Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Did the Older Luther's Illness and Frustration Significantly Impact His Negative Rhetoric? Four Major Luther Historians, Calvin, Bullinger, and I Say Yes; Anti-Catholic Polemicist James Swan Says No


By Catholic Apologist Dave Armstrong

I made the following statement in my paper earlier today, entitled: Martin Luther's Positive Statements on the Christian Status of the Catholic Church as a Theological Worldview: Documentation:

Another relevant factor to take into consideration is Luther's ravings when he was an old, embittered, sick man (disgusted even with most Protestants, including his own party, let alone Catholics): often regarded as from 1543 till his death in 1546. Many -- if not most -- Luther scholars think they should be taken with a large grain of salt: certainly not literally all down the line. Some of these rantings are blatantly anti-Catholic in nature; other famous pontifications from this period are his jeremiads against the "Sacramentarians" (Protestants who denied the Real Presence in the Eucharist) and the Jews.

The context had to do with Luther's view of the Catholic Church: whether it still retained Christianity or could be regarded as Christian in some sense. I documented his affirmative views in that paper, but I also noted that he said many negative things, and that as an old man his rhetoric was so ratcheted-up that it must be interpreted a bit differently, taking his illness and frustrations, etc. into consideration.

Now, that rankled and distressed James Swan, an anti-Catholic Reformed Protestant polemicist, to such an extent that he felt compelled to rail about it on his site, Boors All: as usual, neither naming me nor linking to the paper where I stated this, so that folks could examine context (even though he quotes me directly).

All of this is quite ironic and ridiculous, of course, since Swan rants constantly about how Catholic apologists care nothing about context. Moreover, if I dare to show up on his site to give the link to the latest paper of mine that he is obsessed with as of late, and dare to present another side, he deletes everything I put up. Can't be too careful these days, in preserving cynical propaganda against criticism from those wascally wicked "Romanists"!! Here is what he wrote today:

Oh no with Luther, if he's saying something Romanists don't like which disagrees with their preconceived historical revisionism, Luther isn't "developing." Rather, he was such an erratic thinker that he contradicted himself month to month, and... to make it worse, he was "an old, embittered, sick man" so anything he said later in his life can't be trusted. . . .

Luther did not consider the defenders of the papacy to be Christians, and even in 1520, in a restrained way he's saying the same thing he did 20 years later when he was "an old, embittered, sick man." 


First of all, I didn't say that we should entirely discount "anything" Luther wrote when he was old, sick, and embittered. I simply stated that it was "another relevant factor" and that (Protestant) Luther scholars "think they should be taken with a large grain of salt: certainly not literally all down the line." Big wow! This is, unfortunately, classic Swan tactics: distort what the opponent says; don't cite it in context; don't provide a link for the same ends; don't allow the person to respond on your site; then proceed to tear down the straw man that isn't even the person's actual opinion, in an effort to defame and belittle. I never claimed that later Luther statements were to be completely disregarded or dismissed. But for Swan (given to myths and fairy-tales, above all, whenever the detested, despised "Romanists" are involved), somehow I did do that.

I shall now proceed to back up everything I stated from Protestant biographers, and even from John Calvin and Heinrich Bullinger: contemporaries, fellow "reformers" and acquaintances of Luther (if only by letter).


Roland H. Bainton


[author of Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (New York: Mentor Books, 1950): without question the most well-known and probably most renowned -- certainly most influential -- Luther biography in English; citations from the Internet Archive version, that can easily be searched by word; excerpts from chapter 22: "The Measure of the Man"]


The last sixteen years of Luther's life, from the Augsburg Confession in 1530 to his death in 1546, are commonly treated more cursorily by biographers than the earlier period, if indeed they are not omitted altogether. There is a measure of justification for this comparative neglect because the last quarter of Luther's life was neither determinative for his ideas nor crucial for his achievements. . . .

. . . the conflicts and the labors of the dramatic years had impaired his health and made him prematurely an irascible old man, petulant, peevish, unrestrained, and at times positively coarse. This is no doubt another reason why biographers prefer to be brief in dealing with this period. There are several incidents over which one would rather draw the veil, but precisely because they are so often exploited to his discredit they are not to be left unrecorded. The most notorious was his attitude toward the bigamy of the landgrave, Philip of Hesse. . . . Luther's solution of the problem can be called only a pitiable subterfuge.

. . . The second development of those later years was a hardening toward sectaries, notably the Anabaptists.

[Bainton goes on to detail how Luther and Melanchthon adopted the view of capital punishment against them]

. . . Another dissenting group to attract Luther's concern was the Jews.

[Bainton analyzes -- with obvious disapproval, as in all these cases -- the horrible and famous statements that Luther made against them, stating, "One could wish that Luther had died before ever this tract was written."]

. . . The third group toward whom Luther became more bitter was the papists. His railing against the pope became perhaps the more vituperative because there was so little else that could be done. Another public appearance such as that at Worms, where an ampler confession could be made, was denied Luther, and the martyrdom which came to others also passed him by. He compensated by hurling vitriol Toward the very end of his life he issued an illustrated tract with outrageously vulgar cartoons. In all of this he was utterly unrestrained.

. . . However much the superb defiance of the earlier days might degenerate into the peevishness of one racked by disease, labor, and discouragement, yet a case of genuine need would always restore his sense of proportion and bring him into the breach. . . . Luther's later years are, however, by no means to be written off as the sputterings of a dying flame. If in his polemical tracts he was at times savage and coarse, in the works which constitute the real marrow of his life's endeavor he grew constantly in maturity and artistic creativity.

There you have it, folks. I outrageously (?) describe Luther as "an old, embittered, sick man . . . disgusted . . .." Two of those words are undeniable ("old" and "sick"); so the only "controversial" things I said was that he was "embittered" and "disgusted" (with various shortcomings among Protestants and all of his other concerns).

Bainton, his leading biographer (and great admirer) describes him, on the other hand, as "prematurely an irascible old man, petulant, peevish, unrestrained, and at times positively coarse. . . . more bitter . . . [producer of]  outrageously vulgar cartoons . . . utterly unrestrained. . . . the peevishness of one racked by disease, labor, and discouragement . . ."

I stated that his "last years" were roughly from 1543-1546. Bainton dates them from 1530 on: 13 years earlier than my given dates. He even notes how historians generally greatly underemphasize the last 16 years of Luther's life. Thus, for Bainton (and Church historians generally), this is a far bigger factor in Luther analysis than in my view. Yet I am supposedly so "anti-Luther" and they are not.

Which is worse? I get trashed as a mere partisan of "Romanism" who cares nothing about historical fact, because I supposedly despise Luther (I don't: I admire him in many ways but am also a strong critic of his theological errors and whoppers about the Catholic Church and catholics: none of it entailing hatred or calumny), while Bainton gets a pass for stating far worse than I did? That is James Swan's Alice-in-Wonderland world, where facts are irrelevant and logic is a joke, and Catholics always wrong, wherever they disagree with Protestants: about anything whatever!


Martin Brecht


[author of Martin Luther: The Preservation of the Church: 1532-1546 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993, from the 1987 German original; translated by James L. Schaaf) ]

 . . . recent presentations have treated the last two decades of his life more or less cursorily . . .

It is well known that the personality of the old Luther displayed great tensions, both in deed and thought, His shortness and rudeness with his friends, although perhaps explainable, continually caused offense. In the many tasks that he had to perform, it was unavoidable that he also repeatedly made serious errors both ion practice and in theory. (Foreword, pp. xi-xii)

In February [1545] he was engaged in writing Against the Roman Papacy, an Institution of the Devil . . . It was written in an extremely vehement manner, full of crude statements and vulgar expressions. He was probably unable, because of his declining abilities, to organize it in as well-balanced a manner as he planned. To this extent, it is not one of Luther's best works, but its offensiveness and formalistic weaknesses need not divert us from seeing that once again he was dealing with essential matters in his conflict with the papacy. (p. 359)


Although the manifestation of Christianity in the papacy was a pollution to Luther -- theologically, juridically, ecclesiastically, and politically -- his reaction was still inappropriate, for, conditioned in his anger and eschatological bias, he could scarcely see any positive alternative in the controversy that concerned him until his end. (p. 367)



Mark U. Edwards, Jr.


[author of Luther's Last Battles: Politics and Polemics, 1531-1546 (Ithaca, New York, and London: Cornell University Press, 1983) ]

It becomes difficult to escape the impression that Against Hanswurst [1541] represented an escalation in the coarseness and abusiveness of the controversy . . .Heinrich Bullinger of Zurich [fellow Protestant "reformer"] . . . did characterize it in a later letter to Bucer [another "reformer"] as 'unbecoming, completely immodest, entirely scurrilous, and frivolous,' but his evaluation remained private. (p. 154)

Here is an excerpt from Luther's work, that Edwards cites on pp. 150-151:

You are both the real Hanswursts, bumpkins, louts, and boors . . . Both of you, father and son, are incorrigible, honorless, perjured rogues . . . But suppose what you will, so do it in your pants and hang it around your neck and make a sausage of it for yourself and gobble it down, you gross asses and sows!

Edwards:

The last major polemic of Luther's life [Against the Papacy at Rome, Founded by the Devil (March 1545) ] . . . was intended to inform Protestants of the true horror of the papal antichrist and to discredit the council convened at Trent . . . Without question it is the most intentionally violent and vulgar writing to come from Luther's pen. (p. 163)

The Introduction for this hideous tract, in Luther's Works, the 55-volume American edition, describes it as "the most bitter of Luther's polemic writings" (LW, 41, 259-290)


Preserved Smith


During his later years Luther's polemic never flagged. His last book, Against the Papacy of Rome, founded by the Devil, surpassed Cicero and the humanists and all that had ever been known in the virulence of its invective . . . Of course such lack of restraint largely defeated its own ends. The Swiss Reformer Bullinger called it "amazingly violent," and a book than which he "had never read anything more savage or imprudent." Our judgment of it must be tempered by the consideration that Luther suffered in his last years from a nervous malady and from other painful diseases, due partly to overwork and lack of exercise, partly to the quantities of alcohol he imbibed, though he never became intoxicated.

(Reformation in Europe, Book I of a two-volume edition of The Age of Reformation, New York: Collier Books, 1962; originally 1920, 102)


John Calvin



Writing to Luther's right hand man Philip Melanchthon, Calvin stated:

Your Pericles [Luther] allows himself to be carried beyond all due bounds with his love of thunder . . .

But, you will say, his disposition is vehement, and his impetuosity is ungovernable; -- as if that very vehemence did not break forth with all the greater violence when all shew themselves alike indulgent to him, and allow him to have his way, unquestioned. If this specimen of overbearing tyranny has sprung forth already as the early blossom in the springtide of a reviving Church, what must we expect in a short time, when affairs have fallen into a far worse condition?

(28 June 1545; Letter CXXXVI in Selected Works of John Calvin: Tracts and Letters, edited by Henry Beveridge and Jules Bonnet, Volume 4: Letters, Part 1: 1528-1545, translated by David Constable, Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1858; reprinted by Baker Book House [Grand Rapids, Michigan], 1983, 466-467)

He was even more critical in a letter to Bullinger (the "reformers" had a knack of griping about each other in such letters):

I hear that Luther has at length broken forth in fierce invective, not so much against you as against the whole of us [referring to Luther's Short Confession Concerning the Supper] . . .

But while he is endued with rare and excellent virtues, he labours at the same time under serious faults. Would that he had rather studied to curb this restless, uneasy temperament which is so apt to boil over in every direction. I wish, moreover, that he had always bestowed the fruits of that vehemence of natural temperament upon the enemies of the truth, and that he had not flashed his lightning sometimes also upon the servants of the Lord. Would that he had been more observant and careful in the acknowledgment of his own vices. Flatterers have done him much mischief, since he is naturally too prone to be over-indulgent to himself. It is our part, however, so to reprove whatsoever evil qualities may beset him, as that we may make some allowance for him at the same time on the score of these remarkable endowments with which he has been gifted.

(25 November 1544; Letter CXXII, ibid., 432-433)

See also my related 2004 paper, Biographer Roland Bainton and Other Protestant Historians On "Controversial" Issues Concerning Martin Luther, and lots more Luther analyses on my Martin Luther web page


*****

Martin Luther's Positive Statements on the Christian Status of the Catholic Church as a Theological Worldview: Documentation


By Catholic Apologist Dave Armstrong

These are excerpts from a larger dialogue that also discussed Calvin's view (with this new introduction and summary). All words are Luther's except for a few comments from scholars on his views and positions, or my introductory comments, which will be in blue, and the bibliographical source information: in green. It should be noted that Luther also makes tons of negative statements about the Catholic Church, but these are mostly directed towards the hierarchy or the papacy, which he does not equate with the Catholic Church as a whole. He regards the latter as "antichrist," etc. For documentation of these motifs, see my lengthy paper on that topic.

 Luther's thought develops (from both true and false premises that he holds), and he is also quite capable of -- and not infrequently guilty of -- either self-contradiction or vacillation (on any topic). Moreover, it is always of the utmost importance in interpreting Luther, to take into consideration context and his particular "mood" or the literary technique he uses at any given time. He often utilizes sarcasm and hyperbole and other non-literal devices to get his point across. Because of this, he is often cited out of context, and unjustly so: making people think he taught something that he did not, in fact, teach.

