Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Antidote to John Calvin's Institutes (IV,7:25-30) [Pope as Antichrist & God / Bad Popes & Defectibility / Pope John XXII & Beatific Vision]

See the introduction and links to all installments at the top of my John Calvin, Calvinism, and General Protestantism web page; also the online version of the Institutes. Calvin's words will be in blue throughout. All biblical citations (in my portions) will be from RSV unless otherwise noted.

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Book IV



25. Proof from Daniel and Paul that the Pope is Antichrist.

To some we seem slanderous and petulant, when we call the Roman Pontiff Antichrist.

Why would anyone ever get that impression?

But those who think so perceive not that they are bringing a charge of intemperance against Paul, after whom we speak, nay, in whose very words we speak.

Paul speaks of the Antichrist, but never argues that the Church will be completely overtaken by him.

But lest any one object that Paul’s words have a different meaning, and are wrested by us against the Roman Pontiff, I will briefly show that they can only be understood of the Papacy. Paul says that Antichrist would sit in the temple of God (2 Thess. 2:4).

He also says in the same passage that he will be "proclaiming himself to be God." No pope has ever claimed that. If Calvin thinks otherwise, surely it is easy enough to document this. But he doesn't, for some odd reason. If all that "proof" means is bare assertion with no documentation, then anyone could prove anything. Everything we claimed would be established simply in proclaiming it.

In another passage, the Spirit, portraying him in the person of Antiochus, says that his reign would be with great swelling words of vanity (Dan. 7:25). Hence we infer that his tyranny is more over souls than bodies, a tyranny set up in opposition to the spiritual kingdom of Christ.

How does this prove that he is the pope? Calvin assumes what he needs to prove. It's pathetic. How could he fail to be embarrassed by such non-argument masqueraded as "proof"?

Then his nature is such, that he abolishes not the name either of Christ or the Church, but rather uses the name of Christ as a pretext, and lurks under the name of Church as under a mask. But though all the heresies and schisms which have existed from the beginning belong to the kingdom of Antichrist, yet when Paul foretells that defection will come, he by the description intimates that that seat of abomination will be erected, when a kind of universal defection comes upon the Church, though many members of the Church scattered up and down should continue in the true unity of the faith. But when he adds, that in his own time, the mystery of iniquity, which was afterwards to be openly manifested, had begun to work in secret, we thereby understand that this calamity was neither to be introduced by one man, nor to terminate in one man (see Calv. in 2 Thess. 2:3; Dan. 7:9). Moreover, when the mark by which he distinguishes Antichrist is, that he would rob God of his honour and take it to himself, he gives the leading feature which we ought to follow in searching out Antichrist; especially when pride of this description proceeds to the open devastation of the Church. Seeing then it is certain that the Roman Pontiff has impudently transferred to himself the most peculiar properties of God and Christ,

Really? How so? Have popes claimed to be eternal or omniscient or omnipotent or omnipresent or outside of time? Did they claim to have created the world? Etc., etc. Those are the "most peculiar properties of God and Christ" and so anyone claiming to be God would have to make some allusion to them. They would talk, in other words, as Jesus did. But this has never happened. Thus, Calvin is flailing away, saying words that have no content or application to the matter at hand.

there cannot be a doubt that he is the leader and standard-bearer of an impious and abominable kingdom.

That is undeniably true of Antichrist. Calvin has not shown in the slightest degree that the Antichrist will be a pope or collection of popes.

26. Rome could not now claim the primacy, even though she had formerly been the first See, especially considering the base trafficking in which she has engaged.

Let the Romanists now go and oppose us with antiquity;

Yes, we will certainly do so, because that is a slam-dunk argument for our side.

as if, amid such a complete change in every respect, the honour of the See can continue where there is no See.

Calvin has by no means proven that there was a "complete change in every respect". The more extreme and ridiculous he gets in making his groundless claims, the less he even makes a pretense of providing factual substantiation. One feels like a clueless fool even reading this; it is an insult to every reader of intelligence (not just Catholics).

Eusebius says that God, to make way for his vengeance, transferred the Church which was at Jerusalem to Pella (Euseb. Lib. 3 cap. 5). What we are told was once done may have been done repeatedly. Hence it is too absurd and ridiculous so to fix the honour of the primacy to a particular spot,

Why would that be, given that Jerusalem was one "spot" and was the center of God's Kingdom on earth for many hundreds of years?

so that he who is in fact the most inveterate enemy of Christ, the chief adversary of the Gospel, the greatest devastator and waster of the Church, the most cruel slayer and murderer of the saints, should be, nevertheless, regarded as the vicegerent of Christ, the successor of Peter, the first priest of the Church, merely because he occupies what was formerly the first of all sees.

If it was formerly "first of all sees," then when did it cease to be so, and why? None of this is argued; it is assumed (which is circular logic). Calvin makes all these outlandish claims without demonstrating any of them.

I do not say how great the difference is between the chancery of the Pope and well-regulated order in the Church; although this one fact might well set the question at rest. For no man of sound mind will include the episcopate in lead and bulls, much less in that administration of captions and circumscriptions, in which the spiritual government of the Pope is supposed to consist. It has therefore been elegantly said, that that vaunted Roman Church was long ago converted into a temporal court, the only thing which is now seen at Rome.

What year did this momentous change take place? When did the Holy Spirit entirely depart from the Roman See?

I am not here speaking of the vices of individuals, but demonstrating that the Papacy itself is diametrically opposed to the ecclesiastical system.

"Demonstrating" is the very last word that would apply to this contentless, slanderous mishmash and gobbledygook. I'd much rather gaze at Luther's vulgar woodcuts than read this supposed "argument" from an ostensibly intelligent man. At least the woodcuts weren't making any pretense to rational argument. They are sheer mockery.

27. Personal character of Popes. Irreligious opinions held by some of them.

But if we come to individuals, it is well known what kind of vicars of Christ we shall find. No doubt, Julius and Leo, and Clement and Paul, will be pillars of the Christian faith, the first interpreters of religion, though they knew nothing more of Christ than they had learned in the school of Lucian. But why give the names of three or four pontiffs? as if there were any doubt as to the kind of religion professed by pontiffs, with their College of Cardinals, and professors, in the present day. The first head of the secret theology which is in vogue among them is, that there is no God.

Then (assuming Calvin is correct, as he offers no hard evidence, as usual) they would certainly enshrine such an opinion in Catholic theology, and proclaim it. Why, then, doesn't Calvin document when that occurred? Obviously, he cannot, because it never happened. Catholic dogma is firmly theistic (I can assure all worried readers). If it had actually happened, that would actually be a rational argument and something Calvin could hang his hat on. The Catholic Church would have declared a lie to be the truth (as the Episcopalians today and other liberal Protestant denominations often do). But corrupt popes (atheists, whoremongers, murderers, etc.) hardly cast doubt on the institution, since Christ established it. All corruption proves is that men are sinners, which is elementary Christian teaching. Peter denied Christ after he was commissioned as the Rock and first pope.

Another, that whatever things have been written and are taught concerning Christ are lies and imposture.

This would be another compelling proof for Calvin's case, were he to trouble himself to document that it had ever been taught with papal authority.

A third, that the doctrine of a future life and final resurrection is a mere fable.

And where does that appear in any papal pronouncement?

All do not think, few speak thus; I confess it.

A few holdouts; who are they?

Yet it is long since this began to be the ordinary religion of pontiffs;

Which ones? What did they teach?

and though the thing is notorious to all who know Rome, Roman theologians cease not to boast that by special privilege our Saviour has provided that the Pope cannot err, because it was said to Peter, “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not”(Luke 22:32).

That's right; when binding the faithful to dogmas on faith and morals; they are guided by the Holy Spirit. It was never promised that they would be perfect human beings, or that no "bad popes" would ever hold office.

What, pray, do they gain by their effrontery, but to let the whole world understand that they have reached the extreme of wickedness, so as neither to fear God nor regard man?

