Monday, October 31, 2005

Witches and Warlocks and Goblins and Ogres and Trolls, Oh My!

On this day, certain people celebrate warlocks, ghosts, monsters, the undead, ogres, and all things evil. They do this as if these evil things are cute, desirable, or even good.

I'm not talking about Halloween. I'm talking about Reformation Day, that blight on the calendar where those goofy Scripture-alone anarchists known as "Protestants" celebrate figures such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the other heretics who attempted to pull down Holy Mother Church.

You can spot them by such slogans as "justification by faith alone through grace alone." They're a nasty and hairy breed, and they're roasting in Hell right now. I love reading those anathemas from the Council of Trent. It just warms my bones to read "let him be anathema" over and over.

And, as a final encouragement to my faithful and beloved fellow Catholic readers, let me read some exhortatory material off of my upcoming book "743 Reasons To Be Roman Catholic." It is up to date on the latest scholarship. [I not only used Google, but I also used Yahoo! and Webcrawler to do my research, not to mention the dictionary in the back of my Bible. But even with these factors, I've tried to keep things on the level of the lay-person since I'm not out to impress people with my erudition.]

#531: Catholics have better pancake breakfasts than Protestants.

#56: Our priests tell better jokes.

#699: We have those really nice Scott Hahn audiotape sets. You've heard of Hahn, right?

#142: Enoch was Roman Catholic, and if Enoch is Roman Catholic, then we should all be Roman Catholic too. [Source: Roman Catholic Bible Stories for Children, pp 3, 15-17. Translated from the original Latin by S. Hays.]

#535: Jesus used Peter's boat, not somebody else's boat, and plenty o' fish were caught. This clearly is strong evidence for the Roman Catholic papacy as we know it today, which means that you should be Roman Catholic. [See exegetical post a few threads below.]

#700: Paul was sent forth by Peter. It isn't the other way around. This again proves the Petrine Papacy beyond any shadow of a doubt.

I'm negotiating over royalties and such with the publisher presently, which is delaying the publishing of this book. [It has received the imprimatur and nihil obstat. I'm hoping the pope can write a foreword too.] Also, EWTN wants to make this into an 8-part miniseries, and we're negotiating over creative control issues. Look for it soon, though. Refute those Protestants who cast dark clouds over your life with these books! Mother Church says that these books which uphold Mother Church are correct insofar as they interpret scripture, so you don't need to evaluate scripture for yourself --- just trust Her, OK, and bask in the wealth of truth.

Have an unhappy Reformation Day, Prots!

Too Tuff Too Handle

(1) Mary is the Mother of Jesus.
(2) Scripture says that we're Jesus' brothers in a certain sense.
(3) Scripture says to honor your mother.

THEREFORE

We must honor Mary by following the Holy Mother Church's teachings of Assumption, Perpetual Sinlessness, and Perpetual Virginity.

Marvel at the airtight thinking. You Prot-monkeys who deny this deny reason itself.

Exe-Jesus

At lunch, the ground meat from my Manwich fell on my plate, and the glob resembled the Blessed Virgin Herself. After this, I saw the word "Mary" in the newspaper, so it appears the Blessed Assumed Sinless Mother of God has Herself put me on another apostolic mission to the benighted Prots out there.

Today's lesson: Exegesis 101.

First point: whenever you see the word "church" in your Bibles, it means ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. Therefore, when scripture says that the church is the pillar and foundation of all truth, it is clearly saying [beyond any shadow of a doubt] that THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH IS THE PILLAR AND FOUNDATION OF ALL TRUTH. My Scott Hahn audiotapes makes this point nicely. You know that Scott Hahn was one a Protestant who saw the light of Rome, right? He's smart. You're not.

Second point: whenever Peter is discussed in scripture, realize that WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE PAPACY. And, any statement about Peter is to be interpreted as a statement of Petrine primacy. After all, Peter was the first pope, so of course the NT has to be chock full of references of Petrine primacy. And when I say "Petrine primacy" you are not completely in the truth until you equivocate that with "THE ROMAN CATHOLIC PAPACY AS WE KNOW IT TODAY."

Example: recall the gospel reference about Jesus using Peter's boat.

Exegesis: This proves the papacy. This proves that Peter is the first pope. This proves that Jesus entrusted to Peter the attributes of the Papacy as we know it today. This passage by itself proves everything Rome says.

Defense of the Exegesis: Jesus could have used many other boats. But He used Peter's boat. I'm annoyed that anybody would even question this exegesis. This is why my priest and my fellow internet Roman apologists say that Prots are just flat-out silly.

OK, silly Prots, here is a homework assignment. Find three [that is the number after two, but before four] references to Peter in the NT [that's in the back of your Bibles after the OT and Apocrypha] and prove the papacy from them, carefully exegeting the text as I've shown you. This is for your souls, fools! Be like Nike and JUST DO IT.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

We're United; You're Not

Some clown has asked me about our great unity.

Simple: each Protestant is his own denomination.

We, on the other hand, are the ONE true church, not a mere element of the set of 500 billion true churches.

Some people might point to the liberals, progressives, neo-orthodox, sedevacantists, hyper-traditionalists, modernists, pro-abortionists, Marxists, etc in our midst, and ask what does unity mean if you have lesbian Marxist guerrila nuns communing side-by-side with more conservative people.

The answer is that they're Roman Catholic, despite not agreeing with us on core doctrines. You can be Roman Catholic and an atheist. You can abort babies and be a Roman Catholic. You can deny the historicity of the miracle accounts and be Roman Catholic. That's how unified we are. It is a GOOD thing that 10 different fellow Roman Catholics have 10 different views on things. We're still Roman Catholic. It's obvious. We unite, we do not divide. Our differences are called "theological traditions." I realize these words may be too multi-syllabic for Protestants, but get out your Hooked-on-Phonics cards: Thee-oh-loj-i-kal Truh-dish-uns. We're so unified that we can tolerate an atheist theological tradition, a state-lovin' Marxist tradition, a modernist tradition, a liberation tradition, a historical-critical tradition, etc.

This isn't even close to being the same thing when Protestants disagree. When Protestants who agree on the Trinity but argue over, say, paedobaptism, this is a sign of the hellish disunity arising from the self-centered anarchy that comes from reprobates who deep down inside know they are outside the saving pale of the One True Infallible Progressively Changing Holy Mother Church Who Is Never Ever Wrong.

If you were smart, you'd follow that argument, which coincides nicely with the divine simplicity, the homoousia/homoiousia distinction, and the views of obscure 8th century scholars The Malachoi.

So, in summary, our differences = "theological traditions" and this is a healthy sign of intellectual freedom promoted by the unity of the diversity of the oneness of the multi-layered nature of Rome.

Your differences = "total anarchy" and you'll have to account for them before God. We on the other hand will be praised for our diversity and intellectual curiosity.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Biblical Evidences for the Papacy from Obadiah

In my online research, I have come up with even more convincing proofs that our Holy Blessed Papacy is fully Biblical, this time, from Obadiah. [That's in the OT for you Prots out there.]

Try these on your Prot antagonists and DEFEND MOTHER CHURCH. Silence those hate-mongering victimizing Prots with these infallible arguments:

(1) The first letter of Obadiah is "O", which happens to be the second letter of "pope."

(2) Obadiah is in the Old Testament, and the papacy is clearly found in the Old Testament.

(3) Protestants are like Klan members if they can't see the papacy in Obadiah.

Absolutely foolproof. That Pedantic Protestant guy, by disagreeing, shows himself to be an anti-Catholic bigot, hatemonger, and he probably records television broadcasts of baseball without the express written consent of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

I'd drop 30 more names and 12 more books that I've read in the last 5 hours, but that would be lowering myself to your domain, and why bother with that? I'm too smart to deal with the likes of you.

Mary

I'm tired of Protestants saying that Mary's perpetual virginity isn't clear from the Bible. I'm tired of Protestants saying that her assumption isn't in the Bible. I'm tired of Protestants who say that Mary sinned.

It's all there if you believe the Holy Mother Church when she says it is all there. Only morons who think they can understand text, context, etc, deny these obvious truths.

One receding-hairline chap has some "heoss huu" thesis in his so-called Mary book. He culls together examples of "heuss who" and shows inductively [you probably don't know what the word means, Prots] that in virtually all [or most, I had to put his book down after a while because it was so blasphemous....where's an Inquisition when you need one?] instances it means what those who would deny my Mother's virginity claims.

Oh yeah? The good thing about being a papist is that I don't have to go with probabilities. Don't matter if no clear examples of "heosss houo" can't be produced to support my rendering. MOTHER CHURCH HAS SPOKEN, FOOLS! MY FELLOW INTERNET CATHOLICS HAVE CLAIMED THAT IT MEANS WHAT IT MEANS! 'Nuff said.

And if you don't believe me, my friend and I will drop all sorts of esoteric philosobabble on you and show that you are simultaneously a monothelite, an Apollinarian, an Arian, a Sabellian, and a logocentrist racist homophobe who doesn't put his cola cans in the recycle bin. Oh, and I'll sneer, say LOL, and puff and puff about how stupid you are. I don't need an argument. I'm so smart that my posturing is better than your so-called "arguments."

Got that, goofs? "Heeeeeouuss Hu" means exactly what Rome has always claimed it has meant for the last 2000 years. Jesus was Roman Catholic. Moses was Roman Catholic. Cain, on the other hand, was likely a Protestant.

Friday, October 28, 2005

What I Hate About Protestants, Part 17

Simple: they're not as smart as me. They're not nice, like me.

Here I am, dropping names and books left and right for those benighted morons fundie hicks indeed, and they refuse to see just how CORRECT I am.

They're stupid, stupid, stupid.

Not like me.

I'm smart.

I really hate it when they call me names. It hurts my feelings. That is what I hate even more about Protestants. They're mean and they think other people are stupid. Those &$*!&$ paper-pope followers don't extend charity to me. That's why they're stupid and I'm smart.

Got that, you cloven-hooved heretics?

Good.

You Protestant Fools

HAHAHAHA....you and your "private interpretation" !!

Total anarchy!

20,489,472,193 warring Protestant sects! No unity like we have!

Your beliefs are only 500 years old, whereas ours go back 2000 years! BWAHAHAHA.

