Saturday, June 30, 2007

Madrid's Video Picks On Purgatory And The Simpsons


Do you have about eight minutes to endure something awful? Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid has posted a YouTube clip he described thus:

"This is good. Really good. You'll want to watch it all the way to the end."

It was awful, but really puts a belief in perspective. Purgatory is not simply a theoretical doctrine for Catholic apologists, it is a reality they believe in. Madrid's approval of the clip shows this clearly. Here is a link to the clip. Pray for those who believe in such non-biblical doctrines.

Madrid has anchored the purgatory video post over on Envoy, along with this post:

VIDEO: THE SIMPONS' CATHOLIC VS. PROTESTANT HEAVEN

I do find the Simpsons funny, even this clip is funny. However, call me humorless if you want, but toward the end of this video clip Bart and Homer in "Catholic Heaven" are bouncing Jesus on a mock-trampoline. I find this highly offensive, but perhaps I should just lighten up and view the clip as the difference between the way I understand Jesus, and the way some Roman Catholics understand Jesus. I'm actually stunned that even Madrid would want to post something that puts a caricature of Christ on a trampoline bouncing him up and down, as he yells out "Stop it, guys I'm serious!" Some things simply are not funny.
Hey Patrick, which Bible are you reading?

Recent Purchases

I always have a constant influx of books. Here are some things I picked up this week. So far, I've been reading "The Other Bible", which is one of the best compilations of extra-Biblical material I've come across. I read the "Apocalypse of Paul" and also the "Apocalype of Peter." My only comment thus far is reading the non-Biblical New Testament texts really shows how incredible the New Testament books are. I've thumbed through "The Scriptural Roots of Catholic Teaching", and it appears to be the typical pop-apologetic stuff. Very interesting is the book "Catholicism: The Story of Catholic Christianity" by Gerald O'Collins and Mario Farrugia. Both of these authors are Roman Catholic, and it's interesting to read a non-pop-apologetic work (you know, different from the Madrid/Hahn stuff, those books geared toward the Catholic Convert epidemic).























Friday, June 29, 2007

Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis appears to be having some problems getting an imprimatur for his recent work. Read about it here. Also, the Envoy folks are dealing with this as well.

I wasn't going to comment on this, but the irony of a Catholic apologist who claims to have refuted every Protestant he's faced hanging around outside a Catholic apologetic conference, rather than actually attending it is too tempting not to mention:

"I will be attending the Defending the Faith Conference in Steubenville, Ohio (Friday, July 27 - Sunday, July 29th), for the seventh time this year. I say "attending" but actually I will just be hanging out in the little "square" near the entrance to the main conference auditorium, because I'm not actually paying for the conference (as a poor apologist with four children, whose work relatively few deem worthy of financial support, I can't afford it, and am blessed to be able to stay with a local friend, to save on lodging costs). The last time I was there, they had a television outside the auditorium, so that people could actually view the speakers live, even if not registered."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I just wanted to say thanks to all of you who have been adding comments....Gene Bridges, Carrie, Theo, L.P. Cruz, Ree, Rhology, Pilgrim, ...and everyone else. I haven't posted a lot of blog entries because of your comments. I don't get a lot of time to respond to the comments, but any of you that knew me over at CARM know I love a good dialog.

I've been thinking of doing a complete blog overhaul...a new template, and a complete revision of my sidebar. Also, I would love to have others join me in making this a group blog. Particularly when I begin taking classes via Westminster in the fall, my blogging time will be a little tricky.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Discussion: Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification

Updated: 6/28/07

My friend hilasterion is working through Alister McGrath's book. Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification. I have interest in this book, not because I feel it's the definitive historical work on this subject, but rather because of the way Roman Catholics cite this book. It amazes me how frequently McGrath is either misquoted, or misunderstood by Rome's apologists. I think I first heard about this book listening to an old debate between Gerry Matatics and James White. Gerry referred to it as proof Protestant scholars see faith alone as theological novum.

hilasterion started a CARM discussion thread:


Arguments to be discarded.


I'm posting this link here so I can check in on it. He's got some people to contend with: a Lutheran that doesn't like Calvinism, one or two somewhat knowledgeable people, a confused Catholic who stated, "I have never read the book, but Im pretty sure there were post/threads in the past where people said that in that book McGrath said something to the effect that Faith Alone was an invention by Luther and had never been taught by previous Christians."

Update 6/28/07



Yes, it's true, there is now a third edition of this book. Amazon has copies around $80, and used copies start around $68. I found a reasonably priced copy here, which I did purchase. On my sidebar, I link to Abebooks. I purchase many of my books via this site. It's not always the case, but often I can find a book for much less than the Amazon price via Abebooks.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

John Calvin on Latria and Dulia

A DISTINCTION WITHOUT A DIFFERENCE
In fact, the distinction between latria and dulia, as they called them, was invented in order that divine honors might seem to be transferred with impunity to angels and the dead. For it is obvious that the honor the papists give to the saints really does not differ from the honoring of God. Indeed, they worship both God and the saints indiscriminately, except that, when they are pressed, they wriggle out with the excuse that they keep unimpaired for God what is due him because they leave latria to him. But since the thing itself, not the word, is in question, who can permit them to make light of this most important of all matters?

