Sunday, July 22, 2007

When Did the Title, "Catholic Church" Begin?

By Dave Armstrong (7-22-07)

St. Ignatius of Antioch (d. c. 107-110) used the term catholic (Gk. katholikos) in his letter to the Christians of Smyrna in about 107 A.D.

I found a very helpful treatment of this topic in the Old Catholic Encyclopedia (c. 1910): available online (article, "Catholic"). It points out, however, that St. Ignatius' use is not the technical meaning of the term as used today. For that specific usage it states (my bolding added):
[T]his sense undoubtedly occurs more than once in the Muratorian Fragment (c. 180), where, for example, it is said of certain heretical writings that they "cannot be received in the Catholic Church". A little later, Clement of Alexandria [c. 150 - c. 215] speaks very clearly. "We say", he declares, "that both in substance and in seeming, both in origin and in development, the primitive and Catholic Church is the only one, agreeing as it does in the unity of one faith" (Stromata, VII, xvii; P. G., IX, 552). From this and other passages which might be quoted, the technical use seems to have been clearly established by the beginning of the third century. In this sense of the word it implies sound doctrine as opposed to heresy, and unity of organization as opposed to schism (Lightfoot, Apostolic Fathers, Part II, vol. I, 414 sqq. and 621 sqq.; II, 310-312).

I looked up the Stromata, book VII. Here are the two occurrences of Catholic Church (chapter 17; color and bolding added):
For that the human assemblies which they held were posterior to the Catholic Church requires not many words to show.

For the teaching of our Lord at His advent, beginning with Augustus and Tiberius, was completed in the middle of the times of Tiberius.

And that of the apostles, embracing the ministry of Paul, ends with Nero. It was later, in the times of Adrian the king, that those who invented the heresies arose; and they extended to the age of Antoninus the eider, as, for instance, Basilides, though he claims (as they boast) for his master, Glaucias, the interpreter of Peter.

Likewise they allege that Valentinus was a hearer of Theudas. And he was the pupil of Paul. For Marcion, who arose in the same age with them, lived as an old man with the younger [heretics]. And after him Simon heard for a little the preaching of Peter.
Such being the case, it is evident, from the high antiquity and perfect truth of the Church, that these later heresies, and those yet subsequent to them in time, were new inventions falsified [from the truth].

From what has been said, then, it is my opinion that the true Church, that which is really ancient, is one, and that in it those who according to God's purpose are just, are enrolled. For from the very reason that God is one, and the Lord one, that which is in the highest degree honourable is lauded in consequence of its singleness, being an imitation of the one first principle. In the nature of the One, then, is associated in a joint heritage the one Church, which they strive to cut asunder into many sects.

Therefore in substance and idea, in origin, in pre-eminence, we say that the ancient and Catholic Church is alone, collecting as it does into the unity of the one faith -- which results from the peculiar Testaments, or rather the one Testament in different times by the will of the one God, through one Lord -- those already ordained, whom God predestinated, knowing before the foundation of the world that they would be righteous.

But the pre-eminence of the Church, as the principle of union, is, in its oneness, in this surpassing all things else, and having nothing like or equal to itself. But of this afterwards.
Since Clement died around 215, this use of the word was clearly established by that time, and quickly became widespread, and standard usage by the fourth century.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Catholic Answers For Protestant Eucharist Questions (with Dr. Stanley Williams)

By Dave Armstrong (7-18-07)

This is an extended excerpt from my DVD Study Guide for the EWTN television series What Catholics Really Believe. The questions (in blue) were written by Dr. Stanley Williams.

* * * * *

Episode 4

Logical and Early Church Evidence
Objection to Catholicism

A -
Catholics cannot really believe that the bread and wine taken in communion are truly the
body of Jesus Christ; our physical senses tell us that it's flour and wine.

Physical objects that appear solid are mostly composed of what?

Space in between atoms, composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons.
Describe the motion of physical objects that appear to be still?

Electrons are always moving. The Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger, in the 1920s, contended (quite successfully) that electrons are three-dimensional waveforms, as opposed to particles.
How fast are parts of the atoms in a still object actually moving?

Electrons constantly move at velocities approaching the speed of light.
Do our physical senses give us an accurate or an inaccurate understanding of
an object's actual nature?

Physical senses (without the aid of sophisticated microscopes, accompanied by even more complicated theories of physics and mathematics) cannot enable us to comprehend the fundamental properties of matter.
How do Dr. Guarendi and Dr. Richard's explanation of the laws of physics
and our observations of a physical object apply to our understanding of the
nature of The Eucharist?

What “appears” to be so may not be that way at all. Objects that appear perfectly at rest are in fact, partially moving at velocities close to the speed of light. Likewise, what appears to us as bread and wine can in fact be the Body and Blood of Christ, made supernaturally present in the consecrated elements (formerly bread and wine), according to the teaching of Jesus Christ Himself: the same Jesus Who could travel through walls in His glorified body (John 20:26; cf. 1 Cor 15:51-53). According to modern physics and quantum mechanics, such things are literally possible, even in a purely physical realm. So how is there any inherent difficulty in believing in transubstantiation (“change of substance”)?
If our physical senses are incapable of accurately describing a natural object,
by what can we accurately describe a supernatural object?

The Bible describes supernatural objects with “phenomenological” language (the language of appearances and simple observation). For example, in the previous example of Jesus walking through walls, the Bible doesn’t attempt to delve into 20th century particle physics; it simply says “The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them . . .” (John 20:26). Likewise, the Bible refers to “this [what appears to be bread] is My Body” (Luke 22:19-20), and Paul equates bread and wine with the “body and blood of the Lord” that can be profaned in an irreverent receiving of the Eucharist (1 Cor 11:27-30; cf. 10:14-22).

Objection to Catholicism
B - Jesus was not God because he did not look like God. He looked just like man.

If we could have looked through a microscope at the embryo of Jesus Christ
in Mary's womb, would our senses have perceived God or just a human cell
reproducing? Why?

The attributes of the incarnate God cannot be ascertained by conventional methods of scientific observation. Jesus wanted people to accept Who He was by faith. Hence, Jesus says to “doubting Thomas” after the latter had put his hand in the wound in His side: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:29).
When Jesus was a man did people generally see a man, or did they recognize
God? Why?

Those who did not have doubt or serious sin and spiritual “blindness” (John 9:39-41) often regarded Him as God, in faith; for example, the blind man healed by Jesus, who worshiped Him (John 9:35-38), and “doubting Thomas,” after Jesus appeared to him (John 20:28). The ones who were blind assumed that He was not only just a man, but also a quite sinful one (John 9:24; cf. Matt 12:22-27, 38-42).

What prevents humans from recognizing God in any form, such as Jesus the
Man, or Jesus in the Eucharist? 

