Archive for the ‘Joe Heschmeyer’ Category

Response to Joe Heschmeyer

December 28, 2010

Joe Heschmeyer wrote a response (link to response) to my previous post (link to my post) regarding Bishop Olmsted.

He raises a number of objections to my post, and I’ll try to deal with them in turn.

1. The “God Hath Joined Together” Objection

Mr. Heschmeyer objects that I’m trying to separate Christ and His church. This (like most of the post) is an emotional argument, not a rational one. I didn’t suggest that Christ’s church should be separated from Christ. What I said was:

I was also struck by the fact that the bishop’s stated identity was not Christ alone, but “Christ and the Church.” What he considers to be faithfulness to Christ is faithfulness to the rules of his church. However, in following the rules of his church, he’s not following God’s law.

The point that Mr. Heschmeyer has missed is that for the bishop his stated identity in Christ, because it is not in Christ alone, ends up being in his (the bishop’s) church. But the bishop’s church is not Christ’s church, and the rules of his church are not the rules of God. What the bishop identifies with is a false christ, not the true Christ.

2. The Father Abraham Objection

Mr. Heschmeyer objects that I (like Aquinas) refer to hyper-dulia as a species of worship (cf. Summa 3.25.5 “Since, therefore, the Blessed Virgin is a mere rational creature, the worship of ‘latria’ is not due to her, but only that of ‘dulia’: but in a higher degree than to other creatures, inasmuch as she is the Mother of God. For this reason we say that not any kind of “dulia” is due to her, but ‘hyperdulia.'”). That’s because it is worship. Mr. Heschmeyer claims that the worship of Mary is more like “honoring Father Abraham, which Scripture clearly does.” Suffice that there were no first century side altars with Father Abraham’s likeness in the Temple or synagogues, there were no candles burnt before statues of Father Abraham, and no one is taught to pray to Father Abraham.

Ironically, Abraham is mentioned by name in 70 verses in the New Testament contrasted with 46 verses that use the name “Mary” (at least 10 of which are references to Mary Magdalene). For those wondering, the name “Jesus” occurs in 942 verses, “Lord” is in 670 verses, and “Christ” is in 532 verses, while “Paul” gets mentioned in 159 verses, “Peter” in 156 verses, “John” (includes both the baptizer and the beloved disciple) in 130 verses, “David” in 54 verses, “James” in 38 verses, “Silas” in 13 verses, “Andrew” in 12 verses, and “Timothy” in 9 verses. (statistics based on the KJV)

Mary’s a relatively minor (but important) character in the New Testament, but she’s the “Queen of Heaven” in Roman theology (cf. Jeremiah 7:18).

3. The Universal Apostasy Objection

Mr. Heschmeyer takes the position that my objection to Roman latria worship of the bread of the Eucharist requires me to say that there were no Christians from the first century to the eleventh century. This remarkable claim is flawed for several reasons.

a) There is no evidence that those who called themselves “Christians” were giving the bread the worship that belongs to Christ alone from the 1st century until around the 9th or 10th century (perhaps as late as the 11th or 12th century). I should obviously point out that if Mr. Heschmeyer disagrees, he’s welcome to point me to someone before then who taught that the bread should be worshiped with the worship of latria.

b) We (Reformed) don’t require moral or theological perfection of Christians. In fact, we try to judge by a very lenient standard. So, we’re willing to accept as Christians even those who do engage in some sin, and those who do have some theological errors. Universal apostasy would not be the logical conclusion from mere widespread error of practice.

c) Mr. Heschmeyer seems to be unaware of the debunking of Roman claims regarding the views of the church about the Eucharist. He ought to be. Cosin provided an excellent debunking in the 17th century (link to book), not to cast aspersions on the many before him (such as Ridley in the 16th century – link to work or Wycliffe in the 14th century – link to work) and after him. That debunking is not merely a debunking of Rome’s eisegesis of the key Scriptural texts, but also includes a debunking of Rome’s historical claims. Suffice that Mr. Heschmeyer cannot locate a single father from the 1st to the 9th centuries that taught that the bread becomes not just the body but the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. In fact, Mr. Heschmeyer would have trouble finding any father that says that the bread is no longer truly bread after the consecration.

4. The Faith/Faithfulness Objection

Mr. Heschmeyer claims that I distinguish between faith and faithfulness, but “apparently not in the way that Scripture does.” Mr. Heschmeyer’s support for his objection seems to take him off on a variety of tangents. It’s unclear whether Mr. Heschmeyer understands the difference between trust and obedience. Proper obedience (faithfulness) flows from a true and living faith (trust) in God. Perhaps he understands that, perhaps not. His rambling objection doesn’t seem to address the distinction I was making. The bishop is (according to his own testimony) faithful in his duties, but this flows from his faith in his church.

