Monday, May 30, 2011

Catholic Refutations of the Grave Error of Sedevacantism (Links)

By Dave Armstrong (5-30-11)

Sedevacantism is the extreme and heretical belief that there is no legitimate pope. It means literally in Latin, "the seat is vacant." Links updated on 6 Nov. 2014.

* * *

Habemus Papam? (Karl Keating, This Rock, July/August 1995) [choose link from among Internet Archive versions]

White Smoke, Valid Pope (Rev. Brian Harrison, O.S., This Rock, March 2001) [choose link from among Internet Archive versions]

Do-It-Yourself Popes: The Wacky World of Sedevacantists (Michael Petek, This Rock, March 2000) [choose link from among Internet Archive versions]

Mr. X (Karl Keating, This Rock, June 1995) [choose link from among Internet Archive versions]

A Heretical Pope? (Michael Davies)
A Refutation of the Heresy of Sedevacantism (Shawn McElhinney)

The Four Fatal Errors of Sedevacantism (David L. Gray)


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Martin Luther Clearly Taught Predestination of the Damned (Reprobate)

Pastor Paul T. McCain runs the Cyberbrethren website. He has strong (orthodox) Lutheran credentials:

I’m a Lutheran pastor, serving in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. I’m the Publisher at Concordia Publishing House, where I’m also the Executive Director of our Editorial Department. . . .

A Biographical Sketch

He graduated from Concordia University, Chicago, with a B.A. in Biblical Languages and History, becoming member of Phi Alpha Theta national history honor society. From university, he entered Concordia Theological Seminary, receiving his Masters of Divinity Degree in 1988. He stayed on two extra years, the first as a graduate assistant in Systematic Theology, and the second, as an Instructor of Systematic Theology. His additional two years of graduate theological coursework included concentrations in Reformation history and theology. . . . He was called to serve as Assistant to the President of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in 1992. He completed his service in this role in 2001, and served as Interim Director of Concordia Historical Institute. He was called to serve at Concordia Publishing House as its Interim President and CEO, a position he filled until 2006, when he became Publisher at CPH, and also Executive Director of the Editorial Division, the position he presently holds. His numerous publications include articles for WORLD Magazine, FIRST THINGS, The Lutheran Witness, Concordia Theological Quarterly, LOGIA: A Journal of Lutheran Theology, Modern Reformation magazine, and various other newspapers and periodicals. He is the general editor of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions-A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord, and a contributor to The Lutheran Study Bible. 

Yet Pastor McCain is -- oddly enough -- unaware that Luther held to the doctrine of double predestination (a doctrine usually associated primarily with Calvinists or those of the Reformed Protestant tradition). He wrote in a post of 16 December 2009 ("Refuting Calvinist Claims that Luther Taught Double-Predestination"):

Whenever the question of why are some saved, and not others, comes up it is common for Calvinists who advocate for the view that God has predestined some to hell, and others to heaven, to try to drag Martin Luther into their argument and claim that they are actually being faithful to what Martin Luther taught. Let this much be clear: Martin Luther did not teach double-predestination.  . . . (1) The doctrine of the Lutheran Church is not determined or normed by every writing of Luther. The proper understanding and interpretation of Martin Luther is reflected in the Book of Concord, [Dave: but this is perfectly irrelevant, because the point at hand is what Luther taught, not what confessional Lutheranism teaches {which on this point does indeed diverge from Luther himself}]. . . . (2) Luther’s Bondage of the Will is not, and was not, his last and final word on the subject of the hidden will of God. When Calvinists appeal to this document in support of their doctrine of predestination, they do so most often taking this document in isolation from the rest of his writings and teachings. [Dave: the latter may be the case at times, yet on the other hand, I shall assert a separate argument (with much documentation) that Luther did not ever forsake this belief; he merely underemphasized it in a pastoral, practical sense: told people not to think about it and to concentrate on piety and moral obedience to God's commands. This is not the same at all as a denial of predestination.]