Another relevant factor to take into consideration is Luther's ravings when he was an old, embittered, sick man (disgusted even with most Protestants, including his own party, let alone Catholics): often regarded as from 1543 till his death in 1546. Many -- if not most -- Luther scholars think they should be taken with a large grain of salt: certainly not literally all down the line. Some of these rantings are blatantly anti-Catholic in nature; other famous pontifications from this period are his jeremiads against the "Sacramentarians" (Protestants who denied the Real Presence in the Eucharist) and the Jews.

[note: the above paragraph has become a bone of contention and was scathingly critiqued by the persistently idiotic and slanderous anti-Catholic Reformed polemicist, James Swan.  I replied at length, thoroughly backing myself up, in my paper, Did the Older Luther's Illness and Frustration Significantly Impact His Negative Rhetoric? Four Major Luther Historians, Calvin, Bullinger, and I Say Yes; Anti-Catholic Polemicist James Swan Says No]

In any event, the positive statements documented below (mostly intended literally, as far as I can tell) mean what they mean, and have to be interpreted in their own right; not simply rationalized away or dismissed en masse because he said "bad stuff" somewhere else (as my opponent in the larger dialogue foolishly attempted to do, in classic anti-Catholic polemical form). Nor is it insignificant that leading Luther scholars back up my present point of view.

Amateurs and polemicists and wannabe apologists or historians on the Internet (with an agenda and ax to grind) can and do claim all sorts of things (often with a ludicrous and self-important dogmatism); what Luther scholars or Church historians believe, on the other hand, is quite a different story indeed. Thus, I always try to massively back up my contentions with scholars (and primary documentation), for this very reason: because I know full well that my opinion as an amateur historian and student of Church history carries little or no weight without them. Nor would I ever want to give the slightest impression that they had any weight, minus this documentation and whatever scholarly support I can find to aid my arguments.

* * * * *

Baptism is especially important with regard to Luther's statements.  He thought that the Catholic Church possessed true baptism. Now, when we analyze what Luther thought about baptism, it's clear that he thought that Catholics could very well be saved by means of it. Here is what Luther expressed along these lines:


    Little children . . . are free in every way, secure and saved solely through the glory of their baptism . . . Through the prayer of the believing church which presents it, . . . the infant is changed, cleansed, and renewed by inpoured faith. Nor should I doubt that even a godless adult could be changed, in any of the sacraments, if the same church prayed for and presented him, as we read of the paralytic in the Gospel, who was healed through the faith of others (Mark 2:3-12). I should be ready to admit that in this sense the sacraments of the New Law are efficacious in conferring grace, not only to those who do not, but even to those who do most obstinately present an obstacle.   
    (The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, 1520, from the translation of A.T.W. Steinhauser, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, revised edition, 1970, 197)
 
Likewise, in his Large Catechism (1529), Luther writes:

     Expressed in the simplest form, the power, the effect, the benefit, the fruit and the purpose of baptism is to save. No one is baptized that he may become a prince, but, as the words declare [of Mark 16:16], that he may be saved. But to be saved, we know very well, is to be delivered from sin, death, and Satan, and to enter Christ's kingdom and live forever with him . . . Through the Word, baptism receives the power to become the washing of regeneration, as St. Paul calls it in Titus 3:5 . . . Faith clings to the water and believes it to be baptism which effects pure salvation and life . . .
    When sin and conscience oppress us . . . you may say: It is a fact that I am baptized, but, being baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and obtain eternal life for both soul and body . . . Hence, no greater jewel can adorn our body or soul than baptism; for through it perfect holiness and salvation become accessible to us . . .

    (From edition by Augsburg Publishing House [Minneapolis], 1935, sections 223-224, 230, pp. 162, 165)

1522  
 

Ewald M. Plass's magisterial 1667-page volume, What Luther Says (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959) -- I have it in my own library -- provides more evidence. He writes, himself, on p. 128:


. . . while scoring papal innovations, Luther never ceased to confess indebtedness to the Church of Rome and to regard it as a Christian organization. He expresses this clearly in a Church Postil sermon on John 15:26 - 16:4, in connection with John 16:3. Between the Church of Rome and the Lutheran Church a relation exists similar to that which once existed between the Jewish Church and the apostolic Christian Church . . .

I found this sermon online. It dates from 1522. Here is an excerpt, with his "ecumenical" sentiments, in-between a mountain of hostility and his usual lies about the Catholic Church:

28. Accordingly, we concede to the papacy that they sit in the true Church, possessing the office instituted by Christ and inherited from the apostles, to teach, baptize, administer the sacrament, absolve, ordain, etc., just as the Jews sat in their synagogues or assemblies and were the regularly established priesthood and authority of the Church. We admit all this and do not attack the office, although they are not willing to admit as much for us; yea, we confess that we have received these things from them, even as Christ by birth descended from the Jews and the apostles obtained the Scriptures from them. . . .

32. Thus we say to the papists: We grant you, indeed, the name and office, and regard these as holy and precious, for the office is not yours, but has been established by Christ and given to the Church without regard for and distinction of the persons who occupy it. Therefore, whatever is exercised through this office as the institution of Christ, and in his name and that of the Church, is at all times right and proper, even though ungodly and unbelieving men may participate. We must distinguish between the office and the person exercising it, between rightful use and abuse. The name of God and of Christ is always holy in itself; but it may be abused and blasphemed. So also, the office of the Church is holy and precious, but the person occupying it may be accursed and belong to the devil.  . . .

43. We admit that the papists also exercise the appointed offices of the Church, baptize, administer the sacrament etc., when they observe these things as the institution of Christ, in the name of Christ and by virtue of his command (just as in the Church we must regard as right and efficacious the offices of the Church and baptism administered by heretics), . . .


1528

 
In the first place I hear and see that such rebaptism is undertaken by some in order to spite the pope and to be free of any taint of the Antichrist. In the same way the foes of the sacrament want to believe only in bread and wine, in opposition to the pope, thinking thereby really to overthrow the papacy. It is indeed a shaky foundation on which they can build nothing good. On that basis we would have to disown the whole of Scripture and the office of the ministry, which of course we have received from the papacy. We would also have to make a new Bible. . . . 

We on our part confess that there is much that is Christian and good under the papacy; indeed everything that is Christian and good is to be found there and has come to us from this source. For instance we confess that in the papal church there are the true holy Scriptures, true baptism, the true sacrament of the altar, the true keys to the forgiveness of sins, the true office of the ministry, the true catechism in the form of the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the articles of the creed . . . I speak of what the pope and we have in common . . . I contend that in the papacy there is true Christianity, even the right kind of Christianity and many great and devoted saints.  

. . . The Christendom that now is under the papacy is truly the body of Christ and a member of it. If it is his body, then it has the true spirit, gospel, faith, baptism, sacrament, keys, the office of the ministry, prayer, holy Scripture, and everything that pertains to Christendom. So we are all still under the papacy and therefrom have received our Christian treasures. 

. . . We do not rave as do the rebellious spirits, so as to reject everything that is found in the papal church. For then we would cast out even Christendom from the temple of God, and all that it contained of Christ.

[251] . . . We recall that St. John was not averse to hearing the Word of God from Caiaphas and pays attention to his prophecy [John 11:49 f.] . . . Christ bids us hear the godless Pharisees in the seat of Moses, though they are godless teachers . . . Let God judge their evil lies. We can still listen to their godly words . . .

Still we must admit that the enthusiasts have the Scriptures and the Word of God in other doctrines. Whoever hears it from them and believes will be saved, even though they are unholy heretics and blasphemers of Christ.

. . . [256] if the first, or child, baptism were not right, it would follow that for more than a thousand years there was no baptism or any Christendom, which is impossible. For in that case the article of the creed, I believe in one holy Christian church, would be false . . . [257] If this baptism is wrong then for that long period Christendom would have been without baptism, and if it were without baptism it would not be Christendom. 

(Concerning Rebaptism: A Letter to Two Pastors, 1528, Luther's Works ["LW"], Vol. 40, 225-262; translated by Conrad Bergendoff, pp. 231-232, 251, 256-257) 


1531   


. . . even though it is in the midst of wolves and robbers, that is, spiritual tyrants, it nevertheless is the church. Although the city of Rome is worse than Sodom and Gomorrah, yet Baptism, the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the reading (vox) and text of the Gospel, Holy Scriptures, the ministry, the name of Christ, and the name of God remain in her.

(Luther's exposition of Galatians 1:2 in his 1531 commentary; quoted by Plass, ibid., p. 130, #375A)


1532


This testimony of the universal holy Christian Church, even if we had nothing else, would be a sufficient warrant for holding this article [on the sacrament] and refusing to suffer or listen to a sectary, for it is dangerous and fearful to hear or believe anything against the unanimous testimony, belief, and teaching of the universal holy Christian churches, unanimously held in all the world from the beginning until now over fifteen hundred years.

(Letter to Albrecht, Margrave of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia, 1532; from Roland H. Bainton, Studies on the Reformation, Boston: Beacon Press, 1963, p. 26; WA, Vol. XXX, 552) 

This letter, apparently passed over by Luther’s Works, Vol. 50 (Letters III), was, thankfully, cited at some length by the celebrated Protestant historian Philip Schaff, and refers to, as Schaff notes, “the real presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper”:

Moreover, this article has been unanimously believed and held from the beginning of the Christian Church to the present hour, as may be shown from the books and writings of the dear fathers, both in the Greek and Latin languages, -- which testimony of the entire holy Christian Church ought to be sufficient for us, even if we had nothing more. For it is dangerous and dreadful to hear or believe anything against the unanimous testimony, faith, and doctrine of the entire holy Christian Church, as it has been held unanimously in all the world up to this year 1500. Whoever now doubts of this, he does just as much as if he believed in no Christian Church, and condemns not only the entire holy Christian Church as a damnable heresy, but Christ Himself, and all the Apostles and Prophets, who founded this article, when we say, “I believe in a holy Christian Church,” to which Christ bears powerful testimony in Matt. 28.20: “Lo, I am with you alway, to the end of the world,” and Paul, in 1 Tim. 3.15: “The Church is the pillar and ground of the truth.”

(The Life and Labours of St. Augustine, Oxford University: 1854, 95. Italics are Schaff’s own; cf. abridged [?] version in Preserved Smith, The Life and Letters of Martin Luther, Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1911, pp. 290-292; cf. Johann Adam Mohler, Symbolism, 1844, 400)

Schaff, writing in The Reformed Quarterly Review (July, 1888, p. 295), cites the passage yet again, and translates one portion a little differently (my italics):




The testimony of the entire holy Christian Church (even without any other proof) should be sufficient for us to abide by this article and to listen to no sectaries against it.  


1533


By His miraculous power God nonetheless preserved under the pope, first, Holy Baptism, then, in the pulpit, the text of the holy Gospel in the language of each country, thirdly, the forgiveness of sins and absolution in both private confession and the public services; fourthly, the holy Sacrament of the altar . . . fifthly, the calling and ordaining to the pastorate, the ministry, or the care of souls . . . finally, also prayer, the Psalter, the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments; likewise, many good hymns and songs . . . Therefore Christ with His Holy Spirit surely was with his own and sustained Christian faith in them . . .

(in Plass, ibid., p. 129, #375)
 
1538  
The papacy has God’s word and the office of the apostles, and we have received the Holy Scriptures, baptism, the sacrament, and the office of preaching from them . . . we ourselves find it difficult to refute it . . . Then there come rushing into my heart thoughts like these: Now I see that I am in error. Oh, if only I had never started this and had never preached a word! For who dares oppose the church, of which we confess in the creed: I believe in a holy Christian church . . .

(Sermons on John 14-16, 1538 [on Jn 16:1-2], Paul Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther, translated by Robert C. Schultz, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966, 336; WA, Vol. 46, 5 ff. [edited by Cruciger]; cf. LW, Vol. XXIV, 304)

Thus we are also compelled to say: “I believe and am sure that the Christian Church has remained even in the papacy” . . . some of the papists are true Christians, even though they, too, have been led astray, as Christ foretold in Matt. 24:24. But by the grace of God and with His help they have been preserved in a wonderful manner.

(Sermons on John 14-16, 1538 [on Jn 16:1-2], LW, Vol. XXIV, 305)

[I]t is necessary to consider their beliefs and teachings. If I see that they preach and confess Christ as the One sent by God the Father to reconcile us to the Father through His death and to obtain grace for us, then we are in agreement, and I regard them as my dear brethren in Christ and as members of the Christian Church.

Yet the proclamation of this text – together with Baptism, the Sacrament of Christ, and the articles of the Creed – has remained even in the papacy, although many errors and devious paths have been introduced alongside it. . . . All errors notwithstanding, the true church has never perished.

(Ibid., 309)


1539


We know that Luther regarded Catholic baptism as valid; therefore, by ineluctable logic, Catholics are Christians, on that basis, if he regarded baptized people as such.

