Saturday, June 24, 2006

Response From Catholic Apologist Mark Shea on "Did Jerome Change His Mind On The Apocrypha?"


Recently I posted a guest blog entry from my friend Ray Aviles:

Guest Blog:Did Jerome Change His Mind on the Apocrypha ?

Ray did a masterful job at taking a look at Jerome's opinion of the canonicity of the apocrypha. His article was strongly critical of Catholic apologist Mark Shea's understanding of this issue. Shea argued that Jerome at first rejected the canonictiy of the Apocrypha, but later changed his mind. Ray proves this was not true. Bookmark Ray's article. It is probably the best thing on this blog.

Mark Shea actually read Ray's article. Someone, unknown to me, wrote him and told him about it. Mark's response is as follows:

"...[F]rom what I read of the critique of my article on the apocrypha in the materials forwarded me, it would appear that I did indeed misread Jerome (not wilfully, as the article suggests, but nonetheless erroneously). That is, it would appear that Jerome, although he did include the deuterocanon in his Vulgate, did so grudgingly and never really bought the idea they should be in the canon of Scripture. That's the breaks. I make mistakes. It does not mean everything I've written is worthless, it doesn't even mean that the central point of my article--that the only authority we have for canonizing Scripture is the Church and not some guy named Ray Aviles--is wrong. But it certainly does mean that St. Paul is emphatically right when he urges us "test everything, hold on to what is good." I'm as prone as the next guy to passing on pseudo-knowledge. So are James Swan and Ray Aviles."[source]

Kudo's to Mark Shea. I'll be adding a link to his blog on my sidebar.

19 comments:

Oddball Pastor said...

Kudos to Mark Shea for his honesty and integrity on the issue.

Ronnie said...

Great job Ray and likewise to James. Notice what is said about James by the person who forwarded Ray's article to Mark.

"Recently I came across a protestant web site of a Mr James Swan. He is extremely well educated regarding the writtings of Martin Luther. He has convincungly shown how our Catholic Apologists have taken quotes of Martin Luther out of context to try to show that he was a nutcase. It has really opened my eyes and it has got me wondering where else our Catholic Apologists have errored. Today on his blog, he posted an article which refutes your assertion that St Jerome, before he died, accepted the apocryopha as canonical. I am posting it below to give you a chance to respond. I hope you can. This bloq site has deeply disturbed me because Swan is shown many times where the Catholic Apologists that I have come to admire and learn from have been making serious errors in scholarship resulting in faulty conclusions. I have written Robert Sungenis, Scott hahn, Art Sippo etal to visit this blog and form some refutations if possible. I do not know if they have done so and it is really bugging me. Would you please take a look at James Swan's blog (beggarsallreformation) because Catholic Appologists will be hearing from this guy soon and you had better be ready for him."

Great work James! Your tone and research is probably impacting more people then you could imagine.

Churchmouse said...

Jim, reading your dialog with Sippo and his crew left me questioning the honesty factor in Catholic apologetics, that Sippo could slight your research in favor of lambasting Luther and his ornery behavior kind of put it in perspective for me, but then someone like Mark Shea comes along and you realize that there are people out there who let integrity be their guide. My hat's off to Mark Shea.

Churchmouse said...

BTW Jim, this article is not the best thing on this blog. I didn't write anything that wasn't a historical fact. Your Luther scholarship is exquisite and your articles deserve to be read and read again by us "Prot" apologists wannabe's until we can recite it in our sleep. We should follow your lead in learning about the Reformation's founding father considering he is such a hot topic in Catholic forums and beyond. We truly appreciate your unbiased effort in presenting Luther, warts and all.

Peace,
Ray

FM483 said...

