Tuesday, April 20, 2004

150 Leaky Buckets-2

95. "'Positive confession'" movements in pentecostal evangelicalism have adopted views of God (in effect) as a "cosmic bellhop," subject to man's frivolous whims and desires of the moment, thus denying God's absolute sovereignty and prerogative to turn down any of man's improper prayer requests (Jas 4:3; 1 Jn 5:14)."

The absolute sovereignty of God? Oh, but wouldn’t that affirmation turn God into the author of evil, &c., (pace #63). Isn't that downright demonic?

99. "Protestantism, in all essential elements, merely borrows wholesale from Catholic Tradition, or distorts the same. All doctrines upon which Catholics and Protestants agree, are clearly Catholic in origin (Trinity, Virgin Birth, Resurrection, 2nd Coming, Canon of the Bible, heaven, hell, etc.). Those where Protestantism differs are usually distortions of Catholic forerunners. E.g., Quakerism is a variant of Catholic Quietism. Calvinism is an over-obsession with the Catholic idea of the sovereignty of God, but taken to lengths beyond what Catholicism ever taught (denial of free will, total depravity, double predestination, etc.). Protestant dichotomies such as faith vs. works, come from nominalism, which was itself a corrupt form of Scholasticism, never dogmatically sanctioned by the Catholic Church. Whatever life or truth is present in each Protestant idea, always is derived from Catholicism, which is the fulfillment of the deepest and best aspirations within Protestantism."

Funny, I thought these doctrines were Biblical in origin. Silly me!

Incidentally, does the RCC still believe in hell? Isn’t it rapidly moving in the direction of universalism (e.g. Rahner, Ratzinger, John-Paul II, Urs von Balthasar)? Not only does Armstrong not appear to have read the opposing side, he seems not to have read his own side, either.

101. "The Bible doesn't contain the whole of Jesus' teaching, or Christianity, as many Protestants believe (Mk 4:33; 6:34; Lk 24:15-16,25-27; Jn 16:12; 20:30; 21:25; Acts 1:2-3)."

Another strawman argument. Names please! Name me one prominent Protestant theologian who ever supposed otherwise.

103. "The NT was neither written nor received as the Bible at first, but only gradually so (i.e., early Christianity couldn't have believed in sola Scriptura like current Protestants, unless it referred to the OT alone)."

The NT was written and received as Scripture from the very first by the audience to which its various writings were variously addressed. Gradual reception has reference to the shift from the viewpoint of the local church to the church-at-large, in terms of distribution.

As Roger Beckwith remarks, "probably all these book were accepted as Scripture from an early period in some quarter of the church, even those whose acceptance is not recorded. Otherwise we would have to suppose that, at the end of the 4C, some of them sprang up suddenly from being canonical nowhere to being canonical everywhere, an implausible supposition," New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (IVP 2000), 31.

110. St. Paul, in 1 Tim 3:15, puts the Church above Bible as the grounds for truth, as in Catholicism.

1 Tim 3:15 doesn't say that "the" church is "the" pillar of truth, but that "a" church is "a" pillar of truth. Armstrong should read the J. N. D. Kelly's commentary on this verse. Armstrong should learn the difference between definite and indefinite constructions, as well as the difference between the local and the universal church.

111. "Protestantism's chief "proof text" for sola Scriptura, 2 Tim 3:16, fails, since it says that the Bible is profitable, but not sufficient for learning and righteousness. Catholicism agrees it is great for these purposes, but not exclusively so, as in Protestantism. Secondly, when St. Paul speaks of "Scripture" here, the NT didn't yet exist (not definitively for over 300 more years), thus he is referring to the OT only. This would mean that NT wasn't necessary for the rule of faith, if sola Scriptura were true, and if it were supposedly alluded to in this verse!"

Sola Scriptura was never predicated on one isolated prooftext. Rather, it’s grounded in the principle of divine revelation. Christianity is a revealed religion. The rule of faith coincides with the canon at any given stage of progressive revelation—from Moses to John the Revelator. Canonical closure and covenantal disclosure are correlative. The prooftext for sola scriptura is the whole of Scripture.

Armstrong is like a man who can't see the window because he's looking through it. But without that transparent medium, he couldn't see at all.

