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April 18, 2008

Comments

David B.

"Awe"fulness vs. awfulness.

Tim J.

Great review, SDG. I look forward to reading it more closely at home this weekend.

In it, you state;

"In both the film and the book Carroll notes that his parents’ names were Joseph and Mary, and his initials are J.C.;"

I have to point out to Carroll that, though we often call my son by his initials - "C.D." - that does not make him a compact disc.

Why would he feel the need to point that out? In what is alleged to be some kind of scholarly work, it's bafflingly infantile.

David B.

I'm not saying he's the Anti-Christ, but J.C.'s hatred of the Cross, his denial of the necessity of Christ's Sacrifice for the Salvation of Men, and his desire to confirm all religions as equally unimportant, sounds like something right up an Anti-Christ's alley. Just sayin'.

bill912

Carroll comes across as one who is trying to convince himself that things he knows, deep down, to be true about our Lord and His Church actually aren't, because he desperately wants them not to be true.

Thomas

I can't believe the Boston Globe hasn't had one of his vile opinion pieces to coincide with the Holy Father's visit. There's still time I suppose.

But let me save him the effort:

"The Church is by its very nature Anti-Semitic. Me, me, me. Humanae Vitae is out of touch and wrong. I, I, I. Jesus was a Liberal who opposed an oppresive political order much like me and the wicked United States. Me, me, me. I, I, I hate the traditional Latin Mass."

That about covers everything he ever writes.

JoAnna
"In both the film and the book Carroll notes that his parents’ names were Joseph and Mary, and his initials are J.C.;

Does Carroll realize that Pope Benedict's parents' names were also Joseph and Mary?

For that matter, the middle names of my son and daughter are Joseph and Mary (respectively).

bill912

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comments.

Matheus F. Ticiani

Great article, SDG. As always. When you show evidence against the accusations of Pius XII's anti-semitism, I think you could have also mentioned this.
And later, when I read:

...it does seem to me that there is a case to be made that antisemitism in Christian history was a contributing factor to the Nazi insanity.
,
I think it could also be mentioned what I remembered having read on Dave">http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2004/09/my-use-of-luther-biographer-roland_19.html">Dave Armstrong's blog quotations of Protestan historian William Shirer's book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich regarding what according to him were the Lutheran origins of Nazi anti-semitism.

Jeb Protestant

I would be skeptical about anything Dave Armstrong or William Shirer says. A good book on the Nazis and religion is The Holy Reich by Stegmann-Gall (sic).

SDG

Thanks, Matheus.

Regarding the Lutheran background to Nazi antisemitism: It does seem reasonable to make a connection there, but I decided not to mention it in my piece because Carroll's critique of the Church is not that of a Protestant, but of a dissenting Catholic who really rejects Christianity itself, specifically the universality of Christianity.

Since Lutheranism retained the Catholic doctrine of the universality of Christianity -- and since Lutheran antisemitism likewise can surely be traced to pre-Lutheran Catholic roots -- pointing out that the antisemitic influence went through a Lutheran permutation before the emergence of the secular antisemitism of Nazism doesn't help answer Carroll's case.

The case we have to make is that the universality of Christianity has been historically linked with antisemitism only accidentally and in a distorted form; the way forward is to hold the university of Christianity without distortion or antisemitism, not to repudiate the universality of Christianity itself.

SDG

Jeb, funny that you say "sic," because the author's name is Steigmann-Gall, not Stegmann-Gall (sic!).

Have you actually read it?

FWIW, I haven't, but I'm not aware that the idea that Lutheran antisemitism was a contributing factor to Nazi antisemitism is particularly controversial. If Christian antisemitism generally was any kind of contributing factor to the Nazi phenomenon, it seems unlikely that the Lutheran influence specifically would not have been a factor. I'd be surprised to learn that Steigmann-Gall argued otherwise.

Scott W.

Can't speak for Shirer, but in my experience Dave Armstrong is as fair as they come and only gets flak from people unwilling to actually interact with his points.

