Friday, December 31, 2010

A Trilemma?

Lest I forget, let me wish you a Blessed 7th Day of Christmas as we begin...

John Lollard (a pseudonym) has on his blog an article he believes challenges Catholic authority.  I believe his premise is flawed, so let us look at this article (John's words in green) and my response to it:

St. John Lateran, Peter's Seat

The Catholic Trilemma of Matthew 23

I remember a few years ago, reading Matthew 23 and for the first time I noticed the introduction in verses 2-3. If you aren't familiar, Matthew 23 is a scathing polemic, delivered by Jesus, about the hypocrisy and immorality of the Pharisees. There are similar versions of this in Luke 11, that includes in the middle of this speech one of the scribes interrupts Jesus in protest that His rebukes on the Pharisees were insulting the scribes, too. Jesus' response is to launch off into a string of condemnations specifically on the scribes, too. But verses 2-2 reads thus:
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach."
I remember reading this and thinking it was the single most obvious statement in the Bible I had yet to find specifically refuting the notion of papal primacy. What I've found is that the exact same texts that I find explicitly denouncing the idea of a papal seat are the exact same texts that Catholics actually USE to support their claims of a papal seat.

Hello John,
I am trying to figure out how you see Matthew 23:2-3 as contrary to the papacy.  First off, it’s not the papacy in this context, it is “Moses’ seat” which would be a prefiguring of Peter’s seat.  Secondly, Jesus does not denounce the office/seat of Moses - and in fact reinforces that office saying they must still do whatever they tell you to do - just don’t do what they do.  At this point Moses’ seat truly is still in authority.

Here's how I see it. Catholics claim that Peter received a divine teaching authority from Jesus in Matthew 16:18,19 and that this teaching authority was handed down from Peter to the Bishop of Rome in an unbroken succession, such that the current pope sits on the seat of Peter and has divine authority to teach on issues of faith and morals. This (office of) pope has been handed down (by) an oral Tradition going all the way back to Christ's teachings to Peter and the Pope uses this in making binding statements.

OK, I’m with you so far...

Yet here we see that an identical office existed for the Pharisees, and those who sat in this office rejected the Messiah and ordered Peter and John to stop sharing the Gospel. So why trust the papacy if the identical Sanhedrim can be this wrong?

Well first off, you’re not quite comparing apples to apples here.  The Sanhedrin, while it was authoritative for the Jewish people, was never given infallible authority to bind or loose whatsoever they chose on earth - and that would also be bound in heaven.  That’s where infallibility comes into play - for nothing errant could possibly be so bound in heaven.

The way Catholics see it, is that Jesus is establishing that the Sanhedrim really does have an authoritative teaching that His followers must obey. This is a foreshadowing of the papacy, where this same position and power are given to Peter as an authoritative teacher to whom we must be obedient even when he acts like a hypocrite. We see that this position has always existed, first in Jerusalem and now in the Church.

True, to a point... a foreshadowing is not necessarily an equivocation, and in this case it most certainly is not.

Or at least that's as much as I can gather. I am open to corrections on the Catholic view of these verses.

I hope you can see where there is a difference here between the papacy and the Sanhedrin.

Let me then remark on the trilemma that we have. I call it that because the Catholic has set up three authorities who cannot all possibly be authoritative. These three on the scene are:
1) Jesus
2) Peter
3) the scribes and Pharisees
At this point in the narrative, by a Catholic reckoning, Peter has already been declared the first Pope back in chapter 16, and thus is already established in the position of authority that the seat of Moses is a precursor for. Thus we should say that the scribes and Pharisees do not sit in Moses' seat because now Peter has taken that seat. Yet, by the Catholic reckoning, we also see that not only do the Pharisees also hold this position of authority at this point in the narrative, but Peter is subject to their authority (see v. 1 that this is addressed to the disciples and the crowds). This itself wouldn't be that big of a deal if Peter and the Pharisees do not directly contradict one another. In Acts 4, Peter and John are called before the Sanhedrim on account of preaching the Resurrection of Christ and are commanded by the Pharisees who sit in Moses' seat and to whom they must be obedient to stop preaching Jesus' Resurrection. Peter replies that he's going to do so anyway, because he must obey God and not men.

OK, I did not want to interrupt your train of thought, so let’s take this in order:
1) The Catholic Church has not set up three authorities.  Jesus is our Authority, and He left St. Peter to be “in charge” as His Vicar.
2) The scribes and Pharisees are a thing of the past - though I suppose you’re comparing that to the Magisterium of the Church.  If you refer to the Magisterium, the bishops - as a group - were given similar authority to St. Peter in Matthew 18:18, and again - by Jesus Himself, not some oral tradition after-the-fact.
3) St. Peter did not immediately receive the authority Jesus spoke of in Matthew 16:18-19, as Jesus was speaking of some point in the future when He would build His Church - it didn’t happen at that sitting.  So, until this giving of the authority happened which we would surmise this happened at Pentecost, or as some like TheDen, may argue for the event of John 21:15-19 when Jesus tells Peter to "Feed My sheep" - either way the Sanhedrin was still holding the office of authority.
4) In Acts 4, Peter and John are still respecting that which preceded them, but the Jews did not accept the Messiah - Peter and John knew that the New Testament Church rested with them, not with the Jews who rejected their Messiah.  They still respected their elders, but the time was nigh to move on, the Old Covenant had been fulfilled and the New Covenant is now in place.