Lack of faith, and excessive doubt and cynicism. Signs, wonders, and miracles (and by extension, “scientific proof”) do not suffice for many hard-hearted people anyway:
. . . If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.

(Luke 16:31)

In John 6, we see that unbelief and lack of faith and skepticism kept “many of his disciples” (6:60) from believing in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and actually forsaking the Lord (6:66), because it was a “hard saying” (6:60). Jesus appealed to His ascension, which was an even greater, and more visible miracle (6:62) thus seemingly implying: “if you can’t believe this miracle, how, then, will you be able to believe in that one; yet you will see that with your own eyes.”

If we cannot use our senses to determine if something is God or not, what
can we use? Why?

Faith and the sure word of revelation; also our internal God-given sense of the holiness that Jesus exhibited in His life, and the trustworthy reports of those who were eyewitnesses of His glory (Luke 1:1-2; Acts 1:1-3). See the previous three answers.
What is wrong with using natural law to explain the “super” natural?

Nothing whatsoever! We can utilize that which we know and understand, in order to comprehend (by analogy or parallel) supernatural things that are mysteries to us. Jesus did the same, by using agricultural metaphors in His parables, to reveal the truths of spirituality. Our Lord even compared the unwillingness of the Pharisees and Sadducees to use the same reasoning they use with regard to natural meteorological events of the weather, and apply it to spiritual matters:

Matthew 16:1-4: And the Pharisees and Sad'ducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, "When it is evening, you say, `It will be fair weather; for the sky is red.' And in the morning, `It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah." So he left them and departed.

Objection to Catholicism

C -
The Eucharist is just a memorial or symbolic meal. That it is the real body and blood of
Christ, is something made up by the Catholic Church over the centuries.

Explain how John 6 refutes this objection?

Jesus uses extremely literal language in John 6:51-58:

51: I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh."
52: The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
53: So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;
54: he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
55: For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56: He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
57: As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.
58: This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever."

If this were intended as mere symbolic or figurative language, it seems that it was the least likely to convey that meaning, of any language imaginable. How could it be any more literal than it is? How Jesus reacted to the doubts of the hearers (see related information above), also reinforces this interpretation.

How do the writings of the Early Church Fathers refute this objection?

In the early second century (before 110 A.D.), St. Ignatius of Antioch held that "the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ." (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 7,1) In the middle of the same century, St. Justin Martyr distinguishes the Eucharist from "common" bread and drink and calls it "both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus." (First Apology, 66,2) A little later, St. Irenaeus writes, "The bread over which thanks have been given is the Body of (the) Lord, and the cup His Blood." (Against Heresies, 4,18,4 / 4,33,2; cf. 4,18,5).

St. John Chrysostom speaks of the priest as the representative of God in the Mass, exercising solely His power and grace, in order to "transform the gifts" which "become the Body and Blood of Christ." (Homilies on Judas, 1,6) Elsewhere he equates the Eucharist with Christ's "blood-stained" Body, "pierced by a lance." (Homilies on 1 Corinthians, 24).

 St. Augustine, the greatest of the Fathers, writes that "Christ was carried in His own hands, when, referring to His own Body, He said 'This is My Body.'" (Explanations of the Psalms, 33,1,10) He expressly sanctions adoration of the consecrated Host:

He took flesh from the flesh of Mary . . . and gave us the same flesh to be eaten unto salvation. But no one eats that flesh unless first he adores it . . . we do sin by not adoring. (Explanations of the Psalms, 98,9)

When Christ says "I will be with you always, even until the end of the
world," why do Catholics believe this promise to be the literal physical
presence of Jesus and not the Holy Spirit?

Because right before He said this (Matt 28:20) He also urged His disciples to “observe all that I have commanded you”. The Eucharist was precisely what Christians do (in obedience to the command at the Last Supper) to bring remembrance to Jesus’ presence on earth; and not only remembrance, but Real Presence. Paul said that in observing the Eucharist, we “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor 11:26). John 6:53-54,58 intimately connects the Eucharist with both spiritual and eternal life. John 6:56 makes reception of the Eucharist a necessity for Jesus to “abide” in believers, and vice versa (cf. John 14:23, 15:4-7).
One of the objections against the early Christians was that during their
worship services they were practicing cannibalism. How does this historical
fact reinforce the Early Church belief in the true presence?

It shows that the early Christians were taking Jesus literally (John 6; Last Supper utterances about the bread and the wine being His Body and Blood). But the pagans (like the skeptics who disbelieved in John 6) did not understand the distinction between physical cannibalism and a spiritual, sacramental Real Presence.
Explain how John 1:1 ("In the beginning was the Word...") and John 1:14
("And The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us...") reflects the
Catholic Mass and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

This involves the intimate connection between the incarnation and the Eucharist (both entail physical presence of God Himself). Catholic convert Thomas Howard elaborates:

Sacrament, recalling and presenting the Incarnation itself, is not so much supernatural as quintessentially natural, because it restores to nature its true function of being full of God . . . Indeed heaven and earth are full of His glory. Nature is the God-bearer, so to speak . . . In the Sacrament, bread, which is already a metaphor, is taken and raised to a dignity beyond mere metaphor . . . one step away from the Incarnation itself . . . It is a scandal. God is not man, any more than bread is flesh. But faith overrides the implacable prudence of logic and chemistry . . .

This mystery . . . may be held only in faith, even though it, like the Incarnation, Resurrection, and Ascension, exists quite apart from faith. `out there' in the real world.

(Evangelical is Not Enough, Nashville: Nelson, 1984:110-112)

Objection to Catholicism

D -
Catholics just pick and choose the writings of the Early Church Fathers in an attempt to
prove that the early Christians believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
There were other writers who said it was only symbolic.

What is the best way to refute this objection?

By citing the judgment of Protestant Church historians, who themselves do not believe the Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist (hence cannot be accused of bias in favor of patristic support for the doctrine), yet accurately report what the Fathers believed. For example, the well known Protestant historian Philip Schaff:

The doctrine of the sacrament of the Eucharist was not a subject of theological controversy . . . . till the time of Paschasius Radbert, in the ninth century . . .
In general, this period, . . . was already very strongly inclined toward the doctrine of transubstantiation, and toward the Greek and Roman sacrifice of the mass, which are inseparable in so far as a real sacrifice requires the real presence of the victim......
[Augustine] at the same time holds fast the real presence of Christ in the Supper . . . He was also inclined, with the Oriental fathers, to ascribe a saving virtue to the consecrated elements.
Augustine . . . on the other hand, he calls the celebration of the communion 'verissimum sacrificium' of the body of Christ. The church, he says, offers ('immolat') to God the sacrifice of thanks in the body of Christ. [City of God, 10,20]

(History of the Christian Church, v.3, A.D. 311-600, rev. 5th ed., Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, rep. 1974, orig. 1910, 492, 500, 507)

What did Luther say about the true presence of the Eucharist?

