Archive for October, 2007

Country vs. Blog

October 31, 2007

I respectfully submit that this country has a better grip on “the other reason for the season” than this (linked) blog.

Forget the risks to kids from poisoning, kidnap, etc.

Forget the risks to health from overconsumption of calories, refined sugar, carbohydrates, etc.

Forget the underlying extortive theme.

At its root the celebration of October 31 with masks, jack-o-laterns, and the like, is a celebration of evil.

Hat Tip to Russian schools for taking the appropriate approach, and to the Patriarch of Moscow for using his political influence to staunch the desensitization to evil in Russia. Gentle ribbing to brother Harris for being softer on the celebration of evil than the Russians.


P.S. And, of course, shame on Britain for this.

This Day in Reformation History

October 31, 2007

Everyone knows about the bulletin board message.
Few recall the unfundated mandate.
Frankly, the latter had more immediate, profound impact on the Reformation.

That is to say, on September 3, 1538, the King of England ordered the clergy of the church of England to provide by October 31, 1538,

“One book of the whole Bible of the largest volume in English, and the same set up in some convenient place within the said church that ye have care of, whereas your parishioners may most commodiously resort to the same and read it.”

Luther posted in Latin, but the King in English: Luther against Indulgences, but the King against all anti-Christian religions.

Praise God for his blessings showered both on German and England in the 16th century!


Roman Catholics: Beware!

October 31, 2007

According to this document from the Vatican website:

1.2. Communications

The technological revolution in communications over the last few years has brought about a completely new situation. The ease and speed with which people can now communicate is one of the reasons why New Age has come to the attention of people of all ages and backgrounds, and many who follow Christ are not sure what it is all about. The Internet, in particular, has become enormously influential, especially with younger people, who find it a congenial and fascinating way of acquiring information. But it is a volatile vehicle of misinformation on so many aspects of religion: not all that is labelled “Christian” or “Catholic” can be trusted to reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church and, at the same time, there is a remarkable expansion of New Age sources ranging from the serious to the ridiculous. People need, and have a right to, reliable information on the differences between Christianity and New Age.

(Emphasis added)

Dave Armstrong’s site has a Catholic label. Can it be trusted to reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church?

Of course, the same Vatican web domain claims that this is Roman Catholic dogma:

The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God.

5. Cf St. Gregory VII, letter XXI to Anzir (Nacir), King of Mauritania (Pl. 148, col. 450f.)

But Dave denies that Moslems worship the same god as the Roman Catholics, or that Islam submits to the decrees of the same God as Abraham. Notice the definite article in English (“the one God”) – though obviously the “official version” would be in Latin which lacks the definite article. Likewise, notice the capitalization of God and Himself, as well as the affirmation that this God is “the Creator” (capital “C”). But perhaps you will say that “official version” is all capitals (and who knows, perhaps it is).

Ah, but here’s the referenced language from the the letter of Gregory VII to Anzir:

This affection we and you owe to each other in a more peculiar way than to people of other races because we worship and confess the same God though in diverse forms and daily praise and adore him as the creator and ruler of this world. For, in the words of the Apostle, “He is our peace who hath made both one.”

But Dave disagrees, insisting that I should not “ignorantly demand” that he answer questions about “my faith” (to wit, his religion) any particular way.

Consistent Roman Catholics Beware!


P.S. Quasi-Unrelated: is the President of Georgetown a Catholic, how about a consistent Catholic? (link)

P.P.S. Thanks dear Anonymous reader for the “not”!

Let’s Dig a Bit Deeper into the Tangled Webs

October 30, 2007

Recall that Dave wrote:


Turretinfan” has recently taken to claiming not only that I am not a “real” Catholic (because I don’t answer every question about my faith the way he ignorantly demands that it should be answered), but that I also have supposedly not “apparently” defined the word Christian anywhere. He even uses this as one of his excuses to not have a chat room debate with me.


We’ve already documented that this assertion is not fully true (though he is correct that the present author mistakenly believed that Dave had not provided any explicit definition of Christianity). Let’s dig a bit deeper into the morass of Dave’s position:

Note particularly Dave’s remark: “because I don’t answer every question about my faith the way he ignorantly demands that it should be answered.”