Luther (like Calvin) was not rebaptized as an adult (and excommunicated Protestant), and regarded his Catholic baptism as valid (since, after all, he himself argued against rebaptism). Luther clarified his opinion on baptism in his 1539 treatise, On the Councils and the Church:



I excuse St. Cyprian . . . for he held that the heretics had no sacrament at all and that therefore they had to be baptized like other heathen. . . . But our Anabaptists admit that our baptism and that of the papacy is a true baptism, but since it is administered and received by unworthy people, it is no baptism at all. St. Cyprian would never have concurred in this, much less practiced it.

(Selected Writings of Martin Luther: 1529-1546, Fortress Press, 1967, p. 238)

* * * 


That Luther regarded properly baptized persons as Christians is backed-up by the most well-known Luther biographer, Roland H. Bainton. Referring to his opinion in 1526, he stated:

. . . he had relinquished the hope of gathering the ardent and had turned to the education of the masses. There should be neither a sect nor a cell, but the Church should coincide with the community and all those baptized in infancy should be accounted Christian.

(Studies on the Reformation, Boston: Beacon Press, 1963, p. 38)

*****

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Exchange with Anti-Catholic Calvinist Austin Reed on the Definition of "Christian" and Whether Luther and Calvin Regarded Catholicism as a Christian System

 Anti-Catholic efforts to "prove" that Catholicism isn't Christan . . .

By Catholic Apologist Dave Armstrong

Austin's words [see his Facebook page] will be in blue. We had an exchange on 1 May 2013 on Facebook about the definition of Christian (which is included as the first part below). The latest dialogue began in June 2013 on one Facebook thread, spread to another, and then to this website paper.

See the Facebook Introduction to this paper and further discussion.

* * * * *

Do you believe that the Catholic Church is a legitimate form of Christianity, Austin? Can a Catholic be saved if he or she believes all that the Catholic Church teaches? Or do they have to be a lousy Catholic to be a (good) Christian?

I'm not sure how to answer that question Dave. I believe there are many Catholic Christians, but I don't believe that being a Catholic automatically makes a person a Christian (and the same goes for Protestants). The second half of your question seems to be loaded, but I'll answer anyway, a true Christian must place the entirety of their faith in the sufficiency of Christ's work on the cross for them. They must experience a total transformation so dramatic it can only be described as a "new birth". Notice, nowhere did I include a "sinner's prayer" or any sort of altar call nonsense. Becoming a new creation in Christ is a matter of placing your faith in the sufficiency of Christ's work on your behalf.

Can a Catholic do that and at the same time believe all that the Catholic Church teaches? Is Catholic theology a species of Christian theology?

Of course they could, and many do, but they are inconsistent with the official teaching of the Catholic Church concerning justification.

So that is your answer: you have to be a lousy Catholic in order to be a (good) Christian. 

Yeah because its a loaded question.

That is classic anti-Catholicism. It's a perfectly sensible question; not "loaded." It seeks a straightforward answer. You gave the textbook answer, which doesn't surprise me in the least.

Dave, proving that I'm "anti-Catholic" (a designation I find incredibly immature and offensive) proves nothing. It does nothing to discredit the truth claims I've made thus far.

Didn't say it did. But it has to do with how willing I am to spend time discussing stuff. "Anti-Catholic" is a perfectly legitimate term, used for many decades by historians, sociologists, and other scholars, as I have documented. [links to those papers provided below]

I will definitely check out all of the blog posts. To be clear, I reject the designation "anti-Catholic" because I have a great deal of affection for my Catholic family and friends. The term "anti-Catholic" seems to suggest some sort of malicious intent on my part for bringing up these distinctions when in reality I simply want to defend or clarify the Protestant position. The term itself really makes honest dialogue impossible.

My use has nothing to do with that at all. Zero, zip, nada. It's strictly a theological meaning (denial that Catholic theology or Catholicism is a fully Christian system, in the way that you think fellow Protestants are Christians, even though you disagree with them on various points). But of course, to believe that, you clearly must misunderstand elements of our belief-system.

It's not the term that makes dialogue impossible, but the point of view designated by the term. At least that's been my experience, and I tried dialoguing about theology for 17 years with anti-Catholics, before giving up in 2007 (many scores of those past debates remain online). I gave up when I was refused by seven different Protestant anti-Catholics, to engage in a chat debate about the definition of "Christian." That was the last straw. If the basics couldn't be honestly discussed, then nothing really could be. Dialogue is literally impossible when even the most basic of premises can't be agreed-upon at the outset. There's no common ground.

You seem like you're right on the edge of accepting us as fellow Christians, though: an R. C. Sproul type, who should know better.
If you read Trent on justification closely and carefully, I think it's possible you could be persuaded that we're in the fold. Here's a quick summary that may be helpful (see further related papers: one / two / three / four).


* * *

I am not anti-Catholic and I am personally offended by the term, in the same way I am offended by the term "homophobe". I love Catholic people and have several near and dear Catholic friends.

We've been through this before, Austin. "Anti-Catholicism" as I use it, in accordance with scholarly usage, means "one who denies that Catholicism is a Christian system of theology." It has nothing to do with behavior per se (in its basic definition). [see past papers on the topic: one / two / three / four]
 


There is also some usage, granted, of behavior, as in this instance [in an article I cross-posted], which was clearly anti-Catholic not only doctrinally, but physically, in terms of persecution. Thus, events of this sort will be described as "anti-Catholic" in the sense that, e.g., a violent Catholic attack on Protestants in Belfast might be described as "anti-Protestant." Words can have different and multiple meanings as well.

But in my own frequent usage it refers (almost always) to doctrine only. Thus, an anti-Catholic could love Catholics around him to death and have nothing but benevolent and warm fuzzy feelings, wanting to see them saved, etc. He remains anti-Catholic if he believes that in order to be a good Christian and be saved, one has to be a "bad" Catholic (i.e., denounce various Catholic tenets that are abominated by the anti-Catholic and regarded as subversive of true Christianity).

I've reiterated all this 97,603 times through the years, and no doubt I will continue to be misunderstood (to my endless frustration), but it's all perfectly consistent and linguistically / logically sound.


My point is, the use of the term "anti-Protestant" suggests an appeal to pity. Every consistent Protestant will fall under the designation "anti-Catholic" using your criteria . . . 

That's sheer nonsense. The vast majority of Protestants regard Catholics as fellow Christians, and do so with perfect consistency, just as we do the other way around. For a Protestant to say that we are not Christians makes mincemeat of any reasonable, sensible, solid definition of "Christian". 

We are Protestants because we're protesting the doctrine of Justification as set forth in the Council of Trent. Anyone who adheres to that understanding of Justification is unequivocally NOT a Christian.

Hogwash. Define "Christian" and explain where your definition comes from and why all Christians are bound to it.
 

Dave, your assumptions are massive and totally unwarranted. You know as well as I do that the alleged historicity of Roman Catholicism has been critiqued over and over again, and I am yet to see any serious responses (and yes I've read your Sola Scriptura book). I would love to see a Roman Catholic make a historical case that Protestantism has historically allowed for consistent Roman Catholics to be Christians.

That's easy. Luther acknowledged that the Catholic Church was Christian in the basic sense of the word, and the debt of Lutheranism to it. I have several of his comments to that effect. His main beef was with the papacy. He regarded Catholics on a much higher plane than he did Zwinglians, whom he regarded as definitely damned. Even Calvin accepts Catholic baptism. That makes us Christians. [see documentation below]

You're a good and sharp guy. With more education, I believe you'll come around and see the foolishness and utter untenability of the anti-Catholic position. Sometimes these things take time.

*** 

That's all I've said: regard us as fellow Christians and I'll never classify you as an anti-Catholic. It ain't rocket science. Disagree on all the usual stuff, but don't take the intellectually suicidal route of denying that the entity that you came from (and must have come from, historically speaking) is Christian.
 

. . . which would really make the term completely useless. Its clearly a term loaded with emotional baggage that is totally superfluous and unhelpful. I would be happy to dialogue with any Catholic who wants to interact with Protestant truth claims regarding any doctrine, but I have a very difficult time someone serious who regards those who disagree with him as "anti-Catholic". 

Refute the scholars in my papers about the term if you disagree . . . I've told you how I use it.

I'm happy to dialogue with any Protestant who regards me as a fellow Christian (as I am). Otherwise, I'd much rather dialogue with an atheist, because th
at is a more consistent position than that of the small anti-Catholic wing of Protestantism, that takes the ridiculous and indefensible position of Protestantism being Christian while the Catholicism from which it derived somehow is not. It's impossible to defend such a position historically, biblically, or logically.

This is why seven anti-Catholics turned down a debate on that: at which time I gave up on debating theology with anti-Catholics altogether (in 2007). [and I have to make an exception to my usual rule to engage in this present one] [see papers about these anti-Catholic "live chat" debate refusals: one / two / three / four / five ]

Are you referring to the challenge you issued in the Alpha and Omega chat channel?

No. Jimbo White was only one of seven who declined.
 

I'm pretty sure they've responded to your claims any number of times.

I'm sure "they" think they have. There needs to be a serious debate about the definition of "Christian" before anything else can be intelligently talked about. But it won't happen anytime soon. I brushed the dust off of my feet in 2007, and if anti-Catholics ever get up the guts and gumption to have that discussion, it won't be with me. They had their chance to do that and blew it.  

Martin Luther

1528


In the first place I hear and see that such rebaptism is undertaken by some in order to spite the pope and to be free of any taint of the Antichrist. In the same way the foes of the sacrament want to believe only in bread and wine, in opposition to the pope, thinking thereby really to overthrow the papacy. It is indeed a shaky foundation on which they can build nothing good. On that basis we would have to disown the whole of Scripture and the office of the ministry, which of course we have received from the papacy. We would also have to make a new Bible. . . .

We on our part confess that there is much that is Christian and good under the papacy; indeed everything that is Christian and good is to be found there and has come to us from this source. For instance we confess that in the papal church there are the true holy Scriptures, true baptism, the true sacrament of the altar, the true keys to the forgiveness of sins, the true office of the ministry, the true catechism in the form of the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the articles of the creed . . . I speak of what the pope and we have in common . . . I contend that in the papacy there is true Christianity, even the right kind of Christianity and many great and devoted saints. 
 . . . The Christendom that now is under the papacy is truly the body of Christ and a member of it. If it is his body, then it has the true spirit, gospel, faith, baptism, sacrament, keys, the office of the ministry, prayer, holy Scripture, and everything that pertains to Christendom. So we are all still under the papacy and therefrom have received our Christian treasures. 
. . . We do not rave as do the rebellious spirits, so as to reject everything that is found in the papal church. For then we would cast out even Christendom from the temple of God, and all that it contained of Christ.

[251] . . . We recall that St. John was not averse to hearing the Word of God from Caiaphas and pays attention to his prophecy [John 11:49 f.] . . . Christ bids us hear the godless Pharisees in the seat of Moses, though they are godless teachers . . . Let God judge their evil lies. We can still listen to their godly words . . .

Still we must admit that the enthusiasts have the Scriptures and the Word of God in other doctrines. Whoever hears it from them and believes will be saved, even though they are unholy heretics and blasphemers of Christ.

. . . [256] if the first, or child, baptism were not right, it would follow that for more than a thousand years there was no baptism or any Christendom, which is impossible. For in that case the article of the creed, I believe in one holy Christian church, would be false . . . [257] If this baptism is wrong then for that long period Christendom would have been without baptism, and if it were without baptism it would not be Christendom.

(Concerning Rebaptism: A Letter to Two Pastors, 1528, Luther's Works, Vol. 40, 225-262; translated by Conrad Bergendoff, pp. 231-232, 251, 256-257)
1532 
This testimony of the universal holy Christian Church, even if we had nothing else, would be a sufficient warrant for holding this article [on the sacrament] and refusing to suffer or listen to a sectary, for it is dangerous and fearful to hear or believe anything against the unanimous testimony, belief, and teaching of the universal holy Christian churches, unanimously held in all the world from the beginning until now over fifteen hundred years.

(Letter to Albrecht, Margrave of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia, 1532; from Roland H. Bainton, Studies on the Reformation, Boston: Beacon Press, 1963, p. 26; WA, Vol. XXX, 552)
  

This letter, apparently passed over by Luther’s Works, Vol. 50 (Letters III), was, thankfully, cited at some length by the celebrated Protestant historian Philip Schaff, and refers to, as Schaff notes, “the real presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper”:

Moreover, this article has been unanimously believed and held from the beginning of the Christian Church to the present hour, as may be shown from the books and writings of the dear fathers, both in the Greek and Latin languages, -- which testimony of the entire holy Christian Church ought to be sufficient for us, even if we had nothing more. For it is dangerous and dreadful to hear or believe anything against the unanimous testimony, faith, and doctrine of the entire holy Christian Church, as it has been held unanimously in all the world up to this year 1500. Whoever now doubts of this, he does just as much as if he believed in no Christian Church, and condemns not only the entire holy Christian Church as a damnable heresy, but Christ Himself, and all the Apostles and Prophets, who founded this article, when we say, “I believe in a holy Christian Church,” to which Christ bears powerful testimony in Matt. 28.20: “Lo, I am with you alway, to the end of the world,” and Paul, in 1 Tim. 3.15: “The Church is the pillar and ground of the truth.”

