Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Are you on your way to Sainthood?



Are you on your way to Sainthood? Well, if your spouse or child dies and it causes you despair or depression, Matthew Bellisario says: no deal:

Luther could not deal with death in his own family at all, in fact it brought him despair. The Saints did not act like this when faced with obstacles such as these. They looked to God in their trials of life, while Luther looked to himself. In fact after his daughter died it was said that instead of being at peace with God he went into depression. One writer says, "Whilst the plague was sweeping Europe, the untimely death of his daughter Magdelena sets him off into a deep depression and ruminations on the signs of the End Days."

Of course, one does wonder how Matthew deals with John 11: 35-

33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34"Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. 35Jesus wept. 36Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"

Jesus wept? What? Why didn't Jesus act with the same stoic demeanor of one of his saints? Death impacted him, he wept and was "deeply moved in spirit and troubled." The Bible presents death a dreadful thing, even the Lord realized this. That someone feels the pain of loss is not a sign of spiritual weakness. If Roman Catholicism really teaches this is what it means to be a saint, to not feel the pain of loss, then I consider Catholicism not only theologically wrong, but morally wrong. Perhaps Bellisario has yet to suffer loss. I dare him to find a Catholic who's recently lost a child or a spouse, and put forth this type of stupidity, to let them know if they don't claim "peace" but are rather depressed, they aren't acting like one of the saints.




Addendum:


Among [Luther's] children, his Lenchen, a pious, gentle, sensible child, who clung to him with her whole heart, was his especial favorite. We still possess a pleasant picture in which, according to an old tradition, she was painted by Cranach, the family's friend.

But she was taken from him by death in the bloom of her youth after a long and severe sickness on the 2Oth of September, 1542. What he had already felt at the death of his little Elizabeth, he now had to feel more deeply and sorely. While she was lying sick, he said: " I love her dearly; but, O God, if it is thy will to take her hence, I will be content to have her with thee." And to her he said : " Lenchen, my dear daughter, you would like to remain with your father here, and still would like to depart to the Father beyond ; " and she answered: " Yes, my dear father, as God wills." And when she was in her last moments, he kneeled before her bed, wept bitterly and prayed for her salvation, upon which she departed in his arms. When she was lying in her coffin, he looked at her and said: " O dearest Lenchen, you will arise again and shine like a star, yes, like the sun ;" and again: " In my spirit I am indeed joyful, but according to the flesh I am full of grief; the flesh will not be content; the separation pains me exceedingly. It is a strange thing that, although she certainly is at rest and it is well with her, we are yet so sorrowful." To the many who were mourning, he said: "I have sent a saint to heaven; O, that we would have such a death! such a death I would welcome this very hour."

The same sorrow and the same exaltation above sorrow he expresses in his letters to his friends. Thus he writes to Jonas: "You will have heard that my dearest daughter Magdalena has been born again into Christ's eternal kingdom; and although my wife and I should only be joyfully grateful for her blessed departure, through which she has escaped the power of the flesh, the world, the Turk and the devil, yet the power of nature's love is so great that we cannot do it without tears and heart-felt sighs and even a severe death within us; so deeply and firmly the features, words and actions of the living and dying, the obedient and submissive child, are engraved in our hearts that not even Christ's death can entirely expel this grief." His son John, whom the sick sister was anxious to see once more before her death, had been called home from Torgau two weeks before, and he wrote in this connection to Crodel: " I would not that my conscience should later blame me for having neglected anything." But when the boy several weeks later, about Christmas time, influenced by his continued grief and by the tender words his mother had spoken to him, wanted to leave Torgau for good and remain at home, his father exhorted him manfully to overcome his grief and not to increase his mother's sorrow by it, and to obey God who had sent him there through his parents. [source]

Luther s Epitaph on Magdalene.
DORMIO cum sanclis hie Magdalena Lutheri Filia, et hoc strato tefta quiesco meo. Filia mortis eram, peccati semine nata, Sanguine sed vivo, Christe, redempta tuo.

(IN ENGLISH.)
HERE sleep I, Lenichen, Dr. Luther's little daughter, Rest with all the Saints in my little bed : I who was born in sins, And must forever have been lost. But now I live, and all is well with me, Lord Christ, redeemed with Thy blood. [source][
source]

To Nicolas Amsdorf Reply to letter of consolation on Magdalene's death. October 29, 1542 (about a month after Magdalena's death).

Grace and peace ! Many thanks, most excellent friend, for trying to console me on my dearest daughter's death. I loved her not only because she was my flesh, but for her placid and gentle spirit and her dutifulness to me. But now I rejoice that she is sleeping sweetly in her Heavenly Father's home till that day. Alas, for the days in which we live ! And they are daily becoming worse. I pray that we and all dear to us may be granted such a blessed hour of departure as was her lot. I would call this really sleeping in the Lord, not experiencing one pang of fear. This is the time of which Isaiah speaks, " The righteous is taken away from the evil to come ; they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness," just as when one gathers the wheat into the barn, and commits the chaff to the flames, a punishment the world has deserved for her ingratitude.

To Justus Jonas Luther tries to comfort his friend on the death of his amiabte wife. December 25, 1542. (a few months after Magdalena's death)

Grace and peace in Christ, who is our salvation and consolation, my dear Jonas ! I have been so thoroughly prostrated by this unexpected calamity that I do not know what to write. We have all lost in her the dearest of triends. Her bright presence, her eye so full of trust, all drew forth our love, especially as we knew that she shared both our joys and sorrows as if they had been her own. A bitter parting in very deed, for I hoped that after I was gone she would have been the best of comforters for those I left behind. The deep longing after one so distinguished by piety, propriety, and ami- ability makes me weep. Therefore I can easily imagine your feelings. Temporal consolation is of no avail here. One must look solely to the unseen and eternal. She is our precursor into the regions beyond, where we shall all be gathered on our dismissal from this vale of tears and this corrupt world. Amen.

