Monday, June 29, 2009

Quotable Catholics #3: Mark Shea vs Liberal Catholicism

When a majority of the justices on the Supreme Court of the U.S. are Catholic and we still can't overturn Roe vs. Wade, we have a problem. When our leading Catholic University gives awards to pro-abortion politicians, we have a problem. When a pro-abortion President appoints Catholics to important positions within his cabinet and the pro-abortion stampede continues, we have a problem. When two leading Catholic intellectuals feel the need to have a debate over whether or not it is ok to support a pro-abortion President, we have a problem.

Mark Shea's (abridged) answer:
The first practical conclusion I draw from this is that we must fight sin and evil in the Church, but not waste time trying to figure out who is and is not "really" a Catholic or "really" a Christian. (I'm not saying you are doing this, only noting that it is an extremely common temptation and one to which the blogosphere is all too commonly prey.)

I have read through the Catechism (and Dr. Kreeft's wonderful simplification) and I don't see the problem. The Catechism is a lengthy read, but it's not hard to understand. The Church is very clear about what is right versus wrong and does a very good job of explaining why. And the thing that surprised me the most is that there are not a lot of basic rules to worry about (maybe rules isn't the right word. You're the wordsmith, not me). Actually, the Catechism reminds me a lot of the Rules of Golf. The rules themselves are very simply. It's the interpretations that get you in trouble.

Mark Shea's (abridged) answer:
One thing to bear in mind (which many of us converts overlook) is that many cradle Catholics do not encounter or experience their faith primarily as a body of doctrines to assent to, but as a family. That makes a big difference in perception. A convert knows he is going to be asked to say, "I believe all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God." A cradle Catholic never really quite has such a moment. So for a convert, it's a big deal to be able to say that honestly. While for many a cradle Catholic it's much more like the kid who grows up in the house and, when he hits adolescences says, "I love my Mom and Dad, but they think some crazy stuff and I don't buy it."

source: The good news about the Catholic Church is... it's like a big family. The bad news about the Catholic Church is... it's like a big family.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Luther tells us that it was Satan who convinced him that the Mass was not a true sacrifice

I was recently sent an article from a traditional catholic site entitled, The Insidious Tactics of Change. The article is about "the most insidious but subtle of assaults that have been perpetrated against Our Lord Jesus Christ's One True Faith by the scions of Vatican II have been against the actual Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Blessed Savior in the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist" (try saying that sentence with one breath, I dare you). In other words, the Traditionalist Catholics accuse the Vatican II minions of changing and attacking the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

The article has a few interesting Luther tidbits. The author cites Grisar to prove that Luther slowly introduced changes in the sacrament, just like those pesky Vatican II folks. I guess there's nothing worse than using the insult: Vatican II simply followed in the steps of Luther.

A curious quote is also given from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger:

"Luther's historical instinct is clearly proving itself right ... Both the Catholic and Protestant interpretation of Christianity have meaning each in its own way; they are true in their historical moment ... Truth becomes a function of time ... Fidelity to yesterday's truth consists precisely in abandoning it in assuming today's truth." "Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, in ibid., p. 436."

That text can be found here (and here), and unless the author is using a different edition, the sentences of this quote appear on very different pages. The first part is on page 141. The other parts are from page 16. In my meager mathematical calculations, that's 125 pages, not to mention the first part of the quote doesn't even follow the second in the text. I will though cover my bases and point out, the version I used was a limited preview, so if this quote is somehow on page 436 (which I doubt it is), save your bullets.

Well, I'm not one to defend the Pope, but this is a very poor method of citation, and even a pope shouldn't be so poorly cited. True indeed, the current pope has been more cordial to Luther, the author could've found numerous examples of that without the botched citation. I think Traditionalists do have a point that the attitude toward Luther now from the Vatican is not consistent with the attitude of previous generations of the Catholic Church. As an aside, I found this quote from Ratzinger's text quite entertaining:

"...[P]aradoxically, the Fathers have lost ground on both sides of the argument because, in the controversy about the fundamental basis for understanding Scripture, there is nothing more to be proved or disproved by reference to them" [pp. 141-142].

That's a keeper if ever there was one.

The real gem though is the following statement from the Traditionalist article in which the author quotes from "Audin's Life of Luther" to prove that " Luther tells us that it was Satan who convinced him that the Mass was not a true sacrifice, and that in worshipping bread, he was guilty of idolatry" and "Luther acknowledged at the close of this conference that he was unable to answer the arguments of Satan, and he immediately ceased saying Mass."

Audin can be found here. The section being quoted begins on page 354. This is a good opportunity to note all that is Google Books is not gold. In the introduction, Audin was said to have "zeal for the Catholic cause." Perhaps this zeal clouded his judgment about the narrative between Luther and the Devil, because he appears to think it is a narration of an actual event. The actual text from Luther is found in LW 38: The Private Mass And The Consecration Of Priests. This writing went through multiple revisions. The introduction points out,

The idea of a disputation with the devil occurred to Luther while he was working on this third draft. This verbal exchange with the devil does not reflect his personal experience but is employed as an effective literary device in the first part of the book. The fact that Luther’s plan for the book changed as he developed these three outlines in succession is reflected in the rather abrupt way in which he concluded his writing as well as the remark that the book had become longer than he had originally intended it to be.

It's too bad this article was so poorly documented. The article in question appears to be recently posted, so perhaps they'll see this blog entry and take it back into the workshop. I do have some sympathies for the Traditionalist cause against romanism. One may find these interviews with Gerry Matatics interesting. Gerry of course will make a good point, and then go on to say something wacky. If these guys ever get their act together, perhaps they can actually help demonstrate the Borg-like nature of Roman Catholicism.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tim Staples Says It's Wrong to Clap and do "The Wave" at Mass

This type of stuff is always a head shaking irony.

Catholics often argue that using Scripture alone as an infallible authority produces doctrinal anarchy. In its place, their paradigm of Scripture + Tradition + Magisterium = doctrinal unity. Especially clear is the Eucharist... Priests have that one down, they're all marching in unison to the beat of the drum.