But — to pass over this also — their distinction in the end boils down to this: they render honor [cultus] to God alone, but undergo servitude [servitium] for the others. For latreia, among the Greeks means the same thing as cultus among the Latins; douleia properly signifies servitus; and yet in Scripture this distinction is sometimes blurred. But suppose we concede it to be unvarying. Then we must inquire what both words mean: douleia is servitude; latreia, honor. Now no one doubts that it is greater to be enslaved than to honor. For it would very often be hard for you to be enslaved to one whom you were not unwilling to honor. Thus it would be unequal dealing to assign to the saints what is greater and leave to God what is lesser. Yet many of the old writers used this distinction. What, then, if all perceive that it is not only inept but entirely worthless?
Source: Calvin's Institutes, 1:12:2 (Battles Translation)
Alternate translation: (Beveridge Translation)
"The distinction of what is called dulia and latria was invented for the very purpose of permitting divine honors to be paid to angels and dead men with apparent impunity. For it is plain that the worship which Papists pay to saints differs in no respect from the worship of God: for this worship is paid without distinction; only when they are pressed they have recourse to the evasion, that what belongs to God is kept unimpaired, because they leave him latria. But since the question relates not to the word, but the thing, how can they be allowed to sport at will with a matter of the highest moment? But not to insist on this, the utmost they will obtain by their distinction is, that they give worship to God, and service to the others. For "latreia" in Greek has the same meaning as worship in Latin; whereas "douleia" properly means service, though the words are sometimes used in Scripture indiscriminately. But granting that the distinction is invariably preserved, the thing to be inquired into is the meaning of each. "Douleia" unquestionably means service, and "latreia" worship. But no man doubts that to serve is something higher than to worship. For it were often a hard thing to serve him whom you would not refuse to reverence. It is, therefore, an unjust division to assign the greater to the saints and leave the less to God. But several of the ancient fathers observed this distinction. What if they did, when all men see that it is not only improper, but utterly frivolous?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Luther's Tavern Songs: A CCM Argument For Contemporary Worship


Have you ever heard that Martin Luther took tavern songs and simply put his own words to them? I’ve even heard this about his song A Mighty fortress Is Our God (See this link, for an interesting evaluation of this claim).

This argument is put forth for various reasons. First, it is mentioned to disparage Luther. That is, Luther was a drinker and simply took pub music and tried to make it spiritual. Or it is sometimes put forth, Luther couldn’t come up with music, so he stole someone else’s. Lastly, some involved in Contemporary Christian Music use this argument to validate contemporary styles of music being used in church: if even the great Martin Luther found value in contemporary music being used in Church, shouldn’t we likewise do the same? Should there not be church services with rap, metal, reggae, techno, etc.? I mean, let’s be consistent. Luther used contemporary pub songs.

In a book that was given to me entitled, Why I Left The Contemporary Christian Music Movement, author Dan Lucarini cites John Makujina stating:

“Luther took the entire melody from only one secular song, ‘I Came from an Alien Country’ for ‘From Heaven on High, I Come to You’. It first appeared in 1535 but four years later was replaced by an original tune from Luther, not the borrowed one. The secular tune does not reappear until after his death. The tune’s use in worldly haunts would sully the sacred text and bring secular associations inappropriate to worship, so Luther replaced it.”

Source: Dan Lucarini, Why I Left The Contemporary Christian Music Movement (New York: Evangelical Press, 2002), p.107

The editors of Luther’s Works note:

“The first stanza [of ‘I Came from an Alien Country’] is actually patterned after a pre-Reformation secular folk song, a singing game popular with the young people in Luther’s time, that began with the lines:

Good news from far abroad I bring,
Glad tidings for you all I sing.
I bring so much you’d like to know
Much more than I shall tell you though.

After this verse the singer would propose a riddle to one of the girls, and unless she could solve it, she had to give him her wreath. Originally Luther used the lilting melody of this folk song for his Christmas carol [‘From Heaven on High, I Come to You’]. It is found in the earliest extant source, the Klug hymnal of 1535, and many subsequent hymnals. But with the increasing popularity of “From Heaven on High I Come to You,” he must have felt that the hymn deserved its own melody. The new music first appeared in the Schumann hymnal of 1539 and ultimately became the proper tune. Quite likely Luther wrote it himself, for it has the same beginning and the same strong emphasis on the upper tonic that are found in his melodies for “A New Song Here Shall Be Begun”  and “Our God He Is a Castle Strong.” The earlier folk-song melody was ultimately assigned to “From Heaven the Angel Troop Came Near”… [LW 53:289].

Also, doing a brief web search, I found this little factoid:

“Dean McIntyre, director of music resources at the Board of Discipleship, recently debunked this popular story [Luther using contemporary pub music]. He states that this myth is often toldabout Martin Luther… McIntyre traces the legend to confusionover the terms "bar tune" or "bar form." These terms refer to a medieval pattern of poetry consisting of three or more stanzas. This pattern and terminology were later applied to songwriting. Along the way, "bar tune" was misinterpreted as "tavern music." Many of the most popular hymns are such "bar tunes." "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," "Come, thou Almighty King," and "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" are just a few examples. This form is used for secular songs as well."

That music was important to Luther is common knowledge. Luther stated,

"…[N]ext to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. She is a mistress and governess of those human emotions—to pass over the animals—which as masters govern men or more often overwhelm them. No greater commendation than this can be found—at least not by us. For whether you wish to comfort the sad, to terrify the happy, to encourage the despairing, to humble the proud, to calm the passionate, or to appease those full of hate—and who could number all these masters of the human heart, namely, the emotions, inclinations, and affections that impel men to evil or good?—what more effective means than music could you find?" [LW 53:323]

“…[T]he gift of language combined with the gift of song was only given to man to let him know that he should praise God with both word and music, namely, by proclaiming [the Word of God] through music and by providing sweet melodies with words.” [LW 53:323]


I have found those most interested in debunking Luther’s “bar songs” are those seeking to put a stop to the Contemporary Christian Music being used in the church. For instance, this webpage, Did Luther Use Tavern Music? Was put up by a Fundamental Baptist group. Dan Lucarini (Why I Left The Contemporary Christian Music Movement) was a former worship leader.

