Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I've Excommunicated Myself! Do I Hate or Love Martin Luther and His Errors?????

[TheScream.jpg]


Check out Comment #116.

It never fails. Just when I think I've heard every conceivable insult against my person and my apostolate, here comes another one to prove my instincts wrong (it never takes very long between instances, either).

First I'm accused (usually by Lutherans or those non-Lutheran Protestants who fancy themselves experts on Luther) of being a Luther-hater and anti-Protestant and evil incarnate and all the rest. Then I'm accused of loving and being infatuated with Martin Luther so much that I have excommunicated myself and grossly compromised my Catholic beliefs. It's amazing what two different people will perceive in the very same thing (my book on Martin Luther), and the very same person (me!), ain't it?

First a couple sophist anti-Catholic Protestants say I ain't a real Catholic; then an anti-Catholic "traditionalist" Catholic who is more Catholic then the pope sez I ain't a real Catholic in good standing, cuz I just excommunicated myself. Shortly before that, one of his buddies claimed I was a wicked, deceitful enemy of Christ and of His Church. It's the hyper-literal, can't-see-the-forest-for-the-trees (and quite often, fuming angry) Pharisaical mentality: a sad failure not only of logical premises, but also of the imagination.

People of this sort (whether anti-Catholic Protestants or anti-Catholic "traditional" Catholics) just don't get it. If they are horrendously burdened with the task of having to analyze anything more subtle than a water buffalo or an elephant, they're out to sea. In fact, if they saw a whale while they were out to sea, they'd probably think it was a water buffalo.


To paraphrase G. K. Chesterton's humorous remark about critics and William Shakespeare (I'm sure he wouldn't mind, under the ludicrous circumstances, being a great advocate of the witty retort):
Dave Armstrong is quite himself; it is only some of his critics who have discovered that he was somebody else.

(Orthodoxy, 1908, ch. 2)

Baptist Pastor Ken Temple's Recent Adoption of Anti-Catholicism

Please pray for those who are caught in this blindness of not even recognizing Catholicism as a truly Christian system (let alone the One True Church and fullness of the faith). Ken's words will be in blue.

* * * * *

RCC arguments against Sola Scriptura have failed completely.

* * *

You make a big stretch from those Protestant quotes about Peter and authority to "infallibity of the Pope". [see my comment he refers to]

You did not show that at all; and it is completely unbiblical; and the easiest of all RCC dogma that proves the whole thing is false.

* * *

I already annihilated your argument, Ken, in my last post.

You've also proven you are mentally ill (as well as intellectually suicidal) [see his citation in an earlier post, that provoked this counter-comparison] , since every Protestant (indeed every true Christian) "requires infallible certainty about everything" in the Bible itself, which is far more than infallible. It's God-breathed and inspired.

So you are clearly mentally ill, to need so much certainty. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

I always had a sneaking suspicion about your mental health. Now the cat's out of the bag. You yourself removed from the suspicion all doubt. And you didn't even know that you did, which is the funniest and funnest part of all.



* * *

You did not annihilate any argument or do anything new -- you have not interacted at all with Patton or Triablogue or Waltz.

You just rehashed your old papers.

We don't require the Bible to be infallible, it already is.

The RCC is "mentally ill" because that is not good enough for him; the Bible is not good enough for him -- he requires another human authority to come along and give him infallible certainty about the interpretations of the Bible, a supposed umpire who can walk into the room and settle all interpretation disputes and give the sensitive soul a feeling of security and certainty. (which has never happened anyway.)

Your position is the "mentally ill" one, because it requires you to be infallibly certain about something. God never puts that burden on us. You use epistemology and philosophical arguments to put doubts about the Bible into the minds of evangelicals and protestants. (The whole Scott Hahn, Newman, Sungenis, Matatics movement)

The Protestant position is only that the Bible is infallible, it had nothing to do with our subjective understanding of the Bible being infallible. God does not require the burden to be put on us humans, that you RCs and RC apologists put on people in trying to get protestants to doubt things and their need for an alleged "infallible interpreter".

* * *

church authority and church discipline is one thing, which Protestants agree on; papal infallibility is a stretch.

* * *

One day you'll get it, Ken. We're all praying for ya (asking the blessed Virgin Mary, especially, to intercede).

And please, read my arguments carefully, so you don't misrepresent them. Thanks!

I'll check out Patton, with whom I have interacted in the past.

* * *
Very few Christians of any stripe are confident enough in their views to want to ever defend them.
Except the ones that are confident enough and have defended their views are what you call "anti-Catholics". One of them is still waiting for you to debate formally, in person, orally with cross - examination, etc.

And people like me believe you have been answered and refuted and that it is the RC position that is not Biblical; and not early in history either. It was slowly added later over the centuries culminating in the 1870 dogma.

Your syllogism was pretty good; we both see each other as unreasonable (the assumption of an infallible human ruler (Pontiff, Pope, "Holy Father" - only God is Holy Father - John 17) on this earth is a false assumption and completely un-Biblical and an unreasonable demand - "infallible certainty"; and wrong.

I look forward to see how you and Michael Patton carry on. Thanks for interacting with his work.

* * *

It's true that anti-Catholics are more zealous in at least having a notion that something ought to be vigorously defended. That is one of their few admirable traits.

Their problem is the false premise that Catholics aren't Christians, and the attitudes in debate and in general that flow therefrom. Because of that, I have (finally!) stopped interacting with them. It's a complete waste of time.

As for debate, seven anti-Catholics turned down my challenge to do a live chat debate on this very fundamental question of definition of Christianity. That was the final straw, I shook the dust off of my feet and left them to their devices after that. "If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant."

Michael Patton (like Keith Mathison and lots of other folks I have debated with in the past regarding authority issues) is not an anti-Catholic, which is why gentlemanly, constructive debate is possible with him.

* * *
Their problem is the false premise that Catholics aren't Christians,
It is possible, just as in your above syllogism; (A cannot be non-A and B cannot be non-B) that they sincerely believe that justification by faith alone is the heart of the gospel; and since the RCC officially condemns that doctrine (Trent and beyond); a RC who knowingly with full understanding rejects that, is rejecting the gospel, and therefore, as a doctrinal issue is not regenerate -- is it possible to sincerely believe that and not be "anti-Catholic" ? Because you have assumed their premise is false; and therefore condemn the argument based on it; it seems, because you are feeling "hurt" by being considered "not truly regenerate".

According to your logic in the syllogism you used above; they are following the same king of logic; given that they sincerely believe that knowingly rejecting justification by faith alone is a rejection of the heart of the gospel; and one cannot be saved or a regenerate (born -again ) Christian without embracing the gospel.

* * *

I reject justification by faith alone. I believe in justification by faith through grace alone, by means of our Lord Jesus' redeeming death on the cross, and that alone; not by our own works.

So then, I am not regenerate, not a Christian; don't understand the gospel, and cannot only not understand Christian things, but also cannot possibly do ANY good thing, according to total depravity?

Anti-Catholicism is completely self-defeating. It is intellectual suicide. I've tried to debate this very issue with seven of your comrades, Ken, but they all refused. That's their problem, not mine. I am enjoying dialoguing with ecumenical folks like Worm and Michael Patton. They don't come into the discussion with some ludicrous notion that I am not a Christian and that no obedient, faithful orthodox Catholic can be one, either.

You can travel out to that fringe wasteland if you want, but just don't expect that you'll be able to get into many constructive, enjoyable dialogues, because people don't have time for absurd, nonsensical positions. I did my duty in refuting these positions for years, but having done that, I don't have time for it anymore. I never had patience with it at any time.

* * *

You did not really answer the issue/question of, given the syllogism and law of non-contradiction; can a Protestant hold to believing in “A is not non-A” (justification by faith alone is the heart of the gospel; so full knowledge of it and rejection of it means one is not justified) and be consistent, but be freed from the wrong label of “anti-Catholic” you give?
I reject justification by faith alone.
ok. That is your position.

* * *
I believe in justification by faith through grace alone, by means of our Lord Jesus' redeeming death on the cross, and that alone; not by our own works.
Left to itself, those bare words with no more explanation do not necessarily contradict the Evangelical doctrine of Justification by faith alone. (Luther and Calvin and Reformed traditions)

But the fleshing out of it further; that is, the reality of what RC justification doctrine is; (according to official RCC documents and Catechism) is a contradiction of what you wrote; because you must do good works all through your life to gain back your justification, started with baptism (either infant or conversion baptism); but which you lost by the commission of mortal sin. So, you may say, “by faith through grace alone”, but you mean that there are works one must do in order keep getting grace until final perseverance and getting scrubbed clean in purgatory and passing through it, and in order to stay in a state of grace. (baptism, partaking of the Lord’s supper, obeying the Ten Commandments, confession to the priest, prayers to Mary for dispensing of grace from the treasury of merit; or some other saint; visiting saints graves, etc. fasting, extended times of more prayer, meditation, giving to the poor; doing what the priest says as the satisfaction aspect of penance, etc.) These things are contradictions to “by grace alone” (hence they contradict faith alone – Romans 4:16) and they contradict “not by our own works”. You don’t get grace dispensed to you from the treasury of merit, unless you do the works; and that only comes to you after you do those things; those good works, ceremonies, communion (partaking of the Lord’s Supper), hail Marys, prayers, fastings, almsgiving, and obeying the Ten Commandments, etc.

No. 2068 in the RCC Catechism says, “The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians . . . so that all men may obtain salvation through faith, Baptism, and the observance of the Commandments.” ( p. 502, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Liberia Editrice Vatinaa, Imprimi Potest, Cardinal Ratzinger, 1994.

This is contradictory to the end of the your statement, “not by our own works” and contradictory to “by grace alone”.

Also, the Catechism says:

No. 2010 “Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.” ( Ibid, p. 487)

* * *

Right, Ken. You know more about the Catholic teachings than I do.

1) Am I a Christian or not?

2) Am I saved or not, according to you?

3) Do I reject the gospel?

4) Am I unregenerate?

5) Is everything I do evil through and through because I am unregenerate?

6) Am I incapable of understanding spiritual things because I am unregenerate, according to you?

7) Will I likely be damned to hell if I don't change my way of thinking?