To Churchmouse and other readers on the BeggarsAll website:

It is true that James Swan is a very well-read person with respect to the historical person Martin Luther. Although I find it useful and instructive to understand more about this historical person, the Lutheran Church does not emphasize this aspect of the man. What is emphasized are the writings of this man and his associates, such as Philip Melanchthon and Martin Chemnitz, the other Reformers who produced the Book of Concord. As an aside, it is frequently said that Chemnitz was the "second Martin" and if he had not arrived on the Reformation scene, the first one would have died in realtive obscurity. This is because Chemnitz was instrumental in the Formula of Concord, a chief part of the Book of Concord, and was also responsible for responding to the RCC's Council of Trent, resulting in the extensive theological work "Examination of the Council of Trent"(4 volumes), the "Two Natures in Christ", "The Lord's Supper", and several other key treatises. The primary contribution of Martin Luther were also his writings, such as the Small Catechism. I know Luther was orthodox by his writings, not because he had intestimal fortitude to stand up against the papacy. It is what Luther and the other Reformers said, as recorded in writing, that make them great voices of the true God, not their earthly lives. Even if many of the lies and half-truths refuted by James Swan and others were true, the truths as contained in the writings of Luther and the other Reformers is what is critical and true, not the historical men themselves. Hence, the Lutheran Church seldom quotes Luther, but frequently references his Small Catechism, which is chocked full of wonderful biblical exegesis for the commonman.

Frank Marron

Churchmouse said...

Hi Frank,

I wholeheartedly agree with you. It is the teachings and not the men themselves which anchor what the Reformation was about. Yet, it has been my experience and the experiences of others, that by attacking the bringers of truth, you attack the truths as well. Bring skepticism to Luther and you bring skepticism to his teachings. Art Sippo is a classic example of this. He prefers to paint a psychotic Luther, an abused Luther, a Luther driven by sexual lust, thus he becomes a Luther incapable of recognizing truth. Once one is able to see that this isn't the case, one is able to look at the teachings in its proper light. That letter that was sent to Shea is very revealing considering the writer seems shaken and wants to believe the caricatures, but even he admits that Jim's research has "opened his eyes." Now, hopefully, his eyes are open enough to dig into Luther's teachings and see the truth within :-)

BTW, thanks for bringing levity into this humble blog. You have many interesting things to say and I thank you for reminding me of Chenmitz, who is one I would like to study more of. I know he wrote quite a few books and I live near Concordia University (Missouri Synod) in River Forest, IL. Any books you would recommend as a "first" read by him?

Peace,
Ray

James Swan said...

The reason that I like to have Frank guest blog posts is precisely for the reason that the concerns of the Lutheran church and people who take Lutheran theology seriously is that they are concerned with theology. They don't go to Lutheran churches to study historical aspects of the Reformation. Theirs is a tradition that has more than simply the writings of Luther, as Frank pointed out. Frank's guest blog posts demonstrate theological concerns, and a particular way of reading Scripture (like Law + gospel). I have other things from Frank that i will be posting. I find it refreshing to read about theological concerns rather than historical concerns.

Now, this might come as a shock, but I'm personally more interested in Luther's theology than his actual history. The history part is great, but Luther's actual theolgy really get's me going. I'd like to do some blog posts on this. Most people have no idea things like Luther's profound use of paradox.

Unfortunately, Ray really nails things. I find that many Catholics would never consider reading something like luther's sermons, because folks like Art Sippo have convinced people Luther was crazy. I love Luther's sermons, not because they were written by *Luther*, but because of the Gospel presentation. Some Catholics though think Luther was a depressed psycho who purposely left books out of the Bible so one can be free to "sin boldly".

I spend the time I do in the hopes that some of the phoney walls put up by Catholic apologetics against Reformation theology will be knocked down.

One of the profound ironies of defending Luther, is that I opt not to turn him into a saint, but to show a man who was saved by faith alone. Luther was saint and sinner at the same time, as we all are.

Many others do a much better job than I do at Biblical presentation and argumentation. My hope is that whatever work I do, is kind of pre-evangelism- making the job of those who do the important work of Biblical studies have listeners that have had some phoney walls knocked down.

If I can show that those who shoot the messenger are aiming at a friend and not a foe, perhaps they may be willing to have a listen to the message.

FM483 said...