Moreover, Luther did highly regard Bondage of the Will, over virtually all of his other writings, which is a matter of record. Pastor McCain tries to breezily (but unsuccessfully) dismiss this fact by commenting in the combox of his post:

Luther was fond of saying “this is my best” or “these are my best” writings, and he often had several lists. Not much is to be made of it other than he thought Bondage of the Will was one of his favorite books. It doesn’t prove anything Calvinists try to accuse Luther of believing and teaching. They ignore what Luther said elsewhere and latch on to what they think supports their errors regarding predestination.

Right. Special pleading at its best . . . In fact, Luther wrote on 9 July 1537 to his friend Wolfgang Capito:

I do not recognize any of my writings as genuine, except those on the Enslaved Will and the Catechism.

(Hartmann Grisar, S. J., Martin Luther: His Life and Work, adapted from the second German edition by Frank J. Eble, edited by Arthur Preuss, B. Herder Co., 1930; reprinted by The Newman Press {Westminster, Maryland}, 1950,  p. 303)

[Latin: Magis cuperem eos (libros meos) omnes devoratos. Nullum enim agnosco meum iustum librum, nisi forte De servo arbitrio et Catechismum.]

(Hartmann Grisar, S. J., Luther, Vol. II, translated by E. M. Lamond, edited by Luigi Cappadelta, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1913, p. 292, footnote 2; from
Brief wechsel, 11, p. 47)

It is beyond any question that Luther taught double predestination in his magnum opus, The Bondage of the Will. I have documented this myself in one of my many Luther posts (my own blue highlighting and subtitles):

God Decrees the Damnation of the Lost From All Eternity

Now, if you are disturbed by the thought that it is difficult to defend the mercy and justice of God when he damns the undeserving, that is to say, ungodly men who are what they are because they were born in ungodliness and can in no way help being and remaining ungodly and damnable, but are compelled by a necessity of nature to sin and to perish (as Paul says: “We were all children of wrath like the rest,” since they are created so by God himself from seed corrupted by the sin of the one man Adam)—rather must God be honored and revered as supremely merciful toward those whom he justifies and saves, supremely unworthy as they are, and there must be at least some acknowledgement of his divine wisdom so that he may be believed to be righteous where he seems to us to be unjust. For if his righteousness were such that it could be judged to be righteous by human standards, it would clearly not be divine and would in no way differ from human righteousness. But since he is the one true God, and is wholly incomprehensible and inaccessible to human reason, it is proper and indeed necessary that his righteousness also should be incomprehensible, as Paul also says where he exclaims: “O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!” But they would not be incomprehensible if we were able in every instance to grasp how they are righteous. What is man, compared with God? How much is there within our power compared with his power? What is our strength in comparison with his resources? What is our knowledge compared with his wisdom? What is our substance over against his substance? In a word, what is our all compared with his?
(translation by Phillip Watson [based on WA 18 600-787]; in Luther's Works [LW], Volume 33, quote from p. 289)

And if you are concerned about this,—that it is difficult to defend the mercy and justice of God, seeing that, he damns the undeserving, that is, those who are for that reason ungodly, because, being born in iniquity, they cannot by any means prevent themselves from being ungodly, and from remaining so, and being damned, but are compelled from the necessity of nature to sin and perish, as Paul saith, " We all were the children of wrath, even as others," when at the same time, they were created such by God himself from a corrupt seed, by means of the sin of Adam,—
(translation by Henry Cole, 1823, p. 370)

But if this disturb us, that, it is difficult to maintain the mercy and equity of God, in that he damns the undeserving, namely, ungodly men who are even of such a sort, that, being born in ungodliness, they cannot by any means help being ungodly, remaining so, and being damned; yea, being compelled by the necessity of their nature to sin and perish (as Paul speaks, "We were all the sons of wrath even as others"), being created such as they are, by God himself, out of a seed which became corrupted through that sin which was Adam's only.
(translation by Edward Thomas Vaughan, 1823, p. 460)