More to the point, Peter declares Jesus is the Christ and the Pharisees declare that Jesus is not the Christ.

They cannot both be teaching authorities at the same time. So then who is?

If it is the Pharisees, then Peter is not the pope because the office of the papacy depends on an interpretation of an event that had already occurred by this point in time. If the teaching authority is still with the Pharisees on Moses' seat then it cannot be on Peter's seat.

If it is not the Pharisees, but in fact Peter is the teaching authority here, then how are we supposed to understand Jesus command to obey the scribes and Pharisees who sit in Moses' seat? The only way I can possibly see to take it, then considering that the Pharisees no longer have this power granted to Peter a little while ago, is that Jesus is being sarcastic and challenging the hubris of the Pharisees to dare claim to sit in the seat of Moses and claim to have binding oral traditions going back to Moses not found in Scripture, and to presume to require people to follow doctrines made by them and not God.

No, not quite.  Again, at the time Jesus makes the statement to obey the Pharisees, they truly are still occupying that seat - but as of Pentecost, that authority moves to the New Testament Church.  At that point Peter alone (per Matthew 16) or Peter with the rest of the Bishops (Matthew 18) now sit in that seat.

But that means that Israel was this whole time without an infallible teaching authority to bind and loose doctrines on them. 

Correct, well, perhaps not the whole time - as God did provide them with the prophets who did indeed speak with God’s Authority - however, the days of the prophets had ended before Christ came upon the scene - though John the Baptist could be seen as the bridge between the prophets of the Old Testament to the Messiah of the New Testament.

That means that Israel did not need such an institution in order to identify the Scriptures or to understand the Scriptures or make correct doctrine.

Actually, though there were recognized portions of Scripture - and even a couple “canons” of Scripture prior to the Christian Church - they (the Jews) had not finalized what they considered to be canonical - in fact “canonical” was not even part of their vocabulary and really still isn’t as their view of “Scripture” is not quite how Christians view “Scripture.”  Christians see ALL of Scripture as “God breathed” and/or God’s Word - whereas Jews see different levels of inspiration.  The Torah, the Books of Moses or Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Bible) they see on the same level as we see all of Scripture.  Then comes the Prophets, and then to a lesser level comes the books of History and Poetry.  God installed the Judges to govern His People, but they wanted a king - so God relented and let them have a king.  It didn’t take long for the kingship to split the kingdom, but I digress.

After all, the Pharisees were correct about the prophecies of the Messiah and about the general Resurrection, even though these aren't always explicit in the text.

If they were truly “right” about the Messiah then they would not have rejected Him.

Then Protestants, too, it seems, do not need a binding teaching authority outside of Scripture, neither to know or understand Scripture, negating any need of an office of Pope.

Protestantism is a whole ‘nother story.  They neither accept Moses’ seat nor Peter’s - let’s try not to get distracted here.

If we want to say that Jesus is really affirming both the authority of Peter and the Pharisees at the same time, then we must make the absurd conclusion that Jesus isn't an authority either.

As I stated above, each has their own time - and when Jesus told the crowd to “do as they say, but not as they do...” they, the Pharisees, were still occupying that seat of authority.

Maybe there are errors in this idea?

I would say there’s no “maybe” here.

Love in Christ,
John Lollard


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blessed Christmas!

Well today, the 6th Day of Christmas, we have a White Christmas!  I woke up to about 6-8" on the ground, and after checking with my associates at work, I decided not to risk the drive at 7:30am.  When I did leave, about 11am there was another 2 inches!  It has pretty much subsided since then, but the high temp here was only 27 degrees F., so not much is melting, except what was on the roads.

My backyard, just before sunrise, 12/30/2010

Anyway, I just wanted to take a moment and wish all who may be passing by here a very Merry and Blessed Christmas!  The Christmas Season is now half over, only 6 more days to go. :-(

My front yard, 12/30/2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Swan on Luther and the IC

A Blessed Fifth Day of Christmas to all who are of good will...

Just a quick note/response here for now.  James Swan has posted three more "parts" to his response to me on Luther and the Immaculate Conception.  He seems to be repeating himself quite a bit and (speculating here) perhaps he's trying to overwhelm me so that he can have "the last word" in this discussion.

Now I must emphasize - I am not yet ready for a full/contextual response.  If his goal is to overwhelm - well, it's working partially.  I say partially because the volumes of his replies is slowing me down, but there WILL be a response, as I have promised.

Noting again now... I am appreciative of Mr. Swan's efforts to demonstrate potential and realized flaws in the citations which have been on my website regarding "The Reformers on Mary."  Once we've pretty much exhausted this discussion (which based upon Swan's repeating his points, I think we're pretty close to that now) then I will amend the original page on my site as well as the "work in progress" blog entry here so that both places will have the same information.

So, with that, I will close.  This posting is intended to be acknowledgment of Swan's continued responses and to let the readership here know that a response is forthcoming.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Name of Christmas

Under the category of "Things that make you say, hmmm..."

Have you ever noticed how many Christians get all offended that many merchants take "Christ out of Christmas" by using "X-mas?"  Or that some big chain stores insist their employees say "Happy Holidays" and not "Merry Christmas?"  Or do you really wish "Peace on earth, goodwill to men?" 

Many, if not most of these Christians are non-Catholics who want the word "Christmas" used.  Ironically, the actual name refers to the "Christ Mass" - a very "Catholic" meaning to the name itself!  I have to wonder that as this is more widely known and recognized, will there be Protestant movements to stop calling it "Christmas" altogether?  If they insist upon the literalness of "Christmas" then they are implicitly endorsing the First Mass of Christmas.