James and Ray-

Thanks for your words of encouragement to me! You guys are correct about knocking down artificial walls that have been constructed obscuring people from Truth. One such barrier to truth are the lies and half-truths about Martin Luther, which have been foisted upon the laity of the Roman Catholic Church. One of my dear RC sisters is ignorant of historical truths and merely considers Luther a heretic. She lived and worked in Germany for 31 years and when I last visited there in 2004 she demonstrated her love for me by driving me across Germany to visit and stay in Wittenberg, the stomping grounds of Martin Luther! Of course we also stayed a week in Assisi, Italy, home of my patron saint for whom I was named. At any rate, re-education of Roman Catholics, or any person for that matter, takes time and patience. I am continually learning how to speak truth with love. It does not come natural to man. Having scholars such as James Swan and the internet have been wonderful in educating me and making me more aware of facts versus fiction which easily separates men searching for any truth.

Frank Marron

FM483 said...

Ray, to answer your question regarding the writings of Martin Chemnitz – everything this man wrote has merit. He was a brilliant theologian who is credited with saving orthodox Lutheranism from disintegrating into conflicting factions. ObviouslyI would encourage your reading the Book of Concord, of which the Formula of Concord bears the penmanship of Chemnitz.The 16th century Council of Trent produced the set of official teachings which established the modern Roman Catholic Church. Chemnitz’ exhaustive treatise responding to this conference, “Examination of the Council of Trent”, is an in depth theological and historical analysis of the entire development of our Christian heritage and faith. The Roman Catholic Church thought that upon the death of Luther there was little effective headship for the Reformation in Germany. The arrival of Martin Chemnitz on the scene dashed all Roman Catholic hopes for a quick demise of the “rebellion”. Chemnitz also authored “Ministry, Word. And Sacraments: an Enchiridion”,which is in a catechism format of questions and answers on important theological issues. This little book is usually found on the book shelves of every Lutheran Pastor since it is so practical and enlightening on critical areas of faith. This book would be the easiest for any layman to read, primarily because it can be read piecemeal by individual question and answer. I have acquired many of his treatises and find them absolutely enlightening, enabling me to see how many modern theological differences have already been effectively dealt with 500 years ago but then forgotten because most treatises have only recently been translated into English from their Latin or German originals. There is another wonderful set that is appearing through Concordia Publishing House(CPH), originally produced by another famous Lutheran theologian Johann Gerhard: “On The Nature of Theology and Scripture – Theological Commonplaces”, an English translation of the monumental “Loci Theologici”. The exhaustive historical analysis and theological investigation of the Christian faith was contained in Gerhard’s “Catholic Confessions”, which has never been translated into English – until now. I am assuming that this beautiful treatise will be incorporated in this new volume. CPH has various offerings of combinations of Chemnitz writings at reasonable prices. In addition to “Examination of The Council of Trent” I picked up a 3 book set that included “The Lord’s Supper, “The Two Natures in Christ”, and “Ministry,Word,and Sacraments”.

PS: I am not advertising for CPH, but their website is found at CPH.org

Hope this helps!

Frank Marron

Churchmouse said...

Hi Frank,

Thanks for the direction. Yes, it makes sense that I start with the Book of Concord if I am going to get to know the "Alter Martinus" :-). I've always been curious about the Counter-Reformation and how the Reformers responded to Trent, so I will try to get a copy of his work "Examination of the Council of Trent." Of course, I will get to these as soon as I get and finish my copy of Bainton's "Here I Stand: A Life Of Martin Luther." As you can see, I've got my work cut out for me :-)

Frank, again, thanks for being here. I really appreciate your insight as I do your brethrenship. God bless...

Peace,
Ray

Anonymous said...

___________________________________
Catholic Appologists will be hearing from this guy soon and you had better be ready for him."
___________________________________

It was I who wrote the above to Mark and suggested the above listed apologists be prepared for the possible need to retract some of their charges if they indeed took Martin Luther out of context as Protestant apologists do with the Church Fathers. I did not contact Mark out of some crises in faith (as Mark thought) or that James was going to bring down Catholic theology with his research on Martin Luther.

Since I am in no position to research James' work on Martin Luther, I thought they should as apologists.

Further, I admit that thinking I could confidently view Luther as an oddball which in turn gave less credence to his theology. When I was a very young Catholic I was told that Luther had legitimate beefs but he went to far with the solutions to them. I then started to see him as an oddball after reading some of the things he said which now appear to be taken out of context. My understanding of the man's mental make up is now modified after reading some of James' work. That is all. This does not change the fact that the theology he esposed has its errors.