8 ) Do I have to reject Catholic dogmas (that Catholics are required to believe) in order to be a good Christian like you and save my eternal soul?

I want simple yes or no answers to my eight questions, without all the gobbledygook and obscurantism and obfuscation (if indeed it is even possible for you to do). Here's another one (please answer yes or no):

Can even Arminians or Wesleyans or any other non-Calvinist Protestants be saved, if the possibility of falling away means that they could never have been saved in the first place?

You get more and more like a clone of the good bishop everyday. It's getting quite wearisome, reading your pontifications on this board. Now you've taken to preaching to me about my own faith, as if I don't even know what it is, or understand it less than you do. That's right out of the Anti-Catholic Playbook (Rule #462, section II: "we anti-Catholics always know more about Romish jesuitical popery than the papists themselves know, and so it is our duty to inform them of what they really believe").

Give me a break, huh? Your positions are absurd enough without the sanctimonious preaching and lecturing.

* * *

You didn't answer my questions, now you demand little sound bite "yes or no" type stuff?

The Catechism says you must have faith, and be baptized, and obey the Ten Commandments.

That is a clear contradiction of "by grace alone" and "apart from works".

* * *

Yes I do demand that, Ken, or you can make yourself scarce from this blog (or be helped by yours truly to do so, without your cooperation). We're not here to be continually preached at by someone who has only a very dim understanding of that which he deigns to lecture informed proponents about.

The least you can do is answer my questions honestly and directly. If you can't, then I've had it with your manifest arrogance and refusal to carry on a normal dialogue without all the histrionics and rabbit trails. You seem to have gotten more hysterical and anti-Catholic as time goes on, so you must have known that it wouldn't be tolerated indefinitely here. I'm a very patient man, all in all (even with anti-Catholic rotgut notions), but not infinitely so.

* * *

Right, Ken. You know more about the Catholic teachings than I do.

I gave you quotes from the Catechism. Was I wrong in that you must do those good works in order to gain back the grace of justification, when it is lost by mortal sin?

Isn’t that what your RCC teaches?
Yes or no

I have answered your questions in pretty short answers. Please remember that this is doctrinal and not personal, even though you seem to be getting angry.

1) Am I a Christian or not?

No; since you reject justification by faith alone; and knowingly reject it; and, if you follow the Catechism, it says you must do works added to faith, in order to be finally saved, --obey the commandments.

2) Am I saved or not, according to you?

No, since you reject justification by faith alone, which is rejecting the heart of the gospel.

3) Do I reject the gospel?

You cut the heart of it out, the part that says it is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, apart from the merit of works.

4) Am I unregenerate?

Apparently so, since you don’t even believe you can know if you are regenerate – you loose justifying grace every time you commit a mortal sin. You have to live under “on and off” mentality your whole life.

5) Is everything I do evil through and through because I am unregenerate?

Yes, but "through and through" is probably not the right understanding - it does not mean everyone is as bad as you could be or like a Jeffery Dahmer, Hitler, or Osama Ben Laden, etc. (there are degrees of sinfulness) It only means that everything we do is tainted by sin, as a wrong motive, but it can appear to be very good deed and loving attitude. Only God knows the heart "through and through".

yes, in the sense that everyone is sinful and totally depraved until they are regenerated. “If you being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to you? Matthew 7:11

6) Am I incapable of understanding spiritual things because I am unregenerate, according to you? No.
You understand some things, many things; yes; you have great intellectual capacities. You are a very smart person.

7) Will I likely be damned to hell if I don't change my way of thinking?

Yes. Repent.

8 ) Do I have to reject Catholic dogmas (that Catholics are required to believe) in order to be a good Christian like you and save my eternal soul?

Better:

Do I have to reject Catholic dogmas (that Catholics are required to believe) in order to be a Christian and save my eternal soul?

Yes.
I never claimed to be “good” and "I sense much anger in you” (as Yoda would say)

I want simple yes or no answers to my eight questions, without all the gobbledygook and obscurantism and obfuscation (if indeed it is even possible for you to do). Here's another one (please answer yes or no):

Were those answers short enough for you?

Can even Arminians or Wesleyans or any other non-Calvinist Protestants be saved, if the possibility of falling away means that they could never have been saved in the first place?

Of course they can be saved and have a wrong understanding of what sound doctrine is. Many of them are truly saved. Some " Reformed folks" (that go to a Reformed church and intellectually only understand some of the doctrines. Intellectual assent is not faith. So, some of them are not truly regenerated, they think they are. There is always the possibility that someone claims to believe, but they really don’t. ( James 2:14-26)

Some Catholics are truly saved; they just don't know what the doctrines are; they just have simple faith in Christ and His work alone, and not trusting in their baptism and hail Mary's to finally get them in.

Now, Dave, I demand you answer my questions on the law of non-contradiction, using your logic about two mutually contradictory things.

I answered you honestly; and it is doctrine, not personal or ad hominem.

and you are very smart.

* * *

Great, thanks for the clarifications, and this was pretty much as expected, given the recent flow of your rhetoric.

My answers are all over my papers. Go read them. It's not like I don't have a detailed record out there of what I believe and why.

Since you are clearly an anti-Catholic (which was not always so clear), then you are one of the group that I no longer bother trying to argue with, after some 16 years of trying until giving up last year, as a completely futile effort.

Nothing personal at all (i.e., the decision to not argue with you) . . . You do correctly perceive that I am fed up with your sanctimonious preachiness, as of late. To me that is utterly justified exasperation, not sinful in the slightest.

* * *

Blog regular Nick: I personally have nothing against Protestants who say Catholics are not Christian.

Me, neither. I simply have the utmost intellectual derision towards their ludicrous ideas.

* * *

[responding to someone else's observation]

Ken is a Christian because the Catholic Church recognizes that trinitarian baptism admits one into regeneration, as a Christian.

Your position on this is about as extreme as Ken's. It is certainly utterly contrary to Vatican II and recent ecumenical documents.

* * *

I think that there is probably a good number of RCs who don't know the details of the doctrinal accuracy but they have child-like faith in Christ alone for their salvation and justification.

That is what I meant.

But even those that understand the issues of justification by faith and Trent and the Reformation, etc. -- should have enough brains in the moral area to not vote for anyone like a pro-abortion/pro-gay/pro-pornography kinds of politians like Obama, John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi, etc.

That was my point about that. Again, I really like Roman Catholics like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, and Bill Bennett and Laura Ingraham. I would expect other Roman Catholics to be like them in their moral issues stances and politics; but many are not - that is what I meant.

Also, I need to say to you and others and Dave A. that when I first came into the blog years ago; what you guys call "anti-Catholic" (what I laid out in the open in an earlier post); was not my position.

I emotionally have wanted to not answer those questions that Dave gave, because, really, I don't know -- that is, I should not judge that/those issues.

But doctrinally, he is the one who forces it always, and it caused me to study more and think about it and I realized that in some sense I was not being consistent all the way with the implications of justification by faith alone; and since I believe it is truth and the heart of the gospel, if it is true, then the opposite has to be false. Therefore, the RC doctrinal position is a false gospel.

Also, the word "Christian" can mean a cultural Christian or nominal Christian, and since infant baptism and our history of Europe and USA and the west reflects that culture; in that sense I had no problem with seeing all Roman Catholics as Christians, in the cultural nominal sense.

But if we are talking about doctrinal accuracy, then a Christian is one is who regenerated, born again, adopted, elect, trusts in Christ alone; justified by faith alone; etc.

So I have slowly come to that conclusion; mostly because Dave's style is to try to force the issue.

Those are the first questions he fires off at Evangelicals who come into the blog and want to discuss and debate; those that have a clear position for what he calls "anti - Catholic", he writes them off as mean and idiots, etc.

* * *

that is exactly why I was very slow about it; and still am about any judgment -- But Dave will not let it lie in mystery - his style is "pugnacious" and angry, while intellectually hiding behind the label of "a good Socratic method debater".

Sorry Dave, you are very smart; but once someone gets on your "bad side"; you are very something. (pugnacious, angry, mean, ad hominem, condescending, sarcastic, caustic, etc.)

I was trying to be kind and gracious; but Dave (and some others will not have it)

I also think the same can be applied to you wanting to look kind and gracious by saying Protestants are Christians by their Trinitarian baptism; but really, with all the doctrines of mortal sin and penance and initial justification, etc. I don't see how you can believe that we are Christians, because we knowingly reject the RC dogmas and so we have committed mortal sin, therefore we are going to hell. That is the consistent position of the pre-Vatican 2 RCC. It is Vatican 2 that seems really deceptive to me and many others.

* * *

those that have a clear position for what he calls "anti - Catholic", he writes them off as mean and idiots, etc.

Not at all; I consider them well-meaning, sincere, brothers in Christ, who have many many admirable qualities and beliefs, but dead wrong in their assessment of Catholicism, and holders of a self-defeating, intellectually-suicidal position in that regard.

But Dave will not let it lie in mystery

In other words, I'm supposed to play the game that I'm a Christian but not at the same time, because you are too "nice" to come out openly and be frank and claim that I am not one at all. It's a pretense and a charade, but we are supposed to play it because of the ludicrous position you have adopted. Makes a lot of sense. But if I dare to be honest about the elephant in the room, I am a mean son of a gun. How dare I state the obvious about your position, and press you so that you will be honest and forthright about it and stop beating around the bush! How uncouth and brazen and ungrateful! It's not charitable to point out that a position is absurd and embarrassing. The person holding it will then have to be embarrassed about it too, and we can't have that in warm fuzzy postmodernist America!

- his style is "pugnacious" and angry,

I dare say that any outside observer who observed your rhetoric as of late, and my own, would consider it precisely the opposite. You're the one raving and ranting and lecturing everyone here, as if we are dumbbells and, as of late, lecturing me about my OWN beliefs, as if you know them better than I do myself. Now we have a much clearer understanding of why you do that. And it stinks to high heavens. You are the one being sanctimonious and condescending, flouting a stupid, unbiblical, ahistorical, illogical point of view that none of your comrades even have the courage to defend in an open debate situation in a chat room.

while intellectually hiding behind the label of "a good Socratic method debater".

