Monday, May 28, 2007

Lutheran Pastor Paul T. McCain's Extreme Insults of Pope Benedict XVI & Catholics & Concealment of What St. Augustine Actually Taught About Salvation

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Rev. McCain misrepresents Catholic teaching, in the spirit of his hero


Commenter Dozie directed me to these ridiculous comments on Rev. McCain's blog, dated 2 December 2005. I reproduce his post in full below:

Shame on the Pope

What horrible heresy this is. Shame on Benedict. These comments are anathema, they are anti-catholic, anti-apostolic and truly reveal the spirit of anti-christ at work in the Roman Church.

Nonbelievers Too Can Be Saved, Says Pope

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Whoever seeks peace and the good of the community with a pure conscience, and keeps alive the desire for the transcendent, will be saved even if he lacks biblical faith, says Benedict XVI.

On a rainy morning in Rome, the Holy Father ...addressed ...more than 23,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square, (saying):

(A)mong the inhabitants of Babylon there are people who are committed to peace and the good of the community, despite the fact that they do not share the biblical faith, that they do not know the hope of the Eternal City to which we aspire.... They have a spark of desire for the unknown, for the greatest, for the transcendent, for a genuine redemption.... (A)mong the nonbelievers, there are people with this spark, with a kind of faith, of hope, in the measure that is possible for them in the circumstances in which they live.... With this faith in an unknown reality, they are really on the way to the authentic Jerusalem, to Christ.... God will not allow them to perish with Babylon, having predestined them to be citizens of Jerusalem, on the condition, however, that, living in Babylon, they do not seek pride, outdated pomp and arrogance.

Posted by McCain at December 2, 2005 06:51 PM
Of course, this is stating nothing more than Romans 2:6-16:
6: For he will render to every man according to his works:
7: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
8: but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.
9: There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,
10: but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.
11: For God shows no partiality.
12: All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.
13: For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
14: When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.
15: They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them
16: on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
It might help next time that Rev. McCain wants to condemn a pope as exhibiting the spirit of antichrist, to at least cite the entire (not very lengthy) article, rather than liberally using ellipses [ . . . ] to hinder examination of the full context. Perhaps (in trying to exercise the utmost benefit of the doubt) the article he read already had the ellipses. I was able to quickly access the Zenit site itself to get the full article. Here it is, with the portions that the good pastor omitted in green, with my interjections bracketed and in blue:

Nonbelievers Too Can Be Saved, Says Pope

Refers to St. Augustine's Commentary on Psalm 136(137)

[Rev. McCain didn't even bother with ellipses indicating that this was removed]

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Whoever seeks peace and the good of the community with a pure conscience, and keeps alive the desire for the transcendent, will be saved even if he lacks biblical faith, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope made this affirmation today at the general audience, commenting on a meditation written by St. Augustine (354-430).

[Rev. McCain again failed to include ellipses, to indicate that he had omitted this portion]

On a rainy morning in Rome, the Holy Father's meditation, addressed to more than 23,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square [Rev. McCain's adds here "(saying)", whereas the usual procedure in such instances is to bracket the comments -- as I am doing right now -- in order to show that they were not in the original], concentrated on the suffering of the Jewish people in the Babylonian exile, expressed dramatically in Psalm 136(137).

The Pontiff referred to Augustine's commentary on this composition of the Jewish people, noting that this "Father of the Church introduces a surprising element of great timeliness."

[Rev. McCain thus leaves out both biblical and Augustinian evidence that backs up what Pope Benedict XVI was saying. This is well-night dishonest citation, in my opinion (especially considering the seemingly deliberately omitted ellipses), because it omits crucial components that give the entire presentation a different meaning than what he wished to leave his readers. We can't have St. Augustine in legion with antichrist, after all!]

Augustine "knows that also among [the "a" in "among" is capitalized and in parentheses, where it should be in brackets for such a citation practice] the inhabitants of Babylon there are people who are committed to peace and the good of the community, despite the fact that they do not share the biblical faith, that they do not know the hope of the Eternal City to which we aspire," Benedict XVI stated.

"They have a spark of desire for the unknown, for the greatest, for the transcendent, for a genuine redemption," explained the Pope, quoting Augustine. [it's obvious by now that the plan was to eliminate any sign of Augustine whatsoever from the article and the speech]

This spark [typo in the Zenit article itself]

"And he says that among the persecutors, among [the "a" is again wrongly capitalized and put in parentheses] the nonbelievers, there are people with this spark, with a kind of faith, of hope, in the measure that is possible for them in the circumstances in which they live," the Holy Father continued.