Note the following question and answer from the Catholic Answers "Ask an Apologist" board:

Is the Real Presence of Jesus in the sacrament separated from faith of the one who is receiving communion or is it dependent on his/her faith. A Priest I go to for mentoring has told me that the intention of Christ was to share himself fully but he is not truly present unless I (or the one who is receiving the communion is united with that intention) To prove his point he shared a fictional story about an Old Lady who received communion at home, this old lady had a Bird and while the priest was giving her the host the bird took it and ate it and he asked me, did the Bird have communion, was it really Christ in there. I had to admit that it was a valid point but I couldn't support it with any church documents. Please Advise.

Dear friend,You need to find another mentor. What your priest is telling you is heresy! That story about the bird does not force anyone to admit that the host ceases to be the body of Christ if an animal receives it.

But well, at least Catholics don't have all those wacky problems Protestants do with Church services with communion... or do they? Here's an MP3 clip of Tim Staples explaining why it's wrong (in his opinion) to clap during mass. He then goes on to explain why he left a particular Catholic Church he attended because the priest had his congregation do "the wave."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I was on vacation last week, and this week I'm over at the Sovereignty of God conference, so I haven't had a chance to blog anything. That James White guy spoke last night.

I did though begin updating this link:

Master Archive: Martin Luther Papers And Blogs By James Swan

I did so, not for anyone visiting here, but for me, because I can't find things. I also plan on adding a listing of the "Obscure Luther Quotes" blog entries I put together. More than once, I've began working on a quote, only to find I already researched it two or three years ago. I always find it funny when I go to Google search a quote, and get linked back to my own blog.

I also added the new blogger search widget, because sometimes the one I had been using didn't find things either.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gerry Matatics Contra Mundum

I take 44 cents out Gerry Matatics' pocket every so often. I'm on his mailing list, so the mailman brings me his newsletter. His most recent newsletter explains that his position is not a compromise with "the liberalism and modernism that has swept over the Catholic world in the last 50 years," and he offers a new set of recordings to prove it.

He then states,

So called "mainstream traditionalist" publications like The Latin Mass magazine, The Remnant, The Fatima Crusader, Catholic Family News, and groups such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, The Institute of Christ the King, and even the society of St. Pius X (still unapproved by, but ever hopeful for a rapprochement with, Rome), have all fatally compromised with this modernism, as these talks demonstrate.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Luther as an "infallible, unquestionable theological / spiritual guide or authority"

The following comes from the book, Martin Luther: Catholic Critical Analysis and Praise:

Now we need to look at what Luther actually claimed as the basis for his spiritual authority: [p.41]

Against all the sayings of the Fathers, against all the arts and words of angels, men and devils I set the Scriptures and the Gospel . . . Here I stand and here I defy them . . . The Word of God I count above all else and the Divine Majesty supports me; hence I should not turn a hair were a thousand Augustines against me, and am certain that the true Church adheres with me to God's Word. (Against Henry VIII, King of England, 1522; in Grisar, Vol. IV, 391 / from Werke [Weimar], Vol X, II, p. 256 ff.)

Whoever teaches differently from what I have taught herein, or condemns me for it, he condemns God, and must be a child of Hell. (Ibid., from O’Connor, 15)

These quotes from Luther are all of a piece: they all indicate that he considered himself some sort of infallible, unquestionable theological / spiritual guide or authority. Lots of people claim this, of course. Why should Martin Luther have been regarded any differently from any other self-proclaimed prophets or oracles of God? I think this is a perfectly legitimate and highly important question that Protestants would do well to ponder. [p.45]

I found these quotes interesting because I recently read Luther's Against Henry VIII, King of England, the source of the two Luther quotes above. The entire document is an excellent read, particularly if you're involved with Catholic argumentation about authority. It can be found here:

Martinus Lutherus contra Henricum Regem Angliæ
Martin Luther against Henry King of England
translated by the Rev. E. S. Buchanan, M.A., B.Sc. New York: Charles A. Swift, 1928

One would think these quotes are the ravings of lunatic, waving his Bible around alone in the woods. However, if you read through the treatise, such is not the case. Luther's argues throughout about which authority is infallible: church fathers or the Bible? While Luther based his argumentation on the Bible, King Henry cited particular church fathers, often at the expense of Scripture. The argument is not that church fathers aren't important, the argument is that they are not infallible. The only record the church has of God's infallible voice is found in the sacred scriptures. If one is going to bind doctrine on the church, those doctrines should be clearly supported by Scripture.

As to the first quote, the author pulled it out of a secondary source, Hartmann Grisar's Luther IV, rather than actually reading it in context. In context, Luther is wrapping up argumentation against the sacrifice of the mass (which Henry defended):

Finally [Henry] brings in the sayings of the Fathers to establish the sacrifice of the Mass, and laughs at my folly, who claim to know alone more than all others, which is most foolish, etc.

And here I say that by this argument of his my opinion is confirmed; for this is what I said, The Thomist asses have nothing they can bring forward but the number of men and the antiquity of the use, and then they say to one who brings forward Scripture, Are you the wisest of all? Do you alone know? And then, It must be so. But to me, the most foolish of all men, this is enough, that the most wise Henry can produce no Scripture against me, nor can he confute those that I have brought against him. Then also he is forced to grant that his Fathers have often erred, and that their ancient use does not make an article of faith, and that it is not lawful to trust in them,--but only in that Church of the multitude, of which he is the Defender with his Indulgences.

But I against the sayings of the Fathers, of men, of angels, of devils place not ancient usage, not multitudes of men, but the word of the one Eternal Majesty, the Gospel, which they are forced to approve, and in which the Mass is clearly said to be a sign and testament of God, wherein He promises us His grace, confirming it with a sign. This is God's word and work, not ours. Here I stand, here I sit, here I remain, here I glory, here I triumph, here I laugh at the Papists, Thomists, Henrys, Sophists and all the gates of hell, nay, at the sayings of men, however saintly, and at their fallacious customs.