I see. So now you have to even mock my methodology. It's not enough that you engage in a wholesale mockery and thumbing your nose at my deeply held Christian commitment as a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You are a classic tragi-comic case in point. As soon as you adopted wholesale anti-Catholicism, at that very moment in time you became more obnoxious and condescending (as we have all observed before our eyes), and now have all these personal beefs against me. This wasn't the case before. Now it is because that follows so often as a result of the false belief of anti-Catholicism. Almost invariably it has to become personal. Since I'm not even a Christian and have done all this work posing as one, defending the Church I am not even part of and the Lord I don't even truly serve, then somehow there has to be something wrong with ME. And so now we see the insults coming out. The good bishop that you idolize openly states that I am self-consciously deceitful, as does Eric the Yellow, King David and several others of that stripe. I suspect that will be your next stage. Now I can be demonized and passed off as a lying, conniving devil. The position tends strongly to lead to that, by a certain diabolical logic.

I think it is very sad. You've been treated with nothing but respect on this blog for years, and allowed to preach ad nauseum. But because you choose to be swayed by the garbage you hear from the bishop and those like him, this is how you come out. It's truly a step backwards and downwards. You know better than this. And rest assured that God will hold you accountable after your years of interaction with us here, that you have rejected Catholics as your brethren in Christ and have chosen to teach falsely about the truth of the matter where we are concerned. You know too much to have an excuse. Bearing false witness is an extremely serious sin. It's on your head and your soul now. You're not invincibly ignorant if you've been reading my stuff for years.

Sorry Dave, you are very smart; but once someone gets on your "bad side"; you are very something. (pugnacious, angry, mean, ad hominem, condescending, sarcastic, caustic, etc.)

And you conduct yourself like a perfect gentleman at all times (just like the bishop that you idolize and lionize clearly does) . . . you're so far on my bad side that I just defended you as a Christian, over against a fellow Catholic, the day after you denied that I was one.

I was trying to be kind and gracious; but Dave (and some others will not have it)

Everyone knows how well-behaved and gracious and "southern gentlemanly" you've been. You're not fooling anyone. The obnoxious nature of your recent posts are just as annoying as the foolish theological position you now espouse.

* * *

I am amazed that you came out that way, after I explained my process and was very honest. Wow.

I wish you the best; I do think you are very pugnacious and angry and it shows. you proved it more by this reaction, and not acknowledging my explanation on my process and what I mean.

I sincerely believe my comments were doctrinal and not what you make them out to be.

You add fuel to the fire by comments about Southern gentleman, etc. -- you really show a lot of attempt on your part to read evil motives into someone. I never did that; I don't think.

You are a very angry person, it seems to me. You cannot even conduct yourself in a nice way with what you call the "anti-Catholic" consistent position when I kept it doctrinal and on the issues, as far as I can tell.
Not at all; I consider them well-meaning, sincere, brothers in Christ, who have many many admirable qualities and beliefs, but dead wrong in their assessment of Catholicism, and holders of a self-defeating, intellectually-suicidal position in that regard.
So, what does it take for you to calm down and not get angry and pugnacious with someone who seeks to hold a consistent position, but not go ad hominem?

I am amazed that you did not acknowledge any of this segment, which was honest and explains my journey and struggle with your "just answer me yes or no" style or "answer every point of my papers or nothing counts".

You did not acknowledge any of this segment:
That was my point about that. Again, I really like Roman Catholics like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, and Bill Bennett and Laura Ingraham. I would expect other Roman Catholics to be like them in their moral issues stances and politics; but many are not - that is what I meant.

Also, I need to say to you and others and Dave A. that when I first came into the blog years ago; what you guys call "anti-Catholic" (what I laid out in the open in an earlier post); was not my position.

I emotionally have wanted to not answer those questions that Dave gave, because, really, I don't know -- that is, I should not judge that/those issues.

But doctrinally, he is the one who forces it always, and it caused me to study more and think about it and I realized that in some sense I was not being consistent all the way with the implications of justification by faith alone; and since I believe it is truth and the heart of the gospel, if it is true, then the opposite has to be false. Therefore, the RC doctrinal position is a false gospel.

Also, the word "Christian" can mean a cultural Christian or nominal Christian, and since infant baptism and our history of Europe and USA and the west reflects that culture; in that sense I had no problem with seeing all Roman Catholics as Christians, in the cultural nominal sense.

But if we are talking about doctrinal accuracy, then a Christian is one is who regenerated, born again, adopted, elect, trusts in Christ alone; justified by faith alone; etc.

So I have slowly come to that conclusion; mostly because Dave's style is to try to force the issue.
Forcing the issue in debate: (Dave's own style of adding pugnaciousness and anger and sarcasm and reading evil motives into people's bare words on the screen; to the Socratic method, force, answer me yes or no and you must also answer every point I make). Even some other Catholics have admitted that your style and demeanor is irritating and caustic.

* * *

I'm not angry at all. Will you take my word on that or not? This is not a personal thing, but a doctrinal and intellectual one.

It is a fact that you tried to preach to me just yesterday and make out that you knew my Catholic beliefs and how they fit together better than I do myself.

I don't attribute evil motives to you or anyone else. I never have with the bishop. But he sure has with me: innumerable times. Eric the Red [Svendsen] claims I "engage regularly in a strategy of deceit." David T. King has stated similarly about Catholics en masse. It's a matter of record. I have it documented. Do you now believe that about me? I believe all these men are sincere, well-meaning, and serving Christ as they see fit. But they are burdened with false premises and ideas, and -- oftentimes -- prejudices, which lead them to conclude that Catholics are lying through their teeth.

I'm not angry at people. Life is too short. I'm not angry at you. I'm exasperated and disappointed and frustrated, but not angry. That's been a common theme in the "arguments" of anti-Catholic opponents against me. It has always been dead wrong and laughable from the beginning. These people don't know me from Adam. Not one of them has ever met me in person. They don't have the slightest idea what my actual personality is, or is like. Anyone who does know me and has met me would laugh such a notion to scorn: that I am somehow this boiling teapot, seething with anger and resentment. It's a myth and a joke.

Do you believe me or not?

* * *

It doesn't seem like it, honestly Dave. I will take your word, for your bare words on the screen; but you just don't come across that way.

But thanks for at least calming down some.

You didn't acknowledge what I wrote about my process, the moral political issues and context of the word "Christian", my admitted predicament of being consistent or "nice"; nor my desire to leave judging up to God alone; and at least some mystery involved in this thing. You seem to not think it possible for someone to hold that consistent position and be charitable and gracious and admit when he goes overboard and ad hominem.

* * *

[responding to someone else]
Not at all -- if you studied that issue completely, the doctrinal position is only that once the Roman Catholic came out and anathemitized justification by faith alone in the council of Trent ( 1540s-1564 ? ); it was only then that created a situation where people on the RC side were knowingly rejecting the truth of justification taught in the Scriptures.

So, NO! I do NOT say that people like Augustine were not Christians. Before Trent, the articulation of it was unclear; so people actually believed in Christ alone by faith alone, even if they didn't realize it or could not articulate it clearly. Adding Luther to that is just plain goofy and obviously I would not do that.

* * *

These are your statements that just seem very angry and sarcastic and caustic and strident and pugnacious and judging motives and hearts.
I suspect that will be your next stage. Now I can be demonized and passed off as a lying, conniving devil. The position tends strongly to lead to that, by a certain diabolical logic.

And you conduct yourself like a perfect gentleman at all times . . .

Everyone knows how well-behaved and gracious and "southern gentlemanly" you've been. You're not fooling anyone. The obnoxious nature of your recent posts are just as annoying as the foolish theological position you now espouse.
* * *

The anti-Catholic position Ken stakes out leads logically to Luther and St. Augustine not being Christians, as I proved years ago in reply to the good bishop that Ken follows (and, as always, he never refuted it; didn't even try at all to do so). It is one of the many absurdities inherent in the anti-Catholic position. Ken doesn't realize it yet; he just needs to get more consistent.

Ken,

As stated, I never was angry, so I don't need to calm down. I'll repeat it again: I was exasperated and frustrated. That's a different thing from anger.

I won't be answering your queries anymore, because my policy is to not interact with anti-Catholics, as a matter of principle, based on the utter futility of my years of trying to do so. It's a vain conversation. I know you'll take that personally, as every other anti-Catholic has done, but I can't do anything about that. I am the steward of my time under God.

It is now a question of what your purpose is to be here at all. With your newfound position, we are targets for your evangelization. I have very little patience for that, as we engage in dialogues here; we don't sit and listen to preaching that presupposes we are unregenerate heathen who don't have a clue about the true gospel.

I can only put up with so much tomfoolery. This blog will not become your platform for your inane, self-defeating, condescending anti-Catholic opinions. So I advise you to carefully consider what you post here, if you want to continue to be a presence in this venue.

* * *

It is playbook, standard anti-Catholic rhetoric, that the only Christian Catholic is the dumb Catholic who rejects dogmas of his own ostensible faith. But a "good Catholic" is not a Christian.

That's why he was honest enough to come right out and say that I am not a Christian, because he knows that I know my faith and what I believe.

I must be quite a fool and character, huh?: to not even be a Christian at all, yet devote my entire life's work to defending Catholicism and larger Christianity. If I ain't a Christian, God is sure getting His "money's worth" out of me, isn't He?

* * *

Ken is welcome to stay provided he doesn't go down to the condescending level of pretending that he knows our beliefs better than we do (a stunt he tried with me, above). I have very mixed feelings about his preaching at all, now that he is openly anti-Catholic, not at all because we can't answer him, but because of the principle of the thing, as a matter of good form and respect of one's surroundings, and as a function of my own lack of patience.

I want to come to my own blog to enjoy good discussions with fellow Christians, not this silly, asinine anti-Catholic nonsense. I don't dialogue, myself, with anti-Catholics any longer. I was happy to let others do so here if they wished, but there is a limit to my patience and toleration of something on my own blog, especially when there are a million other places someone can go to engage in such discussions.

* * *

Dave,

OK - that is your right and freedom; yet, it seems to me to be an excuse for not being able to deal with the issues.

Even your term "anti-Catholic" is not a proper term, which, I know you have a long boring article on that, calling it, a scholarly term.