Whereas you all are uncertain little fools, we have that FIRM CERTAINTY that only an INFALLIBLE ARBITER can provide.

The Catholic Church has never given in to liberalism, like your mainline Protestant sects have! MUHAHAHAHAHA.

We follow the obvious assumption that God would continually speak through a VISIBLE ORGANIZATION throughout the ages.

If you can't find the Holy Blessed Infallible Papacy in Matthew 16, you are doomed, DOOMED,

DOOMED!



We don't need scriptural evidence for our Marian doctrines. HOLY MOTHER CHUCH SEZ SO!! ['Nuff said!]

I can't do exegesis, but that's OK, 'cuz HOLY MOTHER CHURCH does it for me!

I'm so special! You're not!

Luther was a head case. Calvin surfed porn on the internet! Hodge and Warfield sold crack to inner-city schoolkids!

You're all

ANTI-CATHOLIC

meanies!!

Tradition

Much of what I'm going to say was coincidentally mentioned by Steve Hays at his blog, but for what it is worth I'll state such things in my own idiom.

Here at PP, we don't dismiss what the writers of antiquity have to say on principle. What we do instead is to, on principle, dimiss opinion based on authority arguments or opinion not justified by scripture nor actual argumentation. Also, we do not view the age or antiquity of a belief as validating a belief in question.

Some points are very basic to this:

(i) You can't get any more authoritative than St Paul. Yet, if you read the Corinthian and Galatian epistles [among others], then you see that there were beliefs, contemporary with the apostles and St Paul, that were wrong. Legalism and works-righteousness existed in the first century, say. As the right beliefs coexisted in the early Christian Church with wrong beliefs, the mere age of something doesn't broker the issue.

(ii) Similar to (i), why attempt to work backwards from the present along some trajectory of beliefs to justify why you hold what you hold? I can go right to the source for myself --- the Biblical writings --- and don't require Saint X's musings on the topic to validate the belief.

(iii) For those Romanists who view private interpretation of the Bible as some sort of dangerous, individualistic, or anarchistic enterprise [yawn], they face the same problem.

That problem is still that they have to decide for themselves if somebody is representing the texts in question properly. RC documents appeal to scripture and other documents as well. Why should I believe their appeals if I cannot check and see things for myself? Or am I supposed to just take Mother Church's word for it?

The same biz holds when I am told that some Father's teaching is authoritative. Why is it authoritative? If it references scripture, how am I supposed to see that it is true if I can't see it for myself? Does Mother Church beam in the proposition and assent to me directly, independent of my studies?

(iv) The veneration of ancient figures is just as silly as the cultification of academic personalities today, such as Derrida. People are the same today as they were in the past. You had pseudointellectuals then, you have them now. There were bad arguments then, there are bad arguments today.

We treat the ancient writers as we would a contemporary in terms of respect and the amount of charity, leeway, etc they are granted. If I give no evidence for a claim under contention, then people won't take the claim seriously. If some early Christian writer waxes allegorical about something without warrant, I don't have to take it seriously. They were, like we are today, fallible men.

This brings me to another point. All the Roman internet apologists seem to do is to argue that their beliefs are in line with some early figure. But this doesn't go anywhere towards showing that a belief is in accordance with scripture. Why not just go to the original itself? We have faculties, and we have reason. Despite the diversity of opinion in our Lord's time here on earth, He is still recorded as quoting scripture as if He expected others to know what he meant. Paul expected his epistolary recipients to understand at least in part what he was saying. What is so hard about going back to the basics?

Oh, but there will be disagreements! But then what do you do? The answer is that you do what a responsible and intellectually mature student is supposed to do. Gather the evidence, weigh it carefully, and stake out a possibly-tentative but firm position.

Or, as one alternative, you can entrust these highest matters of your being and soul to an outside agency, and you can let somebody else do your thinking for you. You had better hope that the party to whom you've contracted your independent thought on these matters is correct.

Choose as you please.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Question of Cosmic Significance

Why do baseball broadcasts have to have the score, an image of the diamond, the count, the pitch speed, and the corporate logo together taking up some 15-20% of the screen?

Why do announcers feel as if every pitch needs to be replayed multiple times in order to discern the hidden meanings and strategy behind the pitch?

Why do we need a cutesy graphic display [complete with whooshing sound effect] between every pitch highlighting some usually insignifanct stat?

Do the announcers ever shut up?

I'm old enough to remember NBC's Major League Baseball Game of the Week every Saturday morning. [These were pre-cable days, dear readers, back when the average lifespan was 35 years if you were lucky.] Every once in a while, they'd put up a spartan graphic indicating balls, strikes, and outs, and, perhaps once or twice they'd flash the score, but, other than that, the screen contained the action, not the latest graphical cutesies thought up by the network. The announcers actually were silent from time to time. They assumed that most of the people viewing the baseball game were there for the game, not for the announcers or the tech toys.

I also remember when Monday Night Football [think late 70's/early 80's] didn't have that annoying country music guy singing about football, and when MNF didn't have actors from other ABC shows coming into the booth to plug the latest new thing on ABC. The screen wasn't filled with cutesy graphics. You just had Howard Cosell reminding you that you are not as smart as he is [and who was?], and you had Howard's 3-minute "Halftime Highlights" which, in pre-cable days, was really the only way to see any visuals from around the NFL. Too bad that the denizens of political correctness sacked the greatest announcer ever.



And whatever happened, pray tell, to those killer yellow blazers that had the ABC Sports patch on the front pocket? Those seriously need to be brought back.

Replies to Some Queries, Part One

Despite taking the email address down [pedanticprotestant@yahoo.com] I still receive some queries every now and then from friend and foe, though I hardly have an overflowing mailbag. Without quoting directly from the queries, and paraphrasing them, I'll try to provide some honest answers.

(1) What do you have against Roman Catholicism?

I suppose the answer is the same as any other Evangelical student's answer would be: I think Rome teaches several things that are either contradictory to scripture, and Rome upholds as dogma things that have no evidentiary warrant in scripture. I also reject the idea that corporate interpretation of scripture is intrinsically superior to what is derisively referred to as "private interpretation."

This isn't personal, despite my occasional lapses of decorum online. I grew up around Roman Catholics. My mother was one. My childhood friends were RC's. My beloved thesis advisor is RC. My housemate for six years was RC. I've mentioned not a few times the assistant professor days at a large RC university. I even dated some RC's [and they seem to have, alas, the lion's share of the pretty women]. But none of these cordialities and relationships make unscriptural claims scriptural, and they don't produce evidence that heretofore does not exist for, say, the Marian dogmas.

In fact, the last paragraph sounds a bit like somebody telling a leftist "some of my best friends are [insert victim group here]." So, to counterbalance this seeming surge of effeminate sensitivity, let me say that on a certain level, I simply don't care what a bunch of fragile wilting flower Romanists think regarding my sensitivity to them or not. If they're offended at what I say or the arguments I produce, nobody is forcing them to read this blog. But, on another level, one doesn't try to go around picking fights either, hence I don't post at message boards or bother other people on their blogs. One tries [and fails from time to time] to stand firm without being contentious for its own sake.

Speaking anecdotally, I find that the RC's I have known are Biblically illiterate, pulling scripture out of context in a way that would make the Mormons or Watchtower crowd envious. Having other people doing your thinking and interpretation for you tends to dull your own critical faculties for those areas in which you've contracted your own careful judgement out. Consequently, you can have a background in a hard science and philosophy, and still have an intellectual capacity in religious matters that is not too far above popping bubble-wrap, despite being able to talk a good game and put forth the affectations of intellectual superiority.

[[What I'm about to say has close to zero believability given that many posts here at PP are about RCism, but I was originally going to use PP to poke at pomo's and progressives here. But, circumstances and the mood-of-the-day put things in another direction, though there is so much pomo stuff out there that requires lampooning, much of it coming from academics, and, sad to say, smooshy Protestants.]]

(2) Do you think RC's are saved?

Some are, some aren't. Same for Evangelicals. The question, asked in this form, is far too general to admit a simple answer.

(3) What are your eschatological views?

Unrepentant amillenialist who doesn't say "rapture" in mixed company.

I grew up Baptist, and went to a charismatic high school, which should shock people who see my unemotional taciturn demeanor. I'm no "high on Jesus!!" type, to be sure. A woman who dragged me to Willow Creek [ugh] was embarrassed and teased by her friends because of that unemotional Lutheran type who just didn't get into the skits and the drama of the ages 20-30 service. [But that would make another nice post someday].

Well, I got a bit off-topic there. The point was that, in a Baptist and AoG setting, I was exposed to all sorts of Rapture imagery. We saw those B-rate "after the rapture" flicks where the actors and actresses ran around with UPC codes or "666" tattooed on their foreheads. We saw everything interpreted as leading to "the end" and so on.

But then, and I say this with due respect to other Evangelicals who have different eschatological views, I noticed that there doesn't really seem to be strong evidence for the complicated end-times scenario and chronology. This isn't a make-or-break issue, and, if I'm raptured, I'll gladly admit error, but I do not see a rapture, then 3.5 years of plenty, the death and rise of Antichrist, 3.5 years of the Great Tribulation, the Second Coming, followed by a 1000-year reign of Christ on Earth, etc, for example.

This is what seems clear: at some unspecified and undeducible time in the future, perhaps before I hit "publish post" or perhaps in the year AD34275, God will say "game over." Stealing imagery from CS Lewis, the author of the play will walk onto the stage. Judgement will just happen. And then the saints will be with God forever, and the rest have their condemenations ratified. I hope of course to be in the former group.

Before moving, I had a humorous little collection of books, all with the theme "The world will end in year 19xx!" One could write a book on the exegetical fallacies that undergird those books.

Oh, and "This Vehicle Will Be Unmanned In Case of Rapture" bumper stickers really annoy me, almost as much as those "Hate is Not A Family Value" stickers I see on the granolamobiles putt-putting on the freeways out here in CA!

(4) Is Luther your hero?

Nope. Interesting, important guy, but not authoritative, not always right, and he said some kooky things from time to time. Plus, he was Saxon/German, and that is never a good thing. I say this for the sole [but eminently noble] purpose of getting a certain German's goat. They have goats that should be gotten on a regular basis.

***********************

For what it is worth, if indeed it is worth anything, I'll try to clear the minor backlog of queries in Part Two, coming tomorrow.