"With this faith in an unknown reality, they are really on the way to the authentic Jerusalem, to Christ," he clarified.

Continuing with his quotes from Augustine, the Pope added that [can't let it be known that the homily was built around St. Augustine!] "God will not allow them to perish with Babylon, having predestined them to be citizens of Jerusalem, on the condition, however, that, living in Babylon, they do not seek pride, outdated pomp and arrogance." [by omitting the clarification that Augustine was being quoted, Rev. McCain actually leaves the impression that the Holy Father is saying the previous words in quotation marks, rather than St. Augustine]

The Bishop of Rome concluded by inviting those present to pray to the Lord "that he will awaken in all of us this desire, this openness to God, and that those who do not know God may also be touched by his love, so that all of us journey together toward the definitive City and that the light of this City might also shine in our time and in our world."
Wow! This is one of the worst examples of a deliberately botched citation that I've ever seen in my now 26 years of apologetics of all sorts. Absolutely incredible and indefensible . . . First he can't even cite an entire short article from Zenit. He has to ludicrously butcher it and remove any trace of St. Augustine, whom the pope was commenting on. Then he has to engage in improper citation techniques (missing ellipses, lack of brackets).

Lastly, he lets the reader think that the pope is saying things that St. Augustine wrote, that were being cited by the pope. The crowning absurdity is that he describes all this (including what turns out to be the direct words of St. Augustine) as "horrible heresy . . . anathema, . . . anti-catholic, anti-apostolic and truly reveal the spirit of anti-christ". Thus, St. Augustine is all this, too, along with the pope. That's interesting, isn't it?

He neglects to even consult the entire speech (rather than a news account of it), which is freely available on the Vatican's website (here is the direct link). All this, yet he takes his extreme potshots against the Church and the pope. The speech itself makes it crystal clear who was saying what in the final five paragraphs:

And with this openness of hope, Augustine also warns the "Babylonians" - as he calls them -, those who do not know Christ or even God and yet desire the unknown, the eternal, and he warns us too, not to focus merely on the material things of the present but to persevere on the journey to God. It is also only with this greater hope that we will be able to transform this world in the right way. St Augustine says so in these words:

"If we are citizens of Jerusalem... and must live in this land, in the confusion of this world and in this Babylon where we do not dwell as citizens but are held prisoner, then we should not just sing what the Psalm says but we should also live it: something that is done with a profound, heartfelt aspiration, a full and religious yearning for the eternal city".

And he adds with regard to the "earthly city called Babylon", that it "has in it people who, prompted by love for it, work to guarantee it peace - temporal peace - nourishing in their hearts no other hope, indeed, by placing in this one all their joy, without any other intention. And we see them making every effort to be useful to earthly society".

"Now, if they strive to do these tasks with a pure conscience, God, having predestined them to be citizens of Jerusalem, will not let them perish within Babylon: this is on condition, however, that while living in Babylon, they do not thirst for ambition, short-lived magnificence or vexing arrogance.... He sees their enslavement and will show them that other city for which they must truly long and towards which they must direct their every effort" (Esposizioni sui Salmi, 136, 1-2: Nuova Biblioteca Agostiniana, XXVIII, Rome, 1977, pp. 397, 399). [my emphases added to St. Augustine's words]

And let us pray to the Lord that in all of us this desire, this openness to God, will be reawakened, and that even those who do not know Christ may be touched by his love so that we are all together on the pilgrimage to the definitive City, and that the light of this City may appear also in our time and in our world.

Part of the passage cited -- from Psalm 136 (137) -- appears in a book that I have in my library:

This city too which is called Babylon has its lovers, who look for peace in this world and hope for nothing beyond, but fix their joy in this, end it in this; and we see them toil exceedingly for their earthly country. But whosoever lives faithfully even therein, if they seek not therein pride, and perishable elation, and hateful boasting, but exhibit true faith, such as they can, as long as they can, to those whom they can, in so far as they see earthly things, and understand the nature of their citizenship, these God suffers not to perish in Babylon; He has predestined them to be citizens of Jerusalem. God understands their captivity, and shows to them another city, for which they ought truly to sigh, for which they ought to make every endeavor, to win which they ought to the utmost of their power to exhort their fellow-citizens now their fellow-wanderers.