It is not at all.

It is a purely emotionally label, designed to make the other side look bigoted and full of hatred.

There is no hatred here on my part. I think I have kept it to the issues; but it really seems you are the one who takes it personal. you use terms like "asinine" and "hiding under southern gentlemanly" phrases; and "that will be his next step"; etc. -- who is the one who seems to have anger and ad hominiem?

Also, I acknowledged that are you are very intelligent.

And you still made no acknowledgement of my explanation of
a. it was a process that I have slowly worked through
b. I cannot judge
c. there is mystery, subjectivism involved
d. cultural Christianity and nominal Christianity
e. moral issues that we agree on

* * *

Ken, you're not making a very compelling case for allowing you to be here. Can you do a little better?

1) You insult me again as supposedly not having answers, when I simply choose not to answer now, and appeal to my innumerable past answers.

2) You appeal to the same dumb, stupid, tired anti-Catholic objection to the descriptive term for what you are that is used by many many scholars of all stripes. Rather than accept the undeniable fact, you mock and dismiss it. That's good fundamentalist anti-intellectualism, but will not impress any non-fundamentalist, I can assure you.

3) "It is a purely emotionally label, designed to make the other side look bigoted and full of hatred."

I'll let this pass, knowing that you are upset at the moment, and not possibly this much of an imbecile, to not know what I have clarified some half a billion times by now.

4) I have now expressly denied two times that I have this anger, yet you keep talking about it. Do you not know that there is a difference between impatience and anger?

5) "Also, I acknowledged that are you are very intelligent."

Who gives a flying fig about how intelligent they are, if said person is damned and unregenerate and living an utterly ridiculous life of devoting himself to proclaiming and defending the things of God when he doesn't have an inkling as to what they are? I would say that is not intelligent at all. So you say the kind thing, yet your position requires the ultra-insulting, ridiculous implication. But, being anti-Catholic, of course you don't recognize the logical reduction of what you posit.

6) As I said, our dialogue (i.e., about any serious theological issues) is through, as long as you remain anti-Catholic. That is my policy. I'm only doing this now because I am trying to be courteous. But any chance of reasonable dialogue is now kaput.

As of this point, you are free to post here and others can interact with your arguments if they like, but my patience is razor-thin at your continuing obtuse density as to my positions and my state of mind and emotions, and your continuing misrepresentation of them.

It's all standard anti-Catholicism. How sad that you have chosen to adopt these methods in cookie-cutter fashion. It's extremely disappointing and disturbing to me to watch you go down this road. You know better than this.

I urge all to fervently pray for brother Ken: that God can open up his heart and his eyes, so he can get off this perilous road he has chosen to go down: believing that Catholics aren't Christians unless they are dumbbells about their own theology, etc. It's literally wicked; it divides Christians; it zaps energy; it keeps people preoccupied with nonsensical garbage rather than the important things we should all occupy ourselves with concerning the kingdom. It's a victory of the devil: more Christian division.

And that is more "ad hominem," of course (Ken will say). No it is not. It is the truth: calling a thing (not a person) what it is. The THING is wicked and false and bad. The PERSON is being duped and taken in by it. But you are sincere. You have the best of intentions, you don't hate. You love Jesus and serve Him (of that I have no doubt whatever; that's why this is so tragic). I don't hate you or any anti-Catholic or indeed any person that I am aware of. I'm not angry; I am extremely passionate at the moment. My blood pressure is fine; my heartbeat is fine.

I despise the IDEAS as wicked lies from the pit of hell. And that is not improper language towards it (if anything it is quite mild). St. Paul writes constantly about the wickedness of division and false-speaking, especially about fellow Christians. You need to be jolted to wake up. That's an act of love. I am begging and pleading with you to not adopt this viewpoint. It's spiritual poison and intellectual suicide.

Pray folks, pray. I certainly will.

* * *

Anyway, I will leave for a while until Dave calms down.

Anything I say now is interpreted wrong and with even more intensity and pugnaciousness and ad hominem, and ok, impatience. impatience is sin also - I Corinthians 13, Galatians 5:22-23

* * *

My views will be exactly the same on anti-Catholicism a week from now, a month, even 30 years from now. It has nothing to do with mere emotion. It's based on Scripture, history, and reason.

You say impatience is a sin? How about bearing false witness against brothers in Christ?

Or is it okay for the anti-Catholic to be passionate in his anti-Catholic preaching to lowly Catholics, so they can accept the gospel, come out of the Beast, and be saved, while the Catholic is never supposed to be passionate in his denunciations of anti-Catholicism, because that is too uppity and the unregenerate heathen papist has nothing to say to his Protestant overlords?

* * *

I know that Sean Hannity openly dissents on the issue of contraception, so he is not a faithful Catholic: that being a grave matter of sin.

* * *

you condemn Sean Hannity for that?

See, I was right about RCs who loose their justification through mortal sin -

[I didn't claim that; it would depend on the state of his knowledge and will. I simply claimed he wasn't a "faithful" Catholic: meaning that he doesn't accept all of the Church's teachings]

"Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God interceding for us." Romans 8:33-34

Your doctrine of justification contradicts the Bible, therefore is it wrong and heresy; a false doctrine.

Grace alone also means by the nature of it, that it is by faith alone - Romans 4:16

"For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those of who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of as all. " Romans 4:16

* * *
How about bearing false witness against brothers in Christ?
Obviously, if I sincerely believe that RC doctrine is wrong, then it is not bearing false witness. To defend against false doctrine is a noble thing, as you believe your RC apologetics is a noble thing.

* * *
My views will be exactly the same on anti-Catholicism a week from now, a month, even 30 years from now. It has nothing to do with mere emotion.
So, you have infallible certainty that you are right in your own mind and heart about this position you take and you can infallibly declare into the future that you will have infallible knowledge that it will not change in a week, a month, 5 years, 10 years, or 30 years?

You have a lot of infallible certainty and almost claiming perfect knowledge of the future in your own mind.

"don't lean on your own understanding" Proverbs 3:5-7

"Do not be wise in your own eyes"

* * *

Ken Temple is now banned. He insists on continuing his preaching, which I have urged him to be careful about, if he wishes to remain here. There is a big difference between respectful dialogue and sanctimonious, condescending preaching of the most ill-mannered sort.

Specifically I've had enough of two things (just for the record):
1) Ken claiming to know my own faith and motivations better than I do myself. For example, he keeps repeating over and over that I am supposedly "angry" in some kind of fuming, out of control sense. I've denied this over and over but he keeps saying it. He lectured me like a child about aspects of Catholicism that he pretends to know more about than I do.

2) Ken's blatant, hypocritical double standard insofar as he reserves the right to preach (now with his newly-found anti-Catholic mentality) against Catholic doctrine on a Catholic blog, whereas whenever I dare to object to anti-Catholicism on principle, it is immediately dismissed by Ken in a most derisive manner as "hatred" and "angry" and solely "ad hominem" and so forth.
In other words, when he does his thing, it proceeds from the noblest of motivations (our salvation and regeneration). For my part, I was happy to grant that Ken has good motives and is sincere. I did so not far above. But Ken cannot possibly grant the same back to me when it comes to my objections to anti-Catholicism.

Thus, these two particularly annoying and obnoxious manifest attitudes go beyond even being an anti-Catholic. Anti-Catholics have been free to come here and comment as they wish, for the entirety of the time that this blog has existed (4 1/2 years): though they usually don't hang around long. Ken could have stayed, too, even to spout anti-Catholic nonsense, but these two things (clearly unrepented of, with no immediate intention to change) are deal-breakers.

They put me "over the edge," in the context of my usual willingness to allow more or less complete "freedom of speech" on this blog. Certain things are insufferable. It's yet another sad case of a person adopting anti-Catholicism and immediately showing, in rudeness and being oblivious to repeated factual matters.

It's all the more pathetic in a man of the cloth and a missionary. God bless his zeal, but it has now exhausted its purpose and usefulness on this blog. There are plenty of anti-Catholic venues where Ken can express it (places where I have long since been banned; e.g., the chat room of a certain notorious Baptist bishop).

* * *

If Ken now complains about being banned (which is the usual procedure), and follows the long-established anti-Catholic template and makes out that the reason was simply because he is a proclaimed anti-Catholic, and that I am scared of his arguments and now against free speech, he will not be telling the truth. None of those things are in the least true (let it be made plain for the record). The REAL reason is exactly as I explained in my post above.

Ken was allowed to preach and express himself freely here for some three years or so, maybe even longer. He was right on the edge of being an anti-Catholic the whole time. He was always appealing to the bigshot anti-Catholic apologists, and arguing almost exactly like them. So no one can say that he hasn't had extraordinary free speech here, whereas I was always summarily banned from anti-Catholic boards and chat rooms (back when I still tried to enter them at all).

* * * * *

Ken wrote to me and I wrote back. Here are those exchanges (his are posted with his permission):

Hi Dave,

I did not expect that from you – being banned. I was indeed surprised!

I am being upfront and honest that this is me, Ken Temple.

Being “preachy” and “sanctimonious” are quite subjective judgments. I may see it as only “thinking one is right and the other is wrong”; you may interpret it as a "holier than thou" attitude", which I reject as my attitude. Anyway those are very subjective opinions; and you have the right to hold that opinion; but I don’t see those as valid reasons to ban me.

The others have commented that I did just said [sic] my opinions and sometimes did not really interact with what they were saying. I have not been able to interact with every detail nor every point that everyone makes; that is true. I don’t see how you or any others can expect one person who holds the Protestant position to be able to possibly respond to every point that 10-15 other Roman Catholics throw at him. That is an unacceptable standard and the only real complaints that you all can reasonable hold; and it is unreasonable because it is unrealistic.

Since your last comment to me about Sean Hannity and his dissent from RCC position on contraception; I don’t see anywhere where I did what you are accusing me of :

1. repeating again that you are angry.. I did not do that after your last post about Sean Hannity and contraception.

2. Hypocrisy and “false witness” against a Christian brother. If you think my holding a doctrinal position that disagrees with yours is hypocrisy, or bearing false witness, you know that is just wrong; you are very smart and much of the time objective; but on this you don’t seem to be being objective. I have never accused you of lying, deliberately or unknowingly.