The Joy of Sox [Or: Was the Sox good? Heck no --- The Sox was GREAT]



This is for Diane and Ogre and Big Tom and Jonathan and followers of the Hawk-and-Wimpy cult and my other Chicagophile friends. And to my old friend Shane in Houston, oh well...I'm still your bud.

As Hawk would say, with the Wimperoo joining in:

You can put it on the board.........

YES!!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

More Celibacy

Readers can peruse this article dealing with reaffirmation of the celibacy requirement for Roman Catholic priests.

Whenever somebody asks about RC priestly celibacy, or whenever the concept intersects my consciousness [as when I see such an article on Yahoo!], a mixed bag of thoughts is consistently present. The thoughts are given below, with no significance given to the ordering of the thoughts.

(1) Free assocation. Private organizations can do [or should be able to do]whatever they'd like, so long as the person and property of others is not harmed or placed at risk. I personally don't see how priests not being married or having sex threatens my person, nor my property, so, from a libertarian standpoint, let Holy Mother Church do as Holy Mother Church pleases.

I've seen the thesis advanced that because priests don't have a sexual outlet, this has some causal link to the outbreak or presence of RC priestly homosexuality and pederasty. On this front I have no data, and cannot comment.

I don't understand why seculars and non-RC's make a big to-do about the latest thing they don't like about Rome, when they reject everything about Rome in the first place. It is one thing for, say, somebody to criticize Rome's view of justification, or her legalism and such; it is quite another thing for somebody who is an atheist or wants the destruction of Christianity-at-large to complain about, say, RC celibacy, when, even if RC priests were allowed to join the local swinger club, the critic would still loathe all things Rome, and, more generally, all things Christian.

So, on the libertarian level of live-and-let-live, those busybodies who want Rome to have an outlook more in common with secular thought really need to mind their own business. Rome's not telling me to not marry, have sex, etc, so as long as Holy Mother Church leaves me alone, I can confine my disagreements to theological and philosophical areas.

(2) Modernism versus traditional thinking. I'll admit to getting a tinge of pleasure whenever I see liberals, modernists, and progressives tweaked. On this level of thought, I'm either nonplussed or cheering on the staunch conservative Romanists.

Of course, there isn't one sort of "traditional" thinking in Rome. You have the cafeteria Romanism of the internet papists, the so-called ultra-traditionalism of others, the pseudo-intellectual Romanism that subjugates scripture to speculative philosophy, etc, but, at least they're worried about being faithful to what they see as the deposit of faith as compared to reworking the faith in a hip 21st century style that blends nicely with your daily Frappucino at the local Starbucks [as you listen to Moby on your Ipod, no less]. So, on that part of the "culture war," I suppose we're co-sympathetic.

(3) The big question. In a sort-of reply to (2), the question about celibacy isn't whether it is traditional, or how long it has been present, etc. The real question about celibacy is whether the Roman Catholic view as it now stands is faithful with scripture. At least this is how somebody like me approaches it. The Roman Catholic fantasy world --- a world whose landscape is largely paved with overly scholastic distinctions along with man-made pietisms and traditions --- obviously doesn't look at things the same way.

What does scripture present regarding marriage, celibacy, and the like? Basically, marriage and sex are good things, but, they are choices that have ramifications concerning how much energy and drive we have for devoting ourselves to other things. Marriage isn't for everybody, but one isn't the worse off for marrying. At the same time, one doesn't earn any sort of heavenly brownie points for not marrying or staying celibate. There are good points and bad points about being married, and happily married people mention the good points to me while feeling sorry for me, whereas, on the other hand, those unhappily married [or unhappily divorced] tell me that I'm smart for staying single, an effort that succeeds despite the best efforts of the small but scheming contingent of Swedish supermodel PP groupies!

One of the RC utilitarian arguments [but it seems to be the main one so far as I know] for priestly celibacy makes prima facie sense, as, one who is married can't devote himself fully to one's priestly service. [And those who join the RC priesthood know this in advance, so they can't complain once they're in as if they were misled.] But, the argument also, in a certain way, proves too much, for it seems to this fellow that one could make the same sort of argument without distinction about any non-priestly activity that a priest might like.

In the end, let Rome do as she pleases. I'm not joining the priesthood, and, so far as I can tell, Rome isn't forcing me to join her, so live and let live.

So, in the end, that's the grab bag of thoughts, spelled out in a stream-of-consciousness style that would make your local Birkenstock-wearing bongo-playing poetry-spouting coffeehouse pseudo-intellectual proud.

[Closing note: the statement about Swedish supermodel PP groupies is, just possibly, in a casuistic way of reading words, a bit hyperbolic.]

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

PP Is Out

Out of his mind?

Out of control?

Out of options?

Out of material?

Out of luck?

Out of time?

No....PP is currently a bit overwhelmed right now with non-blogging affairs. He hopes to return by Monday with more puckish and profound Protestant pedantry, and he apologizes for being so spotty the last ten days. He tries his best to keep a steady flow of blog material [some serious, some not so serious, as the muse strikes him] but he knows he's been a failure on this front for the last two weeks!

It should also be noted that he apologizes for speaking of himself in this post in the third-person pronoun, something reserved exclusively for Jesus, rock stars, Bob Dole, and celebrities.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Nice Post from Steyn

Media Utters Nonsense, Won't Call Enemy Out

by Mark Steyn, Chicago Sun-Times Columnist

From Thursday's New York Times: ''Nalchik, Russia -- Insurgents launched a series of raids today in this southern Russian city, striking the area's main airport and several police and security buildings in large-scale, daytime attacks that left at least 85 people dead.''

"Insurgents," eh?

From Agence France Presse:

"Nalchik, Russia: More than 60 people were killed as scores of militants launched simultaneous attacks on police and government buildings . . ."

"Militants," you say?

From the Scotsman:

"Rebel forces battled Russian troops for control of a provincial capital in the Caucasus yesterday . . ."

"Rebel forces,'' huh?

From Toronto's Globe & Mail:

"Nalchik, Russia -- Scores of rebels launched simultaneous attacks on police and government buildings . . ."

"Rebels," by the score. But why were they rebelling? What were they insurging over? You had to pick up the Globe & Mail's rival, the Toronto Star, to read exactly the same Associated Press dispatch but with one subtle difference:

''Nalchik, Russia -- Scores of Islamic militants launched simultaneous attacks on police and government buildings . . ."

Ah, "Islamic militants." So that's what the rebels were insurging over. In the geopolitical Hogwart's, Islamic "militants" are the new Voldemort, the enemy whose name it's best never to utter. In fairness to the New York Times, they did use the I-word in paragraph seven. And Agence France Presse got around to mentioning Islam in paragraph 22. And NPR's "All Things Considered" had one of those bland interviews between one of its unperturbable anchorettes and some Russian geopolitical academic type in which they chitchatted through every conceivable aspect of the situation and finally got around to kinda sorta revealing the identity of the perpetrators in the very last word of the geopolitical expert's very last sentence.

When the NPR report started, I was driving on the vast open plains of I-91 in Vermont and reckoned, just to make things interesting, I'll add another five miles to the speed for every minute that goes by without mentioning Islam. But I couldn't get the needle to go above 130, and the vibrations caused the passenger-side wing-mirror to drop off. And then, right at the end, having conducted a perfect interview that managed to go into great depth about everything except who these guys were and what they were fighting over, the Russian academic dude had to go and spoil it all by saying somethin' stupid like "republics which are mostly . . . Muslim." He mumbled the last word, but nevertheless the NPR gal leapt in to thank him and move smoothly on to some poll showing that the Dems are going to sweep the 2006 midterms because Bush has the worst numbers since numbers were invented.

I underestimated multiculturalism. After 9/11, I assumed the internal contradictions of the rainbow coalition would be made plain: that a cult of "tolerance" would in the end founder against a demographic so cheerfully upfront in their intolerance. Instead, Islamic "militants" have become the highest repository of multicultural pieties. So you're nice about gays and Native Americans? Big deal. Anyone can be tolerant of the tolerant, but tolerance of intolerance gives an even more intense frisson of pleasure to the multiculti- masochists. And so Islamists who murder non-Muslims in pursuit of explicitly Islamic goals are airbrushed into vague, generic "rebel forces." You can't tell the players without a scorecard, and that's just the way the Western media intend to keep it. If you wake up one morning and switch on the TV to see the Empire State Building crumbling to dust, don't be surprised if the announcer goes, "Insurging rebel militant forces today attacked key targets in New York. In other news, the president's annual Ramadan banquet saw celebrities dancing into the small hours to Mullah Omar And His All-Girl Orchestra . . ."

What happened in Russia on Thursday was serious business, not just in the death toll but in the number of key government installations that the alleged insurging rebel militants of non-specific ideology managed to seize with relative ease. The militantly rebellious insurgers of no known religious affiliation have long said they want a pan-Caucasian Islamic state from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea, and the carnage they wreaked in the hitherto semi-safe-ish republic of Kabardino-Balkaria suggests that they're more likely to spread the conflict to other parts of the Russian Federation than Moscow is to contain it.

Did you see that news item in Stavropolsky Meridian last October? "Strontium, Uranium And Plutonium Found In Train To Caucasus." When a region already regarded as a Bud's Discount Warehouse for nuclear materials is getting sucked deeper into the maw of Islamism, why be so sheepish about letting us know the forces at play?

The Russians couldn't hold on to Eastern Europe. They couldn't hold on to Central Asia. Why would they fare any better with the present so-called Russian "Federation"? The country is literally dying. It's had a net population loss every year since 1992, one of the lowest fertility rates in the world -- 1.2 children born per woman -- and one of the highest abortion rates: some 70 percent of pregnancies are terminated. Russian men now have a lower life expectancy than Bangladeshis -- not because Bangladesh is brimming with actuarial advantages but because, if he had four legs and hung from a tree in a rain forest, the Russian male would be on the endangered species list.

Yet, within their present territory, there remain a few exceptions to the grim statistics cited above, parts of Russia that retain healthy fertility rates and healthy mortality rates. And guess what? They're the Muslim parts. Or, as the New York Times/NPR/Agence France Presse/Scotsman/Toronto Globe & Mail would say, they're the insurgent rebel militant parts. Many of these Russian Muslim areas -- like Bashkortistan (and no, I didn't make that up, it's a real stan. Check it out in the World Book Of Stans) -- are also rich in natural resources.