The word of God is above all. The divine Majesty makes me care not at all though a thousand Augustines, a thousand Cyprians, or a thousand of Henry's Churches should stand against me. God cannot err, or be deceived. Augustine and Cyprian and all the elect could err, and have erred. Answer me now, Lord Henry. Be a man now, Defender. Write books now. Thy curses are nothing. Thine accusations have no effect. Thy lies I despise. Thy threats do not frighten me. For thou art as stupid in this passage as is a block; and at other times art nothing but words.

A little later, Luther concludes,

The sum of the matter is this: The whole of Henry's book is based on the words of men, and on the use of the centuries, and on no words of God, nor on any use of the Spirit, as he himself is compelled to confess.

On the contrary, the sum of my argument is that whereas the words of men, and the use of the centuries, can be tolerated and endorsed, provided they do not conflict with the sacred Scriptures, nevertheless they do not make articles of faith, nor any necessary observances. If therefore King Henry, in conjunction with all the might and learning of Thomists, papists, devils and men, can show that the observance of human words is necessary, then is Luther overthrown, and this by his own verdict and confession. For then, after all I have said, I must take as articles of faith whatever even the Thomists choose to order. But if Henry cannot show this, then Luther is victorious. For what do they want? Not if they were to write a thousand books against me, will they ever be able with me to make any other issue.

For I do not ask what Ambrose, Augustine, or the Councils, and use of the centuries say; nor was there any need for King Henry to teach me these things; for I knew them so well that I once before even attacked them, whence the folly of Satan is to be wondered at, which attacks me with the very things which once before attacked; and constantly begs the question. lo not, I confess, dispute what has been said by some man, or lot said; what has been written, or not written; but I argue whether this saying, or writing, is necessary to be observed, whether it is an article of faith, whether it is on an equality with the word of God, whether it binds the conscience. I put the question: Is it to be liberty, or captivity? For liberty I fight; the King fights for captivity. I have shown the reasonableness of liberty. The King omits his reasons for captivity; and merely babbling on that which is captivity, brings us into bondage without assigning our fault. And so, Farewell to the foolish and unhappy Defender of the Babylonish Captivity, and of his papal Church.

As to the second quote, it was from Luther's own statements concerning his teaching and its results By Henry O'Connor. For some reason, perhaps by mistake, this book is listed as one of Luther's "Primary Works" on page 260. It certainly is not a primary work. It is a collection of out-of-context Luther quotes. O'Connor got it from the German version of the same treatise: Antwort auf Konig Hetirich's Yon Engelland Buck, wider seineu Tractat von der Babylonischen Gefangmss. As far as I can tell, the quote "Whoever teaches differently from what I have taught herein, or condemns me for it, he condemns God, and must be a child of Hell" is unique to the German version. Grisar cites it in Luther V as "whoever teaches otherwise than I have taught, or condemns me, condemns God and must remain a child of hell" (" Werke," Weim. ed., 10, 2, p. 229 f. ; Erl. ed., 28, p. 347. ) (It's also cited in Erl. as being on page 346). So whatever Luther said in context, waits to be seen.

Luther: "Zwingli's death proved I'm right and he's wrong"

Here's the third installment of "Helping Matthew Bellisario Do Research."

Sometimes even when Matthew Bellisario is almost right, he's right for the wrong reasons. Matthew states,

"Scripture Alone was a great system for Luther until someone disagreed with his interpretation, as we can see from above. Luther also fought Zwingli over the words of Christ in the Gospel of John chapter 6 regarding the Eucharist. Zwingli argued to take Christ's words only symbolically or to be taken as "in the mind of the believer" while Luther claimed that the correct interpretation was that of "consubstantiation". They both disagreed on a fundamental interpretation of Scripture. This is a fact. Luther hated Zwingli so much that when Zwingli was killed in battle he said, 'he got what he deserved.... His death proved I'm right and he's wrong;.."[source].

What Mr. Bellisario doesn't tell you is that at the Marburg Colloquy in 1529, where Luther and Zwingli met face to face, Luther and Zwingli agreed on 14 articles of doctrine. They disagreed on point 15: The Lord’s Supper. We could apply the same reasoning to the Canon at the Council of Trent. Not all in attendance held the apocrypha was canonical scripture, therefore, certainty by council is a failure.

I'd like though to focus on the Luther quote. Zwingli died October 11, 1531 in battle. There's really no debate that Luther disliked Zwingli. That he died in battle could have provoked such a negative comment from Luther. Go ahead though and Google search Matthew's 'he got what he deserved.... His death proved I'm right and he's wrong' - you'll get a few different hits, and one of them is Matthew's blog. Matthew didn't get it from the Luther or Zwingli entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia, and I'm fairly certain we can rule out he actually read Luther and mined out this quote. The other Google hit was to this page, which provides no documentation, nor is it in any way close to a primary source.

The quote, if it exists at all (and I'm tempted to say it does not), sounds suspiciously like a Tabletalk comment. So... off to the LW Tabletalk we go:

No. 1451: Zwingli, Too, May Be Saved by God (Between April 7 and May 1, 1532)
“Zwingli drew his sword. Therefore he has received the reward that Christ spoke of, ‘All who take the sword will perish by the sword’ [Matt. 26:52]. If God has saved him, he has done so above and beyond the rule."

No. 94: God’s Punishment of the Godless (Early November, 1531)
“When I was in Coburg these comments about adversaries taught me the meaning of the words in the Decalogue, ‘I the Lord your God am a jealous God.’ It is not so much a cruel punishment of adversaries as it is a necessary defense of ourselves. They say that Zwingli recently died thus; if his error had prevailed, we would have perished, and our church with us. It was a judgment of God. That was always a proud people. The others, the papists, will probably also be dealt with by our Lord God.

No. 157: Luther Stricken with a Sudden Illness (January 22, 1532)
When he overheard us say that if he died it would give great satisfaction among the papists, he said confidently, “But I am not going to die now. I know this of a certainty. For God will not strengthen the papistic superstition through my death so shortly after the death of Zwingli and Oecolampadius. God will not give them [the papists] such an occasion for rejoicing. To be sure, Satan would gladly kill me if he could. Every moment he is pressing me, is treading on my heels. Yet what he wishes will not be done, but what God wills.”