101. "The Bible doesn't contain the whole of Jesus' teaching, or Christianity, as many Protestants believe (Mk 4:33; 6:34; Lk 24:15-16,25-27; Jn 16:12; 20:30; 21:25; Acts 1:2-3).
102. Sola scriptura is an abuse of the Bible, since it is a use of the Bible contrary to its explicit and implicit testimony about itself and Tradition. An objective reading of the Bible leads one to Tradition and the Catholic Church, rather than the opposite. The Bible is, in fact, undeniably a Christian Tradition itself!
103. The NT was neither written nor received as the Bible at first, but only gradually so (i.e., early Christianity couldn't have believed in sola Scriptura like current Protestants, unless it referred to the OT alone).
104. Tradition is not a bad word in the Bible. Gk. paradosis refers to something handed on from one to another (good or bad). Good (Christian) Tradition is spoken of in 1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 2:15, 3:6, and Col 2:8. In the latter it is contrasted with traditions of men.
105. Christian Tradition, according to the Bible, can be oral as well as written (2 Thess 2:15; 2 Tim 1:13-14; 2:2). St. Paul makes no qualitative distinction between the two forms.
106. The phrases "word of God" or "word of the Lord" in Acts and the epistles almost always refer to oral preaching, not to the Bible itself. Much of the Bible was originally oral (e.g., Jesus' entire teaching- He wrote nothing -St. Peter's sermon at Pentecost, etc.).
107. Contrary to many Protestant claims, Jesus didn't condemn all tradition any more than St. Paul did. E.g., Mt 15:3,6; Mk 7:8-9,13, where He condemns corrupt Pharisaical tradition only. He says "your tradition."
108. Gk. paradidomi, or "delivering" Christian, apostolic Tradition occurs in Lk 1:1-2; Rom 6:17; 1 Cor 11:23; 15:3; 2 Pet 2:21; Jude 3. Paralambano, or "receiving" Christian Tradition occurs in 1 Cor 15:1-2; Gal 1:9,12; 1 Thess 2:13.
109. The concepts of "Tradition," "gospel," "word of God," "doctrine," and "the Faith" are essentially synonymous, and all are predominantly oral. E.g., in the Thessalonian epistles alone St. Paul uses 3 of these interchangeably (2 Thess 2:15; 3:6; 1 Thess 2:9,13 (cf. Gal 1:9; Acts 8:14). If Tradition is a dirty word, then so is "gospel" and "word of God"!
110. St. Paul, in 1 Tim 3:15, puts the Church above Bible as the grounds for truth, as in Catholicism.
111. Protestantism's chief "proof text" for sola Scriptura, 2 Tim 3:16, fails, since it says that the Bible is profitable, but not sufficient for learning and righteousness. Catholicism agrees it is great for these purposes, but not exclusively so, as in Protestantism. Secondly, when St. Paul speaks of "Scripture" here, the NT didn't yet exist (not definitively for over 300 more years), thus he is referring to the OT only. This would mean that NT wasn't necessary for the rule of faith, if sola Scriptura were true, and if it were supposedly alluded to in this verse!
112. The above 11 factors being true, Catholicism maintains that all its Tradition is consistent with the Bible, even where the Bible is mute or merely implicit on a subject. For Catholicism, every doctrine need not be found primarily in the Bible, for this is Protestantism's principle of sola Scriptura. On the other hand, most Catholic theologians claim that all Catholic doctrines can be found in some fashion in the Bible, in kernel form, or by (usu. extensive) inference."

This tirade suffers from a systematic equivocation over the identity of "tradition." One major problem is that Armstrong is trading on a Tridentine two-source model of Scripture and tradition, defined as oral tradition, that was quietly rescinded at Vatican II. But the real distinction is between inspired (apostolic) tradition and uninspired (ecclesiastical) tradition. Eleven falsehoods don't add up to a single truth.

113. "As thoughtful evangelical scholars have pointed out, an unthinking sola Scriptura position can turn into "bibliolatry," almost a worship of the Bible rather than God who is its Author. This mentality is similar to the Muslim view of Revelation, where no human elements whatsoever were involved. Sola Scriptura, rightly understood from a more sophisticated Protestant perspective, means that the Bible is the final authority in Christianity, not the record of all God has said and done, as many evangelicals believe."

(i) Since idolatry is a Biblical category to begin with, the charge of bibliolatry is oxymoronic.
(ii) It is Armstrong who sets up a false antithesis between the divine and human elements of Scripture. Inasmuch as human speech is, itself, a divine endowment, the human element goes back to the divine. Inspiration presupposes creation and providence. All three are divine acts.
(iii) The only Protestants to bandy the charge of "bibliolatry" are liberal Protestants, whom Armstrong elsewhere attacks.
(iv) Speaking of idolatry, what about the cult of Mary and the saints?