The Church needed reform then; it does now; it always does. Human beings always need to repent, and revival is necessary at all times. But "reform" and revival is not destruction, abandonment, annihilation, or essential reconstruction, which was Calvin's program.

28. John XXII. heretical in regard to the immortality of the soul. His name, therefore, ought to be expunged from the catalogue of Popes, or rather, there is no foundation for the claim of perpetuity of faith in the Roman See.

But let us suppose that the iniquity of these pontiffs whom I have mentioned is not known, as they have not published it either in sermons or writings, but betrayed it only at table or in their chamber, or at least within the walls of their court.

Okay; much better . . .

But if they would have the privilege which they claim to be confirmed, they must expunge from their list of pontiffs John XXII., who publicly maintained that the soul is mortal, and perishes with the body till the day of resurrection.

The pope denied that souls would behold the Beatific Vision prior to the Last Judgment. He also appeared to assert the notion of soul sleep, which was posited by a few fathers. This was the position that Martin Luther adopted, or came close to espousing. It had already been condemned by the Councils of Lyons (1274), and later by Florence (1439) and Trent (1545-1563). But the pope did not bind the faithful to it dogmatically (which is what the Church claims as to infallibility). The Catholic Encyclopedia explains:
In the last years of John's pontificate there arose a dogmatic conflict about the Beatific Vision, which was brought on by himself, and which his enemies made use of to discredit him. Before his elevation to the Holy See, he had written a work on this question, in which he stated that the souls of the blessed departed do not see God until after the Last Judgment. After becoming pope, he advanced the same teaching in his sermons. In this he met with strong opposition, many theologians, who adhered to the usual opinion that the blessed departed did see God before the Resurrection of the Body and the Last Judgment, even calling his view heretical. A great commotion was aroused in the University of Paris when the General of the Minorites and a Dominican tried to disseminate there the pope's view. Pope John wrote to King Philip IV on the matter (November, 1333), and emphasized the fact that, as long as the Holy See had not given a decision, the theologians enjoyed perfect freedom in this matter. In December, 1333, the theologians at Paris, after a consultation on the question, decided in favour of the doctrine that the souls of the blessed departed saw God immediately after death or after their complete purification; at the same time they pointed out that the pope had given no decision on this question but only advanced his personal opinion, and now petitioned the pope to confirm their decision. John appointed a commission at Avignon to study the writings of the Fathers, and to discuss further the disputed question. In a consistory held on 3 January, 1334, the pope explicitly declared that he had never meant to teach aught contrary to Holy Scripture or the rule of faith and in fact had not intended to give any decision whatever. Before his death he withdrew his former opinion, and declared his belief that souls separated from their bodies enjoyed in heaven the Beatific Vision.

("Pope John XXII")
And to show you that the whole See with its chief props then utterly fell, none of the Cardinals opposed his madness, only the Faculty of Paris urged the king to insist on a recantation.

That has no bearing on papal infallibility, so it is neither here nor there. The important thing was that there were many in the Church who directed the pope to eventually be persuaded of his error. That's perfectly Catholic.

The king interdicted his subjects from communion with him, unless he would immediately recant, and published his interdict in the usual way by a herald. Thus necessitated, he abjured his error. This example relieves me from the necessity of disputing further with my opponents, when they say that the Roman See and its pontiffs cannot err in the faith, from its being said to Peter, “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.”

It proves nothing, because the notion of papal infallibility was never absolute. It specifically referred to extraordinary papal utterances. This instance was not that, because the pope had made no public, binding decree. It was strictly his private opinion. This distinction was made very clear in, for example, St. Francis de Sales' work, The Catholic Controversy, written around 1596: just 37 or so years after Calvin's final edition of the Institutes:
When he teaches the whole Church as shepherd, in general matters of faith and morals, then there is nothing but doctrine and truth. And in fact everything a king says is not a law or an edict, but that only which a king says as king and as a legislator. So everything the Pope says is not canon law or of legal obligation; he must mean to define and to lay down the law for the sheep, and he must keep the due order and form .

We must not think that in everything and everywhere his judgment is infallible, but then only when he gives judgment on a matter of faith in questions necessary to the whole Church; for in particular cases which depend on human fact he can err, there is no doubt, though it is not for us to control him in these cases save with all reverence, submission, and discretion. Theologians have said, in a word, that he can err in questions of fact, not in questions of right; that he can err extra cathedram, outside the chair of Peter, that is, as a private individual, by writings and bad example.

But he cannot err when he is in cathedra, that is, when he intends to make an instruction and decree for the guidance of the whole Church, when he means to confirm his brethren as supreme pastor, and to conduct them into the pastures of the faith. For then it is not so much man who determines, resolves, and defines as it is the Blessed Holy Spirit by man, which Spirit, according to the promise made by Our Lord to the Apostles, teaches all truth to the Church.

(translated by Henry B. Mackey, Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books, 1989, 306-307)
Certainly by this shameful lapse he fell from the faith,

Not at all; he was wrong about a private opinion having to do with an "anthropological" and eschatological question, not salvation or Christology, etc. The Mind of the Church prevailed. It's a non-issue. But when it is distorted it makes for good copy, so Calvin exploits it in his usual sophistical fashion. Did Martin Luther "fall from the faith" when he asserted soul-sleep? That would be a fascinating scenario indeed, if the founder of Lutheranism and the entire "Reformation" was not even within the bounds of the Christian "faith".

and became a noted proof to posterity, that all are not Peters who succeed Peter in the episcopate; although the thing is too childish in itself to need an answer: for if they insist on applying everything that was said to Peter to the successors of Peter, it will follow, that they are all Satans, because our Lord once said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me.”

Yes, exactly; when Peter opposed Jesus going to Jerusalem, he was speaking by the influence of Satan. That has nothing to do with the charism of infallibility, either.

It is as easy for us to retort the latter saying as for them to adduce the former.

It is easy to say, but that makes it neither logical nor relevant.

29. Some Roman Pontiffs atheists, or sworn enemies of religion. Their immoral lives. Practice of the Cardinals and Romish clergy.

But I have no pleasure in this absurd mode of disputation,

It's good that Calvin regards his own arguments as absurd. That's progress (yes, I know he is referring to the reductio ad absurdum). And we readers have no more pleasure than he has, except to see that he is deservedly refuted.

and therefore return to the point from which I digressed. To fix down Christ and the Holy Spirit and the Church to a particular spot,

Who ever said that Christ and the Holy Spirit were the sole associates of the popes and no one else? This is returning "to the point"? What point, pray tell? The only "point" is that Calvin is again thinking illogically.

so that every one who presides in it, should he be a devil, must still be deemed vicegerent of Christ, and the head of the Church, because that spot was formerly the See of Peter, is not only impious and insulting to Christ, but absurd and contrary to common sense.

It's not at all. It is a scandal; bad popes are hypocrites and cause misery and grief, for sure, but it is not unexpected that any office would have some bad inhabitants.

For a long period, the Roman Pontiffs have either been altogether devoid of religion, or been its greatest enemies. The see which they occupy, therefore, no more makes them the vicars of Christ, than it makes an idol to become God, when it is placed in the temple of God (
2 Thess. 2:4). Then, if manners be inquired into, let the Popes answer for themselves, what there is in them that can make them be recognised for bishops.

Apostolic succession, and possession of an office instituted by Jesus Christ. Calvin seems to have forgotten his own words in IV,1:27, or else he is arbitrarily excluding popes from the same scenario that he himself applied to entire churches in the apostolic period:

What shall we say to the fact, that occasionally whole churches have been implicated in the grossest sins, and yet Paul, instead of giving them over to destruction, rather mercifully extricated them? The defection of the Galatians was no trivial fault; the Corinthians were still less excusable, the iniquities prevailing among them being more numerous and not less heinous, yet neither are excluded from the mercy of the Lord. Nay, the very persons who had sinned above others in uncleanness and fornication are expressly invited to repentance.