Mourn, therefore, as you have good cause to do, but at the same time comfort yourself with the thought of the common lot of humanity. Although according to the flesh the parting has been very bitter, nevertheless we shall be reunited in the life beyond, and enjoy the sweetest communion with the departed, as well as with Him who loved us so, that He purchased our life through His own blood and death. It is very true that God's mercy is better than life. What does it matter though we should suffer a little here, when there we shall partake of joy unutterable Oh, what a gulf separates those Turks, Jews, and, still worse, those Papists, Cardinals Heinz and Mainz, from this glory ! Would they could weep now, so that they may not mourn eternally ! For we, after mourning a little while, shall enter into joy, whither your Kathie and my Magdalena have gone, and are now beckoning us to follow. For who is not weary of the abominations of our time, or rather of this hell, which pains spirit and eye day and night ? I am too grieved on your account to write more. My wife was thunderstruck when she heard the news, for she and your wife were as one soul. We pray God to give you temporal consolation. For you have good cause to rejoice when you know your pious wife has been snatched from your side to enjoy everlasting life in heaven. And of this you cannot doubt, as she fell asleep in Jesus _ with so many pious expressions of her faith in Him. Thus also slumbered my little daughter, which is my great and only consolation. God, who has tried you, will comfort you now and for ever. Amen. Martin Luther. [source]


...if the devil notices that you have the Word and are confident that your life is pleasing and acceptable to God on account of the Word, he will not rest but will put in your way trials and afflictions of every kind even in the most trivial matters. You will experience faithlessness on the part of the household, the hatred of your neighbors, and the death of your children or of your wife.(2) All these things will happen in order that your faith may be exercised. But if the Word is not there, impatience and displeasure follow because of such an irksome and miserable kind of life, just as we hear many who exclaim that they entered into marriage not because God led them but because the devil urged them to do so.

(2) Luther’s daughter Elizabeth died on August 3, 1528; his daughter Magdalena on September 20, 1542.

Luther, M. (1999, c1968). Vol. 5: Luther's works, vol. 5 : Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 26-30 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (5:5). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

73 comments:

Matthew Bellisario said...

Hey James, in case you didn't know. Despair and weeping are two entirely different things. Would you say Jesus went into depression and despaired? Think carefully before you answer. the two actions of weeping and despair are not synonymous. Try again.

James Swan said...

Matthew,

You are truly ignorant.

Turretinfan said...

James,

Since I doubt that MB thinks that Jesus was just pretending to be sad, I suppose he means that when Luther gets sad that equals depression and despair but when Jesus gets sad it does not.

-TurretinFan

Vaughan Smith said...

Pure gnosticism. Let's cut Psalm 88 out of the Bible!

Matthew Bellisario said...

I am not the one trying to make despair and sadness synonymous, you are. Luther was said to have engaged in despair and severe depression. You sir would be mad to accuse Our lord of such an action.

L P said...

As usual - RC theology of glory.

Is 53:3b,4.

LPC

James Swan said...

I rarely get angered by the anti-Luther sentiment, but the type of rhetoric Matthew put forth was probably one of most offensive things I've seen used against Luther: the death of a young child and subsequent sorrow is proof to support the blog entry, The Tragedy of Luther's Hatred: The Last Days. Indeed, L.P. is right, his is a glory theology.

Alex said...

My wife and I (who have two lovely girls) recently lost a child through miscarriage. This is the second miscarriage in our marriage of almost four years. The miscarriage happened less than a week ago.

While I am greatly saddened by the loss of my child, and feel many emotions that are hard to express, I do not and have not fallen into despair (which is a loss of hope). I believe that God’s gracious will is being done, and in Him I have hope; but that does not erase the sadness and weeping I’ve undergone knowing that I will never in this lifetime hold my precious child. I will never look into my child’s eyes and see my child looking back into mine. I will never run my fingers through my child’s hair while rocking my baby to sleep. I will never be able to hear my child laugh and laugh along, or comfort my baby when my little one cries. This particular, individual, irreplaceable, unique child of mine will never be in my arms, and this gives me much sorrow.

With that said, I do not imagine that my sorrow compares to the sorrow my wife felt and feels. It was her who carried our child, developed a home in her womb for our child, and according to her passing perspective, her womb became a hostile environment for our child. Does she have doubt that she might have done something wrong which cause the passing of our child? Of course; however, she has not lost hope that God’s will is being done and He loves us.

I am far from a saint. I know of many faults which keep me from living a virtuous life. Don’t we all agree though that despair is the anti-thesis of hope? Could someone be said to be right with God when they do not incorporate the theological virtue of hope? Not to mention that I doubt we would normally view them as exemplary Christians.

People can and do fall into despair, which would certainly be a part of our sinful nature. I’m not sure yet where I stand on this issue. From my recollection, the Saints didn’t seem to lose the virtue of hope, so I find myself wanting to agree with Matt. I would need to do some further reflection and study.

James Swan said...

Alex,

Thanks for your comments. I'm just about done here for the evening, but keep in mind, Matthew is attempting to paint a picture of Luther that simply isn't true. I would read through the addendum material I posted.

Death provokes great pain and sadness- Luther was no different than any other person, as were many of the people in the Bible who also experienced great sadness. Despair is often the result of intense pain.

To attempt to argue, as Matthew does, that this somehow proves Luther's "pathetic spiritual condition" is simply ludicrous.

Jerry said...

Well let's not forget how Mother Theresa experienced a grave "Dark Night of the Soul" for decades and even took it with her to the grave. In my book, that would go way way beyond where Matthew would place Luther in terms of his person's spiritual status (esp. given the background of the addendum of this post).

Ben Douglass said...