My own 2 cents on this is not as critical as the view put forth by these people. I go to a very conservative church, with traditional music (organ, piano, and the minister leads the hymn sing). We use primarily the CRC Psalter. I enjoy this way of worship, for a few reasons.

First, I have played guitar, bass, and Chapman Stick. I began on the guitar around age 13. I was in a lot of rock bands, eventually progressed to Jazz, New Age, and various other types of music. I know music well. I know when I see a good player. I know when someone should not be playing. I’ve attended many church services that had “worship bands.” There was simply no way I could ever worship, simply because of my own sinful evaluation of whomever was playing. Or, I’ve actually been to worship services where the musicians were trained professionals. I could not concentrate on worship because the players were too good. One particular bass player used to be the object of my worship when I saw him play! So, a traditional service brings me out of my element. I can actually concentrate on worship without being distracted by instruments I’m familiar with. Most of the people in my church have no idea I can play music. I like this, I will never seek to play music in church. I would be too interested in myself to actually worship.

Second, most of you Reformed folks already know this, but the content of the Psalter is God glorifying. It is actually theological and even if I don’t know the song, I can still glean from the words. To remind myself of the poor content of CCM worship music, I keep the following chorus on a page in my Bible. Now, I could probably sing this song to my wife, but worship God with this? Whoever wrote it was deluded:

Draw me close to You, Never let me go.
I lay it all down again To hear you say that I’m your friend

You are my desire, No one else will do,
‘Cause nothing else could take Your place;
To feel the warmth of Your embrace.

Help me find the way, Bring me back to you.

You’re all I want, You’re all I’ve ever needed.
You’re all I want
Help me know You are near.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Who empowered the Church to grant indulgences? Christ. Who's sacrifice made the indulgences possible? Christ.”


I don’t spend too much time interacting on discussion boards these days, but I admit I do skim through the ones on my sidebar. Recently, I found a discussion on Luther’s Mariology (a subject that usually gets my attention). It interests me, because I’m hoping someone else besides me is actually checking citations rather than posting the usual propaganda.

Here’s a recent thread: Luther’s Mariology, which, unfortunately, is a lot of propaganda, at least from the zealous defenders of Rome who contributed. It is being hosted on (the late) Walter Martin’s discussion boards. I found this thread while searching for something else, and yes, I added my 2 cents to the discussion.

When I read the opening post, I realized the words were…MINE! But, not entirely: some of the words were from a Catholic apologist mixed in with mine, without distinction. So I signed up, and just planned on pointing out that I don't mind people citing my work, but please don't cite my words and someone else's words together without distinction.

In the discussion, I received some fairly hostile rhetoric from a guy named “Vladimir.” He’s …you know, one of those guys who would burn you at the stake in honor of Mother Church if he could.

I wanted to point out one particular thing Vladimir said, just to show the mindset of these people. We brought up “Christ alone”, one of the Reformation slogans. Of course, he felt the Catholic Church did embrace “Christ alone.” I replied, “Believing in indulgences is not part of 'Christ alone'.” His response was as follows:

“Sure it is. Who empowered the Church to grant indulgences? Christ. Who's sacrifice made the indulgences possible? Christ.”

This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. It is sola ecclesia 101, for there is nowhere in the Bible that teaches Christ decided to mix his merit with anyone, Mary, saints, or whoever, in order to sanctify his people. Vladimir’s words show us who the ultimate authority is: Mother Church. They decide that indulgences are true.
But you Christian are reconciled to God by Christ alone, and we have already been reconciled, and need no indulgence:

"For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation." (Romans 5:10-11)

“Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:18-20)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

An Ancient Voice For The Day #17

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466):

"The divine Scripture is accustomed to accommodate its lessons to those who are to be instructed; and to the perfect, to offer that which is perfect; and to the ignorant, elementary points and things suited to their ability."

Source: William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., 3 Vols. (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, p. 285. For the Greek text, see Quæstiones in Genesim, Interrogatio 1, PG 80:77.

"The divine Scripture accommodates its language to men; and orders its words so that they may be able to understand."

Source: William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., 3 Vols. (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, p. 285. For the Greek text, see Quæstiones in Genesim, Interrogatio 52, PG 80:156.

"For, as great as is the difference between God and the devil, so great is the difference between the teaching of God and that of the devil. And the beauty of the divine oracles sending forth the beams of a light suited to the faculties of man, when compared with those fables, will more clearly show this."

Source: William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., 3 Vols. (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, p. 287. For the Greek text, see Compendium hæreticarum fabularum, Liber V, PG 83:441.

"Why from our very cradles do we suck the instruction of the divine Scriptures, like milk from the breast, but that, when trouble falls upon us, we may be able to apply the teaching of the Spirit as a salve for our pain?"

Source: NPNF2: Vol. III, Letters of the Blessed Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus, Letter 14 - To Alexandra.

For an excellent compilation of quotes of the Church fathers teaching on the primacy, sufficiency and ultimate authority of Scripture, get a copy of Holy Scripture:The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Vol III- The Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura.