The covenant of the Lord remains, and ever will remain, inviolable, that covenant which he solemnly ratified with Christ the true Solomon, and his members, in these words: “If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him” (
Ps. 89:30-33).
Part of the New Covenant was Jesus' commissioning of Peter and the popes to lead His Church, and Jesus promised that it would not fail, nor would the gates of hell prevail against it. Therefore, the office of the papacy is no more able to be abolished than the Old Covenant could have been, despite David's adultery and murder. Calvin eloquently refutes himself in IV,1:28:
Then how is David, who was so well instructed in the Law, to be excused by ignorance? Did David, who was daily punishing it in others, not know how heinous a crime murder and adultery was? Did the patriarchs deem fratricide a lawful act? Had the Corinthians made so little proficiency as to imagine that God was pleased with lasciviousness, impurity, whoredom, hatred, and strife? Was Peter, after being so carefully warned, ignorant how heinous it was to forswear his Master? Therefore, let us not by our malice shut the door against the divine mercy, when so benignly manifested.
First, the mode of life at Rome, while they not only connive and are silent, but also tacitly approve, is altogether unworthy of bishops, whose duty it is to curb the licence of the people by the strictness of discipline. But I will not be so rigid with them as to charge them with the faults of others. But when they with their household, with almost the whole College of Cardinals, and the whole body of their clergy, are so devoted to wickedness, obscenity, uncleanness, iniquity, and crime of every description, that they resemble monsters more than men, they herein betray that they are nothing less than bishops.

If they aren't bishops, then how could the corrupt, decadent Corinthians, Galatians, and the seven churches of Revelation still be churches? By Calvin's reasoning, they would cease to be that, on the same grounds that he wishes to deny that status to the group of Christians and popes in Rome. But he can't do so because Jesus Christ Himself and St. Paul continued to call them "churches." Therefore, Calvin's reasoning against the continuance of the papacy is fallacious and must be discarded, on the basis of compelling biblical analogy.

They need not fear that I will make a farther disclosure of their turpitude. For it is painful to wade through such filthy mire, and I must spare modest ears. But I think I have amply demonstrated what I proposed—viz. that though Rome was formerly the first of churches, she deserves not in the present day to be regarded as one of her minutest members.

I guess, then, that Rome was, in Calvin's eyes, what Zwingli and other Protestant "reformers" were in Luther's eyes. In his work, Brief Confession Concerning the Holy Sacrament, written in September 1544, after all, Luther describes Zwingli, Karlstadt, Oecolampadius, and Caspar Schwenkfeld as men who are guilty of “blasphemies and deceitful heresy” (Luther's Works, 39, 288), and who were “loathsome fanatics” (39, 291), “murderers of souls” (39, 296), who “possess a bedeviled, thoroughly bedeviled, hyper-bedeviled heart and lying tongue” (39, 296), and who “have incurred their penalty and are committing ‘sin which is mortal’,” (39, 296), “blasphemers and enemies of Christ” (39, 302), and “God’s and our condemned enemies” (39, 316). He described Zwingli as a “full-blown heathen” (39, 290), and wrote: “I am certain that Zwingli, as his last book testifies, died in a great many sins and in blasphemy of God” (39, 302-303)

That sounds just about like the ancient Corinthian and Galatian churches, and scarcely distinguishable from how Calvin describes Rome and the popes. Things remain the same as they always were. Men sin. The point is that sin can be found anywhere and everywhere, so that if the presence of sin eliminates the presence of a church or a bishop or indeed, a Christian at all, then there are virtually no churches or bishops or Christians. Since that proves too much, one must return to the premise and see what went wrong.

30. Cardinals were formerly merely presbyters of the Roman Church, and far inferior to bishops. As they now are, they have no true and legitimate office in the Church. Conclusion.
In regard to those whom they call Cardinals, I know not how it happened that they rose so suddenly to such a height.

I would ask Calvin, too, how he achieved such an exalted position? By what authority and credentials?

In the age of Gregory, the name was applied to bishops only (Gregor. Lib. 2 Ep. 15, 77, 79; Ep. 6, 25). For whenever he makes mention of cardinals, he assigns them not only to the Roman Church, but to every other church, so that, in short, a Cardinal priest is nothing else than a bishop.

And that is how it is now.

I do not find the name among the writers of a former age. I see, however, that they were inferior to bishops, whom they now far surpass. There is a well-known passage in Augustine: “Although, in regard to terms of honour which custom has fixed in the Church, the office of bishop is greater than that of presbyter, yet in many things, Augustine is inferior to Jerome” (August. ad Hieron. Ep. 19). Here, certainly, he is not distinguishing a presbyter of the Roman Church from other presbyters, but placing all of them alike after bishops. And so strictly was this observed, that at the Council of Carthage, when two legates of the Roman See were present, one a bishop, and the other a presbyter, the latter was put in the lowest place. But not to dwell too much on ancient times, we have account of a Council held at Rome, under Gregory, at which the presbyters sit in the lowest place, and subscribe by themselves, while deacons do not subscribe at all. And, indeed, they had no office at that time, unless to be present under the bishop, and assist him in the administration of word and sacraments. So much is their lot now changed, that they have become associates of kings and Cæsars. And there can be no doubt that they have grown gradually with their head, until they reached their present pinnacle of dignity. This much it seemed proper to say in passing, that my readers may understand how very widely the Roman See, as it now exists, differs from the ancient See, under which it endeavours to cloak and defend itself.

Some of this might be seen as a legitimate abuse to be decried; granted. Power corrupts, and that strong tendency can sometimes be in the Church as well. If it weren't for God's special grace upon the Catholic Church, these things would be a lot worse than they were throughout history.

But whatever they were formerly, as they have no true and legitimate office in the Church, they only retain a colour and empty mask; nay, as they are in all respects the opposite of true ministers, the thing which Gregory so often writes must, of necessity, have befallen them. His words are, “Weeping, I say, groaning, I declare it; when the sacerdotal order has fallen within, it cannot long stand without” (Gregor. Lib. 4 Ep. 55, 56; Lib. 5 Ep. 7). Nay, rather what Malachi says of such persons must be fulfilled in them: “Ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts. Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people” (Mal. 2:8, 9). I now leave all the pious to judge what the supreme pinnacle of the Roman hierarchy must be, to which the Papists, with nefarious effrontery, hesitate not to subject the word of God itself, that word which should be venerable and holy in earth and heaven, to men and angels.

However corrupt it was, there was no justification for splitting the Church and concluding that the Catholic Church no longer was what it always was, and always will be. It is obvious that the Church did reform itself in the latter part of the 16th century. If it was capable of profound reform, then it wasn't dead. And by the same token, Protestant history provides no grounds for anyone to plausibly hold that Protestants somehow picked up the ball from the alleged ruins of the Catholic Church and became some new pseudo-Church, defined differently from the historic definition of "Church."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Antidote to John Calvin's Institutes (IV,7:22-24) [Corruption = Ditch the Papacy? / St. Bernard a Protestant? / Papal Defectibility?]


The seven churches of Revelation, located in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey)

See the introduction and links to all installments at the top of my John Calvin, Calvinism, and General Protestantism web page; also the online version of the Institutes. Calvin's words will be in blue throughout. All biblical citations (in my portions) will be from RSV unless otherwise noted.

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Book IV



22. The abuses of which Gregory and Bernard complained now increased and sanctioned.

Note the implied circular argument of the title: "these great figures complained, and so this proves the papacy itself was a corruption" (as Calvin believes and is strenuously arguing throughout this chapter). But as we have seen, Pope St. Gregory the Great and St. Bernard of Clairvaux were firm believers in papal supremacy. Obviously, then, whatever excesses or shortcomings occurred in practice, they did not arrive at Calvin's conclusion, and so remain far more "Catholic witnesses" than "Protestant" ones. This happens time and again in the desperate Protestant appeal to (revisionist) history.

