Thursday, January 31, 2013

SDA's Using Karlstadt and Luther to Prove the Saturday Sabbath

A few years back I came across advocates of Seventh Day Adventism using Luther to prove soul sleep (part 2; part 3). I Recently came across an odd one from the CARM Seventh Day Adventism discussion board. It's a brief comment about Luther and Karlstadt on the Saturday sabbath. Luther did not advocate the Saturday Sabbath but his associate, Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt, did. The relationship between these two men is certainly complex. It begins with Karlstadt opposing Luther, accepting Luther, and then opposing Luther again. These two men spent many years forcefully writing against each other.

Here's how Karlstadt and Luther are portrayed by a CARM Sabbatarian:
The Sabbath was brought up at the Council of Trent. The Catholic Church used it against the Reformers and Sola Scriptura. Luther knew about it, and rejected it. He instead, accepted the tradition of the church. And his followers also.) Here are a few quotes.
“Consequently, the claim of Scripture alone as the standard fails and the doctrine of ‘Scripture and tradition’ as essential is “fully established”, the Protestants themselves being Judges”! (The Proceedings of the Council of Trent, 17th session, 1562)

(In other words, the Arch Bishop of Reggio turned the council against Luther and the Reformers by stating that “by not accepting the Sabbath stated in Scripture, they [Luther and the Reformers] were holding on to the traditions laid down by the Western Church by observing Sunday as a sacred day of rest”! What an admission! The Sabbath was not a new concept to Luther, having learned so much about it from a very close friend who had been very instrumental in his success. Andres Rudolf B. Carlstadt (1480-1541) was a man spoken of many times by Luther, and considered a mentor to him in many respects. He was as much an authoritarian on the Sabbath as anyone during the Reformation, and worked very hard in trying to persuade Luther to understand the necessity of honoring the Scriptures alone proclamation by its [The Sabbath] observance!)

D’Aubigne states that “Luther admitted that Carlstadt was his superior in learning” (Fifields History, book10 p. 315)

“The observance of the Seventh Day was being revived in Luther’s time by Carlstadt”. Treatsie of the Sabbath, page 8)

“Indeed, if Carlstadt were to write further about the Sabbath, Sunday would have to give way, and the Sabbath- that is to say, Saturday- must be kept Holy” (Martin Luther Against the Celestial Prophets).

I do not iconize any man. IMO, Luther failed at Trent concerning Sola Scriptura. He simply gave in to the church and its tradition.
This turned out to be... a cut-and-paste, slightly re-worded. I found the same sort of content on this page: Why the Protestant Reformation Failed! Also, some of the material is on this Ellen G. White page. Some of the material makes it back to books from the 1800's. While the issue of proving the Saturday sabbath was the intent of the CARM participant, my specific interest here is in the historical image of Luther and Karlstadt.

Karlstadt Luther's Mentor?
The first thing I found interesting was the image of Karlstadt.  Karlstadt is viewed as Luther's "mentor" and "his superior in learning." Here's how I read what the CARM Sabbatarian is saying: Karlstadt held to the Saturday sabbath. He was Luther's mentor, and smarter than Luther (by Luther's own admission). Therefore, Luther should have followed Karlstadt on this issue. He did not because he "gave in to the church and tradition" rather than practicing sola scriptura like Karlstadt did.

Karlstadt was probably a few years older than Luther (LW 40:75). As to being Luther's "mentor," Martin Brecht, in his book, Martin Luther, His Road to Reformation, states Karlstadt "...did not even own a Bible when he earned the doctor of theology degree or for many years afterward... Karlstadt's respect for Luther was based on the latters stupendous knowledge of the Bible" (p. 84). In terms of Bible knowledge, Karlstadt certainly wasn't Luther's mentor. Brecht also describes that Luther won Karlstadt over to his position. Whereas early on Karlstadt, a strong scholastic papist opposed Luther, he eventually conceded Luther's position on the papacy and describes how Luther was instrumental in Karlstadt's abandonment of scholastic theology (pp. 168-170).

The quote from D’Aubigne that “Luther admitted that Carlstadt was his superior in learning” was somewhat of a challenge to locate. I'm not exactly sure what the reference  "Fifields History, book 10 p. 315" is.  That is, I'm not sure what "Fifields History" means. However, the quote in question comes from book 10 page 315 of  History of the Reformation.  D’Aubigne  recounts the eventual turmoil in the relationship between the two (particularly on the Lord's Supper, not the sabbath), and says:
Carlstadt sought refuge at Strasburg, where he published several writings. “He was well acquainted,” says Doctor Scheur, “with Latin, Greek, and Hebrew;” and Luther acknowledged him to be his superior in learning. Endowed with great powers of mind, he sacrificed to his convictions fame, station country, and even his bread."
D'Aubigne doesn't document exactly who "Doctor Scheur" is and to what text he refers. Nor is it clear if D'Aubigne is quoting Scheur stating "Luther acknowledged him to be his superior in learning." Certainly there were very cordial and flattering things said about his colleague Karlstadt. However, the majority of comments made by Luther about Karlstadt are generally negative.  He wrote more about Karlstadt negatively than he did positively. It's hard to imagine Luther admitting Karlstadt his superior in... anything. The comment from D'Aubigne appears to be in reference to Karlstadt's knowledge of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.