If you're an energy-rich Muslim republic, what's the point of going down the express garbage chute of history with the Russian Federation? The Islamification of significant parts of present-day Russia is going to be a critical factor in its death spiral.

I'm aware the very concept of "the enemy" is alien to the non-judgment multicultural mind: There are no enemies, just friends whose grievances we haven't yet accommodated. But the media's sensitivity police apparently want this to be the first war we lose without even knowing who it is we've lost to. C'mon, guys, next time something happens in the Caucasus, why not blame the "Caucasians"? At least that way, we'll figure it must have been right-wing buddies of Timothy McVeigh.

http://www.suntimes.com/output/steyn/cst-edt-steyn16.html

2005 PP State of the Blog-Links Address

My fellow PP readers:

Dr Svendsen says he's back but doesn't post.

PP says he's taking a break but keeps posting.

Phil Johnson says he's taking a break and doesn't post.

The Jibbster is there, but he doesn't post much.

Centuri0n is there and posts much.

Jonathan Moorhead is still there, and he wants to cover your wife's head.

Steve Hays posts much and always seems to be there.

Thank you, and God bless PP.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Hoax Blog

Have you ever been to a cocktail party where some witty guy impresses the ladies that you're trying to impress with some joke that you yourself were just about to tell, but at the same time, after hearing his telling of the joke, you know deep down in your heart that he told the joke much better than you would've, so, while you're mumbling to yourself about having your punchline stolen, you at the same time have to silently say "Well played, old chap....well played" ? That's how I feel about the "Rev. James Jackson" and "his" hoax blog.

I wish I was clever enough to have thought of a hoax blog like Rev JJ's blog. But, while we're long on puckish Protestant pedantry here at PP, we're short on hoaxsterism. So, Rev JJ, he of the more-than-occasional spelling error and formally self-stultifying statement, is not me. But, I wish in this respect that he and I were but one and the same blogger. I can't do Photoshop, and I can't hoax well, unless people think that this site is itself a hoax to discredit classical evidential Protestantism!

Of course, if I was the hoaxster or part of the hoaxster conspiracy behind the Rev JJ blog, and if I still wanted to keep the yuks 'n' giggles coming in, I suppose it would only be natural to deny having anything to do with the hoax blog while churning out more Reformed Catholic Pentecostal posts. Guilty men often profess their innocence, do they not? Who comes right out and says "Yes, it is me...I did it?" And, I note that Rev JJ picks on Centuri0n, which, as far as pastimes go, is an objectively good pasttime, for Centuri0n, that dashing and hardheaded Baptist was, whether he knows it or not, placed in this world as my foil and assistant, to help me pretend I am somebody, much as Patsy used to clap coconuts together while King Arthur rode his imaginary pony in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Oh well, as surely as head-game playing chicks annoy me, as surely as my undies bundle when I see another internet Romanist argument made with triumphalistic flair, as surely as dear ol' Dave owns me in tennis, and, finally, as surely as I am pedantic, readers may rest assured that loyalties are not divided --- PP is a faithful sort o' guy, and he ain't no two-timer relative to hoax-blogging. In fact, rumor has it that his small number of brain cells --- he reportedly guards this small and precious lot with great care --- is already 100% spoken for here. PP is simply not versatile enough to work two blogs at once. He's like a crazy cat lady who never leaves the house, except he never leaves his blog....what a homebody!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Some Poems of Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

The World

By day she woos me, soft, exceeding fair:
But all night as the moon so changeth she;
Loathsome and foul with hideous leprosy
And subtle serpents gliding in her hair.

By day she woos me to the outer air,
Ripe fruits, sweet flowers, and full satiety:
But through the night, a beast she grins at me,
A very monster void of love and prayer.

By day she stands a lie:
By night she stands
In all the naked horror of the truth
With pushing horns and clawed and clutching hands.

Is this a friend indeed; that I should sell
My soul to her, give her my life and youth,
Till my feet, cloven too, take hold on hell?

Remember

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

A Better Resurrection

I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numb'd too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimm'd with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.

My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall--the sap of Spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.

My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perish'd thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me

May

I cannot tell you how it was;
But this I know: it came to pass
Upon a bright and breezy day
When may was young; ah, pleasant May!
As yet the poppies were not born
Between the blades of tender corn;
The last eggs had not hatched as yet,
Nor any bird forgone its mate.

I cannot tell you what it was;
But this I know: it did but pass.
It passed away with sunny May,
With all sweet things it passed away,
And left me old, and cold, and grey.



PP 2005 Humanitarian of the Year Award

A fellow-believer friend of mine out here wrote the following in regards of my attempt to play matchmaker:

I'm really not playing the field at the moment, though I suppose that if you could find me an eligible female with the faith of Christina Rossetti, the face and figure of twenty-something Sophia Loren, and the portfolio of Teresa Heinz-Kerry, I just might be persuaded, out of self-sacrificial duty, to relent!

Ah, such a sacrifice indeed for my friend!

For indicating a willingness to sacrifice himself [for the greater good, no doubt] by subjecting himself to the abject pain and suffering from dating a Rossetti-Loren-Heinz-Kerry hybrid [mixed according to the recipe above], I bestow upon my friend the greatly-coveted PP 2005 Humanitarian of the Year Award. While there is no cash bounty for this prize [unlike the Nobel prizes], it is thought that the pure overwhelming prestige of this award is truly priceless.

We can all learn something from my friend about following the Biblical exhortation "to not seek our own good, but the good of others." Surely, while he would derive no pleasure from the Rossetti-Loren-Heinz-Kerry hybrid described above apart from the satisfaction flowing from the fact that his obligation benefits others, the woman would benefit from his self-sacrifice, a self-sacrifice that rivals the Cross itself! :-)

I was going to nominate myself for the PP 2005 HotYA, but the associate v.p. for ethics enforcement [in the PP Marketing Arm] informed me that it might look a bit strange for me to award myself the prize. But, I had an equally strong case, for, I would date --- obviously at great personal, physical, and spiritual peril --- a woman with the loveliness of Barbara Feldon, the faith and artistic predisposition of my friend Elizabeth [she knows who she is!], the piercing mind of somebody who shall go nameless, the devotion of my late spaniel Sara, and the bankroll [but only the bankroll] of a Mrs Heinz-Kerry.

'Tis a great sacrifice indeed, but I'd date her for the greater good. Yes, faith without works is a dead faith, but, with such a woman and with the tragic self-sacrifice that would ensue, I would endure all things for the sake of not only my fellow men, but for God who, in the person of Christ, endured all things for my sake. This would truly be the work that vindicates me as a true believer!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Scandal of the Gospel

[I'm supposed to be on a self-imposed break, but the muse has grabbed me, at least this one time.]

Today, while walking around the lovely university campus at which I'm temporarily employed, the Gideons were out handing out their trademark little green New Testaments. The Gideons are non-confrontational, merely standing there while making it clear that they have free New Testaments to hand out to whomever is interested. On a personal note, a fellow parishoner of my former church when I lived out in CA, a full professor of chemistry was an avid Gideon, and it was an indirect inspiration at that time some 8 or 9 years ago to see a man of the physical sciences not only believe the Christian faith, but to believe it and appropriate it to the point where he desires to share it with others, even in the hostile setting of a public university campus.

While walking to and fro the campus coffeehouse, I saw a Gideon, a black man in a blue suit, standing in the middle of the walkway --- unobtrusive but yet hard to miss. As I walked near him, he offered me a NT, at which point I stated that I have one, have read it, and --- this is most important --- I believe it. "Where shall we go? You have the very words of life."

But I noticed something. Students and other campus pedestrians were avoiding this man as if he was Typhoid Mary.

What is rather striking about this is that in the campus quadrangle, you have various student group kiosks, tables, and pamphleteers peddling their free literature. You have lesbian groups, Catholic groups, racially-defined groups, liberal groups, conservative groups, etc, each entering the marketplace of ideologies and ideas. People may ignore, say, a Scientology person or a LaRouchie, but they don't self-consciously alter their paths to bypass them.

Yet with the humble Gideon and his free copies of the NT, the students I saw [and I saw plenty] self-consciously avoided him, and, in a manner reminiscent of what happens when two identically-charged rods are placed together, seemed to be repelled by this non-threatening man. If he were handing out literature on other things, he may not have been successful, but people wouldn't be swerving out of his path.

This only reinforces the idea that Christianity is, despite our intellectual efforts and learnedness [necessary things, to be sure], a scandal. This is not a subjective opinion; that Christianity in its purest essence is a scandal and offense and stumbling stone is what Christianity claims for itself. The people were swerving away from the Gideon because his very presence was a scandal to young college students: here is a man testifying to eternal and objective verities, verities that cannot be relativized, merely dismissed and mocked. The students were ashamed to be seen with this man: "What would I do if my friends saw me next to a guy handing out Bibles?"

What do we believe? In contradistinction to the reigning ideologies of today --- materialism, metaphysical naturalism, Marxism, Epicureanism, libertinism, etc --- we hold that man is not an infinitely malleable creature who can, through the correct application of human agency, make himself intrinsically and objectively better. We hold to the truth that man is, in his very essence and not just in the manifestations of his essence, lost to a degree of utter finality and helplessness. We hold to the truth that man stands before God utterly condemned, unable to meet God's requirements. We hold to the truth that God, being God and perfectly good, cannot in any meaningful away abide evil nor let it go unpunished.

But the scandal does not end there. We hold to the truth that God has punished evil through the person and work of His Son --- God in the person of His Son became incarnate [somehow] and took our sins on His physical person on the cross [somehow]. We hold to the truth that [somehow] the Son of God rose from the physical dead.

All of these are scandalous not only to the modern mind, but, I daresay, to any Christian who really tries to think about the basics of the faith. These truths --- uncomfortable as they may be --- are all contained clearly in the little green New Testaments that the Gideon was passing out.

Those few students who didn't swerve out of his sphere, when he said that he had free NT's, acted as if he had just propositioned them or asked for a handout.

