Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dr. James White: "Theology Matters"

(video # 1) Beginning at the 14:45 mark to the end for full context and discussion - Yesterday on the Dividing Line (Dec. 16, 2014), Dr. White made an excellent point that Muslims are having a hard time explaining the difference between the theology and usage of Islamic texts (Qur'an, Ahadith, Sira (Life of the Prophet by Ibn Ishaq), Sunnah, Tarikh (History of Islam by Al Tabari), Tafsirs (commentaries)) to support their actions - of Muslims who do terrorism and acts of aggressive violence, for example,against children (Like the Pakistani Taliban attack on a school, killing 145 people, most were children) and Muslims in the west who condemn those actions. In other words, what is the difference between Jihadist Muslims who take action, and other Muslims who believe in the same sources but do not take action. (Jihadist Muslims vs. Moderate Muslims) One answer that they would probably give is that those who don't take action don't have a Caliph/Caliphate that gives them the authority to take action. The secularists and media cannnot approach Islam in a meaningful fashion.
"Fundamentally, the only real solution to all of this is called evangelism." (Dr. White, around the 45 minute mark)
"Muslims are some of the least evangelized in the world; including western Muslims, because Christians are afraid of them."
Yes!! Evangelism and the content of that evangelism - Regeneration - the message that a person must be born-again, - what Jesus said to Nicodemus - "You must be born again!"; that is, they must be changed from the inside out - John 3:1-21 - in Luke's words, "that repentance for forgiveness of sins must be proclaimed to all the nations" (Luke 24:46-47) And, that the only way a person can be born-again is by the Spirit of God acting upon their dead to God souls (Ephesians 2:1-5), giving them a new heart(Ezekiel 36:26-27), but that does not take place unless a person hears the gospel and repents and believes in Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:13-15; Ephesians 1:13-14); they must understand that they are rebel sinners against God (Romans 3:9-23) with wicked hearts (Mark 7:20-23; Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Jeremiah 13:23; Jeremiah 18:12; Matthew 5:21-30) and need a new heart, and repent of their sinfulness and efforts of reforming themselves and turn to Christ to save them. (Repent and believe - Mark 1:15) That "repent and believe" is equal to Sola Fide (Justification by faith alone) when one understands what true faith is - that one is justified by faith alone, but true faith does not stay alone (James 2:14-26; Ephesians 2:10; Acts 26:20) (ie, it results in good works, change, fruit, hatred of sin, growth, love for God, for other people, etc.), and true faith necessarily has to have repentance within it, because one does not truly believe in Christ unless he is turning away from his sin, sins, and sinfulness, realizing he is helpless (Romans 5:6-11) to change or reform himself by religion or rituals (Mark 7:1-23) or good works (Galatians 2:16; 1:8-9; 6:13-14; Romans 3:9-28; 4:1-16; 5:1; Philippians 3:9; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 1:12-13; 5:24; 3:16; 20:30-31; Acts 13:38-39 15:9; 16:31) and turns in heart-felt trust to Christ and His saving work in the incarnation (Hebrews 2:14-18), atonement(Romans 3:25-26; Luke 24:46-47), resurrection (Luke 24:46-47; Romans 10:9-10), and intercession at the right hand of God. (Romans 8:28-39)

Dr. White appealed to people to use 2 videos below, use these in evangelism with Muslims, to publish these 2 recent debates that are on the Alpha and Omega YouTube channel:

Monday, December 15, 2014

More Proof For Rome's Version of Mary

Crowds flock to see ‘Virgin Mary’ image in a tree (Fox News)

"A likeness of the Virgin Mary has been spotted on a tree trunk, which locals believe is nothing short of a Christmas miracle, reports the Daily Mail. Though you may have to squint hard to see, the shape is similar to that of some representations of Jesus’ mother, with a gentle head tilt to the side."

Monday, December 08, 2014

How to Read a Blog Entry and Make a Comment

For the last few months an anonymous person has been leaving an excessive amount of comments on this blog. More often than not, the comments are tangential to what was originally blogged. Then comes the typical, "Why aren't you responding to my comments, James?" question.  Here's why: online interactions with anonymous people do not take priority. When I do take the time to interact with anonymous comments, they should at least be directly and meaningfully related to the content of the blog entry. I typically abhor rabbit trails.