Karlstadt Was Convincing on the Sabbath?
The second point of interest is the quote from Luther, “Indeed, if Carlstadt were to write further about the Sabbath, Sunday would have to give way, and the Sabbath- that is to say, Saturday- must be kept Holy” (Martin Luther Against the Celestial Prophets). This reference is to  Against the Heavenly Prophets in the Matter of Images and Sacraments found in LW 40.  The context shows Luther's comment was quite sarcastic against Karlstadt:
Now then, let us get to the bottom of it all and say that these teachers of sin and Mosaic prophets are not to confuse us with Moses. We don’t want to see or hear Moses. How do you like that, my dear rebels? We say further, that all such Mosaic teachers deny the gospel, banish Christ, and annul the whole New Testament. I now speak as a Christian for Christians. For Moses is given to the Jewish people alone, and does not concern us Gentiles and Christians. We have our gospel and New Testament. If they can prove from them that images must be put away, we will gladly follow them. If they, however, through Moses would make us Jews, we will not endure it. What do you think? What will become of this? It will become evident that these factious spirits understand nothing in the Scriptures, neither Moses nor Christ, and neither seek nor find anything therein but their own dreams. And our basis for this assertion is from St. Paul (I Tim. 1[:9]), “The law is not laid down for the just” (which a Christian is). And Peter (Acts 15[:10–11]), “Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” With this saying (as Paul with his) Peter abrogates for the Christian the whole of Moses with all his laws.
Yes, you say, that is perhaps true with respect to the ceremonial and the judicial law, that is, what Moses teaches about the external order of worship or of government. But the decalogue, that is, the Ten Commandments, are not abrogated. There is nothing of ceremonial and judicial law in them. I answer: I know very well that this is an old and common distinction, but it is not an intelligent one. For out of the Ten Commandments flow and depend all the other commandments and the whole of Moses.
Because he would be God alone and have no other gods, etc., he has instituted so many different ceremonies or acts of worship. Through these he has interpreted the first commandment and taught how it is to be kept. To promote obedience to parents, and unwilling to tolerate adultery, murder, stealing, or false witness, he has given the judicial law or external government so that such commandments will be understood and carried out. Thus it is not true that there is no ceremonial or judicial law in the Ten Commandments. Such laws are in the decalogue, depend on it, and belong there. And to indicate this God himself has expressly introduced two ceremonial laws, namely, concerning images and the sabbath. We can show that these two parts are ceremonial laws which are also each in its way abrogated in the New Testament, so that one may see how Dr. Karlstadt deals about as wisely in his book with the sabbath as with images. For St. Paul (Col. 2[:16–17]), speaks frankly and clearly, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come.” Here Paul expressly abrogates the sabbath and calls it a shadow now past since the body, which is Christ himself, is come.
Also, Gal. 4[:10–11], “You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years! I am afraid I have labored over you in vain.” Here Paul calls it lost labor to observe days and seasons, among which is also the sabbath. Isaiah has also prophesied this (Isa. 66[:23]), “From new moon to new moon, and from sabbath to sabbath,” that is, there shall be a daily sabbath in the New Testament, with no difference as to time.
We must be grateful to Paul and Isaiah, that they so long ago freed us from the factious spirits. Otherwise we should have to sit through the sabbath day with “head in hand” awaiting the heavenly voice, as they would delude us. Yes, if Karlstadt were to write more about the sabbath, even Sunday would have to give way, and the sabbath, that is, Saturday, would be celebrated. He would truly make us Jews in all things, so that we also would have to be circumcised, etc. For it is true, and no one can deny it, that whoever keeps the law of Moses as a law of Moses, or deems it necessary to keep it, must regard the keeping of all laws as necessary, as St. Paul (Gal. 5[:3]) concludes and says, “Every man who receives circumcision—he is bound to keep the whole law.” Therefore also, whoever destroys images, or observes the sabbath (that is, whoever teaches that it must be kept), he also must let himself be circumcised and keep the whole Mosaic law. In time (where one leaves room for these spirits) they would surely be compelled to do, teach, and observe this. However, by God’s grace they now do even as St. Paul says (Gal. 6[:13]), “For even those who receive circumcision do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh.” Thus the image breakers themselves do not keep the law. For just as they fail to keep all the other laws, so also they destroy images unspiritually, as a work, so that they lose Christ, the fulfilment of the law, and seek only that they may attain a glory in us, as if they had taught something excellent and masterful.
Luther, M. (1999, c1958). Vol. 40: Luther's works, vol. 40 : Church and Ministry II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald and H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (40:92). Philadelphia: Fortress Press)
This section from Luther contains a very popular obscure quote:  "We don’t want to see or hear Moses." Roman Catholics cited it frequently over the years (see for instance, Patrick O’Hare, The Facts About Luther [Illinois: Tan Books, 1987], 202).Karlstadt joined with radical factions of the Anabaptists. When Luther did not support Karlstadt’s violent expunging of all images, Karlstadt accused Luther of disobeying God’s law given through Moses: “You shall not make yourself a graven image, or any likeness …” Luther responded by pointing out that Karlstadt misunderstood his position, as well as misinterpreted Moses. Luther, well heated up says:
“Now then, let us get to the bottom of it all and say that these teachers of sin and Mosaic prophets are not to confuse us with Moses. We don’t want to see or hear Moses. How do you like that, my dear rebels? We say further, that all such Mosaic teachers deny the gospel, banish Christ, and annul the whole New Testament. I now speak as a Christian for Christians. For Moses is given to the Jewish people alone, and does not concern us Gentiles and Christians. We have our gospel and New Testament. If they can prove from them that images must be put away, we will gladly follow them. If they, however, through Moses would make us Jews, we will not endure it” LW 40:91].
The “teachers of sin and Mosaic prophets” are Karlstadt and the Anabaptists. Luther viewed these people as denying the gospel and imposing law on people. The editors of Luther’s Works have included an excellent overview of Luther’s opinion on Moses: “Anyone who, like the enthusiasts, erects Mosaic law as a biblical-divine requirement does injury to the preaching of Christ. Just as the Judaizers of old, who would have required circumcision as an initial requirement, so also the enthusiasts and radicals of this later era do not see that Christ is the end of the Mosaic law. For all the stipulations of that law, insofar as they go beyond the natural law, have been abolished by Christ. The Ten Commandments are binding upon all men only so far as they are implanted in everyone by nature. In this sense Luther declares that “Moses is dead”[ Source: LW 35:158]. for more information see:

Luther And The Law: Did Martin Luther Abhor God's Law? (Part One)- A look at four Luther quotes used by Roman Catholics to prove Luther hatred God's Law. The quotes are given contexts and explanations to prove mis-usage by Roman Catholics.

Luther And The Law: Did Martin Luther Abhor God's Law? (Part Two)- A look at Luther's understanding of the Law and its place in the Christian life.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Holy Rosary

So how many holy Rosaries does it take to get Joe Biden excommunicated?

Beggars All Video Channel?

The insidious Google strikes again. Apparently, This blog has a video channel. It posts all the video clips that have been linked from the blog over the years:

Topic - Beggars All: Reformation And Apologetics

This page is auto-generated. So, if you have a blog on blogger, you probably also have a video page somewhere.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Luther’s Appalling Instabilities and Contradictions?

It amazes me how reckless some of Rome's defenders are, be they from a generation long gone, or the cut-and-pasters on the Catholic Answers forums. They can quickly weave together a number of quotes from different sources all at the expense of accurate history. What takes them five or ten sentences to weave together, can take hours to untangle. For instance, over on the Catholic Answers forums I came across the following:

Yesterday, 8:46 am
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Join Date: January 15, 2013
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Religion: Roman Catholic
Default Re: Would Luther convert back to Catholicism?

I studied Luther in College and some in Seminary. The picture I formulated, and this is my opinion, is of a man who was deeply confused on a lot of issues. 

"Be a sinner and sin boldly, but more strongly have faith and rejoice in Christ." --Martin Luther

That statement always throws me for a loop.

In 1519 he wrote: "I fully confess the supreme power of the Roman Church; after Jesus Christ Our Lord, she should be preferred to everything on earth and heaven.” This Church “is the one chosen by God; there can be no reason for anyone to break away from her and, entering into schism, separate himself from her unity.” In 1520, in his Lutheran Epistle, he strongly praised Pope Leo X, saying that his courageous life placed him above any attack.

However, in that same year Leo X would become the Antichrist and the Roman Church “a licentious den of thieves, the most depraved brothel, the kingdom of sin, death and hell.”

In 1519, two years after he publicly started to preach his Reformation, while defending himself from adversaries, he taught the cult of the saints, the existence of purgatory, praying for the deceased, the practice of fasting etc. Some years later, he rejected all these doctrines as idolatry, superstition and fanaticism. I could go on and on but I will stop there.

While this poster may have "studied Luther in college and some in seminary," the bulk of what was posted was a simple cut-and-paste from this link: Luther’s Appalling Instabilities and Contradictions by Fr. Leonel Franca, S.J. We'll assume the poster isn't Fr. Leonel Franca, S.J., he's probably long gone. I've come across his work before (something he wrote back in 1934). The link to Franca's work is one of a number on this website:

Luther’s Lack of Credibility I
Luther’s Boundless Pride and Tyranny - II
Luther’s Appalling Instabilities and Contradictions - III
Luther's Licentiousness - IV

These links appear to all be English translations from, Fr. Leonel Franca, S.J., A Igreja, a Reforma, e a Civilização [The Church, the Reformation, and Civilization] (Rio de Janeiro, 1934). "Fr. Leonel Edgar da Silveira Franca, S.J., one of the founders of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and its first Rector (1941 -1948)."

The first quotes posted on the Catholic Answer forum was "I fully confess the supreme power of the Roman Church; after Jesus Christ Our Lord, she should be preferred to everything on earth and heaven," and this Church “is the one chosen by God; there can be no reason for anyone to break away from her and, entering into schism, separate himself from her unity” (1519). Franca has used two quotes from two different books. He documents the first quote as "Martin Luther, Briefe, Sendschreiben und Bedenken vollstaendig gesammelt von W.M.L. de Wette, Berlin, 1825-1828, vol. I p. 234;" The second, "M. Luther, Werke, Weimar: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, 1883-1914, vol. II, p. 72." The third reference (in which Luther "strongly praised Pope Leo") is "De Wette, vol. I, p. 498." The fourth reference (in which Leo is called the Antichrist) is "Ibid. vol. I, pp. 522, 500; Weimar, vol. VII, p. 44."

The first reference can be found here, the second, here, the third here, the fourth here, here and here. The first reference can be found translated in LW 48:102. To my knowledge, the entirety of the treatise the second reference comes from has not been translated into English. The third reference can be found translated in LW 31:334-335 (Luther's open letter to Pope Leo from The Freedom of the Christian). In regard to the fourth references, for De Wette I,522 there is a partial English translation of the letter (Nov. 4, 1520 to Spalatin), here. The reference to De Wette I, 500 is again from Luther's open letter to Pope Leo from The Freedom of the Christian (LW 31:336). Weimar VII, 44 is a reference to the same thing.