Yes, the gospel is a scandal. I have trouble believing it myself at times, not in the sense of doubting the veracity or trustworthiness of the accounts, but in believing that our redemption was accomplished in this way, in this fashion. The notion of God-men and the actual physical shedding of blood having [somehow] something to do with our standing before God seems positively barbaric, messy, and out of keeping with a cleaner and purely metaphysical spiritualizing of the faith. My Christianity would be cleaner, purer, akin to a proof of a mathematical theorem. But then my Christianity would not be Christianity, but a man-made deception that could only hope at most to have a few accidental commonalities with objective reality.

But at the same time, the scandal makes sense. How can God be God if He does not fully punish sin? How can God be merciful [as He claims for Himself] if He in fact does punish sin? How can God "be just and the justifier of the ungodly" at the same time without violating either man's dignity as a free and accountable creature nor His absolute sovreignty, not to mention His very nature? This riddle is solved by the cross: for at the cross God punishes sin fully, affirming His nature as One who is perfectly holy and cannot abide what is antithetical to His nature. At the cross, God affirms His claim of being merciful, for in the person of His Son, God bears His own wrath. I do not understand the mechanism by which my sins are somehow forgiven by a Jew being tortured on a tree, but the cross is the solution of the system of equations that constrain what God must be and what God as revealed about Himself.

But in the end it is a scandal. This is a useful reminder when I look at my bookshelves full of scholarly commentaries and philosophical works and think of Christianity as "just another" metaphysical system or worldview, albeit a system or worldview that happens to be true. Christianity is not just another worldview. Go to a trendy cocktail party or dinner and observe the repulsion when you say that you are a Bible-believing Christian; compare this to saying that you're a Jew or atheist or [insert name here]-ist or "a seeker of truth" or somebody who views the quest for truth more importantly than the truth itself. My experience is that the worlds "Bible" and "Christ," etc, have a chilling effect that other words don't have, though I can't claim any universality for this phenomenon.

The thing is, if this were 1993, I would've avoided that Gideon like the plague as well. Not because of any deep metaphysical objections, but because the very presence of the Gideon is a testament to the mere possibility that there are eternal verities and absolutes out there that cannot be abrogated by the latest trendy self-help guru on Oprah or a good three-hankie cry whereby I express my sensitive 90's-guy side.

But, somehow, despite reasonable resistance, God would not let His call to me go unheeded. While scripture is quite clear that man cannot come to God, nor does man desire to come to God, at the same time, our coming to Him feels to us as if we were the ones who initiated it all along. While it was the agency of God in the person of the Holy Spirit who awakened me, the phenomenon felt as if I was consciously choosing to do so on the basis of the exercise of my own free will.

Oh well, I wonder how the Gideon did, and I wonder just what happened to those NT's that were handed out...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Gone Fishin'

I'm taking a few days off, will be back near the end of this week. There is no reason apart from the fact that I'm feeling lazy and want to recharge batteries. In the Evangelical blogosphere, there seems to be precedent:

(1) El Senor Turkoman vanishes on the weekends.

(2) Phil Johnson has apparently left Pyromaniac on autopilot for at least another week.

(3) Eric Svendsen has apparently been raptured even though he's "officially" back blogging. On the other hand, Jason Engwer has put up some good stuff in the meanwhile.

(4) Steve Hays has mellowed with his posting rate, if memory serves me correctly.

On the other hand, Jonathan Moorhead's blog has some interesting pieces. Check out the three-part commentary on the two-stage healing of the blind man at Bethsaida, and check out his provocative piece on head-coverings for women, along with his material on TD Jakes which is apparently a not-too-unobvious way of having a good crack at Phil Johnson's expense!

It should be noted that the Jibbs blog has some failsafe ways of determing one's status as regenerate or unregenerate.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Pussycats & Popery & Pedantic Protestants

Isn't it annoying to go to one of the blogs you like to check out [like this one :-) ] and, in lieu of a thought-out and substantive post, you see some "I like my cat 'cuz" post presented with the attitude of

(i) My cat is the greatest cat in the whole wide world.
(ii) Have you ever seen a cat before? Well here's a picture!
(iii) You totally care about my cat[s].

In reality, cats are smelly little hairballs who track litter around the floor and are both lazy and selfish little imps who only come to you when they want something.

But, ah, sweet Thomas, [more formally St Thomas Aquinas] is not your typical smelly little hairball known to many as "a cat." Instead, he is a very gentle and loving little cat who lives for humans who are rough with his tail while scratching his smoky-white tummy. Yes, he's a good cat. He has the roughest little purr, and, like a dog, he makes it known that he likes good lovin' just for its own sake. Also: do you know how cute it is to see a grey tabby with little white paws having pink pads? You probably don't, but, trust me, it is an endearing sight.

Unfortunately, Thomas is a Cat'lic cat. A Polish Cat'lic cat. You see, Diane [my former Polish RC landlady] got to him first with all that talk about popery, veneration of saints, statues, purgatory, capital-T Tradition, etc. Next thing you know, Thomas was mewing such things to me as "Sola scriptura isn't in the Bible!" and "You got your Bible from the Roman Catholic Church!" and "NOT by faith alone!" I'd walk into the living room and find Thomas stretched out in front of the EWTN-blaring tv-set, watching Mother Angelica and "Monday Night Rosary" and that gameshow where, by answering trivia questions about RC history, Catholic contestants win indulgences and time off from purgatory. And Thomas allegorizes and typologizes far too much [to say the least].

But, these obvious character flaws aside, both in Thomas and Diane, how could I resist either of their charms? Husky-bodied grey tabbies with a Snaggletooth-face have a lot of capital built up, by which capital they can get away with murder, whether using my bed as a litter box, clawing my legs, using my chair as a scratching post, or viewing every reference to tradition and church in the scriptures as appplying to RC Tradition and the RCC.

So, in accord with a request from Diane, and not, as it might be surmised, that I'm too lazy to do anything more substantial today, here is a post featuring the Angelic Tabby, St Thomas. Why am I doing this post? Because I'm a caring sorta guy, that's why; behind the bookish demeanor lies an overly sentimental softie who, like Bill Clinton, feels your pain and just wants to have a group hug with the world while singing Kumbaya.

And for both Diane and Thomas, who often wonder if I visualize dropping them into vats of boiling oil from time to time [or, in Thomas' case, a KFC x-tra crispy 10-piece family bucket], I say: "Loathe the Romanism, love the Catholic, whether furry or bipedal." Yuppers, that's what ol' PP says!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

I'm The Wiz, and NOBODY Beats Me!


This post means so many things on so many levels...where does one begin? Am I sending a message to somebody? Inside joke? Am I talking trash to progressives and other assorted bogeymen?

Regardless: I'm The Wiz, I'm The Wiz, I'm The Wiz!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Unless I Shall See Evidence, I Will In No Way Believe: Blessed St Thomas

St Thomas the Apostle gets a bad rap. He's my own "patron saint" [being a patron saint in RC lore, among other things, for those who doubt], so in the reversed bizarro economy of a pseudonymous blogger standing up for an apostle, I offer St Thomas my protection services, waiving the usual fee.

Contrary to those who consider justification the article on which the Christian Church stands or falls, this [pedantic] Protestant views the historicity and veracity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to be the article on which the Christian Church stands or falls. The historicity of Our Lord's crucifixion and resurrection is intimately linked with various things, such as God's justice in punishing sin meaningfully, God's undeserved bestowing of grace on all who place their faith and trust in Christ's work, and the resurrection of the dead at the final judgement. The resurrection was the main article the English deists attacked in the deist controversy of a few centuries ago, and this fact is no mere coincidence, for the deists knew that the bodily resurrection of our Lord undergirded the entire veracity of the Christian faith: no resurrection, your faith is in vain.

What does St Thomas get a bad rap for? The answer is that he supposedly doubted the resurrection of our Lord, and he is known as "Doubting Thomas." Yet, what did Thomas do that was so unreasonable? He merely asked for evidence.

One might say that Thomas didn't exist in a vacuum --- far from it, as he was an intimate of Jesus, a witness to His many miracles, His many acts of power, and a witness to His authoritative teaching and special bond with the Father. Thomas, in particular viewed Jesus' raising of Lazarus from the dead, so Thomas wasn't, at the time of Jesus' resurrection, a stranger to bodily resurrection. [John 11] And, with these facts, it might seem that Thomas, having seen all of these items firsthand, is suddenly being faithless and doubting when it comes to this miracle. Having seen so much directly, why does St Thomas now doubt?

I would contend that, even with these miracles in tow, Thomas is not to be condemned for doubting the resurrection. In fact, he is being eminently reasonable.

Why? Because there is, in my book, a difference between seeing Jesus being raised in the dead and seeing Jesus raise somebody else from the dead. Thomas wasn't doubting that somebody could be raised from the dead by Jesus. But, rather, Thomas merely wanted to be shown that He who quickens the dead was Himself quickened.

It is important to note that Thomas' request for evidence was not something above and beyond what others had seen. Our Lord had appeared to Mary Magdalene, and then to the Thomasless disciples. They doubtless gawked at the wounds and the marks on the risen body of Jesus. Wouldn't you?

But when the disciples tell Thomas that they had seen the risen Jesus, Thomas states: "Unless I see the wounds from the nails in His hands, and put my finger into the wounds from the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will surely in no way believe it [i.e. that the Lord has risen]." The last clause of the verse feautures the ou mh + aorist subjunctive construction, hence the emphasis on Thomas' not believing: "I will surely in no way believe..." instead of "I won't believe unless..."

Thomas does not doubt for the sake of doubt. He isn't a nihilistic Western modern who makes doubt the center and core of his philosophy. He isn't a new age guest on Larry King spouting all sorts of dogmatic gobbledygook about how one shouldn't be dogmatic. No, Thomas doubts for reasonable reason --- it is not a trivial thing for a God-man to be raised from the dead. All he wants is evidence --- evidence the others have already received.

Now one might accuse St Thomas of already having had evidence when the other disciples of Jesus --- fellow intimates of St Thomas --- approached Thomas with the blessed news of Our Lord's resurrection. And perhaps there is a point here. After all, you and I have to accept their testimony, and we cannot make a request as did Thomas; at least we cannot expect to have our own firsthand empirical verification.

But, for reasons ultimately known only to God, Our Lord Himself appears among a group consisting of Thomas and the other apostles [and perhaps others].

[Not sure of the author of this painting.]

[Caravaggio, Doubting Thomas, 1600-01?]