With this in mind, here are some quick guidelines to help anonymous people read blog entries and post comments. For detailed instructions, see this link and this link.

1. Read the entire entry.

2. Ask these critical questions:

A. What is the overall point of the blog entry? Be prepared to possibly make a short outline if the blog post is lengthy. do not make criticisms until you understand the major points of the entry. Be prepared to prove you understand what the major point of the entry is before criticizing the entry.

B. Do you disagree with the major point, or are there supporting points that are not agreeable? Be prepared to understand the points of agreement before attacking the points of disagreement. If it's a supporting fact that is disagreeable, consider that an in-depth discussion may be tangential.

C. Do the facts presented support the basic point? Are there unstated presuppositions that determine the meaning of the facts? Do your presuppositions direct the facts to a different conclusion?

3. Be prepared to actually look at the sources being utilized in the blog entry and determine if the sources are being used in context or out of context.

4. Try not to respond line by line. Often it's possible to miss the major points of the blog entry, or it's possible to quibble over something that's later explained in the entry.

5. If you respond with factual data, be prepared to back up your claims with references.

6. Do not expect someone to do the work for you. If you make a counter-claim, it's up to you to present evidence to support the claim.

7. Always ask yourself if the criticism you're making refutes your own position as well.

8. If you just want to add an insulting or mocking comment, please find another blog to post on.

9. If you put forth a standard by which you say you abide by (like say, Hebrews 12:14), be prepared to be held to that standard.

10. If you say that you will no longer post on this blog, and then you continue to post on this blog, do not be surprised if your comments are deleted.

Comments on older blog entries will not appear immediately, or they may not appear at all.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Pope to Theologians: Listen to Ordinary Faithful

I found this on the AP (bolded emphasis mine):

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis urged the Catholic Church's top theologians on Friday to listen to what ordinary Catholics have to say and pay attention to the "signs of the times," rather than just making pronouncements in an academic vacuum.
Francis, whose near-disdain for theologians is well-known, told the International Theological Commission that they must "humbly listen" to what God tells the church by understanding Scripture but also by taking into account how ordinary Catholics live out their faith.
"Together with all Christians, theologians must open their eyes and ears to the signs of the times," Francis said.
Made up of leading theologians from around the world, the commission is a permanent advisory body to the Vatican's theological and orthodoxy watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Both are headed by Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, a conservative German theologian appointed by the theologian pope, Benedict XVI.
The congregation is known for disciplining Catholic theologians whose writings or teachings stray from church doctrine. It has been criticized for issuing these notifications without consulting the academics or giving them a chance to defend their work.
Francis has frequently complained that theologians are holding back the church in its mission to evangelize and work with other Christian communities. Just this past weekend, returning from Turkey, Francis spoke about the need for the Catholic and Orthodox churches to walk together on the path of unity.
"What are we waiting for? For the theologians to reach agreement? That day will never come, I assure you," Francis said. "I'm skeptical."
Francis has instead spoken frequently about what he calls "theology on its knees" - a more merciful type of theology that isn't focused so much on rules and regulations but meeting the faithful where they are to help them reach holiness.

Rome Says: Premillennialism "Cannot Safely Be Taught" ?

Here's one from the Catholic Answers Forums, surprisingly critical of a Catholic Answers tract:

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Default Sloppy scholarship in a Catholic Answers tract - can anyone fill in the blanks?

Another thread asked a question about the Church's teaching regarding a point of eschatology.

There have been several similar threads. I have consistently replied that the Church has taught almost NOTHING about the "end-times" apart from what we can read in Scripture (but interpret at our own peril). I'm not talking about the usual death/judgement/heven/hell thing (which comprises Catholic doctrine, and is much simpler, and easily found in the Catechism), but about the "rapture" and the "reign of Jesus," around which much mythology has evolved.

I would have asserted that the Church teaches NOTHING about end-time theology, except that I had found a Catholic Answers Tract a long time ago, The Rapture. The author of this tract is not credited.

According to this tract,
In the 1940s the Holy Office judged that premillennialism "cannot safely be taught," though the Church has not dogmatically defined this issue.
Two things strike me as "wrong" (meaning uncharacteristically sloppy scholarship) about this assertion. First of all, it cites a DECADE, not a year or a date. I realize this is a tract, and is intended to be brief, but it would have been more brief (while being more specific) to say "in 1945" rather than "in the 1940s" (more brief by eight characters, if we count a space as a character).