Monday, June 18, 2007

On Luther Giving Hyperdulia To Mary


Rome distinguishes between kinds of worship. Mary can receive the highest form of worship/veneration, hyperdulia, short of the worship of God. This type of worship is expressed in prayers, songs, ceremonies and pilgrimages.

Over on the CARM boards a Roman Catholic suggested Martin Luther thought Mary should be given hyperdulia. The quote given was this one, and a particular part of it was underlined:

"The old theologians went to astounding lengths [mirabiliter se cruciarunt] in answering this question of whether the humanity is to be worshipped, and they established three ways [species] in which the humanity may be adored: Dulia,when Peter and Paul and all the other saints are adored; hyperdulia, when the Virgin Mary is adored, and here they included the humanity of Christ, and called [this worship] hyperdulia as well; and latria, when Christ is worshipped with regard to his divinity. Christ clearly dissolves [the distinction, for] whoever worships the humanity of Christ here no longer adores a creature (for this is what is meant by the union of natures), but the Creator himself, for the unity is what is fundamental "

Anyone reading this quote beyond the underlined section sees the problem: Luther says, Christ clearly dissolves the distinction, and even in the underlined part, Luther is not saying Mary should be given hyperdulia.

Luther abandoned the distinctions of latria, dulia, and hyper-dulia. When commenting on Deuteronomy 6:13 Luther said,

“Here the scholastics have concocted various dreams about dulia, latria, and hyperdulia.  With one and the same word the Hebrew denotes service toward God and toward men, so that their distinction is useless. But Moses wants to say this: “Serve Him alone. That is, whatever you do, and whether you live under the bondage of men or as a manager of affairs, refer it to Me, and do it in no other name than that you are sure in faith that I alone am served in this.”

But yet, this doesn't stop Rome's apologists from saying things like, "[Luther] understood the difference between veneration and worship, just as Catholics do (and he also strongly criticized excesses in Marian devotion, just as Catholics also do; particularly in Vatican II). He didn't feel compelled to create the absolute (and quite unbiblical) silly dichotomy that characterizes present-day Reformed thought and much of Protestantism, generally-speaking -- where no creature can ever be given honor, lest this immediately be an assault upon God and idolatry”.

I do not deny that Luther spoke favorably about Mary, but when Catholics say "honor", they mean something quite different than Protestants. Missing from the above point is any notion of how a Protestant should honor Mary or how Luther and his contemporaries thought Mary should be honored. The following is a summarization from Melancthon’s Apology of the Augsburg Confession:

“The saints, and among them the blessed Mary, should be honored in three ways. One should be grateful to God for them. One should take advantage of their examples to strengthen one's own faith. One should imitate their faith and their actions in keeping with one's own calling.”

Is this the complete picture of what Rome means by Marian Devotion? While I’m sure a Catholic apologist would agree these are principles in harmony with Catholicism, he can’t possibly mean that these principles fully comprise Roman Catholic Marian piety. To suggest that Luther’s “veneration” of Mary is nothing but Catholicism properly understood is mistaken.

Here is a little survey of the word “veneration” as used by Luther, to see if Luther accepted the Roman Catholic veneration (or praise) of the saints. Below is almost the entirety of references to the word “veneration” in Luther’s Works:


LW 12:284, “… a Franciscan venerates his rule and his St. Francis as an idol.”

LW 16:227, “the papists, having abandoned faith, have venerated sects, works designed to gain righteousness, vigils, cowls, and even their own lice,  invoking the aid of unknown saints, and have fallen not only away from God but in opposition to God.”

LW 17:140, “The soldier thinks, “I shall venerate Saint Barbara;  she will preserve the sacraments for me three days.” This is the basic idea: idolatry is nothing else but an opinion apart from the Word of God.”

LW 23:136, “The Papists… confess that faith in Christ helps, but at the same time they state that the Lord did not exclude other methods. Thus they manufacture many ways that are to lead to eternal life, among which are intercession of the saints, the veneration of the Virgin Mary, the monastic vocation, and the observance of their ordinances. No, all these are of no avail for eternal life. Christ excludes them all; they are definitely rejected.”

LW 24:355, ““Behold, our papistic rabble… have brought it about that everything the pope has been able to decree, dream up, and put on parade—even open deception, such as indulgences, purgatory, pilgrimages, cowls, tonsures, the veneration of saints, etc.—is declared to have come from the Holy Spirit, even though they themselves have to admit that this is not found in the Gospel and that Christ has said nothing about it.”

LW 25:288, “Rude, puerile, and even hypocritical are those people who venerate the relics of the holy cross with the highest outward honor and then flee from and curse their sufferings and adversities.”

LW 25:324, “The Thomists, the Scotists, and the other schools act with the same temerity when they defend the writings and words of their founders with such zeal that they not only disdain to seek their spirit but actually quench it by their excessive desire to venerate them, thinking that it is enough if they merely retain the words even without the spirit.”

LW 34:351, 359, The faculty of Louvain held, “It is rightly done in the church, that we venerate and call upon the saints who are active with Christ in heaven, that they should pray for us. Through their merits also and intercession, Christ here gives us many things; otherwise he will not give. Through them he also performs many miracles on earth.”