But that I may not be forced to discuss and follow out each point singly, I again appeal to those who, in the present day, would be thought the best and most faithful defenders of the Roman See, whether they are not ashamed to defend the existing state of the Papacy, which is clearly a hundred times more corrupt than in the days of Gregory and Bernard, though even then these holy men were so much displeased with it.

The office is not overthrown by corruption, since it was instituted by Christ and will be preserved by Him. In earlier sections of his Book IV (1:13-17, 1:24-29, and 2:1), Calvin understood full well the distinction between permanent office and corrupt individual officeholder, but for some reason he doesn't apply that to the papacy, which he wants to eliminate.

Gregory everywhere complains (Lib. 1 Ep. 5; item, Ep. 7, 25, &c.) that he was distracted above measure by foreign occupations: that under colour of the episcopate he was taken back to the world, being subject to more worldly cares than he remembered to have ever had when a laic; that he was so oppressed by the trouble of secular affairs, as to be unable to raise his mind to things above; that he was so tossed by the many billows of causes, and afflicted by the tempests of a tumultuous life, that he might well say, “I am come into the depths of the sea.” It is certain, that amid these worldly occupations, he could teach the people in sermons, admonish in private, and correct those who required it; order the Church, give counsel to his colleagues, and exhort them to their duty. Moreover, some time was left for writing, and yet he deplores it as his calamity, that he was plunged into the very deepest sea. If the administration at that time was a sea, what shall we say of the present Papacy?

So for Calvin, corruption gets worse and worse till he feels compelled to throw out the "baby" (the office of the papacy) with the corrupt "bathwater" of abuses of individual popes. This is very shoddy (and quite unbiblical) reasoning.

For what resemblance is there between the periods? Now there are no sermons, no care for discipline, no zeal for churches, no spiritual function; nothing, in short, but the world.

All is extremes, in Calvin's eyes.

And yet this labyrinth is lauded as if nothing could be found better ordered and arranged. What complaints also does Bernard pour forth, what groans does he utter, when he beholds the vices of his own age?

That's because Bernard was a real reformer, not a bogus one like Calvin, who "reforms" by eliminating institutions and doctrines that had been believed continuously by the Church for nearly 1500 years.

What then would he have done on beholding this iron, or, if possible, worse than iron, age of ours?

The same as he did when he lived: call for repentance and reform of the papacy: not abolishing it. Is Calvin foolish enough to actually think otherwise? We've already documented how St. Bernard was a solid supporter of the supremacy of the papacy (IV, 7:18-21). There had been several periods at least as decadent and corrupt as the 16th century. They didn't cause saints to proceed as Luther and Calvin did, with their bulldozers and theological / ecclesiological demolition crews.

How dishonest, therefore, not only obstinately to defend as sacred and divine what all the saints have always with one mouth disapproved, but to abuse their testimony in favour of the Papacy, which, it is evident, was altogether unknown to them?

This is a masterpiece of sophistical redefinition. In the first place, no true Catholic reformer or defender will disagree about the corruptions that St. Bernard decries, and it is dishonest to pretend that they would. Catholics then and now defend the office and institution of the papacy, while detesting any sins committed by individual popes. What is so difficult to comprehend about that? But for Calvin, corruption is the essence of a thing (at least of any and all Catholic things), as long as its degree reaches a point where Calvin has had enough, and is willing to ludicrously overreact by equating a thing with its excesses, and thus, discarding it.

By the same token, manifest excesses the new denominational, sectarian system brought about by Luther's appeal to individual subjectivism (always, of course, piously cloaked in the language of "Scripture Alone" and "perspicuous Scripture") -- that Luther and Calvin both abominated -- would mean that Protestantism should be discarded because of its internal corruptions (or consistent developments that bring into question original premises). But no corruption in his system is enough to get Calvin to even question it, let alone call for its abolition. Any corruption of practice in Catholicism, on the other hand, is sufficient to call for drastic measures.

Although I admit, in respect to the time of Bernard, that all things were so corrupt as to make it not unlike our own.

How convenient. St. Bernard did not at all arrive at the conclusion that Calvin did, so why does he keep citing him? I submit that it is because he thinks he can make rhetorical and sophistical hay out of citing the Great Man, even though his views do not ultimately support Calvin's mission. Calvin cleverly acts as if the contrary is the case, and that St. Bernard, were he alive in Calvin's time, would be magically transformed into a good Protestant (just like all Calvinists absurdly think would be the case with St. Augustine).

But it betrays a want of all sense of shame to seek any excuse from that middle period—namely, from that of Leo, Gregory, and the like—for it is just as if one were to vindicate the monarchy of the Cæsars by lauding the ancient state of the Roman empire; in other words, were to borrow the praises of liberty in order to eulogise tyranny.

But this argument works at cross-purposes to Calvin's aim: to show the essential illegitimacy of the papacy, so that it could be eliminated. He himself argues that the Church can stand corruption in its boundaries without ceasing to be what it is. But he won't allow the same state of affairs for the papacy. The papacy was either instituted by Christ or it was not. Catholics provide many arguments affirming that indeed it was. Calvin deals with those in only a grossly inadequate, dismissively cursory fashion. But that is where the heart of the dispute lies. Calvin thinks that the papacy of his time was to the papacy of Leo's and Gregory's time, like the late Roman emperors were to the original Roman Republic (i.e., a thoroughgoing corruption). But he has yet to remotely demonstrate this. It sounds good (to his fan club and cheerleaders, then and now), but he hasn't proven it.

23. The fifth and last part of the chapter, containing the chief answer to the claims of the Papacy—viz. that the Pope is not a bishop in the house of God. This answer confirmed by an enumeration of the essential parts of the episcopal office.

Lastly, Although all these things were granted, an entirely new question arises, when we deny that there is at Rome a Church in which privileges of this nature can reside; when we deny that there is a bishop to sustain the dignity of these privileges. Assume, therefore, that all these things are true (though we have already extorted the contrary from them), that Peter was by the words of Christ constituted head of the universal Church, and that the honour thus conferred upon him he deposited in the Roman See, that this was sanctioned by the authority of the ancient Church, and confirmed by long use; that supreme power was always with one consent devolved by all on the Roman Pontiff,

What Calvin wants to assume for the sake of argument, is in fact, true.

that while he was the judge of all causes and all men, he was subject to the judgment of none.

Popes could be, and were, rebuked, by saints and ecumenical councils. But it doesn't follow that they were not supreme in authority.

Let even more be conceded to them if they will, I answer, in one word, that none of these things avail if there be not a Church and a Bishop at Rome. They must of necessity concede to me that she is not a mother of churches who is not herself a church, that he cannot be the chief of bishops who is not himself a bishop.

This is fallaciously ingenious as well: simply declare out of the blue that there is no longer either a church or a bishop at Rome, and Catholicism collapses by default. What God had preserved and blessed all those years, suddenly no longer is. God changed His mind; so Calvin would have us believe. That's a pretty amazing thing for a sovereign, omniscient, foreknowing Being to do.

Would they then have the Apostolic See at Rome?

The bottom line and heart of the matter is not what human beings want, but what God willed and protected and preserved.

Let them give me a true and lawful apostleship.

That is true which has preserved the handed-down teaching. Catholicism fully did that; Protestantism did only in part. This was why the Church rejected Luther's new plan for what Christianity supposedly was.

Would they have a supreme pontiff, let them give me a bishop. But how? Where will they show me any semblance of a church? They, no doubt, talk of one, and have it ever in their mouths. But surely the Church is recognised by certain marks, and bishopric is the name of an office.