From Ken from Hallowed Ground

[EDITED: Originally unverified contents deleted. It does appear that an Ebay member did briefly launch an auction for a purportedly consecrated Eucharistic host from the Papal Mass at Yankee Stadium. The member then ended the auction early, possibly after being notified of Ebay's policy prohibiting such auctions. You can view the now-terminated auction here. FWIW, the member has been contacted to request that — if they actually have such a host — they not keep it, but see to it that it is consumed ASAP by a Catholic in the state of grace. —SDG]

Matheus F. Ticiani

Dear Jeb Protestant

I for my part would be skeptical about anything you say about Dave Armstrong, since, if I remember correctly, you used to be a troll in his comment boxes

Jeb Protestant

Steve,

Why would I recommend it if I hadn't read it? Actually, the book is somewhat harder on Lutheranism than catholicism.

SDG

Why would I recommend it if I hadn't read it?

I dunno, Jeb, I don't know you well enough to answer that question one way or the other.

Jeffrey G
SDG: Since Lutheranism retained the Catholic doctrine of the universality of Christianity...

Lutheranism, of course, tried to retain all Catholic doctrines. I think they did a very good job.

Dave Armstrong

Shirer is not the only one who has made the connection between Luther's political-ecclesiological thought and the Nazis. How about Alister McGrath: perhaps the foremost Protestant historian writing today?:

"As the Peasants' Revolt loomed on the horizon, however, it seems that te deficiencies of his political thought became obvious . . . This understanding of the relation of church and state has been the object of intense criticism. Luther's social ethic has been described as 'defeatist' and 'quietist', encouraging the Christian to tolerate (or at least fail to oppose) unjust social structures. Luther preferred oppression to revolution . . . The Peasants' War seemed to show up the tensions within Luther's social ethic: the peasants were supposed to live in accordance with the private ethic of the Sermon on the Mount, turning the other cheek to their oppressors -- while the princes were justified in using violent coercive means to re-establish social order. And although Luther maintained that the magistrate had no authority in the church, except as a Christian believer, the technical distinction involved was so tenuous as to be unworkable. The way was opened to the eventual domination of the church by the state, which was to become a virtually universal feature of Lutheranism. The failure of the German church to oppose Hitler in the 1930s is widely seen as reflecting the inadequacies of Luther's political thought. Even Hitler, it appeared to some German Christians, was an instrument of God."

(Reformation Thought: An Introduction, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 2nd edition, 1993, 208-210)

A major Lutheran biographer of Luther, Heiko A. Oberman, makes similar comments:

"The Third Reich and in its wake the whole Western world capitalized upon Luther, the fierce Jew-baiter. Any attempt to deal with the Reformer runs up against this obstacle. No description of Luther's campaign against the Jews, however objective and erudite it may be, escapes the horror: we live in the post-Holocaust era . . . Luther's late writings on the Jews are crucial to this agonizing but necessary task of remembering . . ."

(Luther: Man Between God and the Devil, translated by Eileen Walliser-Schwarzbart, New York: Doubleday Image, 1992, 290-292)

I haven't even staked out a definite position on this particular matter. I was simply citing non-Catholics who saw a relationship between the two. I just finished a new book on Luther on Thursday and I didn't say anything about either Nazi Germany or Luther's well-known negative comments about Jews, and in fact, a third of the book was devoted to praise of Luther when he held a view that is entirely or largely Catholic.

There are all kinds of myths about what I supposedly believe (especially regarding Martin Luther). Jeb Protestant is no accurate guide to my thinking, I can assure everyone here! I wouldn't classify him as a troll, but he doesn't engage me in what I would call dialogue, when he shows up on my site.

I recently revised some of my Luther papers, and the Shirer quote appears to not even be in my current papers anymore (I just did a search of my site to try to find it). That's how much I cared about its importance. The link given above was to an older version of one paper, from Internet Archive. But the above two citations remain. If Protestants want to gripe about these two very prominent historians and their opinions about Luther and later anti-Semitism, then that has nothing to do with me.