Since when does Dave have ownership of the “Catholic faith.” Isn’t that the point of being “Catholic” that one holds to a universal (i.e. catholic) faith? Or is Catholicism really about people having their own individual faith? Of course the answers are that Dave does not have ownership of Catholicism, he’s not even an ordained member of the Roman Catholic clergy, much less the pope. Now, on issues that the RCC has not dogmatically defined, I suppose it is reasonable to let Dave have some leeway for now, until those points get defined.

Note also I do not have any problem with Dave disagreeing with the “Catholic” faith, nor do I refuse to let Dave define his own personal faith. That’s his business. But these are matters that the Roman Catholic Church has spoken on in one of the very few ways in which she actually speaks as an organization, namely by the mouth of the popes and ecumenical councils.

To call one’s personal views “Catholic” when they are contrary to the teachings of the popes and ecumenical councils (all twenty-something of them) is bizarre. In other words: who defines what the Roman Catholic position is, Dave, me, or the writings of the RCC? Of course the answer is the writings of the RCC – and they are contrary to Dave’s position. This is not an issue of me “demanding” (ignorantly or wisely) that he answer questions in a specific way – this is an issue of Dave answering questions the way the writings of the RCC answer the questions.

What’s even more bizarre and contrary to historic Catholicism is to label (as Dave does) systems of theology as being properly “Christian” which are not part of the “Catholic” (universal) church.

Compare Dave’s position (namely that anyone who affirms the Nicean Creed is Christian – apparently even without the filoque) to this description (a summary of work by a professor of Ancient History at a school that’s known for its ancient history, Prof. Gillian Clark):

Chapter 2, ‘Christians and others’, investigates the problem of sources and the distinctions that historians have inherited from early Christian writings: Christians and pagans, Christians and Jews, Christians and heretics. Most of the sources for early Christianity have survived because they were acceptable to the Christians whose theology prevailed. How then can we reconstruct the perspective of people who thought they were Christians but whose theology was classed as heresy, or of people who were not Christians, or of the silent majority who did not write about their beliefs? Were the distinctions so clear in practice? Were Christians and non-Christians divided only by misunderstanding and polemic, or were there fundamental differences of beliefs and values? Did Christian groups offer an alternative family, a level of emotional and practical support, or of moral and religious teaching, that was not available in other religious options? Why would anyone choose the one religious option that carried the risk of an appalling public death?

(source) (emphasis added).

What do you think?

Is the official position of Rome (as Dave asserts) that heretics condemned by Rome and subject to the death penalty at the hands of the state for their heresy can still properly be considered Christians? Can anyone claim that they have read any history of the Spanish Inquisition and conclude that Rome’s position was that heretics were Christians that just seriously disagreed?

Ah, but perhaps Gillian Clark is to left-leaning for you … consider then this comment from (an allegedly Catholic encyclopedic site, but perhaps Dave will claim he knows better):

“Marriages, however, between Catholics and heretics were not subject to the same impediment. They were held as valid, though illicit if a dispensation mixtæ religionis had not been obtained.” (anyone want to guess what mixtae religionis suggests?) (source)

And if marriage between Catholics and heretics was a marriage of mixed religions, and the Catholics were allegedly Christian, what would that make the heretics?

or again (from the same source, though a different page):

“The guiding principles in the Church’s treatment of heretics are the following: Distinguishing between formal and material heretics, she applies to the former the canon, “Most firmly hold and in no way doubt that every heretic or schismatic is to have part with the Devil and his angels in the flames of eternal fire, unless before the end of his life he be incorporated with, and restored to the Catholic Church.”” (source)

After all, contrary to Dave’s implicit assertion, Rome’s official position is not that the RCC is just one sect of Christianity, and that all those who adhere to the Nicean creed are properly designated “Christian” whether or not they are incorporated with Catholic Church.

Please tell me, why should Dave’s personal, private interpretation of the “Catholic faith” trump either my interpretation or – more importantly – the writings of the RCC?


According to Dave …

October 30, 2007

“Turretinfan” has recently taken to claiming not only that I am not a “real” Catholic (because I don’t answer every question about my faith the way he ignorantly demands that it should be answered), but that I also have supposedly not “apparently” defined the word Christian anywhere. He even uses this as one of his excuses to not have a chat room debate with me.”

