Saturday, October 04, 2008

Upstairs, Downstairs

Watching Catholic laymen defend Catholicism is like watching a dutiful butler put his drunken master to bed. The butler is so loyal and conscientious while his master is such a rowdy, boorish lout. The discrepancy is striking.

The butler is discrete while the master is indiscrete. The butler tries to protect his master’s reputation. Wipe the vomit from his lips. Undress him and tuck him into bed. Why is it that some subordinates continue to defend their “betters” when their “betters” are so much worse than the subordinates who defend them? They act as though they can’t survive without the master, when—in fact—the master can’t survive without them.

It’s like the old story of a butler who expects the lord of the manner to be generous in his will for the butler’s many years devoted service. He’s shocked when his master leaves him a mere pittance.

I’m reminded of this when I look at the kind of abuse that John Bugay has been subjected to over at Jason Stellman’s blog:

http://deregnisduobus.blogspot.com/2008/10/of-binding-loosing-and-kingdoms-keys.html

At first I thought you were bluffing about not thinking you are sometimes uncharitable. But, I am begining to think you may not really realize it. Sort of like Archie Bunker.But, you could be simply testing me, so I will find and give an example later.

As I said before, a racist, bigot, pro abortion advocate, Hitler,the KKK could also say the same.


The ironic thing about this statement is that a Catholic is accusing Bugay of being uncharitable. But it doesn’t occur to this Catholic that comparing Bugay to Hitler, Archie Bunker, Klansmen, &c., is itself uncharitable.

You have repeatedly insinuated and represented the moral fault of Catholicism and individual Catholics without adequate justification. Things like calling Gregory VII a "megalomaniac", indulging in a bit of snide humor about "kissing the sacred foot", asserting that Catholics and Catholicism are guilty of unspecified moral failings and/or harping on the pedohilia scandal as if it were unique to Catholics, and expressing outrage because the Catholic Church offers the hand of friendship to you, implicates rash judgment, detraction or calumny.__Certainly, we can talk about these things, but temperate language is in order to avoid the sins of rash judgment, calumny and detraction.

How is “harping” on the pedophilia scandal a case of “rash judgment”? This is a well-documented phenomenon.

The implication of your original words, which you have now qualified, is that the Church is indifferent to the pedophilia scandal.

True, the Catholic church is not indifferent to the pedophilic scandal. To the contrary, its attitude was far worse than that. It has engaged in a systematic cover-up. Hush money. Stonewalling authorities. Confidentiality agreements.

Far from being indifferent, the Catholic church was very concerned about the pedophilic scandal. Yet its concern wasn't about pedophilia, but scandal.

This is obviously untrue in light of the apologies that have been made by representatives of the Church, including the Pope, and so your original comments constitute detraction and calumny.

Of course, it’s not as if the pope or his representatives volunteered information about priestly abuse. They apologized belatedly after the media and the authorities exposed the misconduct of priests and bishops.

So, your current equivocation runs afoul of “rash judgment” since you don’t know what you are talking about and “calumny” since you are untruthfully slandering the Church for not doing something which it cannot do.

i) Of course, considering the fact that the Catholic church has made every effort to conceal the truth, it’s rich to accuse Bugay of not knowing what he’s talking about.

ii) And what, exactly, can't the church do? It can't attempt to screen out homosexual seminarians? It can't report abusive priests to the authorities? It can't defrock abusive priests or complicit bishops?

Second, on its face, your claim is nonsense. Protestants aren’t noticeably more angelic than Catholics and Catholics aren’t noticeably more demonic that Protestants.

Is moral equivalence a valid defense of Catholicism? Shouldn’t we hold the one true church to a higher standard than schismatics and heretics? Shouldn’t members of the true church, imbued with the grace of the true sacraments, be holier than graceless schismatics and heretics?

Sadly, all human institutions have done what a tiny minority of Catholic bishops did.

i) Was it just a “tiny minority” of bishops who were complicit in this scandal?

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/usccb/natureandscope/statemap.htm

ii) And even if it was, what has the Vatican done to discipline this “tiny minority”? How many have been defrocked?

Third, your purpose is to smear all priests and bishops with the scandal by constantly banging on about the scandal as if it were unique to Catholic priests. Do you have any idea of the human cost of this calumny is?

What about the cost to the victims? Why is actual sanctity less important than maintaining the church’s false reputation for sanctity? Are deceptive appearances all that matter?

There are priests, like Raymond Brown, in the Church today who have written, at least, implicit heretical material. There are no doubt bishops who have protected priests like Brown, and would therefore be guilty of the same sin. However, the Church isn't here to kick everyone to the curb, the Church is here to lead everyone to Christ. If Church authority wanted to, they would have plenty victims underneath their hammer of justice excommunicated for their openly heretical arguments.

Of course, if the aim of the church is to lead everyone to Christ, then it ought to oust heretical priests like Ray Brown who lead the faithful away from Christ.