5. The Murder is Never Self-Defense Objection

Mr. Heschmeyer’s label “Murder is Never Self-Defense” shows either a penchant for the rhetorical or a fundamental misunderstanding of the moral categories. I’d rather not pick, so I’ll just explain the principles that apply.

a. All murder (properly speaking, as distinct from hatred which is a species of murder broadly defined) involves killing (killing of a human being, but we’ll just refer to it as “killing” to keep things concise).

b. Not all killing is murder.

c. Killing is murder, unless there is either an excuse or a justification.

d. We will leave aside the issue of “excuse,” since – in any event – there does not appear to be an excuse available here.

e. Various justifications are permitted for killing. For example, soldiers can justly kill enemy soldiers in a just war, and the civil government has the power of the sword to execute those who are guilty of capital crimes.

f. One justification for killing is self-defense. Thomas Aquinas recognized this as a legitimate justification (Summa 2-2.64.7). Hopefully, Mr. Heschmeyer does not think that Aquinas was ill informed about moral theology.

g. Double-effect always exists in the case of true self-defense. In other words, one’s intent in self-defense is not to kill the other person, the intent is to save one’s own life.

h. The killing, in true self-defense, must be killing the person who is going to kill you.

i. The killing, in true self-defense, must be proportional to the need. In other words, when one can save one’s life very easily another way, one cannot resort to using lethal force. However, the proportionality need not be scientifically exact. Thomas Aquinas explains this at the link I’ve provided above.

Mr. Heschmeyer poses a series of four examples in which he says it is obvious that one cannot take another’s life. In each of his examples, there is a man who is facing death (we’ll call him “the victim” just as shorthand) and this victim has the opportunity to save his own life by killing someone else. However, in each case, the person who the victim is contemplating killing is not the person who is killing the victim.

Mr. Heschmeyer, however, has failed to consider that in this case (according to the evidence we have) the baby was killing the mother. If the baby was not stopped from doing what it was doing, the mother would die. No one is saying that the baby intends to kill the mother, or that the baby’s actions were themselves culpable.

Mr. Heschmeyer concludes:

This wasn’t a case where the hospital found itself in a morally gray area, made the wrong decision, and was immediately and mercilessly thrown out. This is the culmination of years of open rebellion, where a hospital refusing to be Catholic was finally told, in effect, “You win. You’re not Catholic.” It’s no more offensive than my telling Turretin Fan: you’re not a Catholic. He knows. And by their conduct, it’s clear St. Joseph’s knows, too.

Actually, what happened is that the hospital didn’t cave in to the following demands from the bishop:

• Acknowledge he was right and the hospital was wrong in its interpretation of a church health-care directive regarding so-called indirect abortions.

• Submit itself to a diocesan review and certification “to ensure full compliance” with Catholic moral teachings. Olmsted wrote that the certification would be similar to other accreditations that hospitals seek.

• Agree to give its medical staff ongoing training on the Ethical and Religious Directives, a document from the national bishops council that explains Catholic moral teachings for health-care providers.

Notice that the reason was not actually the killing of an innocent child. The issue was the challenge to the bishop’s ego. The bishop disagreed with the nun, Sister Margaret McBride, who authorized the killing of the child, over the interpretation of Rome’s rules related to when taking the life of a child is permitted. As summarized in an article just prior to to the bishop’s de-labeling of the hospital:

St. Joseph’s has since argued that the case was more akin to removing a pregnant woman’s cancerous uterus, which is permissible under church doctrine, than to a standard abortion. McBride remains a nun on the hospital staff.

Two months of discussions followed but, according to Olmsted, did not resolve the question of whether the procedure was allowable. In the November letter, Olmsted said that he did not believe CHW intended to change its policies.


So, no, I don’t think Mr. Heschmeyer’s characterization of the situation is correct. As for the “Catholic,” label – it better fits me than it fits him, since my church (a reformed and presbyterian church) doesn’t practice the sectarianism that his church practices, and since my church holds to the once delivered Catholic and Apostolic faith that his church has abandoned.


Response to Heschmeyer’s Purgatory Thought Experiments

November 9, 2009

Joe Heschmeyer at Shameless Popery has provided some “thought experiments” regarding purgatory (link to his post).

Heschmeyer has two similar experiments – in both cases an object is dropped and broken. Heschmeyer asks whether the object’s owner can forgive the breaker of the object and still demand that the person who broke it clean up the consequent mess. Secondarily, Heschmeyer asks whether someone can pay for the value of the broken item and still demand that the person clean up the wreckage.

There a few critical problems with the experiment.

1) Fairness vs. Forgiveness
Heschmeyer relies throughout on what is “fair” but is simultaneously posing questions in which there is an assumption that forgiveness is taking place. Forgiveness is mercy – it runs in the opposite direction of “fair.”

Even if the breaker is really sorry for having broken the item, fairness still demands that the breaker make the breakee whole, restoring what belonged to the breakee and cleaning up the mess resulting from the breakage.

2) Conflation of Dignity and Physical Categories

In fact, whether or not the breaker is really sorry is relevant only to the dignity offense against the breakee. If you spit on someone’s shoe, you are doing more than ruining the leather, you are insulting the person. The same occurs (to a lesser extent) when one is negligent with the goods of another. One is showing that one lacks the proper regard for that person and also for God who set your duty to be careful of the goods of others.

When someone apologizes sincerely for harming another, he is attempting to terminate the offense against the dignity of the person whom he has offended. After all, if you break someone’s car and then don’t apologize, the dignity of the person continues to be harmed by your continued disdain for them as evidence by your lack of contrition.