It is enough for me that Christ’s blood is present; let it be with the wine as God wills. Before I would drink mere wine with the Enthusiasts, I would rather have pure blood with the Pope.

(Early 1520s; in Paul Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther, translated by Robert C. Schultz, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966, 376; Luther’s Works, [edited by Jaroslav Pelikan] 37, 317)

The glory of our God is precisely that for our sakes he comes down to the very depths, into human flesh, into the bread, into our mouth, our heart, our body.

(in Althaus, ibid., 398; Luther’s Works , 37, 71 ff.)

. . . Zwingli, Karlstadt, Oecolampadius . . . called him a baked God, a God made of bread, a God made of wine, a roasted God, etc. They called us cannibals, blood-drinkers, man-eaters . . . even the papists have never taught such things, as they clearly know . . .

For this is . . . how it was accepted in the true, ancient Christian church of fifteen hundred years ago . . . When you receive the bread from the altar, . . . you are receiving the entire body of the Lord; . . .

(Brief Confession Concerning the Holy Sacrament, September 1544; Luther’s Works, 38, 291-292)
What symbol in the catacombs and ancient churches reinforced the early
Church's belief in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist?

The famous symbol of the fish, and depictions of three of Jesus’ miracles related to food: the feeding of the 5,000 with fish and bread, the banquet of seven disciples by the Sea of Galilee with the raised Jesus, and the miracle of the wedding at Cana (changing water into wine).

Episode 5

Scriptural Evidence

Objection to Catholicism
A - The Catholic Church invented this crazy idea that Jesus' body and blood are really
present in the Eucharist. It's really nuts to think that a priest can pray over a wafer and
turn it miraculously into Jesus Christ.

If the Catholic claim that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist is true, who is
the only person that could be responsible for the miracle of it?

Jesus Himself! If that is how He decided to miraculously become physically present again, after His earthly sojourn, then we can hardly object, seeing that it is hardly any different in essence than the Incarnation itself: God becoming man. On the other hand, if it is false doctrine, no priest could “conjure” up Jesus’ presence, because they are dealing with the omnipotent God, and He is not to be trifled with or manipulated.
How early in the writings of the Early Church Fathers, and in what context,
can you find the concept of transubstantiation?

St. Justin Martyr, First Apology, 66:5 (complete; emphasis added):

And this food is called among us [eucharistia] [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.
Objection to Catholicism

B -
The concept of the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist is not in the Bible.
With respect to the consecration of the Eucharist, what is the significance of
the Bible's mentioning Melchizedek? 

Psalm 110:4: The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, "You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchiz'edek."

When we trace the origin of this back, we find some very interesting things:
Genesis 14:18: And Mel-chiz'edek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High.
Leviticus 23:12-14: And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the LORD. And the cereal offering with it shall be two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, to be offered by fire to the LORD, a pleasing odor; and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, a fourth of a hin. And you shall eat neither bread nor grain parched or fresh until this same day, until you have brought the offering of your God: it is a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. (cf. also Hebrews 5:6,10; 6:20; 7:1-28)
What was the function of the Old Testament priest?

The priest presided over and performed ritual sacrifices of bulls and other things, in order to atone for the sins of the people.
How did Christ's actions and words at the Last Supper parallel the Old
Testament priestly sacrifice for people's sins?

The Last Supper was actually a Passover meal, in which lamb and bread and wine were consumed, and was for the purpose of the people remembering how God had physically delivered them from bondage in Egypt. Jesus used this symbolism to introduce the notion of the Eucharist: now bread and wine were to be transubstantiated into His Body and Blood and His followers would be spiritually delivered by His sacrifice as the “lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). And they were to remember this in the Eucharist henceforth, just as the Jews observed the Passover rite in remembrance.
Although Christ lifts up the bread at the Last Supper what does he say the
bread is? (Matthew 26:26, Mark 14:22-23, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25)

“This is My body” – as opposed to “this represents My body” or “this contains my Body” or “My Body is present with, in, and under the bread”, or “this is a symbol to help you remember My Body,” etc.
When Christ prays over the bread and wine at the last supper, what words
does he use that can be implied to mean that the bread and wine are only
symbolic of his body and blood?

None can be reasonably interpreted that way. The closest (so some believe) is “do this in remembrance of me.” But in the Hebrew mind that didn‘t imply that it was a mere recollection or mental image or pleasing nostalgia; but rather, the reality being made present here and now, just as the Jews regarded Passover.
What did St. Augustine say Jesus held in his hands at the Last Supper?

His own Body: "Christ was carried in His own hands, when, referring to His own Body, He said 'This is My Body.'" (Explanations of the Psalms, 33,1,10)
At the Last Supper to what everlasting Old Testament concept did Jesus
relate the cup of wine? 

The covenant between God and His people:

Matthew 26:28: for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Mark 14: 24: And he said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”
What Old Testament object of sacrifice did the blood of Christ represent?

Bulls, rams, and lambs, used in ritual sacrifice, for atonement. Revelation 7:14 and 12:11 refer to “the blood of the Lamb [Jesus].”
Jesus' words and actions at the Last Supper revisited the Jewish Passover
meal. What did those that celebrated the Passover meal have to eat --

The lamb, and bread and wine.
Explain the significance of the following Scripture in terms of the real
presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the Jewish community?
My name will be great among the gentiles, from the rising to the setting of
the sun. In every place, incense and pure offerings will be brought to my
name. (Malachi 1:11)

In the New Covenant, the Lamb of God and the cross represent the continuation and development of the Old Testament sacrificial system (which is no longer even being performed by the Jews). This passage refers to the Gentiles “in every place” making pure offerings. But since it is not animal sacrifices, it is reasonable to assume that what is referred to is the sacrifice of the Mass and re-presentation of the sacrifice of Jesus, who as once for all, offered at Calvary. The incense represents the prayers of the Mass.
In John 6:52-66, how many times does Jesus say or allude to His body or
blood as being true food?

Twice very directly (6:55) and eight more times speaking of “eating “and “drinking”.
Fr. Kevin makes the point that John 6:66 is the only place in the Gospels
where a group of believers walked away from Jesus and did not follow Him
again. What was Jesus teaching that was too hard for them to believe?

That His followers had to eat His flesh and drink His blood (sacramentally) in order to have spiritual and eternal life.

In terms of what Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote about the bread and wine
being the body and blood of Christ (Matthew 26:26, Mark 14:22-23, Luke
22:19-20) what is significant about when John wrote his Gospel and why?

