Friday, June 24, 2011

Biblical Evidence for Worship of God Via an Image (Pillar of Cloud, Burning Bush)

By Dave Armstrong (6-24-11)

Sometimes we miss things in the Bible, though they are right in front of us. Some of our Protestant brethren (mainly Calvinists but some other denominations as well) have an almost obsessive fear of any image associated with worship at all, thinking that all such manifestations are examples of idolatry and undue exaltation of a "graven image". This has led some fanatical elements to oppose even crucifixes and statues of Christ as idols. In other words, all images whatsoever are collapsed in this wrongheaded mentality into the category of the "graven image" in the Ten Commandments.  But the Bible doesn't take this view at all. Here is one striking example:

Exodus 33:8-10 (RSV) Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose up, and every man stood at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he had gone into the tent. [9] When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the door of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses. [10] And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the door of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, every man at his tent door. 

Note that the pillar of cloud is:

1) a creation (water, if a literal cloud);

2) visual, hence an image;


3) thought to directly represent God Himself.

It's also a supernatural manifestation, which is a major difference compared to any true idol made by the hands of men; but that would make no difference for those who mistakenly hold that any image whatsoever associated with God is impermissible. The problem comes when God Himself expressly sanctions such images, and worship in conjunction with them, as here.

The same iconoclasts (opposers of images) have to explain away things like the burning bush (Ex 3:2-6), which is not only fire, but also called an "angel of the Lord" (Ex 3:2), yet also "God" (3:4, 6, 11, 13-16, 18; 4:5, 7-8) and "the LORD" (3:7, 16, 18; 4:2, 4-6, 10-11, 14) interchangeably. An angel is a creation (as is fire and cloud); yet God chose to use a created being and inanimate objects to visibly represent Him. Several similar instances occur in the Old Testament. Moreover, the Jews "worshiped" fire as representative of God in the following passage:

2 Chronicles 7:1-4 When Solomon had ended his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. [2] And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD's house. [3] When all the children of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD upon the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the earth on the pavement, and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever." [4] Then the king and all the people offered sacrifice before the LORD.


More Biblical Evidence for One Species In Holy Communion

By Dave Armstrong (6-24-11)

See my earlier paper, "Biblical Evidence for the Distribution of One Species in Holy Communion." Credit for these further examples, goes to Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman: see his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, (1845; revised 1878), Part I, ch. 4, sec. 1, sub-section 4.

* * * * *

Eucharistic or Proto-Eucharistic Examples of "Bread" Only 

Matthew 14:19-21 (RSV) Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. [20] And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. [21] And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. (cf. Mk 6:41-44; Lk 9:13-17)

Luke 24:30-31, 35 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. [31] And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.. . . [35] Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. (cf. Acts 2:42; 20:7; 27:35)

John 6:11-12 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. [12] And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost."

John 6:27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.

John 6:31-35 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, `He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" [32] Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. [33] For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world." [34] They said to him, "Lord, give us this bread always." [35] Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.

John 6:48-51 I am the bread of life. [49] Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. [50] This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. [51] I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh."

John 6:57-58 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. [58] This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever."

[John 6 is very interesting in this regard, insofar as it gives examples of both flesh and blood being partaken of (6:53-56), yet only body / flesh is spoken of singularly and repeatedly as giving spiritual life, and Jesus never describes Himself as the "living wine" from heaven. Hence, the analogy directly holds to Catholic communion without both species, where consecrated hosts only are distributed. The full eucharistic doctrine comes together in 1 Corinthians 11:27, where Paul's careful use of "or" and "and" prove that the entire Jesus: Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, as Catholics say, is contained in each species (see previous related paper above). In any event, both the biblical and Catholic models allow for distribution of both species, or one only (usually consecrated hosts)]

Eucharistic Types or Shadows: Examples of "Bread" or Flesh (Minus Blood) Only  

Exodus 25:30 And you shall set the bread of the Presence [KJV: "shewbread"] on the table before me always. (cf. 35:13; 39:36)

Leviticus 14:25 And he shall kill the lamb of the guilt offering; and the priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering, and put it on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the great toe of his right foot.

[the Jews separated the blood from meat to be eaten, and were forbidden to partake of blood: Gen 9:4; Lev 3:17; 7:26-27; 17:10-14; 19:26; . Therefore, the paschal lamb and bulls sacrificed : prototypes of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, and of the Eucharist (since they were eaten and since the Last Supper, where the Holy Eucharist was instituted, was a Passover meal), were "meat only" with no blood]

Deuteronomy 8:3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. (cf. Num 11:7-9; Ps 78:24-29)

1 Samuel 21:6 So the priest gave him the holy bread; for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the LORD, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away.

1 Kings 7:48 So Solomon made all the vessels that were in the house of the LORD: the golden altar, the golden table for the bread of the Presence,

1 Chronicles 9:32 Also some of their kinsmen of the Ko'hathites had charge of the showbread, to prepare it every sabbath. (cf. 23:29; 28:16)

2 Chronicles 2:4 Behold, I am about to build a house for the name of the LORD my God and dedicate it to him for the burning of incense of sweet spices before him, and for the continual offering of the showbread, and for burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths and the new moons and the appointed feasts of the LORD our God, as ordained for ever for Israel. (cf. 4:19; 13:11; 29:18; Neh 10:33)

2 Chronicles 29:22 So they killed the bulls, and the priests received the blood and threw it against the altar; and they killed the rams and their blood was thrown against the altar; and they killed the lambs and their blood was thrown against the altar.

2 Chronicles 35:11 And they killed the passover lamb, and the priests sprinkled the blood which they received. . .

Matthew 12:3-4 He said to them, "Have you not read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him: [4] how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? (cf. Mk 2:26; Lk 6:4)

John 1:29, 36 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! . . . and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"

1 Corinthians 5:7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.

Hebrews 9:2-4 For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place. [3] Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, [4] having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

Revelation 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna,. . .

