Thursday, August 08, 2013

Why Roman Catholic Apologists Are the Way They Are

They have a long history of it. This description from Trent, by John W. O'Malley, "a Jesuit who teaches at Georgetown University and writes from a moderately critical perspective" and "a very able historian":

Theologians [as opposed to "the Magisterium"] ... were the primary voice communicating the views of the Reformers in formal sessions to the voting members of the body - bishops, superior generals of the mendicant orders, and abbots. The accuracy of their expositions, though, is questioned by O'Malley, who suggests a great weakness of the council was a penchant for "proof-texting" the Reformers and lifting their comments out of context.

There is no other way to defend Roman Catholicism. They figured this out right from the beginning of the Reformation.


  1. True, yet the canons on justification do at least demonstrate -- it seems to me -- an accurate grasp of the Protestant position on justification. Therefore, the anathemas are still relevant for an orthodox Catholic and still disconcerting (to say the least) for an orthodox Protestant.

    I say this, because, it is common now to hear moderate/liberal Catholics and moderate/liberal Protesetants say that the canons on justification at Trent are no longer relevant -- because we have a better understanding now of what both sides believe. I think that's wrong: both the Reformers and the Tridentine fathers knew exactly what each other believed about justification and they were mutually exclusive.

  2. Moderate and liberal Catholics take that route because under Vatican II, Protestants were now "separated brethren." How that's supposed to harmonize with being under an infallible anathema has yet to be reasonably seen.

    1. An argument I've seen most often is that the anathemas applied only to that generation of Protestants.

      I'm not defending that explanation, of course.

  3. Credit where credit is due--let us not forget the malign influence of Jesuit theologians at Trent, with special recognition for Diego Laynez. The Jesuits were hell-bent (I use the term deliberately) not to permit accommodation with Reformed doctrine, particularly on justification.

    Trent's record on the doctrine of justification is mixed. Some canons indicate a good understanding of the Reformers' teaching, while other canons show Trent completely missed the mark. But there can be little doubt that the council anathematized the biblical gospel and its position has not been officially modified or retracted.

  4. And somewhat related... Luther is not named in the official declarations of the Council of Trent, which means that Romanists can hold whatever they want to in regard to Luther. If I recall, Trent did place his books on their banned list though. This may have factored in to later generations of Romanists relying on earlier generations of Romanists that had dissected Luther's writings.