Luther responded, “This one thing they have done rightly, that, Christ having been rejected, they may not be atheists altogether, they have invented for themselves new gods and call upon the dead, saints or not saints, that makes no difference to them. [This shows] that, as the people is, such gods it shall have, according to the righteous judgment of God, whose Word they despise and blaspheme. Here it would please to mock them with Elijah, “Cry aloud, for they are gods: they are musing, or they are busy, or they are on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 

LW: 34:23-24, “What was the condition of your churches before our gospel came but a series of daily innovations rushing in one after another, in great number, like a cloudburst? One set up St. Anne,  another St. Christopher,  another St. George,  another St. Barbara,  another St. Sebastian,  another St. Catherine,  another perhaps the Fourteen Helpers in Need.  Who alone wants to recount the new kinds of saint veneration? Are not these innovations? Where were bishops and shouters who should not permit such innovations?

LW 34:54, “The things which have been practice and custom in the pretended church… Veneration of saints, some of whom were never born… Mary made a common idol with countless services, celebrations, fasts, hymns, and antiphons.”

LW 34:20, “From this abomination have come all the other outrages (they had to come from it, too, and there was no way of warding them off), namely, the self-righteousness of so many of the monasteries and chapters, with their worship service, the sacrificial masses, purgatory, vigils, brotherhoods, pilgrimages, indulgences, fasts, veneration of saints, relics, poltergeists, and the whole parade of the hellish procession of the cross.”

LW 35: 198-201, “Thus the worship of saints shows itself to be nothing but human twaddle, man’s own invention apart from the word of God and the Scriptures. Since in the matter of divine worship, however, it is not proper for us to undertake anything without God’s command—whoever does so is tempting God—it is therefore neither to be advised nor tolerated that one should call upon the departed saints to intercede for him or teach others to call upon them…. It was exceedingly bitter for me to tear myself away from [the worship of] the saints, for I was steeped and fairly drowned in it. But the light of the gospel is now shining so clearly that henceforth no one has any excuse to remain in darkness.”

LW 38:159, “For, although we did have baptism, sacrament, and the word, they were nevertheless so perverted and obscured by human doctrine and abuse (when we had grown up and become more mature) that we could no longer glory in them, but had to comfort ourselves with strange masses, our own works, monkery, pilgrimages, veneration of the saints, and similar matters in a manner no different from the way in which the Turks and the Jews console themselves with their works and worship.”

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Pacwa vs. Martin

Here's one I'm going to read over in the next few days. It's the transcript from the discussion between Mitch Pacwa and Walter Martin. This discussion took place back in the 1980's, and I recall watching the shows when they aired. I recall also getting the tapes of the broadcast some years later, and noting that some things seemed to be missing.

The transcript may in fact be the unedited version, which I'm interested in reading. I recall Mitch Pacwa doing very well, and Martin not doing very well. I simply don't recall any specifics from this discussion, so i look forward to having my memory refreshed.

I dare say, I don't know how anybody who is not Reformed stands any chance against a true Catholic apologist.

Here is the link.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Luther and the Immaculate Conception? The 1540 Disputation On the Divinity and Humanity of Christ


There has been a lot of dialog on the CARM boards about Luther's Mariology lately. I have done a lot of work in this area, so I tend to read these threads. Here was a recent Luther quote that was brought up by a Roman Catholic:



Disputation On the Divinity and Humanity of Christ

February 27, 1540

conducted by Dr. Martin Luther, 1483-1546

translated from the Latin textWA 39/2,.92-121 by Christopher B. Brown

On the Immaculate Conception of Mary:

Argument: Every man is corrupted by original sin and has concupiscence. Christ had neither concupiscence nor original sin. Therefore he is not a man.

Response: I make a distinction with regard to the major premise. Every man is corrupted by original sin, with the exception of Christ. Every man who is not a divine Person [personaliter Deus], as is Christ, has concupiscence, but the man Christ has none, because he is a divine Person, and in conception the flesh and blood of Mary were entirely purged, so that nothing of sin remained. Therefore Isaiah says rightly, "There was no guile found in his mouth"; otherwise, every seed except for Mary's was corrupted.


I exhorted this Catholic to stay away from topics he didn't know anything about. A close reading of this quote denies any notion that Mary was purified from sin at her conception. Rather, the focus is on Christ’s conception. Here is Luther’s reasoning:

1. The Holy Spirit was present at Christ’s conception to ensure his sinlessness.

2. During Christ’s conception, the Holy Spirit sanctified Mary so that the child would be born with non-sinful flesh and blood.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

An Ancient Voice for The Day #16

Augustine (354-430):

"Love to read the sacred Letters, and you will not find many things to ask of me. By reading and meditating, if you pray wholeheartedly to God, the Giver of all good things, you will learn all that is worth knowing, or at least you will learn more under His inspiration than through the instruction of any man."

Source: FC, Vol. 20, Saint Augustine Letters, 140. Addressed to Honoratus (412 AD), Chapter 37 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1953), pp. 135-136. Honoratus was a catechumen.

For an excellent compilation of quotes of the Church fathers teaching on the primacy, sufficiency and ultimate authority of Scripture, get a copy of Holy Scripture:The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Vol III- The Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Luther's Deathbed Re-Conversion to the Roman Catholic Church

To The Right: The webpage "Luther, Exposing The Myth" attacks the Reformer with the alleged "facts" against him along with this picture of his "death mask". The picture though is not the "death mask". Even if it were, evidence put forth by Luther scholar Heinrich Boehmer suggests the mask is not authentic (see his book, Luther And The Reformation In The Light Of Modern Research, 349-350).
The question as to whether or not Luther finally recanted on his deathbed pops up every so often. I came across this question over on the Catholic Answers boards some time ago. I found a very similar question over at Catholic Answers this morning:

"I've heard a couple times that Luther supposedly repented and re-entered the Church on his deathbed but I cannot find this document anywhere (true or not).Obviously, Lutherans (all Protestants) are not going to accept this (not that that would have anything to do with it being true or not). I am curious if there is any evidence behind such 'rumors'. Can anyone speak to this?"