From the On-Line edition of the Tabletalk:

DCCLVII. I wish from my heart Zwinglius could be saved, but I fear the contrary; for Christ has said that those who deny him shall be damned. God's judgment is sure and certain, and we may safely pronounce it against all the ungodly, unless God reserve unto himself a peculiar privilege and dispensation. Even so, David from his heart wished that his son Absalom might be saved, when he said: 'Absalom my son, Absalom my son;' yet he certainly believed that he was damned, and bewailed him, not only that he died corporally, but was also lost everlastingly; for he knew that he had died in rebellion, in incest, and that he had hunted his father out of the kingdom.

The only thing even similar to Matthew's bogus quote comes from Roman Catholic historian, Hartmann Grisar:

Luther was in high glee when news of Zwingli's death reached him. He said: "God knows the thoughts of the heart. It is well that Zwingli, Carlstadt, and Pellicanus lie dead on the battle-field, for otherwise we could not have retained the Landgrave, Strasburg and other of our neighbours [true to our doctrine]. Oh, what a triumph is this, that they have perished! God indeed knows His business well." "Zwingli died like a brigand," he said later, when scarcely a year had elapsed since his death. " He wished to force others to accept his errors, went to war, and was slain." " He drew the sword, therefore he has received his reward, for Christ says: 'All who take the sword shall perish by the sword.' If God has saved him, then He did so contrary to His ordinary ways." "All seek to cloak their deceitful doctrines with the name of the Evangel," so he exclaims in 1532. [source]

"High glee"? That's Grisar's interpretation. As to the first quote, "God knows the thoughts of the heart. It is well that Zwingli...etc." Grisar says it's from "Schlaginhaufen, Aufzeichnungen, p. 1." The word "Schlaginhaufen" is actually a name, John Schlaginhaufen. He was one of the compilers of The Tabletalk. Schlaginhaufen was responsible for the entries 1232 to 1889 in WA, TR 2. They were published for the first time in 1888 by Wilhelm Preger. The entries date from 1531 to 1532. LW states, "Nothing more is known about him until he appears in November, 1531, as one of the young men who lived in Luther’s home and ate at his table." The source Grisar probably used was: Tischreden Luthers aus den Jahren 1531 und 1532 nach den Aufzeichnungen von Johann Schlaginhaufen. Aus einer Münchner Handschrift herausgegeben von Wilhelm Preger (Leipzig: Dörffling & Franke, 1888). The entry as reported by Schlaginhaufen does contain error "Carlstadt, and Pellicanus lie dead on the battle-field" was incorrect. These men did not die in the battle with Zwingli. The particular quote used by Grisar from this edition of the Tabletalk is not available in English.

The other quotes cited by Grisar appear to be Tabletalk entries as well, very similar to the ones I posted above. So, what we have documenting Luther's views on the death of Zwingli are a bunch of quotes from the Tabletalk. That Luther did not mourn the death of Zwingli is probably true. That Catholics, even smart ones like Grisar mine the Tabletalk endlessly and use such descriptive terms as "High glee" do nothing more than poison the well against their arch rival. Take a moment to compare Grisar's quotes with the Tabletalk entries provided above, and ask if Grisar has given an accurate picture of Luther from the Tabletalk.

As to Mr. Bellisario, his historical analysis says that the battle over the meaning of John 6 between Luther and Zwingli provoked Luther to say at Zwingli's death, "'he got what he deserved.... His death proved I'm right and he's wrong." If this is the way Catholics "do" history, Catholic apologetics is in deeper trouble than I previously thought.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Christian" E-mail Scams

A few months back I received an e-mail scam from someone, and while the right thing to do is delete it, I actually sent back a reply: "Sending out spam e-mail in the hope of stealing money from people is a crime not only against other people, but a crime against a Holy God." And then I went on from there to flesh this out a bit, and also linked to this for the scammer.

A few years ago I was sent an e-mail from someone purporting to be William Webster and he was stuck in Nigeria and needs money to get out. I'm not sure how this one got pulled off, but somehow the person must've hacked Webster's address book.

Recently, I got another e-mail scam. I found this one interesting in that it is a variation on a regular scam. What they did was, add "Christian" lingo to it:

From: Mrs. Ann-Marie Jacquelin

I am the above named person from France. I am married to Dr. Paul Jacquelin who worked with France Embassy in America for 21 years before he died in the year 2007.We were married for 17 years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only two weeks. Before his death we were both born again Christians. Since his death I decided not to re-marry or get a child outside my Matrimonial home which the Bible is against. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of 24Million Dollars (twenty four Million United State Dollars) on the safe deposit box with the bank. Europe.

Presently, this money is still deposited on the safe deposit box with the bank.

Recently, my Doctor told me that I would not last for the next four months due to cancer Problem. Though what disturbs me most is my stroke sickness. Having known my condition I decided to donate this Fund to church or better still a Christian individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct here in. I want a church that will use these funds to fund churches, orphanages and widows propagating the word of God and to ensure that the house of God is maintained. The Bible made us to understand that blessed is the hand that giveth.

I took this decision because I don't have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Christians and I don't want my husband's hard earned money to be misused by unbelievers. I don't want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly manner. Hence the reason for taking this bold decision. I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord. The lord he will fight my case and I shall hold my peace. I don't need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health and
because of the presence of my husband's relatives around me always. I don't want them to know about this development.

With God all things are possible As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the BANK in Europe I will also issue you a letter of authority that will prove you as the original- beneficiary of this Fund. I want you and the church to always pray for me because the lord is my shepherd.. My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian. Whoever that wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and truth. Please always be prayerful all through your life.

Any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing for a church or Christian individual for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I stated herein Hoping to hearing from you. I have set aside 30% for you and for your time and 10% for any expenses if there is any then remaining balance for the word of God. Remain blessed in the name of the Lord.

Yours in Christ,

Mrs. Ann-Marie Jacquelin

This message has been scanned for viruses and dangerous content by MailScanner, and is believed to be clean.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Weekly “wisdom” from Martin Luther = Propaganda #1

Recently I was forwarded a Luther quote being used by an ex-Lutheran turned agnostic. The quote was one of many in a blog series entitled, Weekly “wisdom” from Martin Luther. The quote was one of those obscure quotes that's been floating around the Internet without a context, or in many instances, documentation:

“Snakes and monkeys are subjected to the demon more than other animals. Satan lives in them and possesses them. He uses them to deceive men and to injure them.