Historical Context of the First Two Quotes
The first quote is from a letter to Pope Leo X, January 5 or 6, 1519, and it exists only as a draft: it was never sent. Information on this draft letter can be found here. The letter was an agreed upon writing between Luther and the papal chamberlain Karl von Miltitz. Miltitz met with Luther to facilitate his surrender with Rome. Miltitz was sent to convince Luther to recant on the indulgence issue. They came to a sort of temporary agreement: Luther and his opponents would refrain from debate and publication against each other, Luther would write a letter to the pope apologizing and submitting to him, and he would publish a leaflet of the same nature, admonishing everyone to follow the Roman church. What Luther did not agree to do was recant, which had been Miltitz intensions all along. Miltitz only achieved an agreement of a temporary cease fire, so to speak.  Historians point out that Luther was ready to honor the Roman church during this period, but he would only retract his alleged errors if they were actually proven by Rome to be errors. In the letter, Luther does not retract his indulgence theses. Rather, he argues they were meant to protect the church from the indulgence preachers.

There were reasons why the letter was worded the way it was, and it had to do with the conventional, curialistic style of the times and the accepted means of dialog with Rome, as well as the politics of the Reformation. At this time Luther was still in negotiations with the Roman church. He had not yet been excommunicated. LW states the letter was never sent because the papal chamberlain Karl con Miltitz "offered to write the pope himself" (LW 48:100). True, during this period, Luther still held out hope to reconcile with the Roman church. Like any sort of complex negotiations, one would expect courteous and cautious interactions. This was not simply a minor theological squabble, it was for Luther, a life or death issue when dealing with Roman power. Bainton explains Luther learned afterward that Miltitz "came armed with seventy apostolic briefs, that he might take me to the Jerusalem which kills the prophets, the purple of Babylon" (Here I Stand, p. 105). Commenting on the contents of the letter, D'Aubigne makes the following observations:
These words might appear strange and even reprehensible in Luther's mouth, did we not remember that he reached the light not suddenly, but by a slow and progressive course. They are a very important evidence, that the Reformation was not simply an opposition to the papacy; it was not a war waged against certain forms; nor was it the result of a merely negative tendency. Opposition to the pope was in the second line of the battle: a new life, a positive doctrine was the generating principle. "Jesus Christ, the Lord of all, and who must be preferred above all," even above Rome itself, as Luther writes at the end of his letter, was the essential cause of the Revolution of the sixteenth century.
The second quote is of a similar nature. It's from the leaflet Luther agreed to publish. It was entitled, Luthers Unterricht auf etliche Artikel, die ihm von seinen Abgönnern aufgelegt vnd zugemessen werden (Doctor Martin Luther's Instruction on Several Articles which are Ascribed and Assigned to him by his Detractors)."  Martin Brecht gives a concise background on this in his Martin Luther, His Road to Reformation 1428-1521, pp. 280-288, as does D'Aubigne's History of the Church. Luther himself actually provides an overview of its contents in LW 48:96-98.

The death of the emperor though caused the proceedings against Luther to slow down. By the time they picked up again, Miltitz was pursuing another meeting with Luther, this time in the presence of Cajetan. Luther rejected this. Rome had not specifically produced a "well-grounded statement of the points which he was to retract" (Brecht, 288). Luther's opponents had not followed the cease and desist agreement either. The temporary cease fire ended, and Luther was soon to be challenged by one of Rome's leading theologians, John Eck.

In regard to the second quote, various English snippets have made their way into secondary sources.  D'Aubigne provides this partial translation:
Yet he still felt esteem for the ancient Church of Rome, and had no thought of separating from it. “That the Roman Church,” said he in the explanation which he had promised Miltitz to publish, “is honored by God above all others, is what we cannot doubt. Saint Peter, Saint Paul, forty-six popes, many hundreds of thousands of martyrs, have shed their blood in its bosom, and have overcome hell and the world, so that God’s eye regards it with especial favor. Although everything is now in a very wretched state there, this is not a sufficient reason for separating from it. On the contrary, the worse things are going on within it, the more should we cling to it; for it is not by separation that we shall make it better. We must not desert God on account of the devil; or abandon the children of God who are still in the Roman communion, because of the multitude of the ungodly. There is no sin, there is no evil that should destroy charity or break the bond of union. For charity can do all things, and to unity nothing is difficult.” It was not Luther who separated from Rome: it was Rome that separated from Luther, and thus rejected; the ancient faith of the Catholic Church, of which he was then the representative. It was not Luther who deprived Rome of her power, and made her bishop descend from a throne which he had usurped: the doctrines he proclaimed, the word of the apostles which God manifested anew in the Universal Church with great power and admirable purity, could alone prevail against that dominion which had for centuries enslaved the Church.
Other overiews of this writing exist as well, including the conclusion of the writing:
"That the Roman Church was honoured of God above all others, and though the state of things at Rome was then a bad' one, yet that was no cause for separation from this Church; yea, the worse matters stood there, the closer we ought to cling to her, for by tearing loose from and despising her, things were not in the least improved. But as to how far the power and authority of the Roman See should extend, that the learned should be left to decide; the salvation of the soul being not at all bound to it. Let the power be as it may, great or small, as God distributes it, we ought to be content; but union ought to be preserved, and papal commands should, by no means, be resisted. "Behold," says he, in conclusion, "now I hope it is manifest, that I do not wish to deprive the Roman Church of anything, as my dear friends have accused me. But that I do not approve the course of several hypocrites, in this, it seems to me I do right, and I am not to let bubbles frighten me to death; the holy Roman See is to be followed in all things, yet no hypocrite is ever to be believed."
Context for the Remaining Quotes
Franca then moves ahead to Luther's writings from 1520. He first cites similar sentiment from Luther's Open Letter to Pope Leo which accompanied The Freedom of the Christian. He cites Luther saying about the pope, "His courageous life placed him above any attack." The context reads:
Living among the monsters of this age with whom I am now for the third year waging war, I am compelled occasionally to look up to you, Leo, most blessed father, and to think of you. Indeed, since you are occasionally regarded as the sole cause of my warfare, I cannot help thinking of you. To be sure, the undeserved raging of your godless flatterers against me has compelled me to appeal from your see to a future council, despite the decrees of your predecessors Pins and Julius, who with a foolish tyranny forbade such an appeal. Nevertheless, I have never alienated myself from Your Blessedness to such an extent that I should not with all my heart wish you and your see every blessing, for which I have besought God with earnest prayers to the best of my ability. It is true that I have been so bold as to despise and look down upon those who have tried to frighten me with the majesty of your name and authority. There is one thing, however, which I cannot ignore and which is the cause of my writing once more to Your Blessedness. It has come to my attention that I am accused of great indiscretion, said to be my great fault, in which, it is said, I have not spared even your person. I freely vow that I have, to my knowledge, spoken only good and honorable words concerning you whenever I have thought of you. If I had ever done otherwise, I myself could by no means condone it, but should agree entirely with the judgment which others have formed of me; and I should do nothing more gladly than recant such indiscretion and impiety. I have called you a Daniel in Babylon; and everyone who reads what I have written knows how zealously I defended your innocence against your defamer Sylvester. Indeed, your reputation and the fame of your blameless life, celebrated as they are throughout the world by the writings of many great men, are too well known and too honorable to be assailed by anyone, no matter how great he is. I am not so foolish as to attack one whom all people praise. As a matter of fact, I have always tried, and will always continue, not to attack even those whom the public dishonors for I take no pleasure in the faults of any man, since I am conscious of the beam in my own eye. I could not, indeed, be the first one to cast a stone at the adulteress [John 8:1–11]. Luther, M. (1999, c1957). Vol. 31: Luther's works, vol. 31 : Career of the Reformer I (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald and H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (31:334). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
Franca then moves to the thrust of his attack: Luther in the same year refers to the pope as the Antichrist and to Rome as "a licentious den of thieves, the most depraved brothel, the kingdom of sin, death and hell." He cites Luther's letter to Spalatin from November 4, 1520 which contains some reaction to Luther on the Papal bull Exsurge Domine which condemned Luther. Previous to this date, negotiations between Luther and the Papacy had broken down considerably (See Brecht vol 1, 413-416). In the letter, Luther reacts to the contents of the bull by refering to Rome as the kingdom of the Antichrist. Franca then quotes the same Open Letter to the Pope (which he cited earlier as proof of Luther's positive sentiment about Leo) that Rome herself was "a licentious den of thieves, the most depraved brothel, the kingdom of sin, death and hell."
Therefore, most excellent Leo, I beg you to give me a hearing after I have vindicated myself by this letter, and believe me when I say that I have never thought ill of you personally, that I am the kind of a person who would wish you all good things eternally, and that I have no quarrel with any man concerning his morals but only concerning the word of truth. In all other matters I will yield to any man whatsoever; but I have neither the power nor the will to deny the Word of God. If any man has a different opinion concerning me, he does not think straight or understand what I have actually said. I have truly despised your see, the Roman Curia, which, however, neither you nor anyone else can deny is more corrupt than any Babylon or Sodom ever was, and which, as far as I can see, is characterized by a completely depraved, hopeless, and notorious godlessness. I have been thoroughly incensed over the fact that good Christians are mocked in your name and under the cloak of the Roman church I have resisted and will continue to resist your see as long as the spirit of faith lives in me. Not that I shall strive for the impossible or hope that by my efforts alone anything will be accomplished in that most disordered Babylon, where the fury of so many flatterers is turned against me; but I acknowledge my indebtedness to my Christian brethren, whom I am duty-bound to warn so that fewer of them may be destroyed by the plagues of Rome, at least so that their destruction may be less cruel. As you well know, there has been flowing from Rome these many years—like a flood covering the world—nothing but a devastation of men’s bodies and souls and possessions, the worst examples of the worst of all things. All this is clearer than day to all, and the Roman church, once the holiest of all, has become the most licentious den of thieves [Matt. 21:13], the most shameless of all brothels, the kingdom of sin, death, and hell. It is so bad that even Antichrist himself, if he should come, could think of nothing to add to its wickedness. Meanwhile you, Leo, sit as a lamb in the midst of wolves [Matt. 10:16] and like Daniel in the midst of lions [Dan. 6:16]. With Ezekiel you live among scorpions [Ezek. 2:6]. How can you alone oppose these monsters? Even if you would call to your aid three or four well learned and thoroughly reliable cardinals, what are these among so many? You would all be poisoned before you could begin to issue a decree for the purpose of remedying the situation. The Roman Curia is already lost, for God’s wrath has relentlessly fallen upon it. It detests church councils, it fears a reformation, it cannot allay its own corruption; and what was said of its mother Babylon also applies to it: “We would have cured Babylon, but she was not healed. Let us forsake her” [Jer. 51:9]. Luther, M. (1999, c1957). Vol. 31: Luther's works, vol. 31 : Career of the Reformer I (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald and H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (31:335). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
The major facts Franca leaves out is the breakdown in negotiations between Luther and the Papacy, and Luther's expected negative reaction to Exsurge Domine. Rather, he portrays Luther as being unstable and contradictory during the years 1519-1520. If one follows the train of events, Luther's comments make a lot of sense for a man whose life was being threatened by a corrupt power. The reference to the Pope being the Antichrist from November 4, 1520 is very similar to his statement from his open Letter, that Rome may likely be the kingdom of the Antichrist. Certainly Luther would go on to refer to the Pope as the Antichrist, but what Franca cites doesn't prove any sort of contradiction in Luther's thought.  If one were to follow Franca's paradigm, Pope Leo himself was unstable and contradictory. Brecht notes that on March 19, 1520 Pope Leo wrote to Luther addressing him as "my beloved son" and no longer "the son of perdition" (Brecht 1, 287). Then in 1520 the papal bull refers to Luther using many unflattering terms.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sophistry and Confusion is Integral to Romanism