That's correct. And one of the major marks is orthodoxy and continuity of Tradition. The Church is (as the Nicene Creed states) "one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic." Calvin wants to get rid of the "apostolic" mark by redefining it ("apostolic" is now what Calvin and his ilk say it is, rather than what the Fathers and unbroken Tradition of the Church decree). "Catholic" means universal. It is a farce to view Protestantism as in any way "universal." As Luther cried, "there are as many sects as there are heads." How can that be "universal"? Protestants couldn't agree amongst themselves from the beginning and this has always been the case. That bears upon the mark of oneness as well. As for "holy," Luther admitted that Protestants were no holier than Catholics, so they had no advantage there, either. Protestantism thus fails to possess the true marks of the Church, as Catholicism possesses.

I am not now speaking of the people but of the government, which ought perpetually to be conspicuous in the Church. Where, then, is a ministry such as the institution of Christ requires?

In the same place where it was in the seven churches of the book of Revelation, where there was all kinds of corruption (by Christ's own report), yet our Lord Jesus still referred to them as "churches" didn't He? So God does it one way, Calvin a much different way.

Let us remember what was formerly said of the duty of presbyters and bishops. If we bring the office of cardinals to that test, we will acknowledge that they are nothing less than presbyters. But I should like to know what one quality of a bishop the Pope himself has? The first point in the office of a bishop is to instruct the people in the word of God; the second and next to it is to administer the sacraments; the third is to admonish and exhort, to correct those who are in fault, and restrain the people by holy discipline. Which of these things does he do? Nay, which of these things does he pretend to do? Let them say, then, on what ground they will have him to be regarded as a bishop, who does not even in semblance touch any part of the duty with his little finger.

If indeed the present pope at the time Calvin wrote didn't do these things, then he failed in his duty. It doesn't follow that there is no pope, anymore than false prophets "proved" there were no true disciples, or wolves in sheep's clothing proved there were no true sheep (Christians). This is elementary. So how can Calvin fail to comprehend it? I submit that it is because he wants no papacy; therefore invents fallacious arguments to further his goal that was already set in his will and emotions and self-interest. Otherwise, I am at a loss to understand how such groundless, illogical, self-contradictory argument can be set forth with a straight face.

24. A second confirmation by appeal to the institution of Christ. A third confirmation e contrario—viz. That in doctrine and morals the Roman Pontiff is altogether different from a true bishop. Conclusion, that Rome is not the Apostolic See, but the Papacy.

It is not with a bishop as with a king; the latter, though he does not execute the proper duty of a king, nevertheless retains the title and the honour; but in deciding on a bishop respect is had to the command of Christ, to which effect ought always to be given in the Church.

Why, then, doesn't our Lord Himself do this (Revelation 1:20 - 3:22)? Presumably all seven of the churches in Revelation had some form of Church government. Even granting for the sake of argument that they were not bishops in the full Catholic sense, Calvin wants to deny to the Roman church the status of church altogether (let alone preeminent one), because of what he regards as intolerable corruption. Why, then, didn't Jesus do that with these seven churches? He doesn't deny that they deserve that title. They were committing every sin in the book, as were the Galatians and Corinthians, whom Paul rebuked, while still regarding them as valid churches.

Paul even goes beyond that. He acknowledges the office of the Jewish high priest and calls himself a Pharisee (Acts 23:1-6), even after his conversion, just as Jesus had upheld the continuing authority of the Pharisees, right before lambasting their corruption (Matthew 23:1-3). Therefore, offices (even the papal office) continue, and Calvin is soundly refuted from Holy Scripture and the earliest Christian practice.

Let the Romanists then untie this knot.

I just did. Let the Calvinists tie it up again without doing violence to Holy Scripture.

I deny that their pontiff is the prince of bishops, seeing he is no bishop.

Calvin's individual opinion is of no import. He has no authority to proclaim this, and his arguments can't survive even a little scrutiny, even if he supposedly had any authority.

This allegation of mine they must prove to be false if they would succeed in theirs.

I dare say that I'm having little difficulty doing so, and I am a nobody.

What then do I maintain? That he has nothing proper to a bishop, but is in all things the opposite of a bishop. But with what shall I here begin? With doctrine or with morals? What shall I say, or what shall I pass in silence, or where shall I end?

Yes; he wants his readers to believe that there is such a mountain of evidence on his side, that he scarcely knows where to begin. But he does very poorly when he actually ventures out into the land of reasoned biblical and historical argument.

This I maintain: while in the present day the world is so inundated with perverse and impious doctrines, so full of all kinds of superstition, so blinded by error and sunk in idolatry, there is not one of them which has not emanated from the Papacy, or at least been confirmed by it.

More extreme, unsubstantiated language, which is the mark of the propagandist and sophist . . .

Nor is there any other reason why the pontiffs are so enraged against the reviving doctrine of the Gospel,

. . . as Calvin redefines that term, of course . . . as if there were no "Gospel" before he and Luther arrived on the scene.

why they stretch every nerve to oppress it, and urge all kings and princes to cruelty, than just that they see their whole dominion tottering and falling to pieces the moment the Gospel of Christ prevails.

As for cruelty, that was by no means confined to Catholics, as I have documented in dozens of papers by now.

Leo was cruel and Clement sanguinary, Paul is truculent. But in assailing the truth, it is not so much natural temper that impels them as the conviction that they have no other method of maintaining their power. Therefore, seeing they cannot be safe unless they put Christ to flight, they labour in this cause as if they were fighting for their altars and hearths, for their own lives and those of their adherents.

Of course, all Catholics had to be evil devils, to actually deign to fight for their tradition. Imagine that! What wicked fellows! They fought Christ Himself. But the Calvinist minions had Christ on their side as they went about stealing churches., smashing stained glass, organs, statues of Mary and Jesus Christ, and outlawing the Mass, and exiling Catholics, and drowning Anabaptist Protestants as seditious rebels. Who could doubt it? This is why it must be revealed that this sort of intolerance was rampant among Protestants as well, because Calvin's argument here (commonly heard in our time) takes for granted that it was not. It's based on provable historic falsehood.

What then? Shall we recognise the Apostolic See where we see nothing but horrible apostacy?

That's all Calvin sees because it is convenient to his argument.

Shall he be the vicar of Christ who, by his furious efforts in persecuting the Gospel, plainly declares himself to be Antichrist?

Why doesn't Calvin provide examples of a pope "persecuting the Gospel"? Surely that must be easy to do, if things are so beyond all redemption, as he claims. But all he can do is make bald assertions.

Shall he be the successor of Peter who goes about with fire and sword demolishing everything that Peter built?

Great melodramatic effect, and exactly zero substance, argument-wise . . .

Shall he be the Head of the Church who, after dissevering the Church from Christ, her only true Head, tears and lacerates her members?

Calvin would have made a great politician or used-car salesman.

Rome, indeed, was once the mother of all the churches, but since she began to be the seat of Antichrist she ceased to be what she was.

And what year did this momentous event take place? Isn't it interesting that in anti-Catholic hit pieces like this, we hear this sort of definite assertion, but never a date at which it supposedly occurred. Rest assured, so Calvin tells us, that Rome (Babylon the Great) has fallen. It assuredly fell, but we know not when . . . Is that supposed to impress any man of reason, on either side of the sad debate?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Catholic Interpretation of Scripture (Hermeneutics / Exegesis): Resource List


Britannica Concise Encyclopedia
: hermeneutics

    Study of the general principles of biblical interpretation. Its primary purpose is to discover the truths and values of the Bible, which is seen as a receptacle of divine revelation. Four major types of hermeneutics have emerged: literal (asserting that the text is to be interpreted according to the "plain meaning"), moral (seeking to establish the principles from which ethical lessons may be drawn), allegorical (interpreting narratives as having a level of reference beyond the explicit), and anagogical or mystical (seeking to explain biblical events as they relate to the life to come). More recently the word has come to refer to all "deep" reading of literary and philosophical texts.