Now, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out Luther actually wrote this or believed this. What I found interesting was that a person who researched the Bible and concluded " there is no validity to Jesus" was quite content to host a series of out-of-context Luther quotes. So I left the following comment:

Before I quote someone, I make sure to have a context for the quote to verify why they said what they said. Do you have a context for your quote… or even a reference to Luther’s Works? If not, perhaps you should revise your blog entry to reflect the lack of research that went in to posting the quote. If you do have a context, please provide it. Propaganda is not effective when proper documentation is given.

The response was, "The post has been updated with the source." The source given was none other than the elusive Tabletalk. I then stated,

Thank you for adding a source, “Table Talk, from The Collected Works of Martin Luther.” Which “Collected Works of Martin Luther” are you referring to? English? German? Latin? I can assure you, your quote is not in the current English edition of Luther’s Works. The Tabletalk is divided by number. That is, each particular saying has its own number. Which number is this quote?

Am I correct that you haven’t read the context, nor are you familiar with the background to the Tabletalk? Luther didn’t even write the Tabletalk, and the volume has changed quite dramatically over the years.

The Tabletalk purports to be what Luther said, based on eyewitness accounts. However, if you read the introduction to the Tabletalk found in LW 54, you’ll note many of the “utterances” are not reliable, nor even included in the current edition. I find it quite suspicious that the current edition of the Tabletalk doesn’t include the “snakes and monkeys” comment. There isn’t a cover up either. The editors of Luther’s Works made sure to include many of the most controversial sayings.

I’ve never visited your blog here before, but I did take a moment to look over your “about me” link. You say, “the Bible is too flawed to be a valid record.” If your research into the Bible is similar to your research into Luther, I suggest you start over. Quoting Luther out of context via the Tabletalk (not even something Luther wrote) is, frankly, propaganda.

The response: "The authors of the Gospels wrote “eye-witness” accounts of events they didn’t even witness. Every quote of Jesus is out of context by unreliable and unknown authors. That is, frankly, propaganda."

Ah, the honesty of the religious sceptic! When backed into a corner, shift gears. So, I responded:

The title of your blog includes, “happy are those who ask questions.” I’ve asked a few questions on the material you’ve posted, and haven’t gotten any satisfying answers.

There are those of us that really do pursue truth from a theistic worldview. We find it fascinating, if not absurd, when non-theists infer that belief in a Christian worldview is done at the expense of truth, and then they’ll post quotes (like the one you’ve used) without having a context or even reading the context, from a book that the person being quoted didn’t even write.

I find it fascinating that you will admit candidly admit:

I am no longer a believer in Jesus or the god of the Bible. Through my recent experience, it has become undeniably obvious that the Bible is too flawed to be a valid record. Without the validity of scripture, there is no validity to Jesus. And with the evidence that prayers aren’t answered, miracles don’t happen, bad things happen to good people, and evil things are done by Christians throughout the world, I couldn’t be a sheep any longer.”

On the other hand, you won’t candidly admit you haven’t even read the context of the Luther quote you’ve used, you don’t know where to find it, and you weren’t even aware the Tabletalk wasn’t written by Luther.

If you really believe “happy are those who ask questions” as a means of arriving at truth, then you should be quite pleased with admitting you’ve used Luther quotes far less than honestly.

If on such a basic level as admitting your poor methods of using a source and documenting it correctly is beyond your ability, I can’t help but question how honestly you’ve done your alleged Biblical “research.”

I'll update this, time allowing, for any further responses. The issue isn't even the Luther quote. The issue is demonstrating that from the heart the mouth speaks. This person is committed to attacking the Christian worldview with whatever is available. Whether it's true or not doesn't matter. As long as it serves the campaign against Christian theism, it's good research to be posted in cyberspace.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Luther: I am unable to pray without at the same time cursing

Here's the second installment of "Helping Matthew Bellisario Do Research."

Mr. Bellisario has done just enough reading of the Catholic Encyclopedia to prove Luther was "extremely demonic" based on Luther's prayer life. Did Matthew survey Luther's writings and examine his writings on prayer? No, it was enough to pull one quote out of the Catholic Encyclopedia. He posted the following:

If we look at Luther's prayer life we will see that it was extremely demonic, at least at certain times of his life. He is recorded as saying that he could not pray without cursing. Where did Jesus tell us to curse our enemies in prayer? I must have missed that in the Gospels. The Catholic Encyclopedia records Luther's words as, "For I am unable to pray without at the same time cursing. If I am prompted to say: 'hallowed be Thy name', I must add: 'cursed, damned, outraged be the name of the papists'. If I am prompted to say: 'Thy Kingdom come', I must perforce add: 'cursed, damned, destroyed must be the papacy.' Indeed I pray thus orally every day and in my heart without intermission" (Sammtl. W., XXV, 108) [source]

The Polemical Arena
Bellisario isn't alone, Erik Erikson uses the quote in Young Man Luther. Erikson though doesn't use it to prove Luther was "demonic" in prayer. Rather, he uses Freudian psychology and determines statements like these "are an attempt to find a safety-valve when unrelenting inner pressure threatened to make devotion unbearable and sublimity hateful- that is, when he was again about to repudiate God in supreme rebellion, and himself in malignant melancholy."

One wonders if Erikson even read the original context. Erikson's citation appears to be taken from Will Durant's volume on the Reformation. Durant uses the quote as an example of Luther's use of unrestrained language, often to a fault. He also adds immediately after citing the quote, "Such rhetorical passion was in the temper of the times. 'Some of the preachers and pamphlet writers on the orthodox side,' confessed the learned Cardinal Gasquet, 'were Luther's match in this respect.' Vituperation was expected of intellectual gladiators, and relished by their audiences; politeness was suspected cowardice" (p.418-419).

