Monday, January 14, 2008

The Helping Hands of Turretinfan

I wanted to point out an error I made a few days ago. I stated that in this research project on an oft-cited Luther quote by Roman Catholics I was all on my own, while on the other side of the Tiber, a Roman apologist, Steve Ray, and Paul Hoffer were busy working together (I'm expected to respond to three different people). A few days ago a Roman apologist pointed out that I was "lazy" because I hadn't translated a document for him that he was using to build arguments from (it was in Latin and he couldn't read it).

My error really isn't an error (I was using bait and switch), well it wasn't a few days ago. But now if I claim "I'm all alone" I would not be telling the truth. Turretinfan has put together a very interesting post:

A Quick Footnote to the Luther Citation Dialogue

I'm very thankful to him for such an intriguing entry. Here are some others:

Luther Citation Discussion - Status Report

I've been very busy the last day or so, mostly preparing material for a lecture. I have not had a chance to check my detractor's blog for the latest Spy vs.Spy developments (or, to translate, "I've been too lazy").

However (and maybe my detractors have already mentioned this), I've had a suspicion that the quote we've been chasing entered into popular usage through a secondary source. That is, an early writer, probably a Catholic writer, pulled the quote from Luther's writings. In fact, I think it's very possible that my detractor actually figured out this secondary source already to give weight to my theory:

St. Robert Bellarmine, Disputations About the Controversies of the Christian Faith Against the Heretics of This Time (Disputationes de Controversiis Christianae Fidei Adversus Hujus Temporis Haereticos), 3 volumes: Ingolstadt: 1586-1593 [published 1856; digitized 5 March 2007] [online link to the relevant section, p. 76] [Catholic]:"si diutius, inquit steterit mundus, iterum erit necessarium, ut Scripturae interpretationes quae nunc sunt, propter diversas ad conservandam fidei unitatem, conciliorum decreta recipiamus, atque ad ea confugiamus." English translation: none provided.

Could Bellarmine be the culprit? Or was it the Preface to the Rheims New Testament (1582) that my detractors found? Or was this source used by Bellarmine? Bellarmine seems like a likely candidate for both Catholics and Protestants to be the source for subsequent usage of this quote.

The Roman apologist, Ray, and Hoffer have done some interesting work on this. I realize that the three of them don't agree on all their own findings. However, I think the Roman apologist and I are united in the fact that Steve Ray's "Letter to Zwingli" does not exist, and that the treatise I brought forth is that from which the quote comes. The Roman apologist though has been arguing that intelligent men throughout history are using the quote in a similar way to that of Mr. Ray. It's really the argument that "x number of people have used the quote like Steve Ray has, so Swan is wrong on his interpretation." I'd like to leave this apologist some advice from Catholic apologist Karl Keating:

"We are to believe that, if "most theologians" hold a position on a certain issue, the position must be true. That’s flabby thinking. Recall the movie Twelve Angry Men. It was about how one juror held out for acquittal, turned out to be right, and eventually convinced the other eleven. No one watching that movie would have thought it good if the lone juror had decided to go along with the others merely because "most jurors" initially believed in the defendant’s guilt. Keep in mind that theologians do not enjoy the charism of infallibility. At times "most theologians" simply are wrong about a particular point. We need to examine the point itself, not take a hand count.

Along these lines Henri de Lubac wrote about an incident in the life of Paul Claudel, the French statesman, poet, and playwright. In 1907 Claudel received a letter from Jacques Riviere, "a young intellectual nearly destroyed by the pernicious philosophies of the day." Riviere wrote, "I can see that Christianity is dying. . . . People no longer know why our towns are still surmounted by spires which are no longer the prayers of any of us; they don’t know what is the point of those great buildings which are now hemmed in by railway stations and hospitals and from which the people themselves have expelled the monks; they don’t know why the graveyards display pretentious stucco crosses of execrable design." De Lubac remarked, "And Claudel’s answer to that cry of anguish was undoubtedly a good one: ‘Truth is not concerned with how many people it convinces.’"

1 comment:

Turretinfan said...

Thanks for the plug!