Our Lord tells Thomas to place his fingers in the holes, to examine His hands, and to put his hand in Our Lord's pierced side. And He also states: "Do not continue in your unbelief but believe."

To this display of evidence Thomas does not persist in doubt, nor does he find new objections. Instead of these, Thomas makes one of the greatest confessions of faith in all of Christian history: ho kyrios mou kai ho theos mou --- My Lord and My God.

To this confession of faith, Our Lord states: "Because you have seen me, have you believed [or do you believe]? Blessed are those who do not see yet believe."

We must respectfully dissent from any interpretation that views Our Lord's words as a chastisement and a rebuke of Thomas. Nothing of the sort is implied by the text. The implied comparison is not between Thomas' belief being somehow bad while those who do not see and yet believe have a somehow better state. The implied comparison is rather that Thomas' belief is what it is --- note that nothing is said condemnatory to Thomas here --- but those who do not see and yet believe are blessed. At least this is how the text seems to me. I believe, on this point, I'm in the minority opinion even with respect to conservative evangelicals. Oh well, one has to be a contrarian from time to time, and this represents my most radical departure from orthodoxy!

I'm not able to track down the authors of the images of St Thomas in a quick fashion, but they're presented because they're interesting.





One Roman Catholic prayer to St Thomas goes as follows:

O Glorious Saint Thomas, your grief for Jesus was such that it would not let you believe he had risen unless you actually saw him and touched his wounds. But your love for Jesus was equally great and it led you to give up your life for him. Pray for us that we may grieve for our sins which were the cause of Christ's sufferings. Help us to spend ourselves in his service and so earn the title of "blessed" which Jesus applied to those who would believe in him without seeing him. Amen.

While we don't ever endorse praying to the saints or invoking the saints here at PP, viewing it as a mild excursion into idolatry at worst and something unsupported by Biblical evidence at best, the prayer has the right spirit. If I had to pray a prayer to the saints, this would be it.

On a devotional note, when I was wrestling quite hard with the questions of the evidences and veracities for the Christian religion a decade ago, Our Lord, as He did with Thomas, provided me the time and opportunity to learn and study matters where I could reach a reasonably supported conclusion on my own. This doesn't mean that I don't wonder about the whole thing from time to time. When one sees the power and standing of "the world" with its secular culture, and one sees in comparison a dead Jew slung on a bloody tree, it is not irrational to doubt from time to time. And, such doubts are honest. But, for the Christian, at least for the Christian who maintains an intellectual focus and does not retreat into soft fideism or pietism, God will provide an opportunity for one to test one's doubts. He will and does and continues to provide understanding for those who seek Him with a humble heart and a humble mind.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Charlie's Angles

I put up a thread that argued that my version of sola scriptura, contrary to the popular Romanist internet claim, is not self refuting. Along the way, I made the following basic points:

(i) I'm not quite convinced by the exegetical arguments that scripture teaches that our canonical writings are the sole infallible source.

(ii) Instead, I take a different tack as far as presenting sola scriptura. Quoting myself from the link above:

My parrying of the charge that SS is self-refuting takes a different tack, and, at least in my own eyes, it is much simpler, yet I haven't seen this tack taken in much of the internet discourse [but then again I don't get around that much online]. I believe it is pretty obvious, or at least it should seem obvious after being presented.

This different tack, which I take, is not that I claim SS comes from scriptural exegesis. [As stated just above, I'm not fully convinced that it does, though I'm not saying that it doesn't either. I'm merely saying that I'd prefer more evidence.] My claim instead is, in line with my evidentialist idiom, that there is nothing else out there that has the evidence and attestation that it is God's revelation to mankind as do the canonical writings. In other words, the purported evidence and attestation of the Roman Magisterium and Tradition don't, so far as I can tell, measure up to the level of the evidence and attestation of scripture.


[Note: the last word "scripture" there was apparently in the original post "Roman Magisterium and Tradition" --- an error on my part that I somehow failed to detect. I believe it was clear I was comparing the RM&T with scripture. But perhaps this caused a bit of confusion?]

The idea is not that sola scriptura is something I go into the whole Rome-vs-Protestant with as an assumption; rather, it is a conclusion based on the phenomenon in the italicized and bolded words above.

A commenter named Charlie chimed in on the comment box, stating, among other things:

Please excuse me for saying this, but your comments betrayed one of the worst non-sequiturs I have ever seen- in a long, long time.

Let's see what Charlie gives as a supporting argument. I'll present his post and comment on it. The quotations are given complete and in the order in which they're presented. He's italicized; I'm not. After quoting my thread, he begins:

PP can not make the claim-if this is partly what he means by his "evidentialist idiom" - that Sola Scriptura is a doctrine that is "evidential" from Scripture itself. It isn't. [I have met some Protestants who have taken this approach, and set out to prove Sola Scriptura by claiming that the Scriptures themselves do not mention any other "Word of God" than the written word of the Bible].

Charlie's first angle is to place a possibility on me that I reject: I don't argue in my post that SS is evident/evidential from scripture.

I'm under no obligation to argue for a position that I don't hold, so I don't have to deal with his hypothetical above. Let somebody who holds to his hypothetical take up the banner.

However, going through his post gives me the opportunity to say some things that I was going to say anyway over the next few weeks, so I might as well take this chance to say them now.

Tradition and the Magisterium both appear in Scripture as authoritative, independent sources of divine revelation- the former appear in part as numerous injunctions to Christians in the Gentile world by the Apostle Paul to hold firm to the traditions that they have received (see, eg., 2 Thess. 2:15, 3:6, 1 Cor. 11:1, etc.), the latter appear in part as the word of the Apostles speaking to the Church, such as at the Council of Jerusalem.

The second angle that Charlie is playing is to play the prooftext game regarding capital-T Tradition.

(i) 2 Thess 2:15: In a parenetic section, Paul [who I contend wrote 2 Thess, though some liberal Catholics would deny this] tells his readers to hold firm to the traditions received through "us" [Paul and his cohorts], whether these traditions were oral or written.

(ii) 2 Thess 3:6: Paul exhorts his readers to keep away from those who do not live according to the traditions his readers received from "us" [Paul and his cohorts]

(iii) 1 Cor 11:1 [Charlie means 1 Cor 11:2] Paul commends the Corinthian readers for holding firm to traditions passed on by Paul.

These passages seem to be, for Charlie [and other RC's] just slam-dunk prooftexts for Roman Catholic Tradition. But they're not:

(a) It is a semantic anachronism fallacy to import without argument the Roman Catholic meaning of tradition onto these passages. That is, Charlie and others see the word "tradition" in the Biblical texts, and instead of asking just what this term's semantic range is for Koine Greek, they reflexively think "Roman Catholic Tradition."

This, by the way, is no different than the other favorite RC semantic anachronism fallacy applied to ekklesia, whereby the word "church" or "assembly" in one's translation are taken reflexively to mean "Holy Mother Church."

Now this might be fine if we're sitting at the weekly St Alphonso's Pancake Breakfast. But, such eisegetical games merely make Protestants with any sophistication shrug their shoulders and say "whatever."

(b) It is a reductionistic fallacy to equate sub-apostolic tradition with apostolic tradition without giving an argument for why the two are the same. I'm assuming Charlie was trying to give an argument against my position, so he'd know that I don't equate the two. On the other hand, if we have a RC cheer rally here complete with pom-poms and blowhorns, one can make all sorts of gratuitous pro-RC assumptions. But then what's the point of pointing me to such an article?

If Paul tells me something, I'll believe it. The medium by which Paul communicates something to me is irrelevant with respect to its truth value. Paul could whisper it in my ear. He could write whatever he'd like to in a Hallmark card. He could bake me a cake and spell out whatever he wishes in the frosting. He could send smoke signals if he wishes. He could beam the proposition directly to my brain. Or, somebody other than Paul can tell me X, and Paul can confirm X.

But Charlie [and other RC's], when lathered up in their defend-Mother-Church froth, seem to think that sub-apostolic tradition is ipso facto the same as apostolic tradition. Sorry. We don't accept that without an argument.

(c) Charlie's comments on tradition also beg the question of just how we know something was tradition. If it were written, we'd have it; if it wasn't written, we have to weigh the testimony for it being apostolic independently of our allegiance to whatever church body.

Note that points (a)-(c) are not profundities that people reading this PP blog will have found out before the rest of the Protestant world. These are basic, remedial points of argumentation and exegesis. They're not subtle. It personally causes my eyes to roll when I see for the nth time an ardent admirer of Rome throw these passages around with the attitude of Gotcha!.

As a public service to Roman internet apologists, this is what needs to be done to make citation of those passages into something resembling a convincing argument. Consider it a gesture of goodwill from the editorial staff here at PP, even more so than the giving out of the nefarious PP coffee mug:

(alpha) cite the above passages
(beta) give an argument that the meaning of tradition in those passages lines up with the RC version of tradition
(gamma) give a separate argument that apostolic tradition lines up with sub-apostolic tradition

Of course, Pedantic Protestant can try to explain away these evidences in however manner he likes, but the fact is that Sola Scriptura as a rule of faith is hardly "evidentialist" in the Scriptures themselves. In fact, if Scripture is "evidentialist" about anything, it is about the Catholic thesis of the Word of God- the three legged-stool of three seperate (but not equal) authorities of Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium, which is brought into clear relief during the age of the Fathers. PP can deny this- and try to rationalize away all the objections brought to his thesis- but even then, the idea that Sola Scriptura finds an "evidentialist" testimony in the Scriptures themselves would by then be abandoned. Additionally, PP should show us why Scripture as Word of God is "evidentialist", while Tradition and the Magisterium are not.

Of course, Pedantic Protestant just explained them away, showing that those evidences are hardly evidences in lieu of the arguments required in (beta) and (gamma) above, and itemizing the fallacies underlying whatever is thought to give those purported evidences their evidentiary value.

At best, Sola Scriptura is a Scriptural doctrine that is presented in an extremely obscure way, or at worst, it is simply a doctrine that is read into the text (in a very unconvincing manner). But it is not "evidential" from Scripture, by any means. I would go further and state that Sola Scriptura is neither "evidential" from history or Tradition, either. Ultimately, PP's judgment about Sola Scriptura is not formed by anything else but a vaguely-defined "evidentialist characteristic" he imposes on Scripture, one which he refuses to allow for either Tradition or the Magisterium.

