Thursday, January 08, 2015

When the Defenders of Rome Refute Themselves

In a video presentation, Devin Rose stated:

“Now on the back [James White] got a quote from Martin Luther, right, so he’s got a quote from Martin Luther but, White’s not a Lutheran. Nor does he believe in Lutheran doctrines, nor does he believe in doctrines Martin Luther believed in. Martin Luther wanted to remove four books from the New Testament. Martin Luther believed in Marian veneration and in Mary’s perpetual virginity. James White doesn’t believe that, so why is he quoting Luther? Right? It’s the same silly stuff that you see over and over again.”

Why would Dr. White quote Luther? Mr. Rose doesn't answer in the video. His point appears to be that because James White isn't a Lutheran, he shouldn't cite Luther.

Devin Rose though answers his own argument in his book:

"Martin Luther sparked the Protestant Reformation and formulated the key tenets still held by all Protestants today: sola fide and sola scriptura. He also had a key role in discerning the Protestant canon of Scripture. Since Protestantism’s foundation is so closely tied to Luther’s personal theological judgment, it’s reasonable to expect that he would have had personal holiness to match."

I hadn't realized that Mr. Rose gave an interpretive comment on the following Luther quote:

The Word comes first, and with the Word the Spirit breathes upon my heart so that I believe.— Martin Luther

Mr. Rose says, "An okay quote, as far as it goes. But the problem with it for White is that Luther is talking about his own faith and beliefs, how the Word and the Spirit combine to bless him with his (implicitly great) faith."

First, the quote is actually a Table Talk statement, not a direct quote. Second, Luther isn't simply "talking about his own faith and beliefs." Rather, the context is about  how people have the Holy Spirit and don't always immediately realize it.

Here's what is stated:
No. 402: The Relation of Word, Spirit, and Faith December, 1532
 “Faith and the Spirit go together, but the Spirit is not always revealed. So Cornelius had the Holy Spirit before Peter came to him, although he didn’t know it. Those in the book of Acts who said, ‘We don’t know the Holy Spirit,’ also had the Spirit, just as the patriarchs in the Old Testament had Christ, although they didn’t know him. They clung to the Word, and through it they received the Holy Spirit. Later in the book of Acts he was manifested to them outwardly. It’s to be understood thus: The Word comes first, and with the Word the Spirit breathes upon my heart so that I believe. Then I feel that I have become a different person and I recognize that the Holy Spirit is there. Accordingly these are two things: to have the Holy Spirit and to know that you have him. When somebody speaks in your ear, you hardly hear his words before [you feel] his breath, so strong is the breath. Even so, when the Word is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit accompanies it and breathes upon your heart. The sophists say that this is reflected knowledge, as an image is reflected in a mirror. When the Word is scattered abroad the Holy Spirit blows upon us, but he must also breathe upon us inwardly. Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 54: Table Talk. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, and H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 54, p. 63). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
Mr. Rose continues: "The quote then, where Luther describes how God has enlightened him with such faith, is a bizarre one to use by White, as their two faiths contradict one another on important doctrines. This is what I criticized in my video." It appears to me, this budding apologist doesn't check a context before he pronounces on it. If he did check the context, his interpretation is that which is bizarre.


zipper778 said...

This post blew me away. I am currently going over "The Protestant's Dilemma" right now with a Roman Catholic. At first I thought I was going to find something interesting in it, but it so far has ammounted to nothing more then Roman Catholic back-patting. Mr. Rose basically uses CtC for his quotes and many sources.

Plus his quotes cut out things that would disprove his point. And here I thought Patrick Madrid and his "Where is that in the Bible" book was unimpressive.

James Swan said...

If I recall, Mr. Rose has stopped by a couple of times. He did get some of my $$ for his book, so I think I deserve the right to comment on his argumentation.

Ken Abbott said...

Last autumn, I used a lengthy critique Mr. Rose put up on Amazon regarding Kevin DeYoung's little gem of a book called "Taking God at His Word" in my adult Sunday school class as an example of bad RC arguments regarding the Reformation doctrine of Scripture. It's a shame he managed to convince some benighted publishing house to put his stuff into print.

James Swan said...

Ken Abbott:

Thanks for the comment. I've not read either "Taking God at His Word" or the subsequent review, but after watching the video Mr. Rose put up and skimming through his book, I understand how you were able to use examples in a Sunday School class.

One brief note for the few of you following this: Mr. Rose did take down his video (along with the comments) and is determined to post another blog entry explaining things (like maybe why he refused to go on Moody radio with Dr. White?). It just goes to show that a 3 minute YouTube video can put one on the radar, for better or for worse.

Since I purchased Devin's book, I plan on delving into it, time allowing. Obviously, I'll be most interested in his use of sources and quotes pertaining to the Reformation. I did post a comment on his blog letting him know that he mis-read Luther's Table Talk (or he may not have read it all)

He hasn't responded, which is OK, I'm sure he has enough "apologetics" on his plate at the moment to contend with. The tedium of quoting something out-of-context, or mis-reading a context probably isn't his high priority right now.

I would speculate that there are things going on behind the scenes with Mr. Rose and other cyber Roman-apologists on how he should work through the mess he's made. Or perhaps I should say, I hope there are mentors he's working with. There have been times in which I've reached out to others for wisdom with how best to respond to a situation.

The thing with the Internet is that folks come along all the time and deem themselves "apologists." In Devin's case, he says, "I entered full communion with the Catholic Church in 2001 and ten years later God called me to become an apologist" ( This isn't the first time I've read someone with a blog or webpage claiming God called them to this or that. The irony of course is when Rome's defenders do it. They'll never concede God called the Reformers. But of course, they know God called them to be Roman Catholic apologists. Perhaps after the YouTube debacle he brought on himself, he'll ponder his "calling" a little deeper.

eltheoldsoul said...

I'm not an atheist. does this mean I can't agree with Bill Maher's comments regarding Islam on the Jimmy Kimmel show? Silly.