115. "Sola scriptura literally couldn't have been true, practically speaking, for most Christians throughout history, since the movable-type printing press only appeared in the mid-15th century. Preaching and oral Tradition, along with things like devotional practices, Christian holidays, church architecture and other sacred art, were the primary carriers of the gospel for 1400 years. For all these centuries, sola Scriptura would have been regarded as an absurd abstraction and impossibility."

If the pre-16C absence of the printing press rules out Sola Scriptura, then it also rules out other such print media as papal bulls, conciliar degrees, the Roman Missal, &c.

117. "Sola Scriptura is Protestantism's "Achilles' Heel." Merely invoking sola Scriptura is no solution to the problem of authority and certainty as long as multiple interpretations exist. If the Bible were so clear that all Protestants agreed simply by reading it with a willingness to accept and follow its teaching, this would be one thing, but since this isn't the case by a long shot (the multiplicity of denominations), sola Scriptura is a pipe-dream at best. About all that all Protestants agree on is that Catholicism is wrong! Of all Protestant ideas, the "clarity" or perspicuity of the Bible is surely one of the most absurd and the most demonstrably false by the historical record."

(i) Multiple interpretations of Scripture? Again, when was the last time that Armstrong read a commentary by Brown or Johnson or Quinn or Fitzmyer?
(ii) Who said that Sola Scriptura had to be a problem-solving device? The status of Sola Scriptura is a factual question, not a utilitarian one. Is written revelation the only divinely appointed source and standard of dogmatic authority? That’s the real question. No rule of faith constrains consent. Certainly the Magisterium is no exception to this principle. It is ultimately God, in his providence, who causes any of us to believe or disbelieve as we do.
Are the multiplication tables a "pipe dream" because people still make mistakes in their computations? It is ultimately God, in his providence, who causes any of us to believe or disbelieve as we do.
(iii) I'd add that the idea of apostolic succession is surely one of the most demonstrably false by the historical record.

118. "Put another way, having a Bible does not render one's private judgment infallible. Interpretation is just as inevitable as tradition. The Catholic Church therefore, is absolutely necessary in order to speak authoritatively and to prevent confusion, error, and division."

Why is private judgment invalid when applied to Scripture, but valid when applied to Councils and encyclicals? Why is a fallible interpretation of the Bible such a no-no when a fallible interpretation of an encyclical is A-okay?

Since the Magisterium failed to prevent the Reformation, with all the attendant "confusion, error, and division" which Armstrong attributes to that event, then the Magisterium failed his own litmus test.

120. "Protestantism has a huge problem with the Canon of the NT. The process of determining the exact books which constitute the NT lasted until 397 A.D., when the Council of Carthage spoke with finality, certainly proof that the Bible is not "self-authenticating," as Protestantism believes. Some sincere, devout, and learned Christians doubted the canonicity of some books which are now in the Bible, and others considered books as Scripture which were not at length included in the Canon. St. Athanasius in 367 was the first to list all 27 books in the NT as Scripture.
121. The Council of Carthage, in deciding the Canon of the entire Bible in 397, included the so-called "Apocryphal" books, which Protestants kicked out of the Bible (i.e., a late tradition). Prior to the 16th century Christians considered these books Scripture, and they weren't even separated from the others, as they are today in the Protestant Bibles which include them. Protestantism accepts the authority of this Council for the NT, but not the OT, just as it arbitrarily and selectively accepts or denies other conciliar decrees, according to their accord with existing Protestant "dogmas" and biases."

(i) The trade secret of RC is that it didn’t even have an official canon of Scripture until the Counter-Reformation (Trent). The RC canon is parasitic on the Protestant canon (e.g. WCF; 39 Articles). Isn’t Armstrong aware that the Council of Carthage could not speak with finality inasmuch as it as a local body rather than an ecumenical council? "The Tridentine list or decree was the first infallible and effectually promulgated declaration on the Canon of the Holy Scriptures" (http://www.ewtn.com/library/COUNCILS/TRENT4.HTM). So the Protestant canon was actually a stimulus to the Catholic canon, not vice versa.
(ii) A compelling case can be made for the proposition that the Protestant canon is identical with the Jewish canon. (Cf. R. Beckwith: The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church [Eerdmans, 1986]). Trent made the wrong call. So much for the infallibility of the extraordinary Magisterium.
(iii) If we were to take seriously what Armstrong says under point #115, then most pre-15C Christians could not have considered the Apocrypha to be canonical inasmuch as they didn’t have access to copies of the Apocrypha.
(iv) Does Protestantism have a huge problem establishing the canon? Try this little exercise. Any study Bible will have a column of cross-references. Such cross-references amount to a system of cross-attestation. And there are multiplied thousands of such cross-references. Hence, the canon of Scripture is, if anything, overdetermined by a dense network of internal cross-attestation.