Revelation 5:6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain,. . . (cf. 5:8, 12-13; 6:1, 16; 7:9-10, 14, 17; 8:1; 12:11; 13:8, etc.)


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Set List for U2 in East Lansing, Michigan (Spartan Stadium): 26 June 2011

By Dave Armstrong (6-29-11)

 [source 1:]
[source 2, with fan reviews, and one from Detroit Free Press]
[review #2: Detroit Free Press]
[review #3: Detroit Free Press]
[review: Detroit News]
[review #2: Detroit News]

Yep; I was there, with two sons: three of 65,000 plus! It's the highest-grossing tour in rock music history (expected $700 million gross), with the biggest set ever (179 foot high "claw"). I posted a whole album of photos (27) on my Facebook page. All album titles below are linked to Wikipedia descriptive pages.

* * * * *

1. Even Better Than The Real Thing [from Achtung Baby, 1991]

2. The Fly [from Achtung Baby, 1991]

3. Mysterious Ways [from Achtung Baby, 1991]

4. Until The End Of The World [from Achtung Baby, 1991]

5. I Will Follow [from Boy, 1980]

6. Get On Your Boots [from No Line on the Horizon, 2009]

7. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (with "The Promised Land" snippet) [from The Joshua Tree, 1987]

8. Stay (Faraway, So Close!) [from Zooropa, 1993]

9. Beautiful Day (with "Space Oddity" snippet) [from All That You Can't Leave Behind, 2000]

10. Elevation [from All That You Can't Leave Behind, 2000]

11. Pride (In The Name Of Love) [from The Unforgettable Fire, 1984]

12.Miss Sarajevo [from Original Soundtracks 1, 1995]

13. Zooropa [from Zooropa, 1993]

14. City Of Blinding Lights [from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, 2004]

15. Vertigo (with "TV Eye" snippet) [from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, 2004]

16. I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight (Remix Version, with "Discotheque", "Life During Wartime" and "Psycho Killer" snippets) [from No Line on the Horizon, 2009, and Pop, 1997; last two are Talking Heads songs]

17. Sunday Bloody Sunday [from War, 1983]

18. Scarlet [from October, 1981]

19. Walk On (with "You'll Never Walk Alone" snippet) [from All That You Can't Leave Behind, 2000]


20. One [from Achtung Baby, 1991]

21. Where The Streets Have No Name (with "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" snippet) [from The Joshua Tree, 1987]

Encore 2:

22. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me [from Batman Forever soundtrack, 1995]

23. With Or Without You [from The Joshua Tree, 1987]

24. Moment of Surrender (with "Jungleland" snippet) [from No Line on the Horizon, 2009]

Biblical Evidence for True Apostolic Tradition vs. "Traditions of Men"

By Dave Armstrong (6-23-11)

 I discovered (as a set) several of the following passages in Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman's sermon, "The Principle of Continuity Between the Jewish and Christian Churches," from 20 November 1842 (when he was still Anglican). It is Sermon 15 in his collection, Sermons Bearing on Subjects of the Day (1843). I then looked up (by word searches) several other similar passages to expand upon his point. All verses are RSV. Good, apostolic, biblical traditions will be highlighted in green; false traditions of men in red.

* * * * *

Matthew 15:3 He answered them, "And why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?"

Matthew 15:6 So, for the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word of God.

Matthew 15:9 "in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men."

Matthew 15:13 He answered, "Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up."

Matthew 16:23 But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men."(cf. Mk 8:33)

Mark 7:8-9, 13 You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men." [9] And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition! . . . [13] thus making void the word of God through your tradition which you hand on. And many such things you do."

John 12:43  for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

1 Corinthians 2:5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit.

Galatians 1:9-12 As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. [10] Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. [11] For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man's gospel.[12] For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 4:14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.

Colossians 2:20-22 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, [21] "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" [22] (referring to things which all perish as they are used), according to human precepts and doctrines?

1 Thessalonians 2:13  And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

1 Timothy 4:1, 6-7 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, . . . [6] If you put these instructions before the brethren, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the good doctrine which you have followed. [7] Have nothing to do with godless and silly myths. Train yourself in godliness;

Titus 1:14 instead of giving heed to Jewish myths or to commands of men who reject the truth.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Books by Dave Armstrong: "Biblical Catholic Eucharistic Theology"

[completed and published at Lulu on 22 February 2011: 222 pages]

[cover design by Dave and Judy Armstrong. Christ of St. John of the Cross, by Salvador Dali (1951): from the Salvador Dali Society website]

--- to purchase, go to the bottom of the page ---


Dedication (p. 3)

Introduction (p. 5)

1. Biblical Analogical Evidence for the Special Presence of God in Physical Objects Prior to the Incarnation (p. 9) [70 Bible passages]

2. Is the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit Intrinsically Opposed to the Real, Physical Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist? (p. 21) [21 Bible passages]

3. Sacraments: Moral Responsibility and Spiritual Benefits (p. 29) [read online]

4. John 6 and Lack of Faith in the Physical Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist as a Parallel to Doubting Disciples (p. 33) [read online]

5. Questions and Answers on the Holy Eucharist (p. 45)

6. The Philosophical Theology Behind the Eucharist (p. 55)

7. Biblical Evidence for One Species in Holy Communion (p. 59)

8. Exclusion of Non-Catholic Christians from Communion (p. 65)

9. Protestant Use of Grape Juice in Holy Communion (p. 75)

10. Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue on Corpus Christi: Eucharistic Processions and Adoration (p. 79)

11. Catholic-Protestant Disputes Regarding Transubstantiation and Church History (p. 83)

12. The Protestant Sacramentarian Controversies: Calvin vs. Luther vs. Zwingli (p. 95)

13. John Calvin’s Mystical Eucharist vs. Logic, the Church Fathers, and Holy Scripture (p. 101)

14. The Simultaneous Assertion of Realism and Symbolism in St. Augustine’s Eucharistic Doctrine (p. 121) [read online]

15. The Church Fathers and the Sacrifice of the Mass (p. 133)

16. St. Paul’s Reference to Himself as a Priest and Use of Sacerdotal Categories (p. 153) [16 Bible passages]

17. The Timeless, Miraculous, Transcendent Nature of the Sacrifice of the Mass (p. 161) [35 Bible passages]

18. Biblical Analogies Related to Eucharistic Adoration and the Sacrifice of the Mass (p. 171) [54 Bible passages]

19. Arguments for the Permissibility and Plausibility of the Sacrifice of the Mass from Scripture Alone and Analogy (p. 183) [34 Bible passages]