Just to set the record straight. Aren't facts and documentation wonderful things?

Dave Armstrong

Hi Jeffrey,

Lutheranism, of course, tried to retain all Catholic doctrines. I think they did a very good job.

I don't. I have documented how Luther departed from received doctrines in at least 50 ways, in his three treatises of 1520: all before he was excommunicated and before he appeared at the Diet of Worms.

The Lutheran Confessions follow him in the main, but depart in some respects, and are more Catholic (such as concerning free will and predestination). In other ways, they are less catholic than Luther (Mariology, high view of the Eucharist). The Apology of the Augsburg Confession describes the Catholic Mass as Baal-worship. See my paper:

50 Ways In Which Luther Had Departed From Catholic Orthodoxy or Established Practice by 1520 (and Why He Was Excommunicated)

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/03/50-ways-in-which-luther-had-departed.html

Dave Armstrong

I should also add, to clarify my position, that there is plenty of detestable anti-Semitism in Catholic history as well (as the present pope and the previous one have both solemnly acknowledged), so that I would reject any attempt to pin the blame of ultimate or sole causation of Naziism on Lutheranism. I am one who believes that historical causation is an extremely complicated, multi-faceted thing: rarely able to be narrowed down to one cause. I don't think reality (and particularly the history and influence of ideas) works that way.

The past has enough scandal in this regard to shame all three major branches of Christianity. I would oppose anyone, however, who tried to deny any connection between Luther's anti-Semitism and political teaching, and Nazi Germany. There clearly is an influence to some degree there, that cannot be denied by anyone acquainted with the relevant facts.

SDG

Well, I'm glad we had this little chat. :-)

It looks as if Dave Armstrong, Alister McGrath, Richard Steigmann-Gall, Jeb Protestant (seeing he recommends Steigmann-Gall's book), Matheus Ticiani, and I may all be in substantially agreement, at least in principle, on the complex connections and permutations of antisemitism in Catholic, Lutheran and Nazi history.

The most salient caveats at this time seem to be that Jeb Protestant agrees with what Dave Armstrong says, but not because Dave Armstrong says it, while Matheus Ticiani may agree with what Jeb Protestant says, but not because Jeb says it.

Any other caveats or concerns? Nota bene: I have an olive branch and I'm not afraid to use it.

Jeffrey G
Dave Armstrong: The Apology of the Augsburg Confession describes the Catholic Mass as Baal-worship.
It most certainly does not. It condemns abuses of the Mass as Baalitic worship, not the Mass generally.

Just as, therefore, in Judah
among the godless priests a false opinion concerning sacrifices inhered; just as in Israel,
Baalitic services continued, and, nevertheless, a Church of God was there which disapproved
of godless services, so Baalitic worship inheres in the domain of the Pope, namely, the abuse
of the Mass, which they apply, that by it they may merit for the unrighteous the remission of
guilt and punishment.

Insofar as a Mass is performed with the intention that by performing the Mass they may merit for the unrighteous the remission of
guilt and punishment, it is Baalitic worship. If you aren't doing that, than OK.

In other ways, they are less catholic than Luther (Mariology, high view of the Eucharist)
There is no higher view of the Eucharist than in the Lutheran Confessions. Jesus is the willing guilt offering which is freely offered to us for the forgiveness of our sins each and every time we eat and drink of it.

SDG

Insofar as a Mass is performed with the intention that by performing the Mass they may merit for the unrighteous the remission of
guilt and punishment, it is Baalitic worship. If you aren't doing that, than OK.

It can be maintained that the Catholic Mass here escapes the condemnation of Augsburg on this technicality, that while the Mass is indeed performed with the intention of meriting for the unrighteous the remission of guilt and punishment, those offering the Mass on earth do not themselves seek to merit ("that by performing the Mass they may merit") -- rather, they seek only to make available the merit of Christ.