Getting offended over "Happy Holidays" is also unwarranted.  The actual liturgical season when most are celebrating what they think is Christmas is Advent.  All Christians should actually embrace that someone is wishing their "Holy Days" be "Happy."  The Christmas Season does not actually begin until the First Mass of Christmas - the Christ Mass, typically conducted at midnight Christmas Eve into Christmas morning.

Now, for those offended by the "X" in "X-mas" - you could actually embrace that as well!  The "X" is an ancient symbol from the Greek which means "Christ."

"Peace on earth, goodwill to men" is actually a mistranslation!  It should read, "Peace on earth to men of good will."  Yes, we all wish for peace on earth, but do we wish that for men of ill-will?  Should they be at peace in their ill-will?  No, but to those who are of good will, we most certainly could and should wish them peace and happiness.

Today is the 4th Day of Christmas - so MERRY CHRISTMAS!  Peace to men of good will!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas

Today is December 27th, the "Third Day of Christmas!"  So, Merry Christmas!  Remember, THIS is the Season of Christmas and it lasts until Epiphany - which is January 6th.  The days prior to December 25th were days of penance and anticipation in the Season of Advent (some observe this season similarly to Lent).  But now it is Christmas!  Christmas began with the First Mass of Christmas - the Christ Mass, which is traditionally the "Midnight Mass." 

There are many ways to celebrate the Twelve Days - some do so with a gift each day.  Special prayers and devotions in honor of the Christ child too are very appropriate. 

Some controversy has arisen over the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas."  It may be seen as a strange set of verses based upon the "Twelve Days."  Some, however, believe it has to do with the Catholics of England in the 16th-19th centuries wherein Catholics were persecuted by Anglican Protestants.  The twelve verses then relate to catechetical lessons:

First Day: Partridge in a Pear Tree = Jesus on the Cross
Second Day: 2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
Third Day: 3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
Fourth Day: 4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
Fifth Day:  5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
Sixth Day: 6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
Seventh Day: 7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
Eighth Day:  8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
Ninth Day: 9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Tenth Day: 10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
Eleventh Day: 11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
Twelfth Day: 12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

Another variation/reason for the verses comes from a book which was published in 1870, "Twelve Days of Christmas: A Celebration and History, by Leigh Grant."  This book states that it was a "memory and forfeit game" whereby the leader would start the first verse, then the next person had to recite the second verse, and so on, until someone made a mistake.

Snopes also presents the case that the catechetical meaning behind the song is false.  However, Snopes does not really offer a "better alternative" meaning.  It largely argues why it is not logical to have been rooted in this persecution theory as all the concepts mentioned by the supporters of this theory are shared in Catholicism and Anglicanism - so where would the "secret" be?  Also, to pick a song which is so limited in season - what did they do for catechism the rest of the liturgical year?  The Snopes article does mention the same "memory and forfeit" game as a possible alternative origin.

Sue Widemark, a long time friend of mine, posts an article in support of the Catholic persecution story, and she makes some very good points there as well (see link below).

All in all, it's a fun song - and if it helps you remember your catechism - GREAT!  Enjoy the Christmas Holy Days (holidays)! 

Sue Widemark:
Google Timeline: (click here)

Bishop Olmsted on St. Joseph's Hospital

Bishop Olmsted (who happens to be my bishop too) has spoken out and has removed the "Catholic" status from St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. He did this because an abortion was performed there to "save the life of the mother."

Responding to someone else in the "blogosphere" he responds:

Now, let us examine what took place...

The case involes a woman with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) - (medical description linked here).  This disease is treatable, even among pregnant women (see medical article here) however it is risky.  The point of Bishop Olmsted is that it is never permitted in the Catholic Church to perform a direct abortion as a means of treating some other symptom or disease.  For example, treating a uterus diseased by cancer involving radiation therapy would also end up terminating a pregnancy - but it was the treatment of the diseased uterus which had the unintended consequence of aborting the baby.  In the case at St. Joseph's Hospital the ethics committee, which included a Catholic nun, Sister McBride, made the decision to abort the child - even though there's really no correlation between the child and PAH.  Yes, continuing the pregnancy complicates the treatment of PAH and would have been quite risky for the mother.  This, in turn, put the child at risk too - but to kill the child because the mother's life was in danger?  This is not a moral option for a Catholic to consider.  The decision of the committee was that to continue the pregnancy would have put the mother's life at imminent risk, but there comes a point when we must yield to the Lord's Will be done in our lives. 

One of the issues involved here was that Bp. Olmsted's office was not consulted prior to the abortion decision and/or the abortion itself.  Sister McBride could have yielded to her bishop here and allowed him to make the decision and take the heat for it - why did she act so autonomously? 

Another thing the "blogosphere" must consider - we weren't sitting in on those meetings of the ethics committee.  We don't sit in Bishop Olmsted's seat.   We're basically a bunch of arm-chair quarterbacks and as such we should allow those in authority to do their jobs.  Was Sister McBride right to endorse this abortion?  Bishop Olmsted has firmly stated she was not and has backed his position with the position of the Catholic Church on abortion.   It simply cannot be permitted in a "Catholic" institution. 

Lets allow Sister McBride seek reconciliation with the Catholic Church privately.  This need not be continually aired, especially by Catholics.  To do so can be considered scandalous, which in itself is sinful.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Why Was It Necessary for Christ to be Born of a Virgin?