20. Biblical Evidence for Congregational Participation in Offering and Re-Presenting Jesus’ Sacrifice on the Cross (p. 191)

21. The Mass: Is It Idolatry Like That of Jeroboam? (p. 195)

22. Biblical Evidence for Wholehearted Formal Worship (p. 207) [read online: part one / part two] [23 Bible passages]

23. Biblical Evidence for Holy Days (p. 215) [13 Bible passages]

Bibliography (p. 219)


This volume consists of a collection of articles originally posted on my website and blog (both named Biblical Evidence for Catholicism): written between 1996 and 2010, oftentimes as a result of questions received, or debate challenges. These have been edited, revised, and combined in various ways, in order to crystallize the thought and to maximize the impact of the arguments.

Most of the queries came from our Protestant brethren in Christ. These occurrences afforded me the opportunity to defend and clarify what Catholics believe with regard to the Holy Eucharist, and to demonstrate that Catholic beliefs are – as we believe -- in line with both Holy Scripture and the eucharistic doctrine of the early Church. It is my sincere hope and prayer that my own ruminations along these lines may be of some benefit to others.

I have written extensively on the “basics” of Catholic eucharistic doctrine and its grounding in the Bible in several of my books: A Biblical Defense of Catholicism (pp. 77-100), The Catholic Verses (pp. 113-126), The One-Minute Apologist (pp. 58-65), and Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths (pp. 255-270).

I won’t be reiterating those aspects; this work can, therefore, be considered a slightly higher-level course, so to speak (Catholic Eucharist 0201, if you will).

Chapters 3 and 12 are reminiscent of the format of earlier books, since they were originally intended to be included, but were casualties of the editor’s red pen. Chapter One, written shortly after Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths, would have fit very well into its structure and goal of showing how Catholic doctrine is entirely harmonious with the Bible.


Catholic apologist and prolific author Dave Armstrong has compiled his writing on the Eucharist and the Sacrifice of the Mass, from 15 years of Internet dialogues, into a Scripture-packed 23 chapters and 222 pages.

Among the topics covered are: 1) the special presence of God in physical objects prior to the incarnation, 2) comparison of the indwelling and the Real Presence, 3) doubting disciples in the eucharistic discourse of John 6, 4) exclusion of non-Catholics from Catholic communion, 5) St. Augustine's and John Calvin's views, 6) the Church fathers on the Sacrifice of the Mass, 7) St. Paul's "priestly" references, 8) biblical, analogical arguments for the Sacrifice of the Mass, 9) the Protestant "idolatry" accusation, and 10) biblical evidence for wholehearted formal, liturgical worship.

The facts of Church history are also examined in depth, with much corroboration from Protestant scholarly sources.

Armstrong's explanations help to make Catholic teachings on the Holy Eucharist and the Mass understandable, plausible, and easily harmonized with the teaching of the Bible.

* * * * * * * * * *

Purchase Options:

Paperback (List: $20.95 / 20% Lulu Discount: $16.76)



Part of a ten-book package deal: able to be incorporated into Logos Software search capabilities

Last updated on 18 July 2015.


Most of My Books Are Available at Amazon Kindle (Including Audio Capability). Majority: $2.99

By Dave Armstrong (6-16-11)

All of these are also text-to-voice enabled, so this means that all of these books can now be listened to in a good state-of-the-art computer voice.

You can view all titles at my amazon "Kindle Store," but here they are for your convenience. The written titles go to the amazon Kindle book page for each volume. The "[Info-Page]" brackets go to each title's book page (contents, introductions, excerpts, links for all sorts of purchases, etc.).

Catholic Apologetics Bestsellers (Numerous Topics) [4]

A Biblical Defense of Catholicism (1996 / 2003, 297 pages) $9.95 [Info-Page]

The Catholic Verses: 95 Bible Passages That Confound Protestants (2004, 235 pages) $9.99 [Info-Page]

The One-Minute Apologist (2007, 143 pages) $9.47 [Info-Page]

Proving the Catholic Faith is Biblical (2015, 288 pages) $9.99 [Info-Page]

Bible Reference Works [4]

Footsteps that Echo Forever: My Holy Land Pilgrimage (2014, 165 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths (2009, 445 pages) $9.95 [Info-Page]

Victorian King James Version of the New Testament: A “Selection” for Lovers of Elizabethan and Victorian Literature (2014, 590 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Revelation! 1001 Bible Answers to Theological Questions (2013, 250 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Church Fathers / Patristics / Patrology [3]


Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman and G. K. Chesterton [4]

The Quotable Newman (2012, 415 pages) $9.95 [Info-Page]

The Quotable Newman, Vol. II (2013, 290 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Cardinal Newman: Q & A in Theology, Church History, and Conversion (2015, 367 page) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Sola Scriptura and the Authority of the Catholic Church [5]

Catholic Theology and Apologetics: Various Single Topics [7]

Catholic Conversion and Converts (2013, 237 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Theology of God: Biblical, Chalcedonian Trinitarianism and Christology (2012, 156 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Biblical Evidence for the Communion of Saints (2012, 152 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Biblical Catholic Eucharistic Theology (2011, 222 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

"The Catholic Mary": Quite Contrary to the Bible? (2010, 193 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Biblical Catholic Salvation: “Faith Working Through Love” (2010, 187 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Family Matters: Catholic Theology of the Family (2002, 159 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Catholic Theology and Apologetics: Multiple Topics [2]

More Biblical Evidence for Catholicism (2002, 181 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Biblical Catholic Apologetics: A Collection of Essays (2013, 236 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