Again, many books of the Bible fall into natural blocks of material—based on common authorship, common genre, a continuous history, or synoptic histories, as well as key stages in the life of Israel and the church.

122. "Contrary to Protestant anti-Catholic myth, the Catholic Church has always revered the Bible, and hasn't suppressed it (it protested some Protestant translations, but Protestants have often done the same regarding Catholic versions). This is proven by the laborious care of monks in protecting and copying manuscripts, and the constant translations into vernacular tongues (as opposed to the falsehoods about only Latin Bibles), among other plentiful and indisputable historical evidences. The Bible is a Catholic book, and no matter how much Protestants study it and proclaim it as peculiarly their own, they must acknowledge their undeniable debt to the Catholic Church for having decided the Canon, and for preserving the Bible intact for 1400 years. How could the Catholic Church be "against the Bible," as anti-Catholics say, yet at the same time preserve and revere the Bible profoundly for so many years? The very thought is so absurd as to be self-refuting. If Catholicism is indeed as heinous as anti-Catholics would have us believe, Protestantism ought to put together its own Bible, instead of using the one delivered to them by the Catholic Church, as it obviously could not be trusted!"

Before the Reformation, the Latin Church had a monopoly on W. Christendom. So most true believers belonged to that communion. It is this gracious remnant who upheld Biblical spirituality and scholarship. But with the Reformation, the Evangelical Catholics were excommunicated, and the RCC has been going downhill ever since.

And, in fact, we do have our own Bible, for we went back to the Jewish canon of the OT—the canon of Jesus and the Apostles. Armstrong flatly contradicts, in #122, what he had just said under #121. More Buddhist logic!

125. "Protestantism separates justification from sanctification, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (e.g., Mt 5:20; 7:20-24; Rom 2:7-13; 1 Cor 6:11; 1 Pet 1:2)."

Protestant theology doesn't "separate" the two, but distinguishes them, because we respect the categorical difference between justification and sanctification—between the merit of Christ and human virtue, such as it is.

126. "Protestantism pits faith against works (sola fide), which is a rejection of Christian Tradition and the explicit teaching of the Bible (Mt 25:31-46; Lk 18:18-25; Jn 6:27-9; Gal 5:6; Eph 2:8-10; Phil 2:12-13; 3:10-14; 1 Thess 1:3; 2 Thess 1:11; Heb 5:9; Jas 1:21-7; 2:14-16). These passages also indicate that salvation is a process, not an instantaneous event, as in Protestantism."

Protestant theology merely distinguishes between progressive events (e.g. sanctification) and immediate events (e.g. regeneration, justification).

127. "Protestantism rejects the Christian Tradition and biblical teaching of merit, or differential reward for our good deeds done in faith (Mt 16:27; Rom 2:6; 1 Cor 3:8-9; 1 Pet 1:17; Rev 22:12)."

There is an elementary and essential difference between a gratuitous reward and a meritorious reward. When I reward a dog with a biscuit, does that imply doggy-merit? Is there a treasury of canine merit accrued on the basis of supererogatory pet tricks?

130. "Contrary to Protestant myth and anti-Catholicism, the Catholic Church doesn't teach that one is saved by works apart from preceding and enabling grace, but that faith and works are inseparable, as in James 1 and 2. This heresy of which Catholicism is often charged, was in fact condemned by the Catholic Church at the Second Council of Orange in 529 A.D. It is known as Pelagianism, the view that man could save himself by his own natural efforts, without the necessary supernatural grace from God. A more moderate view, Semi-Pelagianism, was likewise condemned. To continue to accuse the Catholic Church of this heresy is a sign of both prejudice and manifest ignorance of the history of theology, as well as the clear Catholic teaching of the Council of Trent (1545-63), available for all to see. Yet the myth is strangely prevalent."