(The Life and Labours of St. Augustine, Oxford University: 1854, 95. Italics are Schaff’s own; cf. abridged [?] version in Preserved Smith, The Life and Letters of Martin Luther, Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1911, pp. 290-292; cf. Johann Adam Mohler, Symbolism, 1844, 400)


Schaff, writing in The Reformed Quarterly Review (July, 1888, p. 295), cites the passage yet again, and translates one portion a little differently (my italics):

The testimony of the entire holy Christian Church (even without any other proof) should be sufficient for us to abide by this article and to listen to no sectaries against it.
 
1538 


The papacy has God’s word and the office of the apostles, and we have received the Holy Scriptures, baptism, the sacrament, and the office of preaching from them . . . we ourselves find it difficult to refute it . . . Then there come rushing into my heart thoughts like these: Now I see that I am in error. Oh, if only I had never started this and had never preached a word! For who dares oppose the church, of which we confess in the creed: I believe in a holy Christian church . . .

(Sermons on John 14-16, 1538 [on Jn 16:1-2], Paul Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther, translated by Robert C. Schultz, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966, 336; WA, Vol. 46, 5 ff. [edited by Cruciger]; cf. LW, Vol. XXIV, 304)

Thus we are also compelled to say: “I believe and am sure that the Christian Church has remained even in the papacy” . . . some of the papists are true Christians, even though they, too, have been led astray, as Christ foretold in Matt. 24:24. But by the grace of God and with His help they have been preserved in a wonderful manner.

(Sermons on John 14-16, 1538 [on Jn 16:1-2], LW, Vol. XXIV, 305)

[I]t is necessary to consider their beliefs and teachings. If I see that they preach and confess Christ as the One sent by God the Father to reconcile us to the Father through His death and to obtain grace for us, then we are in agreement, and I regard them as my dear brethren in Christ and as members of the Christian Church.

Yet the proclamation of this text – together with Baptism, the Sacrament of Christ, and the articles of the Creed – has remained even in the papacy, although many errors and devious paths have been introduced alongside it. . . . All errors notwithstanding, the true church has never perished.

(Ibid., 309)

[for more on Luther's positive statements about the Catholic Church headed by the pope in Rome, see these articles: one / two / three]
 
John Calvin

Institutes of the Christian Religion


Roman Primacy in Some Sense in the Early Church


I deny not that the early Christians uniformly give high honour to the Roman Church, and speak of it with reverence. . . . pious and holy bishops, when driven from their sees, often betook themselves to Rome as an asylum or haven. . . . It therefore added very great authority to the Roman Church, that in those dubious times it was not so much unsettled as others, and adhered more firmly to the doctrine once delivered, as shall immediately be better explained. . . . she was held in no ordinary estimation, and received many distinguished testimonies from ancient writers. (IV, 6:16)


Semblance of Remaining Christianity in Catholicism


Still, as in ancient times, there remained among the Jews certain special privileges of a Church, so in the present day we deny not to the Papists those vestiges of a Church which the Lord has allowed to remain among them amid the dissipation. When the Lord had once made his covenant with the Jews, it was preserved not so much by them as by its own strength, supported by which it withstood their impiety. Such, then, is the certainty and constancy of the divine goodness, that the covenant of the Lord continued there and his faith could not be obliterated by their perfidy; nor could circumcision be so profaned by their impure hands as not still to he a true sign and sacrament of his covenant. Hence the children who were born to them the Lord called his own (Ezek. 16:20), though, unless by special blessing, they in no respect belonged to him. So having deposited his covenant in Gaul, Italy, Germany, Spain, and England, when these countries were oppressed by the tyranny of Antichrist, He, in order that his covenant might remain inviolable, first preserved baptism there as an evidence of the covenant;—baptism, which, consecrated by his lips, retains its power in spite of human depravity; secondly, He provided by his providence that there should be other remains also to prevent the Church from utterly perishing. But as in pulling down buildings the foundations and ruins are often permitted to remain, so he did not suffer Antichrist either to subvert his Church from its foundation, or to level it with the ground (though, to punish the ingratitude of men who had despised his word, he allowed a fearful shaking and dismembering to take place), but was pleased that amid the devastation the edifice should remain, though half in ruins.  (IV, 2:11)
Therefore, while we are unwilling simply to concede the name of Church to the Papists, we do not deny that there are churches among them. The question we raise only relates to the true and legitimate constitution of the Church, implying communion in sacred rites, which are the signs of profession, and especially in doctrine. Daniel and Paul foretold that Antichrist would sit in the temple of God (Dan. 9:27; 2 Thess. 2:4); we regard the Roman Pontiff as the leader and standard-bearer of that wicked and abominable kingdom. By placing his seat in the temple of God, it is intimated that his kingdom would not be such as to destroy the name either of Christ or of his Church. Hence, then, it is obvious that we do not at all deny that churches remain under his tyranny; churches, however, which by sacrilegious impiety he has profaned, by cruel domination has oppressed, by evil and deadly doctrines like poisoned potions has corrupted and almost slain; churches where Christ lies half-buried, the gospel is suppressed, piety is put to flight, and the worship of God almost abolished; where, in short, all things are in such disorder as to present the appearance of Babylon rather than the holy city of God. In one word, I call them churches, inasmuch as the Lord there wondrously preserves some remains of his people, though miserably torn and scattered, and inasmuch as some symbols of the Church still remain—symbols especially whose efficacy neither the craft of the devil nor human depravity can destroy. But as, on the other hand, those marks to which we ought especially to have respect in this discussion are effaced, I say that the whole body, as well as every single assembly, want the form of a legitimate Church.  (IV, 2:12)


Baptism Initiates Us Into the Body of Christ; Makes Us Christians
[all emphases added]
Baptism is the initiatory sign by which we are admitted to the fellowship of the Church, that being ingrafted into Christ we may be accounted children of God. Moreover, the end for which God has given it (this I have shown to be common to all mysteries) is, first, that it may be conducive to our faith in him; and, secondly, that it may serve the purpose of a confession among men. The nature of both institutions we shall explain in order. Baptism contributes to our faith three things, which require to be treated separately. The first object, therefore, for which it is appointed by the Lord, is to be a sign and evidence of our purification, or (better to explain my meaning) it is a kind of sealed instrument by which he assures us that all our sins are so deleted, covered, and effaced, that they will never come into his sight, never be mentioned, never imputed. For it is his will that all who have believed, be baptised for the remission of sins. Hence those who have thought that baptism is nothing else than the badge and mark by which we profess our religion before men, in the same way as soldiers attest their profession by bearing the insignia of their commander, having not attended to what was the principal thing in baptism; and this is, that we are to receive it in connection with the promise, “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved” (Mark 16:16).  (IV, 15:1)
In this sense is to be understood the statement of Paul, that “Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:25, 26); and again, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). Peter also says that “baptism also doth now save us” (1 Peter 3:21). For he did not mean to intimate that our ablution and salvation are perfected by water, or that water possesses in itself the virtue of purifying, regenerating, and renewing; nor does he mean that it is the cause of salvation, but only that the knowledge and certainty of such gifts are perceived in this sacrament. This the words themselves evidently show. For Paul connects together the word of life and baptism of water, as if he had said, by the gospel the message of our ablution and sanctification is announced; by baptism this message is sealed. And Peter immediately subjoins, that that baptism is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, which is of faith.” Nay, the only purification which baptism promises is by means of the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, who is figured by water from the resemblance to cleansing and washing. (IV, 15:2)
We ought to consider that at whatever time we are baptised, we are washed and purified once for the whole of life. Wherefore, as often as we fall, we must recall the remembrance of our baptism, and thus fortify our minds, so as to feel certain and secure of the remission of sins. (IV, 15:3)
. . .  we are washed from our sins by the blood of Christ. And what is the sign and evidence of that washing if it be not baptism? We see, then, that that forgiveness has reference to baptism. . . . there can be no doubt that all the godly may, during the whole course of their lives, whenever they are vexed by a consciousness of their sins, recall the remembrance of their baptism, that they may thereby assure themselves of that sole and perpetual ablution which we have in the blood of Christ. (IV, 15:4)
Another benefit of baptism is, that it shows us our mortification in Christ and new life in him. “Know ye not,” says the apostle, “that as many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ, were baptised into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death,” that we “should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3, 4). . . . as the twig derives substance and nourishment from the root to which it is attached, so those who receive baptism with true faith truly feel the efficacy of Christ’s death in the mortification of their flesh, and the efficacy of his resurrection in the quickening of the Spirit. On this he founds his exhortation, that if we are Christians we should be dead unto sin, and alive unto righteousness. . . . in the passage which we formerly quoted, he calls it “the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Tit. 3:5). We are promised, first, the free pardon of sins and imputation of righteousness; and, secondly, the grace of the Holy Spirit, to form us again to newness of life. (IV, 15:5)

The last advantage which our faith receives from baptism is its assuring us not only that we are ingrafted into the death and life of Christ, but so united to Christ himself as to be partakers of all his blessings. . . .  Paul proves us to be the sons of God, from the fact that we put on Christ in baptism (Gal. 3:27). (IV, 15:6)
Baptism serves as our confession before men, inasmuch as it is a mark by which we openly declare that we wish to be ranked among the people of God, by which we testify that we concur with all Christians in the worship of one God, and in one religion; by which, in short, we publicly assert our faith, . . .  (IV, 15:13)
In so far as it is a sign of our confession, we ought thereby to testify that we confide in the mercy of God, and are pure, through the forgiveness of sins which Christ Jesus has procured for us; that we have entered into the Church of God, that with one consent of faith and love we may live in concord with all believers. This last was Paul’s meaning, when he said that “by one Spirit are we all baptised into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13).  (IV, 15:15)

[C]hildren derive some benefit from their baptism, when, being ingrafted into the body of the Church, . . . (IV, 16:9)

God, regenerating us in baptism, ingrafts us into the fellowship of his Church, and makes us his by adoption, . . . (IV, 17:1)

Baptism being a kind of entrance into the Church, an initiation into the faith, . . . Wherefore, as there is but one God, one faith, one Christ, one Church, which is his body, so Baptism is one, and is not repeated. (IV, 18:19)


Catholic Baptism is Valid


Moreover, if we have rightly determined that a sacrament is not to be estimated by the hand of him by whom it is administered, but is to be received as from the hand of God himself, from whom it undoubtedly proceeded, we may hence infer that its dignity neither gains nor loses by the administrator. And, just as among men, when a letter has been sent, if the hand and seal is recognised, it is not of the least consequence who or what the messenger was; so it ought to be sufficient for us to recognise the hand and seal of our Lord in his sacraments, let the administrator be who he may. This confutes the error of the Donatists, who measured the efficacy and worth of the sacrament by the dignity of the minister. Such in the present day are our Catabaptists, who deny that we are duly baptised, because we were baptised in the Papacy by wicked men and idolaters; hence they furiously insist on anabaptism. Against these absurdities we shall be sufficiently fortified if we reflect that by baptism we were initiated not into the name of any man, but into the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and, therefore, that baptism is not of man, but of God, by whomsoever it may have been administered. Be it that those who baptised us were most ignorant of God and all piety, or were despisers, still they did not baptise us into a fellowship with their ignorance or sacrilege, but into the faith of Jesus Christ, because the name which they invoked was not their own but God’s, nor did they baptise into any other name. But if baptism was of God, it certainly included in it the promise of forgiveness of sin, mortification of the flesh, quickening of the Spirit, and communion with Christ. Thus it did not harm the Jews that they were circumcised by impure and apostate priests. It did not nullify the symbol so as to make it necessary to repeat it. It was enough to return to its genuine origin. The objection that baptism ought to be celebrated in the assembly of the godly, does not prove that it loses its whole efficacy because it is partly defective. When we show what ought to be done to keep baptism pure and free from every taint, we do not abolish the institution of God though idolaters may corrupt it. Circumcision was anciently vitiated by many superstitions, and yet ceased not to be regarded as a symbol of grace; nor did Josiah and Hezekiah, when they assembled out of all Israel those who had revolted from God, call them to be circumcised anew. (IV, 15:16)

[see also, Calvinist Francis Nigel Lee's paper, "Calvin on the Validity of 'Romish' Baptism"; see a list of his voluminous writings and his obituary. He was quite a scholar. May he rest in peace; he was afflicted with the horrible Lou Gehrig's disease. He treated me very kindly on one occasion (c. 1999) where I was scorned, mocked, and pharisaically consigned to hell on one ridiculous Reformed discussion forum n the Internet. He was literally the only one there who acted like a Christian should, and also, I might add, with intellectual consistency on this issue. Lee (like Calvin) was himself baptized as a Catholic and never rebaptized]

                                      The Difficulty of  Determining Who is Among the Elect

The judgment which ought to be formed concerning the visible Church which comes under our observation, must, I think, be sufficiently clear from what has been said. I have observed that the Scriptures speak of the Church in two ways. Sometimes when they speak of the Church they mean the Church as it really is before God—the Church into which none are admitted but those who by the gift of adoption are sons of God, and by the sanctification of the Spirit true members of Christ. In this case it not only comprehends the saints who dwell on the earth, but all the elect who have existed from the beginning of the world. Often, too, by the name of Church is designated the whole body of mankind scattered throughout the world, who profess to worship one God and Christ, who by baptism are initiated into the faith; by partaking of the Lord’s Supper profess unity in true doctrine and charity, agree in holding the word of the Lord, and observe the ministry which Christ has appointed for the preaching of it. In this Church there is a very large mixture of hypocrites, who have nothing of Christ but the name and outward appearance: of ambitious, avaricious, envious, evil-speaking men, some also of impurer lives, who are tolerated for a time, either because their guilt cannot be legally established, or because due strictness of discipline is not always observed. Hence, as it is necessary to believe the invisible Church, which is manifest to the eye of God only, so we are also enjoined to regard this Church which is so called with reference to man, and to cultivate its communion. (IV, 1:7)

The earlier 1536 version of the Institutes at this point read as follows:

Consequently, all who profess with us the same God and Christ by confession of faith, example of life and participation in the sacraments, ought by some judgment of love to be deemed elect and members of the church. They should be so considered, even if some imperfection resides in their morals.