God Hates Many Men From All Eternity

God’s love toward men is eternal and immutable, and his hatred is eternal, being prior to the creation of the world, and not only to the merit and work of free choice; and everything takes place by necessity in us, according as he either loves or does not love us from all eternity, . . .
(LW, vol. 33, 198)

[T]he love and hatred of God towards men is immutable and eternal; existing, not only before there was any merit or work of Free-will, but before the worlds were made; and that, all things take place in us by necessity, accordingly as he loved or loved not from all eternity.
(Cole, p. 240)

We know very well, that God does not hate or love, as we do; since we both love and hate mutably; but he loves and hates according to his eternal and immutable nature: so far is he from being the subject of accident and affection. And it is this very thing which compels Freewill to be a mere no thing; namely, that the love of God towards men is eternal and immutable, and his hatred towards them eternal; not only prior to the merit and operation of Freewill, but even to the very making of the world; and that every thing is wrought in us necessarily, according to his having either loved us or not loved us, from eternity: insomuch that not only the love of God, but even his manner of loving, brings necessity upon us.

. . . the hatred by which we are eternally damned . . .
(Vaughan, p. 306)

This being the case, Luther's Lutheran ostensible "defenders" have to (rather pitifully, from their standpoint) undermine the importance of this work, so as to minimize the significance of such comments. But Luther himself did not do so. Luther being a better interpreter of his own thought than a Lutheran pastor 500 years later, we can safely side with the author himself rather than his reinterpreters who do so for merely polemical purposes. It's a curious phenomenon.

Prominent Luther biographer Julius Köstlin (himself a Lutheran) observed:

In the resoluteness with which Luther accepts the most rigorous consequences of the doctrine of predestination, he is essentially one with Zwingli and Calvin, the other leaders of the Reformation.

(M. Luther, Vol. I, p. 664; cited in Grisar, Martin Luther: His Life and Work, p. 303)
From all that we know with certainty of Luther, it is plain that he stuck to his earlier views as to the hidden God and Divine predestination. Nor does Luther make any attempt to solve the difficulty, which must appear to us a contradiction ; he simply discourages reflection on the subject.
(cited in Grisar, Luther, Vol. II,  293)

Grisar elaborates:

Although Luther did not put forth his rigid doctrine of predestination to hell either in his popular or strictly theological writings, yet, to the end of his life, he never surrendered it; that he "never retracted it" is emphasised even in Kostlin and Kawcrau's Life of Luther. [Vol. I, 664] . . . In his later years he is fond of speaking of the power of sin over man's interior, and though he does not allude so decidedly or so frequently to man's "absolute and entire dependence upon God's Omnipotence," yet he has by no means relinquished the idea. Thus the "difference between his earlier and later years" is one only of degree, i.e. he merely succeeded in keeping his theory more in the background.
 (Grisar, Luther, Vol. II, 292)

Köstlin's collaborator Gustav Kawerau noted the unfortunate tendency among Lutherans to overlook this aspect of Luther's teachings out of distaste for it:

. . . we must not seek to hide or explain them away, as was soon done by Luther's followers and has been attempted even in our own day . . .

(Kostlin-Kawerau, 1, p. 663 f.; cited in Grisar, Luther, Vol. II, 264)

[Bondage of the Will] was a stumbling-block to his followers, and attempts were made to explain it away by all the arts of violent exegesis; cp. Walch (in his edition of Luther s works), 18, Introduction, p. 140 ff.
(Kawerau in W. Moller, "Lehrbuch der Kirchengesch.," 3 3, 1907, p. 63; cited in Grisar, Luther, Vol. II, 264, footnote 4)

Protestant scholar M. Staub (Das Verhaltnis der menschhchen Willensfreiheit zur Gotteslehre bei Luther und Zwingli, Zurich, 1894), although an admirer of Zwingli, excoriated Luther and thought that his view here:

