Saturday, March 11, 2006

On John Calvin and Humanism: Did Calvin Blend Pagan Philosophy With Christianity?


"Calvin is as popular as a 16th century philosopher to the secular crowd as He is to Reformed Christians." - Fr. Joseph

" I have a degree in philosophy from a secular university and I never heard Calvin mentioned." - James Swan



An articulate Catholic named Fr. Joseph (cristoiglesia) on the CARM Catholic board recently stated,

One should not be surprised that John Calvin wrote persuasively. He was a lawyer and was trained in persuasive argument. He was in part presenting an argument against the Catholic Church and presenting a foundation to establish a new Gospel that had not been challenged for 1500 years since it was first taught by Jesus and the apostles and repeated by their successors. Enthralled by Humanism, Calvin believed that his beloved pagan philosophy could be successfully blended into Christianity. It is obvious to me that his syncretic effort here is to separate the Scriptures from their authors and the teachings that inspired them within the Church.”

Elsewhere Fr. Joseph stated:

The facts are [Calvin] was a Humanist lawyer and author virtually untrained in theology and was never ordained as a minister. Yet, he shaped and influenced Reformed theology like no other person. He was not just one who read the "Odyssey" or the "Iliad" and enjoyed it but applied Humanist philosophy to his theological musings. When he wrote the "Institutes" he relied heavily on the theological philosophy of Erasmus that was already a syncretic blend with Humanism. If you study a reliable biography it will also tell you that the first published work of Calvin was a commentary on Seneca's "De Clementia" a Latin philosophical work. His support for his commentary was Humanists. This goes far beyond just reading the classics for enjoyment but applied the philosophy to his new theology. Now, I could go into detail how he instituted Humanist philosophy into Christianity but as I said before this is a very complex topic with a lot of players involved as well such as Erasmus, Colet, More, Zwingli, Beza, Calvin and others. All seemed to have a common goal to change Christianity to conform to their philosophy of Humanism.”

I say this Catholic is "articulate" - not based on the above content, but on the style of writing. Normally, those with venom against the Reformers lack a sophistication in writing- and one can usually tell the person lacks education. Not so of this guy. The sentences are well constructed. Fr. Joseph provided this autobiographical information :

"About fifteen years ago I realized the influence of Humanism on my own way of thinking and on my faith. I began to search for deeper meaning by rejecting Humanist ideals when they conflicted with the teaching of Christ and the Apostles.This led me on a journey towards Catholicism or the faith and practice of the early Church. The results of the journey, except my conversion to Catholic faith and practice, has been a new found obedience and devotion that I never experienced as a Protestant, when I was so indoctrinated by Humanism both secular and Christian."

"Many Protestant Fundamentalists like myself are finding a nurturing environment in the Catholic faith and are converting to Catholicism and Orthodoxy. We are free to continue our journey of ridding ourselves of Humanist influence that we see as a part of our sanctification to final salvation. In Protestantism the social and ecclesiastical environment requires that one conform to the faith and practice of the community or be rejected as being heterodox. This is what happened to me and countless others of conservative Christian principals, forcing them to change church affiliation and finding that we can find a home in Catholicism where we can continue our journey in faith unencumbered by social norms and ecclesiastical dogmas that lead us to a different path than the Spirit leads us."

The picture of Calvin as “enthralled by Humanism” and devoted to blend “his beloved pagan philosophy” with Christianity struck me as being historically suspect.

Humanism
Is Renaissance Humanism the bogeyman that Fr. Joseph suggests? The Renaissance was a rebirth of learning of the Greek and Roman worlds. It began in the late 14th century, blossomed in the 15th century, and came to full fruition in the 16th century. It began in Italy as primarily an educational reform movement. It was a rebellion against Middle Age scholasticism- which had an emphasis on Latin and the rational/ logical.

The Humanists were interested in recovering that which was lost in classical antiquity. There was a great push among them to recover the Greek and Hebrew languages, which had been swept away in the West. The Humanists also complained that even the Latin being used was a corrupted version. By the early 16th Century- an educated man was to know three languages- Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. There was studies of pagan scholars, as well as early church fathers.

Due to the push of the Humanists to recover Greek and Hebrew, The Bible was once again read in the original languages, rather than Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. Questions were raised as to whether the medieval inheritance accurately reflected what the Bible and Church Fathers actually taught. This drove the Humanists to the original sources- hence their slogan “ad fontes” which means “back to the sources.”

Most of the great leaders of the Reformation were trained as renaissance humanists- except Luther who was trained as a medieval scholastic theologian, but he was also well trained in Renaissance thought also. It was through biblical humanism though that Luther was able to engage the biblical text as biblical text, instead of the Latin Vulgate- coming to understand what the biblical writers “really” said profoundly changed his theology.

Calvin and Humanism and Philosophy
Calvin indeed was highly influenced by this movement- because of its plea of ad fontes, as were many Roman Catholics as well. But as to blending pagan philosophy- this is simply untrue. The tools of Humanism Calvin used were philology and history. In other words- Calvin strove to read the Bible in its original languages, as well as the church fathers. For Calvin, a text had to be read in its original language and in its original context. This is the primary result of Humanism on Calvin- and this aspect of Humanism forced The Roman Catholic theologians to do their own ad fontes work. It’s not surprising that they likewise began doing Bible translations from the Greek and Hebrew.