History of Christian Theology and Doctrine [4]

Radical Catholic Reactionaries vs. Mainstream Catholic "Traditionalists" [2]

Reflections on Radical Catholic Reactionaries (2002 / rev. 2013, 145 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Protestantism (History and Analysis) [4]

Martin Luther: Catholic Critical Analysis and Praise (2008, 264 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Biblical Catholic Answers for John Calvin (2010, 388 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

A Biblical Critique of Calvinism (2012, 178 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page] 

Protestantism: Critical Reflections of an Ecumenical Catholic (2003, 188 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

 Anti-Catholic Protestantism and Theological Liberalism [2]

Debating James White: Shocking Failures of the "Undefeatable" Anti-Catholic Champion (Nov. 2013, 395p) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Twin Scourges: Thoughts on Anti-Catholicism and Theological Liberalism (2003, 167 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

General Christian Apologetics / Atheists and Agnostics [3] 
[For General Readers; Contain No Distinctively Catholic Material; Theology of God, above, is also of this nature] 

Mere Christian Apologetics (2002, 289 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Christian Worldview vs. Postmodernism (2002, 218 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Science and Christianity: Close Partners or Mortal Enemies? (2010, 301 pages)  $2.99 [Info-Page]

Music [1]

Beatles, Motown, Beach Boys, Etc.: Classic Rock Discographies, Commentary, and Mono vs. Stereo Analysis (2012, 213 pages) $2.99 [Info-Page]

Updated on 22 July 2015.


The Catholic Cardinal Newman's Opinion of Anglicanism

By Dave Armstrong (6-16-11)

The following excerpts are from my upcoming book of quotations from Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman: The Quotable Newman. Note especially the remarkable letter of 3 July 1848.

* * * * *

If I must specify what I mean by ‘Anglican principles,’ I should say e.g. taking Antiquity, not the existing Church, as the oracle of truth; and holding that the Apostolical Succession is a sufficient guarantee of sacramental Grace, without union with the Christian Church throughout the world. I think them the firmest, strongest bulwark against Rome – that is if they can be held. They have been held by many, and are far more difficult to refute than those of any other religious body. For myself, I found I could not hold them. I left them. From the time I began to suspect their unsoundness, I ceased to put them forward – when I was fairly sure of their unsoundness, I gave up my Living. When I was fully confident that the Church of Rome was the only true Church, I joined it. I have felt all along that Bishop Bull’s theology was the only theology on which the English Church could stand – I have felt that opposition to the Church of Rome was part of that theology; and that he who could not protest against the Church of Rome was no true divine in the English Church. I have never said, nor attempted to say, that any one in office in the English Church, whether Bishop or incumbent, could be otherwise than in hostility to the Church of Rome.

(LD xi, 27-28; Letter to Samuel Wilks, 8 November 1845)

Again in what sense are Rome and England one body in which the Church of England and Methodism may not be proved one body? . . . I hold it impossible that you should remain in this half and half position, believing one thing on the same ground, on which you reject another. . . . when I admit that the English Church is in schism, I see a mass of facts confirmatory of it – its disorganized state of belief – its feebleness to resist heretics – its many changes – its freezing coldness. And on the other hand I have the portentous, the awful vitality of Rome. That is an overpowering confirmatory argument.

(LD xi, 175; Letter to Henry Wilberforce, 8 June 1846)

. . . as a whole, he [Pusey] is not reviving any thing that ever was any where for 1800 years. There is a tradition of High Church and of Low Church – but none of what now is justly called Puseyism.

(LD xii, 157; Letter to Henry Wilberforce, 19 January 1848)

. . . disunion in the Anglican Church is just what prejudices men of the world against it and makes it contemptible. They do not take hold of the possibility that one party in it may be contending for a truth against the other. The disunion is its condemnation . . .

(LD xii, 159-160; Letter to Frederick Lucas, 20 January 1848)

The thought of Anglicanism with nothing fixed or settled, with Bishop contradicting Bishops within, and the whole world against it, without, is something so dreary and wretched, that I cannot speak of it without the chance of offence to those who still hold it.

(LD xii, 168; Letter to A. J. Hanmer, 10 February 1848)

. . . the hollowness of High Churchism (or whatever it is called) is to me so very clear that it surpises me, (not that persons should not see it at once), but that any should not see it at last, and, alas, I must add that I do not think it safe for any one who does see it, not to act on his conviction of it at once. . . . I do not disguise that Catholicism is a different religion from Anglicanism . . . that religion which the Apostles introduced and which was in the world long before the Reformation was dreamed of . . .

(LD xii, 223-225; Letter to Mrs. William Froude, 16 June 1848)

. . . the Anglican and the Catholic are two religions. I have professed both, and must know better than those who have professed one only . . . This being so, it is a mere deceit, I fully think, to suppose that the difference between Catholics and Anglicans is, that one believes a little more, and the other a little less; and therefore that they could unite. The religions never could unite; they never could be reconciled together . . . because they proceed on different ideas; and, if they look in certain external aspects alike, or have doctrines in common, yet the way in which those doctrines are held, and the whole internal structure in the two religions is different; so that, even what a person has before he is a Catholic, being grafted on a new stiock, becomes new, and he is like a Jew become Christian. . . . the Anglo-catholic scarcely exists out of books, or in a hundred parsonages scattered through the land, and has had no continuous life or succession. Next, consider the vast difference between believing in a living authority, unerring because divine, in matters of doctrine, and believing none; -- between believing what an external authority defines, and believing what we ourselves happen to define as contained in Scripture and the Fathers, where no two individuals define quite the same set of doctrines . . . In the one case, the living authority, deciding in controversies of faith, is the Church, in the other (whatever men pretend,) it is we ourselves who are the ultimate authority.