There needs to be a clarification of terms here. In Catholic theological discourse, "despair" means the abandonment of hope in God, and is hence a grave sin. Nothing justifies it, even the loss of a child. In more colloquial usage, however, despair can refer simply to intense sorrow. I think Matthew is using the term in the former sense, and James is using the term in the latter.

If, in fact, Luther abandoned hope in God on the occasion of the loss of his daughter, this would indeed be a demerit, and indicative of a sick state of soul. However, the material provided by James in the addendum to this post expresses a proper Christian attitude to the event, and would seem to indicate that Luther did not "despair" in this sense at this time, however (appropriately) intense his grief.

Furthermore, one must not conflate "despair" (in the Catholic theological sense), with depression. Depression is an experience. Despair is a free act of the will. One can suffer depression without sin.

James Swan said...

"If, in fact, Luther abandoned hope in God on the occasion of the loss of his daughter, this would indeed be a demerit, and indicative of a sick state of soul. However, the material provided by James in the addendum to this post expresses a proper Christian attitude to the event, and would seem to indicate that Luther did not "despair" in this sense at this time, however (appropriately) intense his grief."

I have found only one source so far that mentions Luther had a "loss of faith" for a time after his daughter's death, but no documentation is provided. I'm really not going to keep looking. Since Matthew made the argument, it's up to him to provide his proof.

While I can appreciate Ben's categorical distinctions, even if I were to find the documentation for a temporary "loss of faith" I would still not consider Luther as fulfilling the image portrayed by Matthew.

I've included a few letters from Luther in the above post from shortly after his daughter's death. If Luther suffered some sort of "loss of faith" it certainly did not last that long.

Matthew's caricature is not only a vilifying caricature, but a cruel caricature, and one that I doubt he would articulate to a parent who has recently lost a 13 or 14 year old child.

James Swan said...

"There needs to be a clarification of terms here. In Catholic theological discourse, "despair" means the abandonment of hope in God, and is hence a grave sin. "

One final comment from me for a few hours-

My categories are: Every sin is a grave sin. Every time I (or anyone) sins in thought, word or deed, it is a lack of faith in God. It is enough to send one to Hell for all eternity.

However, since Christ is my righteousness, I stand holy before God, a saint, as did Martin Luther, even if Luther "abandoned hope in God on the occasion of the loss of his daughter."

Rhology said...

When my wife lost our first child to miscarriage, I refused to give in to my grief. Further, whenever my wife would start crying, I'd yell at her and beat her until she remembered her many blessings.
That approach isn't for everyone; just for people who want to be holy.

Turretinfan said...
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Alex said...

Rhology, I'm curious, are you mocking me and my recent loss?

Matthew Bellisario said...

Wow Rhology, there is only one person who mentioned a miscarriage on the blog. I hope your post is not mocking Alex's recent loss.

Matthew Bellisario said...

James argue with the sources I used. I noted them in my article. If you do not like them then that is your problem not mine. If you have a problem with the Catholic Encyclopedia then quit using it. I see you quoting it all of the time when you attack Catholics on your blog.

bkaycee said...

MB's Ugly, dishonest smear tactics of half truths and out of context Luther "quotes" to verbally destroy a messenger of the Gospel seems to be quite in keeping with the spirit/tradition of what Rome has done for the past 800 years to its detractors.

These dark tactics used to defend mother Rome at all costs have more in common with the Pharasees reaction to the apostles or corrupt politicians trying to cling to power.

MB needs to repent and believe the Gospel of God for forgiveness unto salvation.

Andrew said...

Alex,
I think Rhology is mocking Mr. Bellisario. I guess he will have to answer for us to know for sure, but that's the impression I got.
Mr. Swan,
Please stop trying to confuse the issues at hand by bringing up simple facts. Mr. Bellisario says that Luther was something, and Mr. Bellisario is Catholic, therefore Luther was what Bellisario says. The actual evidence can only lead people astray. What is so hard to understand about that?

Matthew Bellisario said...

Hey Andrew, I am not the one who had a miscarriage in my family. Also I never said that you cannot be sad when someone dies in your family. Anyone on this blog who is saying that I wrote this is a plain liar. It is clear that the source I quoted from said that Luther despaired after his daughter's death and he then went into deep depression. This is not synonymous with sadness.

Secondly this blog will defend Luther at any cost. It is obvious that the man was not a charitable person in any sense of the word and even those he called his friends were treated harshly by him. Anyone who would name a blog after Luther is obviously a little too attached to him to be reasonable, and we can see that in these responses, Mr. Swan. From these responses we would think that Luther was Mr. Swan's dad or something. Then again if the shoe fits....

To address another, Luther was not a messenger of the Gospel. He may be one of the most divisive people in the history of Christianity. There has been more disunity created by him than any who came before or after him. If that is your hero then you can have him.

Andrew said...

Mr. Bellicose,
Nobody said that you said that. Try and develope some subtelty. What has happened here is you have made a claim about Luther's state of mind at a certain point. You have been shown evidence to the contrary and yet you will not yield an inch. Luther was sad, or perhaps even depressed, but he clearly had not lost hope. I note his references to rejoicing in spirit for his daughter's salvation. You say that this blog will defend Luther at all costs, and maybe that is so. Do you not try and paint him in a negative light at all costs? Are you sure you got the whole log?

Vaughan Smith said...
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Vaughan Smith said...

He may be one of the most divisive people in the history of Christianity. There has been more disunity created by him than any who came before or after him.I follow a saviour who fulfills this statement.


Anyway, divisiveness is never wrong in and of itself. Divisiveness is justified in Luther's case, as the true church needed to cut away that which was false, just as you would remove a tumor from your leg.

Vaughan Smith said...

By the way, sorry for the rubbish formatting of my previous post.

Jerry said...

From my perspective...

Clearly, Luther's faith in Jesus Christ remained intact before and after the death of his dear daughter, whatever depth of emotions he felt.

