AN OPEN LETTER TO THE REV THEOPHILUS LE MENANT DES-CHESNAIS BY RRV WILLIAM GILLIES, PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, TIMARU.
Now, I realize this doesn't seem like a Reformation debate, but I assure you it is. It appears to be between a Presbyterian minister (Rev. William Gillies) and a Roman Catholic (The Very Rev. Theoppilus Le Menant Des Chesnais, L.M., Vicar General and Administrator of the Diocese of Christchurch), circa 1896.
The link is fascinating because it demonstrates how Rome's defenders- even back in the 1800's- quoted the Protestant Reformers. Rev. Gillies simply nailed his Roman Catholic opponent when it came to documenting and quoting sources. Rev. Theoppilus Le Menant Des Chesnais made a number of outrageous statements about John Calvin, Rev. Gillies simply went back to the primary sources and demonstrated they were false. Here's some of the things claimed about Calvin:
Calvin "admitted that praying for the dead was of Apostolic origin."
Calvin "in his commentary on the second chapter of the second epistle of St. Peter says: — 'Nine out of ten of the evangelical ministers embraced the Reformation simply to lead a life of debauchery.'"
"In his (Calvin's) book on scandals he declares that 'pastors of souls give this example of perversity and all vices.' I am astonished, he adds, that women and children do not cover them with mud and filth.'"
"When he (Calvin) was about to die he cried out, 'The future frightens me, I am afraid to think of it ; unless our Lord should come down from heaven, barbarity is going to swallow us up.'"Rev. Gillies knocks all these down by simply going to the sources. The response from Rev. Theoppilus Le Menant Des Chesnais is included in the link. If you want to see a great example of obfuscation, read it. The response attempts to squirm out of every error by doing such acrobatics like: quoting Luther from other secondary sources (in response to a Calvin mis-citation!), referring to other secondary sources, passing the buck to blame those secondary sources for his own blunders: "We have all to take many quotations on trust, as it is impossible in all cases to procure the original text." Now that's funny: Rome's present day defenders have offered the same sort of response at times to me.
There appears to be a number of other layers to this discussion, perhaps available from the same website. So far, I've been able to locate a few others I'll highlight in future blog entries.
I came across this old debate while looking for this Luther quote. Check out the interaction between these men, and how the quote is used:
You say that Calvin "in his commentary on the second chapter of the second epistle of St. Peter says: — " Nine out of ten of the evangelical ministers embraced the Reformation simply to lead a life of debauchery.' Such a statement as that bears on the very face of it the brand of falsehood. Had such been the case, would Calvin have been idiot enough to blazon it in the face of the world? I challenge you to produce any edition of Calvin's commentary in which that, or any such statement, is to be found. I have gone carefully over that chapter, and I affirm that nothing of the kind is there. The onus of proof lies with you. Produce the book, and I will be proved wrong, I will give you a very different quotation, for which I can produce the book, from his comment on that very chapter in Peter. On verse 19 he says : "The Papists turn and twist this passage against us, but they thereby betray their ridiculous impudence. For in the first place men of the filthiest life, in public houses and brothels belch out this charge, that we are the servants of corruption, in the life of whom they cannot point out anything reproachful."
Rev. Theoppilus Le Menant Des Chesnais:
You say "such a statement as that bears on the very face of it the brand of falsehood. Had such been the case, would Calvin have been idiot enough to blazon it in the face of the world?" Was Martin Luther an idiot? Hear how he speaks of the reformers: Alluding to his followers in Germany, he says that "everything is reversed, the world grows every day the worse for this teaching (of the Reformation); and the misery of it is that men are now-a-days more covetous, more hard-hearted, more corrupted, more licentious, and more wicked than of old under the Papacy." (Die Reform., vol. i., p. 279). Again, he says: " Our evangelicals are now seven-fold more wicked than they were before. In proportion as we hear the Gospel, we steal, lie, cheat, forge, and commit every crime." (Ibid., p. 197). For conformatory evidence see Austral Cath. Rec. Oct. 1895, p. 555-557, Most Rev. Carr. ("The Church and the Bible"). It the Rev William Gillies will take the trouble to take a five minutes' walk and go to the Catholic Presbytery, Timaru, he will be shown the viii. volume of Rohrbacher, Book lxxxviii., where he will find the confirmatory evidence of my statement, and much more about his favourite Calvin. I also invite him to read the " History of the Reformation " by the Most Rev Dr Spalding, Baltimore, 1870 — "The Reformation in Geneva," chap. xiv. He will find there a great deal more than what I have stated with the references to the authentic archives of Geneva, where all those facts brought against Calvin are mostly taken from. Those documents cannot be disproved, and show that Calvin and his followers were not holy, pious men, as represented by Beza, but, with few exceptions, quite the contrary.
JS: In fairness to Rev. Theoppilus Le Menant Des Chesnais, I attempted to locate "the viii. volume of Rohrbacher, Book lxxxviii." I admit to not completely understanding the reference, but I did search through a number of these volumes and came up with nothing.