Interestingly, it's possible Calvin was still a Roman Catholic that Calvin did his work on Seneca. In that work he shows quite a command of classical works, as any educated humanist would. It is also interesting that while all the Reformers, and Western culture in general, owe a great debt to Erasmus and his work on the Greek New Testament, Erasmus and Calvin stood in complete opposition to each other on many issues- primarily free will.

William Bouwsma in his biography of Calvin points out that Calvin believed the human mind was so incompetent it couldn’t even grasp the ten commandments- therefore he was very critical of ancient moral philosophy. Bouwma continues,

It is hardly surprising then, that Calvin’s attitude, not only to scholasticism but to all philosophy, was less than positive. He most opposed it when it ‘contaminated’ religion; he thought philosophers peculiarly tempted to attempt ‘to penetrate heaven.’ ” (Page 155)

"But [Calvin] reserved his full scorn for speculative philsosphy, of which Athens was his symbol as it had been for Tertullian” (page 155)

Philosophers were his ‘most potent example’ of human weakness: ‘not one of them can be found who has not fallen away from solid knowledge into pointless and erroneous speculations Most of them are sillier than old women.’” (156)

Source: William J Bouwsma, John Calvin: A Sixteenth Century Portrait (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988)

Bouswsma goes on for a few pages with similar information: documenting painstakingly Calvin’s dislike of applying philosophy to the Bible (as the scholastics had done). To be fair, Calvin's knowledge of ancient sources available to him was commanding. One needs only to read through his Institutes in particular to and check his references. While making reference to Demosthenes, Cicero, Plato, or even Aristotle, Calvin places the Bible above all these writings. Bernard Reardon points out, "Doubtless as Calvin grew older his regard for the pagan writers, like Augustine's, lessened. Yet he never questioned their basic cultural value, even though bound to deplore the human pride and vanity all too often manifested in them." (Religious Thought In The Reformation, New York:Longman Group, 1981), 162.

One the best overviews of what type of Humanist Calvin was, was given by Bernard Cottret in his biography of Calvin:

If by humanism one means a concern for fine literature and the restoration of texts, Calvin was unquestionably a Renaissance humanist. At least he belonged to the second generation of French humanism, forced to choose sides after the Affair of the Placards in 1534. If, on the other hand, one means by humanism faith in man, in his rights and his virtues, or confidence in the indefinite progress of the human spirit, Calvin was the absolute opposite of a humanist. We must renounce the necessary association of these two complementary meanings of the word "humanism." Renaissance humanism was not always progressive," and it did not necessarily prepare "the triumph of Luther's ideas over
those of Rome
.”

Source: Bernard Cottret, John Calvin: A Biography (Michigan: WB Eerdmans, 1995), 331.

Here, BB Warfield comments on Calvin's Humanism; that is, Calvin's scrutiny of languages and grammatico-historical skills:

"Second only to the service he rendered by his "Institutes" was the service Calvin rendered by his expositions of Scripture. These fill more than thirty volumes of his collected works, thus constituting the larger part of his total literary product. They cover the whole of the New Testament except 2 and 3 John and the Apocalypse,
and the whole of the Old Testament except the Solomonic and some of the Historical books. It was doubtless in part to his humanistic training that he owed the acute philological sense and the unerring feeling for language which characterize all his expositions. A recent writer who has made a special study of Calvin’s Humanism, at least, remarks: "In his sober grammatico-historical method, in the stress he laid on the natural sense of the text, by the side of his deep religious understanding of it — in his renunciation of the current allegorizing, in his felicitous, skillful dealing with difficult passages, the humanistically trained master is manifest, pouring the new wine into new bottles." Calvin was, however, a born exegete, and adds to his technical equipment of philological knowledge and trained skill in the interpretation of texts a clear and penetrating intelligence, remarkable intellectual sympathy, incorruptible honesty, unusual historical perception, and an incomparable insight into the progress of thought, while the whole is illuminated by his profound religious comprehension. His expositions of Scripture were accordingly a wholly new phenomenon, and introduced a new exegesis — the modern exegesis. He stands out in the history of biblical study as, what Diestel, for example, proclaims him, "the creator of genuine exegesis." The authority which his comments immediately acquired was immense — they "opened the Scriptures" as the Scriptures never had been opened before. Richard Hooker — "the judicious Hooker" — remarks that in the controversies of his own time, "the sense of Scripture which Calvin alloweth" was of more weight than if "ten thousand Augustines, Jeromes, Chrysostoms, Cyprians were brought forward." Nor have they lost their value even to-day. Alone of the commentaries of their age the most scientific of modern expositors still find their profit in consulting them. As Professor A. J. Baumgartner, who has set himself to investigate the quality of Calvin’s Hebrew learning (which he finds quite adequate), puts it, after remarking on Calvin’s "astounding, multiplied, almost superhuman activity" in his work of biblical interpretation: "And — a most remarkable thing — this work has never grown old; these commentaries whose durable merit and high value men of the most diverse tendencies have signalized, — these commentaries remain to us even to-day,.an astonishingly rich, almost inexhaustible mine of profound thoughts, of solid and often ingenious interpretation, of wholesome exposition, and at the same time of profound erudition
."