By the time of John’s writing (later in the first century), the Gnostic heresy was starting to deny that Jesus had come in the flesh, and indeed, asserted that flesh itself was a bad thing. So John emphasized the physical and “realist” nature of the Eucharist over against that false teaching.
Non-Catholics might quote John 6:63 as evidence that Christ was speaking
symbolically and not literally about the bread and wine being his true body
and blood. Why is this not likely a good interpretation, and how does this
verse reinforce Catholic understanding of the Eucharist's reality?

Jesus was contrasting “flesh” in the sense of “flesh and blood” (or a merely natural human understanding; see, e.g., Matt 16:17 for a clear example of this meaning) to spiritual discernment. He wasn’t referring to the Eucharist, but rather to “the words that I have spoken”. “Spirit and life” refers back to His references to spiritual and eternal life as a result of partaking of the Eucharist (6:50-51,53-54,56-58).
In the Eucharistic consecration what does the "EPIKLESIS" prayer do, and
why is it significant in relation to John 6:63?

It reinforces the power of Jesus’ words. God’s words bring about what they refer to. So when the priest repeats the words of Jesus at the Last Supper (the consecration), they continue to achieve what they did then, and Jesus becomes present through the power of the Word. Hence the relation to John 6:63: “the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
In Luke 22:19 Christ says during the Last Supper, "Do this in remembrance
of me." Non-Catholics believe that the word "remembrance" here means to
remember symbolically. But what does "remembrance", or "ANAMNESIS" in
Greek, really mean? Why does this mean the opposite of "symbolic?"

It means “active re-presentation” according to Greek scholars. It is the opposite of symbolic just as “re-present” (the original thing again) is different from “represent” (one thing symbolizing another). Hence, Paul uses ultra-realistic language, even stating in 1 Cor 11:27 that partaking of the Eucharist unworthily is the same as profaning His Body and Blood.
Some non-Catholics interpret 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 -- which includes Paul's
admonition about not discerning the body of Christ -- as referencing the body
of believers and not the real flesh of Christ. Why does Fr. Kevin say this
makes no sense? 

Because the language is related to the Eucharist instituted at the Last Supper. Jesus referred to the bread and the wine as His Body and Blood. The “Body of Christ” (the Church) is a completely different sense. So Paul equates the bread and the cup with the Body and Blood of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 11:27. In the next verse, he urges Christians to do a self-examination before receiving Holy Communion.
In Luke 24 Jesus appears to Cleopas and another disciple on the road to
Emmaus. During their walk Jesus explains the Old Testament prophecies
about the Messiah. But the disciples do not recognize Jesus until when?
What does Jesus do that suddenly opens their eyes with understanding?

When Jesus broke bread (a gesture reminiscent of the Last Supper): “When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.” (Luke 24:30-31)
Explain how John 1:1, 14, 18 and Luke 24:30-31 can be related and apply to
the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

It is when “the Word became flesh” that God was most fully revealed (John 1:18). As the Incarnation revealed God visibly, so the Eucharist makes Jesus present again and gives us spiritual life, through the same principle of the Incarnation and matter conveying grace. In this instance, the eyes of the two disciples were blinded until the moment of the Eucharist, and “then they recognized him”. The knowledge is spiritually discerned, but made possible through the instrument of the grace-infused (John 1:14) matter (in the Eucharist, the actual Body and Blood of Jesus).

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dialogue: Is the Catholic Doctrine of "One True Church" Antithetical to Ecumenism? (vs. Michael Patton)

By Dave Armstrong (7-11-07)

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has released a document called Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church. It has caused some consternation among some Protestants. I have tried to clarify some things, in reply to Reformed Protestant apologist Michael Patton, in a thread on his blog. His words will be in blue. My older cited words will be in green, and his in purple.

* * * * * 

Hi Michael and all,

While I do find some egg on our face with regards to the Pope’s recent declaration (or redeclaration) of the illegitimacy of the Protestant churches,

No one should have any "egg" on their faces. Nothing has changed! I should note a few things, for clarification's sake, too:

1) This is not a declaration from the pope. It was from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: the same group that the pope used to be the head of himself. The pope agreed with it. Dominus Iesus (2000) was put out by the same group, and stated basically the same stuff. So this is nothing new.

2) I don't think "illegitimacy" is helpful or adequate. Why is it surprising that Catholics reiterate that Protestants lack apostolic succession and ordination? That has always been our position. We can only call the Catholic Church "the Church" by the very nature of our ecclesiology; otherwise, our ecclesiology would be Protestant. So this is simply the reality of how the two camps approach the issue differently.

3) The many positive things we think about Protestants (as in Vatican II) are also included in the statement. For example:
It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them.

. . . there are "numerous elements of sanctification and of truth" which are found outside her structure,

It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church.
I would encourage everyone to read the document itself:

I still contend that Catholicism can be interpreted differently and the situation can progress.

To be interpreted differently on this matter of ecclesiology, we would have to cease to be Catholic.

I have had much personal contact with Catholics who do interpret their documents differently than the hard liners.

I would suspect that they were liberals or inadvertently influenced by liberal Catholic thought, and insufficiently acquainted with Catholic teaching. The pope is not a "hard liner". He is simply an orthodox Catholic who correctly understands Vatican II and ecumenism in a proper Catholic sense. Pope John Paul II was neither a "hard liner" nor more ecumenical than Pope Benedict XVI. They are both equally committed to Catholic doctrine and dogma, Vatican II, and ecumenism (as I am myself).

We do not have to cement our polemics in the context of the 16th century, especially if things are changing.

I agree wholeheartedly with that. What is changing is a more tolerant and ecumenical attitude, but not doctrines, because they cannot change.

I felt "ho hum" about the new statement since all it is, is a reiteration of Vatican II teaching (and correction of misapplications of same). No one who is familiar with Vatican II should be alarmed in the slightest degree. Of course, not everyone does have that familiarity, so they may think Catholic teaching is a certain thing and then when one of these clarifications come down, they think it is a radical change or a reactionary hardening, etc. (when it is not at all). The secular media is full of ridiculous characterizations of Catholic teachings (I'm not saying this feeling some may have, of disappointment in the statement, or confusion, is ridiculous; just making a related point).

Ecumenism is not affected at all by this. I don't understand why it would surprise or disturb any Protestant with a working knowledge of Catholic teaching, that we reiterate our belief that the Catholic Church is the one true Church and has the fullness of Christian teaching. That has always been our belief. All the progress in ecumenical relations over the last fifty years has taken place with that premise assumed on our part. We could no longer change in that respect than Protestants could suddenly discard their two pillars: sola Scriptura and sola fide. Ecumenism is the effort to learn about each other and to find common ground.

Nothing has changed! I think some Protestants see various things in the Catholic Church that they like and they have this notion that Catholics are becoming more "Protestant" (when in fact, we are simply what we are and have always been, and some Protestants discover to their surprise that we weren't as bad as they thought, and so they assume we are "changing" in that particular respect; I see quite a bit of humor in some of this, but it is within an affectionate feeling for my Protestant brothers and sisters -- having been in their camp myself).