The issue is precisely whether there can be degrees of grace. Armstrong supposes that, by sprinkling on enough modifiers, he can salvage the principle. This misses the whole point. Grace cannot be qualified or quantified. Grace is a totalitarian principle. Read Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, &c.

131. "Protestantism has virtually eliminated the practice of confession to a priest (or at least a pastor), contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Mt 16:19; 18:18; Jn 20:23)."

Armstrong erases essential distinctions. The question is not about the confession of sin, per se. The question is whether the offending party should confess to a third-party (the priest), instead of the offended party. and then receive third-party absolution.

136. "Protestantism has rejected (largely due to misconceptions and misunderstanding) the Catholic developed doctrine of indulgences, which is, simply, the remission of the temporal punishment for sin (i.e., penance), by the Church (on the grounds of Mt 16:19; 18:18, and Jn 20:23). This is no different than what St. Paul did, concerning an errant brother at the Church of Corinth. He first imposed a penance on him (1 Cor 5:3-5), then remitted part of it (an indulgence: 2 Cor 2:6-11). Just because abuses occurred prior to the Protestant Revolt (admitted and rectified by the Catholic Church), is no reason to toss out yet another biblical doctrine. It is typical of Protestantism to burn down a house rather than to cleanse it, to 'throw the baby out with the bath water.'"

This misrepresents the context of 1-2 Cor—as well as RC theology. A penance presupposes Purgatory, while an indulgence presupposes a treasury of merit. Needless to say, Purgatory is absent from 1 Cor 5 while the treasury of merit is absent from 2 Cor 2. Armstrong is inferring one interpolation from another interpolation.

Who is Armstrong to say that he has a better grasp of RC theology than Luther, who was a theology prof., or Peter Martyr, who held various official positions as a prior and an abbot?

As to the baby and the bath water, I guess it all depends on the baby. If I found a baby viper swimming around in the bath water, I'd throw the baby viper out with the bath water.

138. "Protestantism rejects, on inadequate grounds, the intercession of the saints for us after death, and the correspondent invocation of the saints for their effectual prayers (Jas 5:16). Christian Tradition and the Bible, on the other hand, have upheld this practice: Dead saints are aware of earthly affairs (Mt 22:30 w/ Lk 15:10 and 1 Cor 15:29; Heb 12:1), appear on earth to interact with men (1 Sam 28:12-15; Mt 17:1-3, 27:50-53; Rev 11:3), and therefore can intercede for us, and likewise be petitioned for their prayers, just as are Christians on earth (2 Maccabees 15:14; Rev 5:8; 6:9-10)."

Armstrong misrepresents the principle of intercession. It isn’t just a question of intercessors in the great beyond—although that would still transgress the Scriptural prohibition against necromancy (e.g. Lev 19:31; 20:6). Rather, it is predicated on the principle of saintly merit—as Armstrong very well knows.

141. "Protestantism rejects Mary's Immaculate Conception, despite developed Christian Tradition and indications in the Bible: Gen 3:15; Lk 1:28 ("full of grace" Catholics interpret, on linguistic grounds, to mean "without sin"); Mary as a type of the Ark of the Covenant (Lk 1:35 w/ Ex 40:34-8; Lk 1:44 w/ 2 Sam 6:14-16; Lk 1:43 w/ 2 Sam 6:9: God's Presence requires extraordinary holiness)."

To infer the Immaculate Conception from Lk 1:28 commits a simple semantic fallacy. Luke is using an objective, not a subjective genitive. Mary is the object of divine favor, and not the source of divine grace. Armstrong should read a modern Catholic commentary on Luke, viz., Fitzmyer, Johnson. But, of course, his Catholicism is frozen fast in the Victorian era. As a convert to the faith, his brand of Catholicism is a museum piece, and not a living specimen.

Moreover, the logic of the Immaculate Conception is viciously regressive—if Mary, then St. Anne, and so on all the way back to Eve. Original Sin would never get off the ground.

143. "Many (most?) Protestants deny Mary's perpetual virginity, despite Christian Tradition (inc. the unanimous agreement of the Protestant founders (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc.), some Protestant support, and several biblical evidences, too involved to briefly summarize.

For once I quite agree with Armstrong. The "Biblical" evidence for Mary’s perpetual virginity is indeed too convoluted to briefly summarize. Special-pleading is much more time-consuming than straightforward exegesis.