(translation from Erich Przywara, S.J., An Augustine Synthesis: New York: Harper Torchbook edition, 1958, 267)
The Holy Father was using this Latin source, particularly the following:
Habet et haec civitas quae Babylonia dicitur, amatores suos consulentes paci temporali, et nihil ultra sperantes, totumque gaudium suum ibi figentes, ibi finientes, et videmus eos pro republica terrena plurimum laborare: sed et in ea quicumque fideliter versantur, si non ibi appetant superbiam et perituram elationem odiosamque iactantiam; sed veram fidem exhibeant, quam possunt, quamdiu possunt, quibus possunt, ad quantum vident terrena, et ad quantum intellegunt speciem civitatis; non eos sinit Deus perire in Babylonia: praedestinavit enim eos cives Ierusalem. Intellegit captivitatem eorum Deus, et ostendit illis aliam civitatem, cui vere debeant suspirare, pro qua debeant cuncta conari, ad quam capessendam debeant cives suos secum peregrinos, quantum valuerint, adhortari.
Zenit also provides its own translation of the entire speech. St. Augustine makes several similar statements elsewhere:

1. The Apostle Paul has said: "A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted and , being condemned of himself." Titus 3:10-11 But though the doctrine which men hold be false and perverse, if they do not maintain it with passionate obstinacy, especially when they have not devised it by the rashness of their own presumption, but have accepted it from parents who had been misguided and had fallen into error, and if they are with anxiety seeking the truth, and are prepared to be set right when they have found it, such men are not to be counted heretics. Were it not that I believe you to be such, perhaps I would not write to you. And yet even in the case of a heretic, however puffed up with odious conceit, and insane through the obstinacy of his wicked resistance to truth, although we warn others to avoid him, so that he may not deceive the weak and inexperienced, we do not refuse to strive by every means in our power for his correction.

(Epistles, 43:1:1)
Certainly it is clear that, when we speak of within and without in relation to the Church, it is the position of the heart that we must consider, not that of the body, since all who are within in heart are saved in the unity of the ark through the same water, through which all who are in heart without, whether they are also in body without or not, die as enemies of unity. As therefore it was not another but the same water that saved those who were placed within the ark, and destroyed those who were left without the ark, so it is not by different baptisms, but by the same, that good Catholics are saved, and bad Catholics or heretics perish.

(On Baptism, Book V, Ch. 28, 39)

Chapter 2 [II.]—Faith in Christ Not Necessary to Salvation, If a Man Without It Can Lead a Righteous Life

Therefore the nature of the human race, generated from the flesh of the one transgressor, if it is self-sufficient for fulfilling the law and for perfecting righteousness, ought to be sure of its reward, that is, of everlasting life, even if in any nation or at any former time faith in the blood of Christ was unknown to it. For God is not so unjust as to defraud righteous persons of the reward of righteousness, because there has not been announced to them the mystery of Christ's divinity and humanity, which was manifested in the flesh. 1 Timothy 3:16 For how could they believe what they had not heard of; or how could they hear without a preacher? Romans 10:14 For "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." But I say (adds he): Have they not heard? "Yea, verily; their sound went out into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world." Romans 10:17-18 Before, however, all this had been accomplished, before the actual preaching of the gospel reaches the ends of all the earth—because there are some remote nations still (although it is said they are very few) to whom the preached gospel has not found its way,—what must human nature do, or what has it done—for it had either not heard that all this was to take place, or has not yet learned that it was accomplished—but believe in God who made heaven and earth, by whom also it perceived by nature that it had been itself created, and lead a right life, and thus accomplish His will, uninstructed with any faith in the death and resurrection of Christ? Well, if this could have been done, or can still be done, then for my part I have to say what the apostle said in regard to the law:"Then Christ died in vain." Galatians 2:21 For if he said this about the law, which only the nation of the Jews received, how much more justly may it be said of the law of nature, which the whole human race has received, "If righteousness come by nature, then Christ died in vain." If, however, Christ did not die in vain, then human nature cannot by any means be justified and redeemed from God's most righteous wrath—in a word, from punishment—except by faith and the sacrament of the blood of Christ.

(Nature and Grace, chapter 2)

(alternate URL from the Schaff set of the Fathers, with the same exact heading)

We Catholics don't have to hide St. Augustine's teachings, or pretend that he agrees with us by hiding the full context of his remarks, or citing some and not others. We can openly cite him (as above, and as the pope did) to show that he actually does agrees with the Catholic position. Lutherans have had to play games with Augustine from the beginning, and Luther and Melanchthon were even conscious of that, as I have shown.

But if Rev. McCain wants to call Catholic teaching (directly based on St. Augustine and the Bible both) "antichrist", etc., then let him at least be honest and consistent about it and include St. Augustine in on his anathemas and condemnations.

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