3. claiming to know more about RC than you do. I don't claim that; and never did. Go back and read what I wrote on justification and mortal sin and quoting from the Catechism. You did not interact with it at all. I was interacting with the Catechism, quoted from it; yet you seemed to dismiss by this and you did not deal with the issues of it that I raised. It is almost like you said, “You have no right to even have an opinion on RC and those statements. " Furthermore, you made no intereaction [sic] with the issues or details or doctrines or principles, you just seem to say, "how dare you think you can comment on the RCC Catechism and quote it and use it", etc. You do that all the time in your analysis of Protestant materials, ie, quote them, use them, and analyze them from your point of view.

My answers in that combox since that time that caused you to ban me:

Three were directed to Adoman, and were answering him; about Isaiah 53 and penal substitutionary atonement, and infallible certainty and a quote from a Roman Catholic about Matthew’s Gospel. They are all issues oriented, no ad homimen -where is it? Where is a sanctimonious attitude in my answers to Adoman?

“preachy” - ?? really – all of your articles against Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide, etc. can all be labeled as “preachy” from all the Evangelical Protestants who would read your materials. That really is no reason to ban someone.

Three were directed to you; but nothing in them about anger. And they were all issue oriented.
The issue was about mortal sin, loosing one’s justification, and contraception (Sean Hannity’s dissent from RCC position) bearing false witness cannot be applied to a doctrinal position over which two groups or sides disagree with other or doctrinal position. Otherwise you could never talk to another Protestant or Muslim or Hindu or Mormon, etc. by your standard there.
the other issue was testing your epistemology and infallible certainty about things; which is the method you and other RCs use against Protestants in claiming that they need an infallible interpreter to help them understand the Bible. I see nothing hypocritical or ad hominem about raising these three issues. And I did not repeat that you were angry since your comment about Sean Hannity. I can see why you would not like that last one, because the tone may be sharp, (about knowing infallibly into the future 30 years if you will hold your same opinions); but it is a real honest question that exposes the subjective nature of the whole, “how do you know for sure” (which books belong in the canon, and which interpretation is right, etc.) epistemological basis for the whole RCC movement of former Protestants. ( Newman, You and Scott Hahn and my friend, Rod Bennett, Mattatics, Sungenis – the whole thing is based on this skeptical philosophy; using philosophical epistemology to cause sincere Evangelicals to doubt.)

I wish you no harm; I am sorry I hurt your feelings; and I was sincerely trying to communicate my process of how I came to the conclusions I have (which you did not acknowledge); and to the best of my knowledge, I was not trying to be hurtful or ad hominem or attack you personally.
I don’t understand what happened to you here, honestly.

Sincerely,

Ken Temple

* * *

Hi Ken,

Thanks for your letter.

My reasoning was completely laid out in the combox, and now organized into a new post. I have nothing to add to that. It just goes round and round. You understand my distaste for the anti-Catholic position. That alone wasn't grounds for banning, but rather, your continuing accusations and methods (what I hold to be blatant double standards), that weren't necessary. I have the perfect right (as you acknowledged) to create the atmosphere on my blog that I desire to foster. We're going to disagree on these additional elements that made me decide to ban you, just as we will on the theology. What can I say?

If you like, I can add this letter of yours to the new post about the whole incident, so you can have your "final say." You can have the last word.

May God abundantly bless you and yours, your ministry, and all your endeavors.

Your brother in Christ & His Church,

Dave

* * *

Thanks Dave,

I appreciate you answering my email.

That would be good if you post my email. Thanks for that gesture – that’s great and fair.

I guess, it honestly seems to me that, according to you, there is no way for anyone to hold that doctrinal position that I do; and be considered a peaceful person, or allowed to talk anymore,
[Dave: note that this claim fulfills the prediction that I twice made:
If Ken . . . makes out that the reason was simply because he is a proclaimed anti-Catholic, and that I am scared of his arguments and now against free speech, he will not be telling the truth.

You understand my distaste for the anti-Catholic position. That alone wasn't grounds for banning, . . . ]
(yes you allowed me to participate for a long time, true) as one who disagrees with the doctrine of RC, and seeks to keep it is all doctrinal; even if it seems “preachy” or “sanctimonious”, which are the other side’s subjective opinion.

The position: that a RC who knowingly rejects justification by faith alone indicates that person is not justified by Christ’s righteousness; because there is, in the RC penance system, an adding of good works of things like prayers to Mary, penance, obeying the commandments, that is a process that goes all the way to the end of purgatory, etc.

That would be cool if you add it, and even this part also.

Sincerely and Peace,

Ken Temple

The Certitude of Faith and Cardinal Newman / Defense of the Lay Apologetic Vocation Contra False "Traditionalist" Claims




One "Caminus" -- who frequents the Fish Eaters "traditionalist" forum, regards it as his mission in life (or so it would lately seem, anyway) to disparage my arguments at every turn. He tried in vain to bash my apologetic + ecumenical viewpoint in my book about Luther (without even having read the book, and clearly without understanding its premises, which are openly laid out in the Introduction, posted online), only to be (in addition to my refutations of his silly charges) rather decisively contradicted on his main premise and point by two fellow "traditionalists" on his home turf.

Shortly before that, he made out that I was clueless regarding the nature of Cardinal Newman's version of development of doctrine. Development is my favorite topic in theology; the biggest reason for my conversion, and something I have written a ton of things about, including a book. Cardinal Newman is my "intellectual hero." I maintain the largest Newman web page on the Internet and the most extensive page devoted to development. I'm not trying to "brag" (which I'll probably be boorishly accused of, too); I'm simply stating the fact that I know quite a bit about this topic. The "critique" was too ridiculous to even waste time replying to.

The general drift of his charges is that I am an ignoramus, unequipped to even present Catholic teaching, let alone defend it. And so here we go again, in a post that critiques one statement I made in my new paper, Dialogue With a Traditional Anglican About Infallibility:


It took me all of three seconds in reading his newly posted dialogue with a "traditional Anglican" to discover a serious error. Dave says in reponse to a question on certainty and infallibility:


It depends on how one defines "certainty." I would say, briefly, that Catholics and any Christian who accepts apostolic succession, can have the certainty or certitude of faith, which is not absolute (being faith, after all), but is highly dependable and sufficient for a person to know the truth of the matter beyond a reasonable doubt.


On the contrary, the certitude of faith is of the highest order because it rests upon the authority of God revealing. It is because the Church possesses the authority of God to define matters of faith and morals that it does not vitiate this certitude via the exercise of merely human authority. The certitude of faith is antecedent to any infallible act of the magisterium.

I really wish if laymen were going to engage in public disputes with heretics, they would first check their sources. It is embarrassing statements like these which only serve to muddy the waters and further increase the hostility of intelligent opponents.

I see. Of course, this was a statement written in the midst of three simultaneous debates taking place in recent days (in addition to my work as moderator at the Coming Home Network and feverish work trying to complete a new book), that was not meant to achieve impeccable exactitude. I was replying to an inquirer about infallibility, not trying to present a philosophically precise definition of certitude or the nature of faith, etc. Nevertheless, what I wrote is not inaccurate at all if one understands the philosophical / religious background from which it derives. And, sure enough, that leads one back to Cardinal Newman, since that great teacher's perspective on the nature of faith and religious assent is indeed, my basis for arguing as I do.

There is a basic distinction to be made between reason and faith. They're two different things. Philosophy is different from religious faith. Faith goes beyond reason. Faith cannot prove things in the same sense that philosophical or mathematical or scientific systems often claim to prove or demonstrate propositions. That is not to denigrate faith at all. I believe certitude is achievable in that realm as well. All I was saying is that it is different from reason alone. When I said it was not "absolute," I was referring to the sense in which philosophy claims to be "absolute." Faith goes beyond that (without contradicting it or being unreasonable). It is a spiritual thing, and ultimately a mystery. The phrase "beyond a reasonable doubt" was obviously an allusion to "legal-type" proof. I was speaking in terms of the common man, or the secular man. This is the usual mode of the apologist, since we are trying to speak to the present culture in terms it can understand (1 Cor 9:19-23).

The background to my own developed thought on this matter is extremely complex and not at all given to brief summary (nor are my own epistemological opinions, drawn from many great catholic theologians and philosophers and apologists). Venerable Cardinal Newman's masterpiece An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent is perhaps the "heaviest" and most profound philosophical book I've ever read. Rather than delving into the book itself (readers may follow the link and do so themselves if they wish), I'll quote the Introduction to the Doubleday Image paperback edition by noted Thomist Etienne Gilson:
The third and last mistake to avoid in interpreting Newman's doctrine is to see it as a rational probabilism redeemed by a belated appeal to religious faith . . . this Essay . . . is precisely and exclusively about our assent to that kind of truth which, because it is accepted on the strength of the word of God alone, cannot possibly be received otherwise than by religious faith. Here again, let us not attribute to Newman a fideism entirely foreign to his authentic thought. He knows very well that we cannot assent to a proposition unless we have some intelligent apprehension of its meaning; only, because the Grammar of Assent is about religious dogma, the propositions which it discusses are not susceptible of proof properly so called. Newman himself makes this clear at the very beginning of his book: 'In this Essay I treat of propositions only in their bearing upon concrete matter, and I am mainly concerned with Assent; with Inference, in its relation to Assent, and only such inference as is not demonstration: with Doubt hardly at all" (p. 28). The importance of the effort pursued by reason, even in matters whose very nature excludes demonstration, could not be overlooked by Newman. It was at the very core of his subject.

(p. 15; my bolded emphases; italics in original)

Gilson goes on to refer to "matters whose very nature excludes demonstration." On the previous page, he references St. Thomas Aquinas:
According to St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologiae, I, 1, 8), theology is "argumentative." Starting from its own principles, which are the articles of faith, theology proceeds from them to prove something else, but it does not argue in proof of its principles. This assent of the mind to the absolute truths of what it believes lies at the very center of Newman's doctrine.
Further down the page, he decries:
. . . objections directed against the doctrine of Newman by those who reproach him with a leaning to fideism or with an ingrained mistrust in the validity of theological demonstrations.
Here is the entirety of Summa Theologiae, I, 1, 8 (my bolded emphases):



Whether sacred doctrine is a matter of argument?