FM483 said...

Anonymous-

Your last comment ended by saying that the theology espoused by Martin Luther has it's errors. From my perspective, this theology is best summarized in Luther's "Small Catechism". All prospective members of the Lutheran Church study this catechism and prior to admission to the Church profess belief in the Holy Scriptures and also that the Small Catechism is a correct exposition of Scriptural truths necessary for a man of God to confess. Please tellme what I believe that is in error from the Small Catechism.

Sincerely,

Frank Marron

Churchmouse said...

Anonymous,

You said:

Further, I admit that thinking I could confidently view Luther as an oddball which in turn gave less credence to his theology. When I was a very young Catholic I was told that Luther had legitimate beefs but he went to far with the solutions to them. I then started to see him as an oddball after reading some of the things he said which now appear to be taken out of context. My understanding of the man's mental make up is now modified after reading some of James' work. That is all. This does not change the fact that the theology he esposed has its errors.

I do tend to look at the bright side of things and if anything can be salvage is your admittance that the Luther has been taken wrongly. Although you seem like a Roman Catholic "bone deep", I hope you do take the time to read some of Luther's teachings. Frank mentioned the Small Catechism found here: http://www.bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.html Read it, mull it over, compare it to Scripture, be honest and ask yourself: Is there anything written here that is contradictory to the faith as presented in Scripture?

Peace,
Ray

FM483 said...

Ray,

I have been thinking about your plans for theological reading. I think your eagerness to better understand the historicity of your Christian faith through the eyes of the giants of the Church, such as Martin Luther and Martin Chemnitz, is commendable. However, I would be amiss if I did not introduce you to what I consider to be the most profound truths in the Word of God, hidden from most people and yet in plain sight of him who has the key to understanding. This is referred to as the proper distinction between Law and Gospel, the two ways God speaks to mankind in His Word. I cannot emphasize this enough: read “The Proper Distinction Between Law & Gospel” by C.F.W. Walther. This is also available in a shorter version “God’s No And God’s Yes”. Believe me, if you read this treatise you will see just how Christocentric Holy Scripture really is and how blind most people are when reading the bible. This ability to properly distinguish between Law and Gospel is absolutely essential in being orthodox in the Christian faith. As Walther says "...without this knowledge Scripture is and remains a sealed book."
Sincerely,

Frank Marron

Robbie said...

So James can respond if he wants to respond:

http://www.catholicintl.com/qa/qa.htm#Question%2037

Question 38- Church History, Luther, and the Doctrine of Justification

Hello Robert:

I sent some an e-mail last week regarding a blog site run by a Mr James Swan. Did you get a chance to visit it yet?

Since then, I came across a quote that I wanted to get your opinion on it. Here it is:

In dialoging with Roman Catholics on sola fide, I have sometimes argued from their point of view: that is, the doctrine of justification was not, at the time of Luther’s writing, dogmatically defined in the Roman Catholic sense. In other words, Luther had freedom to hold the view on justification that he did within a Roman Catholic framework. I picked up a copy yesterday of Jaraslov Pelikan’s book, Obedient Rebels: Catholic Substance and Protestant Principle in Luther’s Reformation [New York: Harper and Row, 1964].

I found this quote on page 51-52 quite interesting:

“Existing side by side in pre-Reformation theology were several ways of interpreting the righteousness of God and the act of justification. They ranged from strongly moralistic views that seemed to equate justification with moral renewal to ultra-forensic views, which saw justification as a 'nude imputation' that seemed possible apart from Christ, by an arbitrary decree of God. Between these extremes were many combinations; and though certain views predominated in late nominalism, it is not possible even there to speak of a single doctrine of justification.”