John,__These can not apply to Protestant churches or an invisible church. Can you really say that they could? __1 Cor 1:10 "I urge that there be no divisions among you"__Jn 17:17-23 " I pray that they may be one, as we are one"__Eph 4:3-6 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God & Father.__Rom 16:17 avoid those who create dissentions__Phil 2:2 be of same mind, united in heart, thinking one thing.__Rom 15:5 God grant you to think in harmony with one another.

Several issues:

i) It’s been 2000 years since Jesus uttered this prayer. Is the Father hard of hearing? If this prayer has gone unanswered for 2000 years, then when, exactly, do Catholics think it will be fulfilled? In the year 3000 AD? 4000 AD? 5000 AD? On the eve of the Parousia?

ii) In the nature of the case, you generally have more unity within a given denomination than between one denomination and other. Denominations tend to be composed of like-minded individuals.

iii) Imperatives are not indicatives. For example, the church of Corinth was disunited. Does this mean the church of Corinth was a false church? If a NT church can be a false church, why is the Catholic church immune to apostasy? And if the church of Corinth was not a false church, then quite a lot of disunity is compatible with being a true church.

iv) Why do lay Catholics quote Scripture? Does this mean they can interpret the Bible for themselves?

So if it is permissible to dismiss the testimony of the second bishop of the Church of Antioch on his way to martyrdom by wildbeasts, then surely you will understand if we Catholics treat the opinions of Lampe and Johnson as what they are, their opinions.

i) Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that a 2C bishop is in a position to vouch for the unbroken succession of bishops. Needless to say, this doesn’t mean a 2C bishop is in a position to vouch for apostolic succession in the 4C, or the 10C. You can’t extrapolate from the 2C to the 20C.

ii) Let’s also assume, for the sake of argument, that we have an accurate list of successors from the time of the apostles down to modern times. A ordained B, B ordained C, C ordained D, &c. Suppose we can document every link in the chain.

Would that be sufficient to establish an unbroken succession of bishops, going back to the apostles? Not at all.

For there’s more to apostolic succession than the outward rite of ordination. You also need to verify the valid administration of holy orders in each and every case. There are potentially many ecclesiastical impediments to the valid administration of holy orders. How does an outsider ascertain, in each and every case, that the ordination was a successor was not invalidated by some hidden ecclesiastical impediment?

I would qualify that a little, because the term 'diversity' has different senses. There can be diversity within unity, and there can be a diversity that is equivalent to division. The kinds of diversity that "weakens Truth" are doctrinal disagreement, cultic disagreement (i.e. disagreement regarding worship), and governmental disagreement (disagreement about who is in charge).

i) Notice that Catholics like Bryon don’t really believe in the marks of the church. Rather, they believe in the church of the marks.

The marks of the church are supposed to function as criterion to identify the true church. But that’s not how Catholics like Bryan appeal to the marks of the church. Rather, they assume, in advance of the fact, that the Catholic church is the true church, and then they add enough ad hoc qualifications to the marks of the church so that nothing could every count as evidence against the claims of Rome. The marks don’t qualify the church; rather, the church qualifies the marks.

It doesn’t matter how unholy popes or bishops or priests may be. It's still a holy church. It matters not how disunited the church may be. We just define away inconvenient disunity. It’s still the one church. It matters not how unrepresentative an ecumenical council may be. It’s still a catholic church. It doesn’t matter if we can’t trace a dogma back to the apostles. It’s still an apostolic church.

ii) And, of course, the four marks of the church go back to an ecumenical council. So the church is issuing its own criteria. But unless the church which issues the marks of the church is the true church, then how can these be true marks of the church?

As a seminary grad who’s currently pursuing a doctorate in philosophy, you might suppose that Bryan would have the elementary logical skills to see through all the logical fallacies he’s committing.

I've already read Steve's rebuttal to Bryan's questions. He doesn't really address them.

That’s because Bryan’s questions are rigged with his tendentious assumptions.

I also don't know where he received his authority to speak so authoritatively on the topic, but I do know that it wasn't derived from the Apostles, so it really it is a self-made authority.

That accusation is ironic on the lips of a lay Catholic. By what authority does a lay Catholic pose as a spokesman for Rome?

9 comments:

  1. There was a wide diversity of views of church government and apostolic succession in the patristic era. See, for example, here and here. Some of the early heretics claimed a succession from the apostles. As many scholars have noted, there seems to be more than one view even within the writings of Ignatius. There probably wasn’t a monarchical episcopate in Rome yet when he wrote to that church, despite the existence of one elsewhere. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox often selectively cite a source like Ignatius or Irenaeus on subjects like the episcopate or apostolic succession, but there are other sources that aren’t as consistent with their views, and even the sources they cite are sometimes inconsistent with what Catholics and Orthodox believe on these issues.

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  2. Its really amusing to see various Christian sects bashing each other like they are actually accomplishing something.

    Spread the hate, brothers!

    ReplyDelete
  3. ADAMH SAID:

    “Its really amusing to see various Christian sects bashing each other like they are actually accomplishing something.__Spread the hate, brothers!”