(LD xii, 234-235; Letter to E. J. Phipps, 3 July 1848)

I am much obliged to you for giving me the opportunity of setting right the misconception which is in circulation of the light in which I view the Anglican Church. . . . I respect and love the good men who belong to it; I have no wish to speak of it, but if I am forced to speak, by being misrepresented, I cannot help saying that I do not think the established Church is better off, as regards the Sacraments, than other non-Catholic bodies which have not renounced baptism. God’s grace doubtless may be vouchsafed at his will both th Anglicans and to Protestants; and that I certainly may have said; but vouchsafed in order to bring them towards the Catholic Church; in this way it is doubtless given to one and the other; but in each case in order to draw them off from what they are; and if it does not do this to Anglicans as well as Protestants, it does not answer the purpose for which it is given. No wonder I say this, considering I have the greatest misgivings of the validity of Anglican orders . . . If the Anglican Church has not orders, it has no Eucharist . . .

(LD xii, 249; Second Letter to Robert Monteith, 21 July 1848)

. . . Dr Pusey . . . cannot name the individual for 1800 years who has ever held his circle of doctrines; he cannot first put down his own creed, and then refer it to doctor, or school before him. . . . I want to know what single individual that ever belonged to the Anglican Church does he follow. Not Laud, for Laud on the scaffold avowed himself an honest Protestant; not Hooker, for he gives up the Real Presence; not Taylor for he blames both the Athanasian and Nicene Creeds; not Bull for he considers that Transubstantiation ‘bids defiance to all the reason and sense of mankind;’ not Ussher, for he was a Calvinist; not Jewell, for he gave up the Priesthood; nor the Articles, for Dr P. puts an interpretation on them; nor the Prayer book, for he believes about twice as much as the Prayer Book contains. Who before him ever joined the circle of Roman doctrine to the Anglican ritual and polity? . . . converts smile at confession in the Anglican Church; -- they smile, not at those who religiously take part in the ordinance, but at those who out of their own heads invent rites or ceremonies, or again, who borrow the rites, while they disown the authority of the Catholic Church.

(LD xii, 273-274; Letter to Catherine Ward, 25 September 1848)

Now, if we are advocates of doctrines, however true, with no authority to back us, it is the story of the Oxford Tracts over again – we shall be in a false position . . .

(LD xii, 278; Letter to Frederick W. Faber, 4 October 1848)

. . . nor do I think he nor any other anglo-catholic would submit to put down his entire creed on paper, and lay it before the world.

(LD xii, 290; Letter to Catherine Ward, 12 October 1848)

. . . those of its members who are what is called Evangelical, and those who are Liberals, cause a re-action in favour of Catholicism, and those, who take the high line of Dr Pusey, are but educating souls for a communion holier and truer than their own.

(LD xxxii, 277; Letter to C. C. Catcliffe, 6 January 1867)

Be sure there is as much chance of my turning an Anglican again as of my being . . . the King of Clubs. . . . the Anglican Church is . . . a mere collection of men, a mere national body, a human society. . . . [I would be] the most asinine, as well as the most ungrateful of men, if I left that Gracious Lord who manifests Himself in the Catholic Church, for those wearisome Protestant shadows, out of which of His mercy he has delivered me.

(LD xxv, 200; Letter to an Anglo-Catholic friend in August [?] 1870; cited in Ker, 656-657)

It is undeniable that the Anglican Church has retained large portions of the Catholic doctrine and ritual; so far forth as it has done so, of course it will be called anti-Christian by those who call Rome pure Antichrist.

(Ess. ii, sec. XI, footnote 2 from 1871)

I have said that these Lectures are "more or less" directed against points in Catholic teaching, and that I should consider "how far," because it must be borne in mind that the formal purpose of the Volume was, not an attack upon that teaching, but the establishment of a doctrine of its own, the Anglican Via Media. It only indirectly comes into collision with the theology of Rome. That theology lay in the very threshold of the author's experiment; he came across it, whether he would or no, and, while he attacked it at considerable length in its details, he adopted its main principles and many of its conclusions; and, as obliterating thereby or ignoring the very rudiments of Protestantism, he acted far more as an assailant of the religion of the Reformation than of what he called "Popery." . . . large portions of these Lectures are expositions, nay, recommendations of principles and doctrines, recognized in the Catholic Church . . . the Via Media, . . . a doctrine, wanting in simplicity, hard to master, indeterminate in its provisions, and without a substantive existence in any age or country. . . . I readily grant in particular that there is much truth in Anglican teaching, and that, so far, it does and will, while it lasts, powerfully affect the multitude of men, to whom it comes; but I cannot allow to the Church of England itself what is true of much of its teaching and many of its teachers, for that teaching and those teachers, who are so effective, know nothing of the Via Media.

(VM i, Preface to the Third Edition, 1877)

. . . he found in early history a veritable Via Media in both the Semi-Arian and the Monophysite parties, and they, as being heretical, broke his attachment to middle paths.

(VM i, Introduction; footnote 3 from 1877)

Baptism marks individuals with an indelible character; but what spiritual promises have been made from heaven to the Anglican Church, as such? . . . The Almighty chose the race of Abraham to be His people, in a sense in which He has not chosen the Anglo-Saxons. We cannot argue from Jerusalem to Canterbury and York. . . . where is any promise of divine Providence to the Anglican communion, when visibly separated from the visible Catholic Church?

(VM i, Lecture 14; footnotes 4, 7, and 12 from 1877)

It is a body altogether cut off from the Church. It not only denounces the Holy See, but it has allied itself with Protestantism. Its highest Churchmen have looked favourably on the Nestorians and Monophysites. It allows its Clergy to preach all manner of false doctrines, to deny the grace of baptism, to treat the Holy Eucharist as a mere outward rite, and to make light of the necessity of ordination. It cannot interpret its own formulas and definitions, and it cannot say what it holds and what it does not hold. Therefore I cannot concern myself with the question of the validity of its orders.

