Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Addendum: Luther, Are You Alone Wise?


This is an addendum to my previous blog entry, "Luther, Are You Alone Wise?" Here's a snippet from the late Fr. William Most, "Luther Writes Obituary Of His Own Church," found on the EWTN website. Most states,

In the dedication to his work, (De abroganda missa privata) of 1521 (Grisar, p. 531) the very year in which he wrote that letter cited above saying even 1000 fornications and murders a day would not separate a man from Christ, we read: "Are you alone wise and all others mistaken? Is it likely that so many centuries were all in the wrong? Suppose, on the contrary, you were in the wrong and were leading so many others with you into error and to eternal perdition?"

We comment: How right! If the promises of Christ were so empty that He permitted the Church to teach the wrong way to salvation for most of 15 centuries, then Christ Himself would be a faker.


First, Father Most misunderstands Luther's statement, "1000 fornications and murders a day" which I have addressed here.

Second, he admits he didn't even read the quote in context (he cited Hartmann Grisar). Luther's primary concern is with changes in the Mass- Is Most really suggesting that the Church celebrated the Mass in exactly the same way for 15 Centuries? If so, was the cup always denied to the common people? The cup was a strong concern of Luther's. Where did Jesus, Peter or Paul teach transubstantiation? Luther didn't have a problem with the bread and wine being the body and blood of Jesus, but he did have a problem with Aristotelian metaphysics. Where did the Apostles teach the church to give the Eucharist adoration?

Third, Father Most left off the next sentence from Luther in which the Reformer stated what did make him sure of himself: "Finally, Christ with his clear, unmistakable Word strengthened and confirmed me, so that my heart no longer quails, but resists the arguments of the papists, as a stony shore resists the waves, and laughs at their threats and storms!"

Fourth, Father Most engages in the typical Catholic mis-truth that Rome has consistently taught one thing for 15 centuries concerning salvation, when in fact, Rome did not formulate a dogmatic statement on justification until the 16th century. Even with transubstantiation, Rome had no consensus on this issue until 1215 AD.

Fifth, he assumes that if (as Luther asserts) Rome taught error, this makes Christ's promises "empty." Well, Rome admits that their were abuses with indulgences, so does this make Christ's promises empty? Rome admits some of its leaders have been corrupt while in Papal office, does this negate Christ's promises? Have not the gates of Hell prevailed over the church when a corrupt Pope holds the most holy office, representing Christ on earth?
Roman Catholics are allowed to hold their own interpretations until dogmatic definition, does this make Christ's promises "empty" until that dogmatic definition? No, Christ's promises are exactly where they are, in Scripture, and His sheep hear his voice.

9 comments:

bkaycee said...

I wonder why most Roman apologists think that sloppy research, shallow and misleading arguments will suffice. Was it Loyola who coined the phrase, "by any means neccesary"?

The Dude said...

"Fourth, Father Most engages in the typical Catholic mis-truth that Rome has consistently taught one thing for 15 centuries concerning salvation, when in fact, Rome did not formulate a dogmatic statement on justification until the 16th century."

With all the diversity throughout those 15 centuries, did Rome or any of its leaders/factions throughout the centuries ever teach a soteriology you could agree with?

Agellius said...

First, you write, "Father Most engages in the typical Catholic mis-truth that Rome has consistently taught one thing for 15 centuries concerning salvation, when in fact, Rome did not formulate a dogmatic statement on justification until the 16th century. Even with transubstantiation, Rome had no consensus on this issue until 1215 AD."

Your unstated premiss is that consensus cannot be considered to have been reached until a dogmatic definition has been made. The reality is the opposite: dogmatic definitions generally are made not when concord has been achieved, but rather when discord arises. Thus the Trinity was defined in response to the Arian heresy, and Trent's statement on justification was made in response to the widespread dissemination of Protestant teaching and the confusion that followed therefrom.

The absence of a formal dogmatic definition prior to a certain date doesn't prove there was no discord prior to that date. But if anything it serves as evidence in that direction rather than the other.

Second, you write, ". . . [Most] assumes that if (as Luther asserts) Rome taught error, this makes Christ's promises "empty." Well, Rome admits that their were abuses with indulgences, so does this make Christ's promises empty? Rome admits some of its leaders have been corrupt while in Papal office, does this negate Christ's promises? Have not the gates of Hell prevailed over the church when a corrupt Pope holds the most holy office, representing Christ on earth?"

Most was referring to the Church's teaching on justification, or as he puts it, the "way to salvation". If in fact the Church to which the vast majority of Christians belonged, taught a false way of salvation, then Christ did leave the vast majority of Christians without knowing the true way to salvation, for most of fifteen centuries.