Clearly, Luther's faith in his Savior remained intact right up to his own death.

James Swan said...

Matthew,

My dear friend Mr. Armstrong has commented on your Luther argument:

"My positions on Luther are often quite "moderate" compared to what is seen in some Catholic circles. For example, there is a current controversy going on (I've only skimmed it), where a Catholic has apparently claimed that Luther lost faith because two of his children died. I think that is outrageous and disgusting, to make such a tragic issue fodder for Luther-bashing."

He links to your blog entry. I say it's time for you to go over and do some battle with DA. That'll learn ya.

James Swan said...

....or Matthew, you could always write Bob Sungenis for help like you did last time. That seemed to work out very well.

Or, you could simply apologize, admit you're wrong, retract your statements, and tone down your rhetoric. I kinda like you, despite your hostility, terrible arguments, and double standards.

You could follow your own advise:

"Often times apologetics can get very personal and very heated, leading to uncharitable acts by all involved and I can admit that I have unfortunately fallen into this as well. For those whom I have offended by these actions I apologize to them. That being said I do not apologize for my beliefs, or for defending the Catholic Church and my faith in Christ Jesus. As they say, it is often not what you say, but the "tone" in which you say it."

Matthew Bellisario said...
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Matthew Bellisario said...

Look James. Unless you can prove that the source I provided is incorrect in claiming that Luther suffered despair then why do you continue to attack my post? Why should I apologize? My post demonstrated why this guy was not a holy example to live by. One example I gave was his state of despair over the loss of his daughter. I never said that one could not be sad over the loss. You took my comments out of context and then formed an argument on it.

This whole charade by you James here is a red-herring. If Luther was in a state of despair then my reasoning is incorrect. If he was just mourning in sadness then I would be wrong. But according to my source so far I have not been proven wrong. Maybe you'll like my new Luther series that I will be posting over the next week. And I will be using the Catholic Encyclopedia as my reference and source for all of my information. If you do not like it then you better get to typing and refute the Catholic Encyclopedia again, because every statement I make will be based on that. Enjoy!

7:55 AM, May 28, 2009
Delete

Rhology said...

Alex,

No, I am not mocking your loss, not at all. God forbid.
Andrew correctly identified my remarks as mocking Mr. Bellisario.
To mock your loss would be to mock my own.Peace,
Rhology

bkaycee said...

MB has hit rock bottom and is now starting to dig.

Matt 10:34 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35" For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW;

Turretinfan said...
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Turretinfan said...

(re-posting to correct heinous error of calling Bellisario "Luther")

Matthew Bellisario described Luther this way: "It is obvious that the man was not a charitable person in any sense of the word and even those he called his friends were treated harshly by him."

Today, Bellisario has a post up calling Luther: "Satan's Bagpipe [sic]" together with a cartoon illustration of the same.

Oh, and by the way, I wonder whether Bellisario would agree or disagree with the following statement, taken from the Vatican website:

"Religious minorities are entitled to be respected in their own religious convictions and practices. They are also entitled to their own places of worship, and their founding figures and symbols they consider sacred should not be subject to any form of mockery or ridicule."

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said...

First of all Jesus does not promote dissention within his own Church. Luther did. Secondly, Turretin, is that an inffallble statement that you were quoting? I don't have time to look it up. Besides I really like that picture. I wouldn't mind having a nice print of it blown up and framed.

Andrew said...

Of course, Mr. Bellicose, that assumes the correctness of Rome's self designation as Christ's Church. That is an assertion that is far from having been proved.

GeneMBridges said...

First of all Jesus does not promote dissention within his own Church. Jesus did not promote the treasury of merit, prayers to saints, veneration of Mary, papal infallibility, well, Matthew, the list could go on.

But let us see what the Bible says about dissent in the Church in 1 Cor. 11:

For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it.

19For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.

So, Matthew, it appears that Christ does promote divisions in the church for a particular purpose.

Rather than villifying Matthew, we should lead by example here and thank God for Matthew. He makes Protestantism look better and better every day. The latest hateful bile posted here and on his blog is a remarkable display of what Scripture says: from the heart, the mouth speaks.

Matthew is the typical high churchman, rather than consulting Scripture first, he stipulates a particular utility and then works from there.

Turretinfan said...

"Secondly, Turretin, is that an inffallble statement that you were quoting? I don't have time to look it up. Besides I really like that picture. I wouldn't mind having a nice print of it blown up and framed."

No. I don't think it would be considered infallible by most Romanists. It's interesting that whether or not it is infallible is of so little consequence to you, though. But that's a tangent. Do you accept or reject that teaching?

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said...

Am I supposed to accept the heresies of Martin Luther. What document are you quoting from.

Turretinfan said...

I promise to tell you once you tell me whether you agree with it.

-TurretinFan

Paul Hoffer said...
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Paul Hoffer said...

Mr Bellisario, the paragraph that Mr. Fan is referring to came from a statement issued by a joint Catholic-Muslim forum that met in April 2009 at the Vatican.

Alex, my wife and I, too lost a child during her first pregnancy many years ago. The solace we received was from the fact that we were able to the baby baptized and thus have the assurance that we will meet our child once again in heaven. We will pray for you this evening during our Holy Hour Eucharistic adoration that Christ Jesus will give you and your family similar solace.

As for all here, I would ask that you keep in mind 2 Tim. 2:24-26 while you contend with each other. It makes no sense to win an argument with a commenter here but lose a soul as a result of being put off by a careless remark.

God bless!

EA said...

"Rather than villifying Matthew, we should lead by example here and thank God for Matthew. He makes Protestantism look better and better every day...

Matthew is the typical high churchman, rather than consulting Scripture first, he stipulates a particular utility and then works from there."
Absolutely right!

Thank you, Lord for Matthew!! And for the reminder that we should approach your Word first!!