Then they see something like this statement and they get disenchanted and think (I am being a bit tongue in cheek here) "Catholics are Catholics after all; drats! Just when I thought they were becoming more like us . . . ".

What the Catholic Church has emphasized since Vatican II is quite significant, I think: other Christians have many graces and wonderful attributes, and even sacraments (baptism; marriage in many cases). We rejoice in them. We acknowledge that God is working in and through and with our Protestant brethren.

But we cannot change our ecclesiology or we would cease to be who we are. Our doctrine of the Church is not the "invisible church" notion. Protestants cannot expect us to adopt Protestant ecclesiology wholesale (in fact, Protestants have huge disagreements amongst themselves on ecclesiology and Church government, as most here would well know).

That's not going to happen! And it is unreasonable to expect this to happen, just as it would be if I were to expect Protestants to drop sola Scriptura tomorrow, so we could "do ecumenism," and if you didn't, and reiterated your belief in it, for me to feel that I had egg or mud on my face. It was an unrealistic expectation in the first place.

The document reiterates Catholic teaching on ecclesiology and other Christians. There is nothing new here that wasn't already in Vatican II but some people get upset if we repeat certain teachings. As Catholics, we will always believe that the Catholic Church is the same (institutional) Church that we believe was established by Jesus Christ and has been historically continuous since that time. That doesn't mean that non-Catholics are excluded completely by this categorization. But we believe that the full apostolic teaching "subsists" in the Catholic Church.

The Pope’s declaration yesterday, ironically, did demonstrate that what I had said about the progress and attitude of modern Catholic scholarship was true. This perceived disagreement and change in the Catholic church is the exact reason why the Pope felt it necessary to sign this document yesterday.

Yes, because liberals who think ecumenism is about unprincipled compromise and "watering down" and doctrinal indifferentism rather than principled attempts at mutual understanding, have distorted things somewhat.

He is more hard-line than John Paul II was and demonstrated this yesterday.

Not in the slightest. Pope John Paul II accepted Dominus Iesus, which stated the same things. They are both ecumenical and orthodox. There is no need to dichotomize the two, as if to be authentically ecumenical is to somehow be less orthodox or less "hard line."

I am not sure what this will do to the ethos of the situation or the tone of the conversation between irenic Catholics and Protestants,

It should do nothing whatsoever, for anyone who is familiar with Vatican II statements on ecumenism and recent encyclicals along the same line. They are all of a piece.

but it certainly has reiterated that the supreme bishop of Rome does not want progression in the way it was seeming to head.

Pope Benedict XVI is exceptionally ecumenical, just as his predecessor was. Nothing has changed in this regard at all.

This lack of recognition from the Pope does not reflect the spirit of either Evangelical or Catholic scholarship. It is a move backward into the darker ages.

If it is that, then so was Vatican II. So I think this is simply an instance of category confusion. You need to study a bit more the relationship between Catholic orthodoxy and Catholic ecumenism.

And most of all, it lacks humility that is necessary for any further reformation.

I don't see how it is a lack of humility for a Christian to state what it is he believes. This is our ecclesiology. It is no more lacking humility for us to state this than it would be for a Protestant to reiterate his belief in sola Scriptura and sola fide.

God shines in our boxes, but he certainly shines outside these boxes as well. The Pope essentially said, “No, He really only shines in our box.”

I strongly disagree. If you look at the citations above from the document, it grants all sorts of graces and a place in salvation in Protestantism: far more than many Protestants grant Catholicism, where (for anti-Catholics like James White), for a Catholic to be saved, it must be in spite of Catholic teaching, never because of it. This criticism should be directed towards Protestant anti-Catholics, not orthodox Catholics like this pope and the last one.

My proposal has been that within the ranks of Catholic and Evangelical scholarship, attitudes have begun to change over the last 15 years. Doors were beginning to be opened. This proclamation is a strong attempt to shut these doors.

Again, not in the slightest. I don't know what the magic number of "15 years" has to do with anything. Catholic ecumenism has been rapidly developing since World War II, and especially after Vatican II. There has been no reversal or change of policy.

As to Catholic scholarship, I think you may be defining it differently than me.

A great deal of it is liberal. I've written papers about some of these liberals, like Fr. Raymond Brown. If you saw the sort of things that the man denies, you wouldn't cite him as "orthodox" at all.

As well, the Catholics sometimes have a different understanding on what it means to be liberal than traditional Evangelicals. To a Trinitine Catholic, to be liberal, my mean that your are too evangelical.

Big discussion. I have a whole web page about radical Catholic reactionaries: a sub-group that gets many things wrong. The correct differential ought to be "orthodoxy."

I put forth Peter Kreeft as a good example of one who had laid many planks of wood on this bridge that the Pope just set fire to again.

This is a false dichotomy. Peter Kreeft is an orthodox Catholic and he is an ecumenical Catholic, just like Benedict, John Paul II, and apologists, like myself.

If anyone claims that they are the only true Church, this is just silly. It has no historical or biblical basis, only that of prideful traditionalism.

To the contrary, it is an explicitly biblical doctrine. The NT assumes throughout that there is only one Church (almost without argument). If you look at the Jerusalem Council, this is evident. Denominations are unheard of. It isn't the notion of "one true Church" that is unbiblical and novel, but rather, the idea of denominationalism and de facto doctrinal relativism and ecclesiological chaos.

In fact, present-day Protestantism tends to take a relativistic view towards ecclesiology itself. But Luther and Calvin and Zwingli did not do this at all. They anathematized each other and claimed to be the fullness of truth or the best manifestation of "Church." I've read some of my Lutheran friends who are still making the claim today. They think Lutheranism (Missouri Synod) best represents what they mean by "Church."

I look forward to some discussion on these matters. No one seemed to want to discuss my last two posts. They are just sitting there, without comment. I hope this one will be different.

Thanks for allowing me to speak freely!

* * * * *

Thanks for taking the time to do this. I am sure that it is very helpful for many as we think through these difficult issues.

You're welcome.

I agree that nothing has changed in the dogmatics, but the direction and perception get altered and discouraged with hard-line statements are reiterated rather than softening in their articulation. VII softened many things from previous declarations. Of since I am not committed to papal or magisterial infallibility, I see this progress as change. But either way, this does seem to be a road block, detour, or a red light.

James White was exactly right in this respect: absolutely nothing has changed (not even in questions of tone and approach), and whoever thinks otherwise is simply unacquainted with the relevant Catholic documents. It's much ado about nothing. The so-called "spirit of Vatican II" is pure Catholic liberalism. One must read the document itself. Go to the sources; just as I do when I critique Protestantism.