(LD xxxii, 385; Letter to an Unknown Correspondent; undated, but thought [by the editors] to be from either December 1878 or January 1879)

A barrister, a dear friend of mine was converted to the Catholic Church, because, he said, the Church of England had taken the step of leaving the great Catholic body, and its first duty was to come back again. So I say now – the move toward union, must first be taken by the party who committed the schism. When some Anglican ecclesiastic of name can be found to come to us and say he wishes, and is empowered, to lay before the Holy Father the repentant feelings existing and growing in the Church of England for the deeds of the 16th century, I shall receive the tidings with great joy and thankfulness.

(LD xxxii, 468; Letter to an Unknown Correspondent, 18 September 1885)


Ess. ii Essays Critical and Historical, vol. 2 (1840-1842, 1846 / 1871; London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1907)

Ker [Ian Ker]: John Henry Newman: A Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988)

LD xi The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, Vol. XI: Littlemore to Rome: October 1845 to December 1846 (edited by Charles Stephen Dessain, London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1961)

LD xii The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, Vol. XII: Rome to Birmingham: January 1847 to December 1848 (edited by Charles Stephen Dessain, London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1962)

LD xxv The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, Vol. XXV: The Vatican Council, January 1870 to December 1871 (edited by Charles Stephen Dessain, Oxford University Press, USA, 1974)

LD xxxii The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, Vol. XXXII: Supplement (edited by Francis J. McGrath, Oxford University Press, USA, 2008)

VM i The Via Media of the Anglican Church: Illustrated in Lectures, Letters and Tracts Written Between 1830 and 1841, vol. 1; aka Lectures on the Prophetical Office of the Church (1837 / 1877; London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 3rd edition, 1901)

My Book, "Orthodoxy and Catholicism: A Comparison", to be Read by Bishops and Priests in the Czech Republic

 By Dave Armstrong (6-16-11)

I received a letter from Bishop Ladislav Hučko: Bishop - Apostolic Exarch of the Greek-Catholic Church, in Prague (Byzantine Rite). He asked for permission to reprint up to 200 copies of my book, Orthodoxy and Catholicism: A Comparison [1st edition] (already translated into Czech) for his priests and fellow Czech bishops.

There are eight Bohemian bishops in the Czech Republic and five Moravian bishops. The country has eight dioceses and an Apostolic Exarchate. In the Archdiocese of Prague alone there are 378 parishes with 216 priests, serving 370,000 Catholics. It's not clear exactly who will receive copies of my book, but it appears to be all priests and bishops.

This is extremely exciting news. I don't receive one cent, but that is quite beside the point. I never began this apostolate with the motive to make a lot of money. I just need to pay my bills and support my family of six. God has always provided our needs, since I've been doing this full-time (beginning in December 2001). My goal and purpose is to spread the word of the gospel and of the fullness of faith to be found in the Catholic Church. Various of my books or papers have also been translated into Spanish, Portugese, French, and probably some other languages, too. Therefore, I was more than happy to grant permission, free of any charge or royalties.

All I asked Bishop Ladislav in return, was for his prayers for my apostolate, and the prayers of anyone receiving my book. God's grace and prayer are ultimately the causes of any fruits achieved in this work. I simply need to be obedient to my calling. As Jesus said: "the harvest is ready . . ."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Luther's Dubious Claims About the Supposed Utter Obscurity of the Bible Before His Translation

By Dave Armstrong (6-15-11)

[Martin Luther's own words below will be in blue; Hartmann Grisar's footnotes (only) in red]

The big myth under consideration is the commonly heard legend among Protestants (especially of an anti-Catholic bent) of Catholic hostility to the Bible and desire to keep it out of the hands of the people, for fear that its doctrines will be exposed as contrary to the Bible. I have written about the falsity of this charge, and related issues, several times.

See also in this regard, the wonderfully informative article by Andrew C. Gow, "The Contested History of  a Book: The German Bible in the Later Middle Ages and Reformation in Legend, Ideology, and Scholarship" ( The Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, Vol. 9, Article 13 [2009] ); and, "Luther's Condemnation of the Rostock New Testament," by Kenneth A. Strand.

Most argue (including most Catholics) that Luther's translation was indeed far superior to previous German ones. But the controversy at hand was whether the Bible was available to the populace in (mostly High) German to any significant extent before Luther. It certainly was. Yet Luther polemicized in his usual hyper-rhetorical fashion, and claimed that it wasn't.

Luther stated:
How much more did we invite this fate when we threw the Scriptures and Saint Paul's epistles under the bench, and, like swine in husks, wallowed in man's nonsense!

(Sermons of Martin Luther, "The Twofold Use of the Law and Gospel: 'Letter' and 'Spirit'", section 18; see also a second source for this portion)

And again he repeats the mantra:

No false doctrine or heresy ever arose, which did not carry with it that mark which Christ here gives:—that is, which did not command, ordain, and teach, those works as necessary to be done, which God never commanded. And the reason why the world is seduced as it is, is none other, than because it suffers itself to be led by maddened reason, and permit the Word of God to fall into disuse, as if hidden under a bench, or laid up in rust; not at all regarding what that Word saith, but following the deluded sight of its own eyes, wherever it perceives any thing new or uncommon.

(Select Works, translated by Henry Cole, 1826, "Professors and Prophets Known by Their Fruits", p. 544)

As early as 1518 he had proclaimed:

. . . the Holy Word of God has not only been laid under the bench but has almost been destroyed by dust and filth.

(Preface to the complete edition of A German Theology, LW, vol. 31, 75-76; WA 1, 378 f.)