Source: Works of BB Warfield Volume 5, Calvin and Calvinism, 9-10 (Ages Software, Electronic Edition)

John Armstrong provides a helpful summary of Calvin the systematizer, and his rejection of applying excessive reasoning to the Bible- the exact thing the scholastics had done:

Calvin thought of himself, first and foremost, as a biblical theologian. Further, he knew the limits of human theologizing, something his modern followers do not always seem to know as clearly. Bouwsma writes that Calvin “valued system and expressed himself systematically only for limited, practical, and pedagogical purposes. Otherwise he distrusted the all-too-human impulse to systematize, above all in religious matters.” Calvin himself wrote that, “Anyone who does not allow God to be silent or to speak as he alone decides, is striving to impose order on God, a thing disgraceful and repugnant to nature itself.” He did not commit himself to rigid philosophical methodology and system building but to biblical exposition. He saw, Bouswma says with a great degree of irony, that the Holy Spirit “taught with affection, [and] did not adhere so exactly or continuously to a methodical plan.” In addition to this Calvin insisted that Christianity is, in its fullness and essence, paradoxical. The major articles of theology are “contemptuously rejected by the common understanding of men.” What were these paradoxes for Calvin? He answered, “That God became a mortal, that life is submissive to death, that righteousness has been concealed under the likeness of sin, that the source of blessing has been subjected to the curse.” As a result of this approach to theology Bouwsma correctly concludes that Calvin was “always ready to sacrifice systematic order in order to introduce into his discourse an unexpected imaginative insight, rhetorical elaboration, digressions, and repetitions that might serve persuasive, polemical, instructional, or other practical purposes.”

Source: Reformation and Revival Ministries. (2001; 2003). Reformation and Revival Volume 10 (vnp.10.4.10). Reformation and Revival Ministries.

It would be interesting to find out where Fr. Joseph is getting his information on Calvin, Humanism, and the Reformation in general. It would behoove him to back up his claims that the Institutes relied heavily on the theological philosophy of Erasmus- particularly since Erasmus was more interested in moral reform, whereas, Calvin following the tradition of Luther, was heavily interested in doctrinal reform. It would behoove him to document all his claims. I will not accept anything like "the sources you used are biased." I have an extensive library on the Reformation, including many works by Roman Catholics. Cottret and Bouwsma are by no means non-critical of John Calvin, and anyone even remotely aware of recent Calvin studies knows these two books are considered two of the best.

The contrary though cannot be ignored. I wonder if Fr. Joseph is arguing against the humanist scholars of the Reformation, I wonder if he stands to defend the scholastics. If so, this is a major battle of the Reformation. Aristotelian metaphysics played important role in medieval theology, in some instances, damaging the biblical message beyond recognition. Aristotle’s logic and metaphysics influenced the shape of Christian theology as it was taught, discussed, and applied to analyze the Biblical texts. It is within the scholastic tradition that such things like "transubstantiation" were born- when philosophy pretends to be theology, unbiblical concepts like this become common.

Fr. Joseph says he knows his theology:

"I do not know where you have done your reading or study of Calvin but it would be very difficult to find a source on Calvin's teaching that does not give reference to his Humanist roots and philosophy. I gained this information while getting a masters degree in Reformed theology and a PhD in religious studies from two Protestant seminaries, one Baptist and the other Methodist."

I do not deny Calvin's humanism, nor i do I deny his command of ancient sources. I deny though that it was through the lens of pagan philosophy that Calvin's biblical studies were done. I hold Calvin to be a biblical scholar of the highest caliber.

34 comments:

Churchmouse said...

Hey Jim,

Fr. Joe (cristoiglesia) had posted to me on The Bereans forum awhile back. He is articulate, but I didn't bother to return a response to him. I didn't feel the need to considering his arguments were built on the presumption that his brand of apostolic succession is correct. I've sworn off anyone who posts this way until someone can show me how groups, such as the Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and other independent "Catholic" groups, such as Fr. Joe's denomination (PNCC), can claim apostolic succession and not agree on key issues such as infallibility, the universal jurisdiction of the papacy, transubstantiation, purgatory, the Filioque, adult baptism vs. paedobaptism, etc. Yes, Fr. Joe isn't a Roman Catholic, but a Polish National Catholic priest from the Philippines who would disagree with Rome and the Orthodox on some of these distinctives. Seems if they all were successors of the Apostles, they would be uniform in belief, but evidently are not. Yet, they claim that we are the ones disunified. Go figure!

Peace,
Ray

Robbie said...

Fr. Joe is a native of North Carolina and claims to have an education from "Western Carolina University, Wake Forest University and Duke University." He still claims to be in touch with his redneck side, though:

http://www.christiandiscussionforums.org/v/showpost.php?p=48351&postcount=52

"Ok, I admit it I am a redneck. Yeah, I have picked tobacco, milked a thousand cows and gathered hay. If that does not make one a redneck nothing does. I love grits and redeye gravy. I did quite a few redneck pranks while at WCU. Some of my fraternity brothers and I stole the police station in Sylva. It was not found for two weeks. Sylva had two one way streets and where they came together at the end of town there was a fountain. My brothers and I put 35 gallons of high sudsing detergent in the fountain. We then sat back and laughed as cars disappeared in the suds. A small motel was almost completely submerged in the suds. I know, sounds pretty redneck. We were a redneck bunch. BTW, the police station was a travel trailer beside the Exxon station and we just hooked a truck to it and took off while the one policeman on duty was making his rounds. We did not bother to unhook the water and it was quite a sight."