Here's the type of blog post that is a direct hit on the follies of the Romanist worldview: Sophistry and Confusion is Integral to Romanism, in response to Bryan Cross. I rarely find the Romanist presuppositional issues presented with the clarity this blog post does. While the entire post is worth digesting, here are a few choice excerpts:

"It’s interesting that when a Protestant points to God’s word you call it an appeal 'to his own own personal interpretation…' but when a Roman Catholic appeals to the pope and councils you don’t portray those appeals as reflecting mere opinion of the Roman Catholic, but rather you presuppose that what is inferred by the Roman Catholic is as equally true as the doctrinal pronouncement. In other words, nothing is lost in the translation for the Roman Catholic. And when it comes to the gospel, why there is perspicuity within Rome that cannot be found in Scripture is a curious thing, especially given that Rome was to have based her gospel upon Scripture."

"Roman Catholics such as Bryan find themselves on the horns of an epistemological dilemma and in turn fall into a form of skepticism. By placing a mediator between God and men they render God’s living word inoperable. If their authority is Rome, then Scripture is rendered useless because any interpretation of any passage of Scripture must await adjudication for one to know what Scripture is saying. Yet when a Roman Catholic reads Scripture they demonstrate that an infallible magisterium is unnecessary to know the truth. Roman Catholics live in a tension that they cannot reconcile."

Continuing Lutheran Justification Controversy

One of the regular Lutheran blogs I visit is the Lutheran Theology Study Group. Recently they posted, Lutheran Justification Controversy Redux. According to the entry, "Basically, Rev Paul Rydecki believes that justification happens only when faith is present. WELS holds that Christ has justified all upon his death and resurrection. Faith appropriates this justification." Rydecki was tossed out of WELS for his position.  A good quick summary of Rydecki's position is found here:
If we want to be Dresden Lutherans, then we will teach justification by faith alone as the chief article of the Christian faith. The justification of the poor sinner before God is presented explicitly and quite exhaustively in the Lutheran Confessions (and by other 16th Century Lutheran theologians) as including four key components, without any of which the poor sinner is not, in any effective sense, justified before God: 1) the grace of God, 2) the merit of Christ, 3) the means of grace, and 4) faith in Christ. The Confessions do not speak of an effective sense in which all sinners have already been justified before God whether they believe in Christ or not, nor do I believe the Scriptures to teach such a thing, yet such is commonly heralded among Lutherans today as the “central teaching of the Bible.” I contend that our Dresden forefathers did not miss anything or take anything for granted in this chief article of the Christian faith. They correctly taught the universal atonement or satisfaction made by Christ for the sins of the whole world, whether a person ever comes to believe it or not. Thus, forgiveness of sins, life and salvation were, indeed, won for all people by Christ on the cross, through His merit alone. But no one is forgiven, justified, made alive or saved apart from the means of grace and apart from faith in Christ, which is graciously worked by the Holy Spirit. Dresden Lutherans would never think of qualifying Luther’s battle cry, “Faith alone justifies!”, with “Yes, but, only in a subjective sense, since we know that all people are already justified without faith!”
As far I've understood Martin Luther, I've always thought this was his view as well.

Aquinas: There is no hope of justification, but only by faith...We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law

Here's an interesting Aquinas tidbit from an old discussion list:

Et sie exponit Glossa. Sed Apostolus videtur loqui de moralibus, quia subdit quod lex posita est propter peccata, et haec sunt praecepta moralia. Horum legitimus usus est ut homo non attribuat eis plus quam quod in eis continetur. Data est lex ut cognoscatur peccatum. Roman., vii, 7: Quia nisi lex diceret,non concupisces (quod dicitur in Decalogo) concupiscentiam nesciebam. Non est ergo in eis spec justificationis, sed insola fide. Roman., iii, 28: Arbitramur justificari hominem per fidem sine operibus legis.
"But the Apostle seems to be speaking about morals, because he adds that the law was set forth because of sin, and the law consists of moral precepts. The proper use of these precepts is that man not attribute to them more than what is contained in them. The law was given so that sin might be recognized. As Romans 7:7 says, "Unless the law were saying, 'Do not covet,' (which the Decalogue says), I would not have known about covetousness. In the precepts, therefore, there is no hope (spec=spes?) of justification, but only by faith. As Romans 3:28 says, "We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law."
Thomas Aquinas, "Epistola I Ad Timotheum", "Lectio III" in *Opera Omnia*, Volume 21: *Commentarii in Epistolam Ad Corinthios 1 In Caeteras Omnes Epistolas S. Pauli.* Paris: Apud Ludovicum Vives, Bibliopolam Editorem, 1876, page 456.