Second, there is no such thing as "THE Holy Office," apart from the Pope himself. THE Holy Office of Peter belongs to the Pope alone. There are Vatican Offices which speak on behalf of the Holy See, but nobody except the Pope represents THE Holy Office. Other Offices are vicars only.

This tract asserts a teaching which is unfamiliar to me (and to Google, to the best of my ability to utilize it).

Can someone cite any "Holy Office" that taught this idea "in the 1940's" to fill in the blanks left by this tract?

I can't answer the questions this person has raised, however, I would speculate the tract may have been one of the early tracts written by Karl Keating and was originally titled, "Are You Pre, Mid, or Post?" Item Number: T002. Another person says "the Vatican website" "describes the 'Holy Office' as "the former name of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."

In regard to the "1940's" statement, the Catholic Answers tract says:

What’s the Catholic Position?
As far as the millennium goes, we tend to agree with Augustine and, derivatively, with the amillennialists. The Catholic position has thus historically been "amillennial" (as has been the majority Christian position in general, including that of the Protestant Reformers), though Catholics do not typically use this term. The Church has rejected the premillennial position, sometimes called "millenarianism" (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church 676). In the 1940s the Holy Office judged that premillennialism "cannot safely be taught," though the Church has not dogmatically defined this issue. 
With respect to the rapture, Catholics certainly believe that the event of our gathering together to be with Christ will take place, though they do not generally use the word "rapture" to refer to this event (somewhat ironically, since the term "rapture" is derived from the text of the Latin Vulgate of 1 Thess. 4:17—"we will be caught up," [Latin: rapiemur]). 

The comment from the 1940's was probably some sort of reaction to dispensationalism. What I think is interesting is that in my sparse studies of eschatology, there appears to have been a time in which premillenialism was safely taught:
During the first three centuries of the Christian era, premillennialism  appears to have been the dominant eschatological interpretation. Among its adherents were Papias, Iranaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Methodius, Commodianus, and Lactantius" (Robert Clouse, The Meaning of the Millennium (Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1977), p.9)
So, if the defenders of Rome want to claim the early church, they should be premillennial.

A Catholic Answers participant states: "A quick wikiwalk leads me to p 212 of Acta Apostolica Sedis 1944, where the phrase in question (and in Latin) is: systema Millenarismi mitigati tuto doceri non posase The date is 21 July 1944."

The Wiki article states:

After Adolf Hitler's unsuccessful attempt to implement a thousand-year-reign, the Vatican issued an official statement that millennial claims could not be safely taught and that the related scriptures in Revelation (also called the Apocalypse) should be understood spiritually. Catholic author Bernard LeFrois wrote:
Millenium [sic]: Since the Holy Office decreed (July 21, 1944) that it cannot safely be taught that Christ at His Second Coming will reign visibly with only some of His saints (risen from the dead) for a period of time before the final and universal judgment, a spiritual millennium is seen in Apoc. 20:4–6. St. John gives a spiritual recapitulation of the activity of Satan, and the spiritual reign of the saints with Christ in heaven and in His Church on earth.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Luther vs. Rome on the Jews

This post was deleted from Catholic Answers, and then the discussion was closed by a moderator. Note below, my quote was from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

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Originally Posted by Topper17 View Post
Hi Jon, I respectfully disagree with your statement. As a matter of historical fact, Luther was FAR worse than his Catholic contemporaries, and therefore he DOES deserves greater criticism”
I find the idea that "Luther was worse therefore we're OK" to be an argument of desperation.

"The early Roman pontiffs of the sixteenth century had Jewish physicians and were favorable to the Jews and the Maranos of their states. Time soon came, however, when the Sephardic Jews of Italy fared differently. As early as 1532, the accusation of child murder nearly entailed the extermination of the Jews of Rome. In 1555, Paul IV revived the ancient canons against the Jews which forbade them the practice of medicine, the pursuit of high commerce, and the ownership of real estate. He also consigned them to a Ghetto, and compelled them to wear a Jew badge. In 1569, Pius IV expelled all the Jews from the Pontifical States, except Rome and Ancona. Sixtus V (1585-1590) recalled them; but, soon after him, Clement VIII (1592-1605) banished them again partially, at the very moment when the Maranos of Italy lost their last place of refuge in Ferrara. Similar misfortunes befell the Jewish race in other states of Italy as the Spanish domination extended there: Naples banished the Jews in 1541; Genoa, in 1550; Milan, in 1597. Hence-forward, most Sephardic fugitives simply passed through Italy when on their way to the Turkish Empire." [source]

Do any of you really think this sort of blatant hardship actually enforced on an entire group of people is acceptable in comparison to a treatise from Luther that none of Luther's supporters took seriously? If yes, well... that's sad.