In his Commentary on Peter and Jude (1523), Luther opines:

But up to this time, the idea that the laity should read the Scriptures has been treated with derision. For in this the devil has hit on a fine trick to tear the Bible out of the hands of the laity; and he has thought thus: If I can keep the laity from reading the Scriptures, I will then turn the priests from the Bible to Aristotle, and so let them gossip as they will, the laity must hear just what they preach; while if the laity should read the Scriptures, the priests would have to study them, too, in order that they might not be detected and overcome.
(translated by John Nichols Lenker [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 2005]; comment for 1 Peter 3:15; p. 158)

An even more sweeping instance of this sloganistic phraseology of "under the bench" occurs in Luther's Large Catechism (April 1529):

43] For where He does not cause it to be preached and made alive in the heart, so that it is understood, it is lost, as was the case under the Papacy, where faith was entirely put under the bench, and no one recognized Christ as his Lord or the Holy Ghost as his Sanctifier, that is, no one believed that Christ is our Lord in the sense that He has acquired this treasure for us, without our works and merit, and made us acceptable to the Father. What, then, was lacking? 44] This, that the Holy Ghost was not there to reveal it and cause it to be preached; but men and evil spirits were there, who taught us to obtain grace and be saved by our works. 45] Therefore it is not a Christian Church either; for where Christ is not preached, there is no Holy Ghost who creates, calls, and gathers the Christian Church, without which no one can come to Christ the Lord.
("The Apostles' Creed"; Article III)

Further support for the notion that Luther perpetuated the myth of almost total ignorance of and inaccessibility of the Bible before he brought it to light (much like his similarly absurd views of having "rediscovered the gospel" (as if Catholics didn't have a clue about it before he arrived on the scene), comes from Hartmann Grisar's six-volume biography, Luther (the following from Vol. 5 from 1916):

. . . it is instructive from the psychological standpoint to trace the development in Luther's mind of the fable to be dealt with more fully below that, under Popery, the Bible had been discarded and that he, Luther, had brought it once more to light. . . .

When afterwards he had been dazed by his great success with his translation of the Bible he was led to fancy that he was the first to open up the domain of Holy Scripture. This impression is closely bound up with the arbitrary pronouncements, even on the weightiest questions of the Canon, which we find scattered throughout his prefaces to the books of the Bible. He frequently repeats that he had forced all his opponents to take up the study of the Bible and that it was he alone who had made them see the need of their devoting themselves to this branch of learning so as to be able to refute him. Here of course he is exaggerating the facts of the case. Accustomed as he was to hyperbole, we soon find him declaring, first as a paradox and then as actual fact, that the Bible had been buried in oblivion among the Catholics. The Papal Antichrist had destroyed all reverence for the Bible and all understanding of it; only that all men without exception might not run headlong to spiritual destruction had Christ, as it were by "force," preserved the "simple text of the Gospel on the lecterns" "even under the rule of Antichrist."

[Footnote: "Werke," Weim. ed., 30, 2, p. 645 ; Erl. ed., 65, p. 122, "Sendbrieff von Dolmetzschefi."]

(pp. 534-535)

The Bible in the Ages before Luther

It would be to perpetuate a prejudice all too long current among Protestants, founded on Luther's often false or at least exaggerated statements, were one to fail to recognise how widely the Bible was known even before Luther's day and to what an extent it was studied among educated people. Modern research, not seldom carried out by open-minded Protestants, has furnished some surprising results in this respect, so that one of the most recent and diligent of the Protestant workers in this field could write: "If everything be taken into account it will no longer be possible to say as the old polemics did, that the Bible was a sealed book to both theologians and laity. The more we study the Middle Ages, the more does this fable tend to dissolve into thin air." "The Middle Ages concerned themselves with Bible translation much more than was formerly supposed."

[Footnote: Kropatscheck, "Das Schriftprinzip der lutherischen Kirche," 1, 1904, p. 163. On the German translations see below, p. 542 ff.]

According to a careful summary recently published by Franz Falk no less than 156 different Latin editions of the Bible were printed in the period between the discovery of the art of printing and the year of Luther's excommunication, i.e. from 1450 to 1520. To this must also be added at that time many translations of the whole Bible, many of them emanating from what was to be the home of the innovations, viz. 17 German, 11 Italian, 10 French, 2 Bohemian, 1 Belgian, 1 Limousine and 1 Russian edition, making in all, with the 6 Hebrew editions also known, 199 editions of the complete Bible. Of the German editions 14 are in the dialect of Upper Germany.

[Footnote: F. Falk, "Die Bibel am Ausgange des MA. ihre Kenntnis und ihre Verbreitung," Cologne, 1905, pp. 24, 91 ff.]

Besides this the common people also possessed extracts of the Sacred Book, the purchase of the entire Bible being beyond their slender means. The Psalter and the Postils were widely known and both played a great part in the religious life of the Middle Ages. The Psalter, or German translation of the 150 Psalms, was used as a manual of instruction and a prayer-book for both clergy and laity. Twenty-two translations dating from the Middle Ages are extant, and the latter editions extend from the 'seventies of the 15th to the 'twenties of the 16th century. The Postils was the collection of lessons from both Old and New Testaments, prescribed to be read on the Sundays. This collection sufficed for the people and provided them with useful reading matter, with which, moreover, they were rendered even more familiar owing to the homilies on these very excerpts usually given on the Sundays. The early printers soon helped to spread this form of literature. We still have no fewer than 103 printed German editions of the Postils (often known as Plenaries) dating from the above period.

[Footnote: Falk, ib., p. 27 ff.]

. . . Even a superficial glance at the Middle Ages," says Risch, "cannot fail to show us the gradual upgrowth of a fixed German Biblical vocabulary. Luther here could dip into a rich treasure-house and select the best. ... In laying such stress on Luther's indebtedness to the past we have no wish to call into question the real originality of his translation."

[Footnote: "N. kirchl. Zeitschr.," 1911, p. 141.]

"That, during the Middle Ages," says another Protestant scholar, "more particularly in the years which immediately preceded Luther's appearance, the Bible was a well-spring completely choked up, and the entrance to which was jealously guarded, used to be, and probably still is, the prevailing opinion. The question is, however, whether this opinion is correct." "We have before us to-day so complete a history of the Bible in the various modern languages that it can no longer be said that the Vulgate alone was in use and that the laity consequently were ignorant of Scripture. It greatly redounds to the credit of Protestant theologians, that they, more than any others, took so large a part in collecting this enormous store of material." "We must admit that the Middle Ages possessed a quite surprising and extremely praiseworthy knowledge of the Bible, such as might in many respects put our own age to shame." "We have to acknowledge that the Bible at the present day no longer forms the foundation of our knowledge and civilisation to the same extent as it did in the Middle Ages."