144. "Protestantism denies Mary's Spiritual Motherhood of Christians, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Jn 19:26-7: "Behold thy mother"; Rev 12:1,5,17: Christians described as "her seed.") Catholics believe that Mary is incomparably more alive and holy than we are, hence, her prayers for us are of great effect (Jas 5:16; Rev 5:8; 6:9-10). But she is our sister with regard to our position of creatures vis-a-vis the Creator, God. Mary never operates apart from the necessary graces from her Son, and always glorifies Him, not herself, as Catholic theology stresses."

If Armstrong is going to universalize Jn 19:27, then, in consistency, Christians ought to imitate every other imperative in Scripture: "Crucify him!" (Jn 19:6); "Go, wash in the Jordan seven times" (2 Kgs 5:10); "Go, marry a whore" (Hos 1:2). The woman in Rev 12 is a polyvalent figure, standing for Eve, Israel, Mary, Virgo, and the Church.

145. "Protestantism rejects the papacy, despite profound Christian Tradition, and the strong evidence in the Bible of Peter's preeminence and commission by Jesus as the Rock of His Church. No one denies he was some type of leader among the apostles. The papacy as we now know it is derived from this primacy: Mt 16:18-19; Lk 22:31-2; Jn 21:15-17 are the most direct "papal" passages. Peter's name appears first in all lists of apostles; even an angel implies he is their leader (Mk 16:7), and he is accepted by the world as such (Acts 2:37-8,41). He works the first miracle of the Church age (Acts 3:6-8), utters the first anathema (Acts 5:2-11), raises the dead (Acts 9:40), first receives the Gentiles (Acts 10:9-48), and his name is mentioned more often than all the other disciples put together (191 times). Much more similar evidence can be found."

Did the Renaissance papacy meet the conditions set down in Lk 22:31-32 & Jn 21:15-17. As to Mt 16, if v18 equates the papacy with the Vicar of Christ, then v23 equates the papacy with the Antichrist. So let’s split the difference. I’ll affirm the former if Armstrong affirms the latter.

It should go without saying that the Eastern Orthodox church, which can certainly lay claim to tradition, has never acknowledged papal primacy, and for the very reason that it lacks the weight of ancient tradition.

146. "The Church of Rome and the popes were central to the governance and theological direction and orthodoxyof the Christian Church from the beginning. This is undeniable. All of the historical groups now regarded as heretical by Protestants and Catholics alike were originally judged as such by popes and/or Ecumenical Councils presided over and ratified by popes."

This appeal passes over in silence the case of heretical pontiffs like Liberius, Zosimus, Vigilius, Julius I, Honorius I, Celestine I and Eugenius IV (Cf. B. Kidd, The Roman Primacy To AD 461 [SPCK, 1936]; I. von Döllinger, The Pope and the Councils [Boston, 1870].)

149. "Catholicism has the best Christian philosophy and worldview, worked out through centuries of reflection and experience. As in its theological reflection and development, the Catholic Church is ineffably wise and profound, to an extent truly amazing, and indicative of a sure divine stamp. I used to marvel, just before I converted, at how the Catholic Church could be so right about so many things. I was accustomed to thinking, as a good evangelical, that the truth was always a potpourri of ideas from many Protestant denominations and Catholicism and Orthodoxy (selected by me), and that none "had it all together." But, alas, the Catholic Church does, after all!"

Is Armstrong denying different schools of theological thought in Catholicism (e.g. Thomism, Scotism, Molinism)? And what about differences within given schools (e.g. Transcendental Thomism, Existential Thomism, Analytic Thomism).

150. "Last but by no means least, Catholicism has the most sublime spirituality and devotional spirit, manifested in a thousand different ways, from the monastic ideal, to the heroic celibacy of the clergy and religious, the Catholic hospitals, the sheer holiness of a Thomas a Kempis or a St. Ignatius and their great devotional books, countless saints - both canonized and as yet unknown and unsung, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII, the early martyrs, St. Francis of Assisi, the events at Lourdes and Fatima, the dazzling intellect of John Henry Cardinal Newman, the wisdom and insight of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, St. John of the Cross, the sanctified wit of a Chesterton or a Muggeridge, elderly women doing the Stations of the Cross or the Rosary, Holy Hour, Benediction, kneeling - the list goes on and on. This devotional spirit is unmatched in its scope and deepness, despite many fine counterparts in Protestant and Orthodox spirituality."

Of course, a Protestant would regard devotional exercises like the cult of the sacred heart of Mary as so much sublime idolatry.

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