Amen!

James Swan said...

As for all here, I would ask that you keep in mind 2 Tim. 2:24-26 while you contend with each other. It makes no sense to win an argument with a commenter here but lose a soul as a result of being put off by a careless remark."

Paul, I don't know which particular careless remark you are referring to, but if you mean the content of Matthew's post which I originally commented on, the remarks were not careless in the sense of being put up by accident. They were deliberate and intended to vilify Luther. They were careless in the sense he did poor research to inform his opinion on Luther, but posts like his aren't put together by people who care to do research. No, it's enough to spread garbage as long as it "champions" the "Catholic" church.

I reacted as any person should to such stupid material- calling it out, and proving it was idiotic. As I stated above, I rarely get angered by the anti-Luther sentiment, but the type of rhetoric Matthew put forth was probably one of most offensive things I've seen used against Luther: the death of a young child and subsequent sorrow is proof to support the blog entry, The Tragedy of Luther's Hatred: The Last Days.

Perhaps Matthew has yet to experience serious grief in his life, so it's easy to make such comments against the loss another person suffers, however far removed he is from that time period. I'm not sure how old Matthew is, it seems to me he argues and insults because he's young and zealous. At least I hope that's the case.

James Swan said...

"Material of this sort is absolutely unacceptable in Catholic apologetics (nothing personal against Matthew). I strongly suggest that it be removed immediately, and a complete retraction made. Enemies of the faith are already exploiting this to the max...

...this stuff is way, way over the line. Not only is it uncharitable in the extreme, it isn't even remotely properly documented, and the conclusions reached seem to be based on no hard evidence whatsoever. That is two reasons to remove it and issue a retraction, with expressed regret."

So says Dave Armstrong as to Matthew Bellisario's recent post against Martin Luther.

James Swan said...

"Mr Bellisario, the paragraph that Mr. Fan is referring to came from a statement issued by a joint Catholic-Muslim forum that met in April 2009 at the Vatican."

Shame on you Paul. I was hoping to hear Matthew's answer to Tur8's "I promise to tell you once you tell me whether you agree with it."

I can only assume you posted the reference out of compassion to Matthew's suffering over here.

Matthew Bellisario said...
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Matthew Bellisario said...

Not much suffering here. Keep it with the personal attacks. You have no clue as to the personal loss I've had in my life. You should be ashamed at yourself for making such an attack. You have proven nothing except that you are emotionally attached to a heretic. Nothing more. Depsair does not equal sorrow. If you are going to argue soemthing then refute my source, not tthe fact that despair is not in accordance with Christian virtue. Then again your brand of religion probably does not differentiate. That comes with Calvinistic theology I suppose.

Dozie said...

"Religious minorities are entitled to be respected in their own religious convictions and practices..." And,

"Do you accept or reject that teaching?"

You must understand that the admonition to respect other people’s religion does not mean one cannot say something about a religion that the adherents may find offensive. Consider these:

The Catholic Church respects Mormon religion, yet she has said that Mormon baptism is of no effect.

The Catholic Church is so close to Anglicanism, yet she has dogmatically stated that Anglican Orders are null and void.

The Catholic Church respects the Lutheran religion, she has taught that Lutherans do not have valid Eucharist.

The Church does all kinds of ecumenical stuff with Evangelicals, yet she teaches that the communions of the Reformation are not churches in any proper sense.

From the mouth of popes, Luther was called a “wild boar”.

To tell Protestants of their true condition is to do them a favor. Martin Luther was a heretic and a destroyer of God’s work – the Church.

Jerry said...
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GeneMBridges said...

Dozie, you've only quoted the first part of that statement. It goes on to state:

They are also entitled to their own places of worship, and their founding figures and symbols they consider sacred should not be subject to any form of mockery or ridicule."
It's that last bit that's of importance to this discussion. This is the teaching of your communion, yet Mr. Bellisario has gone out of his way to subject Luther to mockery and ridicule.

Do you believe that Matthew is acting in accordance with the teaching of your church?

While we're at it:

The Catholic Church is so close to Anglicanism, yet she has dogmatically stated that Anglican Orders are null and void.No, she's remarkably close to Anglo-Catholicism. Catholic doctrine bears little resemblance to what one finds in the 39 Articles.

For that matter why should what Rome says of orders be of consequence to any Protestant communion. Unless you can trace every link of every chain validly, that's a problem, so if it's true for us, it's equally true of you.
So much for the validity of Catholic orders.

The Catholic Church respects the Lutheran religion, she has taught that Lutherans do not have valid Eucharist.That's what you'd expect from a communion in which you get your grace from a wafer.

The Church does all kinds of ecumenical stuff with Evangelicals, yet she teaches that the communions of the Reformation are not churches in any proper sense.Again, so what? Like a good high churchman, Dozie stipulates what constitutes a valid church before asking what the Bible says constitutes said church.

From the mouth of popes, Luther was called a “wild boar”.As if what corrupt popes had to say is of consequence to us.

To tell Protestants of their true condition is to do them a favor. Agreed, for the contrast is so stark. Every argument coming from the keyboard of Catholics like Dozie and Matthew reminds us that God did indeed revive the churches and recover the Gospel through Protestantism.

Martin Luther was a heretic and a destroyer of God’s work – the Church.Pure unadulterated ecclesiolatry.

Do Protestant denominations violate the unity of the church, as the NT defines it, Dozie?

You belong to the one true church if you are branches of the true vine, if you are sheep of the same shepherd, if you are members of a body with the same head.

Those are the NT conditions which must be met to belong to the one true church. What makes you members of the same body is if that body is connected to the same head (Christ). What makes you sheep of the same flock is if you share the same shepherd (Christ). What makes you related branches is if you grow from the same vine (Christ).