Objection 1: It seems this doctrine is not a matter of argument. For Ambrose says (De Fide 1): "Put arguments aside where faith is sought." But in this doctrine, faith especially is sought: "But these things are written that you may believe" (Jn. 20:31). Therefore sacred doctrine is not a matter of argument.

Objection 2: Further, if it is a matter of argument, the argument is either from authority or from reason. If it is from authority, it seems unbefitting its dignity, for the proof from authority is the weakest form of proof. But if it is from reason, this is unbefitting its end, because, according to Gregory (Hom. 26), "faith has no merit in those things of which human reason brings its own experience." Therefore sacred doctrine is not a matter of argument.

On the contrary, The Scripture says that a bishop should "embrace that faithful word which is according to doctrine, that he may be able to exhort in sound doctrine and to convince the gainsayers" (Titus 1:9).

I answer that, As other sciences do not argue in proof of their principles, but argue from their principles to demonstrate other truths in these sciences: so this doctrine does not argue in proof of its principles, which are the articles of faith, but from them it goes on to prove something else; as the Apostle from the resurrection of Christ argues in proof of the general resurrection (1 Cor. 15). However, it is to be borne in mind, in regard to the philosophical sciences, that the inferior sciences neither prove their principles nor dispute with those who deny them, but leave this to a higher science; whereas the highest of them, viz. metaphysics, can dispute with one who denies its principles, if only the opponent will make some concession; but if he concede nothing, it can have no dispute with him, though it can answer his objections. Hence Sacred Scripture, since it has no science above itself, can dispute with one who denies its principles only if the opponent admits some at least of the truths obtained through divine revelation; thus we can argue with heretics from texts in Holy Writ, and against those who deny one article of faith, we can argue from another. If our opponent believes nothing of divine revelation, there is no longer any means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of answering his objections---if he has any---against faith. Since faith rests upon infallible truth, and since the contrary of a truth can never be demonstrated, it is clear that the arguments brought against faith cannot be demonstrations, but are difficulties that can be answered.

Reply to Objection 1: Although arguments from human reason cannot avail to prove what must be received on faith, nevertheless, this doctrine argues from articles of faith to other truths.

Reply to Objection 2: This doctrine is especially based upon arguments from authority, inasmuch as its principles are obtained by revelation: thus we ought to believe on the authority of those to whom the revelation has been made. Nor does this take away from the dignity of this doctrine, for although the argument from authority based on human reason is the weakest, yet the argument from authority based on divine revelation is the strongest. But sacred doctrine makes use even of human reason, not, indeed, to prove faith (for thereby the merit of faith would come to an end), but to make clear other things that are put forward in this doctrine. Since therefore grace does not destroy nature but perfects it, natural reason should minister to faith as the natural bent of the will ministers to charity. Hence the Apostle says: "Bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). Hence sacred doctrine makes use also of the authority of philosophers in those questions in which they were able to know the truth by natural reason, as Paul quotes a saying of Aratus: "As some also of your own poets said: For we are also His offspring" (Acts 17:28). Nevertheless, sacred doctrine makes use of these authorities as extrinsic and probable arguments; but properly uses the authority of the canonical Scriptures as an incontrovertible proof, and the authority of the doctors of the Church as one that may properly be used, yet merely as probable. For our faith rests upon the revelation made to the apostles and prophets who wrote the canonical books, and not on the revelations (if any such there are) made to other doctors. Hence Augustine says (Epis. ad Hieron. xix, 1): "Only those books of Scripture which are called canonical have I learned to hold in such honor as to believe their authors have not erred in any way in writing them. But other authors I so read as not to deem everything in their works to be true, merely on account of their having so thought and written, whatever may have been their holiness and learning."

Historian of philosophy, Frederick Copleston, S.J. best describes the exact relationship of Newman's thought to philosophy per se:

Newman's approach to the philosophical topics which he discussed was that of a Christian apologist. That is to say, he wrote from the point of view of a Christian believer who asks himself to what extent, and in what way, his faith can be shown to be reasonable. Newman made no pretence of temporarily discarding his faith, as it were, in order to give the impression of starting all over again from scratch . . . it was a question of faith seeking understanding of itself rather than of an unbelieving mind wondering whether there was any rational justification for making an act of faith . . . his attempt to exhibit the insufficiency of contemporary rationalism and to convey a sense of the Christian vision of human existence led him to delineate lines of thought which, while certainly not intended to present the content of Christian belief as a set of conclusions logically deduced from self-evident principles, were meant to show to those who had eyes to see that religious faith was not the expression of an irrational attitude or a purely arbitrary assumption.

. . . Newman . . . is more concerned with showing the reasonableness of faith as it actually exists in the great mass of believers, most of whom know nothing of abstract philosophical arguments . . . he tries to outline a phenomenological analysis . . .

. . . it is obvious that the belief in God with which he is primarily concerned as a Christian apologist is a real assent to God as a present reality, and an assent which influences life or conduct, not simply a notional assent to a proposition about the idea of God . . . from this it follows that Newman is not, and cannot be, primarily interested in a formal demonstrative inference to God's existence.

( A History of Philosophy: Volume 8: Modern Philosophy: Bentham to Russell, Part II, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1967; 270-271, 279; my emphases)

He specifically details Newman's opposition to rationalism:
He argues . . . that the rationalist conception of reasoning is far too narrow and does not square with the way in which people actually, and legitimately, think and reason in concrete issues. It must be remembered that his contention is that faith is reasonable, not that its content is logically deducible according to the model of mathematical demonstration.

(Ibid., 276; my emphases)
James M. Cameron weighs in on Cardinal Newman's Christian philosophical pedigree as well:

We are inclined simply to say that he is in the tradition of Augustine and Anselm. Credo ut intelligam is the pervading maxim of his thought and to love the truth, and thus to believe or to move towards belief, is to be filled with the Divine love. Again, we may see in him an anticipation of the Kierkegaardian doctrine of the leap of faith, a leap which presupposes a cognitive gap, as it were, between what we know and what we are called upon to believe.

("John Henry Newman: Apostle of Common Sense?," Faith and Reason, Winter 1989; my emphases)
Biographer Ian Ker highlights Newman's goal in his Grammar of Assent:

Newman insists that his purpose is not metaphysical, like that of the idealists who defend the certainty of knowledge against sceptical empiricists, but is 'of a practical character, such as that of Butler in his Analogy', namely, to ascertain the nature of inference and assent.

In the last analysis, then, the Grammar is not a 'metaphysical' work. But that does not mean it is a 'psychological' study. Rather, it is a philosophical analysis of that state of mind which we ordinarily call certitude or certainty and of the cognitive acts associated with it; and as such, it has come to be recognized as a classic by philosophers of religion.

(Ker, John Henry Newman: A Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988, 646, 649; my emphases)

It is in fact, Newman argues, the cumulation of probabilities, which cannot be reduced to a syllogism, that leads to certainty in the concrete. Many certitudes depend on informal proofs, whose reasoning is more or less implicit. As we view the objects of sense, so we grasp the proof of a concrete truth as a whole 'by a sort of instinctive perception of the legitimate conclusion in and through the premisses.' Such implicit reasoning is too personal for logic.

(Ibid., 645)


For much much more along these lines, see: Questions & Answers on Cardinal Newman's Philosophical & Epistemological Commitments (Contra Tim Enloe).

So it is obvious that it was not my statement, rightly understood, that was "embarrassing"; if anything, it was Caminus' ignorance about these issues and the last 150 years of development of Catholic epistemology that might be construed (in light of the above) as "embarrassing." But I actually wouldn't make that charge, myself (the previous sentence being merely a rhetorical "turning of the tables"), because I realize that not everyone has the time I have been blessed with, in pursuing my full-time apologetics apostolate and the writings and thought of Cardinal Newman and many others (currently, e.g., I am finishing up reading about 42 of G. K. Chesterton's non-fiction books, in preparation for my latest book: about ten of them for the second time through).

Caminus simply needs to get up to speed on some basic apologetic issues. I trust in time that he can and will do so (i.e., presuming that he is concerned with proclaiming and defending the faith to those who don't already hold it, rather than simply bashing fellow Catholics and Holy Mother Church). In the meantime, I'll get back to far more serious issues and let Caminus brush up on (or perhaps commence[?]) his reading of Cardinal Newman (I read Grammar of Assent 16 years ago and have applied its profoundly insightful principles to philosophical apologetics ever since) and St. Thomas Aquinas (in the past I had a web page devoted to him, too -- as well as to St. Augustine --, but had to cut down a bit on the number of pages I kept up).

In closing, I'd like to cite Pope St. Pius X (1908), who wrote of Venerable Cardinal Newman:

Incredible though it may appear, although it is not always realised, there are to be found those who are so puffed up with pride that it is enough to overwhelm the mind, and who are convinced that they are Catholics and pass themselves off as such, while in matters concerning the inner discipline of religion they prefer the authority of their own private teaching to the pre-eminent authority of the Magisterium of the Apostolic See. . . .

Truly, there is something about such a large quantity of work and his long hours of labour lasting far into the night that seems foreign to the usual way of theologians: nothing can be found to bring any suspicion about his faith. . . .

Would that they should follow Newman the author faithfully by studying his books without, to be sure, being addicted to their own prejudices, and let them not with wicked cunning conjure anything up from them or declare that their own opinions are confirmed in them; but instead let them understand his pure and whole principles, his lessons and inspiration which they contain. They will learn many excellent things from such a great teacher: in the first place, to regard the Magisterium of the Church as sacred, to defend the doctrine handed down inviolately by the Fathers and, what is of highest importance to the safeguarding of Catholic truth, to follow and obey the Successor of St. Peter with the greatest faith.

* * *

Caminus' attacks and various personal accusations continued in the discussion thread for this post; including the discussion of the apologetic vocation, as noted in the title. As one would expect, I offered a vigorous defense of the validity of my own vocation and occupation, citing many authoritative Church documents.