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia: exegesis

    Scholarly interpretation of religious texts, using linguistic, historical, and other methods. In Judaism and Christianity, it has been used extensively in the study of the Bible. Textual criticism tries to establish the accuracy of biblical texts. Philological criticism deals with grammar, vocabulary, and style in pursuit of faithful translation. Literary criticism classifies texts according to style and attempts to establish authorship, date, and audience. Tradition criticism seeks the sources of biblical materials and traces their development. Redaction criticism examines the way pieces of the tradition have been assembled into a literary composition by editors. Form criticism studies the way narratives are shaped by the cultures that produce them. Historical criticism looks at a text's historical context.

Hermeneutics: Understanding Revelation (Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl)

The Limits of Scripture Interpretation (Jimmy Akin, This Rock, January 2001)

The Divine Authority of Scripture vs. the "Hermeneutic of Suspicion" (James Hitchcock)

Are Catholics into the Bible? (David MacDonald)

How Does the Individual Catholic Approach and Interpret Holy Scripture? (Dave Armstrong)

In-Depth Catholic Studies

Biblical Interpretation in Crisis: On the Question of the Foundations and Approaches of Exegesis Today (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger: Pope Benedict XVI: 1988)

Benedict's Hermeneutic of Continuity (Dr. Jeff Mirus)

Catholic Scripture Interpretation: Resting on Fundamentals, Resisting Fundamentalism (Eric Sammons)

Interpreting the Holy Bible, Eric Sammons

The Catholic Encyclopedia: "Biblical Exegesis"

The Catholic Encyclopedia: "Hermeneutics"

The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (Pontifical Bible Commission, 1994)

Principles of Catholic Interpretation in the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (1993)
(Peter S. Williamson)

Catholic Church Documents Related to Biblical Studies (compiled by Felix Just, S.J.)

Electronic New Testament Educational Resources (Felix Just, S.J.)

St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology (Scott Hahn)

Catholic Biblical Study: A Bibliography (Scott & Kimberly Hahn)

Dr. Scott Hahn's Academic Publications

The Bible and the Church: Both or Neither (Scott Hahn)

The Church and the Bible: Resources (St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology)

The Word of God: Resources (St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology)

A Catholic Guide to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Many Worlds of Scripture With Faith, Reason and Praxis (Dr. John Gresham)

Catholic Bible Study Links (Dr. John Gresham)

Historical-Critical Scripture Studies and the Catholic Faith (Michael Waldstein)

Neo-Patristic Exegesis: Its Approach and Method (Msgr. John F. McCarthy)

Catholicism and the Bible: An Inerview with Albert Vanhoye, by Peter Williamson (First Things, June/July 1997)

The Catholic Understanding of the Bible, John A. Hardon, S. J.


Opening Up the Scriptures: Joseph Ratzinger and the Foundations of Biblical Interpretation (2008)

Making Senses Out of Scripture: Reading the Bible As the First Christians Did (Mark P. Shea, 1999)

Catholic Bible Dictionary (Scott Hahn, 2009)

The Catholic Church and the Bible (Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas, 1996)

You Can Understand The Bible: A Practical And Illuminating Guide To Each Book In The Bible (Peter Kreeft, 2005)

Inside the Bible: An Introduction to Each Book of the Bible (Kenneth Baker, 1998)

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible (Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch, 2001 -)

The Navarre Bible (1999 - )

501 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura: Is the Bible the Only Infallible Authority? (Dave Armstrong, 2009)

Good Protestant Resources

Resource Pages for Biblical Studies (Torrey Seland)

Materials from Dr. Mark Goodacre

Biblical Studies on the Web

Biblical Interpretation (Hermeneutics) [Links]

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Antidote to John Calvin's Institutes (IV,7:18-21) [St. Bernard and the Papacy / Calvin's Extreme Anti-Papalism / Pope as "Head"]

See the introduction and links to all installments at the top of my John Calvin, Calvinism, and General Protestantism web page; also the online version of the Institutes. Calvin's words will be in blue throughout. All biblical citations (in my portions) will be from RSV unless otherwise noted.

* * * * *

Book IV



18. The Papal tyranny shortly after established. Bitter complaints by Bernard.

From that time, while everywhere matters were becoming daily worse, the tyranny of the Roman Bishop was established, and ever and anon increased, and this partly by the ignorance, partly by the sluggishness, of the bishops. For while he was arrogating everything to himself, and proceeding more and more to exalt himself without measure, contrary to law and right, the bishops did not exert themselves so zealously as they ought in curbing his pretensions.

And who is supposed to curb the pompous Protestant "pretensions" of Luther, Calvin et al? Or are they immune from all such mere human shortcomings?

And though they had not been deficient in spirit, they were devoid of true doctrine and experience, so that they were by no means fit for so important an effort. Accordingly, we see how great and monstrous was the profanation of all sacred things, and the dissipation of the whole ecclesiastical order at Rome, in the age of Bernard.

There were certainly many corrupt and decadent periods in Church history.

He complains (Lib. 1 de Consider. ad Eugen.) that the ambitious, avaricious, demoniacal, sacrilegious, fornicators, incestuous, and similar miscreants, flocked from all quarters of the world to Rome, that by apostolic authority they might acquire or retain ecclesiastical honours: that fraud, circumvention, and violence, prevailed.

Case in point. But strangely enough we don't see St. Bernard concluding (like Calvin) that the Church is not what she is, because of human sin. Why, then, does Calvin cite him, since the two arrive at polar opposite conclusions as to how to proceed in the face of corruption?

The mode of judging causes then in use he describes as execrable, as disgraceful, not only to the Church, but the bar. He exclaims that the Church is filled with the ambitious: that not one is more afraid to perpetrate crimes than robbers in their den when they share the spoils of the traveller. “Few (say he) look to the mouth of the legislator, but all to his hands. Not without cause, however: for their hands do the whole business of the Pope. What kind of thing is it when those are bought by the spoils of the Church, who say to you, Well done, well done? The life of the poor is sown in the highways of the rich: silver glitters in the mire: they run together from all sides: it is not the poorer that takes it up, but the stronger, or, perhaps, he who runs fastest. That custom, however, or rather that death, comes not of you: I wish it would end in you. While these things are going on, you, a pastor, come forth robed in much costly clothing. If I might presume to say it, this is more the pasture of demons than of sheep. Peter, forsooth, acted thus; Paul sported thus. Your court has been more accustomed to receive good men than to make them. The bad do not gain much there, but the good degenerate.” Then when he describes the abuses of appeals, no pious man can read them without being horrified. At length, speaking of the unbridled cupidity of the Roman See in usurping jurisdiction, he thus concludes (Lib. 3 de Concil.), “I express the murmur and common complaint of the churches. Their cry is, that they are maimed and dismembered. There are none, or very few, who do not lament or fear that plague. Do you ask what plague? Abbots are encroached upon by bishops, bishops by archbishops, &c. It is strange if this can be excused. By thus acting, you prove that you have the fulness of power, but not the fulness of righteousness. You do this because you are able; but whether you also ought to do it is the question. You are appointed to preserve, not to envy, the honour and rank of each.” I have thought it proper to quote these few passages out of many, partly that my readers may see how grievously the Church had then fallen, partly, too, that they may see with what grief and lamentation all pious men beheld this calamity.

St. Bernard thundered against sin and corruption, as he should have. But again, I see nothing indicating that he wants to ditch the papacy, let alone the Church, and start anew, as the "reformers" did. Nor did he rail against all popes. He liked Pope Innocent II (r. 1130-1143) quite a bit:
Innocent II is praised by all, especially by St. Bernard, as a man of irreproachable character.

(The Catholic Encyclopedia, "Pope Innocent II")
But his support for the office of the papacy extended far beyond admiration of one man. Let's let the great saint speak for himself. Writing in 1148, to the new Pope Eugene II, he exclaims:
Who are you? The high priest, the Supreme Pontiff. You are the prince of the bishops, you are the heir of the Apostles; in primacy you are Abel, in governing you are Noah, in patriarchate you are Abraham, in orders you are Melchisedech, in dignity you are Aaron, in authority you are Moses, in judgment you are Samuel, in power you are Peter, by anointing you are Christ. You are the one to whom the keys have been given, to whom the sheep have been entrusted.