Authenticating Luther: The Genesis Commentaries

Recently TurretinFan posted excerpts from John Daillé's Treatise on the Right Use of the Fathers in Controversies. The early chapters of this book are a sober reminder that simply because history attributes a writing to a particular person, this doesn't necessarily mean it's the actual writing of that person, or that the writing hasn't been tampered with [Over the years, I've recommended this book for the Tiber Swim Book Club]. The same is true with the Reformation period as well. With Luther's writings, the most obvious example is the Table Talk.  This is a collection of sayings attributed to Luther written down by his friends and colleagues. Quoting it as if Luther actually penned the words isn't a wise idea.

There are though various other problems authenticating Luther's writings. One interesting example is his work on Genesis. Luther spent quite a number of years involved lecturing on Genesis (1535-1545 and perhaps earlier periods as well). The very first volumes of Luther's Works in English begin with his material on Genesis. The editors point out some of the difficulties with authenticating these writings:

For as we have it, the work is not a product of Luther’s pen or even a transcript of his lectures; it is a transcript that has been reworked and edited. From the instance of other commentaries, where we have both the lecture notes and the printed version, it is evident that the editors of Luther’s Biblical commentaries allowed themselves greater liberties in preparing his lectures for publication than the modern conventions of editing and publishing would justify (cf. Luther’s Works, 13, Introduction, pp. xi–xii). Where we have only the printed version, therefore, we have reason to be on the lookout for marks of redactorial additions and changes. There are such marks in the Lectures on Genesis, as Peter Meinhold, the leading scholar to concern himself with them, has pointed out. Now and again, for example, there are admonitions addressed to the “reader” even though this purports to be a lecture (thus See p. 16, note 29). We have already referred to the presence of historical allusions that are clearly anachronistic and are apparently inserted by the editors. A remarkable circumstance is the accuracy with which most classical citations are quoted. Luther had an astonishingly retentive memory, as his Biblical quotations show. He had also read around in the classics and knew some classical works almost by heart. But the citations here in Genesis are almost uniformly accurate; and where a comparison of lecture notes with printed version is possible, it becomes evident that the editors took a chance phrase or allusion from Luther’s lectures and amplified it into a full-blown and accurate citation. Some citations from classical authors do not even have a chance phrase or allusion as their foundation but were inserted by the editors because they seemed to fit. Because of this we are in no position to determine with any degree of finality which of the classical quotations originated with Luther and which did not. The same thing is true of quotations from Christian authors. It is beyond doubt that Luther had read widely in the works of St. Augustine; therefore many, if not most, of the references to Augustine seem to be based on his own reading. Other authors, too, he had studied, as his completely authentic works clearly show. From repeated references we know of his regard for Nicolaus de Lyra, on whom these Lectures on Genesis are dependent for the rabbinical learning they display and for at least some of the patristic exegesis they consider... We know, too, that in 1509–10 Luther had lectured on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, to which he also makes reference in this commentary. But we cannot be sure how many of the quotations even from these works are actually his own. The problem of authenticity and integrity becomes most acute, however, not in the question of Luther’s erudition but in the question of his actual theological position. And the researches of Peter Meinhold have led him to the conclusion that the theology of the Lectures on Genesis has also been adulterated by the editors to conform it to the growing orthodoxy of the second generation of Lutherans. He bases this conclusion on a study of the theology of Veit Dietrich in relation to both Luther and Melanchthon; in several cases he has proved that Dietrich’s brand of Melanchthonian theology has been superimposed upon Luther’s thought and language, and in other cases he has shown that this is very likely. This has led him to a rather profound skepticism about the reliability of the Lectures on Genesis as a source of information about the thought of the old Luther.
Luther, M. (1999, c1958). Vol. 1: Luther's works, vol. 1 : Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 1-5 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald and H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (1). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
An interesting footnote to this problem is the work of Dr. Mickey L. Mattox, Defender of the Most Holy Matriarchs: Martin Luther's Interpretation of the Women in Genesis in the Enarrationes in Genesin, 1535-1545. (Brill, 2003). This book, unfortunately, is rather expensive. In an appendix he addresses further research into Luther's Genesis material and argues that the material is genuine Luther. He argues the editors that put the work together were indeed faithful to the real Luther. His analysis of the alleged anachronisms in the text are fascinating, and worth a mention in any revision of LW 1-8. Elsewhere Mattox has commented, "We also know a lot more today about the process by which Luther's lectures were edited and published, and the upshot of that work is to confirm that publications like the Genesis Lectures bring us the voice of Luther if not in each and every case in the ipsissima verba, then at least very much as he himself wished it to be heard."

E-Books vs. Art

Recently I watched a short video clip of the author Joyce Carol Oates explain why the tactile sensation of holding an actual book and reading it is a far better experience than reading the same book on a small gizmo or computer screen (go to about 5 minutes in the clip). She made some of the same sort of arguments vinyl purists make about CD's (like, the artwork! Albums were works of art!).  Over the years I've slowly gotten used to the e-book format. I've gone from, "This is an awful experience" to "I can learn to deal with this." For instance, I have a large collection of Logos books. These are on my home PC and laptop. Reading them is fine if I'm sitting in front of my PC or I have my laptop on a desk, but otherwise, they're cumbersome. I don't have a Kindle but I do have an IPad. The Logos app is still improving, but I can almost get comfortable sitting back and reading a book. Yes, I still have my records as well. I could care less if I break a CD case, but dropping an album, why that's dropping a work of art. And, of course, dropping the IPad... I don't want to do that either.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Liberal Media hypocrisy

I realize that if someone has to explain a joke or political cartoon, then it looses it's point.  So I changed the original title and took out too much explanation of the cartoon; and now just want to let the cartoon speak for itself. 

  I was recovering from dental work on three teeth and decided to watch and listen to the live streaming of the Benghazi hearings and Secretary of state Hillary Clinton's testimony, while I did some light office work.  

The Benghazi hearings were painful to listen to and watch - all the Democrats on both sides of the Congress waisted their 5 minutes with praise and fawning over Hillary Clinton and no Democrat asked one tough question; not one.  Many questions still remain unanswered.  Only conservative media is asking the tough questions - oh, and a few Republican Senators and Representatives.   But I learned why the American people don't like Congress much at all.  Those that take the time to watch them on live streaming or C-Span type of coverage, are finding out why we are in so much debt and how our tax money is being wasted at an incredibly massive scale.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

No Creed But... Hyper-Preterism: The 9.5 Theses

Over the last year or so, I've had an odd fascination with the grassroots movement of Hyper-Preterism.  I never really gave the movement much thought, but after an old acquaintance of mine got into it, to the point where he was booted out of his church (he was the senior pastor), I became curious as to what would drive someone to such an extreme. I can't really say I understand him or the Hyper-Preterists any better now than I did a year ago.

Ken Gentry's has a chapter in the first full-length meaningful response to the Hyper-Preterists, "When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism." Gentry's chapter deals specifically with the movements aversion to creeds and confessions.  I've witnessed this first hand: Hyper-Preterists saying that creeds and confessions are the words of man, and that one must go to the Bible alone. The reason is, the creeds and confessions are unanimous in the future coming of Christ. You the careful reader probably see an irony of ironies: such a sentiment ("no creed but the Bible alone) is itself a sort of creed or confession. It's simply inescapable. However far a Hyper-Preterist may disavow any association to the concepts of creeds and confessions, every time they start commenting on it, they themselves are putting out simple creedal confessions. Many of the Hyper-Preterists are a group of folks who shoot themselves in the foot. Their adversity to doctrinal statements leaves them all simply out there. There have been some exceptions. I recall hearing about a few functioning Hyper-Preterist churches. At the time I looked into it, I think I remember there being a church being somewhere in Florida.