Do Protestants belong to the one true church? Some do and some don’t. If a Protestant is a true Christian, then Christ is his shepherd, vine, and head. If not, then he’s not a member of the one true church.

Do Catholics belong to the one true church? Some do and some don’t. If a Catholic is a true Christian, then Christ is his shepherd, vine, and head. If not, then he’s not a member of the one true church.

That’s how the NT describes church unity. Those are the NT terms of church unity–according to NT figures of speech which Catholicism itself identifies as ecclesiastical metaphors.

Unity is not defined by whether or not you belong to the same denomination. Rather, unity is defined from the top-down. If Christ is your shepherd, then you belong to his flock. If Christ is your head, then you belong to his body.

Church unity is defined by union with Christ, not union with Rome. If you say otherwise, you're guilty of ecclesiolatry.

Andrew said...

Mr. Bellicose,
You have been refuted with Luther's own words. You simply refuse to see it. I'm afraid there's nothing more I, or anyone else can say to you. Respond to me however you like, but more posting on a topic upon which a supposedly reasonable man cannot even concede a simple point is, in my mind, utter stupidity, and a complete waste of time.

James Swan said...

Dozie,

I'm going to try and let you post again. You can disagree, but try to do so civilly.

James Swan said...

"You have proven nothing except that you are emotionally attached to a heretic."

Matthew,

This entire discussion should really serve as a wake up call. Doesn't it strike you as odd that both myself and Mr. Armstrong are in agreement on your argumentation? Don't you find it odd that two people from two very different perspectives that don't usually agree on anything are saying pretty much the same thing in response to you? I know I find it very odd, to say the least. It's almost like an episode of Star Trek, or the X Files.

Turretinfan said...

"You must understand that the admonition to respect other people’s religion does not mean one cannot say something about a religion that the adherents may find offensive."

I think it probably means not calling Luther, "Satan's Bagpipe[sic]" and not posting mocking cartoons of the devil using Luther's head as a set of bagpipes.

-TurretinFan

Dozie said...

“Do you believe that Matthew is acting in accordance with the teaching of your church?”

I believe Matthew is telling the truth. I hope that matters?

“No, she's remarkably close to Anglo-Catholicism. Catholic doctrine bears little resemblance to what one finds in the 39 Articles.”

Here you illustrate the problem of sola scriptura. I used “close” to describe the proximity in relationship between the Church of Rome and the church of England; I was not discussing similarities. Whatever Anglo-Catholics do in their worship, it is not Eucharistic and therefore the distance, in nature, between the two is infinite.

“For that matter why should what Rome says of orders be of consequence to any Protestant communion.”

I was wondering about that too. Why are you interested in what the Church says about respecting other religions? Is the Church right or wrong in the position she had put forth on this question? Is the Church believable and is she worthy of a following? Either way you answer, you will see why you are not in a position to be asking the kind of question you and your group are asking of Matthew unless, of course, you want to remain inconsistent.

“Again, so what? Like a good high churchman, Dozie stipulates what constitutes a valid church before asking what the Bible says constitutes said church.”

Notable Protestant theologians such as Michael Horton have already admitted that Protestantism does not have a good theology of the Church. This means that I can have no confidence that whatever you conclude from your reading of the bible with respect to the Church is of any value.

“As if what corrupt popes had to say is of consequence to us.”

A moment ago you were citing the Vatican and demanding that Matthew adheres to what it has taught.

“Do Protestant denominations violate the unity of the church, as the NT defines it, Dozie?”

To be continued…

GeneMBridges said...

I believe Matthew is telling the truth. I hope that matters? Now you're dissimulating, Dozie. Do you believe that ridicule is appropriate, yes or no? Your communion says no.

Here you illustrate the problem of sola scriptura. I used “close” to describe the proximity in relationship between the Church of Rome and the church of England; I was not discussing similarities. Whatever Anglo-Catholics do in their worship, it is not Eucharistic and therefore the distance, in nature, between the two is infinite.
That's what one would expect from somebody who gets grace from a wafer.

BTW, I answer you on your own level. You're now adding details not in your original. That's a tacit admission your first argument failed.

Why are you interested in what the Church says about respecting other religions? You really should learn how to follow an argument. TF is merely answering Matthew on Matthew's own level. You and he stipulate to the teachings of your Church, so TF, James, and I are answering you on your own level.

Notable Protestant theologians such as Michael Horton have already admitted that Protestantism does not have a good theology of the Church. This means that I can have no confidence that whatever you conclude from your reading of the bible with respect to the Church is of any value.Notice that Dozie doesn't actually tell us what Horton means when he says that. Of course, Horton comes from Westminster Seminary,CA. Why should a Presbyterian's opinion have any weight with me, a Baptist? Horton is not my rule of faith.

And notice how Dozie further skirts the issue, for the objection I raised is that Dozie first stipulates the utility of a rule of faith or ecclesiology and then castigates Protestantism for not measuring up...rather than beginning with the Bible.

A moment ago you were citing the Vatican and demanding that Matthew adheres to what it has taught.Holding Matthew to the teachings of your communion with respect to the treatment of others' founding figures is called answering a man on his own level.

And we can demand the same of you.

You citing the personal opinions of popes is hardly convertible with the official statements of your communion. So, you analogy, if you can call it that, fails at the critical point of comparison.

James Swan said...