(from De consideratione; cited in Christopher Ryan, The Religious Roles of the Papacy, Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1985, 119-120)
In the same work, St. Bernard continues:
It is true that there are other doorkeepers of heaven and shepherds of flocks; but you are more glorious than all of these, to the degree that you have inherited a name more excellent than theirs. They have flocks assigned to them, one flock to each; to you all are assigned, a single flock to a single shepherd. You are the one shepherd not only of all the sheep, but of all the shepherds.

(Ryan, ibid., 120)

Do you ask how I can prove this? From the word of the Lord. For to whom, and I include not only bishops but Apostles, were all the sheep entrusted so absolutely and completely? "If you love me Peter, feed my sheep." . . . To whom is it not clear that he did not exclude any, but assigned them all? There is no exception where there is no distinction.

(Ibid., 120)

And perhaps the rest of the disciples were present when the Lord, entrusting all to one man, commended unity to all in one flock with one shepherd . . . James, who appeared as a pillar of the Church, was content with only Jerusalem, leaving to Peter the universal Church.

(Ibid., 121)

The power of the others is bound by definite limits; yours extends even over those who have received power over others. If cause exists, can you not close heaven to a bishop, depose him from the episcopacy, and even give him over to Satan? Your privilege is affirmed, therefore, both in the keys given to you and in the sheep entrusted to you.

(Ibid., 121)

. . . although each of the others has his own ship, to you is entrusted . . . the universal Church which is spread throughout the whole world.

(Ibid., 122)

Before everything else, you should consider that the Holy Roman Church, over which God has established you as head, is the mother of churches . . .

(Ibid., 123)
St. Bernard (vastly differently from Luther and Calvin) holds to the indefectibility of Rome:
I consider it most especially proper that damages to faith should be mended in the very place where faith can undergo no falling away. This surely is the prerogative of your See. For to whom else was it ever said: "I have prayed for you," Peter, "that your faith should not fail"? . . .

Therefore, what the rest of the text says is demanded of the successor of Peter. "And you," it says, "when once you have turned, strengthen your brothers." Surely that is now necessary. The time has come, most beloved Father, for you to recognize your primacy, to prove your zeal, to honour your ministry. I doing so you will clearly fulfil your role as Vicar of Peter, whose See you also hold, if by your warnings you strengthen the hearts of those fluctuating in faith and if by your authority you destroy those who corrupt the faith.

(Ibid., 124; from Epistle 190 to Pope Innocent II)
19. Fourth part of the chapter. Altered appearance of the Roman See since the days of Gregory.

But though we were to concede to the Roman Pontiff of the present day the eminence and extent of jurisdiction which his see had in the middle ages, as in the time of Leo and Gregory, what would this be to the existing Papacy? I am not now speaking of worldly dominion, or of civil power, which will afterwards be explained in their own place (chap. 11 sec. 8-14); but what resemblance is there between the spiritual government of which they boast and the state of those times? The only definition which they give of the Pope is, that he is the supreme head of the Church on earth, and the universal bishop of the whole globe. The Pontiffs themselves, when they speak of their authority, declare with great superciliousness, that the power of commanding belongs to them,—that the necessity of obedience remains with others,—that all their decrees are to be regarded as confirmed by the divine voice of Peter,—that provincial synods, from not having the presence of the Pope, are deficient in authority,—that they can ordain the clergy of any church,—and can summon to their See any who have been ordained elsewhere. Innumerable things of this kind are contained in the farrago of Gratian, which I do not mention, that I may not be tedious to my readers. The whole comes to this, that to the Roman Pontiff belongs the supreme cognisance of all ecclesiastical causes, whether in determining and defining doctrines, or in enacting laws, or in appointing discipline, or in giving sentences.

Jesus gave to Peter and the popes, his successors, universal jurisdiction, as St. Bernard noted above, but not in such a way that bishops did not have authority in their own regions, too. But the popes were not to be some kind of gods on earth. In the same works I cited from St. Bernard above, he also asserted a certain brotherhood, within the hierarchy, without denying in the least bit the pope's preeminent position:
. . . you are not the lord of bishops, but one of them . . .

(Ryan, ibid., 123; from De consideratione)

. . . you have been elected to the supreme position . . . Not, in my opinion, to dominate . . .

(Ibid., 125)

I do not think it is unconditionally yours but is subject to limitations. It seems to me that you have been entrusted with stewardship over the world, not given possession of it.

(Ibid., 126)

You are wrong if you think your apostolic power, which is supreme, is the only power instituted by God. . . . there are intermediate and lesser ones.

(Ibid., 127)
But that is Catholic "both / and" reasoning, whereas Calvin and Protestantism in general are notorious for an "either / or", unnecessarily dichotomous outlook.

It were also tedious and superfluous to review the privileges which they assume to themselves in what they call reservations. But the most intolerable of all things is their leaving no judicial authority in the world to restrain and curb them when they licentiously abuse their immense power. “No man (say they ) is entitled to alter the judgment of this See, on account of the primacy of the Roman Church.” Again, “The judge shall not be judged either by the emperor, or by kings, or by the clergy, or by the people.” It is surely imperious enough for one man to appoint himself the judge of all, while he will not submit to the judgment of any. But what if he tyrannises over the people of God? if he dissipates and lays waste the kingdom of Christ? if he troubles the whole Church? if he convert the pastoral office into robbery? Nay, though he should be the most abandoned of all, he insists that none can call him to account. The language of Pontiffs is, “God has been pleased to terminate the causes of other men by men, but the Prelate of this See he has reserved unquestioned for his own judgment.” Again, “The deeds of subjects are judged by us; ours by God only.”

There is a balance that was possible to be abused, and was abused, by some bad popes. We should expect this, but none of the bad popes could overcome God's power in promising indefectibility for His Church. Men can't overcome God's will. Calvin wants to ditch the papacy to preserve the (supposed) Church. Catholics retort that it is impossible for any pope (even one of the very few corrupt, personally immoral ones) to cause the Church to defect in the first place. Therefore, eliminating the papacy as an office doesn't "save the Church." Rather, it deforms what is God's will for the governance of the Church. Calvin simply lacks faith: in the indefectibility of the Church, and in God's ability to overcome any corruption or sin of man. Calvin wants to put men in the driver's seat (i.e., himself, and his own novel doctrines) rather than God, Who revealed all of this in Holy Scripture and through the mouths of apostles, and down through the centuries, through the fathers and doctors and saints and ecumenical councils and popes, via apostolic succession and the Catholic magisterium.

20. The present demands of the Romanists not formerly conceded. Fictions of Gregory IX. and Martin.

And in order that edicts of this kind might have more weight, they falsely substituted the names of ancient Pontiffs, as if matters had been so constituted from the beginning, while it is absolutely certain that whatever attributes more to the Pontiff than we have stated to have been given to him by ancient councils, is new and of recent fabrication.

That doesn't follow, since Church offices, like doctrines, develop from the original apostolic deposit. A development is not a "fabrication." If we want those, we have to look to the revolutionary, novel, distinctive doctrines of early Protestantism. Calvin has it exactly backwards. We are supposed to believe with him that abolition of the papacy is more in line with the ancient Church than development of it through the centuries? That's sheer nonsense. It makes no sense at all.

Nay, they have carried their effrontery so far as to publish a rescript under the name of Anastasius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, in which he testifies that it was appointed by ancient regulations, that nothing should be done in the remotest provinces without being previously referred to the Roman See.

There were many forgeries throughout history. No one disputes that. But it is clear that in Catholic ecclesiology such an extreme state of affairs decried by Calvin here is not in play.