It isn't true. Heiko Oberman begins his famous biography Luther: Man Between God and the Devil by giving an account of Luther's death:

Reverend father, will you die steadfast in Christ and the doctrines you have preached?" Yes," replied the clear voice for the last time. On February 18, 1546, even as he lay dying in Eisleben, far from home, Martin Luther was not to be spared a final public test, not to be granted privacy even in this last, most personal hour. His longtime confidant Justus Jonas, now pastor in Halle, having hurriedly summoned witnesses to the bedside, shook the dying man by the arm to rouse his spirit for the final exertion. Luther had always prayed for a "peaceful hour": resisting Satan—the ultimate, bitterest enemy—through that trust in the Lord over life and death which is God's gift of liberation from the tyranny of sin. It transforms agony into no more than a brief blow.

But now there was far more at stake than his own fate, than being able to leave the world in peace, and trust in God. For in the late Middle Ages, ever since the first struggle for survival during the persecutions of ancient Rome, going to one's death with fearless fortitude was the outward sign of a true child of God, of the confessors and martyrs. The deathbed in the Eisleben inn had become a stage; and straining their ears to catch Luther's last words were enemies as well as friends.

As early as 1529, Johannes Cochlaeus, Luther's first "biographer," had denounced Luther in Latin and German as the seven-headed dragon, the Devil's spawn. Slanderous reports that he had died a God-forsaken death, miserable and despairing, had circulated time and again. But now the end his friends had dreaded and his enemies had longed for was becoming reality. Who now would lay claim to Luther and fetch him, God or the Devil? While simple believers imagined the Devil literally seizing his prey, the enlightened academic world was convinced that a descent into Hell could be diagnosed medically—as apoplexy and sudden cardiac arrest. Abruptly and without warning, the Devil would snip the thread of a life that had fallen to him, leaving the Church unable to render its last assistance. Thus, in their first reports, Luther's friends, especially Melanchthon, stressed that the cause of death had not been sudden, surprising apoplexy but a gradual flagging of strength: Luther had taken leave of the world and commended his spirit into God's hands. For friend and foe alike his death meant far more than the end of a life.

Shortly after Doctor Martinus died at about 3:00 A.M. on February 18, Justus Jonas carefully recorded Luther's last twenty-four hours, addressing his report not to Luther's widow, as one might expect, but to his sovereign, Elector John Frederick, with a copy for his university colleagues in Wittenberg. Had Luther—born on November 10, 1483, as a simple miner's son—died young, history would have passed over his parents' grief unmoved. But now his death was an affair of state. The day after his birth—the feast of St. Martin—he had been baptized and received into the life of the Church as a simple matter of course, but now there was open dispute over whether, having been excommunicated by the pope, he had departed from this world a son of the Church.

IN THE last days before his death Luther had been the cheerful man his friends knew and loved. He had successfully completed a difficult mission: a trip from Wittenberg to Eisleben to mediate in a protracted quarrel between the two counts of Mansfeld, the brothers Gebhard and Albert. Hours had been spent sitting between the parties, listening to the clever reasoning of administrative lawyers—a breed he had despised ever since his early days as a law student in Erfurt. After two tough weeks of negotiation, the parties had narrowed their differences and a reconciliation had finally—though only temporarily—been achieved. So there was reason to be cheerful. Luther had suspected that he would die in Eisleben, the place of his birth. But this did not worry him, although he was quite sure he had little time left: "When I get home to Wittenberg again, I will lie down in my coffin and give the worms a fat doctor to feast on." By highlighting the skeleton within the human body, late medieval art had urgently reminded everyone that health, beauty, and wealth were only a few breaths away from the Dance of Death. The "fat doctor" was well aware of this, not as a moralistic horror story, but as a reality of life poised on the brink of eternity.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Martin Luther Nails the 95 Theses



Here I Stand, I Can Do No Other.

I've often wondered what folks like this are like who quote Luther.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Luther: No woman is like you. You are more than Eve or Sarah, blessed above all nobility, wisdom, and sanctity

(Revised 6/11/07, and 1/18/13. Some of the links to the CARM discussion no longer work, my apologies. However, the content remains the same: Roman Catholics often quote Luther about Mary, but never bother to actually look the quotes up ).

My CARM friend Bonnie is trying to get a Catholic to quote Luther in context, (and here as well), or actually provide the context of a Luther quote:

"No woman is like you. You are more than Eve or Sarah, blessed above all nobility, wisdom, and sanctity." (Sermon, Feast of the Visitation, 1537)

This quote came under scrutiny with this CARM discussion: Sounds Catholic To Me. It's one of those posts filled with context-less Luther quotes on Luther's alleged deep Mariology. I haven't been following the entire discussion, but Bonnie wrote me asking for some information on the above Luther citation. I've been around the block with these types of quotes. When one finds Luther being quoted, it's not up to you to produce the context. It is up to the person posting it to produce the context. When you find someone quoting Luther about Mary, ask the following:

1. Why did you think Luther's opinions about Mary are relevant?

2. Which web page did you get the quote from (i'm guessing it was some type of Roman Catholic web-site)?

3. If the quote is from your own readings of Luther, can you provide the context?

4. If the quote is from a German translation, did you do your own translation?


If they can't produce a context, the quote doesn't matter. Don't waste your time.