Well, I guess I wasn't meant to get the last word. I made some other comments. These have yet to be deleted:

Nov 29, '14, 10:47 pm
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Default Re: Luther and The Protestant's Dilemma

Originally Posted by Eruvande View Post
It really made sense to me, and more or less persuaded me that there is a case to be made about Luther's less than stellar attitudes and teachings. Hope that explains it 
Eruvande, I think your OP made a thoughtful insight when you stated, "The bible is full of men who committed gross sins, but God still used them." I wouldn't give that cogent point away for the following reasons:

1. Those who argue that Luther’s work is somehow nullified because of his anti-Jewish writings are putting forth an impossible standard- it is to say that one must live a life of perfection in order for their work to have validity. Many examples can be drawn from the Scriptures to prove that God uses sinful people to proclaim his truth. I would have never imagined that Peter, who walked daily with the Lord Jesus Christ, would muddle the Gospel and face correction by Paul (Galatians 2:11-21), (and also he denied Christ before the crucifixion). Solomon “offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places” (1 Kings 3:3) to appease the multiple “foreign women” he married (1 Kings 11). The most striking example is King David, whose legacy includes adultery and conspiracy to murder. Yet God used these men despite heinous sin. We could go through a number of people in the Old Testament as well. As I would stand against Peter’s denial, Solomon’s idolatry, David’s adultery and conspiracy to murder, so I would stand against Luther’s anti-Jewish writings. That a holy God chooses to use sinful men to accomplish his will is an example of his mysterious divine providence: all things work together for His glory.

2. Certainly Luther's comments about the Jews were terrible, but they are not the deciding factor in his theology. Good Catholic scholarship typically interacts with Luther's theology rather than attacking Luther the person, because the story of Luther's negativity towards the Jews is really to tell the story of medieval Christianity and medieval society's negativity towards the Jews.

Previous to Luther there were atrocities like The Strasbourg massacre (1349). Those Jews agreeing to be baptized were spared being burned alive. Even after Luther, Pope Paul IV (1555-1559) was involved in some fairly serious Jewish persecution:

“In 1553 all copies of the Talmud found in Rome were burned in public. Pope Paul IV (1555-1559) ordered measures to be taken against the Jews, and twenty-four men and one woman were burned at the stake. On July 12, 1555, he issued a bull that renewed all the oppressive medieval legislation against the Jews, excluding them from professions, limiting their financial and commercial activities, forbidding them to own real estate, and humiliating them by obliging them to wear yellow hats" [Lewis W. Spitz, The Protestant Reformation (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1985), 357].

Owen Chadwick likewise documents this: “He forced every Jew to wear a yellow hat and live in a ghetto with only one exit… He caused to be published the first Index of prohibited books… Sixtus of Siena was sent to Cremona, where there was a great Hebrew school (for the destruction of the Talmud was ordered), and reported that he had burnt a store of 12,000 volumes…. Under an Inquisition with extended powers, and a pope ready to suspect everyone, there was almost a reign of terror in the city. ‘Even if my own father were a heretic,’ said the Pope, ‘I would gather the wood to burn him’” [Owen Chadwick, The Reformation (New York: Penguin Books, 1964), 271].

3. I have friends who argue against Catholicism because of the crusades, pedophilia, a nun hitting someone in grammar school, or any number of sins committed by people who adhere to Catholicism. In my thinking, this is one of the worst ways to argue. In the same way, those Catholics who argue against Protestantism attempting to vilify Luther have no way to consistently argue for their position positively. That is, if the hierarchy of the Catholic church has done something wrong or sinful at any point in her past, then by their standard applied to Luther, the Catholic church is invalid... It works both ways.