I just found another exception: an old Hyper-Preterist document called "The 9.5 Theses for the Next Generation." They consider themselves the new Luther's to reform Christianity (even quoting Luther's "Here I Stand" speech). I found this document being cited on this blog. I don't approve of everything this person posts (nor do I care to venture in to the in-house personal Preterist squabbles). However, the same point is made about how inconsistent the Hyper-Preterists are when it comes to creeds and confessions.

This is another one of those odd little Luther tidbits for me. I've found all sorts of groups appealing to Luther.    This is a sad, yet interesting irony about Reformation history- many want to claim Luther, or something about Luther. For a man so despised by so many groups, it’s ironic how those with a particular viewpoint think if they appeal to Luther, somehow or another the large majority of Protestant Christendom will take them seriously.  Over the years I've found Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses,  (yes, and even Roman Catholics!) appealing to Luther.  Now, I can add the Hyper-Preterists.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Recently from Robert Sungenis...

Over on The Bellarmine Report (the website of Roman apologist Robert Sungenis), he has an article entitled, "Blessed Virgin Mary Survives Sandy the Whoricanne."  Can someone explain to me why he used the word "whoricanne"? He also is posting stuff that the Sandy Hook massacre may be a hoax, or something.

Also, in an older entry the website reports Mr. Sungenis has done a new book on Mary. Here's what I found interesting:
#4 Robert Sungenis 2012-05-21 13:46The book will be available for sale from this website toward the end of May. It will also be available form John Salza, and from Fr. Gruner's Fatima apostolate, since he is the publisher. Fr. Gruner will actually be printing 50,000 copies of the book so he can send them to all the bishops and priests of the world. Hopefully, this will move them all to put pressure on the Vatican to finally do the consecration of Russia and stop making excuse for past failures. It is the only thing that is going to change this present world that is headed for hell in a hand-basket.  

Now, I don't keep up with who's who in Romanism, but I do recall that Fr. Gruner is considered "fringe" (for lack of a better term) by mainstream Roman Catholics. This 2002 article on EWTN states:
Finally, in recent years there has been a certain lack of clarity regarding the priestly status of Fr. Gruner. According to the the Congregation for the Clergy, his priestly faculties (jurisdiction permitting celebration of the sacraments) have been suspended and his appeal of that suspension rejected by the highest Church court, the Apostolic Signature. However, I understand that he continues to publicly celebrant the sacraments, justifying it by arguments for the canonical invalidity of his suspension. What efforts he is making to settle this matter is not known.
Then searching around a bit I found this:
Thursday, September 13, 2001: CONGREGATION ISSUES DECLARATION ON SUSPENDED PRIEST VATICAN CITY, SEP 13, 2001 (VIS) – The following declaration was released yesterday afternoon by the Congregation for the Clergy. It was signed by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, congregation prefect, and by Archbishop Csaba Ternyak, secretary. “The Holy See has received several news reports concerning the so-called Conference for Peace in the World, which is being planned for Rome for October 7 to 13 and which has been organized by Fr. Nicholas Gruner of Canada. “The Congregation for the Clergy, upon the mandate from a higher authority, wishes to state that Rev. Nicholas Gruner is under an ‘a divinis’ suspension, which has been confirmed by a definitive sentence of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature. “The activities of Fr. Gruner, therefore, including the above-mentioned conference, do not have the approval of legitimate ecclesiastical authorities.”
So, Mr. Sungenis seems to by allying himself with a suspended priest these days.

Quotable From the Catholic Answers Forums...

"Even if the Pope excommunicated you for wearing black pants when your pants were actually dark blue, that doesn't mean the excommunication is invalid. Neither does it mean the Pope has made an infallible statement that black pants are against Church teaching." [Source]

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

An Abolitionist's Open Letter to Pro-Life Roman Catholics

A message to our friends throwing rocks from across the Tiber,

You don't know where we've been.

We were lost. We were blind. We were dead. 

We were hopeless. We didn't care that we were hopeless, yet in some twisted and horrible way, we did care. 

And then a man with pierced hands and feet offered His help. He said we were blind and dead, and that He could save us. He told us to repent of our hopelessness, our lack of trust in our Creator, our evil and wicked deeds. He told us He had accomplished what needed to be done to bring us to our Creator, Whom we had denied so many times. 

This man saved us. This man, God Himself, clothed in human flesh, did it all. He alone bore the punishment, weight, and guilt of our sin. He alone provided the sacrifice to perfect us for all time. He told us we receive the benefits He offers, a slate wiped clean, perfect righteousness accounted to us as an entire gift, on the basis of repentance and faith alone, by His sufficient grace alone and the grace of no other. 

And He gave us the grace and strength to turn away from our former deeds and to do what is right, and we discovered more joy, peace, purpose, and wonder in doing what He told us to do than in anything we had thought we could find before, on our own path. So we started doing those things. And we fell more and more in love with this wonderful man, this wonderful God, that we wanted to do even more of them, and to share them with others, and to make sure that as many people as possible knew about this wondrous Creator, this amazing, loving, merciful, and powerful King. 

Then we discovered that there would be opposition.

The opposition takes many forms, but let me focus on only one example as a representative sample. Apparently, we who desire to obey the Lord Jesus Christ in all areas of life are "scary" and worthy of denigration and contempt.

As I read this article by Katrina Fernandez/The Crescat and was reflecting on the recent flurry of criticism directed our way by Roman Catholics, one saying of our great King came to my mind.

Matthew 5:11-12 - "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Based on this passage, I'd like to comment on The Crescat's statements and on the larger context. 

Blessed are you...

First and foremost, we'd like to say to all of you who have been criticising us: Thank you!
You have given us many opportunities to proclaim the Gospel and obey our Lord and repeat the proclamation that saved us from Hell. This is an enormous blessing and this whole thing, including blogposts like this one, has given us the chance to do so.

...when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say...

Why do I apply the word "falsely" here?

The title of the article includes the word "scary", but the author never explains what was scary about Toby's comment.  Further, what is scary about saying "...that does not mean we hate Catholic people; we love them. Everyone at AHA loves them. We also believe that in large  part Western Protesantism is dead, very dead as well"?

Does The Crescat believe love is scary?
Does she believe that self-directed criticism is scary?
Do scary bigots typically exhibit a powerful bent toward reformation within their own circles, as we have consistently called for?

The Crescat compares us to Jack Chick.

-We don't make gratuitous dubious connections between mystery pagan religions and various parts of the Roman liturgy like Jack Chick frequently does.
-We are not King-James-Only. (We think the KJV is somewhere in the Top 5 or so.)
-We don't think demons are cute or stupid.
-We would never picture God the Father in an image.
-Our tone is very different. We are focused on the Gospel. (Not that Jack Chick never preaches the Gospel, but he often chooses to go a different direction in many of his tracts targeting Roman Catholicism.)

Let me share with you, dear reader, some more about this situation:

Recently we have been sharing status updates on our very busy Facebook page of a very general nature. Here are two examples:
So many prolifers love our posters yet reject our ideology...
What they don't understand is that our ideology creates our posters and causes us to share them in the first place. (Source)
We are frequently rebuked for acknowledging theological divisions between us and other anti-abortion groups and advised to stop talking about those divisions for the sake of focusing on what we all have in common: saving babies. The primary problem with that presupposition is that AHA's primary goal is actually revival through the preaching of the gospel, which, we believe, will change the mindset of a culture that approves of abortion in the first place. We will work alongside those with a different gospel or with no gospel to engage in various actions against abortion, but we will not stop evangelizing those who proclaim a false gospel that cannot save or who proclaim no gospel at all. If that is seen as divisive, so be it. The gospel of Jesus Christ always has been. (Source)
It has gotten so bad that even a poster that was created by Bryan Kemper, a Roman Catholic pro-life leader, and shared from his page on our page, attracted a flurry of criticisms against us for being "anti-Catholic".