Good blog article, brother. As always with your writings, not only did I learn something, but it was a joy to read as well.

Robbie

--by the way, you know me :-)

Churchmouse said...

Hey robbie you said:

"Ok, I admit it I am a redneck. Yeah, I have picked tobacco, milked a thousand cows and gathered hay. If that does not make one a redneck nothing does.

I guess that qualifies me as a Puerto Rican redneck because I've picked sugar cane, milked a thousand "vacas", and gathered hay too. :-)

Are you saying that Fr. Joe is an American in the Philippines. Reason why I ask is because of his profile here:

http://www.beliefnet.org/user/profile_view.asp?userID=419138&popUp=1

The Fr. Joe I know of who goes by "cristoiglesia" lives in Alapan, Imus, Cavite, Philippines and is a Polish National Catholic priest. He frequents quite a few forums on the WWW.

Peace,
Ray

Robbie said...

Hey brother Ray,

We are indeed talking about the very same gentleman. Yes, he does live in the Philippines, or so he claims.

But now he is a wild one. True story: About two weeks ago, he very eloquently pronounced me demon possessed for challanging him on a claim he made concerning his ability to "outwit" his once very Calvinistic profs.

By the way, there is nothing wrong with being a redneck. I live about 25 miles away from where the good frier grew up.

But yes, Fr. Joe is an American serving his order in the Philippines. Very strange though, I've asked him once before why in the world would someone with his Trad proclivities ever seek union with Vatican II brand Catholicism. His answer was because they have the pope.......

Blessings to you, brother Ray! :-)

James Swan said...

Ray- great avatar, and as always, very good to hear from you- i was wondering about you recently- i had been thinking about a post you wrote on the canon and the apocrypha, I forget where i read it, but had I found it I would have posted it here as my own work- If you know which one i'm talking about, I'd love to have you put it here as a guest blog.

I corrected this blog entry to reflect the fact that fr. joseph is not Roman Catholic- the info you provided was excelent. I have invited him here via CARM mail.

I'm always at a loss with understanding non-roman Catholics- I guess the fact that their smary enough not to buy the entire paackage is a credit to them.

Blessings-
JS

James Swan said...

Robbie-

You are not demon possesed- Though, you do have a way with words...which I enjoy.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

blessings-
JS

Robbie said...

By the way Ray, you are going to have a most awesome blog site!:-)

Here's hoping that your shoulder is doing better.

Robbie

Churchmouse said...

Hi Jim,

Dude, you can take anything I have and post it, even if you pass it off as your own :-). I'd consider it an honor.

If there are two issues which I always find myself getting into with our Catholic friends, it is canon issues and purgatory. I'm pretty comfortable with them considering my years of trial and error. If you can give me an idea of what I said, I would be more then willing to look for it and pass it on to you.

Peace,
Ray

Churchmouse said...

Hey robbie!

Thanks for the encouragement and well-wishes. Now, I can only hope to live up to them :-).

He took exception to your challenge that he "outwitted" his profs and called you "demon-possessed"??? Well, that's a window to one's ego :-) Yes, Fr. Joe seems to be quite the character.

Seems his ecumenical flavor will always look towards finding harmony between his Roman brethren and his tradition. For instance, transubstantion is "pigeon-holing", the Immaculate Conception can be based on Rome's understanding of original sin, thus no biggie, etc. But the pope, ah, now there's an issue. Infallibility... universal jurisdiction...both didn't fall well with the East and just as much didn't fall well with the Ultrecht union of churches which included the PNCC. Now, those sores are still open. Fr. Joe would have quite the time explaining how one church can claim the Apostles taught these from the beginning, the other church saying they didn't, yet both claiming the Apostolic teachings that comes through succession.

Take care robbie. I look forward to future chats with you.

Peace,
Ray

Anonymous said...

Greetings Robbie,

I do not recall calling anyone demon possessed in my years as an online apologist. ( although sometimes I have thought it, never from you) I reviewed my posts to you and cannot find where you would have gotten that idea. I also do not recall that I said that I believe in communion with Rome because they have a Pope.

Fr. Joseph

Robbie said...

"Greetings Robbie,

I do not recall calling anyone demon possessed in my years as an online apologist. ( although sometimes I have thought it, never from you) I reviewed my posts to you and cannot find where you would have gotten that idea. I also do not recall that I said that I believe in communion with Rome because they have a Pope.