Merry Christmas!  Or, shall we say a Blessed Christ Mass!

First off, a Blessed Christ Mass to all those faithful Catholics in attendance at Mass this holy day of obligation.  Secondly, I pray for those separated brethren to reunite with the Catholic Faith their forefathers abandoned and instead of mere lip service to "Christmas" celebrate the Mass of Christ - the Christ Mass - which we celebrate in honor of His birth (which was likely not on December 25, see other article here).

We have just concluded the season of Advent, the first season of the liturgical year, which is a season of penance (similar to Lent) and one of anticipation of the coming Lord.  We sing songs of hope and joy and anticipation - often of the Baby Jesus - but if we look at the readings in Mass, many of them are actually about the second coming of Christ!  That is what we're in anticipation of now!  Prepare ye the way of the Lord!

So why did God choose the Blessed Virgin Mary to be His Mother?  

It starts with the fall of Adam and Eve, when they sinned - they brought upon all of us a fallen nature.  Each of us inherits this fallen nature upon our conception.  God requires a sacrifice in blood to atone for sins - and the victim must be spotless.  Animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were insufficient for only a pure and spotless human could atone for the Original Sin.  So in order for this to happen, God Himself would become Man.  He would be born of a woman, as all men are, however we have this problem of Original Sin which all humans inherit - including this woman He would choose to become His Mother - so what to do?  The first thing to do is this woman had to be made pure from the first moment of her conception - and at that moment all stain of Original Sin would be washed away.  This is what happened to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the event we call the Immaculate Conception and this would be necessary so that the vessel or the "Ark of the New Covenant" would be worthy of carrying the Lord God, King of Kings within her.  Now, she did inherit the temporal punishments of Original Sin - those of sorrow, suffering and death - and her Son would experience these punishments as well.  Thus she was made pure - and her offspring was truly Man, and since she was already purified and "Full of Grace" (as the Angel of the Lord, Gabriel, addresses her in Luke 1:28 - which a few English translations have properly translated) her Son then was perfect and spotless - and thus worthy of becoming our Sacrifice to atone for all the sins of mankind, as only a truly spotless Sacrifice could do.

So, Christ the Lord was born on that first Christ Mass Day - which of course would not be called that until first Christ Himself established the Mass on the first Holy Thursday in the week of His Passion - and later still, until the Church He Himself established would declare a day for celebrating His birth - and we celebrate His birth with the Sacrifice of the Mass, which truly is the reason for which He was born.  He was born to become our Sacrifice for all time, and that Sacrifice is perpetuated in the Mass which He established.

Again, it is my prayer that our separated brethren return to full communion with the Church abandoned by their forefathers- for Jesus Christ explicitly expressed His desire, that we be ONE, just as He and the Father are One.

John 17:20-21:
And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me; that they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (DRB)

Join us in the Oneness which we once had and He so desires for us.


And if there was social networking when Jesus was born...

TF Part 2 on Luther and the IC

An anti-Catholic epologist who goes by the pseudonym “TurretinFan” (TF) has continued commentary on the Immaculate Conception (IC) discussion I have been having with James Swan.  TF, however, is focusing on my statement that while the Blessed Virgin was preserved from the stain of Original Sin, she was not wholly preserved from the consequences of Original Sin.  Apparently he takes objection to the fact that this knocks a hole in so many anti-Catholic statements claiming Catholicism has it wrong in regard to Jesus being the only one wholly without sin for in inheriting the consequences of Original Sin she too needs a Redeemer.  The anti-Catholic would not like to see or accept that Catholicism is truly “Christian” in that sense, but in reality clinging to such bigotry is what is non-Christian.  Below is my response to TF’s recent bloggery:

Follow-Up With Scott Windsor

Mr. Windsor has a brand new post (link to post) in which he attempts to respond to my post of yesterday (link to my post). There's not much new.
Correct, not much is new because my position has not changed in the least.  Then, I didn't merely attempt to respond, I responded.  TF may not agree with what I've said - but to imply I only "attempted" a response is not factual.
In my response to my point that he is committing a fallacy of emphasis, he insisted that his position is not novel and quoted (he claimed) from the Catholic Encyclopedia. Here's what he said:
I'll begin with #6 - My explanation is not new. The 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia says: "But she was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam (aka Original Sin) — from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death." The article actually dates back to 1910 - before even my parents were born.