Actually, though, Dave has misrepresented what I said (is anyone seeing a theme here?):

a) I acknowledge that Dave is a member of the Roman Catholic Church, and consequently Dave is a “real” Catholic (just like 1 billion or so other people);

b) I have illustrated important doctrinal differences between Dave and the official dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church;

c) Therefore, I have clearly stated that Dave is not a consistent Catholic; and

d) I have also stated that many Catholics disagree with Dave on the points I raised; and

e) I did provide Dave’s apparent failure to define Christianity as one reason that I thought debate would not be profitable. Dave has resolved that roadblock by defining Christianity.


I stand corrected – Dave HAS defined Christianity

October 30, 2007

Here’s a link to his post explaining that he has defined Christianity! (link)

I stand corrected.

And, of course, Dave’s definition includes those who are under the wrath of God and the Apostles Peter and Paul, according to the Roman Catholic Church.


P.S. And of course, there’s beautiful irony in Dave’s first comment on his own blog combox (mine acknowleding my mistake is the second, because it took me more than a minute or so to respond): “TF keeps adding more personal attacks daily on his blog, and just keeps building higher castles of sand from his initial fallacies. Pray for his brain to understand the relationship of propositions and ideas properly. It’s an amazing and pathetic display to behold.” (carriage return omitted)

P.P.S. Furthermore, of course, Dave has defined Christianity in a very Protestant way (by his standards of what is Protestant), namely in a way that is individualistic. People affirm creeds (the creed begins with “credo“), systems of theology do not. But we can brush that aside for we know what Dave means (at least I think we do): if a system of theology affirms the Nicean creed it is a Christian system of theology.

Why isn’t Dave Armstrong a Consistent Catholic?

October 30, 2007

Dave Armstrong has claimed that he affirms sola gratia, but the Council of Trent clearly affirms something other than sola gratia.

Why then does Dave Armstrong call himself a Roman Catholic apologist if he does not hold to/defend the teachings of Roman Catholic Ecumenical Councils?

I suggest there are three possibilities:

1) Dave really does deny sola gratia, but says he doesn’t because he realizes that a denial of sola gratia is an indefensible position in the face of Scripture (if so, shame on him for being Jesuitical in his apologetic);

2) Dave really does hold to sola gratia, because he realizes Scripture teaches it (if so, good for him!) or because he realizes some of the Catholic fathers, councils, or doctors have taught (not the best reason, but ok), or as a carryover from his Protestant years (doubtful, but who knows) or for some other reason (who knows?); or

3) Dave thinks he holds to sola gratia, in essence because he does not understand the significance of sola in sola gratia (I think this is the most probable, but I’ll let Dave provide his own explanation, if he so chooses.).

Let’s be clear about two things:

Trent does deny sola gratia and Dave says he affirms sola gratia. Incidentally, Dave is not the only Roman Catholic so to affirm, and very few Roman Catholics are willing to explicitly deny sola gratia. But Trent did deny sola gratia, which is why it became one of the three, and later one of the five distinguishing “solas” (shouldn’t that be solae?) of the Reformation.


Why Don’t We Read Form Prayers?

October 29, 2007

Of course, Anglicans for many years continued to read form prayers even after the Reformation, but many (if not most) of the Reformation churches quickly abandoned form prayers. Sadly, a few are bringing back form prayers, but that’s a topic for another post.

This narrative builds a frequently heard straw man (link) that I think is both sadly not entirely a straw man (i.e. some people really hold to the position represented) and also not an intentional misrepresentation (i.e. the author really thinks that extemporaneous prayer advocates really justify themselves that way).

What is the straw man? The straw man is that we oppose form prayers because we want to “really mean” what we are praying. The narrative makes a compelling argument against that straw man (or is it a straw man?). We “really mean” the form psalms we sing, and we “really mean” the Scriptures that we read.

Why then the extemporaneous prayers?

1) The example of Scripture. Scripture is full of examples of prayers, and these prayers (with one notable exception) are extemporaneous, that is to say that they are ad hoc – to the occasion.

2) The notable exception is the Lord’s Prayer (RCCers – we’re talking about the Pater Noster or “Our Father.”) But this prayer is not presented in Scripture as a form prayer to be prayed as such, but as a template for prayer. It is pray “like this” not pray “these words.”