    Of course, when you say that you’re bashing a Christian blog. What are you trying to accomplish? Spread the hate, ADAMH!

    BTW, the NT spends a fair amount of time bashing false teachers who profess to be Christians. Try brushing up on Galatians, 2 Peter, 1 John, &c.

    You seem to have a big chip on your shoulder based on bad experience with the VA. This is spilling over into other areas of your life as well.

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  4. I would also say the NT gives a fair amount of time to deceived people, hmmmmmm! Why?

    Could it be that we are easily deceived?

    There are many presuppositions in both the Old and New Testaments.

    For instance:

    Pro 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
    Pro 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
    Pro 3:7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
    Pro 3:8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

    What do these admonitions presuppose?

    Most deal with just the opposite of the "law", "commandment" and "letter" from one anointed by the Holy Ghost!

    Go figure. I suppose when the devil has his way, we will only have a bunch of good people in civilian clothes without a need for "Thy Savior" of all men!

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  5. Is moral equivalence a valid defense of Catholicism? Shouldn’t we hold the one true church to a higher standard than schismatics and heretics? Shouldn’t members of the true church, imbued with the grace of the true sacraments, be holier than graceless schismatics and heretics?

    We should expect both more sanctity and more wickedness in the one true church. To use the sacraments sacrilegiously, as many professing Catholics do, is a greater sin than probably anything that the average Protestant will commit in his entire life. Additionally, the devil will naturally focus his attacks on the one true church.

    On the other hand, where is the Pio of the Protestants? The Anthony of the Anabaptists? The Francis of the Friends? The Bernard of the Brethren? The Catherine of the Calvinists? The Dominic of the non-Denoms?

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  6. BEN DOUGLASS SAID:

    "On the other hand, where is the Pio of the Protestants? The Anthony of the Anabaptists? The Francis of the Friends? The Bernard of the Brethren? The Catherine of the Calvinists? The Dominic of the non-Denoms?"

    i) You can find saintly Christians in just about any theological tradition.

    ii) Of course, we don't have a roster of "official" saints, so they don't stand out. Our saints generally lead quiet, inconspicuous lives as godly parents and spouses. They're not public figures. No cult of the saints forms around them to publicize and perpetuate their memory.

    iii) Moreover, Catholic saints are sainted for certain Catholic traits and virtues. For example, I don’t regard the hermitic piety of Antony as all that admirable. At best, it’s a case of a genuinely pious impulse which is misdirected by a flawed theology.

    iv) To say we’d expect more wickedness in the true church is a very precarious criterion. By that standard, prosperity preachers are a mark of the true church.

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  7. Dear Steve,

    If there have been saintly Protestants, they should have left behind some artifacts. Have they written spiritual literature like St. Theresa of Avila or St. John of the Cross? Have they performed miracles like St. Pio? What biographies have been written of them so I can examine their deeds?

    Next, I grant that wicked members do not prove a true Church. However, they are consistent with a true Church. My comments were meant merely as a refutation of your argument against Catholicism, not as a positive argument in favor of Catholicism.

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  8. BEN DOUGLASS SAID:

    “If there have been saintly Protestants, they should have left behind some artifacts.”

    Why? Why would a Christian of eminent holiness have to leave behind some artifacts? Are you taking the position that no saintly Christian ever lived and died in obscurity? Is sainthood limited to celebrities? Men and women who were famous?

    “Have they written spiritual literature like St. Theresa of Avila or St. John of the Cross?”

    So only a published writer can be a saint? A Christian who’s illiterate could never be a saint?

    “Have they performed miracles like St. Pio?”

    i) First of all, I don’t know that Padre Pio ever performed any miracles. He’s been accused of fraud. I’m not claiming that he is a fraud. But I wouldn’t take the claim for granted.

    ii) Now, if you want to claim at a more generic level that some Catholics have achieved a very advanced state of sanctity, I’m prepared to grant your claim. And if you want to claim at a more generic level that some Catholics have had an experience of the miraculous, I’m prepared to grant your claim.

    But that doesn’t select for Catholicism. Rather, it would be a case of a saintly Christian who happens to be Catholic.

    Holiness isn’t limited to Catholics. And miracles aren’t limited to Catholic miracles.

    iii) Moreover, I don’t equate sainthood with the performance of miracles. That’s an element in the Catholic definition of sainthood, but that’s not how I define sainthood.

    I think that men and women like George Whitefield, Christina Rossetti, Dwight Moody, and Billy Graham are saintly individuals.

    I regard three members of my own family (all women) as saintly individuals.

    “Next, I grant that wicked members do not prove a true Church. However, they are consistent with a true Church.”

    The problem is that you can define the marks of the church so elastically that just about anything is consistent with the “true church.”

    “My comments were meant merely as a refutation of your argument against Catholicism, not as a positive argument in favor of Catholicism.”

    It doesn’t refute my argument. There are what: about 10,000 canonized saints in Catholicism? Even if we credit that figure, that’s an infinitesimal fraction of the total number of Catholics who have ever lived and died. So what does the holiness of the true church boil down to? Not much.

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