[Footnote: E. v. Dobschiitz, " Deutsche Rundschau," 101, 1900, p. 61 ff. Falk, ib., p. 86.]

Who, however, was responsible for the prevalent belief that the Middle Ages knew nothing of the Bible? Who was it who so repeatedly asserted this, that he misled the people into believing that nobody before him had studied Holy Scripture, and that it was only through him that the "Word of God had been drawn forth from under the bench"? A Protestant quite rightly reproves the "bad habit" of accepting the estimate of ecclesiastical conditions, particularly of divine worship, current "with Luther and in his circle" -, 1 it is, however, to fall short of the mark, to describe merely as a "bad habit" Luther's flagrant and insulting falsehoods against the ecclesiastical conditions at the close of the Middle Ages, falsehoods for which his own polemical interests were solely responsible.

. . . As some Protestants have sought to clear him of the authorship of so glaring a fable and to insinuate that the expression belongs rather to his pupil Mathesius, we must here look a little more closely into the words.

Luther himself uses the saying, for instance, when claiming credit in his Commentary on the Prophet Zacharias (chap, viii.) with having rendered the greatest possible service to Scripture. He says: "They [the Papists] are still angry and refuse to listen when people say, that, with them, Scripture lay under the bench, and that their mad delusions alone prevailed." In this connection the Weimar editor of the Commentary refers to a work of the former Dominican, Petrus Sylvius, aimed at Luther and entitled "Von den vier Evangelein, so eine lange Zeit unter der Bank sein gelegen."

[Footnote: "Werke," Weim. ed., 23, p. 606 ; Erl. ed., 42, p. 280. Cp. N. Paulus, "Die deutschen Dominikaner im Kampf gegen Luther," p. 61.]

Popery, Luther says in another passage, "kicked Scripture under the bench."

[Footnote: "Werke," Erl. ed., 25, p. 444.]

. . . Elsewhere he describes in detail the trouble he had in pulling the Bible from "under the bench," particularly owing to his theological rivals and the sectarians within the camp; on this occasion his black outlook as to the future of the Bible he had thus set free scarcely redounds to the credit of his achievement. He says in his tract against Zwingli ("That the words of Christ, 'This is My Body,' still stand fast," 1527): "When in our own day we saw how Scripture lay under the bench, and how the devil was deluding us and taking us captive with the hay and straw of men-made prayers, we tried, by the Grace of God, to mend matters, and have indeed with great and bitter pains brought Scripture back to light once more, and, sending human ordinances to the winds, set ourselves free and escaped from the devil."

[Footnote: " Werke," Weim. ed., 23, p. 69 ; Erl. ed., 30, p. 19. For similar predictions see above, p. 169 ff. On the famous "bench" cp. also Weim. ed., 6, p. 460 ; Erl. ed., 21, p. 348 ; also below, p. 541 and vol. iv., p. 159.]

(pp. 536-539)

It is plain that they "abuse and revile Scripture, thrust it under the bench, pretend that it is shrouded in thick fog, that the interpretation of the Fathers is needed and that light must be sought in the darkness." Thus did he write against Emser in 1521.

[Footnote: " Auff das ubirchristlich Buch," etc., 1521, " Werke," Weim. ed., 7, p. 641 ; Erl. ed., 27, p. 247.]

(p. 541)

Modern Protestant writers in this field are also somewhat sceptical about the theory of Luther's complete ignorance of the older translation of the Bible, and the assertion that he made no use whatever of it. O. Reichert, for instance, in his new work "Luthers deutsche Bibel" makes the following remarks on Luther's work in the Wartburg, with which we may fittingly conclude this section: "Although he probably was able to make use of Lang's translation of 1521 in his rendering of Matthew, and as a matter of fact did have recourse to it, and though he most likely also had the old German translation at his elbow, as is apparent from many coincidences, nevertheless, what Luther accomplished is an achievement worthy of all admiration."

[Footnote: "Luthers deutsche Bibel," p. 23.]

(p. 546)

Luther at times talks about "obscurity" of the Bible in the sense of false doctrines being imposed upon it (Catholic biographer Grisar acknowledges this), but this doesn't rule out that he also often intends the first sense of physical removal of the Bible from the laity (by either prohibition or absence of vernacular translations, or lack of availability of same): according to the timeworn Protestant myth that has been heard countless times ever since. That Luther intends the first sense is already observed in the excerpts I have provided above. For example:

. . . the Bible lies forgotten in the dust under the bench (as happened to the book of Deuteronomy, in the time of the kings of Judah). (1539)

The editors of this collection of Luther writings, gives the biblical reference alluded to by Luther: 2 Kings 22:8. Here it is (RSV):

And Hilki'ah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, "I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD." And Hilki'ah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.

Most Bible scholars consider this lost work, the book of Deuteronomy. Note that it was literally, physically lost, in the temple. Once it was found, it was read to the people. This is not merely loss of proper interpretation, but loss of the book itself. Luther proves that this is his meaning by citing this analogy. It couldn't be any clearer than it is.

Again above, Luther refers to a state of affairs where (Catholic) men "permit the Word of God to fall into disuse . . ." It's not used at all; this is again, non-use of the Bible altogether, not false or corrupted use of it. If I permit my bicycle to fall into disuse, quite obviously I am not using it at all. The chain would get rusty in due course. Luther uses the same analogy in the same work: [the Bible] "laid up in rust".

Luther's Commentary on Peter and Jude from 1523 (cited at length above), explicitly states that Catholics (or the Church) supposedly desired to keep the Bible out of the laity's hands. As a general statement, this is untrue. And it's a bit difficult to believe that he could have been this ignorant of Church history and Catholicism (being quite a sharp guy).

But we know that Luther was prone to hyper-polemical utterances and exaggeration (and that context is always very important in interpretation of Luther); thus we hope (in charity) that this is altogether an instance of that, rather than reflective of his literal opinion as to the historical facts.