I trust this will silence the false allegation that this was somehow my "novel interpretation." I have also posted this part of my response to TF's blog.
Except that's not actually what the entry says. The "(aka Original Sin)" is Mr. Windsor's insertion.
Yes, the parenthetical statement is mine - it is a clarification, which TF would rather not see, as he focuses on the text immediately before what I quoted - which is in reference to the stain, taint or corruption of Original Sin, which the Blessed Virgin was preserved from.
What it actually says is this:
The formal active essence of original sin was not removed from her soul, as it is removed from others by baptism; it was excluded, it never was in her soul. Simultaneously with the exclusion of sin, the state of original sanctity, innocence, and justice, as opposed to original sin, was conferred upon her, by which gift every stain and fault, all depraved emotions, passions, and debilities, essentially pertaining to original sin, were excluded. But she was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam — from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death.
Well, the red text and bolding there was mine for this posting.  What part of “But she was not made exempt from the temporal punishments of Adam” are you not comprehending, TF?  I submit THAT is PRECISELY what I’ve been saying all along, I did not invent this concept and there, more than a generation before I was born, we see the Catholic Encyclopedia expressing the same thing I have been expressing!  I challenge TF to prove otherwise.  
After that, he claims he doesn't need to give a supporting argument for his assertion ("It is not up to me to point out what the supporting argument should be"). In the world of reason, of course, people can't just make assertions.
To be clear here, if I was not originally, that statement is in regard to me not having to provide the supporting argument for TF’s assertion(s)!  TF is the one who introduced a Greek word into the discussion between James Swan and I - as if Luther was writing in Greek - and thus, if he cannot produce a Greek original of that discussion then the logical thing for him to do is concede.  I do not expect him to do so, it has not been characteristic of him to concede anything to me (or any other Catholic that I am aware of).
He goes on to address two arguments I did not make, to wit:
1) He points out that Luther didn't write in Greek. Who said he did? I certainly didn't say so.
I guess that’s about as close as we’re going to get to a retraction.  The insertion of the Greek “adelphos” into a discussion where the primary source is Luther was like jumping into the water without first checking the temperature.  Swan and I were not discussing Greek or Scripture, we were discussing Luther and Luther’s writings and whether or not Luther held to the belief in the Immaculate Conception throughout his life.  It was NOT a discussion of whether or not the IC was correct or scriptural, and the sooner TF recognizes this he (and a few others) can remove the egg from his (their) face(s).
2) He alleges that, in context, Luther can't be referring to Jesus' brethren. I'm quite sure Luther isn't talking about the conception of any of Jesus' brethren, and I certainly wasn't suggesting otherwise.
Good!  Then all this discussion about “adelphos” and straying into a discussion of the Perpetual Virginity was off-based and I therefore accept the retraction of such arguments from THIS discussion.
He then claims I've abandoned my Greek argument. What argument exactly? Presumably it is one of those two arguments I didn't make.
Are we supposed to just forget that it was TF who introduced the Greek word (font an all) to this discussion of Luther’s beliefs?
He clarifies that his use of "ACCURATE" to describe a translation here "refers to the misplaced insertion of Greek into this discussion as if to confuse the reader." While I grant that Mr. Windsor was one of my readers, and that he was quite confused, I think he has only himself to blame for that. I didn't suggest in the least that the Greek word was a translation of anything that Luther wrote.
Again, then the Greek word has NO BUSINESS in this discussion of Luther’s beliefs!  One point, which even Mr. Swan does not dispute, is that Luther held a belief in the Immaculate Conception while he was a Catholic and even into his Protestant days.  The point of dispute between Swan and I was whether or not Luther CONTINUED to hold that belief to the end of his life.  THAT was the topic of discussion - so your imputation of the Greek into THAT discussion was wholly misplaced.  Admit it TF, you leaped without looking.  IF Swan and I were discussing the merits of the dogma itself, THEN your intrusion could have been more applicable.  In your attempt to join in the dogpile, you end up at the bottom of a different dogpile.
Mr. Windsor then basically admits that he had no basis for his claim regarding "every translator" but argues that if there were at least two translators, then he was correct. Of course, the only thing he would appear to be correct about is in his defeat of the straw man position that the Greek word is supposed to appear in the English text.
The point is the Greek word didn’t even belong in the discussion!  
Mr. Windsor identifies the perpetual virginity as a side topic, as it indeed it is. That was, of course, why the point was raised inside parenthesis in my original comment. It was an aside - a point of interest for the reader.
Considering the FACT that Swan and I were not even discussing the merits of the Immaculate Conception itself, but SOLELY whether or not Luther adhered to such beliefs throughout his life, I was merely pointing out that the discussion of the Perpetual Virginity (which Luther also held as a lifelong belief) was nothing more than a red herring (distraction) to what truly was trying to be discussed - in fact, your whole argumentation in this discussion is nothing more than a red herring!  If you have nothing to add to the discussion of whether or not Luther held to the teaching of the IC throughout his life - then kindly admit you stuck your nose into a discussion you did not fully comprehend the subject of and withdraw from it.
He then makes the untrue assertion: "TF is alleging Luther used Greek in his writings." Now, don't get me wrong. Luther probably did use Greek words in his writings at certain points, but that has not been my argument here. Mr. Windsor simply hasn't followed what I have said.
Oh, I’ve followed what TF has said - I just refuse to engage the red herring, and TF seems too stubborn to admit his intrusion is indeed that - a red herring.