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Default Re: Luther and The Protestant's Dilemma

Originally Posted by JonNC View Post
I think that the most disturbing part of Luther's anti-Jewish writings was that he already knew better. He wrote in "That Jesus Was Born a Jew" in 1523,
I've done some reading into Luther's change in attitude, often documented as slowly changing in 1536-1537. While there were reasons for his change in attitude, I don't think they were good enough reasons for his change in attitude.

A cyber-acquaintance of mine stated something in passing on Luther's attitude toward the Jews that I find meaningful, not only to the Luther & the Jews dispute, but to many aspects of church history:

"Let's think about this: 500 years ago, someone demonstrates that his view of people different than himself sociologically or politically is pretty provincial and, if we can say it plainly, insulting. In every generation after him, because of his influence in general, every biographer of him points out the fault, decries it, and indicates we shouldn't be like him. All the people who follow this guy theologically and denominationally all repudiate his faulty views, and they confessionally reject these views. His 500 years of influence are thereafter gleaned for the best of his ideas and the worst are literally called out and rejected, and reasonably-healthy churches are thereafter grown."

Even though I'm not a Lutheran, I think this is the actual paradigm Lutheranism has followed. From my perspective, I use the same paradigm for church history, be it Chrysostom, Origen, Augustine, etc. I realize that the voices from the past often have sins and faults. The cliche is tochew the meat and spit out the bones. That's what I do with Luther- that's why I can read him, even while not being a Lutheran, and I can appreciate him. A good number of Catholic scholars do this as well: Lortz, Wicks, McSorley, Congar, Tavard, etc.

I use the same paradigm for those directly in my own tradition- Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, etc. I recently had a discussion with someone from my church about the dangers of Christians who have less-conservative views on creation- she was arguing they should be avoided completely- I pointed out that this would include one of the best Reformed theologians of all time- B.B. Warfield.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Augustine's On the Unity of the Church, finally translated into English

 At William Webster's web-site, I discovered the full text of Augustine's "On The Unity of the Church" vs. the Donatists.   For the first time in history, the full text has been translated into English. (Amazing that it took so long !! Centuries!) I look forward to reading this, studying it, and possibly writing blog articles on this in the future.

Some choice selections from Webster's Introduction:

Introduction:  “The question has been proposed: Is the Church of Christ among the Catholics or among the Donatists? This needs to be determined from specific and clear citations in Holy Scripture. First, evidence is brought forth from the Old Testament and then from the New Testament.”  (Augustine, Introduction, On the Unity of the Church. My emphasis)

. . . 

"But, as I had begun to say, let us not listen to “you say this, I say that” but let us listen to “the Lord says this.” Certainly, there are the Lord’s books, on whose authority we both agree, to which we concede, and which we serve; there we seek the Church, there we argue our case" (Chapter 5). (My emphasis)

Webster says that Augustine basically says, 

“Since both parties adhere to the truth of Scripture and believe them to be the word of God, it is scripture which should be the final arbiter.”

Augustine writes, “just as this doesn't need an interpreter” several times in his appeal to the Donatists.  Augustine believed that theses Scriptures were clear and perspicuous, and did not need an infallible interpreter to settle the dispute.  

In one of his sermons Augustine gives this exegesis of the rock of Matthew 16:

"Remember, in this man Peter, the rock. He’s the one, you see, who on being questioned by the Lord about who the disciples said he was, replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ On hearing this, Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jona, because flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you’...‘You are Peter, Rocky, and on this rock I shall build my Church, and the gates of the underworld will not conquer her. To you shall I give the keys of the kingdom. Whatever you bind on earth shall also be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall also be loosed in heaven’ (Mt 16:15–19). In Peter, Rocky, we see our attention drawn to the rock. Now the apostle Paul says about the former people, ‘They drank from the spiritual rock that was following them; but the rock was Christ’ (1 Cor 10:4). So this disciple is called Rocky from the rock, like Christian from Christ.    Why have I wanted to make this little introduction? In order to suggest to you that in Peter the Church is to be recognized. Christ, you see, built his Church not on a man but on Peter’s confession. What is Peter’s confession? ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ There’s the rock for you, there’s the foundation, there’s where the Church has been built, which the gates of the underworld cannot conquer"
(John Rotelle, O.S.A., Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1993), Sermons, Volume III/6, Sermon 229P.1, p. 327).