You attempt to argue that since "Rome admits" that abuses took place and some popes were corrupt, that this too negates Christ's promises. The problem with that argument is, that Christ never promised that the Church would be free of abuses and corrupt leaders.

Third, you write, "Roman Catholics are allowed to hold their own interpretations until dogmatic definition, does this make Christ's promises "empty" until that dogmatic definition? No, Christ's promises are exactly where they are, in Scripture, and His sheep hear his voice."

It is not true that a Catholic may hold any opinion regarding a doctrine until it is dogmatically defined. If he is a faithful Catholic, he will, as you say, hear His voice in the duly authorized teachers of the Church, the shepherds whom we call the bishops.

Currently the Church teaches that birth control and artificial insemination are immoral. As a faithful Catholic I accept both those teachings, even though they have not been dogmatically defined. A Catholic who denies either of those to that extent is a dissenting Catholic, not a faithful one.

In 1994 John Paul II issued the document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (OS), which defines dogmatically that only men may become priests (again, in response to dissent on the issue). Does that mean that before 1994, people were free to ordain women as priests? Does it mean that the Church had not reached consensus on the issue before 1994? On the contrary, it was defined precisely because a great deal of discord had lately arisen on the subject, which had never existed before, and which needed to be put to rest.

In any case, I accepted the teaching before 1994, and I accept it now, not because it has been dogmatically defined but because it is the teaching of the Church. Dogmatic definitions are for those who do not hear the Shepherd's voice, not for those who do.

EA said...

Aegellius said:"In 1994 John Paul II issued the document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (OS), which defines dogmatically that only men may become priests (again, in response to dissent on the issue)."

This example hardly helps your argument as far as I can see. There is disagreement among Catholics whether this encyclical constitutes a dogmatic (i.e. infallible) teaching or not.

So even the attempt to put an issue "to rest" results in more controversy.

Agellius said...

EA writes, "This example hardly helps your argument as far as I can see. There is disagreement among Catholics whether this encyclical constitutes a dogmatic (i.e. infallible) teaching or not."

What argument are you referring to? Did I argue that there is no disagreement among Catholics?

In any case, there can be no question that it constitutes a dogmatic teaching, judging both from the content of the document itself, and by a later response to a dubium issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed at that time by Cardinal Ratzinger, the current pope. (See http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdfrespo.htm)

There will always be rebels and liberals who will try to cast doubt on the stricter teachings of the Faith, especially when it's something that is politically incorrect, and when they personally have something at stake in the question.

But if you look at what the *official* authorities of the Church have said on the matter, rather than what dissidents have to say about it, it's crystal clear. The fact that people continue to dispute it is more a reflection of the state of their own faith than of the Church's teaching.

Matthew Bellisario said...

I also find it quite odd that every church in existence since the apostles had no problem understanding justification well before the 16th century. Every Church whether they be from Jerusalem, Damascus, Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Antioch, Asia Minor, Armenia, Corinth, Thessolonica, North Africa or Rome, they all had the same worship practices, the same doctrine, all believed and still believe and teach the same teaching on justification and salvation.

All of these churches are ancient and have apostolic succession. They all agree with Catholic teaching, which is precisely the opposite of Protestant theology whether they be in communion with Rome or not. Those who use these arguments that such and such a teaching wasn't "defined" dogmatically until a certain date certainly have no clue as to how the Church works historically. Then again this is readily apparent since if they read church history with an ounce of objectivity they would not be Protestant in the first place. It is with sheer amazement that people can just dismiss so much historical evidence for their own personal brand of "Christianity". There is no church that professes Protestant teaching on justification before the "Reformation". This is fact, not opinion. Even secular historians who write about the history of Christianity admit this who have no reason to give a biased opinion.

eklektos said...

"I also find it quite odd that every church in existence since the apostles had no problem understanding justification well before the 16th century. Every Church whether they be from Jerusalem, Damascus, Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Antioch, Asia Minor, Armenia, Corinth, Thessolonica, North Africa or Rome, they all had the same worship practices, the same doctrine, all believed and still believe and teach the same teaching on justification and salvation."

uh yea...get a clue, learn a little history, read some of the writings of the period, try to be honest, do something. Because nobody will defend that claim, particualrly not Rome's own scholars. Sheesh.

beowulf2k8 said...

Based on this I'd say Luther was more drunk than wise. You'd have to be pretty drunk to believe in the bondage of the will. Only a stupid drunk in bondage to the bottle could believe that.

James Swan said...

Based on this I'd say Luther was more drunk than wise. You'd have to be pretty drunk to believe in the bondage of the will. Only a stupid drunk in bondage to the bottle could believe that.

your comments both here and on the other post demonstrate the biblical truth that people (like you) have a natural tendancy to hate other people, which ultimately means you hate God (Gen 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 7:23, 24; 8:7; Eph. 2:1-3; Tit. 3:3)