That being said, this particular Roman Catholic is saying he will be going to the library to track down the quote. Being the kind person I am, and knowing how many wild-quote-chases I've been on (thanks usually to Dave), here is some helpful information.

First the quote is probably taken from William Cole's article, "Was Luther a Devotee of Mary [Marian Studies XXI, 1970, p. 132]. The quote as frequently cited in cyber space appears in this form in Cole's article:

"Five years later, likewise preaching for the Feast of the Visitation, he marvels at Mary's humility in the face of Elizabeth's great praise, which he makes equivalent to 'No woman is like you. You are more than Eve or Sara, blessed above all nobility, wisdom and sanctity' " (July 2, 1537- WA 45, 105, 7 to 106, 1].

I'm not sure which Roman Catholic found Cole's article and grabbed this quote. It could have been any one them. If I had to guess, most of you know who I would pick. Let me blunt: the possibility that a Roman Catholic internet apologist actually went out and found this non-English German version of Luther's sermon from the Weimar edition of Luther's writings, and then translated it into English is not likely. That would be Twilight Zone stuff. Roman Catholic internet-apologists do not do research like this. If they did, it would mean they would be a step closer to be taken seriously.

Max Thurian provides some further context as well as an alternate translation:

"...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].

Source: Max Thurian, Mary Mother of the Lord, Figure of the Church (London: The Faith Press, 1963), p.80.

[Edited to add, Weimar 45:105-106 can be found here. Notice this is an entire page of text, in Latin and German. That means, the quote was edited down from this page into the popular form its in now].

I'm not sure what the big deal about this quote is, but it seemed to start here, in which it was implied that Luther "venerated" Mary, and that Luther prayed or said these things to Mary: "It seems quite clear that he was praying to Mary in the very quote itself, where he says "No woman is like you." He is speaking to her directly and that sounds like prayer to me." Indeed, it was a supreme honor for Mary to be the mother of Jesus Christ. Does this mean we worship or pray to Mary? No, this does not follow for Protestants, or either from this quote from Luther.

Well, all's well that ends well. here was a response from our Catholic friend who was about to go to the library with his quest for a context:

"Is that saying that Luther was elaborating on Elizabeth's quote as Bonnie friend was saying it seemed to him? If that is the case then the site I took the quote from is either unaware or dishonest in pulling that quote out like that. Either way, good work finding the context.We all have been guilty of pulling quotes from the internet without context. However, It still seems to me Luther had more reverence from Mary than most NCCs do. He still believed she was the "Mother of God" as the context of the line you provided shows us."
You know those goofy-joke e-mail pictures that your friends always send you? You know, the ones that have been around the Internet a billion times, and you wonder what viruses are awaiting you if you open it? Well, this one was sent to my wife:



Here's a YouTube clip I found while searching something else. I'm not sure where the clip is from, but I thought it was interesting:

Fundamentalist Christian vs a Catholic

Friday, June 08, 2007

A Catholic Scholar Speaks on Luther



This out of print book has some interesting articles by both Catholic and Protestant scholars on Luther. Here is an interesting quote from John T. McDonough's (Roman Catholic) chapter, "The Essential Luther". I've chosen this because it is refreshing to read a catholic perspective on Luther that avoids the typical hostile polemic so frequent in cyber space.

"FROM THE OUTSET I would like to state that a phenomenon as widespread and as powerful as the Reformation cannot be attributed to sin and error alone. The Reformation transformed the structures of the world, and thereby the very conditions in which millions of men had to work out their salvation. Could such a phenomenon occur without being part of God's design, without contributing something positive to our salvation? After all. God is Master of History, at least for the Christian.

One beneficial effect is now acknowledged by Catholic scholars:
Luther forced the Church to take hold of herself and to reform herself, an action which is still going on today. And in this respect, it is true to say that Luther is partly responsible for saving the Church.

Moreover, because of him the Council of Trent undertook the great task of clearing the air, of dispelling the theological confusion of the sixteenth century. The conciliar Fathers formulated Catholic doctrine according to Holy Scripture. They avoided the language of the schools; they maintained a strict independence with respect to any scholastic conceptualization. Even today, the decrees of Trent can serve as a basis for fruitful dialogue between Catholics and Protestants. We owe this to Luther.

For this reason there is a growing consensus among Catholic scholars that Martin Luther, on the fundamental issue of the Reformation, was absolutely right. This issue was not politics, or economics, or indulgences, or papal authority, or even protest. It was simply the sovereignty of God. On this basic issue, Luther, in volumes of writings and thousands of sermons, preached to his contemporraries an entirely orthodox and truly Catholic doctrine: namely, that God alone—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—creates, redeems and sanctifies man.

If he divers from other Christian leaders on this issue, it is not so much in doctrinal innovation as in style and emphasis. And it is precisely here where I find the essential Luther—Luther the
Reformer.

Everything he writes, preaches, experiences, is marked by and permeated with a vital awareness of the strength, the might, the overwhelming power of God's Word to make, remake and perfect man. And this I say, despite what we know to be his errors, his failings, his violence and rages and hatreds. He is so preoccupied—indeed so overcome—by the problem of man's salvation that he reads the Bible in a new way: as though the totality of his experience and the totality of his life were caused directly by his personal contact with the Word of God.

When studying Luther we should focus our eyes on this aspect of his person—that is, upon Luther as preacher of the Word. For, if we allow ourselves to be distracted by other aspects of his life and thought, we may be confused by the complexity of his personality and the massiveness of his statements, and even tempted to disparage the enduring value of his basic convictions."