This treatise is of great interest historically because of what Augustine does not say constitutes unity. These words by Johann Joseph Ignaz von Dollinger, the most renowned Roman Catholic historian of the 19th century, who taught church history for 47 years, are very telling:

St. Augustine has written more on the Church, its unity and authority, than all the other Fathers put together. Yet, from all his numerous works, filling ten folios, only one sentence, in one letter, can be quoted, where he says that the principality of the Apostolic Chair has always been in Rome—which could, of course, be said then with equal truth of Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria. Any reader of his Pastoral Letter to the separated Donatists on the Unity of the Church, must find it inexplicable...that in these seventy–five chapters there is not a single word on the necessity of communion with Rome as the centre of unity. He urges all sorts of arguments to show that the Donatists are bound to return to the Church, but of the Papal Chair, as one of them, he says not a word (Janus (Johann Joseph Ignaz von Dollinger), The Pope and the Council (Boston: Roberts, 1869), pp. 70-74).

Augustine says, 'Whoever dissents from Holy Scripture concerning the head is not in the Church' (Paragraph 7). (my emphasis)

He repeats this passage:

But, as I had begun to say, let us not listen to “you say this, I say that” but let us listen to “the Lord says this.” Certainly, there are the Lord’s books, on whose authority we both agree, to which we concede, and which we serve; there we seek the Church, there we argue our case (Augustine, On the Unity of the Church, Chapter 5).

"I do not wish the holy Church to be founded on human evidence, but on divine oracles" (Augustine, ibid., Chapter 6). (My emphasis)

"All such things then removed, let them demonstrate their Church, if they can, not in the speeches and murmurs of African, not in the councils of their bishops, not in the epistles of whatever debates, not in false signs and prodigies, since we are prepared and cautioned against them by the word of the Lord, but in the precept of the law, in the predictions of the prophets, in the songs of the psalms, in the utterances of the one shepherd himself, in the preaching of the evangelists, that is in all the canonical authority of the holy books, and not such that they might gather and cite things that are spoken obscurely or ambiguously or metaphorically which anyone might interpret according to his own opinion as he wishes. Such things cannot be properly understood and explained unless first those things that are said most openly are held with a strong faith (Chapter 47).

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Did Luther Think Mary Was Queen of Heaven?

[To the left: a bit of propaganda from one of Rome's defenders]
Here's one I recently came across on the CARM boards: When did Mary become queen of heaven?  After a Lutheran participant admitted Luther could be wrong about believing particular Marian doctrines, a defender of Rome asked, "... have any of the various Lutheran denominations denounced their founder's acknowledgment that Mary is Queen of Heaven?" The assumption put forth is that Luther, his entire life,  taught, believed, and was overly explicit that Mary was to be regarded as "Queen of Heaven." As we'll see, this assumption is not supported by the extant documents. The "various Lutheran denominations" have nothing to denounce about Luther using the title "Queen of Heaven" in regard to Mary.

The Research Methods of Rome's Defenders
If one does a simple Google search on this, it becomes readily apparent that many of Rome's defenders haven't done any meaningful (or in some cases, actual) research into Luther's use of the title "Queen of Heaven." Consider this example:

Modern Protestants object to calling Mary as “Queen of Heaven” because according to them, the title is pagan and is hateful to God. Before I respond to this to the issue, I just wish to remark that Martin Luther, the originator of Protestantism, Martin Luther admitted that the title “Queen of Heaven” is “a true enough name and yet does not make her a goddess.”[1] In fact, the instigator of the Reformation went as far as calling Mary “more than an empress or a queen.”[2]

[1] Jaroslav Pelikan, ed., Luther’s Works (St. Louis: Concordia) 24:327, cited in Fr. Mateo,Refuting the Attack on Mary (San Diego, CA: Catholic Answers, 1999) p. 67. 
[2] Jaroslav Pelikan, ed., Luther’s Works (St. Louis: Concordia) 36:208; 45:107, cited in Fr. Mateo, Refuting the Attack on Mary (San Diego, CA: Catholic Answers, 1999) p. 110.