Matthew Bellisario states on his blog: "Rather than solely attack my argument based the sources I used to come to my conclusion, they just attacked me personally trying to hi-jack the argument and demonize me instead." He cites this "research" of his, as that to which I did not respond:

“This is hardly the example of a holy person. How easy it is to take joy in your enemies destruction. This is however the opposite to how Christ acted in the Scriptures. While Luther scoffed at the death of his enemies, Luther could not deal with death in his own family at all, in fact it brought him despair. The Saints did not act like this when faced with obstacles such as these. They looked to God in their trials of life, while Luther looked to himself. In fact after his daughter died it was said that instead of being at peace with God he went into depression. One writer says, "Whilst the plague was sweeping Europe, the untimely death of his daughter Magdelena sets him off into a deep depression and ruminations on the signs of the End Days." (C.D. Merriman)(2)These are not the only examples of his pathetic spiritual condition. It is written that his last sermon was not one of hope but of despair, "His last sermon in Wittenberg (17 Jan., 1546) is in a vein of despondency and despair. "Usury, drunkenness, adultery, murder, assassination, all these can be noticed, and the world understands them to be sins, but the devil's bride, reason, that pert prostitute struts in, and will be clever and means what she says, that it is the Holy Ghost" (op. cit., XVI, 142-48). The same day he pens the pathetic lines "I am old, decrepit, indolent, weary, cold, and now have the sight of but one eye" (De Wette, op. cit., V, 778). Nevertheless peace was not his." (1)”


I in fact did examine the sources used by Mr. Bellisario. The statements by C.D. Merriman were just that, statements with no substance. Had C.D. Merriman offered some sort of proof or documentation for his assertions, then interaction with his point could proceed. Merriman says only, "Whilst the plague was sweeping Europe, the untimely death of his daughter Magdelena sets him off into a deep depression and ruminations on the signs of the End Days." I then posted this material from Luther's own hand as to his demeanor after the death o his daughter. This in fact is a response to Merriman's point with substance: historical data that can be interacted with.

Previous to this post, I responded to Bellisario's use of the Catholic Encyclopedia's "Luther's last sermon" and Luther's "vein of despondency and despair" and the "pathetic lines " from De Wette, op. cit., V, 778. this entry can be found here: Proof of Luther's "pathetic spiritual condition".The heart of Mr. Bellisario's points were addressed. Bellisario states, "I merely pointed out from 2 sources which claimed that Luther went into despair after his daughters death. I pointed out that this reaction was not a pious one. Despair is quite different from sadness. Swan came unglued and blew everything out of proportion as usual.." Mr. Bellisario's sources were refuted.

Matthew Bellisario said...

James once again you did not address my main point. Do you see the word 'solely' in the post? That means you did much more than attack the source. It means that you engaged in actions that went beyond that. Do you not remember writing these things after I explained the difference between despair and sadness?

“ Perhaps Bellisario has yet to suffer loss. I dare him to find a Catholic who's recently lost a child or a spouse, and put forth this type of stupidity,...”

Or
“Matthew, You are truly ignorant.”

or,
“I rarely get angered by the anti-Luther sentiment, but the type of rhetoric Matthew put forth was probably one of most offensive things I've seen used against Luther: the death of a young child and subsequent sorrow is proof to support the blog entry, The Tragedy of Luther's Hatred: The Last Days. Indeed, L.P. is right, his is a glory theology.”

Did yo not admit that you yourself found a source to corroborate what I wrote?

"“I have found only one source so far that mentions Luther had a "loss of faith" for a time after his daughter's death, but no documentation is provided. I'm really not going to keep looking. Since Matthew made the argument, it's up to him to provide his proof.”

Did you not stand by while your henchmen on your blog attacked me personally while you sat on your throne ignoring your original post which did not even correctly address my point? Read your opening paragraph. You are way off base in your attack.

But that was not good enough for you was it James? Oh no you had to go on writing,

"Perhaps Matthew has yet to experience serious grief in his life, so it's easy to make such comments against the loss another person suffers, however far removed he is from that time period. I'm not sure how old Matthew is, it seems to me he argues and insults because he's young and zealous. At least I hope that's the case."

You don't know the first thing about my losses, yet you could not resist could you? Once again you have made yourself look bad. You did not read my post. I never said you did not respond later to the sources. I pointed out that fact did I not? You did much more than that however did you not? That is what the word solely means. It means not only, or not alone.

Are you now going to say that your original post addressed the two paragraphs that you came unglued over with substantial sources to counter mine? Or as we can all see was it not a personal attack which was completely misinterpreted by yourself confusing my term of despair and sadness, which you tried to impose on me from the beginning? You are really going off the reservation here.

May 30, 2009 9:45 AM

Alex said...

James do you agree with Armstrong that Luther had bipolar disorder?

bkaycee said...

Killing the messenger (Luther) in lieu of any argument against Romans, Ephesians, Galations, etc, is an admission of defeat.

Is Calvin and Zwingli, next up on your hit list?

I am eternally grateful that the "one true church" has lost its temporal power to "dialogue" with the "separated brethren", with MB around.

James Swan said...

Matthew stated, "James once again you did not address my main point. Do you see the word 'solely' in the post? That means you did much more than attack the source. It means that you engaged in actions that went beyond that." Matthew also stated, "Are you now going to say that your original post addressed the two paragraphs that you came unglued over with substantial sources to counter mine? "

The "two paragraphs" were addressed in two blog posts: Proof of Luther's "pathetic spiritual condition" and Are you on your way to sainthood?. So far you've ignored interacting with the historical data provided. You did not prove by your material your statement, "Luther looked to himself" rather than looking to God in the trials of life.

As to "attacking you," you seem befuddled by my taking your paradigm of reality and applying argumentum ad abusrdum. It's absurd to think that a person suffering from depression, despair, sadness, or whatever... is in some way not on their way to "sainthood," or somehow spiritually inferior to your "saints." From a Reformation perspective, a believer is already a saint by Christ's imputed perfect righteousness. From a Roman Catholic perspective, go argue with Dave Armstrong. Even if your paradigm of "despair is not befitting of a saint" is an accurate description of Roman Catholic theology, it only serves me as another example of Rome's false gospel.

James Swan said...

Alex asked, "James do you agree with Armstrong that Luther had bipolar disorder?" Overall, I look down on the psycho-historical approach to history as I've outlined here: Using Psycho History To Interpret Luther: A Response To Art Sippo.