Correction: At best, Sola Scriptura is actually true. At worst, it is false, but, if it is false, it is not because of its being self-refuting. Again, refer to what I actually wrote in the post.

Charlie's next angle is to charge my position with being vague. It seemed clear enough if we recall this snippet.

****BEGIN SNIPPET***
For example, why do I treat the Pauline Epistles [I hold all 13 of them to be genuinely Pauline, though I wonder about the authenticity of the very final doxology of Romans] as if they're the infallible Word of God? Answers:

(1) Paul was an inspired apostle. Why do I believe this? Because Paul had miraculous signs and wonders accompany his call as well as his work, and he didn't contradict the scriptures currently used in his time.

(2) The external attestation that Paul wrote, say, Romans or Galatians or Ephesians, etc, is strong enough for me to not really have too much doubt that the claim that Paul did write the letters that begin Paulos is a true claim.

Now, on the other hand, why should I accept portion X of [say] Augustine's work Y on topic Z to be the Word of God? [Clearly if X lines up with the OT or NT, then I should accept X. I'm assuming here that X is neutral with respect to scripture.] Perhaps there are arguments [philosophical, linguistic, contextual, etc] as to why X should be taken as true. But these arguments exist or fail to exist independently of whether we consider Augustine as capital-T Tradition. I agree with a lot of Augustine's writings, but I also don't agree with some of his writings, and, frankly, I have not the slightest shame in thinking him a bit batty on occasion, though overall he is one of the great voices of Christian antiquity who should in many ways be emulated. Apart from independent argumentation, why should I take part of what Augustine says as on a par with scripture? Where is the level of miraculous verification [and signs, wonders, etc] that accompany him to mark him as a prophet or apostle?

In the end, this evidentialist finds that while the early Christians have some good things to say, he has yet to find any evidence on a par with, say, St Paul, regarding miracles and such. If there is such evidence, I haven't seen it, though at the same time I don't know if I've seen all of the purported evidence out there.
****END SNIPPET****

Charlie continues with another angle:

Pedantic Protestant gives only two reasons to support his thesis of the "evidentialist idiom". They have nothing to do with Scripture, its sufficiency, or its relation to the Magisterium and Tradition. Furthermore, they are actually not a defense of Sola Scriptura. They are a defense of Scriptural Inspiration (and a very meager one, I might add), and have nothing to do with the debate on Sola Scriptura, much less on whether Sola Scriptura is self-refuting. This phenomenon is very observable in Protestant apologetics: people think that by defending belief in Scriptural Inspiration, they are therefore proving Sola Scriptura. Pedantic Protestant provides two defenses of Scriptural Inspiration; one, that Paul was manifestly an inspired individual because he both performed miracles and that his teachings were in line with the Old Testament, and two, that the writings of the Scriptures are all externally attested to in Christianity.

Both of these apologias for Scriptural Inspiration have holes in them big enough for a plane to fly through, but we will not take the space here to deal with them. The topic which PP was supposed to be addressing was whether Sola Scriptura was self-refuting or not.


Charlie severs the idea of scriptural inspiration from a discussion of scripture's authority. Scripture's authority comes from [at least in part] its inspiration; that is, inspiration is logically prior [at least for our side of the fence] to authority. Yet, Charlie asserts that inspiration has nothing to do with the debate on SS. So much for acquainting yourself with the other side's position. So much for acquainting one's self with St Paul's appeals to his apostolicity.

As a public service to Charlie and to others, I'll again state what was going on in the original thread:

(i) I assert that SS isn't self-refuting.
(ii) To do this, I give positive reasons for why I consider scripture inspired. This upholds the second S in SS.
(iii) To uphold the first S in SS, I show that, according to my standards, the ECF's don't meet the same standards as scripture.
(iv) Putting (i)-(iii) together shows where I get SS.
(v) Putting (i)-(iv) together shows how I contend that SS is not self-refuting.

You see --- strap on your seat belts for this --- I'm giving reasons for my position. Usually, when I make claims, I try to give some valid indication as to why I hold them, preferring not to make bare assertions. But that's just me.

Charlie's next angle is to assert that the basic outlined points for why I consider, say, Paul's writings are inspired and authoritative, "have holes in them big enough for a plane to fly through, but we will not take the space here to deal with them." There is nothing like a sweeping unsubstantiated claim to keep up appearances.

Pedantic Protestant seems to half-admit what Catholics have been arguing about all along: that it isn't possible to exegetically prove the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. His admission is somewhat hesitant, somewhat cautious; of course we may expect that from a person with a strong bias towards this doctrine.

Yet he is quite right in half-admitting this. The most common verse given by Protestants, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, can be applied to Sola Scriptura only by a very implausible reading of the text. Formal sufficiency is not a conclusion reached by any serious exegete; it is an idea which is read into the text by doctrinaire Protestants or by their apologists. However, this post is not be concerned with refuting these specific arguments.


It is correct that I don't find the arguments convincing. Here is what I said:

"Speaking for myself here, such arguments leave me not fully satisfied. After reading such arguments, I find myself like the man who is still hungry at the dinner table while the hostess is already putting away the pots and pans."

and

"This different tack, which I take, is not that I claim SS comes from scriptural exegesis. [As stated just above, I'm not fully convinced that it does, though I'm not saying that it doesn't either. I'm merely saying that I'd prefer more evidence.]"

This post is concerned, however, on whether Pedantic Protestant has shown that Sola Scriptura isn’t self-refuting. The entire argument put forth by Catholic apologists is that the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is self-refuting. For this to be proven (of course, this is a conclusion which would not be very favorable to the views of a protestant), all that must be shown is that the Bible doesn't teach Sola Scriptura. Really, the entire argument is quite simple:
1) Sola Scriptura teaches that Scripture is the only authoritative source of authentic Christian doctrine.
2) Scripture doesn't teach Sola Scriptura.
3) Therefore, Sola Scripture is a false doctrine.
Pedantic Protestant, however, doesn't quite understand the thrust of this simple reasoning. He purports to show that Sola Scriptura isn't self refuting- by trying to explain why, according to his own non-Scriptural principles, why he believes the doctrine.


Actually, Pedantic Protestant does understand. More precisely, he understands what the difference is between a conclusion following from the listed premises as compared to the conclusoin following from the listed premises and some unstated premises.

Charlie can't distinguish between those who uphold SS through scriptural exegesis and those who uphold SS based on the fact that [to them] the evidence for the inspiration and authority of the canonical writings is much stronger than is the evidence for the inspiration and authority of whatever Rome's Tradition happens to encompass.

There is nothing in the least unsatisfactory about holding a proposition X that, while not being stated in scripture, does not contradict scripture. I hold a lot more things about reality than are stated in scripture. What matters is how well-supported X is from the evidence. Really, I shouldn't have to point out things this obvious.

(3) follows if we sneak in another premise, call it (A):

(A) All evidence for any position P must be strictly intra-scriptural to be considered.

But I certainly deny (A). For example, I hold that John bar-Zebedee authored the Fourth Gospel [certainly a theologically significant view] not based strictly on exegesis, but on the internal and external corroborations. Isagogical questions are often answered by external appeals.

Let's reset things. Another way that (3) might follow from (1) and (2) is if we sneak in the premise (B):

(B) A doctrine cannot possibly be true if it isn't in scripture.

But again, I deny this as well. I allow for the possibility that the distinctly Roman doctrines on Mary might be true. [I just don't see the evidence for them to commend them to my conscience.]

Now maybe there are people out there in Protville who hold (A) and/or (B) listed above. If so, Charlie can throw his syllogism on them. For myself, his syllogism fails immediately, as I don't hold them.

So, in the end, 'tis not I who fails to understand the alleged simple thrust of Charlie's syllogism. Rather, Charlie can't detect extra non-subtle premises being snuck into an argument, or, he's not aware that many a good conservative Evangelical Protestant, like me, fails to affirm (A) and (B).


But this Catholic argument against Sola Scriptura isn't concerned with any non-Scriptural issues at all- neither PP’s rationalizations or his principles. It is concerned immediately and exclusively with the Scriptural text itself- to see whether Scripture does, in fact, teach Sola Scriptura. Pedantic Protestant is merely attempting to explain why, according to his contrived "evidentialist idiom", he believes in Sola Scriptura. He does not show that Sola Scriptura is not self-refuting. And indeed, if it is self-refuting, then it doesn't matter what principles Pedantic Protestant (such as his vague "evidentialist idiom") or anyone else uses to vindicate the doctrine.


Well, in Charlie's world, my claim that the evidence for the ECF's and whatever happens to be Tradition [it depends on the RC you ask] is not as strong as the evidence for scripture is "contrived." Dealing with the evidence for things is contrived, allegedly. People can make up their own minds on this.

Conclusion

So, how would one argue me out of SS? Again, as a public service announcement to all starry-eyed Roman Catholics out there, here is how you mount an argument to knock down PP-styled SS:

(i) You can show that my standards of evidence [the standards that the ECF's don't meet in my book] are too strict or incoherent.

(ii) Or, you can take my standards of evidence and point me to actual tangible non-question-begging assertions, facts, evidences, arguments, etc, that whatever happens to be Tradition and such meets them.

On the other hand, internet RC's on fire for Mother Church can resort to the same triumphalistic prooftexting employing the same fallacies, and they can resort to the same faulty syllogisms, and they can sneak in all sorts of questionable premises. In other words, same-old-same-old, biz as usual.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Rome: Mighty Bulwark Against Modernism

Jason Engwer originally called attention to this article. Steve Hays, whether or not following Engwer's lead, put up a post on this topic. And, despite the fact that this is probably old hat relative to blogospheric chronology, I'll mention the article as well and provide some PP commentary.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-1811332,00.html

***********BEGIN ARTICLE CITATION************
Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent



THE hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.

The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect “total accuracy” from the Bible.

“We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,” they say in The Gift of Scripture.

The document is timely, coming as it does amid the rise of the religious Right, in particular in the US.

Some Christians want a literal interpretation of the story of creation, as told in Genesis, taught alongside Darwin’s theory of evolution in schools, believing “intelligent design” to be an equally plausible theory of how the world began.