Yes, but again, I think the language and rhetoric is very harsh are seem dismissive of progress that has been made.

It's amazing to me that the positive aspects in the statement are passed right over, as are infinitely worse "potshots" in Protestant documents that are literally lying about Catholic beliefs and practices. For example, somewhere in the Lutheran confessions (it's documented in one of my papers) the Catholic mass is directly equated with worship of Baal:

Apology of the Augsburg Confession [1531], Article XXIV: The Mass

Carnal men cannot stand it when only the sacrifice of Christ is honored as a propitiation. For they do not understand the righteousness of faith but give equal honor to other sacrifices and services. A false idea clung to the wicked priests in Judah, and in Israel the worship of Baal continued; yet the church of God was there, condemning wicked services. So in the papal realm the worship of Baal clings -- namely, the abuse of the Mass . . . And it seems that this worship of Baal will endure together with the papal realm until Christ comes to judge and by the glory of his coming destroys the kingdom of Antichrist. Meanwhile all those who truly believe the Gospel should reject those wicked services invented against God's command to obscure the glory of Christ and the righteousness of faith.
We all know how often various Protestant confessions use antichrist to describe the pope or the Catholic system of theology. And you're concerned about our tone in simply asserting our ecclesiology as it has always been and always will be?

“To be interpreted differently on this matter of ecclesiology, we would have to cease to be Catholic.”

Again, this comes down to a difference in your terming it progression while I have no problem saying it is “interpreted differently.” Either way, the documents themselves need interpretation and clarification. I would be comfortable with Catholics saying, “You did not understand us? This is what we meant.” But this is not what is said here.

If indeed it is nothing new at all (as I contend and as James White does from an opposed theological perspective), then it follows that for you to require us to drop this sort of language in order to come to the table and do ecumenism with Protestants and to be loved and respected and regarded with great affection as good tolerant postmodernists, we would have to (quite simply) adopt some variant of Protestant ecclesiology and ditch our historic understanding of same.

This is, of course, extremely intolerant and unreasonable on your part to -- in effect -- demand such a thing. We're not allowed to hold our view, in other words, without being subjected to Protestant accusations of our supposed triumphalism, arrogance, intolerance and something akin to "anti-Protestantism."

But if that is so, of what purpose is ecumenism at all? If one party requires the other to adopt certain of its beliefs in order to sit down and talk and try to mutually understand from the get-go, then this is the very furthest thing from ecumenism: it is coercion and the essence of religious intolerance.

“I would suspect that they were liberals or inadvertently influenced by liberal Catholic thought, and insufficiently acquainted with Catholic teaching. The pope is not a “hard liner”. He is simply an orthodox Catholic who correctly understand Vatican II and ecumenism in a proper Catholic sense. Pope John Paul II was neither a “hard liner” nor more ecumenical than Pope Benedict XVI. They are both equally committed to Catholic doctrine and dogma, Vatican II, and ecumenism (as I am myself).”

Please don’t take this disrespectfully, but this is the conclusion that your system necessitates.

Exactly! Then why don't you accept it as such, instead of futilely trying to redefine Catholic teaching according to Protestant (and to some extent, postmodernist) presuppositions?

In other words, you have to say that he is interpreting VII correctly because of his presupposed authority. You don’t really have a choice to do otherwise.

I wasn't arguing about the papacy and its prerogatives here; rather, I was strongly disagreeing with your characterizations of the two popes, as if they are different. They are not at all.

It is not so much that I am hoping that Catholics are becoming more Protestant per se,

I think it is the logical conclusion of some of your statements, as I believe I have demonstrated. I think if you ponder what I am saying and think more about some stuff you have said, you might see my point and even agree with it.

but that we have simply, do SOME degree, been talking past each other. I think that battle lines cause people to defend issues in a sincere yet imbalanced way. See my Advice to Christian Apologists.

Absolutely. It happens all the time.

Well, I do think the smoke from the reformation is clearing and we are redefining or better articulating sola Scriptura to mean more than the popular notion that the Scripture is our only source of authority, which is not true. Sola Scriptura means that the Scripture is our only infallible and final authority. Therefore, while we may not change, I think that our defining of the issues, on both sides, makes us closer than the early polemics suggest.

Yep; I agree 100% Many many Catholics do not properly understand what sola Scriptura means (i.e., as explicated by its most able defenders). Likewise, many Protestants don't have a clue as to how Catholics relate Bible, Tradition, and Church.

Yes, but there also seems to be disagreement among committed Catholics concerning the particulars of VII. Isn’t this true?

Not all that much among orthodox Catholics, that I have seen. Most significant disagreement would be between orthodox and liberal, dissenting Catholics (just as Protestants have their never-ending internal struggles with liberals in their ranks: we're both infected with this problem -- as was the early Church).

“I am not sure what this will do to the ethos of the situation or the tone of the conversation between irenic Catholics and Protestants,

"It should do nothing whatsoever, for anyone who is familiar with Vatican II statements on ecumenism and recent encyclicals along the same line. They are all of a piece.”

Come on . . . you have to say that Dave :)

It is irrelevant what I "have" to say. This is simply an assertion of fact: so obvious that even James White and myself agree about it: he utterly opposing the teachings and I fully accepting them, but both understanding what exactly the teachings under consideration are.

Again, your system does not allow otherwise.

In this case, the facts of the matter, as plainly seen in the documents, do not allow otherwise.

You do not have the option to critically question whether or not this is the case because of the presumptions of authority.

That's absolutely irrelevant to the point at hand. One can state facts of a particular matter even if he completely disagrees with theology that is tied in with the facts (hence, James White states the Catholic ecclesiological teaching under scrutiny here accurately, while not believing it). I have done the same, and I happen to believe it. But my belief in the theology has nothing to do whether the fact of the teaching (as opposed to the truth of the teaching) is the case or not.

But, fair enough . . . I hope that the next Pope softens the language as VII did.

Vatican II states exactly the same. Where do you think the description "ecclesial communities" was famously used? If this is what is ticking so many Protestants off, then, like I said, they need to be angry at Vatican II as well. For example, Decree on Ecumenism, 3:
For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help towards salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained.
This doesn't mean that no Protestant can be saved, however, because in the immediately preceding paragraph, it was stated that Protestants "have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation."

That's OUR view. But even you yourself, in contrast, on James White's Dividing Line webcast tonight, said that Catholics can only be saved despite the teaching of their own communion (which is classic anti-Catholic rhetoric).

but it certainly has reiterated that the supreme bishop of Rome does not want progression in the way it was seeming to head.

Nope; I couldn't disagree more, and have already explained why, at length.

Well, of course, this comes down to some fundamental disagreements about the nature of the Body of Christ.

Of course it does; that is the whole point, and is why it is absurd for you to be disappointed simply because we disagree with you. You already knew that we did that!