". . . leads to the destruction of all evangelical belief, not only of the personal assurance of salvation but also of Holy Scripture, which itself knows nothing of an arbitrary and faithless God in the matter of man's salvation" (p. 30). "What then is left of Luther's Deity?" "A Divine Person Who dispenses His grace and mercy according to His mood" (p. 37). "God appears and acts as a blind, naked force, fortuna, fatum," because what He does is "beyond good and evil" (p. 38). "Why invent the fable of God s justice and holiness? . . . We do nothing, God works all in all. . . . This religion, which is the logical outcome of Luther's work De servo arbitrio, is surely not Christianity but Materialism"; only the name is wanting for morality and law to become "foolish fancies" (p. 39).

(cited in Grisar, Luther, Vol. II,  293)

Protestant scholar F. Kattenbusch, in the preface of his study on this work noted that:

. . . quite rightly it caused great scandal and wonder . . . the hard, offensive theory [was] no mere result of haste or of annoyance with Erasmus, coupled with the desire clearly to define his own position with regard to the latter [but really] expresses the matured conviction of the Reformer.

("Luthers Lehre vom unfreien Willen und von der Predestination," Gottingen, 1875 [Anastatischer Neudruck, Gottingen, 1905]; cited in Grisar, Luther, Vol. II, 264)

Catholic Luther biographer Grisar comments:

Luther here throws to the winds the will of God Almighty for the salvation of all men, and he does so, with regard to those who are delivered over to eternal death, with a precision which is quite shocking. They were incapable of being saved because God did not so will it. Owing to the reprobate, God has "an Oeternum odium erga homines, not merely a hatred of the demerits and works of free-will, but a hatred which existed even before the world was made." 1 Hence He inflicts eternal punishment upon those who do not deserve it (immeritos damnat). . . . The severity of his doctrine does not here differ in any way from Calvin's cruel views, though, as the fact is less generally known, Luther's name has not been so closely associated with predestination to hell as Calvin's. Luther's doctrine on this matter did not come so much to the front as that of Calvin, because, unlike the latter, he did not make capital out of it by means of popular and practical exhortations, and because the early Lutherans, under the influence of Melanchthon, who became an opponent of the rigid denial of free-will and of Luther's views on predestination, soon came to soften their master's hard sayings. Yet there can be no doubt that the book De servo arbitrio does contain such teaching quite definitely expressed.

(Luther, Vol. II, 268; italics added for Latin citations and titles)

The Protestant Kattenbusch states:

Luther expressly advances it as a theory that God has two contradictory wills, the secret will of which no one knows anything, and another which He causes to be proclaimed . . . [God makes use of His] exemption from the moral law which binds us [by] not being obliged actually to strive after what He proclaims to be His intention [the salvation of all men] in other words, that He is free to lie.

(Ibid., p. 17; cited in Grisar, Luther, Vol. II, 269, footnote 1)

Luther wrote in The Bondage of the Will:

It is indeed an offence to sound common sense and to natural reason to hear that God is pleased to abandon men, to harden and to damn them, as though He He, the All-Merciful, the All- Perfect took delight in sin and torment. Who would not be horrified at this ? . . . and yet we cannot get away from this, notwithstanding the many attempts that have been made to save the holiness of God. . . . Reason must always insist upon the compulsion God imposes on man.

(cited in Grisar, Luther, Vol. II, 270; Latin original available on the same page: footnote 4)

Famous Protestant Luther biographer Roland H. Bainton cited the same passage as follows:

Common sense and natural reason are highly offended that God by his mere will deserts, hardens, and damns, as if he delighted in sins and in such eternal torments, he who is said to be of such mercy and goodness. Such a concept of God appears wicked, cruel, and intolerable, and by it many men have been revolted in all ages. I myself was once off ended to the very depth of the abyss of desperation, so that I wished I had never been created. There is no use trying to get away from this by ingenious distinctions. Natural reason, however much it is offended, must admit the consequences of the omniscience and omnipotence of God.

(Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1950, 253; p. 196-197 in Mentor / New American Library paperback edition)

Kattenbusch, (p. 11 f.) observes (in effect) that Luther's position was so extreme that it was even essentially supralapsarian: a position many Calvinists regard as extreme, and one that they deny was John Calvin's own view (I have long since asserted that it was Calvin's own position):

Adam's sin, from which springs the depravity of the human race, was [according to Luther] called forth by God Himself . . . Adam could not avoid acting contrary to the command.

Nor did Luther forsake his utter denial of human free will (a notion commensurate and very closely allied with with double predestination) in later years, as is the contention of Lutheran polemicists like Pastor McCain, who complain about over-reliance in this regard, on The Bondage of the Will:

In a Disputation of December 18, 1537, for the sake of debate the objection is advanced, that there is no purpose in making good resolutions owing to the will not being free: "Man," says the opposer, "has no free-will, hence he can make no good resolutions, and sins of necessity whether he wishes to or not." The professor s reply runs : "Nego consequentiam. Man, it is true, cannot of himself alter his inclination to sin; he has this inclination and sins willingly, neither under compulsion nor unwillingly. Man's will, not God, is the author of sin."

[Footnote 1: Disputationen M. Luthers, 1535-1545," edited for the first time by Paul Drews, Gottingen, 1895, p. 279 f. 2 Ibid., p. 75]

(Grisar, Luther, Vol. II, 287)

On another occasion, on January 29, 1536, the objector refers to the opinions of great Churchmen of olden times, that some freedom of the will exists. The reply is : "What such men say is not to be accepted as gospel-truth ; they often gave proof of weakness . . ."
[Footnote 2: Ibid., p. 75]

(Grisar, Luther, Vol. II, 287)

In the same year we read the following in the theses of the School: "It is godless philosophy, and censured by theology, to assert that liberum arbitrium exists in man for the forming of a just judgment and a good intention, or that it is man's business to choose between good and evil, life and death, etc. He who speaks thus does not know what man really is, and does not understand in the least what he is talking about."

[Footnote 3: Ibid., p. 92, n. 29 ft.; my italics]

(Grisar, Luther, Vol. II, 287)  

Friday, May 27, 2011

Paperback Sales Data (My "Officially" Published Works)

By Dave Armstrong (5-27-11)

[sales figures updated on 7 September 2011]

My "biblical evidence" methodology is a proven and effective way to help Catholics and also (especially) Protestants better understand and accept Catholic teachings. My books (shameless self-plug; sorry!) have a tried-and-proven track record of good sales. In terms of objective numbers and hard sales figures, the proof's in the pudding. I have four books and a pamphlet that can be considered "bestsellers" in the market (i.e., in the relatively small Catholic apologetics market; we're not talking romance novels or political or movie star biographies here!). Here are actual sales figures:

Top Ten Questions Catholics Are Asked (published by Our Sunday Visitor in July 2002): 22,695 copies: packages of 50 each (as of 12-31-10): individual pamphlet sales: 1,134,750: a million-seller! [Update: 23,788 and 1,189,400 as of 6-30-11]

A Biblical Defense of Catholicism (self-published in October 2001 [1684 copies sold] and by Sophia Institute Press since May 2003): 20,051 (as of 1-25-11). [Update: 20,400 as of 7-25-11]

The Catholic Verses (published in August 2004 by Sophia Institute Press): 17,133 (as of 1-25-11). [Update: 17,377 as of 7-25-11]

The One-Minute Apologist (published in May 2007 by Sophia Institute Press): 10,047 (as of 1-25-11). [Update: 10,238 as of 7-25-11]
Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths (published on 15 August 2009 by Sophia Institute Press): 2,232 copies (as of 1-25-11). [Update: 2,463 as of 7-25-11]

The New Catholic Answer Bible (April 2005; co-author Dr. Paul Thigpen) is also consistently selling very well, as evidenced by continually high placements (often top 20, or at least top 50) in amazon lists for sales rank in the category of Catholic books. I don't have exact numbers for that because (unfortunately!) I don't get paid royalties for it (it was a flat-fee contract). The Amazon sales rank figure as of 2:08 PM EST 5-27-11 for this book is 29,702 (5-star rating with 34 customer reviews: 32 of those 5-star ratings).