Fr. Joseph"

You said the demon possession thing in a PM to me. Remember, we had gotten into a tussle over the Eucharist. You told me the thing about the pope the very first time we met. I had told some Catholic that if they were wrong about the Eucharist, then not only did they not have eternal life, but they were also quilty of worshipping a false god. You responded to that with a very refreshing condemnation of me that I mistook for a Trad. If you recall, I even commended you. But alas, you responed in typical Vatican II fashion that really busted the bubble that I had of you. Shame. You had such promise. But getting back to our little tussle, I remember now what it was about. I called your Eucharist the wafer god and his spouse ( and please try to remember that it is the Catholic Church who says the two ran off and got hitched), the "Mary" of Catholic fame as his goddess wife. Now you never demonstrated your accusation that I blasphemed, because to do so you would have had to demonstrate the correctness of your position, which you never did. So we played PM pingpong for a moment which ended with you saying that I had a demon. I have to totally disagree with you on that because I have yet to spit up green pea soup as has ben established by "The Exorcist" to be the tell-tell sign of demon possession. You also did not like the fact that I said that I didn't believe your testimony and proceeded to tell me how it was my intent to discredit your ministry. You never answered how I was tearing down and discrediting your ministry with out PMs.

Regardless of all the above, this isn't my blog site. If you would like to continue with your very humourous PMs to me I suggest you do so through the proper means and not attempt to side step the issue of what Brother Swan has written regarding you. That seems fair enough.

Robbie

Churchmouse said...

Robbie, you said:

I have to totally disagree with you on that because I have yet to spit up green pea soup as has ben established by "The Exorcist" to be the tell-tell sign of demon possession.

Now that's got me a tad nervous. I felt compelled to download the "Tubular Bells" ringtone to my cell phone recently. I don't know why. Is that a sign of "demon possession"? Now, when my phone rings, I'm afraid to answer :-).

Peace,
Ray

Robbie said...

"Tublar Bells," huh? Well, I think you may just be alright if you can get through seven Hail Mary's without your head spinning completely around on your neck. Should you not, I really don't know what to tell you in regards to an exorcism since many Bishops no longer believe in a personal devil and that New Rite of Exorcism just ain't cutting it with the appointed exorcists who would by all means rather use the old Rite. Part of the reason might be because no exorcist was allowed to give any input into the New Rite. In other words, if you can't do seven Hail Mary's without your head spinning completely around, well, I'm afraid that you are just a goner.....or you could seek help from the likes of Kenneth Copeland. However, I think you just may be alright ;-)

Robbie

Churchmouse said...

Whew robbie!! Thanks! I thought I was a goner. Head's in place and all's well....oh oh...phone's ringing...

Ray

Robbie said...

"oh oh...phone's ringing..."



NOT THE PHONE!!!!! ohpleaseohplease don't let it be the phone!

Say a mass for it.....you'll feel better about it in the morning....

You are an alright kind of guy, Ray. It is a real pleasure to "meet" you. :-)

Robbie

Ree said...

I've interacted with cristoeglesia on the CF forums a few times, including one long discussion on the topic you blogged about here. I disputed his equivocation on the humanism of the Reformers just as you're doing here, but without all the supporting evidence, so I appreciate this post. Cristoeglesia seems like a nice guy, and I also always gave him credit for not buying everything Rome is selling, but he's wrong on this, and every time I see him making these claims to others on CF, I'll be sure to link to this post.

Ree

James Swan said...

Ree-

Do have the link? I would be interested in reading through it.

Robbie- I have no problem with you dialoging with Fr. Joseph here on any subject- Mi Casa su Casa (did I say that right Ray?).

Ray- The post of yours I recall was on the apocrypha and the councils, and Jerome. If you recall this, i'd love to post it here, giving you a "guest blog".


Fr. Joseph- Feel free to post responses here or on CARM. Replying here means you can say whatever you want- I don't really see a need for comment moderation. CARM is developing many rules- sort of like canon law...and I can't keep up with all the rules they require (when I was a mod there things were a little easier)

JS

cristoiglesia said...

Robbie,

The PM I sent to you had two primary points both made out of pastoral concern regardless of our differences. The first concern was your admitted blasphemy against Christ calling Him a "wafer God."I rightfully rebuked you for making such a statement against our Savior. Secondly I stated that when someone makes an attempt to turn others away from God that the source of that confusion is the devil. That is not calling someone "demon possessed" I was not speaking to you about proseltizing but about trying to destroy someones faith in the process although I believe it is ridiculous to try to proselytize Catholics.

To help you in understanding, here is the definition of blasphemy:

Definitions of blasphemy on the Web:

blasphemous language (expressing disrespect for God or for something sacred)
profanation: blasphemous behavior; the act of depriving something of its sacred character; "desecration of the Holy Sabbath"
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Blasphemy is the defamation of the name of God or the gods, and by extension any display of gross irreverence towards any person or thing deemed worthy of exalted esteem. In this broader sense the term is used by Sir Francis Bacon in the Advancement of Learning, when he speaks of "blasphemy against learning". Many cultures disapprove of speech or writing which defames the God or gods of their established religions, and these restrictions have the force of law in some countries.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy

In the sense of speaking evil of God this word is found in Ps. 74:18; Isa. 52:5; Rom. 2:24; Rev. 13:1, 6; 16:9, 11, 21. It denotes also any kind of calumny, or evil-speaking, or abuse (1 Kings 21:10; Acts 13:45; 18:6, etc.). Our Lord was accused of blasphemy when he claimed to be the Son of God (Matt. 26:65; comp. Matt. 9:3; Mark 2:7). They who deny his Messiahship blaspheme Jesus (Luke 22:65; John 10:36).
www.godweb.org/blT0000600.htm

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

Churchmouse said...