Besides its extreme folly, who can believe it credible that such an eulogium on the Roman See proceeded from an opponent and rival of its honour and dignity? But doubtless it was necessary that those Antichrists should proceed to such a degree of madness and blindness, that their iniquity might be manifest to all men of sound mind who will only open their eyes.

Any conscious, sane man must agree with Calvin that the papacy must go! To disagree is not to be on one's right mind.

The decretal epistles collected by Gregory IX., also the Clementines and Extravagants of Martin, breathe still more plainly, and in more bombastic terms bespeak this boundless ferocity and tyranny, as it were, of barbarian kings. But these are the oracles out of which the Romanists would have their Papacy to be judged.

Scripture is quite sufficient for that purpose. Calvin has scarcely dealt with the abunbdant scriptural evidences for Petrine and papal primacy.

Hence have sprung those famous axioms which have the force of oracles throughout the Papacy in the present day—viz. that the Pope cannot err;

When definitively declaring a dogma of faith or morals, no. He can make mistakes in instances other than these extraordinary ones.

that the Pope is superior to councils;

That is true, and Church history confirms it. Pope Leo the Great and Chalcedon is the most obvious and famous example.

that the Pope is the universal bishop of all churches, and the chief Head of the Church on earth.

That's true. A body with no head is not very functional.

I say nothing of the still greater absurdities which are babbled by the foolish canonists in their schools, absurdities, however, which Roman theologians not only assent to, but even applaud in flattery of their idol.

No argument here; only polemics and rhetoric in the worst sense of the word . . .

21. Without mentioning the opposition of Cyprian, of councils, and historical facts, the claims now made were condemned by Gregory himself.

I will not treat with them on the strictest terms. In opposition to their great insolence, some would quote the language which Cyprian used to the bishops in the council over which he presided: “None of us styles himself bishop of bishops, or forces his colleagues to the necessity of obeying by the tyranny of terror.”

That is exactly what St. Bernard condemned above. Gregory the Great asserted the contrary, without lowering the supremacy of the papacy in the slightest. That is Catholic teaching, and so is not at issue. A corruption of a thing by a particular man is not the thing itself. When will Calvin ever understand this simple but crucial distinction? Apparently never, because he keeps committing the same fallacy over and over.

Some might object what was long after decreed at Carthage, “Let no one be called the prince of priests or first bishop;” and might gather many proofs from history, and canons from councils, and many passages from ancient writers, which bring the Roman Pontiff into due order. But these I omit, that I may not seem to press too hard upon them. However, let these worthy defenders of the Roman See tell me with what face they can defend the title of universal bishop, while they see it so often anathematised by Gregory. If effect is to be given to his testimony, then they, by making their Pontiff universal, declare him to be Antichrist.

That has been dealt with already in my replies (IV, 7:3-4), and as usual, Calvin distorts Gregory's meaning and uses great selectivity in citation, which accomplishes nothing.

The name of head was not more approved. For Gregory thus speaks: “Peter was the chief member in the body, John, Andrew, and James, the heads of particular communities. All, however, are under one head members of the Church: nay, the saints before the law, the saints under the law, the saints under grace, all perfecting the body of the Lord, are constituted members: none of them ever wished to be styled universal” (Gregor. Lib. 4 Ep. 83). When the Pontiff arrogates to himself the power of ordering, he little accords with what Gregory elsewhere says. For Eulogius, Bishop of Alexandria, having said that he had received an order from him, he replies in this manner: “This word order I beg you to take out of my hearing, for I know who I am, and who you are: in station you are my brethren, in character my fathers. I therefore did not order, but took care to suggest what seemed useful” (Gregor. Lib. 7 Ep. 80).

None of this overcomes the many statements of papal supremacy made by Gregory (documented in my replies to IV, 7:12-13). Calvin is also dead wrong in asserting that the pope was not called "head" of the Church in the patristic period. The facts show otherwise (my italics):
You are the head of the fountain from which My teaching flows, you are the chief of My disciples. Through you I will give drink to all peoples . . . I have chosen you to be, as it were, the first-born in My institution, and so that, as the heir, you may be executor of my treasures. I have given you the keys of my kingdom. Behold, I have given you authority over all my treasures!

(St. Ephraem, Homilies, 4, 1)

Kephas . . . the head of the Apostles who received the power of the keys and is taken for the shepherd of the flock . . .

(St. Ephraem, Against Heresies, Sermo 56)

You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head . . . of all the Apostles; . . .

(St. Optatus, The Schism of the Donatists, 2, 2)

Peter, who is the head of the apostles . . . he is the firm and most solid rock, on which the savior built his Church.

(St. Gregory of Nyssa, Panegyric on St. Stephen, 3)

Your grace must be besought not to permit any disturbance of the Roman Church, the head of the whole Roman World and of the most holy faith of the Apostles, for from thence flow out to all (churches) the bonds of sacred communion.

(St. Ambrose, Letter to Emperor Gratian, Epistle 11:4)

Peter, that the head of the Apostles, the first in the Church, the friend of Christ, who received the revelation not from man but from the Father . . . this Peter, and when I say Peter, I mean the unbroken rock, the unshaken foundation, the great apostle, the first of the disciples, the first called, the first to obey.

(St. John Chrysostom, Almsgiving 3:4)

. . . yet one among the twelve is chosen so that when a head has been appointed, there may be no occasion for schism.

(St. Jerome, Against Jovinianus, Book I, 26; NPNF 2, Vol. VI)

The rising pestilence was first cut short by Rome, the see of Peter, which having become the head to the world of the pastoral office, holds by religion whatever it holds not by arms.

(St. Prosper of Aquitane, Song on the Enemies of Grace, 1)

But this mysterious function the Lord wished to be indeed the concern of all the apostles, but in such a way that He has placed the principal charge on the blessed Peter, chief of all the Apostles: and from him as from the Head wishes His gifts to flow to all the body: so that any one who dares to secede from Peter’s solid rock may understand that he has no part or lot in the divine mystery.

(Pope St. Leo the Great, Letter X. To the Bishops of the Province of Vienne. In the matter of Hilary, Bishop of Arles, I; NPNF 2, Vol. XII)

. . . it was given to one to take the lead of the rest. . . . the care of the universal Church should converge towards Peter’s one seat, and nothing anywhere should be separated from its Head.

(Pope St. Leo the Great, Letter XIV. To Anastasius, Bishop of Thessalonica, I, XII; NPNF 2, Vol. XII)

[T]he most blessed Peter received the headship of the Apostles from the LORD, and the Church of Rome still abides by His institutions . . .

(Pope St. Leo the Great, To Dioscorus, Bishop of Alexandria: Letter 9, 1, NPNF 2, Vol. III, 7)
When the Pope extends his jurisdiction without limit, he does great and atrocious injustice not only to other bishops, but to each single church, tearing and dismembering them, that he may build his see upon their ruins.

When John Calvin extends his authority without limit, he does great and atrocious injustice not only to all bishops, whom he has thrown out of the Church, but to each single church, tearing and dismembering them, that he may exercise his arbitrary authority upon their ruins (after the iconoclastic riot and tearing down all supposed "idols").

When he exempts himself from all tribunals,

And what tribunal could ever bind Luther and Calvin? They simply spurned them all insofar as they disagreed with them. So it is quite comical for Calvin to rail against papal supremacy, when he was ultimately unaccountable to anyone, by his own design. At least popes had an express commission from Christ through Peter. Calvin had a commission from . . . the city council of Geneva or some such . . .

and wishes to reign in the manner of a tyrant, holding his own caprice to be his only law,

That's right: stretch the extreme caricature to the breaking-point. Anything but moderation of expression . . .

the thing is too insulting, and too foreign to ecclesiastical rule, to be on any account submitted to. It is altogether abhorrent, not only from pious feeling, but also from common sense.

Right . . . Calvin does talk a good game. We must grant him that, however fallacious and inaccurate his arguments habitually are.