(in Willem Balke, Calvin and the Anabaptist Radicals, translated by William Heynen, Grand rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1981 [orig. 1973 in Dutch], p. 50; p. 82 in the Battles translation of the 1536 edition)

For more on Calvin's view of the elect, see my paper on that topic.

Calvin also signed the ecumenical Augsburg Confession, which certainly didn't deny that Catholicism was a species of Christianity. He signed, specifically, the 1540 revised version by Philip Melanchthon, called the Variata.

Reply to Cardinal Sadoleto (1539)

We, indeed, Sadolet, deny not that those over which you preside are Churches of Christ, but we maintain that the Roman Pontiff with his whole herd of pseudo-bishops, who have seized upon the pastor's office, are ravening wolves, . . . Destroyed the Church would have been, had not God, with singular goodness, prevented.

(September 1, 1539; translated by Henry Beveridge, 1844; reprinted in A Reformation Debate, edited by John C. Olin, New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1966 [online link] )

Ulrich Zwingli

                 Against the Catabaptist Catastrophe (1527)


In this work, Protestant "reformer" Zwingli defended infant baptism and the essential validity and unrepeatability of Catholic baptism. [see the paper by Francis Nigel Lee above, p. 45]

[see also Presbyterian Charles Hodge's classic argument about Catholicism being Christian]

***

So what is your response to my reply to your very confident (and false) assertions, Austin? I fell asleep waiting 13 hours . . .

[I posted on Facebook (6-4-13) about one of anti-Catholic James White's innumerable insults at my expense. I entitled it, "One of My Favorite 'Dr.' [?] James White Potshots"]

Dave, can you provide an exegetical "paper" that interacts with the relevant passages in their original language?

No (I only know English). Can you provide an answer to my last comments in our exchange yesterday? You said you'd love to see a Catholic produce classical Protestants saying that Catholics were Christians (after saying that anyone who accepted Trent on justification couldn't possibly be a Christian). I quickly produced documentation from Luther and Calvin, and you haven't been heard from since, except to produce this non sequitur.

Sure I can. Generally I stop posting because you are either incapable of interacting with the substance of my critique or you just refer me to one of your books (one of which I purchased by the way). I'll look at it and get back to you. 

Right. So you take the same approach as White: I'm a dumbbell and imbecile, incapable of even comprehending opposing arguments, whereas I said twice recently that you were a "sharp" guy and a "good" guy. Case study in Catholic vs. anti-Catholic methodologies . . . You stopped because I am an ignoramus, but now you'll get "back to" me. That's a fascinating juxtaposition there. LOL

Dave, my point is, you felt the need to bring into question Dr. White's credentials (see the title "dr." followed by [?]) yet you are unable to provide exegesis on the same level as Dr. White and others. You're calling out Dr. White for his alleged "pot shot" while you're guilty of the very same behavior. Dave, I didn't get back to you because I severely doubt that you'll even interact with my post in any meaningful way. I try to budget my time wisely when it comes to this sort of thing. Since you've called into question my ability to answer you, I will gladly respond.

I've written several papers documenting White's bogus "doctorate." [one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight] That's a completely different issue from one's exegetical abilities (or alleged lack thereof). I don't go around misleading people as to my educational attainments. White simply calls me names and talks about how stupid I allegedly am, whereas my papers on his degree are filled with facts, documentation, and his own statements. No direct comparison whatever.

[I also praised White in the same Facebook thread: "I think White does good work in a number of areas: e.g., fighting various heresies, KJV-only, liberal theology, and Islam. It's when he goes on his anti-Catholic tirades that he lowers himself into the slime pit."]

You can go jump in the lake. I gave you exactly what you wanted when you asked about classical Protestants acknowledging Catholicism as Christian; you have ignored it for about 20 hours now, and then you come back with insults and act like a condescending, pompous ass, precisely as your hero White does when he has no answer to something. I ain't interested in slinging mud with you and White, but in serious argumentation, minus ad hominem.


Yeah, sounds like I struck a nerve and now you're trying to save face. This is typical RC apologetic "rah rah" talk.

Answer my replies. Put up or shut up, if you think you are so superior in intellect and argumentative prowess.

Do you want a response or not? I was lead [sic] to believe by your comment ("go jump in a lake") that you weren't interested in hearing my response.

What part of "Answer my replies" don't you grasp? Personally, you can go jump in the lake, but as a supposed great intellect, you need to have the courage of your convictions, since you have read me and all my Catholic friends here out of Christianity.

Great, I will respond to your articles.

All will end up on my website, including your obligatory anti-Catholic insults. All par for the course with you guys.

Now let's watch Austin try to "prove" that no obedient Catholic could possibly be a Christian: a position far beyond what even Luther and Calvin held. It should be very entertaining and fascinating indeed. He's done a great job digging his own pit; now he can gradually bury himself in it or else flee in abject horror of fact and logic to the hills, with insults and potshots flying, all the way up (James White style).

Wow, Dave do you want a substantive response or not? Give me a few days and I'll answer every thing you brought up in your post. I have a family and, believe it or not, obligations outside of this discussion. Believe me, you will have your response. 

***

In one of my initial posts I said, “I would love to see a Roman Catholic make a historical case that Protestantism has historically allowed for consistent Roman Catholics to be Christians.” I’m going to argue that you have failed to meet my challenge. Before I go into your various quotes from Calvin and Luther, I want to explain why I say a consistent Roman Catholic cannot be a Christian. A consistent Roman Catholic must believe all that the Church has “infallibly” defined as dogma. Rome has dogmatically defined an aberrant gospel. Therefore, every consistent Catholic must hold to the aberrant gospel of Rome, in order to be a consistent Catholic. By “Christian” I mean, anyone who is in possession of true and saving faith that proceeds from a correct understanding of the Gospel as set forth in Scripture. 

This analysis suffers from a number of problems:

1) You falsely assume that Catholics follow an "aberrant gospel."

2) You define Christian minus any demonstration from either Scripture or Protestant dogmatic statements on the matter (precisely what I requested of you).

3) You assume without argument or demonstration that the "true and saving faith" is Reformed soteriology. This is extremely common in Reformed circles: it's assume assume assume, without argumentation or authoritative demonstration (from either Scripture or denominational creeds and confessions, as far as they go). It's also very common for Reformed to collapse the gospel into soteriology only, and (of course) with the assumption that the peculiar and historically novel Reformed soteriology is the correct and only one.

4) You assume (again without argumentation, but I take it you will at least attempt that as we proceed) a "correct" conception of the gospel that Protestants supposedly accept and Catholics deny.

All of this is essentially circular argumentation, or begging the question.

In fact, the Bible is very clear about what the gospel is. I noted this many years ago (in 1997). The big difference between myself and Austin / Reformed anti-Catholic apologists is that they talk a good game about the "gospel" (as they define it) being "biblical" without showing it from Scripture, whereas I actually take the Bible seriously and do that, rather than just make a bald and unsubstantiated claim. I cite my earlier paper (with a few clarifying additions now):


***

It's quite curious to me that so many Protestants want to define the gospel in the strict sense of "justification by faith alone," when the Bible itself is very explicit and clear that this is not the case at all.

For example, we know what the gospel is because we have a record of the apostles preaching it immediately after Pentecost. St. Peter's first sermon in the Upper Room (Acts 2:22-40) is certainly the gospel, especially since 3000 people became Christians upon hearing it (2:41)! In it he utters not a word about "faith alone." He instructs the hearers, rather, to "repent, and be baptized . . . so that your sins may be forgiven" (2:38). So, immediately after the resurrection, at the very outset of the "Church Age," an apostle teaches sacramentalism and baptismal regeneration.

St. Paul defines the gospel in Acts 13:16-41 as the resurrection of Jesus (vss. 32-33):

And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, [33] this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, `Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee.' [RSV, as throughout]

. . . , and as His death, burial, and resurrection:


1 Corinthians 15:1-8 Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, [2] by which you are saved, if you hold it fast -- unless you believed in vain. [3] For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, [4] that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, [5] and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. [6] Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. [7] Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. [8] Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

When Paul converted, straightaway he also got baptized, in order to have his sins "washed away" (baptismal regeneration again):

Acts 22:16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.

The explicit scriptural proclamations and definitions of the gospel strikingly exclude "faith alone," while other actions by Jesus and the Apostles contradict it by force of example. Conclusion?: The gospel is - as Paul teaches - the death, burial and Resurrection of Jesus. This is the "good news," not some technical soteriological theory. Even common sense would dictate that this "good news" is comprised of Jesus' redemptive work for us - the great historical drama of His incarnation and atonement, not forensic, "legal," imputed justification. And the prophets foretold these events, not a fine-tuned theory of application of those events to the believer - irregardless of whoever has the correct theory. How could a mere theological abstract reasonably be called "good news"?

***

I provide many more biblical examples in my paper, The Gospel, as Preached by the First Christians. There is not the slightest disagreement between Catholics and Protestants regarding any of the biblical definitions of the gospel. We heartily concur. Acceptance of this gospel, having to do with Christs finished work on the cross for us, comes through grace alone, and through faith, but not faith alone. Hence Paul refers to the "obedience of faith" (Rom 1:5; 16:26), and the "work of faith" (1 Thess 1:3; 2 Thess 1:11), and the notion of "obeying" the truth of the gospel (Rom 2:8; 10:16; Gal 5:7; 2 Thess 1:8).

Faith alone or imputed, forensic, extrinsic justification is so far and remote from the gospel and salvation, that I have found 50 passages concerning the final judgment and eschatological salvation, that all talk about works, with scarcely a mention of faith at all. Works (being the other side of the "coin" of faith) simply cannot be separated from the question of salvation or from justification (separated into a category of sanctification that is optional). The apostle Paul constantly aligns grace, faith, works, and actions. I've found 50 passages along those lines, too.

You largely ignore my quotations from Luther and Calvin. Regarding one of the most explicit Luther statements about the remaining Christian nature in the Catholic Church, you note:

But he goes on to say, “Listen to what St. Paul says to the Thessalonians [2 Thess. 2:4]: ‘The Antichrist takes his seat in the temple of God.’ If now the pope is (and I cannot believe otherwise) the veritable Antichrist, he will not sit or reign in the devil’s stall, but in the temple of God. No, he will not sit where there are only devils and unbelievers, or where no Christ or Christianity exists. The Antichrist must thus be among Christians. And because he is to sit and reign there, it is necessary that there be Christians under him. God’s temple is not the description for a pile of stones, but for the holy Christendom (1 Cor. 3:17), in which he is to reign.”

So what? Ho hum. None of this undermines or even contradicts what he just wrote (which you ignore, in terms of grappling with):

[Luther] We on our part confess that there is much that is Christian and good under the papacy; indeed everything that is Christian and good is to be found there and has come to us from this source. For instance we confess that in the papal church there are the true holy Scriptures, true baptism, the true sacrament of the altar, the true keys to the forgiveness of sins, the true office of the ministry, the true catechism in the form of the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the articles of the Creed. . . . I contend that in the papacy there is true Christianity, even the right kind of Christianity and many great and devoted saints.

Etc. Good grief! What more is needed? How much more explicit could he get? It's the Anabaptists and Zwinglians whom Luther thinks are damned and non-Christians, not Catholics. We already know that he rails against the pope as antichrist, and the system of government in the Catholic Church. But that is a separate issue. He still recognizes a remaining Christianity.  I have noted for many years (far more than you, I'm sure), the negative things that Luther says about Catholicism (see, e.g., my most in-depth paper on it). Sometimes he seems contradictory. But he did state the above, and we have no reason to doubt it. It has to be dealt with on its own terms, but you have taken a pass.

To refresh the memory of our (very patient) readers, here is your original claim that you have to defend:

I would love to see a Roman Catholic make a historical case that Protestantism has historically allowed for consistent Roman Catholics to be Christians.