I share this for one reason: don't get sucked into those silly arguments that "sola fide" was a theological "novum" previous to the Reformation. Pelikan says elsewhere:

"All the more tragic, therefore, was the Roman reaction on the front which was most important to the reformers, the message and teaching of the church. This had to be reformed according to the word of God; unless it was, no moral improvement would be able to alter the basic problem. Rome’s reactions were the doctrinal decrees of the Council of Trent and the Roman Catechism based upon those decrees. In these decrees, the Council of Trent selected and elevated to official status the notion of justification by faith plus works, which was only one of the doctrines of justification in the medieval theologians and ancient fathers. When the reformers attacked this notion in the name of the doctrine of justification by faith alone—a doctrine also attested to by some medieval theologians and ancient fathers—Rome reacted by canonizing one trend in preference to all the others. What had previously been permitted (justification by faith and works), now became required. What had previously been permitted also (justification by faith alone), now became forbidden. In condemning the Protestant Reformation, the Council of Trent condemned part of its own catholic tradition."

Source: Jaroslav Pelikan, The Riddle of Roman Catholicism (New York: Abingdon Press, 1959), pp. 51-52.

Again, I am Catholic to the marrow, but I do not know how to respond to the above. I would appreciate your input on this , too, if you don't mind.

R. Sungenis: Peter, I'm afraid Dr. Pelikan is speaking much of this analysis from his own Lutheran bias. There was no teaching of "faith alone" in the patristics or medievals. Trent was following the tradition of the Church. This is precisely why Luther said he rejected the Fathers, since none of them taught faith alone. I have reams of quotes from him to this effect in my book Not By Faith Alone. We only have two or three references to the phrase "faith alone" in the patristics, and when you read them in context (e.g., Clement of Rome) you understand that they were not speaking of Luther's concept. Moreover, if there was some doubt as to how the Church was to understand justification, Luther did the Catholic Church a favor, as all heretics do, in that he made her sit down, cogitate, and write down her doctrines so that everyone would know what, precisely, the boundaries were. That is the way most Catholic doctrine is formulated and codifed -- the Church is squelching some heretic who tries to refute the traditional teaching. You really need to get a copy of my book Not By Faith Alone and read Chapter 9. You'll find out what the score is.

Top


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Question 37- Martin Luther Quotes

Hi Robert;

My name is Peter Porcellato. I have contacted you in the past for apologetcs help and I own some of your works. I just finished reading some of your dialogue with Dr Michael S. Horton titled "Is Justification by Faith Alone?". I came over to see what you had to say with this issue because I was on James Swan's Blog (do you know him?) and have been reading some of his papers refuting Catholic comments about Luther. The reading has shaken me somewhat in that he very compentently reveals the faultiness of Catholic Apologists' research into Martin Luther and shows where they are in error regarding the accusations that they levy against him. I want to provide you with a link to a paper I just read of his where he offers explanation as to why Luther put the word alone after faith in his Romans translation.

I am a devout Catholic and enjoy being so soplease don't think that I am trying to set you up or anthying like that. I respect and admire men such as you, Patrick, Karl, and Scott, but if you guys are taking Luther quotes out of context and are inadvertantly using faulty sources then I must admit that this has me a little flumoxed. Would you mind taking a look at a small sample of his writting? I have posted the link to his paper that I just finished reading. I would ask you to parouse his blog to understand why I take his writting seriously.

I look foreward to your comments.

R. Sungenis: Peter, tell Mr. Swan he needs to read my book Not By Faith Alone. In it he will find the following quote from Martin Luther on page 527, which is taken from Protestant Philip Schaff's History of the Christian Church, p. 363:

"Are they doctors? So am I. Are they learned? So am I. Are they preachers? So am I. Are they righteous? So am I. Are they disputors? So am I. Are they philosophers? So am I. Are they writers of books? So am I. And I shall further boast: I can expound Psalms and Prophets; which they cannot. I can translate; which they cannot....Therefore the word allein shall remain in my New Testament, and though all the pope-donkeys should get furious and foolish, they shall not take it out."

Again, Schaff notes Luther's words on p. 362: "If your Papist makes much useless fuss about the word sola, allein, tell him at once: 'Dr. Martin Luther will have it so,' and says, 'Papist and donkey are one thing....For we do not want to be pupils and followers of the Papist, but their masters and judges."

Schaff goes on to say that Luther claimed to add allein to Romans 3:28 for the sake of clarity, but he did not do so for Gal 2:16.

Schaff then cites Meyer and Weiss whom he references among 19th century Protestant exegetes who affirm that allein has "no business in the text [of Rm 3:28] as a translation."