Bellisario has followed the lead of the Catholic Encyclopedia. The CE infers statements from Luther like these were part of his "sinister moods". They refer to one of Luther's "old admirers" stating,"with his shameless, ungovernable tongue, [Luther] must have lapsed into insanity or been inspired by the Evil Spirit." George Ganss, author of the Luther entry in the CE, was heavily influenced by Heinrich Denifle. Ganss presents a wild tempered Luther, depressed and mentally ill- abandoned by most of his friends and colleagues, dejected and despairing, tortured in body and spirit. For an overview of the CE entry on Luther, see this link.

Background Information
This quote is from the 1531 treatise, "Against the [Character] Assassin at Dresden" or sometimes referred to as "Against the Traitor at Dresden." The CE notes this treatise can be found in Walch, op. cit., XVI 2062-2086. The treatise, to my knowledge, has not been translated into English.

Most sources (including the CE) say the person at Dresden was Duke George of Saxony, although some older sources refer to "Franz Arnold" as the person Luther wrote against. The sparse information about the later identifies him as "a Roman Catholic priest at Cologne, [who] was one of the most violent, though not one of the most distinguished opponents of Luther." Franz is said to have penned "Der unpartheyische Laye" which was "a violent attack on Luther." Luther is said to have responded with "Wider den Meuchler zu Dresden" ("Against the Assassin at Dresden). More often though, Duke George is said to be that person Luther's treatise was directed against.

Duke George was a sworn enemy of Luther's. He stands out as a ruler vigorous in maintaining a campaign of propaganda against Luther. He kept a team of writers busy against Luther. The writings, were quite hostile. Duke George actually sought to have Luther's works censured and reviewed, while his work and those under him who wrote just as intensely were allowed to print whatever they wanted. He also used his ruling power to obstruct Reformation printing, as well as promoting wholesale burnings and confiscation of Luther's books. If one was caught printing pro-Reformation materials, it was quite possible George would have you arrested, which actually did happen. Duke George was part of a secret Catholic alliance seeking to restore Catholicism within Electoral Saxony by having Luther and other Protestants handed over to the authorities. After Luther published "Against the [Character] Assassin at Dresden", "Duke George expelled a number of evangelically minded persons from Leipzig and Oschatz" [LW 38:142]. Interestingly, Duke George was one of the leaders responsible for actually slaughtering the peasants.

In 1531, things got very heated between Duke George and Luther. The Duke had been campaigning that Luther was attempting to incite rebellion against the empire. Duke George wrote an anonymous work responding to Luther's "Warning to His Dear Germans" entitled, "Against Luther's Warning to the Germans That They Should Not Be Obedient To the Emperor, Another Warning That They Should Not Allow Themselves To Be Misled By It Nor To Be Moved To Disobedience. It appears Francis Arnoldi [Franz Arnold] wrote a short afterword to the second edition of this treatise. Luther entitled his response "Against the [Character] Assassin at Dresden" because George published it anonymously.

Kostlin explains:

Luther gave open vent to his indignation at the Recess of the Diet and the violent attacks of the Catholics in two publications, early in 1531, one entitled 'Gloss on the supposed Edict of the Emperor,'and the other, 'Warning to his beloved Germans.' In the former here viewed the contents of the Edict and the calumnies it heaped upon the Evangelical doctrines, not intending, as he said, to attack his Imperial Majesty, but only the traitors and villains, be they princes or bishops, who sought to work their own wicked will, and chief of all the arch-rogue, the so-called Vicegerent of God, and his legates. The other treatise contemplates the 'very worst evil' of all that then threatened them, namely, a war resulting from the coercive measures of the Emperor and the resistance of the Protestants. As a spiritual pastor and preacher he wished to counsel not war, but peace, as all the world must testify he had always been the most diligent in doing. But he now openly declared that if, which God forbid, it came to war, he would not have those who defended themselves against the bloodthirsty Papists censured as rebellious, but would have it called an act of necessary defence,and justify it by referring to the law and the lawyers.These publications occasioned fresh dealings with Duke George, who again complained to the Elector about them, and also about certain letters falsely ascribed to Luther, and then published a reply,under an assumed name, to his first pamphlet. Luther answered this 'libel' with a tract entitled 'Against the Assassin at Dresden,' not intended, as many have supposed, to impute murderous designs to the Duke, but referring to the calumnies and anonymous attacks in his book. The tone employed by Luther in this tract reminds us of his saying that 'a rough wedge is wanted for a rough log.' It brought down upon him a fresh admonition from his prince, in reply to which he simply begged that George might for the future leave him in peace. [source]

The Quote
Luther countered that it was the Catholics who were really against the empire, not the Lutherans. He listed twelve pieces of evidence proving that Catholic authorities were seeking the destruction of Protestants. The quote in question comes from the end of the treatise. It's a response to George's assertion that Luther's writings were filled with evil words and Devil references. Luther responds,

"It should be my fame and honor, [and] so I also wish to have it, that one should say of me from now on how full I am of evil words, abuse, and cursing for the papists. For more than ten years I have often humbled myself and have used the very fairest words with the result that the longer [I have done so] the worse I have made them. . . . Now, however, since they are impenitent [and] have decided to do simply no good but rather nothing but evil so that there is no hope [for them], I also wish from now on to occupy myself with cursing and rebuking those rogues to my grave [wil jch auch hinfurt mich mil den bosewichten zu fluchen und zu schelten bis jnn meine gruben], and no good word more should be heard from me. I wish to ring them into the grave with my thunder and lightning. For I cannot pray without thereby having to curse. If I say: "Holy be Thy name," I must in addition say: "Cursed, damned, and disgraced must be the papists' name and all who slander Thy name." If I say: "Thy kingdom come," then I have to add: "Cursed, damned, destroyed must be the papacy with all kingdoms on earth that are opposed to Thy kingdom." If I say: "Thy will be done," then I must add: "Cursed, damned, disgraced, and to nothing must be all thoughts and plots of the papists and all who strive against Thy will and advice." In truth, I pray thusly daily without fail [both] orally and in my heart, and with me [pray in the same manner] all who believe on Christ, and I also feel indeed that it will be heard. . . . Still I hold a good, friendly, peaceful, and Christian heart towards everyone. Even my greatest enemies know that [Mark U. Edwards, Luther's Last Battles, pp. 50-51].