These had nothing to do with Roman Catholicism, but they attracted a great deal of attention and criticism. We are, according to these critics, "anti-Catholic". Even Bryan Kemper's poster got that treatment. Nobody thinks he meant only the Roman Catholic Church; he no doubt meant all churches, which is what we mean when we call churches to repent and stop wasting their time.

See, clearly there are many Roman Catholics in the world who are hypersensitive to any criticism of their church. And this raises some serious questions about their hearts. It's impossible for us to know this for sure, of course, but it certainly appears to us as if they are more interested in defending their church than proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus.

Why are they coming on to pick fights about us being anti-Catholic? We can't answer that; only they know. But the explanation that many of these critics are at least flirting with idolatry, as evidenced by their defending their church at any cost, is not something we're prepared to rule out. We've seen very little evidence against the proposition and a great deal in favor. So hopefully we can be forgiven for coming to the most reasonable conclusion based on the evidence so far.  

...all kinds of evil against you...

To quote a recent Roman Catholic Facebook critic, we have victimised people with "vicious religious intolerance". This is entirely unfair and we reject it outright.

The Crescat calls our reasons for criticising the Roman Catholic Church "stupid" (without evidence or supporting argumentation).

How's this for evil from The Crescat? 

Luke 6:45 - "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart." 

Those who call us "anti-Catholic" are entirely misled, and in using that label reveal that they have very little understanding of the actual issues at hand. Labeling someone in a bigoted and careless way is evil.

A "Catholic" is an individual human being. To accuse us of being "anti-Catholic" is to say that we want the worst for individual Roman Catholic persons. It is to say that we want them to end up in Hell.
Yet, that is the very last thing we want for any individual of any faith. 

And here's the other thing about that. Saying "anti-Catholic" is entirely hypocritical, as we have never expressed a desire for Roman Catholics to end up in Hell. Yes, our theologies differ. They differ so much that we actually have different gospels. Don't believe me? We certainly affirm that's true. The Council of Trent affirmed it too, and the Roman Catholic Church has never taken it back. The Roman Magisterium has officially anathematised, cut off from fellowship and access to (in its view) the grace-infusing sacraments, those who profess the Gospel that we profess.

If we are to use the standard of judgment that these critics of ours are using, then simply by virtue of being a faithful Roman Catholic, these critics are "anti-evangelical" and "anti-Protestant". Yet when have we ever thrown those terms around?

We profess different gospels. The Roman Magisterium, a much higher authority than any individual Roman Catholic layman, has said so. We certainly say so.

If we have different gospels, that is a very, very serious matter:

Galatians 1:6-9 - I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed (anathema)! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed (anathema)!

And see, if you're all upset about our having used the word "satanic", reason with me a moment. A candidate for the esteemed position of "The Gospel" has two possible sources - God, or Satan.

The Council of Trent, which is, again, a higher authority than mere Roman Catholic laypeople, has said that the Gospel we proclaim is anathema. The enemy of God and the enemy of human souls is Satan. One does not cry out Exsurge Domine to take action against a work that God initiated. Let's not play hypocritical games here. Our positions are fundamentally incompatible, and both sides accept that. Criticisms that we are anti-Catholic entirely miss the point and are far more a product of postmodern political correctness and a victim mentality than a sober, rational consideration of history and of comparative soteriology.

If Trent felt the freedom to call our Gospel a work of the devil, we will not apologise for returning the favor the other direction.

One of us has biblical justification for saying what we say, and the other does not. And since there is absolutely no way to properly interpret the Scripture and conclude that it teaches there is a distinction between mortal and venial sin, that anyone other than Jesus the Messiah is a source of merit, that grace is infused rather than imputed, that justification and sanctification are not entirely separate categories, that sola fide is untrue, and that anyone who ends up in Heaven can die with sin remaining on his record such that he must suffer for its purgation after death, we abolitionists are entirely confident in our eternal destiny and in the need to proclaim this graceful Gospel to others who do not believe it.

...because of Me...

And let us make no mistake. We do not affirm the same gospel as the Roman Catholic Church.

Our good news proclamation is this: We were born dead in trespasses and sins, entirely unable and entirely unwilling to reach God. Then by God's grace, we must repent of our sin. By God's grace, we must put our full trust in the atoning work of Jesus the Messiah on the cross. By His one-time single sacrifice, He has perfected His people for all eternity. He reckons/imputes/accounts all of His infinite righteousness to those who receive it by faith alone as a free gift. He wipes away all sin of all degree of gravity at the cross. The believer is entirely unable to merit anything good. The believer has merited evil. Jesus the Messiah has merited all righteousness and exchanges His righteousness to the believer, and the believer's evil to Himself. He births us anew apart from anything we do, entirely apart from any action on the believer's part. This Gospel is revealed and authoritatively proclaimed in His Word, which is the only final and sole infallible rule of faith for believers.

The Crescat and other Roman Catholics see fit to criticise us for this stance. We are unapologetic. This is our lifeblood and our final answer. By God's grace, we will never waver from this proclamation. the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you...

This hypocritical Roman Catholic attitude has been around a long time.
We are not the first, nor will we be the last, people to be Gospel-focused and doing our best to proclaim the glorious Gospel of grace to people who by their own admission have a different Gospel, and to be called "anti-Catholic".

Being called "anti-Catholic" for proclaiming the Gospel, being evangelical, and arguing against various points of Roman theology is just wrong.  We are proud to join the ranks of those who have gone before in engaging in evangelical outreach to those who belong to a church that has officially anathematised the Gospel we proclaim.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great...

We are actually rejoicing over this whole episode because we have had the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel in an area of American political and moral life that has been sadly devoid of the Gospel for decades. The pro-life movement has been dumbing down its theology for a long time and has not embraced the Gospel as the solution.

The pro-life movement has been not been focusing on the Gospel but on other things - scientific facts about fetal development, voting blocs, pragmatic political considerations, even things like Mary's rosary. Many of these things are well and good and even necessary to a well-rounded denunciation of the arguments against abortion, but there has been a distinct non-reliance on the power of the Gospel to transform sinners into repentant saints by the grace and forgiveness of Christ.

The Lord is using us to bring light to this dark place. Where the Gospel is not present, darkness is present. We are bringing the Gospel to bear on the question of and in the arena of pro-life.

That's why we don't call ourselves "pro-life"; we are abolitionists of human abortion.
When others have let the Gospel fall by the wayside, we are taking it up and placing it at its rightful place.

While the above is a rebuke, yes, it is a rebuke offered in love. This fight is far from over and our friends in the pro-life movement have, we pray, plenty of time to take up the good fight, to retake up the best weapon in our arsenal - the Gospel of Jesus Christ - consistently, firmly, foundationally, and in the foremost position. Take it up, wield it, use it.

If abortion is to be brought to an end in this country, it will be because of the Gospel of Jesus. 

As abolitionists of human abortion, we will not turn away from this means, nor this end.

We will not rest and we will not be silent until we have effected its abolition.

A Fun Bike Ride

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Should Roman Defenders be Sent Back in a Time Machine to Deal With Luther?

There are always a variety of Reformation related discussions over on the Catholic Answers forums. Here's a particular discussion I've never come across before. It asks,

"If a Catholic scholar, a skilled Catholic apologist and a Religious historian got into a time machine with a lap top computer and traveled back to the 1500's to talk to Martin Luther, could they have prevented the Protestant splint from Catholicism?"

OK, so perhaps the word "splint" wasn't exactly the word which was meant in this question. The fun thing about a discussion like this is you really don't need to have any sort of historical acumen or accurate knowledge about the 16th Century in order to participate in the discussion. In fact, the answers meandered all over the place. Very few answers mention anyone specific, but Roman Catholics over at Catholic Answers love the opportunity to comment on Luther (probably more than Lutherans). My favorite responses so far are the following words in red:

#9 "Are you saying that these people didn't exist in the 1500's and didn't speak with Luther?"