After quoting my demonstration of my position and over twenty quotations from Ineffabilis Deus, Mr. Windsor boldly alleges: "First off, TF has misrepresented Catholic teaching here." That is a bold allegation because I've just presented numerous quotations from an official papal document, and indeed from the very document that defines the dogma of the immaculate conception.
Again, TF’s discussion of the merits (or from his perspective, the lack thereof) of the IC was NOT the topic of discussion between Swan and I.  That being said, TF did indeed misrepresent Catholic teaching and further most of those citations were talking explicitly of the STAIN of Original Sin.  
Mr. Windsor continues: "The whole document, Ineffabilis Deus, does not define the Immaculate Conception - only one paragraph in it does and here it is for the reader". One supposes that Mr. Windsor thinks this contradicts my characterization of Ineffabilis Deus as "the document that defined the dogma." If he does think that, it's simply because of some weakness of his own. The document defines the dogma, whether it does so in one of its many paragraphs or all of its many paragraphs - the same way that Pope Pius IX defined the dogma, although that does not mean that every word that ever came out of Pope Pius IX's mouth (or pen) was the definition of the dogma. This is really just elementary English, in my opinion, but pointing this kind of thing out brings complaints of ad hominem from Mr. Windsor. In point of fact, my characterization is pretty much exactly the same characterization that one will find at EWTN, which describes Ineffabilis Deus as "Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius IX solemnly defining the dogma of the Immaulate Conception, 8 December 1854."
TF continues in his ignorance... yes, ID does CONTAIN the definition of the dogma - solemnly defining it - but anyone who knows their salt at all, when it comes to such definitions, KNOWS that the entire document is not the definition.   Even in “infallible councils” - not EVERYTHING at a council, even say the Council of Trent, is considered infallible - only those decrees which are made binding upon the whole Church.  If TF would like to continue in his erroneous ignorance, fine, he just provides opportunity for myself and others to point out such ignorance.
Mr. Windsor then quoted the formal definition of the dogma. Ironically, this formal definition is actually not a whole paragraph, or even a whole sentence. It is part of one sentence of one paragraph of one section of the document. Nevertheless, I think in fairness to Mr. Windsor we should point out that the portion he quoted is the formal definition, could stand alone as a sentence, and is long enough to be a paragraph.
I concede the grammatical correct - but the part I quoted is the formal definition, no more and no less, which you apparently concur with.  
Mr. Windsor then stated: "That's it - the rest of the document is Pope Pius IX's explanations - but the only part which can be called 'infallible' is the definition itself." Again, who said otherwise? I certainly didn't.
TF, you imply it with your inclusion of all those non-contextual snippets you provided.  If that was not your intention, then I accept your explanation that it was not - and thus reducing even further any worthiness of consideration of your assertions.
Mr. Windsor then states:
Secondly, the definition makes no mention of the temporal punishments due to Original Sin, and we believe she did suffer and die - which are part of these temporal punishments. Some may maintain that she didn't die - and was taken up just prior to her death - THAT definition only specifies "having completed the course of earthly life..."
Yes, those who follow Rome cannot decide amongst themselves whether or not Mary died.
Actually, for the Catholic it is just the opposite!  We can decide amongst ourselves whether or not Mary died!  That is not part of Catholic dogma, but again, we’re digressing into yet another discussion/distraction.
And yes, Roman theology, even though it teaches that Mary was preserved from original sin, irrationally permits her to suffer the punishments due to sin. We will gladly grant Mr. Windsor those points - particularly since we have never said otherwise.
Come on TF, Catholicism teaches she is preserved from the STAIN of Original Sin!  Once you go beyond the words of the formal definition you go into the realm of theological speculation, and if that speculation ends up denying the definition then it is to be abandoned.  
Of course, none of that supports Mr. Windsor's claim that Mary had original sin, just not its stain (as though the two were separable).
Whether TF comprehends or accepts the separation of the STAIN and CONSEQUENCES of Original Sin or not is the folly of his assertions against me here.  First off, I repeat, this is NOT what Swan and I were discussing.  Secondly, TF should try to understand the Catholic perspective before attacking that which he does not understand.
And furthermore, if Mr. Windsor believes that the meaning of the words of the paragraph defining the dogma can be considered in a vacuum, without considering the usage of the words throughout the document, he is mistaken. Even though the rest of the document is not considered "infallible," it still provides the context in which the defining paragraph is to be understood.
And virtually in the same breath of that comment I followed with another comment, clarifying that I did not deny ANY of the other comments from Pope Pius IX, I only asserted - as I continue to assert - that TF does not understand the separation of the STAIN with the CONSEQUENCES of Original Sin, and his implication that I made this up has been proven false.  
Mr. Windsor's attempt to isolate the part of the sentence from its context is noted but futile. We all know that it has to be understood within context in order to be properly understood. Even Mr. Windsor knows that, whether he wants to admit it or not.
The problem here is TF has it backwards.  The other comments have to be read in the context of the definition, not the other way around.  The definition has precedence, not other comments about or leading up to the definition.
Moreover, while the rest of document may not be "infallible," it is still official. It is still papal. Mr. Windsor cannot simply ignore it because it contradicts his position. As between what Pope Pius IX thinks Roman theology is and what layman Windsor thinks Roman theology is, I think it is not "ludicrous" to think that it is Mr. Windsor who has a deficient understanding of Roman teaching.
I challenge TF to demonstrate where I have denied anything in ID , whether part of the definition or otherwise.  I wholeheartedly state I do NOT disagree with Pope Pius IX’s document - not in the least!  It is my contention that anything TF may THINK I disagree with is related to his lack of comprehension of the dogma itself and how Catholics REALLY believe - as opposed to what he THINKS we believe.