My Luther Book Blasted For Being Far Too Kind and Charitable to Luther / Pre-Vatican II Popes' Use of the Description "Separated Brethren"


I got a kick out of this comment directed towards my book about Martin Luther, from an anonymous "traditionalist" Catholic because the usual (equally false) charge I hear is that I am a "Luther-hater" or Luther-basher or "anti-Protestant" and so forth. Here is an example of that:
I’ve talked to other Lutherans who’ve been to Dave Armstrong’s place, and they tell me it’s a mix of 1) stuff we’ve always known - nobody ever claimed Luther was a saint!, and 2) a fair bit of slander, some demonstrably false. I’ve had Armstrong’s site mentioned to me by another Lutheran as “prime example of how low RC’s will stoop in misrepresenting the facts to smear protestants” and “really blatant, hate-blinded animosity towards Luther”. I’ll see if the guy making those particular comments is available to stop by, since they’re his comments not mine, but they’re my previous semi-familiarity with Armstrong’s site.

(18 March 2007)
And here is the present criticism, from the other extreme:
I just noticed the book on his website written by Mr. Armstrong himself that both criticizes and praises the arch-heretic Martin Luther. I seem to recall another recent thread where the arch-heretic Cardinal Kasper takes the same view of Luther. Depending on which day of the week it is, one can find Luther being critiqued or praised by any number of Vatican officials. This strange new humanist assessment replaces the consideration of things as they are in their essence, as they are in their formality, thus the heretic is not considered formally in the relation of their error to divine truth, but in a multi-faceted, irenic biography. This effort ignores traditional wisdom which states that a man is nothing more or less than what he is before God. It prescinds from the horrific effect that heresy has in the damnation of souls because the starting point is not theological but humanistic pandering. Simple meditation on the pains of hell ought to be enough to make any man realize that, at best, any endeavor to "praise" heretics is a waste of time and at worst the material cause in furthering the confusion of souls, emboldening heretics in their errors and contemning the authority of the Church.

(comment #44)
The truth, of course, is that I vigorously criticize the man's theology where it is deemed wrong by the Catholic Church (hence the muddleheaded charges of "Luther-hater"), and I rejoice in those parts of his theology where Luther retained Catholic views or else views not all that different from ours (hence the present criticism). Both approaches are entirely Catholic. Thus, critics of both extreme positions are wrong. It is often the case when someone is speaking truth, that he will be attacked from both sides. I think it's a very good sign!

Truth is truth, wherever it is found. If Luther said "2+2=4" he was correct, and it is true, whether he was a non-Catholic heretic or a left-handed, green-eyed, red-haired Rastafarian. When Luther says that baptism regenerates, he is correct, and praise God for it. When he affirms the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her Immaculate Conception, he is profoundly correct. When he opposes contraception he is again on the side of the angels (and more right than the vast majority of Protestants today). When he urges good works as the necessary proof of an authentic faith, he is even close to the Catholic organic connection between faith and works (almost despite his sola fide error).

* * * * *

Pope Leo XIII used the term "separated brethren" in his 1896 encyclical Adiutricem:

No better way is afforded of proving a fraternal feeling toward their separated brethren than to aid them by every means within their power to recover this, the greatest of all gifts. (19)
For that reason We say that the Rosary is by far the best prayer by which to plead before her the cause of our separated brethren. (27)
. . . and again in his 1898 encyclical Caritatis Studium (On the Church in Scotland):

The ardent charity which renders Us solicitous of Our separated brethren, in no wise permits Us to cease Our efforts to bring back to the embrace of the Good Shepherd those whom manifold error causes to stand aloof from the one Fold of Christ. Day after day We deplore more deeply the unhappy lot of those who are deprived of the fullness of the Christian Faith.
Pope Pius XI also used the term in his 1926 encyclical Rerum Ecclesiae. In the same sentence he refers to Protestant "errors". Both/and . . . They are brothers in Christ by virtue of their baptism, but they lack fullness and teach many errors.

Pope Pius XII follows course in his 1939 encyclical, Summi Pontificatus, even while blasting liberal Protestants for denying the divinity of Christ. He used it again in another encyclical of the same year: Sertum Laetitiae.

Pope John XXIII wrote in his 1959 Christmas message:
Nor do We wish to forget Our separated brethren for whom Our prayers rise unceasingly to Heaven so that the promise of Christ may be fulfilled: one Shepherd and one flock.
There had long been a less strict interpretation of salvation outside the Church (along the same ecumenical lines later developed by Vatican II), taught by St. Augustine (hence his view that Donatist schismatics need not be re-baptized), St. Thomas Aquinas, and many others. See my papers:

Brief Overview of the Vexed "No Salvation Outside the Church" Issue
Dialogue on "Salvation Outside the Church" and Alleged Catholic Magisterial Contradictions (Particularly in the Middle Ages; With Emphasis on St. Thomas Aquinas's Views)

Dialogue: Does "Salvation Outside the Church" Disprove Catholic Claims (By Internal Contradiction)?

The Catholic Church's View of Non-Catholic Christians (Karl Adam)

On Salvation Outside the Catholic Church (+ Discussion) (Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.)

* * * * *

The person continued his criticisms (in blue, with my replies in black):
Why does he posit a middle position between two supposed "extremes" regarding a position on Luther?

Because, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn noted, the line between good and evil runs through every human heart.

That makes no sense at all and he didn't comprehend my point.

That works both ways.

According to his new ecumenical, humanist approach, we should not condemn him with his errors,

Who ever said that, for heaven's sake? Two-thirds of the book is devoted to doing precisely this, in a vigorous manner unlike any other Catholic book on the topic in memory. I have the most extensive web page devoted to critiquing Luther from an orthodox Catholic perspective online today (I've never seen anything else remotely like it, speaking strictly in terms of its scope and comprehensiveness, from an apologetic Catholic perspective). It's easy to pillory straw men, but it would be nice if this person could portray my own opinions accurately. I doubt if he's even read the book (very few have!), but yet here he is blasting it without even knowing what he is talking about, or my long history of being condemned by anti-Catholic Protestants, Lutherans, and others, for being anti-Luther, not pro-Luther. Both positions are inaccurate, as explained.

expel him for his obstinate evil,

I don't think he was an evil man through and through, but a very flawed, mistaken, confused, sincere, passionate man. Yes, he was stubborn (like most of us), but whether this was outright obstinacy against what he knew to be true, no one can know for sure but God. I prefer to exercise the judgment of charity.

and hold him in universal contempt because he got some other things right.

Truth is truth, and insofar as non-Catholic Christians hold many Catholic truths, we should rejoice. Jesus was very happy with the Roman centurion, who wasn't even a practicing Jew, let alone a Christian. He said of him that He hadn't seen such faith in all of Israel.

Does he not see the psychological effect of his humanism?

I am no humanist, in the present-day definition. There is an acceptable historic Christian definition, applied to men like Erasmus and St. Thomas More. I would proudly accept that association.

We cannot say "he is an heretic, reject him, turn him over to Satan, cut off all communication" any longer,

He certainly was a heretic in any area where he disagreed with the Church. He was a heresiarch as well. I do my best to convince Lutherans and all other Protestants that they are in error and need to become Catholics, so as to have the fullness of truth and all the spiritual and theological benefits accruing from membership in the One True Church. I spend my time doing that virtually every day, as an apologist. I don't spend my time running down the Church and making out Protestants (or at least Martin Luther) to be evil, wicked, despicable creatures, fit only for destruction.

I can't please these "traditionalists" no matter what I do. They want to oppose the errors of Protestantism? Good heavens; arguably I do that as vigorously as any Catholic apologist alive today. I may not do a very good job, but at least I am out here giving it the old college try. I certainly have the "battle scars" to prove it! They will complain that someone needs to do that, yet they would much rather (if we observe how they choose to spend their time) bash the Catholic Church day in and day out. They won't (for the most part) engage in constructive Catholic apologetics and critique of non-Catholic belief-systems, and bash me when I do so, simply because I am also ecumenical, as all Christians ought to be. So I can't win for losing. I do far more than most of these people do, by way of defending Holy Mother Church; they won't do that; yet I get criticized.

I guess it is always the case that there will be many armchair quarterbacks, sitting on their butt criticizing what others are doing, while doing nothing or very little themselves, towards the end of persuading Protestants to become Catholics. If this person is doing so, I will take back these words, as related to him. He can easily direct me to some evidences that he is doing this. But as it is, I don't even know his name or anything about him (typical of the inane anonymous Internet culture that is rampant today).

we must carefully weigh both the good and the bad and come to a softer conclusion,

Just as our Lord Jesus did with the Roman centurion, St. Peter with the Gentile Cornelius, and St. Paul of unbelievers generally, in Romans 2 . . .

then suddenly his errors are held in a sort of equilibrium with his orthodox statements resulting in a much different psychological posture.

All I've said was that the man was sincere; he wasn't a self-consciously evil monster, and that he continued to hold many Catholic beliefs, or beliefs closely approaching same. But of course, he was heretical in many others, as I have documented and strongly critiqued: a thousand times more than this critic of mine will ever do in his entire lifetime. Several Lutherans have actually become Catholics, partially as a result of my work in this regard, so how far off can it be? How many Lutherans has this guy helped to convert?

If we were to take any arch-heretic from history and see how the Church reacted against them, since She considers the nature and essence of a thing, not merely it's accidental qualities, we will be implicitly informed as to how we should think. Take the example of the holy and ancient Fathers and their treatment of formal heretics. You won't find Mr. Armstrong's contrived "middle-of-the-road" position.

It's true that they were much harsher. But who's to say that the Church cannot understand a lot more in 15 more centuries about human motivations and psychology? Besides, the early heretics were not Christians. Protestants are a different story, because they are baptized, trinitarian Christians who share many things in common with us. So the analogy won't be perfect, when we are talking about Gnostics, Manichaeans, Arians, Monophysites, Sabellians, Nestorians, Monothelites, Marcionites, Montanists, etc.

And that is part of the problem today, the theoretical or speculative truth is assented to in the mind, but the praxis that flows from such knowledge is not also imitated.

