front of me it would not be a pretty sight. Be very careful before you ever, ever make an accusation against the Catholic Church or her priests in any forum that I have access to.
You have implied something that is simply not true. You said "Yes, sexual abuse may be a real problem in Catholicism. It may even be the necessary and natural outworking of the celibate priesthood that Rome imposes." You show everyone who reads your articles that you have no respect for the Catholic Church, and no respect for Catholic priests. You made a statement that is not true, and then you wrote a series of side arguments to draw attention away from your false statement which implies that the priesthood itself is the cause of sexual molestations, because of celibacy, not because there are priests who should not be priests. I take this subject very seriously; it is you who who I think is the clown. An apology from you would be in order here, since you implied something that is simply not true. If you intended to state something further to clarify what you were implying, then it is pure negligence on your part to leave an ambiguous comment like this one on your website. Either way, you owe Catholics an apology. You are always talking about honesty and admitting when you are wrong, well here is your chance. You stated plainly, "Yes, sexual abuse may be a real problem in Catholicism. It may even be the necessary and natural outworking of the celibate priesthood that Rome imposes." You said nothing of an absence of any gift of celibacy, you only stated, that sexual abuse was the result of imposed clerical celibacy. You sir are either a liar trying to back step or you were negligent in your statement and did not clarify further what you intended to say. You are either incompetent or a deceiver, which will it be?