I am seeing where TF is coming from on the quote from the 1917 CE, if I might elaborate a bit more here.  Again, his focus is on what came before what I quoted - and obviously my focus is on what I did quote.  The part I quoted is in red, the part TF quoted is in green - all emphasis was added by each of us respectively:
The formal active essence of original sin was not removed from her soul, as it is removed from others by baptism; it was excluded, it never was in her soul. Simultaneously with the exclusion of sin, the state of original sanctity, innocence, and justice, as opposed to original sin, was conferred upon her, by which gift every stain and fault, all depraved emotions, passions, and debilities, essentially pertaining to original sin, were excluded. But she was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam — from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death.

Note, it says "the formal active essence of original sin" - which would still be in line with what I've been saying all along.  That which is the "stain" or "taint" or "corruption" of Original Sin is the "FORMAL ACTIVE ESSENCE" and the "temporal penalties" are another PART OF Original Sin - and she was NOT MADE EXEMPT from these.

So, while I was a bit myopic in focusing on what I quoted - TF was not only myopic in his focus on what preceded my quote - but he misunderstood and misapplied it.

Addendum 2:
TF points out in a comment response on his blog from the CE:
"We shall examine the several effects of Adam's fault and reject those which cannot be original sin:

(1) Death and Suffering.- These are purely physical evils and cannot be called sin. Moreover St. Paul, and after him the councils, regarded death and original sin as two distinct things transmitted by Adam." (bold emphasis is mine)
(Link to source)
I concede the CE says this in a separate encyclopedic article. My initial point remains, but let me adjust the terminology to fit even this encyclopedic reference:
That which we received from the fall of Adam is the stain of Original Sin and the temporal punishments DUE TO Original Sin. The punishments are not the sin itself, but are due to the sin - thus we receive both the stain of the sin and the punishments due the sin. Note, on page 312 of the same article TF references it also says:
I. Meaning Original Sin may be taken to mean (1) the sin that Adam committed; (2) a consequence of this first sin, the hereditary stain with which we are all born on account of our origin or descent from Adam
Now, in the case of the Blessed Virgin Mary, through the Holy Ghost she was preserved from the active essence of Original Sin at the very first moment of her conception - and this is referred to as the Immaculate Conception. However, she was not exempted from the consequences due to the First/Original Sin of our father Adam. I submit, this has been my position all along. TF when he initially confronted me on this basically accused me of making it up - but what I've shown him from the CE proves I did not make it up. Try as he may to play a game of semantics - he was just plain wrong in his initial implication/accusation - and I am vindicated by the CE article.

Blessed Christ Mass is Nearly Here!

Well, today is Christmas Eve, the eve of the Christ Mass!  I plan to be at midnight Mass this evening to bring in the Christmas season (which has not yet begun folks!) with the First Mass of Christmas.

I wish for all who are of goodwill to have peace and happiness as Advent 2010 draws to a close and Christmas begins tonight - and then a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

We go from singing, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" to "Hark the Herald, Angels Sing, GLORY to the newborn King!"

Yours in JMJ,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

TF Chimes in on the Luther and the IC Discussion

An apologist who goes by the pseudonym of "TurretinFan" (TF) responded to my recent response to James Swan on Luther and the Immaculate Conception.  I now respond to him...

6) I was aware of Mr. Windsor's novel interpretation of Ineffabilis Deus, and I had asked him previously to tell me where he got his ideas from - whether from some official source or from his own creativity. He didn't respond then (that I'm aware of), and I don't suppose he'll respond now, although he has the opportunity to respond in the comment box.

I'll begin with #6 - My explanation is not new. The 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia says: "But she was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam (aka Original Sin) — from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death." The article actually dates back to 1910 - before even my parents were born.

I trust this will silence the false allegation that this was somehow my "novel interpretation."  I have also posted this part of my response to TF's blog.  Now, on to the rest...

1) Mr. Windsor's allegation of fallacy of etymology is unsupported. In fact, the argument that Mr. Windsor offers doesn't begin to address what a supporting argument for such an assertion would need to address. Mr. Windsor doesn't, for example, identify a word that has had its meaning determined etymologically and then explain what the correct meaning should be.

It is not up to me to point out what the supporting argument should be when I pointed out the use of the etymological fallacy.  TF ignores the fact that I challenged the very use of Greek here - Luther didn't write in Greek!  He understood it, he could translate from it, but he wrote in German and Latin.  The introduction of Greek here itself is a fallacy - THEN to attempt some sort of etymon goose chase - as if that would support anything in the current discussion of the Immaculate Conception!  That being said, I followed that chase a bit... I looked up the word and found it means "from the womb" and "brother."  Keeping in mind, we're still talking about the displaced Greek here, when Luther is referring to "the Virgin's conception" is he talking about her giving birth a "brother?"  At this point, even if we accept the off-topic comment and false assertion (also contrary to Luther's position, which would be a bit more on-topic from the original post in this series) that Jesus had brothers and sisters from that same womb - at THIS conception He would have been an ONLY CHILD!  Adelphos just doesn't work here in the sense of a "brother."

For more on the etymological fallacy, here's a starting point.