I do think that Peter Kreeft, in his recent MP3 on ecumenism displayed something much different. But, he is not the Pope :)

That's right, and since he is not the pope, he doesn't have the concern of guiding and leading a Church and being extremely careful with language. He is an apologist (like myself) who tries his best to speak in terms that Protestants can relate to. Vatican II urged all Catholics to do this. It's one reason I am a Catholic myself, because a friend of mine took that approach to me when I was a Protestant and it bore fruit.

Well, I would disagree as well. At least from our perspective, you must understand how offensive what he said was.

Are you saying that you were previously unacquainted with the Catholic doctrine of "one true Church" as applied to itself (In find that hard to believe)? If you knew about it, there would be no grounds whatsoever for "offense." I am truly baffled why this would offend anyone who already knew the teaching. I'm not offended by a Protestant asserting sola fide or sola Scriptura. I expect that just as I expect a dog to bark or a hen to lay eggs. Being "offended" is irrelevant. It's simply the reality of what is.

Truly try to think about it.

I don't need to because I've dealt with these issues for 26 years as an apologist and 17 as a Catholic apologist. It doesn't make any sense to me. If you as a Protestant are so concerned about tolerance and unity as much as possible, then you should attack mentalities of anti-Catholics like James White, who divide and polemicize and do little good at all when dealing with Catholicism (whereas he does a lot of good and helpful work in other areas) rather than object to us saying what we have always said.

Again, I realize that it is nothing new, but the language was softening which was about as close “I’m sorry” as we were going to get.

Huh? You expected us to say we were sorry for believing that the Catholic Church is the Church? Nuh-uh. That is not going to happen, I can assure you. And there was not the slightest indication that it would happen in any Catholic official document. If you disagree, then you can easily produce an example of what you are saying.

I, myself, am willing to take a softening of the language. But to say once again, we are not true churches backs us up quite a bit.

Join the crowd. I get sick and tired of James White and his anti-Catholic cronies telling me I'll go to hell if I accept Catholic teachings, that I am a Pelagian and idolater and apostate, who is in an evil system and an antichrist church: the whore of Babylon; that my own ministry is deliberately leading people to hell and the devil, and all the worthless rotgut that Calvin and Luther and lots of other folks have said about my Church for 500 years. If you are offended by this statement of Catholic ecclesiology, you wouldn't last a day -- not one -- listening to all the crap I hear on literally a daily basis.

It has to do with an ethos that is set in with many. Not so much when documents were signed or when people said I am sorry. But again, look at it from our perspective. The Pope seemed to close the door more publicly yesterday.

I'm sorry; such an appraisal cannot possibly be familiar with the trajectory of authentic Catholic ecumenism over the time period you refer to.

I appreciate your spirit of compromise and willingness to change your view to better reflect those of the Evangelical church and concede to all that I believe :)

Not sure what all this means, but thanks, I guess! (scratching my head). :-)

Really, I do thank you for your time Dave. I pray that God blesses you and your ministry to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you; and I hope and pray the same for your own ministry, especially in those broad areas where we would completely agree as Christians.

I hope you have not been offended by my frankness and directness. It's just me. I can't hem and haw and tiptoe around issues. I must face them head-on. Some people don't care for my style for that very reason. But I can only be me, and we all have our personalities and styles and can hardly avoid them. Not all will like any given style, as you well know, I'm sure, in your own apologetic endeavors.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Was Martin Luther Subject to Recurring Severe Depression?

By Dave Armstrong (7-4-07)

Some folks seem to think that it is "anti-Protestant" or "anti-Luther" or otherwise thoroughly unsavory and impolite, or even unecumenical to even ask this question, yet it is undeniably a valid issue, with many historians coming down on the affirmative regarding the matter. Nor is it improper and outrageous to opine that the existence of such things, if documented, might have some small degree of effect on the man's theology. It certainly could be the case.

We are whole creatures, not merely abstract rational machines, disconnected from the reality of day-to-day life and our own interior emotional and psychological struggles, as the case may be. Physical maladies and adverse life experiences could just as well influence our beliefs to some extent. It would be foolish to deny this.

That said, I approach the topic as predominantly an interesting historical question. Previously I dealt with this to some extent in a paper, citing non-Catholic historians. I don't judge the man, if indeed he suffered from significant psychological difficulties (as appears to be the case), in all likelihood caused by (as we now know) biochemical imbalances. I'm the parent of two special needs children, and I surely don't blame them or look down on them because of factors beyond their own control. Moreover, I experienced at one period in my life, in 1977 (though never since) a severe and prolonged clinical depression, so I know what it is like from the "inside."

In fact, to a considerable extent, I would contend, these "abnormalities" are a blessing, because people who have them often possess other notable attributes and qualities to a disproportionate degree. Likewise with Martin Luther. But it is a relevant issue to discuss. If it is not, then many Protestant or otherwise non-Catholic historians have -- for some reason other than "anti-Luther" motivations -- fallen prey to writing about it.

In my older paper, I cited the very eminent Protestant Luther historians Heiko A. Oberman, (citing Luther's own description of an acute crisis in 1527-1528: "I have known these tribulations since my youth; but I never expected that they would so increase"), David C. Steinmetz ("Luther continued to suffer periods of severe spiritual anxiety"), and Roland Bainton ("[T]he recognition is inescapable that he had persistent maladies . . . The recurrence of these depressions raises for us again the question whether they may have had some physical basis . . . His whole life was a struggle against them, a fight for faith").

Can any more be produced? Certainly. I recently created links to a great deal of Luther literature available online, either entirely or at least able to be searched. Let's see if we can find any additional corroboration for this hypothesis:

1) Martin Luther: the Christian Between God and Death, Richard Marius (Harvard University Press, 1999, 576 pages):
[H]e was perhaps like many others at the time prone to melancholy -- we would say say depression, even (as modern psychological jargon has it) “clinical” depression of a sort that might require treatment by a good paternal figure.

(p. 54)

She [his wife] was a consolation to him in his bouts with tristitia, a word meaning “sadness” that I think is here best translated by “depression,” attacks that he said in 1533 were greater afflictions than all his enemies and labors . . . He had these attacks often, he said . . .

(p. 439)
2) Martin Luther, Michael A. Mullett (Routledge, 2004, 240 pages), mentions Luther's "recurrent bouts of depression" (p. 256).

3) True Faith in the True God: An Introduction to Luther's Life and Thought, Hans Schwarz, translated by Mark Williams Worthing (Augsburg Books, 1996),
[H]e was frequently plagued by sickness during the remaining decade of his life, especially from pain caused by stones but also by severe headaches and depression.

(p. 33)
4) The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther, by Donald K. MacKim (Cambridge University Press, 2003, 338 pages), cites "occasional bouts with what may tentatively be identified as clinical depression" (p. 266).