Matthew 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Luke 11:2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

(the more specific – Matthew, providing the interpretation for the more general, Luke)

The Greek word in Matthew is ουτως = thus, like this, in this way
The Greek word in Luke is λεγετε = lay out, relate

“Say” is not a very precise translation, even though it is accurate. In short, the point of both Matthew and Luke is to provide a template, with the important matters to be included in one’s prayers, sometimes summarized by the mneumonic:


Thanksgiving; and

3) The analogy to sermons/homilies. Just as a pastor tailors the sermon or homily for the congregation, applying the truths of scripture to his flock, the man praying applies Scriptural principles of prayer (such as the template of the Lord’s Prayer) to the situation at hand.

4) Last, but certainly not least, the specific Scriptural admonition against rote prayers:

Matthew 6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Have you ever witnessed a Roman Catholic praying a rosary, especially a non-Latin speaking Roman Catholic praying a Latin rosary, and most especially a very experienced and devout Roman Catholic senior citizen doing so with something to be done afterwards, or while engaged in something unrelated, such as driving?

Would you like to try to tell me that those prayers are not vain repetitions just like the prayers of the heathen? They are certainly repetitious, and they certainly seem to be based on a theory that if you say the prayer a lot you will be heard.


A Response to InternetMonk regarding Reformation Day

October 29, 2007

Caveat: I’ve never been a big fan of “Reformation Day,” although I’ve been “Reformed” for a long time. I’m still not a big fan. I’m responding to InternetMonk not so much to disagree (though I certainly do at times) but to highlight some good points he makes, and to distinguish the good points from the bad. Source for this critique may be found here (link).

IM: “It’s fairly obvious that, at least among some Calvinists, “Reformation Day” is a new holiday to be celebrated with all the enthusiasm we once reserved for actual holidays.”

Sadly, not just with the enthusiaism (which would be perfectly fine), but with the nearly mandatory requirements. “What? You’re not having a Reformation Day Service? (or a Reformation Sunday sermon?) How dare you! Are you an enemy of the Reformation? Are you a friend of indulgences?” Those are not actual quotes, but the sentiment seems sometimes to swing that direction. That’s not a good thing.

IM: “(Lutherans: Party on. You’ve earned it.)”

Many Lutherans are not that “Reformed” anyhow (when it comes to the celebration of holy days) … I’m not sure adding a holiday of “Reformation Day” to their church calendar would change much.

IM: “I’m waiting for the photos of the “Dress Like a Reformer” party at a reformed church near you.”

It’s actually ironic but Reformed churches do hold such events (though typically more geared for the youth). It’s a Christianization of some other holiday that happens to fall on the same day of the year – just the way that the equinox/solstice holidays were introduced into “Christianity.” Or maybe Jesus and John the Baptist were really conceived and born at such a convenient ly preemptive time?! There’s no historically documented reason to believe so.

IM: “I’ll admit to having donned the Luther costume and done the Reformation Day lecture for the students at our school on a number of occasions, and I don’t regret having done so. Most of what I said was true. Well….some of it.”

Although IM is not reformed …

IM: “In the past year, I’ve read a lot about the reformation and even more about Luther. I’m currently finishing off McGrath’s Christianity’s Dangerous Idea– a popular history of Protestantism that’s right up to speed- and I’m almost done with Richard Marius’s Luther: The Christian Between God and Death, one of the most profitable biographies of Luther I’ve ever read and I read at least one every couple of years.”

Reading’s good.

IM: “My reading on Luther and the Reformation has changed my mind about a lot of things. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but here’s the short list.”

Like any good writer (and IM is a good writer), IM sums up the list nicely as follows:

Part of my Reformation Day will be spent contemplating what it means to say “One Lord; One Faith; One Baptism; One Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church.” Having a party celebrating the division of Christianity doesn’t really strike me as a something I want to do.

But of course:

A) If we wanted to celebrate the division, we pick the day that Trent voted to adopt its anathema against justification of the impious by faith alone;
B) Luther’s 95 theses were about Reform not Breakaway; and
C) We celebrate the death of Roman tyranny over the Western church, not sectarianism – if we wanted to celebrate the latter we’d pick the date that the Eastern Orthodox counter-excommunicated the western church over the “heresy” of saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son rather than the Father alone.


Defeat This Man With Prayer

October 29, 2007

The man in this article (link) is an enemy of Christianity, as well as an enemy of other religions. Let us pray that God will open his eyes to the truth, illumine his mind, and regenerate his will, so that he will be repent and be converted and God will save Him.

God is great, no matter what any scoffer says to the contrary!


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