That's proven in just this one citation alone from Luther (and I have many of his and Calvin's). If a Catholic accepts the pope (as he must, by definition), nevertheless he retains "true baptism" and all the other "good" and "true" and "Christian" attributes mentioned above by Luther. The one thing doesn't wipe out the other. Baptism remains what it is. And baptism (for Luther, Calvin, and Catholics alike) is the entrance into the Christian faith and the Body of Christ. This is what you won't be able to overthrow, no matter how hard you try.

But he goes on to say, “Listen to what St. Paul says to the Thessalonians [2 Thess. 2:4]: ‘The Antichrist takes his seat in the temple of God.’ If now the pope is (and I cannot believe otherwise) the veritable Antichrist, he will not sit or reign in the devil’s stall, but in the temple of God. No, he will not sit where there are only devils and unbelievers, or where no Christ or Christianity exists. The Antichrist must thus be among Christians. And because he is to sit and reign there, it is necessary that there be Christians under him. God’s temple is not the description for a pile of stones, but for the holy Christendom (1 Cor. 3:17), in which he is to reign.”

Thanks for proving my point and doing my work for me! This is great!  Luther again proves that Christianity is not inconsistent with Catholicism (as is made out today by anti-Catholics). It's central to his point here: "he will not sit where there are only devils and unbelievers, or where no Christ or Christianity exists. The Antichrist must thus be among Christians . . ." Exactly. Thank you Luther (and Austin). No talk here of complete apostasy, etc. That's reserved for Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists, Campbellites, and various anti-Catholic fundamentalist evangelicals and Calvinists.


You play the same fallacious game again:

Luther goes on to say, “But when we oppose and reject the pope it is because he does not keep to these treasures of Christendom which he has inherited from the apostles. Instead he makes additions of the devil and does not use these treasures for the improvement of the temple. Rather he works toward its destruction, in setting his commandments and ordinances above the ordinance of Christ. But Christ preserves his Christendom even in the midst of such destruction, just as he rescued Lot at Sodom, as St. Peter recounts (1 Pet. 2; 2 Pet. 2:6).”

The fallacy is that Luther's negative statements somehow eliminate or refute his positive statements regarding Christianity in Catholicism. They do not. You haven't demonstrated that they remove the other "positive" statements from consideration or relevance. You simply relentlessly assume without basis that which is your burden to prove and demonstrate.


My position, the very same position as the Reformers, is that the Roman church possessed enough truth that some came to know Christ in spite of the “additions of the devil”. Now, the problem for Protestants today is that the Roman church contains just enough truth that many have been duped into false ecumenism and ungodly compromise, that has led some to embrace a false gospel.

More bald, assumed statements sans argumentation and demonstration; hence, no need to interact with it. You just keep repeating the same fallacies. I don't have to keep repeating the refutations of them over and over. Once is sufficient.

Luther is merely reinforcing the fact that it is the Scriptures and the correct exposition of the Scriptures that should be obeyed. Naturally, I agree. 

So do we. But we actually respect and adhere to all of Scripture, not merely highly selective tidbits (ignoring many other portions and motifs of Scripture), according to an eisegetical predisposition, carved out from the novel traditions of men.

My position is not that Rome gets it wrong 100% of the time. It is my position, that anyone who confesses the Roman Catholic doctrine of Justification cannot call himself or herself a “Christian” in possession of true and saving faith.

I know that; but you're not proving it; you're simply asserting it. You haven't overthrown a single statement of Luther's where he upholds the Christian nature of Catholicism: not one. All you do is quote his railings about the antichrist. I wait in vain for some sort of actual argument from you. This is the same boorish, pedantic nature that we observe in so much of Catholic vs. Reformed anti-Catholic "interaction" (and why I seek to routinely avoid it). Nothing is ever accomplished.

You listed several other quotes regarding Baptism which are completely irrelevant to our discussion. I don’t agree with Luther’s views on Baptism, and I’m not obligated to in order to be a consistent Protestant.

Same old same old (my patience is rapidly dwindling). They're not irrelevant at all. Baptism is the entrance rite or sacrament into the Christian faith. Obviously, then, one who is baptized is a Christian. You don't have to agree with Luther. He is relevant in answer to your charge about the "historical case that Protestantism has historically allowed for consistent Roman Catholics to be Christians". Luther as the founder of Protestantism is obviously central to that. But if you throw him out, as if it is of no import to our discussion. I have far more quotes from Calvin on baptism, and presumably you would accord them much more weight. But today's Protestants are often only dimly aware of their own denominational heritage, so I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if you diss Calvin on baptism. [he does, folks]

I suspect many of your Luther quotes came from Schaff.

They generally come from primary sources. If you had actually consulted the bibliographical information I provided, you would see that they are from the standard collection of Luther's Works, Roland Bainton, and Paul Althaus (whose book you call a "fantastic work"). I have one citation from Schaff, because it was an alternate rendering.

Why did you ignore the fact that Schaff’s comparison of Rome’s gospel with the gospel of the Galatian apostates?

I'm not dealing with Schaff, but with Luther, Calvin, and historic Protestantism. I have studied and documented at extreme length (for 22 years now), Luther's and Calvin's negative statements. They don't eliminate from consideration the ones at hand. 


The imminent Protestant historian Schaff regarded the Roman church as apostate; does he represent the same extreme minority you referenced earlier?

H
is view is standard anti-Catholicism (far more prevalent in the 19th century than now), but he is also extremely fair as an historian and presents the facts of history as they are, as I have noted many times. He gives the facts, and then proceeds to editorialize on them, but he doesn't whitewash the facts. 


You cite Althaus and then Luther to the effect that the Church has no binding authority. But that is the separate issue of sola Scriptura and the rule of faith, whereas we are discussing the nature of Christianity (not authority and Church government). Thus, it is a non sequitur rabbit trail.


You then use your tired, silly pseudo-technique of citing other negative statements of Luther, while refusing to accept or interpret his positive ones (the ones under consideration). This is not even rational dialogue or argument. It's "ships passing in the night." I have extremely little patience for that . . .

Oh okay: you finally make one dinky comment about all the Luther citations I produced (thank you!):


. . . while he may use the term “Christian” in an elastic sense (in the same way some refer to America as a “Christian” nation), he did not view the gospel of Rome as the true Gospel by which men are saved, and can thus truly call themselves Christians.


This is sheer nonsense: merely your cynical, predetermined spin and sophistry in response to what Luther actually wrote. I'll cite it again (my bolding):


We on our part confess that there is much that is Christian and good under the papacy; indeed everything that is Christian and good is to be found there and has come to us from this source. For instance we confess that in the papal church there are the true holy Scriptures, true baptism, the true sacrament of the altar, the true keys to the forgiveness of sins, the true office of the ministry, the true catechism in the form of the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the articles of the Creed. . . . I contend that in the papacy there is true Christianity, even the right kind of Christianity and many great and devoted saints. 

Baptism is especially important with regard to his statements.  He thought that the Catholic Church possessed true baptism. Now, when we analyze what Luther thought about baptism, it's clear that he thought that Catholics could very well be saved by means of it. Here is what Luther expressed along these lines:

    Little children . . . are free in every way, secure and saved solely through the glory of their baptism . . . Through the prayer of the believing church which presents it, . . . the infant is changed, cleansed, and renewed by inpoured faith. Nor should I doubt that even a godless adult could be changed, in any of the sacraments, if the same church prayed for and presented him, as we read of the paralytic in the Gospel, who was healed through the faith of others (Mark 2:3-12). I should be ready to admit that in this sense the sacraments of the New Law are efficacious in conferring grace, not only to those who do not, but even to those who do most obstinately present an obstacle.
    (The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, 1520, from the translation of A.T.W. Steinhauser, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, revised edition, 1970, 197)
Likewise, in his Large Catechism (1529), Luther writes:
    Expressed in the simplest form, the power, the effect, the benefit, the fruit and the purpose of baptism is to save. No one is baptized that he may become a prince, but, as the words declare [of Mark 16:16], that he may be saved. But to be saved, we know very well, is to be delivered from sin, death, and Satan, and to enter Christ's kingdom and live forever with him . . . Through the Word, baptism receives the power to become the washing of regeneration, as St. Paul calls it in Titus 3:5 . . . Faith clings to the water and believes it to be baptism which effects pure salvation and life . . .
    When sin and conscience oppress us . . . you may say: It is a fact that I am baptized, but, being baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and obtain eternal life for both soul and body . . . Hence, no greater jewel can adorn our body or soul than baptism; for through it perfect holiness and salvation become accessible to us . . .

    (From edition by Augsburg Publishing House [Minneapolis], 1935, sections 223-224, 230, pp. 162, 165)

Again, you cite Calvin's polemical statements against Rome, with the obligatory mention of antichrist statements. Ho hum; yawn. I've been doing that for over 20 years (see a long 2004 paper on that). I devoted two books (one / two) to answering Calvin's Institutes line-by-line (and I cited the entire book IV in one of them). This sidesteps the issue of what he stated regarding whether a Catholic could be a Christian.

Under the heading “Baptism Initiates us Into the Body of Christ” you quoted Calvin as saying, “Baptism is the initiatory sign by which we are admitted to the fellowship of the Church, that being ingrafted into Christ we may be accounted children of God.”

If we take this quote without any additional context, we could possibly conclude that Calvin agreed with Rome’s doctrine of Baptism. However, in the very next section, Calvin goes on to say, “For Paul did not mean to signify that our cleansing and salvation are accomplished by water, or that water contains in itself the power to cleanse, regenerate, and renew; nor that here is the cause of salvation, but only that in this sacrament are received the knowledge and certainty of such gifts.” (IV, 15:2)


We understand that Calvin rejects baptismal regeneration. He still believes that Rome's baptism accomplishes exactly what he thinks Reformed baptism accomplished, and that it was efficacious no matter how many things about it were wrongly believed by Catholicism. This was obviously the case in his own life, since he was baptized as a Catholic and never was re-baptized. He thought that to do that was to repeat the ancient mistake of the Donatists (whom St. Augustine so eloquently opposed).

Calvin thought Catholic baptism (the same as Reformed in its effects) was an indication of the sins of an entire life being wiped out, which goes beyond the Catholic position. That can be seen in the citations I presented, above.

I’m not sure why you chose to cite section 1 and not section 2, knowing full well (if you’ve read the Institutes in their entirety) that Calvin would clarify his position. Calvin just doesn’t sound as Catholic as you would want your readers to believe.

I posted what was relevant to our discussion. You can play the game of my supposed cynical citation, as if I try to hide other data. Anti-Catholics habitually "argue" like this. As I said, I have two books devoted to Calvin's negative arguments against the Catholic Church, and tons more papers online. That's been covered. I haven't hid them from anyone.  If someone wants to see those things, they can go read it. As I said, I cite the entirety of Book IV in my book, Biblical Catholic Answers for John Calvin. Right now we are on a specific topic: what is a Christian; how does baptism in particular tie into that? Has historic Protestantism acknowledged that Catholics are Christians in some sense?

True to form, you want to largely ignore Calvin's statements on baptism, and move over to his remarks on justification. The baptism exposition has to be interpreted in its own right. Sadly, you resort to obfuscation, obscurantism, the quick accusation of citing-out-of-context, switching the topic, going down rabbit trails, sophistry, spin, claims that the opponent is abysmally ignorant, assuming what needs to be proven, systematically ignoring opposing arguments . . . you show all this in spades and then some. It's classic anti-catholic technique in "argumentation" (ha ha).

There is no dialogue or interaction here in any meaningful sense of the word. It's non-existent. You started the "dialogue" with insults and you end with sophistry, obfuscation, and obscurantism. Nothing new under the sun!

Having moved over to justification in order to avoid the implications of Calvin's remarks on baptism, and evade your intellectual responsibility to engage them, you pontificate:

Does that sound compatible with the statements of the Council of Trent or even the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Of course not! Because we are preaching two separate Gospels!

You have yet to cogently define the gospel from either Scripture or Reformed confessions or other authoritative statements. So how can we know we disagree before we have even defined our terms? I did so (from the Bible); you have not. Luther and Calvin do not assert that there is no Christianity in Catholicism. There certainly is: clearly through baptism, if nothing else.

And if those previous two passages are not enough, consider what Calvin has to say regarding Purgatory . . . So Dave, do you and other consistent Catholics affirm the doctrine of Purgatory? You and I both know the answer to that question.

Another rabbit trail. Nice try. Have fun down there . . . You then move on to the Mass and justification again. I will simply note in passing that we fully concur that initial justification is by grace alone, without any consideration of man's merit; contra Pelagianism and even semi-Pelagianism. Trent makes that abundantly clear. Catholics also assert monergism (not synergism) as essential to initial justification, as I have documented.