5) Martin Luther: His Road to Reformation, 1483-1521, by Martin Brecht, translated by James F. Schaaf (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993; at least 529 pages):
When we survey Luther's illnesses after 1527, it is obvious that in the meantime he had become an unstable man. Again and again can be seen the connection between his circulatory problems and an emotional depression, combined with his spiritual Anfechtungen, . . .

(p. 210)
6) Martin Luther: A Penguin Life (Penguin Lives), by Martin E. Marty (Viking Adult, 2004, 224 pages): ". . . the decade [1535-1545] of his disease and depression . . ." (p. 182).

7) The Revolt of Martin Luther, by Robert Herndon Fife (Columbia University Press, 1957, 713 pages):
[T]he friar was assailed by hours of restlessness and agonizing doubts. It is quite probable that this began to be the case early in his cloister life. "When I was first inducted into the monastery, it happened that I would always go about sad and depressed and could not shake off this melancholy," This is one of the recollections from his early middle age. There is reason to think, as we have seen, that fits of depression beset him before his entry into the cloister . . . Nevertheless, though physical causes may have accentuated the attacks of depression, their source lay in his psychical personality and therefore far below the reach of the investigator's plummet. They play a large role in his reminiscences and undoubtedly began early in life, for they recur throughout the middle years. It was a part of the mythology implanted in childhood that he should have regarded these visitations as temptations of the devil. "It seems to me," he declares in 1521, "that from childhood Satan foresaw in me something of what he is now suffering from me. That is the reason he has raged against me with unbelievable tricks to hamper and destroy me, so that I have often wondered whether I was not the only one among mortals in whom he was laying his traps." 62 The attacks followed him through life, but with advancing age he worked out a system, based largely on the Scriptures, by which he gave himself successful treatment. The strife against mental depression, he concluded, is a struggle with the devil 63 God is happiness and hates melancholy; the devil is melancholy, 64 and the Christian who fights off its attacks is resisting the devil. 65 . . . He himself seems to have escaped any real mental difficulty, but the tension of life showed itself in pronounced hysterical symptoms which may be noted from time to time in the monastic years and tended to present themselves also, though less acutely, at middle age and even on the threshold of old age. These "temptations," as he calls them, brought him occasionally to the verge of despair. We have read the story of the fit in the cloister choir as reported to Johann Cochlaeus by certain Augustinian brothers. It bears marks of probability, for Luther himself records another instance of strikingly similar character which happened some years later, probably in 1515. Then, as he tells a scribe at table sixteen years after the event, he was struck with terror at sight of the sacrament borne by the vicar general, Dr. Staupitz, in the Corpus Christi procession. 69 His sensitivity to powerful attacks of depression is shown by several experiences recorded later but evidently belonging to the days when he was still in the Augustinian order. A vivid recollection of this kind comes down from the period of the struggle over indulgences and is found in the Explanations on the Power of Indulgences in 1518. Here, in a remarkable passage on the tortures of purgatory, he describes pangs of conscience which he had endured. "They lasted, to be sure, only a short while, but they were so hard and infernal that no tongue can express their power, no pen describe it, nor can anyone believe it who has never had the experience. If they should remain at their most extreme point for an hour, yes, even six minutes, the victim must quite perish and all his bones be turned to ashes." 70 About the same time at which these words were written, possibly two or three years later, he seems to have suffered severe attacks of despair, especially the feeling that he was hated of God. "I was beset by the most extreme temptations [fear of the wrath of God]; they devoured my body as with fire so that I scarcely remained alive." 71 Respecting a similar onset at the same period of life, he declares that no one could console him, so that he was obliged to ask: "Am I the only one to suffer the spirit of sadness? I saw so many apparitions. But ten years ago when I was alone, God comforted me with his angels to go on struggling and writing." 72

Footnotes (TR = Tischreden [Table-Talk] 1531-1546. In WA [Weimar German edition of Luther's works] )

62 De votis monastids, WA, VIII, 574. 6S TR, I, No. 122 (1531)-

64 TR, I, No. 194 (1532); No. 676; see also No. 832.

65 TR, I, No. 124; No. 676; No. 835; II, No. 1279; Nos. 2342a and 2342^

66 TR, II, No. 2456.

69 TR, I, No. 137 (1531). Aurifaber's German translation of the passage builds up still [?] the impression of terror. Whether the attack was known only to himself or was apparent to others Luther does not disclose.

70 Resolutions disputattonum de indulgentiarum virtute (1518), WA, I, 557, 11. 34 jff. Scheel, Martin Luther, II, 635, raises a doubt as to whether Luther really refers to himself in this passage. Its introduction, "Sed et ego novi hominem, qui has poenas saepius passum sese asseruit," obviously is a rhetorical imitation of that of St. Paul in his recital of his heavenly vision in II Cor. 12.2: "Scio hominem in Chnsto ante annos quatuordecim. . . ." Luther's recital, however, follows a reference to cases of torment of conscience cited by Tauler, and this raises the possibility that Martin has here in mind another sufferer than himself. There is, however, a certain realism in the passage that bears the stamp of personal experience.

71 TR, II, No. 1263 (1531): "Ante decem annos primum sensi hanc desperationem et irae divinae tentationem. Hab darnach rhue gehabt, ut etiam uxorem ducercm so gutte tag hett ich, sed postea rediit." This extract from Schlaginhaufen, one of the reporters of the Table Talk, agrees verbally, with trifling deviations, with a statement by Dietrich dated December *4> I 53 I J TR f I, No. 141 which was probably the first source. The association of his marriage with a period of cessation of the attacks is psychologically interesting.

72 TR, II, No. 1347 (January i-March 23, 1532). Wolf, "Staupitz und Luther," pp. 142 &., is of the opinion that Martin recalls here a different experience from that recorded in the reports discussed in the preceding note. His argument is scarcely convincing. In any case the memory of fierce attacks of depression in the crucial years of revolt, 1518-21, seems to have been vivid for Martin a decade later. Any attempt at dating these experiences more definitely or determining their precise nature would seek to do what probably lay beyond the ability of Martin himself a decade afterwards.

(pp. 118-121)
8) Luther and the Reformation: Vol. III: Progress of the Movement (1521-1529), by James MacKinnon, New York: Russell and Russell, 1962, 337 pages): ". . . fits of dejection to which he was temperamentally subject" (p. 8)

9) "Luther's Last Battles," Mark U. Edwards (Concordia Theological Quarterly, Vol. 48, April-July 1984, pp. 125-140; citation from p. 128):
[I]t has been argued by some that Luther, especially the older Luther, was mentally ill, a manic-depressive. That Luther suffered from severe illnesses and depression cannot be denied. That he was mentally ill, a manic-depressive, is another matter altogether, and has been hotly disputed.