Source: John C. Olin, James D. Smart,Robert E. McNally, S.J. ed, Luther, Erasmus, and the Reformation (New York: Fordham University Press, 1969), p.59-60.

Luther Discussions


When I find Luther related discussion threads, I’m going to link to them here, so that way I can find them easier and check in on them from time to time. This doesn’t mean I’m actively participating in the discussion.

Reformation Trivia (CARM Catholic Board)- "We all know that God moved in a lot of men to start the Reformation, but what else did God use to help the Reformation along?"

Here's the REAL Luther quote I was trying to find (Carm Catholic Board)- "No woman is like you. You are more than Eve or Sarah, blessed above all nobility, wisdom, and sanctity." (Sermon, Feast of the Visitation, 1537)"

Do Lutherans view Martin Luther as a Prophet (CARM Lutheran Board)

Luther's Sexual Immorality (CARM Lutheran Board)-"I understand that Luther preached that women whose husbands were not fulfilling their sexual obligation as husbands were free to seek out other men to fulfill that desire/obligation without violating any principle of holy matrimony. "

My New Favorite Martin Luther Quote (CARM Lutheran Board) "A new lie about me is being circulated. I am supposed to have preached and written that Mary, the mother of God, was not a virgin either before or after the birth of Christ ...-- Martin Luther"

Mariology (CRTA Forums) "When did Protestants stop holding to doctrines on Mary such as the Immaculate Conception and Perpetual Virginity? I've been reading a lot of stuff on the early church fathers and the Reformers, particularly Luther and Calvin and all of them express belief in both of these ideas about Mary, apparently with little fuss or fanfare about it. Like it was just common knowledge or something."

The Reformation: Satan’s fingerprints all over it.(Catholic Answers)

Martin Luther (Catholic Answers) "My best friend is a recent convert to Lutheranism (she previously was not a practicing christian)So now I'm getting the Lutheran anti-catholic message of course.I am curious about finding links/articles/books about the whole showdown between Luther and the Church.Specifically - his 95 theses and the Church's response to them (did the church respond to each and every one? Were any of them correct? Which ones were heretical?)"

Reformation and the printing press. (Catholic Answers) "I was talking with a protestant and she brought this to my attention. How would you address it?"Isn't it interesting that the Protestant reformation followed very closely after the invention of the printing press- when scripture was in the hands of the "people" and they could compare church doctrine with scripture?"

Martin Luther and Mary (Coming Home Network) "I once saw a paper on Martin Luthers' thoughts on Mary. I believe they are somewhere on the CHN. I have not been able to find it again."

Was Luther A Heretic? (OBOB Forum) "I am curious. Has the church pronounced(defined) Martin Luther as a heretic?? Ive been trying to find some statments that show the counsels of his trial..it says on wikiOver the next five days, private conferences were held to determine the Luther's fate. The Emperor presented the final draft of the Edict of Worms on May 25, 1521, declaring Luther an outlaw, banning his literature, and requiring his arrest: "We want him to be apprehended and punished as a notorious heretic."

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I will probably be sparse blogging this week, I have a lot going on. In the little spare time I have, I'm currently writing a blog entry for Team Apologian which will be a long entry, and it's requiring a lot of time.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Team Apologian


Here are my last few entries for Team Apologian:

5/30/07 The Closing Of The Old Testament Canon- I've been going through Catholic apologist Gary Michuta's new book, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger. The entry looks at Michuta's discussion of Rabbi Akiba and the closing of the Old Testament canon.

5/25/07 Checking In With The Other Side Of The Tiber- I regularly visit Roman Catholic blogs and websites to see what the apologists are up to. Here are a few highlights.

5/25/07 Svendsen-Pacwa debate review- A link to a review.

5/25/07 Two Contradicting Points Equals a Refutation- Dr. Sippo and Mr. Michuta pat each other on the back while saying two different things.

5/21/07 I Won't Read It, But It Must Be a Lie! -A review of a Catholic Answers thread.

5/20/07 Gary Michuta, Sirach, and the Threefold Division of the Old Testament-I've been going through Catholic apologist Gary Michuta's new book, Why Catholic bibles Are Bigger (Michigan: The Grotto Press, 2007). The first bit of evidence the book covers is the usage and citations of the apocryphal Book of Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus) and its impact on the canonical status of the apocryphal books.

5/15/07 Gary Michuta, Josephus, And The Cessation of Prophecy-In his book, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger, Catholic apologist Gary Michuta Argues Protestant apologists misuse these words from the Jewish historian Josephus: "It is true, our history hath been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there hath not been an exact succession of prophets since that time..."

5/14/07 Checking In With The Other Side Of The Tiber-I regularly visit Roman Catholic blogs and websites to see what the apologists are up to. Here are a few highlights.


Also noteworthy:

Alan Kurschner:
New Book: A Heart for God's Glory (5/30/07)

Pyromaniac Byzantine Scribes Destroying God's Word? Oh My! (5/28/07)


Jeff Downs:
The Deity of Christ (5/24/07)

Convert or Die! (5/16/07)

Mormon History and Jerald (and Sandra) Tanner (5/14/07)

New Perspective on Paul - Introductory Material (5/14/07)


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Postcards From Mordor


I always try to keep up with my few fans - those that drop me little helpful reviews of something i've written. Here's a review of one of my aomin entries:

Catholic Conversions

This link is a recent response to something I wrote in February.