I think our readers are entitled to at least one serious treatment of Calvin's views on baptism. According to him, baptism (including Catholic baptism) bestows upon its recipients all the following characteristics (all taken from the citations above):

. . . sign by which we are admitted to the fellowship of the Church, that being ingrafted into Christ we may be accounted children of God.  (Institutes, IV, 15:1)
. . . by the gospel the message of our ablution and sanctification is announced; by baptism this message is sealed. (IV, 15:2)
We ought to consider that at whatever time we are baptised, we are washed and purified once for the whole of life. . . .  secure of the remission of sins. (IV, 15:3)
. . .  we are washed from our sins by the blood of Christ. And what is the sign and evidence of that washing if it be not baptism? . . . all the godly may, during the whole course of their lives, whenever they are vexed by a consciousness of their sins, recall the remembrance of their baptism, that they may thereby assure themselves of that sole and perpetual ablution which we have in the blood of Christ. (IV, 15:4)
Another benefit of baptism is, that it shows us our mortification in Christ and new life in him.. . . if we are Christians we should be dead unto sin, and alive unto righteousness. . . . in the passage which we formerly quoted, he calls it “the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Tit. 3:5). We are promised, first, the free pardon of sins and imputation of righteousness; and, secondly, the grace of the Holy Spirit, to form us again to newness of life. (IV, 15:5)

The last advantage which our faith receives from baptism is its assuring us not only that we are ingrafted into the death and life of Christ, but so united to Christ himself as to be partakers of all his blessings. . . .  Paul proves us to be the sons of God, from the fact that we put on Christ in baptism (Gal. 3:27). (IV, 15:6)
Baptism serves as our confession before men, inasmuch as it is a mark by which we openly declare that we wish to be ranked among the people of God, by which we testify that we concur with all Christians in the worship of one God, and in one religion; by which, in short, we publicly assert our faith, . . .  (IV, 15:13)
. . . we have entered into the Church of God, that with one consent of faith and love we may live in concord with all believers. (IV, 15:15)

[C]hildren derive some benefit from their baptism, when, being ingrafted into the body of the Church, . . . (IV, 16:9)

God, regenerating us in baptism, ingrafts us into the fellowship of his Church, and makes us his by adoption, . . . (IV, 17:1)

Baptism being a kind of entrance into the Church, an initiation into the faith, . . . Wherefore, as there is but one God, one faith, one Christ, one Church, which is his body, so Baptism is one, and is not repeated. (IV, 18:19)

Surely it is extraordinary to assert that all of these characteristics or qualities are not Christian (!!). These are all Christian attributes. He's talking about Christians; disciples of Christ; believers, followers of Jesus. Baptism brings this about. If Catholics are not Christians by virtue of their baptism, then you are ludicrously asserting (from straightforward deductive logic), the following propositions:


1) Non-Christians are admitted to the fellowship of the Church.

2) Non-Christians are ingrafted into Christ.

3) Non-Christians are accounted children of God. 
4) Non-Christians obtain sanctification.
5)  Non-Christians are washed and purified once for the whole of life.
6)  Non-Christians have new life or newness of life in Christ.
7)  Non-Christians are united to Christ himself. 
8) Non-Christians are the sons of God.
9) Non-Christians are ranked among the people of God.
10) Non-Christians have entered into the Church of God.
11) Non-Christians live in concord with all believers.
12) Non-Christians are ingrafted into the body of the Church.
13) Non-Christians are initiated into the Christian faith.

This is simply not possible: especially not in the Reformed schema of TULIP where the non-believers are totally depraved and predestined to hell by a decree from all eternity (with no chance for it to be otherwise), and could, therefore, not possibly partake in all these attributes and estates (or even, quite arguably, any one of them). But Calvin says the baptized possess these things. Therefore, undeniably, those who do are Christians. And that includes Catholics, since he holds that Catholic baptism is valid and efficacious. It's the case even more so for Luther, given his much stronger position of baptismal regeneration.

Therefore, baptized Catholics are Christians and possess all these qualities, according to Calvin, with strong support from Luther and even Zwingli. And this is but one consideration of many . . .Whether this contradicts his own statements about justification, etc., is another issue. It's not unknown for Luther and Calvin to be internally inconsistent (believe me, I know, after many years of studying them). But as it stands, insofar as they are baptized, according to the many statements above, Catholics are fellow Christians.

There's nowhere else to go with this if this is how it is "argued": ending up in the literal nonsense we see above, where a non-Christian is at the same time a Christian, etc. We've descended to utterly irrational babbling and an Alice-in-Wonderland world where words change at whim or have no meaning, or no relation to other words: where contradiction is all-pervasive and self-contradiction viciously present. Subjective mush . . . gobbledygook.

I close with remarks from Presbyterian theologian Charles Hodge's classic argument that Catholics are Christians (bolding -- I believe -- is from the person who cited it):

That Romanists as a society profess the true religion, meaning thereby the essential doctrines of the gospel, those doctrines which if truly believed will save the soul, is, as we think, plain. 1. Because they believe the Scriptures to be the word of God. 2. They direct that the Scriptures should be understood and received as they were understood by the Christian Fathers. 3. They receive the three general creeds of the church, the Apostle’s, the Nicene, and the Athanasian, or as these are summed up in the creed of Pius V. 4. They believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. In one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man. And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried. And the third day rose again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end. And they believe in one catholic apostolic church. They acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins, and look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.

If this creed were submitted to any intelligent Christian without his knowing whence it came, could he hesitate to say that it was the creed of a Christian church? Could he deny that these are the very terms in which for ages the general faith of Christendom has been expressed? Could he, without renouncing the Bible, say that the sincere belief of these doctrines would not secure eternal life? Can any man take it upon himself in the sight of God, to assert there is not truth enough in the above summary to save the soul?

Dave, you have completely ignored the vast majority of what I've said regarding both Calvin AND Luther. I went into almost every single quote you listed by providing important context and offering explanations.

I gave you the respect of actually dealing with what you wrote, instead you start out by arguing Justification by Faith alone and plug some more of your silly "quote books".

I provided positive Protestant statements regarding the doctrine of Justification from the Westminster Confession of Faith and juxtaposed them with the dogmas of the Council of Trent.

You sir, are wasting my time and the time of your readers by engaging in the oh so typical chest beating and triumphalism that you have become known for.


On his Facebook page, Austin took some more potshots [he later deleted the thread]:

If anyone would like to read my full response to Dave's unbelievable proof texting PM me and I'll send it to you.

Dave has remained true to form and completely ignored my responses. 

Same old same old. I should have known better than to waste time again with an anti-Catholic sophist. But whatever: some good was accomplished, by demonstrating what Luther and Calvin believed about the Christian status of Catholicism. So Austin doesn't get it; not the end of the world. You can lead the horse to water but you can't make it drink. We never even got to first base. Austin has chosen to ignore virtually all of my arguments and documentation, in various ways, already noted. There is no discussion here. 

But others (reading) will get it. And that's the main reason why I made this an exception to my rule as regards debate with anti-Catholics. I knew all along there wasn't one chance in a thousand that Austin would 1) actually interact with the arguments, or 2) be convinced. It's always -- repeat, always the same with anti-Catholics. One hopes for at least #1 (which is quite possible, agree or no, for any self-respecting thinking person of any stripe), but with Austin we got neither, and he ends (appropriately and humorously) with the personal insults with which he began. So anti-Catholics en masse despise and loathe me and lie (like he does) about the nature of my apologetics efforts: like that is some bombshell revelation?

One last note: I mentioned no "silly 'quote books'." I do have several collections of quotations, but they weren't mentioned in this paper. I mentioned my two books devoted to John Calvin, that answer his arguments in his Institutes point-by-point and line-by-line. They are, therefore, "dialogue books," not "quotes books." Nor did I "plug" them. They were mentioned because Austin implied that I was quite unfamiliar with Calvin's views. Thus, they were counter-evidence for that assertion. Whether they are "silly" or not, I'll let my many thousands of readers judge.

***

Brigitte, an articulate Lutheran apologist of sorts, has made some insightful comments on James Swan's dense anti-Catholic site. Swan is a highly confused wannabe apologist who doesn't get these things and can't comprehend them, in his anti-Catholic fog of confusion (and in his case, considerable bigotry). Writing about Luther's 1528 work, Concerning Rebaptism, that I cited above, Brigitte contends:

Here is how I read this: the pope will say, yes we share the Lord's prayer, sacraments, etc. --but they (the Lutherans) are heretics. So the pope is dissembling--speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Luther is said to be "dissembling" because against the Anabaptists he defends the creed, sacraments, catechism... etc., come down from the RC church. But he is not dissembling and not speaking out of both sides of his mouth. He does believe that the RC church is right on many basic and original teachings and believes in common with the Lutherans (until they have been ruined by false teachings and innovations of the papacy).

The accusation of dissembling is wrong. Luther is not dissembling, at all. There is irony here. The question is thrown out: who is really inventing monstrous teachings and instituting innovations in the church? Is it the Lutherans? or is it the Pope? It is the Pope. Ergo. The Lutherans have held onto all the good stuff and are not calling RC anything bad for those kinds of things; only the innovations. . . .

The real point is that Luther was greatly concerned about Anabaptist teaching and the loss of the sacraments and whatever else was under dispute. Luther will stand with the RC church where it is right, and not call it heretical for those,(but not where it is wrong, i.e. innovations) and thus he will also stand with it against Anabaptists. And this is no "dissembling" whatsoever. He is only using the lingo of his opponents. . . . 

Just because something is taught by the "papacy, the Antichrist" does not mean [in Luther's view] it is automatically wrong.

So what he is saying is: he will state, contend for and sincerely believe (by the way) that all the things he lists are the right kind of Christianity in the papal church. --Some may call this "flattering the pope" or here he says "dissemble". They can call it what he wants. Shall he change his position on the account of them calling him this? (Of course not, and certainly he has been called many things.) He will not quit "dissembling" if what he says about the papal church must be called "dissembling" (not his choice of words, but using the assertion of his foes.) . . . the Rebaptizers are getting it exactly wrong. Instead of attacking the Antichrist (the one who rejects the gospel and calls its preachers heretical) they attack the "temple", i.e. that what is true Christianity.

Luther is not dissembling or flattering--at all. He is dead earnest. The poor Christians who are baptized and go to the sacrament of the altar, have Christ thereby, even if the pope is their tyrant, but those who do away with the sacraments take away Christ from them altogether, thus doing great harm and causing people to go to hell.

The "dissembling" is an accusation against Luther that does not stick at all, and he is not going to change his mind.


* * *

On a humorous note, Austin found the post and opinion that Brigitte was contending against and expressed his approval:

Great post! I was dialoguing with a RC "apologist" about this very issue. Good stuff.

So we know they are referring to me. Swan's post was clearly in response to this post (he habitually refuses to name me, so people know whose opinion is being talked about: it's a childish game he plays). The illustrious, all-wise Swan then chimed in:

Here's what I think will happen next: the next card played by the modern-day papists will probably be that Luther contradicted himself. This is usually how it goes with them once you expose their propaganda. 

Too late; I already played that "card" in the paper, which (as usual), this buffoon hadn't even read before he set out supposedly "refuting" it:

Therefore, baptized Catholics are Christians and possess all these qualities, according to Calvin, with strong support from Luther and even Zwingli. And this is but one consideration of many . . .Whether this contradicts his own statements about justification, etc., is another issue. It's not unknown for Luther and Calvin to be internally inconsistent (believe me, I know, after many years of studying them). But as it stands, insofar as they are baptized, according to the many statements above, Catholics are fellow Christians.

I also wrote above:

He still recognizes a remaining Christianity.  I have noted for many years (far more than you, I'm sure), the negative things that Luther says about Catholicism (see, e.g., my most in-depth paper on it). Sometimes he seems contradictory.


I know all about Luther's negative opinions concerning Catholicism. I've been dealing with them for 23 years. He also expressed some positive things (which is far more interesting and infinitely less boorish; even remarkably "ecumenical" for that troubled time). I've also been contending that Luther and Calvin were both self-contradictory and also at times how they vacillated and went back-and-forth. That is nothing new, either. I discussed it, in fact, in my first published article, about Martin Luther, in January 1993: over 20 years ago now.

Thus I can hardly use this supposed "tactic" in response now, when I already stated it in the paper, and have been arguing this for 23 years. It's just one more ridiculous salvo in the never-ending arsenal of the bigoted, profoundly ignorant strain of anti-Catholic polemics: typified by this website, among several others.

It's far more sensible to follow Brigitte's take. She gets it; she's the Lutheran. She understands Luther's forms and methods of argumentation. She's right about this. The point has been established and documented, and neither Austin nor the anti-Catholic zealot on this site have overthrown that.

***

That Luther regarded properly baptized persons as Christians is backed-up by the most well-known Luther biographer, Roland H. Bainton. Referring to his opinion in 1526, he stated:

. . . he had relinquished the hope of gathering the ardent and had turned to the education of the masses. There should be neither a sect nor a cell, but the Church should coincide with the community and all those baptized in infancy should be accounted Christian.

(Studies on the Reformation, Boston: Beacon Press, 1963, p. 38)


We know that Luther regarded Catholic baptism as valid; therefore, by ineluctable logic, Catholics are Christians, on that basis, if he regarded baptized people as such.