Jim,

I don't know which post that was, but I do have some of this archived. I'll see what I find and get back to you later in the week. BTW, the spelling is correct. You're a regular Spanish aficionado :-)

Fr. Joe,

If you don't mind me jumping in, don't you think that blasphemy is all relative? You stated:

The first concern was your admitted blasphemy against Christ calling Him a "wafer God."I rightfully rebuked you for making such a statement against our Savior.

I understand that it can sound rhetorical, but the concept of Eucharistic adoration, a worship based on the concept that Christ truly becomes the bread and thus, logically, the bread IS adored because it IS Christ, can be just as blasphemous to the Protestant because we do not accept the strict literal, wooden interpretation that Catholics do. To the Protestant, we see Catholics adoring a "wafer" because we don't adhere to the concept that it is indeed "Christ." Thus, using the definition that you included, it can be deemed that your concept of the Eucharist is every bit as blasphemous to the Protestant.

Peace,
Ray

Robbie said...

Fr. Joseph,

To remind you once more, you should be responding to what James Swan has written instead of worrying with a little nobody like myself.

With that said:

"The PM I sent to you had two primary points both made out of pastoral concern regardless of our differences."

You are not my pastor. Nor do I consider any other Catholic to be my pastor. So please do not worry yourself over me for the simple reason I do not even seek for you to be my pastor.

And once more, you should be responding to the blog article instead of me.
__________________________________

"The first concern was your admitted blasphemy against Christ calling Him a "wafer God."I rightfully rebuked you for making such a statement against our Savior."

You have never demonstrated to me that the bread you worship is the true Christ. Remember, I am not Catholic. That means that I reject as ungodly and unbiblical the practices of the Catholic Church. You never demonstrated your assumption, Fr. Joseph. When I look at what Catholis do with the wafer, all I see is a dressed up pagan incantation in the guise of Christianity. Now we can play pingpong back and forth if you like, but until you demonstrate that the Eucharist is Christ, I'm afraid that all I can do is just say, hmmmmmm they have a wafer god.

But you see, right now this is not about you and I. You should be trying to rebutt the blog article. Once more, I am a nobdy.
__________________________________

"Secondly I stated that when someone makes an attempt to turn others away from God that the source of that confusion is the devil. That is not calling someone "demon possessed" I was not speaking to you about proseltizing but about trying to destroy someones faith in the process although I believe it is ridiculous to try to proselytize Catholics."

First off, your position has led you to hypocracy. You say, "it is ridiculous to try to proselytize Catholics." But you obviously have no problem when it is you trying to proselytize Protestants. Otherwise, you wouldn't be a member of any forums speaking out against Protestantism. So your above statement is totally messed up to begin with.

You have also once again assumed something that you have yet to prove or demonstrate to me. I'll let you figure out what that is.

As far as the "demonic possession" goes, let's just say that what you have written here might have been what you intended, but what was sent to me is a whole different matter.

And once more, you should be focused on the blog article and not me.
__________________________________

"Blasphemy is the defamation of the name of God or the gods, and by extension any display of gross irreverence towards any person or thing deemed worthy of exalted esteem."

Yes, I agree, the majority of Catholics do the above every day. Perhaps one day you and I will converse about Mary. That is something that I would love to do, but not right now since you should be focusing on this blog article. But I really would love to do that about Mary, though.
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Well, I guess that about covers it. You have yet to demonstrate anything.... oops almost forgot:

"Secondly I stated that when someone makes an attempt to turn others away from God that the source of that confusion is the devil."
In the honor of pingpong, the above could be shot right back at you, since I would most naturally say that it is your position that seeks to lead people away from God. However, I am more interested in you demonstrating that I lead people away from God. Cazn you actually do that? No, because you are standing on two assumptions, and you know what they say about assumptions, don't you?

Anyway, you should forget about me for the time being and deal with the blog article written by James Swan. We can play later.

Robbie

cristoiglesia said...

Greetings Ray,

It is correct that Catholics honor the long held hermeneutical principal that Scriptures are to be understood literally unless there is some reason to interpret them otherwise such as use of literary devise or genre, and etc. Jesus' teaching in regards to the Eucharist is the plainest teaching and most literal teaching in all of the gospels. In no other teaching did our Lord labor so unambiguously to teach that He was speaking literally even to the point of allowing many of His followers to leave, never to follow Him again, while understanding the literalness of His teaching.

Some Protestants, by no means all, do not recognize or allow Christ's corporeal presence in their worship accepting a man-made view of the Eucharist in opposition to the teaching and practice of the Apostolic Church. This belief is based on human reason and in itself blasphemes God, in that, it denies His desire or ability to provide His corporeal divinity to the faithful in the Eucharist.