That said, having made this distinction, the burden of the Augsburg Apology that the sort of "Baaltic worship" here described does or ever did indeed go on, and/or could be shown to have gone on, under the auspices of Rome in any notable way, seems to me highly dubious.

Matheus F. Ticiani

Dave and SDG

I agree with both of you wholeheartedly. When I read SDG's article, thought that it would be worthwhile to mention that aspect of Nazi anti-semitism (of which SDG showed he was well aware in his reply to my comment) that I remembered having read on Dave's blog back in 2004. Dave is right, I couldn't find it on his blog, and since he still mentions Shirer's book as a source on another post about the bibliography he used on his research on Luther, I thought it was licit to hunt for it on the Internet Archive. If Dave doesn't like my linking to it and SDG agrees, the latter may feel free to delete the link or the comment. As matter of fact, I am very happy reading what you guys have been writing, and the fact that we find here the intellectual decency that mainstream media lacks.

Dave Armstrong

Hi Jeffrey,

I will have to respectfully disagree again. Lutherans fundamentally disagree with the Catholic Mass itself. There is no question about this. It is not simply abuses: it is at the level of essence. That's why Lutherans altered the core of the Mass as Catholics believe it to be. They rejected the sacrifice of the Mass. Interestingly, arguments have been made that what Luther rejected on that score was a caricature of what the Catholic Mass actually is, and that it is actually what he is calling for. I made allusion to that in my book on Luther, in the "praise" section.

I am citing the Book of Concord, translated by Theodore G. Tappert, St. Louis: Concordia: 1959:

"The Mass in the papacy must be regarded as the greatest and most horrible abomination . . . it has been the supreme and most precious of the papal idolatries . . . they are a purely human invention . . .

"Let the people be told openly that the Mass, as trumpery, can be omitted without sin . . .

"The Mass is and can be nothing else than a human work, even a work of evil scoundrels . . .

". . . this dragon's tail -- that is, the Mass -- has brought forth a brood of vermin and the poison of manifold idolatries."

(Smalcald Articles, 1537, written by Martin Luther, Part II, Article II: The Mass, pp. 293-294)

The section I alluded to (Apology, Article XXIV) is not simply about abuses of Catholic masses, but about the entire Catholic mass as an abuse. Hence, it ends in sweeping terms:

"Meanwhile, all those who truly believe the Gospel should reject those wicked services invented against God's command to obscure the glory of Christ and the righteousness of faith. . . . We want all good men to be warned not to help our opponents in defending their desecration of the Mass lest they burden themselves with other men's sin. This is a great cause and a great issue, not inferior to the work of the prophet Elijah in condemning the worship of Baal. We have set forth such an important issue with the greatest moderation . . ." (p. 268)

"Secondly [after transubstantiation is condemned], we also reject and condemn all other papistic abuses of this sacrament, such as the abomination of the sacrifice of the Mass for the living and for the dead."

(Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article VII: Lord's Supper, p. 588)

Of course, Lutheranism continued to celebrate what it called a "Mass" but it was not the Mass of Christian history and of the Fathers, because the sacrificial element was gutted. I've engaged in several debates with Lutherans on these issues, and they can't prove that the Fathers denied the Sacrifice of the Mass, despite what the confessions and Luther falsely claim about that.

Dave Armstrong

Hi Matheus,

I thought it was licit to hunt for it on the Internet Archive. If Dave doesn't like my linking to it and SDG agrees, the latter may feel free to delete the link or the comment.

No, that's fine. No problem. I don't repudiate the old article or have a problem with you citing it. I was just observing that since this citation is no longer even on my site, obviously I didn't consider it important enough to retain, and that this doesn't fit in with the impression (held mostly by anti-Catholics) that I wish to "bash" Luther by (among other things) linking him to Hitler.