But the first 11 chapters of Genesis, in which two different and at times conflicting stories of creation are told, are among those that this country’s Catholic bishops insist cannot be “historical”. At most, they say, they may contain “historical traces”.

The document shows how far the Catholic Church has come since the 17th century, when Galileo was condemned as a heretic for flouting a near-universal belief in the divine inspiration of the Bible by advocating the Copernican view of the solar system. Only a century ago, Pope Pius X condemned Modernist Catholic scholars who adapted historical-critical methods of analysing ancient literature to the Bible.

In the document, the bishops acknowledge their debt to biblical scholars. They say the Bible must be approached in the knowledge that it is “God’s word expressed in human language” and that proper acknowledgement should be given both to the word of God and its human dimensions.

They say the Church must offer the gospel in ways “appropriate to changing times, intelligible and attractive to our contemporaries”.

The Bible is true in passages relating to human salvation, they say, but continue: “We should not expect total accuracy from the Bible in other, secular matters.”

They go on to condemn fundamentalism for its “intransigent intolerance” and to warn of “significant dangers” involved in a fundamentalist approach.

“Such an approach is dangerous, for example, when people of one nation or group see in the Bible a mandate for their own superiority, and even consider themselves permitted by the Bible to use violence against others.”

Of the notorious anti-Jewish curse in Matthew 27:25, “His blood be on us and on our children”, a passage used to justify centuries of anti-Semitism, the bishops say these and other words must never be used again as a pretext to treat Jewish people with contempt. Describing this passage as an example of dramatic exaggeration, the bishops say they have had “tragic consequences” in encouraging hatred and persecution. “The attitudes and language of first-century quarrels between Jews and Jewish Christians should never again be emulated in relations between Jews and Christians.”

As examples of passages not to be taken literally, the bishops cite the early chapters of Genesis, comparing them with early creation legends from other cultures, especially from the ancient East. The bishops say it is clear that the primary purpose of these chapters was to provide religious teaching and that they could not be described as historical writing.

Similarly, they refute the apocalyptic prophecies of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible, in which the writer describes the work of the risen Jesus, the death of the Beast and the wedding feast of Christ the Lamb.

The bishops say: “Such symbolic language must be respected for what it is, and is not to be interpreted literally. We should not expect to discover in this book details about the end of the world, about how many will be saved and about when the end will come.”

In their foreword to the teaching document, the two most senior Catholics of the land, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, and Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh, explain its context.

They say people today are searching for what is worthwhile, what has real value, what can be trusted and what is really true.

The new teaching has been issued as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Dei Verbum, the Second Vatican Council document explaining the place of Scripture in revelation. In the past 40 years, Catholics have learnt more than ever before to cherish the Bible. “We have rediscovered the Bible as a precious treasure, both ancient and ever new.”

A Christian charity is sending a film about the Christmas story to every primary school in Britain after hearing of a young boy who asked his teacher why Mary and Joseph had named their baby after a swear word. The Breakout Trust raised £200,000 to make the 30-minute animated film, It’s a Boy. Steve Legg, head of the charity, said: “There are over 12 million children in the UK and only 756,000 of them go to church regularly.

That leaves a staggering number who are probably not receiving basic Christian teaching.”

BELIEVE IT OR NOT

UNTRUE

Genesis ii, 21-22

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man

Genesis iii, 16

God said to the woman [after she was beguiled by the serpent]: “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

Matthew xxvii, 25

The words of the crowd: “His blood be on us and on our children.”

Revelation xix,20

And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone.”

***************END ARTICLE CITATION***************

PP Commentary of a slightly repetitive and possibly unconnected nature:

(1) Look for the star-struck Romanists who extol the RCC's bedrock certainty and its stand against modernism to invoke whatever loopholes exist to keep this from being an "official" teaching of the Church. We'll hear the invocations of the great personal freedoms of conscience that Mother Church allows. We'll be told by the conservative internet RC's that Rome Herself is conservative despite a few rogues here and there.

On the other hand, we say that a church body isn't conservative when her theologians and leaders act liberal, despite being conservative to a certain degree on paper.

Basically, if this is representative of Rome, then it doesn't bode well for those Romanists who do take scripture seriously. On the other hand, if one can waive away the opinions of the cardinals listed, who needs the magisterium in the first place? Or, as a third option, if one is left saying that one has to distinguish on their own between the "good" side of the magisterium and the more rogue-ish side, then what epistemic advantage does the Romanist enjoy over we benighted Protestants?

The real test is whether the Pope or the highest muckety-mucks in Rome adopt this document, or let it go without comment, or denounce it. The first two options won't make Rome look too good as a defender of scripture. The third option would allow me to take seriously claims that Rome does take its stand on scripture.

(2) Note the old chestnut about two separate creation accounts in Genesis. Conservative scholarship has dealt with the claims of contradiction in a reasonable fashion. Do religion article authors ever bother to check out conservative scholarship, or are they paid proportionally to the number of outworn liberal cliches they employ in their articles?

(3) Apparently, one of the Gifts of Scripture is that scripture can contain errant propositions even when scripture is speaking indicatively. Fortunately, we have the teaching magisterium of Holy Mother Church to do our thinking for us to tell us where scripture should be believed or where it shouldn't be believed.

The problem here is that, employing higher critical methods, these members of Rome seem to act as if they think that the acid of negative higher criticism, having been applied to the Biblical texts, won't in turn eat the documents of the ECF's, the encyclicals, and so on. Skepticism is an acid that, after eating scripture, will also devour the Roman claims as well.

(4) We conservative Protestants contend that the scriptural propositions are, in so far as they go, true. While scripture is not a textbook for any topic, where scripture talks on a topic, we contend that it speaks infallibly on whatever it has to say on that topic. Examples:

(a) Scripture is not a medical book, but when it indicates a bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, we take this to mean that scripture says that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

(b) Scripture is not a physics textbook, but when it indicates that Jesus Christ ascended in a straightforward fashion, we take it to mean that Jesus Christ ascended bodily.

(c) Scripture is not a birds-and-the-bees manual, but when it indicates that Mary conceived Jesus without natural human intercourse, we take it to mean that Jesus was conceived in the Virgin Mary apart from any sexual encounters with Joseph.

Note that (a)-(c) are quite offensive to large swaths of our modern culture. Why should these passages escape the acid of negative higher criticism while the passages that offend Jews don't?

Let us also quote from the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, widely held by conservative Evangelicals [such as yours truly]. From the section titled "A Short Statement" we have

1. God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God's witness to Himself.

2. Holy Scripture, being God's own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God's instruction, in all that it affirms, obeyed, as God's command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God's pledge, in all that it promises.

3. The Holy Spirit, Scripture's divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.

4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God's acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God's saving grace in individual lives.

5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible's own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.


Note points 2 and 4 from the statement. Our position is completely antithetical to the Romanist position as exemplified by those behind the teaching document mentioned in the article.

(5) The authors of the document want to draw a demarcation line between those topics of scripture in which we can have confidence, and those topics in which we sholdn't have confidence.

(a) Where is the argument [or what is the argument] for their demarcation line? Perhaps it is in the document, which I have yet to read.

(i) They don't like the part about the Jews stating "his blood be on us and our children," but the argument is not based on textual evidence or any sort of reasoning presented [at least by what is given in the article]. Instead, the statement is dismissed as unhistorical because it offends Jews and has been misused by those with an axe to grind against Jews.

(ii) They don't like the part about Creation because, presumably, it offends modern minds and the assured results of science.

But the world doesn't like the deity of Christ either. The world does not like the dominical statements of Christ. Feminists do not like many of Paul's statements. People who view humans as fundamentally good don't like Romans 1-3. Homosexuals don't like Romans 1 or parts of 1 Corinthians. People who want to have care-free extra-marital sex don't like the Biblical intra-marital emphasis. Etc. Why not throw these out too?

(b) Note the scholarly doublespeak: in a book denigrating the authority of scripture, we are pointed to the "Gift of Scripture." As visible leaders of a very visible church body make claims that the Bible is being rediscovered as a precious resource, this so-called resource is a resource that, far from being something in which one can have confidence, is to the contrary a mish-mosh of truth and error, requiring a priestly and scholarly class to tell the laypeople out there what in it can be believed and what in it can't be believed.

(c) The rationale is given that the passages to be viewed as not historically true are to provide "religious teaching" in contradistinction to "historical" teaching and writing.

(i) But this presents a false [and oft-used liberal] dichotomy between theology and history, since religious teachings and the facts that undergird them, especially in Christendom, take place in spacetime. For example, Jesus' death and resurrection, which have metaphysical implications, has to be a historical event, or otherwise, as St Paul says in 1 Cor 15, we have hoped in vain.

(ii) It is disconcerting to see Holy Mother Church run away from historicity. This is the Church that professes historical continuity and apostolic succession. To this student, these Romanist scholars are picking and choosing quite arbitrarily.

(iii) The wedge between theology and history has been around for at least two centuries. While conservatives have rightfully pointed out that the two are not exclusive, we see that, if this article is accurate about this new Roman document, the scholars work with the same assumption as does the Jesus Seminar, an assumption that conservatives in both Protestantdom and Rome find [or should find] noxious.

(d) The Bible is, so they say, true in matters pertaining to salvation but not in secular matters. Like (c), this creates a needless distinction. Christianity is not a metaphysical system alone. It is a metaphysical system joined together with the assertions that reality is such-and-such, and that so-and-so things happened in history. Our salvation, besides being metaphysical and spiritual, is grounded explicitly in spacetime events.

(6) Note the usual call for relevance today. Now relevance by itself isn't a bad thing, but by itself is isn't necessarily a good thing either. Jesus Himself offended most people, and the early Christian teaching was just as offensive in the first century AD as it is today. Paul was treated poorly in the 1st century. Who's to say he wouldn't be treated poorly today?

(7) Note the dim view of fundamentalists and the supposed intransigent intolerance associated with it. I suppose Trent and Vatican I were Rome's examples of playing snugglebunnies with conservative Protestants.

Closing Comment:

We have here, if the article is accurate, another sorry display of the barely-suppressed liberal tendencies of some of the higher-ups Roman Catholic Church. What is, according to the more zealous internet apologists out there, the institution that provides Certainty, Assurance, that "something extra" that we Protestants lack, is an institution consisting of modernizing relativists, at least in part.