Yes, I would say that. While there were some good Roman scholars and apologists, overall, none of them succeeded against Luther. Sure there were a few triumphs now and then, but they all ultimately failed, especially the early ones:

"Surveys of the Catholic literary effort against the early Reformation underscore the self-sacrificing spirit of the Catholic defenders, but relate no significant successes in countering the powerful influence of Luther's polemics. The defensive theology of these apologists suffered from the negative task thrust upon them, from having to fight on terrain chosen by the opponents, and from the writers' inexperience in using Scripture in the new critical manner so different from the methods of scholastic theology" Source: Jared Wicks tr., Cajetan Responds: A Reader in Reformation Controversy (Washington: The Catholic University Press of America, 1978), p. 255, footnote #2].

 #10 "One of his issues was, he wanted to be Married, and a Priest. Marriage and Holy Orders are two different sacraments, and make a choice, be one and fail at the other is the fact of human nature. Human nature makes it impossible to be successfull at both at the same time, but Martin in his failed mind decided he was smarter than the Apoligists, Scholar, and Historians of that time that recognize that mere issue."

Actually, there are married priests now, and well, even this guy may have been married. In regard to Luther, if you study the early Reformation period, Luther's primary concern was not to get himself married.  As Roland Bainton puts it:

"The most unpremeditated and dramatic witness to his principles was his own marriage. If he could not reform all Christendom, at any rate he could and he did establish the Protestant parsonage. He had no thought of doing anything of the sort; and when the monks began to marry during his stay at the Wartburg, he had exclaimed, 'Good heavens! They won't give me a wife.' "

#12 "I think he had what we call "Aspergers" today (autism), but in his case, it was combined with a strong, stubborn, and slightly cruel personality. He might have even had some OCD--remember those long long confessions? Like many people who have Asperger's, he could not reach outside of himself and have any empathy with others... 

...And like many people with Asperger's, he was highly intelligent--I would say brilliant--and this made it even harder for people to deal with him! I agree with the poster who said that the scholars, apologists, and historians did exist back then, and were helpless and frustrated around someone with Martin Luther's strong personality and various disabilities. Think about it--the Magisterium couldn't deal with him! He ran circles around them. For him, it was like some tremendous video game before video games were invented! He stymied them. He won the game."

I have to admit, this is the first time I've come across Luther being charged with autism. I found only one wacky comment via a quick Google search that stated, "Martin Luther himself was an Aspie!"

#18 "I often wonder what the first reformers would have done if they could have seen into the future at the very churches they created. (the weakened values on marriage and divorce, abortion, the sacraments, the increase in numbers of denominations, etc.) Would thay have done things differently?"

And um... how many Roman Catholics voted for Obama, get divorced, and have abortions, don't take the sacraments, and have no idea what the Roman Church actually teaches? The last surveys I saw don't show a healthy picture of Romanism.

#19 "In Portugal in 1917, 400 years after Luther's theses were posted publicly, and forwarded to the Pope in 1517, Our Lady of the Rosary appeared and said, 'God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.' "

Too bad Mary didn't make an appearance of note 400 years earlier in Germany.

#21 "I can't comment on Asperger's, but at the very least I suspect that Luther was tortured by a bad case of scrupulosity and pride."

"Scrupulosity" is a favorite term some Roman Catholics like to selectively throw around. Perhaps it's time Protestant apologists simply dismiss the writings of Ignatius Loyola, Alphonsus Liguori, and Thérèse of Lisieux for the same thing.

#25 "Just take one of those vile baptist "preachers" you find on YouTube castigating the Church and a translator, and that would convince Luther not to split!"

Actually, the radicals in Luther's day were awful as well.

#27 "The time was right for a split from the Catholic Church. The Church and the Pope were wielding too much worldly power at that time, and people were tired of it, particularily in the Northern part of Europe. I say the split would have eventually happened with or without Luther."

The person who wrote this claims to be Roman Catholic!

#48 "I voted NO because I read the book about him and his own writings indicating that he feared and obeyed the devil over Christ Jesus. It didn't matter what anyone with apologetic knowledge or historical knowledge of his own time said to him so I don't see how anyone from the future could have convinced him to not obey the devil, who appeared to him many times, out of fear. He was a willing pawn in the hands of the devil."

Yes, I've come across stuff like this before. Older Romanists have indeed made some surprising claims about Luther and the Devil. Consider this comment by Father Patrick O'Hare:

"Read Luther's work against "The Mass and the Ordination of Priests," (Erl. 31, 311 ff.) where he tells of his famous disputation with the "father of lies" who accosted him "at midnight" and spoke to him with "a deep, powerful voice," causing "the sweat to break forth" from his brow and his "heart to tremble and beat." In that celebrated conference, of which he was an unexceptional witness and about which he never entertained the slightest doubt, he says plainly and unmistakingly that "the devil spoke against the Mass, and Mary and the Saints" and that, moreover, "Satan gave him the most unqualified approval of his doctrine of justification by faith alone." Who now, we ask in all sincerity, can be found, except those appallingly blind to truth, to accept such a man, approved by the enemy of souls, as a spiritual teacher and entrust to his guidance their eternal welfare?"

The context though of "The Mass and the Ordination of Priests" includes a story being told by Luther as a literary device, not a personal experience. Father O'Hare missed this. (I wrote a blog article on this some time back).

#65 "Luther was a 'nut case.' You need to be happy he was never a Pope or otherwise you'd never hear the end of it in the media on 'history' reports, about all his psychological problems and other shortcomings. Only in our world could a anti-Semitic crazy man become a Western hero of 'reason.'"

And of course, no Catholic Answers thread is not complete without someone playing psychiatrist or charging Luther with antisemitism. This goes along with an earlier comment:

#16 "What if...What if Fr. Martin Luther had stayed in the Church with his heresies sanitized and still had his crude teachings published, like urging sex with one's neighbor's wife if one's wife was less than willing; or the NAZI blueprint for the Holocaust, 'On the Jews & Their Lies'?"

The "urging sex with on'es neighbor's wife" has been discussed here.

Today, 9:34 pm
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Default Re: A time machine back to the 1500's to talk to Martin Luther...,

I've read through this discussion, and here is what I learned about Martin Luther (based on the comments left):

Luther wanted to be a married priest, and it's impossible to be successful at both at the same time. Luther didn't realize this because he thought he was smarter "than the apologists, Scholar, and Historians of that time." He also "had what we call "Aspergers" today (autism), but in his case, it was combined with a strong, stubborn, and slightly cruel personality. He might have even had some OCD." This handicap made him "highly intelligent--...brilliant--and this made it even harder for people to deal with him." Even though smart, Luther was responsible for "the weakened values on marriage and divorce, abortion, the sacraments, the increase in numbers of denominations." He was also "tortured by a bad case of scrupulosity and pride." The devil "appeared to him many times, out of fear. He was a willing pawn in the hands of the devil." "Luther was a 'nut case. ...Only in our world could a anti-Semitic crazy man become a Western hero of 'reason.'" He also had "crude teachings published, like urging sex with one's neighbor's wife if one's wife was less than willing; or the NAZI blueprint for the Holocaust, 'On the Jews & Their Lies'."

Thanks for all the info, Catholic Answers participants.

"Love without truth would be blind; truth without love would be like 'a clanging cymbal' (I Cor 13: 1)." -- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Homily (found on the Catholic Answers rules post).


Addendum 1/16/13
The Catholic Answers discussion continues. One of the participants responded to a comment I left by stating: "Not every Catholic on this thread was disecting Luther's mental or spiritual state. There are many Catholics on this forum, myself included, who refuted that arguement" [source].

That's true. Not every participant on the Catholic Answers forums goes after Luther. There are some folks who, though they disagree with Protestant principles, are sober-minded in their critiques of that which they oppose. This is one of the problems inherent in discussion boards: the nuts outweigh the fruit, so to speak, even in the discussion in question. Everyone loves to post their opinions, but very few of those opinions actually are informed. This isn't simply a problem on the Catholic Answers forums, you can find the same sort of thing on Protestant forums (like the CARM boards).