Alternate translation:

This shall be my glory and honor, and I will have it so, that henceforth they will say of me that I am full of bad words, of scolding and cursing against the papists. I have often humbled myself for more than ten years, and used the very best language, but have only increased their wrath, and the peasants have been the more puffed up by my supplications. Now, however, because they are obdurate and have determined to do nothing good, but only evil, so that there is no longer any hope, I will hereafter heap curses and maledictions upon the villains until I go to my grave, and no good word shall they hear from me again. I will toll them to their tombs with my thunder and lightning. For I cannot pray without at the same time cursing. If I say, "Hallowed be Thy name," I have to add, "Cursed, damned, reviled be the name of the papists and of all who blaspheme Thy name." If I say, "Thy kingdom come," I have to add, "Cursed, damned, destroyed be the papacy, together with all the kingdoms of the earth, which oppose Thy kingdom." If I say, "Thy will be done," I have to add, "Cursed, damned, reviled, and destroyed be all the thoughts and plans of the papists and of every one who strives against Thy will and counsel." Thus I pray aloud every day and inwardly without ceasing, and with me all that believe in Christ. And I feel sure that my prayer will be heard. Nevertheless I have a kind, friendly, peaceable, and Christian heart toward every one, as even my worst enemies know. [source]

Note that last line above, "Nevertheless I have a kind, friendly, peaceable, and Christian heart toward every one, as even my worst enemies know." This is a tip off that Luther was using highly rhetorical and inflammatory language, but it is probably true he prayed his enemies would be silenced by God. Mark U. Edwards notes Luther's treatise was framed in vehement abusive language. I've never denied Luther wrote at times in such fashion. Such was the discourse in the sixteenth century. Edwards also points out that both sides saw their opponents in league with the devil. Edwards states:

At issue in the disputes between Luther and Duke Georg was the obedience due to secular authority. On the basis of his doctrine of the two kingdoms Luther distinguished between secular and spiritual affairs and counseled disobedience to coercion exercised by Catholic secular authorities in spiritual matters. His Catholic opponents either missed this distinction or thought it hypocritical. The practical effect, they claimed, of Luther's advice, and the violent language in which the advice was couched, was to promote rebellion. Luther was enraged by such a claim, and saw the apparent unwillingness or inability of the Catholics to recognize and honor this distinction between the two kingdoms as a sure sign of Catholic allegiance to the devil. Each side, then, viewed the other as the true rebel. Each side charged the other with a desire to foment disorder, sedition, and war. Given such opposed convictions, it is not surprising that the language and form of argumentation employed by the publicists-Luther, Duke Georg, Cochlaeus—suggest that each was speaking more to his own party than to one another. Expressions of righteous indignation, liberal use of insult and name-calling, lengthy recitals of old grievances, rehashing of past disputes, repetition of familiar arguments—such material may appeal to the converted and may reinforce convictions already held. But it is unlikely to move the unconverted. And it will only enrage the opponent [Mark U. Edwards, Luther's Last Battles, pp. 38-39].

Delving into history like this typically never satisfies Catholics who simply interpret history by stating, "If we look at Luther's prayer life we will see that it was extremely demonic." Obviously, the facts of history don't bear this out, particularly if one were to survey Luther's writings on prayer, or if we were to survey the Psalms- we could conclude the psalmist was demonic.

Ironically, Roman Catholic historian Anton Fischer argued Luther was a man of prayer, a man to be appreciated by Catholics: "However rich a Church may be in truly great Christian men of prayer, it would still have room for the distinctives of the praying Luther; it should not pass carelessly over this great man of prayer and his precious utterances on prayer and his excellent instruction on prayer.”

“Fischer makes a distinction in Luther between the fighter and the man of prayer. The former, to his mind, is the concern of only a part of Christianity; all Christian denominations can, how ever, lay a claim to the second. In so far as he was a man of prayer, Luther was truly ecumenical. Even a Church rich in believers who are devoted to prayer (he means the Roman Church, of course) has much to learn from him.

And what can Luther teach all Christians about prayer? Two essential truths. The first is that prayer has only one valid criterion—the Word and the Holy Spirit who reveals Himself through Scripture. Luther drew all his strength from the Bible and took all his instruction about prayer from the Bible. In the same way, all believers are exhorted to nourish themselves on the Old and New Testaments, if they wish to pray effectively; there they too will meet with God. The second truth is that the Pater noster constitutes the very heart of the Christian life, and for this reason should be pronounced with the reverence and fervour due to Christ's own words. If it is said in the spirit of the great masters of prayer like St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assist and Martin Luther (so Fischer ends his article), the Lord's Prayer can bridge the gap which really separates Roman Catholics and Protestants.” [Richard Stauffer, Luther As Seen By Catholics, 38-39].

Rather than delve into a complete overview of Luther's views on prayer, I'll focus on just one aspect. For Luther, prayer was also a weapon we have to call down the power of God against the power of Satan. In our prayers we fight Satan for ourselves as we call upon God to strengthen our reliance on Him. We call down God’s power against every evil Satan seeks to bring upon our lives. Prayer is also a weapon in our fight against Satan on the battlefield of the lives of those around us. We call down the power of God against Satan for those we love. In Luther's mind, Satan was the mastermind behind the Papacy. Hence, his prayer above reflected this.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Frank Schaeffer: abortion should remain legal

I wouldn't normally link over to Patrick Madrid's blog for news updates, but he posted some old news on Frank Schaeffer, son of the late Francis Schaeffer. Recall, a number of years ago, Frank went "Orthodox." That was another "trophy conversion story" that was thrown out there as proof that smart Protestants know: if a church is old, it must be true.