While I don't plan on purchasing Fr. Mateo's book to check out these secondary citations, both footnotes presented here are erroneous. Both footnotes claim to be to the English edition of Luther's Works. Footnote #1 is actually from LW 21:327 (Luther's exposition of the Magnificat), not LW 24. It's also interesting that the quote from Luther doesn't end at the word "goddess" (as will be explained below). In Footnote #2, LW 36:208 has nothing to do with Mary.  LW 45:107 appears to be a botched citation from the Weimar edition of Luther's works. The "empress or a queen" comment is often documented as WA 45, 105, 7 to 106, 1. The quote probably made its way into cyberspace by one of Rome's defenders using Max Thurian, Mary Mother of the Lord, Figure of the Church (London: The Faith Press, 1963), p.80. We'll see with this quote that Luther isn't calling Mary "Queen of Heaven" here.

The Salve Regina and the Regina Coeli 
Of the works of Luther that I've dealt with over the years, I rarely have come across Luther using the title "Queen of Heaven" in regard to Mary. The reason why is because "Queen of Heaven" was directly associated with the Salve Regina and the Regina Coeli.* The Salve Regina states:
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To you we cry, the children of Eve; to you we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this land of exile. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us; lead us home at the beginning and show us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus: O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.
Also relevant to Luther's time period was the Marian hymn, the Regina Coeli:
Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia. The Son whom you merited to bear, alleluia. Has risen, as He said, alleluia. Pray for us to God, alleluia. V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia. R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia. Let us pray. O God, who through the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ gave rejoicing to the world, grant, we pray, that through his Mother, the Virgin Mary, we may obtain the joy of everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
It was these very sort of examples of medieval Mariolatry that Luther was explicitly against and vocal about throughout his writings. As early as 1522, Luther stated:
Here I must say a few words about the song which is called Salve Regina. It is a great blaspheme of God. For it says, "Hail you queen of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope." Is that not too much? Who could justify calling her our life, sweetness and mercy when she is satisfied to call herself, a "handmaiden of the LORD?" Now people sing that prayer in every corner of the world and also the bells ring out, and still today in nearly every church the Salve Regina is, unfortunately, retained and sung.
It is the same with the Regina Coeli, which is not much better, in which she is called the queen of heaven. Is that not doing Christ a disservice when you account to a creature what only belongs to and is proper to God? So forget these ungodly and unchristian words. I will gladly concede that Mary prays for me, but I deny that she must be my comfort and my life. Your prayer on my behalf is also just as precious to me and hers. Why? If you believe that Christ dwells just as much in you as He does her, your prayer can help me just as well as hers. [The Festival Sermons of Martin Luther, 105-106].
In the sermon of March 11, 1523 (yet untranslated in English, documented by William Cole) Luther wants "devotion to Mary" "entirely abolished because of the abuses" (WA 3, 312 ff; cf. Cole, 189). Cole says, "It is quite clear that [Luther] includes the Salve Regina as one of the abuses" (Cole, 189). Cole also documents another sermon (1524, WA 15, 115, 13f) in which "Luther refers to the Salve Regina as blasphemous inasmuch as the name of life and hope is taken away from Christ in favor of Mary and Mary is made into a goddess with her feasts and antiphons" (Cole, 189). Also documented by Cole is that Luther attributes the title "queen of mercy" to the church rather than something which is to be sung about Mary (Cole, 189; LW 12:261). Cole points out though that Luther is not necessarily against calling Mary a "Queen," but that the Roman church had made her into an idol (Cole, 189-190).

Mary is "more than an empress or a queen"
As mentioned above, this quote was probably taken from a secondary source. The actual source, WA 45:105, 7 to 106, 1 can be found here. I know of no official English translation for this Latin / German page. Of the secondary translation that is available, Thurian states:
"...then on another Feast of the Visitation, July 2.1537, Luther said: 'When the Virgin received the acclamation of Elizabeth as being the blessed Mother of God, because she had believed and because all was coming to pass as the angel had spoken, she was not filled with pride by this praise which no other woman had ever yet spoken to her—this immense praise: "No woman is like unto thee! you are more than an empress or a queen! you are more than Eve or Sarah; blessed above all nobility, wisdom or saintliness!" No, she was not filled with pride by this lofty, excellent and super-abundant praise ...' " [Weimar, 45: 105, 7 to 106, 1].
What's interesting to me is that Luther is not calling Mary the "Queen of Heaven" here, but is rather embellishing the praise given to Mary by Elizabeth, and even Elizabeth (in Luther's words) isn't calling her "Queen of Heaven" but saying Mary is "more than an empress or a queen."