Another reason to apologize is attempt to bring about reconciliation. In other words, we may apologize in order to attempt to restore friendship between us and the person whom we have offended. If they accept our apology, we can be friends again, otherwise they may continue to be aggrieved at us for the offense we caused.

3) Imposition of Divine Command for Forgiveness on Fairness Structure

We have a divine command that requires us to forgive others. That is our duty toward God, however, not our duty toward the person who has offended us. A person who offends us has no right to demand that we accept their apology. When we apologize to another person, we should do so not insisting that they accept our apology as a matter of our right.

Instead, we are commanded to forgive others as a duty toward God in gratitude of the forgiveness he has given to us. God does not have a similar reciprocal duty. God is not required by any higher power to forgive and man has no right to demand forgiveness from God for sin.

This actually gets us back to the fairness versus forgiveness issue that we started the article with. Heschmeyer’s discussion seems to assume that fairness requires that we forgive those who apologize but that fairness also requires that the person who broke the item pay for it, clean up the mess, etc.

4) Human Friendship conflated with Divine Justice (or Full versus Partial Forgiveness)

Related to the above conflations, Heschmeyer appears to conflate the issues of human friendship with divine justice. When Hechmeyer speaks of a person accepting an apology he is speaking primarily in terms of the person no longer being angry at the breaker. The anger of the breakee has been set aside and, to some degree at least, human friendship has been restored.

Nevertheless, a person can stop being angry with the breakee and still expect payment for the item and a clean-up of the mess. Or can forgive payment but still expect clean-up of the mess.

Divine justice, however, is not satisfied when forgiveness is only partial. Being forgiven of part of your wrong-doing may lessen your guilt under divine justice, but it does not remove your guilt.

In terms of human friendship, we may view this sort of partial friendship as acceptable, but in terms of divine justice the same partial forgiveness is not enough. It is enough to have partial forgiveness from a friend because we can pay for the broken item and clean up the mess. It is not enough to have partial forgiveness from God because we cannot atone for our sins, even in part.

These mistakes seem to sum up the problems with Heschmeyer’s thought experiments. But after the experiments he attempts to make an argument from Scripture. In doing so, he makes a further mistake.

5) Chastisement versus Penalty

Heschmeyer considers the account of David’s sin against Uriah, his plotting the death of Uriah to cover the sin of David’s adultery with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba. Nathan the prophet comes to David and rebukes David for this sin, and David repents. God spares David’s life but takes the life of David’s son. Heschmeyer puts it this way:

David is forgiven. No matter how you read it. But his son still dies. Anti-Purgatory logic falls apart here: if he’s forgiven, how can he still be penalized? If he’s penalized, how can he be forgiven?

But Heschmeyer has made a two very fundamental mistakes. The first mistake is the mistake of confusing chastisement with penalty. David is being disciplined in the eyes of the nations for his sin against God. It is a chastisement, not a punishment. It is discipline to help David learn, not punishment that expiates sin.

The second mistake is to overlook the typological significance of this event. David’s son dies instead of David. For David’s sin, David’s son dies. Who bears the wrath of God for David’s sin? Not principally David, though he feels great sorrow at the death of his son, but the son instead. This is an illustration for us of the Son of David who died for all of David’s sins. Christ is the son of David, as the scribes testified:

Matthew 22:42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.

And not only do we have the genealogies of Jesus, but the very children of Jerusalem testified that Jesus was the Son of David:

Matthew 21:15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,

As did the Canaanite woman:

Matthew 15:22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

And the two blind men:

Matthew 20:30-31
And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.

But the truly blind were those who did not see that the Son of David was the Lord of David:

Matthew 22:43-46

He saith unto them, “How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, ‘The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool’? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?” And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

Christ took on himself the punishment not only for David’s sins, not only for the sins of the Jewish believers, but for the sins of the whole world. David’s bastard son by Bathsheba died on account of David’s sins, and took the punishment for them in his person – much more so did Christ the double son of David: first legally through Solomon’s line by Joseph’s adoption (see Matthew 1:1-23) and second by blood through his mother Mary and grandfather Heli, by the line of David’s immediate son Nathan (see Luke 3:23-38).

God forgave David but punished David’s son instead. David received chastisement only, and not punishment.

There is certainly much more that could be said on the topic of purgatory, but this may serve to answer a few of the points raised by Heschmeyer’s article.


Non Sequitur Illustrated

September 15, 2009

Here is a classic non sequitur: “The biggest reason I think that Protestantism lies at the heart of relativism is this. Protestants are in the awkward position of saving, ‘All of Christendom c. 1516 and before, you all misunderstand Christianity!'” (Joe Heschmeyer at Shameless Popery) Leaving aside the ridiculous claim that Protestantism has to make such an assertion, there is simply no connection between that assertion and relativism. Quite to the contrary, claims that we understand correctly and someone else understands incorrectly is an absolutist claim, not a relativist claim. The blog is aptly titled, no doubt, and despite the link for those wishing to verify the accuracy of the quotation, I don’t endorse his post or blog in any way.


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