2) Mr. Windsor's allegation about what an "ACCURATE" (his caps) translation would be just reflect his apparently weak knowledge of the English language. The expression, in English, "the virgin's conception" can (standing by itself) refer to one of two things: (1) the action of the virgin (a virgin shall conceive) or (2) the action on the virgin (Mary's mother's conception of Mary). It's perfectly accurate to say "the virgin's conception" with respect to either of those two meanings.
Notice that basically right out of the chute, TF lays into ad hominem - and has abandoned his Greek argument.  He has also ignored the fact that in my discussions with Swan I have stated there are places where one who rejects the IC "MAY" impose their paradigm upon Luther here and interpret him to be speaking of Jesus' conception as opposed to Mary's conception.   Again, my use of "ACCURATE" refers to the misplaced insertion of Greek into this discussion as if to confuse the reader.
3) Mr. Windsor's claim "if Swan and TF are correct here, then every translator of this passage to English has it wrong" is based on his apparently inadequate grasp of English, as explained above. It is also somewhat strange, because it is not like there are hundreds or even dozens of English translators of this particular passage of Luther's works. Mr. Windsor doesn't even identify two such translators (at least not anywhere near this discussion), though perhaps there are two.
I find it a bit ironic that TF introduces a Greek word here without citing a single Greek original of Luther's work here and then tries to pawn off on me the responsibility of providing sources!  That being said, I'm not going to go digging for English translations of the passage to prove an unrelated tangent here.  If TF agrees there are at least two translators, then amend my word "every" to be "both" - it matters not to me. 
4) The comment about Jesus ἀδελφοὶ also whizzes over Mr. Windsor's head. There was a primary point and a secondary point to the comment. The primary point was that an expression like "Mary's conception" (standing alone) could refer to her conception of any of the children she brought forth. Of course, in this instance it refers to Jesus' conception, not James' or any of the Lord's other ἀδελφοὶ. The second point was that Jesus, according to Scripture, had ἀδελφοὶ - those who were from the same womb as him - that includes brothers and what Scripture refers to as "αδελφαι" which refers to sisters. That secondary point is not really relevant to the issue of what Luther's talking about, at all. It's just a point that needs to be made against those who mistakenly hold to the idea that Mary remained a virgin after Jesus' birth.
The Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin was NOT the subject of the discussion between Swan and myself at this point.  Here we're focused on the Immaculate Conception.  Let us not be distracted by side-topics - especially one where TF is alleging Luther used Greek in his writings.   Apparently TF has an agenda here and wants to insert this propaganda where ever he can.  Again, going back to the original article - the PV was discussed, and Luther (remember too, we're discussing LUTHER'S position on these matters) maintained the belief in the PV - as the source Mr. Swan cited "The Problem of Mary" - written by a Lutheran pastor - also clearly affirms.  To bring up an argument that Mary had other children would also be contra-Luther and misplaced in this discussion.  TF is free to disagree with Luther and the Catholic Church on this matter - but that argument does not belong in THIS debate.
5) Mr. Windsor's attempt to separate the "STAIN" (his bold and caps) from the sin is not something he can support from the official teachings of his church. Read the document that defined the dogma, and you'll see that the "stain" and the "sin" are used essentially interchangeably.
Notice, in the following series how "taint," "stain," and "sin" are used interchangeably and how it is repeatedly affirmed that Mary was free from original sin (in order of appearance, numbers just for ease of reference, in case you should wish to check/correct me)
  1. "absolutely free of all stain of sin"
  2. "free from all taint of original sin"
  3. "conceived without the stain of original sin"
  4. "preserved free from all stain of original sin"
  5. "preserved from original sin"
  6. "preserved from original sin"
  7. "was never subject to original sin, but was completely preserved from the original taint,"
  8. "all men are born infected by original sin; nevertheless, it solemnly declared that it had no intention of including the blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, in this decree and in the general extension of its definition."
  9. "free from the original stain"
  10. "the Virgin's supreme sanctity, dignity, and immunity from all stain of sin"
  11. "her most excellent innocence, purity, holiness and freedom from every stain of sin"
  12. "free from all contagion of sin"
  13. "the worm of sin had never corrupted"
  14. "when one treats of sin, the holy Virgin Mary is not even to be mentioned"
  15. "to her more grace was given than was necessary to conquer sin completely"
  16. "entirely free from every stain of sin"
  17. "she, differing so much from the others, had only nature in common with them, not sin"
  18. "holy and removed from every stain of sin"
  19. "conceived without original stain"
  20. "preserved free from all stain of original sin"
  21. "conceived without original sin"
So, unless Mr. Windsor has more than simply his own say-so, we must respectfully insist that it is he, not us, who is unfamiliar with Roman dogma on the subject. He is committing the fallacy of emphasis by assuming that "stain of original sin" is supposed to be different in its sense than "original sin."
First off, TF has misrepresented Catholic teaching here.  The whole document, Ineffabilis Deus, does not define the Immaculate Conception - only one paragraph in it does and here it is for the reader:
We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.
That's it - the rest of the document is Pope Pius IX's explanations - but the only part which can be called "infallible" is the definition itself.

Secondly, the definition makes no mention of the temporal punishments due to Original Sin, and we believe she did suffer and die - which are part of these temporal punishments.  Some may maintain that she didn't die - and was taken up just prior to her death - THAT definition only specifies "having completed the course of earthly life...":
For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma:  that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. [Munificentissimus Deus]

So, the definition of the Assumption does not explicitly state she died and thus leaves room for those to believe she did not and remain faithful Catholics.   But I digress - again, the discussion TF joined into was on Luther's position on the Immaculate Conception.  Whether or not Swan or TF agrees with me or not, I believe I've shown adequate argumentation to demonstrate that Luther did, to some level or another, believe in the Immaculate Conception throughout his life and that fact was also testified to in the "Problem of Mary" written by a Lutheran pastor and provided to us by James Swan.  His comment is in the "combox" section of his blog and he says:  "Luther himself mentions the every virginity and immaculate conception even to the very end of his life."  

Lastly, TF's assertion that I don't know or understand the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is simply ludicrous and I answered his objection in my response to #6,  (I responded to first in this article).  It is also not I who is demonstrating a lack of understanding of the dogma - when he (TF) implies that all those other references were part of the dogma.  Yes, they were part of the document which ALSO CONTAINS the dogmatic definition, but most of those citations of "stain" and "sin" were not part of the definition.