Now, it is reasonable for Christians of opposing views to discuss this issue and other differences that divide the body of Christ. But, I believe that it is prudent to avoid all semblance of blasphemy by denying the possibility of Christ's miracle or the possible literal Word's of Christ. Our differences are the result of whether one interprets Christ's teaching with human reason or with Spiritual discernment and faith. One being so convinced while seeing through a glass darkly that there is no miracle or corporeal presence of Christ in the Eucharist is in my opinion reckless blasphemous and dangerous to ones eternity. This approach represents an example of man's inherent proclivity towards pridefulness, depending on his intellect and reason before surrendering to faith in God's Word. Man in doing so exhibits a desire to subject God to the same limitations of the physical world that man must endure. God is not limited to the rules of his creation but omnipotent and without and beyond humanities ability to perceive His awesome power.

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

Churchmouse said...

Robbie,

Like you said, you may be a little ol' nobody, but you're a little ol' nobody, trying to tell everybody, about Somebody. ...er...sorry about that dude. I heard an 80 year old Southern preacher on TV say this and I thought it was so cool that I found myself looking for an opportunity, any opportunity, to pass it on :-). I think I will go now :-)

Ray

Robbie said...

LOL!!!! You are alright, Ray. I've tried to send you an email, but I can't find where the contact thing-a-ma-bob is at your blog site.

Robbie

Ree said...

My interaction with cristoiglesia starts with his comment on post #83. http://www.christianforums.com/t1960148-praying-for-the-dead.html&page=9 In case you forgot, I post there as A. believer.

Ree

Ree said...

I guess I don't know how to do a link, but you can copy and paste. Sorry about that.

Ree

Robbie said...

"My interaction with cristoiglesia starts with his comment on post #83. http://www.christianforums.com/t1960148-praying-for-the-dead.html&page=9 In case you forgot, I post there as A. believer."

Thank you for the link.

Robbie

Churchmouse said...

Hello Fr. Joe,
(Your words in italics)

It is correct that Catholics honor the long held hermeneutical principal that Scriptures are to be understood literally unless there is some reason to interpret them otherwise such as use of literary devise or genre, and etc. Jesus' teaching in regards to the Eucharist is the plainest teaching and most literal teaching in all of the gospels. In no other teaching did our Lord labor so unambiguously to teach that He was speaking literally even to the point of allowing many of His followers to leave, never to follow Him again, while understanding the literalness of His teaching.

The only reason I posted to you is due to your implication that Robbie blasphemed. I wanted to point out to you that it is relative, because Robbie can rightly claim that you are doing the same by virtue of his understanding of Scripture, our rule of faith. You see, we “catholics” hold to the long held hermeneutical principle that one should study earnestly to show themselves approved unto God, workmen that need not to be ashamed, rightfully dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). We hold to the Scriptural principle that we are to “test all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). I do not see Scripture as teaching the Catholic view of the Eucharist, in the sense that the bread fully becomes the body of Christ. You claim that “many of His followers” were “allowed” to leave, but that goes against the very thing you stated in the beginning of your paragraph because the “plain reading” of the text states very clearly that these folks never believed and Christ knew it (vs. 64); hence, His teaching divided believers from unbelievers and that was what it was all about.

Some Protestants, by no means all, do not recognize or allow Christ's corporeal presence in their worship accepting a man-made view of the Eucharist in opposition to the teaching and practice of the Apostolic Church. This belief is based on human reason and in itself blasphemes God, in that, it denies His desire or ability to provide His corporeal divinity to the faithful in the Eucharist.

Of course, this assumes that the Apostolic view of the Eucharist is the same as the Catholic view, but this is only going to lead to a tit-for-tat discussion on patristics that will go absolutely nowhere. You will claim that the Fathers were uniform in their Eucharistic beliefs and provide some citations; I, on the other hand, will tell you that they varied in their positions and I will cite Fathers who held a distinctively different view. You will disagree with me and I will disagree with you. I’ll claim that your belief is based on human reasoning and in itself blasphemes God, because you refuse to see the commemorative essence of the sacrament where we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes", in favor of idyllic concept that defines the essence of the Catholic faith and the mysteries thereof (<--I say this tongue in cheek). It will be a futile discussion.

Now, it is reasonable for Christians of opposing views to discuss this issue and other differences that divide the body of Christ. But, I believe that it is prudent to avoid all semblance of blasphemy by denying the possibility of Christ's miracle or the possible literal Word's of Christ. Our differences are the result of whether one interprets Christ's teaching with human reason or with Spiritual discernment and faith. One being so convinced while seeing through a glass darkly that there is no miracle or corporeal presence of Christ in the Eucharist is in my opinion reckless blasphemous and dangerous to ones eternity. This approach represents an example of man's inherent proclivity towards pridefulness, depending on his intellect and reason before surrendering to faith in God's Word. Man in doing so exhibits a desire to subject God to the same limitations of the physical world that man must endure. God is not limited to the rules of his creation but omnipotent and without and beyond humanities ability to perceive His awesome power.

Thanks, but no thanks, Fr. Joe. I’ve had one too many discussions with Catholics on this matter to know where it will end up. What you stated is all well and good, but it has been my experience that these types of discussions involve much sophistry and, although it is said that we must discuss the issues which divide the Body, it presupposes that the Evangelical position is wrong and that I must succumb to the wisdom of the "2,000 year old church" who held your view from the beginning. No! Give me "Scripture and plain reason" as ol' Luther stated. I will discern Christ’s teachings through the illumination of the Scriptures and not through the vain recourse of human reasoning.