Luther (like Calvin) was not rebaptized as an adult (and excommunicated Protestant), and regarded his Catholic baptism as valid (since, after all, he himself argued against rebaptism). Luther clarified his opinion on baptism in his 1539 treatise, On the Councils and the Church:

I excuse St. Cyprian . . . for he held that the heretics had no sacrament at all and that therefore they had to be baptized like other heathen. . . . But our Anabaptists admit that our baptism and that of the papacy is a true baptism, but since it is administered and received by unworthy people, it is no baptism at all. St. Cyprian would never have concurred in this, much less practiced it.

(Selected Writings of Martin Luther: 1529-1546, Fortress Press, 1967, p. 238)

Austin then chimed in again on James Swan's anti-Catholic thread on the Boors All site, getting in one last postshot:

Great stuff. Thank you for sharing. You should know that the comments (Brigitte's comments) on this thread are being shared by Mr. Armstrong, presumably because he's not able to articulate his own original exegesis of Luther's writing.

Interestingly enough, Hodge says some very pointed things regarding Roman Catholicism and the Gospel. Once again, Armstrong takes them wildly out of context to "prove" a point. 


Since Austin now wants to write stupidly about Hodge, let's take a brief look at what he thought about Catholic soteriology. Here he is, writing in his Systematic Theology about the atonement (my bolding):


The first is that which has been for ages regarded as the orthodox doctrine; in its essential features common to the Latin, Lutheran, and Reformed churches. This is the doctrine which the writer has endeavoured to exhibit and vindicate in the preceding pages. According to this doctrine the work of Christ is a real satisfaction, of infinite inherent merit, to the vindicatory justice of God; so that He saves his people by doing for them, and in their stead, what they were unable to do for themselves, satisfying the demands of the law in their behalf, and bearing its penalty in their stead; whereby they are reconciled to God, receive the Holy Ghost, and are made partakers of the life of Christ to their present sanctification and eternal salvation. 

This doctrine provides for both the great objects above mentioned. It shows how the curse of the law is removed by Christ’s being made a curse for us; and how in virtue of this reconciliation with God we become, through the Spirit, partakers of the life of Christ. He is made unto us not only righteousness, but sanctification. We are cleansed by his blood from guilt, and renewed by his Spirit after the image of God. Having died in Him, we live in Him. Participation of his death secures participation of his life. 
No problem there . . . S. Donald Fortson III, Ph.D.,Associate Prof. of Church History and Practical Theology at the Reformed Theological Seminary - Charlotte, wrote a paper entitled "One Baptism." He noted:

American Protestants have struggled with the issue of rebaptism. Presbyterians, for example, at their annual meeting in 1845, declared that Roman Catholic baptism was not Christian baptism, therefore, inferring that rebaptism would be in order. Professor Charles Hodge of Princeton Seminary countered that this action was “in opposition to all previous practice and to the principles of every other protestant church.” Hodge acknowledged the errors of Catholicism but he also observed, “there is not a Church on earth which teaches the doctrine of the Trinity more accurately, thoroughly, or minutely, according to the orthodoxy of the Reformed and Lutheran churches, than the church of Rome...they teach the doctrine of the atonement far more fully and accurately than multitudes of professedly orthodox Protestants.” The Catholic Church is “a part of the visible church on earth” and rebaptism is out of order. (See Charles Hodge, “Review of the General Assembly,” 1845) Hodge’s basic argument was the insoluble connection between baptism and belief – if Catholics are Christian then one cannot pronounce their baptism illegitimate through rebaptism. 
***

Ewald M. Plass's magisterial 1667-page volume, What Luther Says (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959) -- I have it in my own library -- provides more evidence. He writes, himself, on p. 128:

. . . while scoring papal innovations, Luther never ceased to confess indebtedness to the Church of Rome and to regard it as a Christian organization. He expresses this clearly in a Church Postil sermon on John 15:26 - 16:4, in connection with John 16:3. Between the Church of Rome and the Lutheran Church a relation exists similar to that which once existed between the Jewish Church and the apostolic Christian Church . . .

I found this sermon online. It dates from 1522. Here is an excerpt, with his "ecumenical" sentiments, in-between a mountain of hostility and his usual lies about the Catholic Church:

28. Accordingly, we concede to the papacy that they sit in the true Church, possessing the office instituted by Christ and inherited from the apostles, to teach, baptize, administer the sacrament, absolve, ordain, etc., just as the Jews sat in their synagogues or assemblies and were the regularly established priesthood and authority of the Church. We admit all this and do not attack the office, although they are not willing to admit as much for us; yea, we confess that we have received these things from them, even as Christ by birth descended from the Jews and the apostles obtained the Scriptures from them. . . .

32. Thus we say to the papists: We grant you, indeed, the name and office, and regard these as holy and precious, for the office is not yours, but has been established by Christ and given to the Church without regard for and distinction of the persons who occupy it. Therefore, whatever is exercised through this office as the institution of Christ, and in his name and that of the Church, is at all times right and proper, even though ungodly and unbelieving men may participate. We must distinguish between the office and the person exercising it, between rightful use and abuse. The name of God and of Christ is always holy in itself; but it may be abused and blasphemed. So also, the office of the Church is holy and precious, but the person occupying it may be accursed and belong to the devil.  . . .

43. We admit that the papists also exercise the appointed offices of the Church, baptize, administer the sacrament etc., when they observe these things as the institution of Christ, in the name of Christ and by virtue of his command (just as in the Church we must regard as right and efficacious the offices of the Church and baptism administered by heretics), . . .

Plass, in the same vein, cites Luther, writing in 1533:

By His miraculous power God nonetheless preserved under the pope, first, Holy Baptism, then, in the pulpit, the text of the holy Gospel in the language of each country, thirdly, the forgiveness of sins and absolution in both private confession and the public services; fourthly, the holy Sacrament of the altar . . . fifthly, the calling and ordaining to the pastorate, the ministry, or the care of souls . . . finally, also prayer, the Psalter, the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments; likewise, many good hymns and songs . . . Therefore Christ with His Holy Spirit surely was with his own and sustained Christian faith in them . . . (p. 129, #375)


Luther's exposition of Galatians 1:2 in his 1531 commentary is also quoted by Plass:

. . . even though it is in the midst of wolves and robbers, that is, spiritual tyrants, it nevertheless is the church. Although the city of Rome is worse than Sodom and Gomorrah, yet Baptism, the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the reading (vox) and text of the Gospel, Holy Scriptures, the ministry, the name of Christ, and the name of God remain in her. (p. 130, #375A)

***

Selected further comments from Austin, from the combox below:

I know that I will worship at the foot of the Father with many Catholics, but I am convinced, from the bottom of my heart, that the doctrines of Rome are a hindrance to saving faith.

In his conversion story (yes Dave I read your conversion story in "Surprised by Truth") Dave mentions participating in pro-life ministries with Catholics. I'm very involved in pro-life ministries as well, and I can say that I have met some absolutely fantastic Catholic people that I'm happy to call friends! My beliefs regarding saving faith come from a place of love and concern for the welfare of their souls, and not from some petty desire to win an argument.

I've dialogued with dozens of Catholic College students, priests, chaplains, and lay people, and not one of them has called me "anti-Catholic" for my beliefs. If anything, they appreciate my honesty. False ecumenism never helped anyone.


***

[replying to Adomnan]  You apparently just picked up these ideas somewhere rather casually in the course of your life. Why can't you drop them just as casually now that you see they're mistaken? And you must see they are mistaken, if you're a rational man. Why this obstinate loyalty to falsehood and sophistry?"

I checked out when I read that. I offered you a fairly in depth (at the very least not cursory) exegesis of the text and you respond with that? Have you actually studied semiotics? Have you actually spent any time studying Hermeneutics? Of course your answer will be a resounding "Why yes I have! As every good Roman Catholic has!"


Give me a break. You can't even understand how a "red herring" fallacy works, as evinced by your accusation that I commit a red herring fallacy when arguing for imputation.  

This is why I don't discuss these issues on blogs or Youtube. Silly papists like you come out of the wood work making cavalier claims with absolutely nothing to substantiate them. Where is your Magisterial interpretation of this passage? So far all I've seen is a laymen make assertions. Where is the infallible interpretation? Can you point me to it please?

Fortunately, not all Catholic exegetes are as dense as you are...see Fitzmeyer
[sic] and Thomas H. Tobin.

I'm out. Its been fun, but not that fun.

Go ahead boys, claim victory. Anyone can read the comments and determine for themselves which side can actually exegete a text.


***

Dave, I have found a venue through which we can debate this issue publicly if you are willing. It would be via skype and it would be moderated by a third party. If you agree, we can pursue (albeit we'll need to refine it a bit) the topic that you've brought up in this thread. This will *not* be a written debate.

If everything you claim is true, this should be a "slam dunk" for you.

If the debate format is too intimidating we can go with a dialogue format. I'll let you choose.

I simply don't have the time to respond to this thread as you've chosen to update it every couple of hours. I would much rather focus in on one Reformer and discuss their particular views in depth. I think the discussion would be very beneficial to both sides.

I'm no James White, so this one should be very easy for you.  



Hi Austin,

I have no interest whatever in an oral debate; never have; and nine years ago I explained why, in great depth.

I made a one-time exception in this exchange, to my usual policy of not debating theology with those of an anti-Catholic theological outlook.

It has not gone well, and has become ugly and acrimonious: just as it always has in the past. That was the reason I adopted my policy in 2007, and this present farce has given me no reason at all to doubt the wisdom and prudence of that choice. It's the same old same old.

I may make a few more responses if you choose to add more comments here (especially regarding matters of historical fact), but essentially I'm done with this.

Now you've chosen to get in with James Swan: a guy who tries to refute my papers without even mentioning my name or providing a link, so that folks can read the other side. If I comment on his combox to try to present another side, he deletes all my comments. He's also on record claiming that I suffer from psychosis.

Despite all that, you're free to give your opinions here as you wish. And others are free to interact with you if they so choose. Like I said, I may even still chime in now and then.

Facebook is a different story. I exercise a very strict moderation policy there because I want amiability and a congenial atmosphere at almost all costs, in order to be able to share my writings, and allow discussion on them: especially for inquirers, seekers, and those considering becoming Catholics.

Acrimonious "debate" doesn't achieve those ends. Thus, you've been blocked on Facebook.

***

James Swan pontificated with his two cents:

Austin,

We are not the anti-Catholics. Rather it is those belonging to the Roman sect and defend her that are the true anti-catholics. They attack the universal church by attempting to subject us all to the Roman papacy. If Rome ever repented of the heresy of the infallible papacy, perhaps she could be part of the catholic church again. If she repented of this authority claim, true constructive dialog would perhaps be possible. Till then, we can only pray for those enslaved and blinded by the papacy, that God will have mercy on them, and also stand ready to demonstrate that neither the facts of Scripture or the facts of history support their worldview. That they are willing to invoke Luther to support their cause shows you to what extremes Romanists are capable of. 

Absolutely classic, textbook  anti-Catholicism . . . Please pray for those trapped by this insidious thinking and (in Swan's and Reed's case) also a pronounced hostility and derision.

So you are choosing to decline my challenge to public debate?

If you change your mind I will be ready to accept. Consider this a standing challenge.


Hardly, since I made an exception to my rule of not debating anti-Catholics for this exchange. You chose to descend into silliness, rabbit trails, evasiveness, and insults (extending the latter even to my friends in the combox). Your choice.

This was a debate (or, more accurately, could have been, if you had stayed on topic). That is a fact. I expressed what I wanted to express, and as far as I am concerned, have established my contention beyond rational argument.

Just because you are obsessed with oral debate (precisely as your hero "Dr." [?] White is), doesn't change that fact.

I explained nine years ago why I regard written debate as vastly superior to oral debate, and why I think the latter is mostly a farce and a three-ring circus. I have stuck by that principle at all times, and will indefinitely into the future.

I turned down your hero White three times (1995, 2001, and 2007) -- he wants to debate me even though he thinks I am an idiot and an imbecile: odd! --, and you think I would do an oral debate with you?

You have forfeited your opportunity to engage in an intelligent discussion with me.

I would refuse even if I had no principled objection to oral debate (nor to debate with anti-Catholics, which has been universally farcical, these past 18 years).

After your performance above, I wouldn't consider that for a half-second, as I seek to find the most able of theological opponents to interact with, not the least able and most insulting ones.

Austin wrote on the same tired thread at Boors All (6-12-13):

The hilarious thing is, the RC apologist will insist on "development of doctrine" to explain away flagrant contradictions within their own communion, but they're not willing to apply that same standard when reading any Protestant works. Just one more double standard.

***

Austin was still taking potshots on another Boors All thread (17-18 June 2013):

The problem with interacting with this particular "apologist" is his unwillingness or inability to actually exegete the writings of the reformers he quotes. Its nothing more than shameless proof-texting. And its ALL intended to bolster the infantile "anti-Catholic" designation for ANYONE who disagrees with Rome on certain key issues!

There are times when he omits a sentence in the middle of the paragraph! I tried pointing that out, but to no avail....I guess only ''anti-Catholics'' bother with trivialities like context.

***

Last updated on 19 June 2013.



*****