Anyway, Madrid posted this: That Sound You Hear Is Francis Schaeffer Rolling Over in His Grave ." Frank now says abortion should remain legal. Well, I guess Frank's conversion story is going to go the way of the Matatics story. We'll just not use it anymore...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

New Series: Helping Matthew Bellisario Do Research #1

Matthew Bellisario states, "Luther justified his terrible temper and harsh language against the Church by claiming that it was God inspired. "The "gospel", he now sees, "cannot be introduced without tumult, scandal, and rebellion"; "the word of God is a sword, a war, a destruction, a scandal, a ruin, a poison" (De Wette, op. cit., I, 417). As for pope, cardinals, bishops, "and the whole brood of Roman Sodom", why not attack it "with every sort of weapon and wash our hands in its blood" (Walch, XVIII, 245). This shows us the violent mentality of Luther. Some Luther fans have tried to downplay Luther's harsh temper and hate-filled words by claiming that this was common for the time period. We however know that this is not the case because the Church never stooped to this level in refuting Luther."

As to the quote from Walch, XVIII, 245, I did a three part entry on it:

Luther's Statement Concerning Roman Catholic Authorities: "Why do we not rather assault them with arms and wash our hands in their blood?" (Part One)

Luther's Statement Concerning Roman Catholic Authorities: "Why do we not rather assault them with arms and wash our hands in their blood?" (Part Two)

Luther's Statement Concerning Roman Catholic Authorities: "Why do we not rather assault them with arms and wash our hands in their blood?" (Part Three)

To cite the quote without explaining why Luther would've been provoked to such a violent outburst is to ignore history. It is to ignore the historical polemic context in which Luther found himself- in heated dialogue with high ranking Catholic apologists that could influence his very life or death. He was in a battle against those who simply declared and defended the power of the Pope. How could one engage in a life threatening situation against an absolute power that refused to even admit its wrongdoings and abuses with indulgences? Luther responds harshly that the Emperor, kings, and princes should treat such an abuse of power in the same way thieves and heretics are treated by the state. Keep in mind, the Catholic contoversialists would have no problem likewise having Luther fall into the hands of the state to be punished with the same severity.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Various Luther tidbits...

I recently dialoged with Ben (also known as raumzeitmc2) on the Catholic Answers forums. He's been busy posting all sorts of Luther tidbits over on DA's blog, to which DA responds, "More fascinating inquiries . . . you just keep comin' up with 'em! You should put a book together." What was fascinating? It was the assertion that Luther's father was a murderer, via this from Google books. For a response to this outdated research, see: Was Luther's Father a Murderer?

Another commenter, Jerry, has been bedazzled by the old PBS web page, 10 things you did not know about Luther. Jerry let's us know it stated, "Luther thoroughly approved even advocated drinking heavily. When a young man wrote to him complaining of despair at the prospect of going to hell, Luther wrote back advising him to go and get drunk. That, he said, was what he did when he felt despair." For a response see, PBS Presents “Facts” That Luther Advocated Drunkenness and Promiscuity.

It appears some of the "Luther" battle between Catholic apologists Matthew Bellisario and DA as documented by DA has been removed, although some of the comment boxes seem to be extant, minus DA's insights. Yes I know, I should be ashamed at having set this clash of the titans in motion, but unless you watched it live, the rerun has been edited. Well, it was interesting, that's for sure. Over on Matthew's blog, we find the following comment: "As a protestant Matthew I believe your conclusions were right on in regards to Luther. No need to apologize. James is apparently a bully and somewhat jerkish."

I very briefly got involved with this discussion last week: New Luther’s Works and a New Work on Luther? posted by an ex-Lutheran turned Catholic named David Schütz. He makes some interesting comments:

"I am usually a bit coy about Catholic books about Luther. There have been many good scholary works done (as a youngster I bought and still prize this one by Peter Manns), but polemical works by people who have never known Luther “from the inside” (as it were) usually tend to get the poor old fellow wrong one way or another."

A commenter on this post stated, "Peruse, James Swan’s site and see how much he treats things out of context..." By all means, please do so!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Yes, I am a Member of the the Reformation Illuminati

I'd don't claim or pretend to be anywhere near as witty (or perhaps scary) as Steve Hays, but here goes. Over on the CARM boards, a Roman Catholic named Tim has been baiting me for months to dialog with him on Luther related issues. Recently he posted this, and this, simply because I recommended that rather than dialog with me, he do his own research.


You're far to knowledgeable about Luther and the Reformation now, so I've been instructed by the Reformation Illuminati not to interact with you, so as to not have our lies exposed. You've come a long way from your earlier studies when you said things like, "Luther did add the word 'alone', but then retracted it in the second edition of his Bible."

We're hoping no one finds this CARM thread, as we've spent years perpetuating the Luther myth. Our covert task has been to lead people away from the True Church of Rome. Yes, it's true, we answer to Satan, well not directly, as he's busy with other things, and these days most people think Martin Luther said "I have a dream...". So, my group only tries to keep enough Luther lies going in cyber space to keep a few Protestants completely clueless.

Catholic apologetics are getting stronger everyday, and I think Pat Madrid is up to "Surprised By Truth #9" now, as Protestants are leaving our false church in record number despite all the counter-intelligence work we do.

I realize by me telling you the truth about all this, I have violated the secret Reformation Illuminati code as held by me and my fellow agents. Alas, the truths you've presented in this thread have backed me into such a corner, I realize I have no other option but to come clean, and hope by doing so I may at least wind up in Purgatory. But I'm not hopeful, as I've written lie after lie both here and elsewhere.

There were a few Lutherans you also demolished by your argumentation in this thread. I'm sure they're cowering in fear right now and wondering how they're going to remain Lutheran after you thoroughly exposed the lie of Lutheranism. It's probably their "dark night of the soul." Perhaps their is still hope for them, but for me, my continual lies about the Reformation have probably sealed my fate. Have mercy on me Tim!

Update: Excerpts from the Response

"Now James, I never would have believed that “Men of God” could commit such a deceitful sin intentionally. Until just recently, I would have seen your “Reformation illuminati” remark as either another simple attempt to obfuscate or a sign of your delusion. However, especially given the statement of the LCMS Synod, I am not so sure. Now we have proof of an organized effort to deceive and I think we all have to take that into account, especially as it relates to my charge that the “Legend” about Luther is intentionally false."

"So, for the moment I would prefer to view your belief in some kind of “Reformation illuminati”, as either some kind of delusion or the product of an overly active imagination, both of which are reminiscent of Luther Himself."