In John Eadie's The English Bible, p. 292, he cites Coverdale's 19 NT notes in his 1535 edition of the Bible, upon which Coverdale writes concerning Luther's addition of allein to Romans 3:28: "Romans 3:28, Some reade, By faith onely -- Luther. Text is 'through faith' -- Tnydale.

I suggest you get a copy of Not By Faith Alone. I have a whole section on Luther at pages 517-554.

James Swan said...

Hi robbie,

Thanks for the heads up with the Sungenis material. I've been busy the last few days. I hope the Miegge book has been helpful.

In regard to the first answer from Sungenis, once again, we see the the double standard at work again- that is, Sungenis will never apply the same type of historical argument to various RC dogmas (like the Assumption). In other words, the argument Sungenis makes against sola fide will not be applied to his own beliefs. Sungenis can't consistently hold Protestants to a standard that his own beliefs are not held to.

In the second response, Sungenis (who has the ability to put forth cogent argumentation), for some reason forgot how to read Luther in context. See my link on the sidebar, *Luther Added The Word "Alone" To Romans 3:28?* for the context to Luther's "outrageous" quotes.

I probably will do a blog post on this and go into greater detail.

Oddball Pastor said...

Someone said:

"Further, I admit that thinking I could confidently view Luther as an oddball which in turn gave less credence to his theology. When I was a very young Catholic I was told that Luther had legitimate beefs but he went to far with the solutions to them. I then started to see him as an oddball after reading some of the things he said which now appear to be taken out of context."

All I, the Oddball Pastor, can say is: What!? Do I have to copyright the term "oddball"???

FM483 said...

A straightforward reading of Romans and Galatians shows that Justification by perfectly keeping the Law is compared with Justification by faith in the perfect life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is no middle ground, although many would have one believe so. If it is not Faith, then it is Law. The “Law” can refer to adherence to the Torah, the first 5 books of the Scriptures, the 10 Commandments, or the entire will of God for man. Paul merely contrasts the two methods of Justification. Hence, if it is not one of Faith, it automatically falls under the second category of Law.

A reading of Matthew chapter 5 shows the proper exegesis of the Law by none other than Jesus Christ Himself. Christ contends that in order to be Justified in the eyes of God by keeping the Law, one must keep the entire Law perfectly in thought, word, and deed. This is an impossibility for man, although Matthew 5:48 commands it! Fortunate for us, Christ is the only man Who kept the Law perfectly in our stead, having never sinned. Contrary to human logic and reason, God actually credits men with the Righteousness of Christ through the vehicle of Faith. This is the Gospel. By insisting that our Faith must include any human good works doesn’t make any sense: humans are incapable of perfect sinless good works. Everything is a gift that we as adopted children INHERIT, not merit. The Scriptures go overboard to describe the fact that men are legally, or forensically, declared Righteous on account of the gift of Faith. For Luther to add the word “alone” in his translation merely emphasizes this fact of the Grace of God in Jesus Christ.

The medieval Roman church had contaminated the purity of the Gospel with works that men must do in order to receive the forgiveness of their sins. This is what the 16th century Reformers rejected, plain and simple. It is obvious that the Roman Catholic Church continues to foist upon men the chains of bondage through the emphasis in good works and the papacy/priesthood as a necessary element in their salvation. In business there are people who go to great lengths to create the impression that they are indispensable, although the truth is the opposite. This is how I view the Roman Catholic insistence upon a monopoly with respect to the keys of heaven. The Scriptural keys are the Gospel, which is Christ crucified for all men, not a heirachy of professional churchmen.

Frank Marron

Churchmouse said...

Hi Frank,

About the only thing I know about C.F.W. Walther is that there is a school named after him a couple of blocks from my house. Yes, it is a Missouri Synod Lutheran high school. Yes, by all means, as soon as I get my Bainton book and finish it off, I'll get Walther's book and make it a priority. Asides from its brevity, I would assume I wouldn't be getting as much with the "No And God’s Yes" as I would with "The Proper Distinction Between Law & Gospel" so I think I'll stick with the latter.

As always, thanks for the guidance :-)

Peace,
Ray