"Queen of Heaven" is a true-enough name...
The only explicit positive quote (I know of) in which Luther refers to Mary as "Queen of Heaven" comes from Luther's treatment of the Magnificat (1521). There Luther states:
It is no valid argument against this to cite the words of the hymn “Regina coeli laetare,” “Whom thou didst merit to bear,” and again, “Whom thou wast worthy to bear.” For the same things are sung about the holy cross, which was a thing of wood and incapable of merit. The words are to be understood in this sense: In order to become the Mother of God, she had to be a woman, a virgin, of the tribe of Judah, and had to believe the angelic message in order to become worthy, as the Scriptures foretold.28 As the wood had no other merit or worthiness than that it was suited to be made into a cross and was appointed by God for that purpose, so her sole worthiness to become the Mother of God lay in her being fit and appointed for it; so that it might be pure grace and not a reward, that we might not take away from God’s grace, worship, and honor by ascribing too great things to her. For it is better to take away too much from her than from the grace of God. Indeed, we cannot take away too much from her, since she was created out of nothing, like all other creatures. But we can easily take away too much from God’s grace, which is a perilous thing to do and not well pleasing to her. It is necessary also to keep within bounds and not make too much of calling her “Queen of Heaven,” which is a true-enough name and yet does not make her a goddess who could grant gifts or render aid, as some suppose when they pray and flee to her rather than to God. She gives nothing, God gives all, as we see in the words that follow. Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 21: The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, and H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 21, pp. 327–328). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
Here Luther allows "Queen of Heaven" to be a "true enough name" but qualifies it that even if this name is applied, Mary is not "a goddess who could grant gifts or render aid, as some suppose when they pray and flee to her rather than to God. She gives nothing."

I anticipate this response from a defender of Rome: Yes, Mary is not a goddess. We agree with Luther. Notice though, the Mary of Luther and the Mary of 16th Century Romanism are different, for in that view, Mary is someone to pray to and flee to who grants gifts- hence, what Luther would call, a goddess. According to Luther, by pouring more into the term "Queen of Heaven" (like the defenders of Rome do), "we can easily take away too much from God’s grace, which is a perilous thing to do and not well pleasing to her." In other words, when Luther here says "Queen of Heaven" "is a true enough name," he does not mean the same thing Rome's defenders do. If there's any agreement here between the defenders of Rome and Luther, it's only surface level.

Keep in mind as well, Luther's exposition of the Magnificat was seen in his day as an attack against popular Marian piety, and is a transitional work in Luther's Mariology not entirely reflective of his later thought (Roman Catholic scholar Thomas O'Meara,  reaches the same conclusion: Mary in Protestant and Catholic Thought, 116-117). In chronological order, Luther's 1521 admitting a use of "Queen of Heaven" is followed by 1522's "doing Christ a disservice" if one uses the title. Then for the rest of Luther's career, the Salve Regina and the Regina Coeli were to be avoided as blasphemous.

*I'm indebted here to William Cole's article, Was Luther a Devotee of Mary? Marian Studies XXI (1970), 188-190.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Sola Scriptura Debate

Catholic vs Protestant debate on Sola Scriptura - Peter D Williams vs James White - Unbelievable?

Saturday 12th October 2013 - 02:30 am
The Protestant Reformation brought forth the cry "Sola Scriptura" - that Christianity should be based on the words of scripture alone, not on Roman Catholic church tradition.
Peter D Williams of Catholic Voices argues that the reformers were wrong and that the ultimate authority for Christians rests in the three strands of sacred scripture, sacred teaching and sacred tradition. James White of Alpha and Omega ministries argues that the Catholic church has fallen into error, and that Christians should look to scripture alone for their doctrine.
For James White
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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Do Miracles Still Happen?

Compare and contrast this:

with this:

And as a follow up:

Please pray for Bishop Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Birmingham in Alabama. The Bishop is currently praying for a miracle through the intercession of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen for his health. If you click on this link you will find the official prayer to obtain a favor through the intercession of Sheen in 12 different languages.

English: Eternal Father, You alone grant us every blessing in Heaven and on earth, through the redemptive mission of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and by the working of the Holy Spirit.