Interestingly, Mr. Armstrong cites Gordon Rupp as thinking Erikson produced some sort of commendable study on Luther's psychology. I have an earlier version of
"John Osborne and the Historical Luther," and Rupp takes apart Osborne's play because it relies on Erikson's faulty analysis. Armstrong also cites Luther's last Battles and wonders who the people are in footnote 11. These happen to be none other than, as Edwards calls them, "notorious" Catholic sources: Denifle, Grisar, and Reiter of which Edwards says Erikson drew heavily from. Edwards then cites a book I've used for an excellent rebuttal to the psycho-historical approach: Psychohistory and Religion: The Case of Young Man Luther (Philadelphia, 1977).

James Swan said...

I've used Psychohistory and Religion: The Case of Young Man Luther (Philadelphia, 1977) in the following posts: Was Luther an Abused Child in a Dysfunctional Family?and also-
Luther Myths: A Response...

Anyone who champions psycho-history should at least have a copy of this book before proceeding. Honesty demands this. If one is going to champion a particular approach to Luther, shouldn't they at least be familiar with the best counter arguments? I've yet to find any Catholic layman- apologists even caring what the counter argumentation is.

I guess I'm supposed to post all the counter arguments to save them the effort of buying the book. Is it just me...or are certain people so hypnotized by Google Books and the Internet that research ceases if a book isn't free on line? "Oh well, the book is 10 or 20 bucks, I guess I'm going to have to remain ignorant as to the counter argumentation."

When I started responding to Catholic stuff against Luther, I went and found the books, and in many cases, purchased them.

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Mr. Swan,

I was reacting to overall tenor of the comments on both sides that seemed to degrade the discussion here when I made my remarks.

As far as Mr. Bellisario's writing abour Fr. Luther, I would note (having been treated for clinical depression earlier in life) that here is a great deal of difference between emotional despair and spiritual despair and only the latter is a sin.

Frankly, all saints have faced despair and it is a mark of saintliness in how they used it to further the Gospel or to make themselves more holy. Saint John of the Cross wrote, “The soul must journey to God by knowing God through what God is not, rather than by knowing what God is.”

St. Peter certainly despaired when the cock crowed a third time after denying Our Lord. His response was far different than Judas who responded to his despair in the worst way imaginable.

As for spoiling Mr. Fan's question, that was not my intent. Since I have written on the topic of Vatican II and Islam, I have been keeping somewhat up on Catholic/Muslim dialogue and had read the joint statement from whence Mr. Fan took his quote. It is an interesting piece, The ongoing dialogues that produced it may actually lead to allowing Christians to openly worship in closed Islamic societies which is a very good thing.

God bless!

James Swan said...

Paul Hoffer stated, "As far as Mr. Bellisario's writing abour Fr. Luther, I would note (having been treated for clinical depression earlier in life) that here is a great deal of difference between emotional despair and spiritual despair and only the latter is a sin."

As I stated previously, from a Reformation perspective, a believer is already a saint by Christ's imputed perfect righteousness. If your distinction is an accurate description of Roman Catholic theology, I appreciate the distinction, but deny the paradigm that underlies it, and it serves as another example of that false paradigm.

Based though on your distinction, the death of Luther's daughter probably did not lead to "spiritual despair," as the evidence I presented bears out. Even if it did, he did not stay in that continual state, nor did it last long, but again the evidence (so far) doesn't bear out "spiritual despair." From the evidence, he appears to have handled his daughter's death in a Godly and admirable way.

Paul Hoffer said...

Mr. Swan wrote: "As I stated previously, from a Reformation perspective, a believer is already a saint by Christ's imputed perfect righteousness. If your distinction is an accurate description of Roman Catholic theology, I appreciate the distinction, but deny the paradigm that underlies it, and it serves as another example of that false paradigm."

My reply: This, of course, would be a far worthier topic to discuss than what has been discussed to date, and one that I would be willing to engage in with you.

As for Fr. Luther's mental or spiritual state after his little one's death, his correspondence and writings does seem to suggest that he recovered his loss. While I think I understand what Mr. Bellisario was getting at after reading his blog, the actual record based on first-hand evidence appears to rebut his premise.

God bless!

Kepha said...

If Luthern went into despair, so what you stupid-ass? They were his little princesses. What an idiot.

Sorry, tq, it's just that I have two daughters, one named Elizabeth Rose and the other Magdalene Therese. I would probably go into despair and depression if my little princesses were taken from me.

Alex said...

The best evidence suggests that Luther did not fall into spiritual despair (Kepha, make sure you are making the proper distinctions).

I also have two daughters, and I would be extremely saddened if I were to lose them. With that being said, I would hope not to fall into spiritual despair because that is not in conformity with Christianity.

Matthew Bellisario said...

James Swan, are you having trouble keeping up quality control on your blog? You have kicked off Catholics for writing this kind of crap. Good job. Kepha writes, (If Luthern went into despair, so what you stupid-ass?)And Kepha can't even spell Luther correctly. Wouldn't this be a perfect example of the pot calling the kettle black? I'm just saying....

Turretinfan said...

Should one care about the facts ...

Kepha has been in full communion with Rome since 2001, according to his blog.

Andrew said...

Oh TF, there you go with those nettlesome facts again. Why can't you just take whatever Mr. Bellicose says and uncritically accept it? I think we would all be better off if you did.

Kepha said...

James,

You already know this since this is your blog, but let me say anyway, feel free to delete or edit my comment. I just couldn't help myself. Although I disagree with James White, and strongly so, Mr. Bellisario's comments are a perfect example of "anything goes as long as it's in the service of Mother Church." Unbelievable.

It would be interesting to contrast the recently published letters of Bl Mother Theresa and the ones you quote from Luther.