With that said, I would suggest that you interact with Jim about his blog item, rather then get into any other issues.

Peace,
Ray

Churchmouse said...

Hey Robbie,

Sorry about the email. I didn't realize it was set on private. I changed it to make it accessible. If you go to my blog, click the "View my complete profile" link and the email address is there. Take care.

Peace,
Ray

James Swan said...

Gentlemen,

My schedule has busy and i haven't gotten a chance to go through everyone's comments. I did though notice Fr. Joseph began a response to me on CARM (btw, the tittle of this very blog "On John Calvin and humanism..." links directly to the CARM discussion between Jospeh and I.

Fr Joseph stated:

An Introduction to my opposition to the syncretism of the Reformers and in particular the syncretism of Calvin in his writings regarding his image of God and his image of man influenced by Renaissance Humanism.

Mr. Swan has taken exception, in particular to two statements I made in posts to others about Calvin and his foundation in Humanism. The statements are that Calvin was “enthralled by Humanism” and “his beloved philosophy”. He has asked that I develop and expose my theory in more detail revealing my sources for my obvious opposition to humanist, pagan syncretism within Christianity and to show how Calvin, in particular but not exclusively, was subject to this influence. My understanding of Mr. Swan’s position is that he is not denying the influence of humanism but more so the extent of this influence in Calvin’s theological positions. I believe that the study of this subject reveals a profound influence of humanism and, in fact, results in an alternative syncretic Gospel other than the Gospel taught by our Lord and Savior and proclaimed by the apostles and their successors.

I think that it is important before engaging in this conversation about the influence of humanism on Christian thought to state that I believe that any syncretic attempt at rationalizing humanism and Christianity is an error regardless of one’s philosophical or theological presuppositions. I am opposed to these syncretic attempts whether approached from a Catholic or from a Protestant perspective. The reasons for this are obvious to me. I am opposed because one’s presuppositions, influenced by pagan thought or philosophy, greatly influences one’s image of God “imago Dei’ and God’s relationship to humanity revealed in the regula fidei or rule of faith within Christ’s Church. Humanist philosophy inhibits one’s ability to be instructed by God’s Word and the reception and/or application of the revelations of the Spirit. A humanist worldview whether speaking of renaissance humanism or contemporary humanism affects the way humanity approaches the throne of God as well as how one perceives Christ as a man among us and Christ in His divinity. I believe that this relationship is where Calvin and his fellow syncretists struggle to find relevancy in the corpus of a Christian worldview. The question I wish to explore here in this dialog is whether one can separate oneself from this humanist thought, as pagan man is little different from contemporary man, and experience God’s divinity from His Word alone? May the Lord be with us in this endeavor.

In Christ
Fr. Joseph


My response (from CARM)

I appreciate these opening remarks. To try them out, look at Calvin's commentary on Romans 3:1--18, and please identify the negatvie characteristic of humanist thought:

http://www.ccel.org/c/calvin/comment.../htm/vii.v.htm

For Calvin, It is the Bible, not reason that is the ultimate authority for Christians. Calvin though is not a "despiser" of reason. He felt the human mind was a gift from God, Christians were called upon to use their minds to the best they could. But ultimately Christians must realize their reason can not penetrate into the deepest and highest truths, the spiritual realities of life. Reason needed to be submissive to the Bible. Calvin would say, it is not the Bible that contains errors, but human reason which does.

For Calvin, reason must submit to the Bible- and there is a positive use of reason: it is useful to try to understand what the Bible says; it helps to bring support to our belief that the Bible is the inspired word of God.

This is why I picked a small section of Calvin's Romans commentary. Note the tools of language Calvin utilizes to analyze the text. There is not an appeal to "Pagan" philosophers. There is simply the text of Scripture.

Regards,
James Swan

James Swan said...

Ree-

Thank you for the link- I will be reading tonight (3/14)

blessings-
James

Churchmouse said...

Jim,

If you can do me a favor and PM Diane, or any of the powers that be at CARM, and tell them that I registered over a month ago and still cannot access the forum. I've written multiple emails to them to tell them of my plight, but no one writes me back. I don't understand why. I didn't register under my old nick (Servant), but registered with "Churchmouse." I did everything the return email asked me to do in order to activate it, but nada. It takes me to the "Welcome Churchmouse" screen, but when it redirects me, I'm not logged in. I would like to check out your dialogue with Fr. Joe, but can't get in.

Peace,
Ray

Robbie said...

Hey Ray,

If you like I'll send you the posts as they go. However, the good frier has only posted once on the thread that is at CARM and it was reproduced here by James. I don't know, perhaps Fr. Joe has decided to take his ball and go play somewhere else.

Robbie

Churchmouse said...

Hi Robbie,

Yeah, that'd work! Let's see if Fr. Joe posts again or if Diane will work her magic and get me in, but lest I be ignored again, paste it here or send it via email. I'll let you know if CARM gets back to me.

Peace,
Ray

cristoiglesia said...

I have a new post up on CARM.

Fr. Joseph