Thus, the four books and one pamphlet package with known sales figures, add up to a total of 72,158 copies sold since October 2001 [74,266 as of 7-25-11]. The New Catholic Answer Bible and it's earlier version, The Catholic Answer Bible (that was my own work, without a co-author), possibly bring the total to 100,000, since they have sold very well (judging by amazon sales ranks), and have done so since September 2002, when the first version came out. Certainly, if we include also my 17 self-published paperbacks (Lulu) -- not to mention vigorous e-book sales also, and The Wisdom of Mr. Chesterton (for which I don't have total sales figures), the grand total is over 100,000 titles sold.

Not only have my more popular books sold well in total numbers (for their market), but also consistently through the years, for many years. In February 2011 I made a calculation of average sales per month since the titles came out:

The One-Minute Apologist  236 / mo. average over 38 months.

The Catholic Verses  225 / mo. (72 months).

Top Ten Questions Catholics Are Asked  225 / mo. (101 months).

A Biblical Defense of Catholicism  201 / mo. (87 months for Sophia Institute Press: since May 2003) or 181 / mo. including the self-published period starting in October 2001 (106 months).

These figures may seem low, but it is a relative thing, based on the size of a given market. Catholic apologist Karl Keating noted in his e-letter of 21 November 2006:

There aren't many Catholic apostolates that manage to get by solely on the sale of materials. Come to think of it, I can't bring to mind any that do.

Catholic Answers earns income from magazine subscription fees, speaking honoraria, book and CD sales, advertising revenue, and so on, but all that covers less than half of our annual budget. The rest comes from donations. Without donations, our level of work would be much different from what it is. . . .

I remember, years ago, meeting with Fr. Joseph Fessio at Ignatius Press in San Francisco. I asked him how many copies of a book he would need to sell to turn a profit. He said he would need to sell as few as 3,000 copies, but not a few of the titles Ignatius published never reached even that level.

You might think, "Well, I could sell 3,000 copies of any decent book. Catholic publishers should be well in the black." I can assure you that it's not so simple. . . . 

The plain truth is that very few Catholic books sell into six figures. For that matter, few sell into five figures. In orthodox Catholic publishing, you have a hit if you sell 10,000 copies of a title. It certainly is a niche market. . . . 
Over the last year or so, most Catholic apostolates have noticed a softening in sales and donations, Catholic Answers included. Maybe it's the economy, but who really knows? We just know the softening is for real.

I am myself in this same boat. Book sales are generally much lower in the Catholic market than they were ten years ago, and donations have lessened due to the sluggish economy (the latter was the sole reason why I lost my staff position last December at the Coming Home Network as a forum moderator). My income consists of book royalties and donations. My work has been fruitful, by God's grace, for the purpose of helping aid many hundreds of folks to become Catholic or to become more strengthened and confident in their Catholic faith.

I have been a full-time apologist since December 2001, so it is coming up to ten years. As I have often noted, sometimes I take on additional unrelated part-time jobs to get by, but it is preferable to be able to devote myself totally to the specific work that God has called me to: Catholic apologetics and evangelism.

Your generous contribution helps make all this possible. I don't "beg and plead" and prefer to let my work speak for itself. Once in a while I will mention my situation, in order to allow readers an opportunity to support it if they wish to do so (especially those who have themselves been helped by my work). You can be part of it and play your part in the harvest of souls. I can't do it without you.

Many heartfelt thanks to all my readers and especially to those who have supported my work financially and (equally importantly) in prayer. I deeply appreciate all of you and can never thank you enough. It is my honor and privilege to serve you in this work that I dearly love. It's not just empty, obligatory phrases for me; I sincerely mean every word I say.