I appeal to my apologetic career, as above. Who is this person to talk about Catholic behavior in terms of outreach to Protestants? I've done that consistently for 17 years: twelve of them online. I can point to hundreds of conversions, that give as part of their reason, my work. Where is his fruit? Yet he wants to judge me, with my record of vigilant apologetics, and being despised by all the active anti-Catholic apologists online as a "thanks" for my work? One can't help but see a great deal of humor in this.

The comment about Augustine's supposed "less strict" interpretation of EENS because he held that re-baptism was not necessary leaves me speechless.

He should go on to be "written-wordless" too; then he will have a better argument than he is presenting . . .

From the fact that re-baptism is not necessary it does not at all follow that salvation is found outside the Church.

I didn't say that salvation is found outside the Church. Of course it is not. I never claimed that it was. I've often affirmed this truth. It is a matter of how strictly one interprets the truth, which is what I stated, in the present context.

The issue of re-baptizing is not the result of a mere interpretation, admitting of lesser or greater degrees, but touches upon the nature of things as such and is universal dogmatic truth. The inference is also ignorant because he does not seem to be aware of Augustine's doctrine relating to the deprivation of sanctifying grace in sacraments administered outside the fold of the Church.

It was a limited analogy; I never claimed that St. Augustine would have held exactly the position of an ecumenist today. But it was a direction that was developed by other fathers and St. Thomas Aquinas. Karl Adam (in a portion of his writing I have on my site, listed above), took virtually the same position I espouse in 1924, in his wonderful book, The Spirit of Catholicism. This is not modernism, but solid Catholic teaching. But perhaps in my critic's eyes, Adam was a flaming liberal modernist, just as he (probably) thinks Pope John Paul the Great was, and as he seems to think I am.

All of this should provoke huge chuckles of glee and astonished guffaws in my many Protestant critics. I do enjoy the irony very much. I'm supposedly an "ultra-conservative, intolerant" old-fashioned, ultramontanist "Roman" Catholic and "liberal humanist, neo-Catholic" at the same time. I think it's marvelous. Opponents of the Catholic Church often simultaneously paint her in two contradictory, polar-opposite ways (as G. K. Chesterton noted at length in one of his books: Orthodoxy, if I'm not mistaken). I couldn't be more delighted that I am now subject to the same analysis.

To me, it is a strong confirmation that I am doing something right, that my critics so massively contradict each other. It's like those Three Stooges routines where the two bad guys are running around (with one arm absurdly in a suit coat or something) and keep butting heads and cancelling each other out. You gotta have some fun doing apologetics . . .

* * * * *

One of the owners of the board has made some marvelous comments over there, criticizing objectionable elements in a fellow "traditionalist's" (my critic's) ideas and approach (comment #69). This can only be a wonderful thing. Internal policing is what is gravely needed in these circles. Now, this person is someone I'd love to meet and have a beer with, and discuss important issues with, intelligently and cordially! Bravo! This makes my day:

His approach isn't "new," "ecumenical," or "humanist" in any bad sense of the word; it is Christian. We don't condemn people, we condemn error. We have no right to hold a person in "universal contempt," to pretend that a person is all bad or that we are all good, to act as Pharisees, and to disregard Truth simply because someone who's erred in other areas (as most of us do) speaks it.

We can definitely say someone is a manifest heretic (or a formal one, if he's been judged to be so by the Church), and we can protect ourselves from someone's evils, but we can't "turn him over to Satan," stop loving him, stop praying for him, and set ourselves as the all-good judgers of souls. It is precisely that sort of thing that some trads do that gives all trads a bad name.

Acknowledging any Truths Luther might have spoken doesn't necessarily lead to okaying worshiping in Lutheran "churches." And you will find "middle of the road" examples among the Fathers if, by "middle of the road" you mean recognizing Truth where it is spoken, no matter who speaks it.

* * * * *

Dave Armstrong simply adores anyone who agrees with him.

Note the sweeping intent of the characterization, implied in the present tense form and the use of "anyone." This is sheer nonsense. In fact, the truth is quite the opposite: I admire the person who can disagree constructive yet cordially (which is why I love true dialogues so much, as a socratic in methodology). I also admire one who has the courage to go against a person generally in or of his own party (like, e.g., they say about John McCain during this election season), for the sake of truth and what is right, and for the good of the other person as well. It is the nonconformity for the sake of truth, whatever the personal cost might be, that is admirable. That is what "made my day," not mere agreement, which would be a childish, egotistical thing. But I wouldn't have expected my critic to understand this; indeed, he did not in fact.

This comment reveals a stated prejudice against traditional catholics.

I don't see how, as it is quite common among "traditionalists" in my experience, to lament about the state of affairs in their own ranks (several statements along those lines were present in the very thread where my critic is writing). I'm only repeating what they themselves say. All it "reveals" is that I discovered a conscientious, "normal" "traditionalist" who doesn't have to engage in insult and knee-jerk thinking. All communities are in need of this kind of thing. It's only a matter of degree. I'd say the same about the apologetic sub-community. It needs policing and oversight, and I have done some of that myself.

Vox keeps a tight lid on those "objectionable elements" among that strange herd of people by "internal policing."

Sure didn't seem very tight in a recent scandalous incident . . .

He just can't seem to keep to the facts.

Of course.

If Vox and Dave can cite one work from any Father, Doctor or approved theologian that actually praises a formal heretic, then I'll concede the effort.

It's not required for me to prove my point, since I was only utilizing a loose, indirect analogy at best, not a perfect one. I could, however, easily produce many statements from the present Holy Father and the previous one, praising various Protestants (and I dare say that they are both "approved theologians": especially Pope Benedict XVI). That's so obvious that I don't even feel any particular need to take more of my time demonstrating it. Thus, by this fact, my opponent (if he admits the obvious) has conceded his point. Great. Now I can get back to my latest book and other pressing projects.

As it stands, since the object or end of such an endeavor is not really defined and I simply fail to see any possible good fruits that can come from such an endeavor, I'll stick to my opinions.

I think I'll faint with shock that my critic is unmoved.

* * * * *

Fish Eaters site owner "QuisUtDeus" produced an excellent patristic citation from St. Jerome that fufills what my critic was asking for, to the tee:
2. You tell me that many have been deceived by the mistaken teaching of Origen, and that that saintly man, my son Oceanus, is doing battle with their madness. I grieve to think that simple folk have been thrown off their balance, but I am rejoiced to know that one so learned as Oceanus is doing his best to set them right again. Moreover you ask me, insignificant though I am, for an opinion as to the advisability of reading Origen's works. Are we, you say, to reject him altogether with our brother Faustinus, or are we, as others tell us, to read him in part? My opinion is that we should sometimes read him for his learning just as we read Tertullian, Novatus, Arnobius, Apollinarius and some other church writers both Greek and Latin, and that we should select what is good and avoid what is bad in their writings according to the words of the Apostle, Prove all things: hold fast that which is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 Those, however, who are led by some perversity in their dispositions to conceive for him too much fondness or too much aversion seem to me to lie under the curse of the Prophet:Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20 For while the ability of his teaching must not lead us to embrace his wrong opinions, the wrongness of his opinions should not cause us altogether to reject the useful commentaries which he has published on the holy scriptures. But if his admirers and his detractors are bent on having a tug of war one against the other, and if, seeking no mean and observing no moderation, they must either approve or disapprove his works indiscriminately, I would choose rather to be a pious boor than a learned blasphemer. Our reverend brother, Tatian the deacon, heartily salutes you.

(Letter 62 to Tranquillinus; my emphases)
Quis observes (comment #75), contra my critic "Caminus":

I answered a specific question Caminus asked: "cite one work from any Father, Doctor or approved theologian that actually praises a formal heretic" . . .
Sounds like "middle-of-the-road" to me. St. Jerome was a Saint, a Doctor of the Church, and an expert (to say the least) on Scripture. Yet here he is saying there may be something profitable from reading heretics.

What about Plato and Aristotle? They were pagans. Should we hold them in universal contempt? St. Albert the Great and St. Thomas didn't think so.

Here's the deal - just because someone sins or does bad things doesn't mean they are incapable of the truth or should be ignored completely. What they say and write should be taken for what they say and write - some will be good, some will be evil.

Luther was clearly the scum of the earth. If anyone is to read anything by him, they should surely be cautious in the manner St. Jerome describes. But to say that Luther should be dismissed out-of-hand because he was a formal heretic is Caminus' opinion and is certainly not the way the Doctors of the Church and the historical Church operates.

Caminus, undaunted and unaware that his challenge was abundantly met, continues on:

. . . there is no parity between Origen who was actually a learned man who gave a great many good commentaries and Luther who was a festering heretic who simply affirmed some things that were already a doctrine of the Church. Writing a book to praise a formally condemned heretic is a far different scenario than the wise St. Jerome using the works of Origen to further understand the Scriptures.

Of course, I didn't write my book solely or even primarily "to praise a formally condemned heretic." What I did was devote the first two-thirds of it to a blistering critique, and the last third to an ecumenical acknowledgment of some common ground between Luther, Lutherans, and Catholics. What's true is true (it can't be stated often enough). Claiming something isn't true or less true depending on who states it is the genetic fallacy.

Anyone at Fish Eaters who wants to read my book and see for themselves whether I soft-pedalled Luther's many heresies can have it for free in Word or PDF format. All they need to do is write to me and I'll send them a copy. Or they can simply read some of my many critical papers on my Luther and Lutheranism web page.

* * * * *

Quis continues (comment #84):

You asked for an example of a Doctor of the Church praising a formal heretic, and I gave you one. Are you going to qualify it now because someone came up with one?

Well, here is a problem with the way you frame that. St. Jerome despised Origen as a heretic and wrote tons against him; so the scenario isn't all that different. Yet St. Jerome still says that we shouldn't throw away Origen on account of his errors. [cites St. Jerome's Letter 84 to Pammachius and Oceanus]

I don't know what Armstrong has in that book, and I really doubt I would agree with it, but your argument is more alarming to me especially when you use the Fathers and the Doctors to make your point even though they have said the opposite of what you propose.

The Fathers and Doctors, being of good-will, education, piety, and a desire for the truth didn't throw away someone's writings wholesale, nor the writer, even though they vehemently disagreed with them. You suggest they threw every heretic and every heretical writing to the fires of hell without compromise or admitting the heretics had qualities, but that isn't the case at all.