My view is far more complex and nuanced than that. Whatever I hold in this regard is scarcely distinguishable from non-Catholic historians like McGrath and Oberman. In other words, it is not a "Catholic" apologetic thing; it is a factual, historical thing that can't be confined to mere apologetics or polemics. Such fine distinctions, however, are not exactly a notable trait of anti-Catholic Protestants, who find it hard to imagine that a Catholic apologist like myself actually admires Luther in many ways and does not consider him an "evil" or insincere man.

Jeffrey G
SDG: That said, having made this distinction, the burden of the Augsburg Apology that the sort of "Baaltic worship" here described does or ever did indeed go on, and/or could be shown to have gone on, under the auspices of Rome in any notable way, seems to me highly dubious.
If you have things like masses for the dead, I think it is hard to argue that the intention is not to merit for the unrighteous the remission of guilt and punishment through the very act of performing the mass.

Do you think the dead are better off after the mass is performed than before, or if the mass was never performed? You must think that performing the mass forces the issue. If you choose not to perform the mass there will be no benefit. By choosing to perform the mass you are choosing an action you believe will cause benefit.

You may say that the mass itself does not merit merit, but only make merit available, but those are just words. The fact remains that you believe something will be accomplished by the action that wouldn't otherwise.

SDG

You may say that the mass itself does not merit merit, but only make merit available, but those are just words.

Gosh. So are those. And so are these. And so is Romans.

Let me give you a hint. When you say "You must think that performing the Mass forces the issue," you sound to me the way that a would-be Catholic apologist would sound saying to a Calvinist "You must believe that irresistible grace forces people against their will to accept Christ." (For the record, I have, alas, heard a would-be Catholic apologist say pretty much that in a debate with a Calvinist apologist. Nobody was impressed, least of all me.)

If you preach the Gospel to someone, and they wind up accepting Christ rather than not accepting them, have you chosen an action that benefited that person?

Jeffrey G

SDG,

I must admit I am learning more about the Latin Mass in this conversation. I did not know as much as I thought I knew so I had to look stuff up. In the Catholic Encyclopedia, it calls the mass "impetratory and propitiatory," which is all I need to know. This states that the benefits of mass have to be asked for and the mass is a requirement to performed.

Nobody had to ask Jesus to spill his blood for the forgiveness of sins. He did it without anyone asking him to, and his blood is there in the Eucharist to be had by his children without their having to ask for it.

Preaching the Gospel is not "impetratory and propitiatory" either. Preaching the Gospel is sharing the good news with someone that Jesus has already spilled is blood for the forgiveness of that person's sins without his ever having to ask, and that blood is freely available for the taking in the Eucharist. You don't even have to say "please."

Dave Armstrong

The fact remains that Luther and the Lutheran confessions rejected the Catholic Mass altogether; i.e., the Sacrifice of the Mass (not just abuses of same, as was claimed). This came up as a question of the history of what Lutherans have held (not of theology per se). As far as I am concerned, I have demonstrated that this is the case, from the Confessions.

Also, what they practiced after rejecting it, no longer is the Mass, as held and taught by the Church Fathers. I haven't demonstrated that here, but I have in several dialogues posted on my site. There is no question whatsoever about the widespread patristic belief in the sacrificial nature of the mass. Schaff, Kelly, or any historian of the period abundantly verify that.

SDG

You don't even have to say "please."

We're to demand God's grace and forgiveness, is that it?

We're not to pray Kyrie eleison, or "God have mercy on me a sinner" -- not to petition God for mercy -- but must rather simply expect it, since Christ's blood is shed for us?

What you still don't get is that the sacrifice of the Mass IS the sacrifice of the Cross. Jesus on the Cross IS our petition to the Father. Of course it is propitiatory: It is the offering of Christ to the Father. Of course it is obligatory: Jesus told us to do it, and to reject His command is effectively to reject the Cross itself.

Tim J

"...and that blood is freely available for the taking in the Eucharist."

However - as St. Paul makes clear - unless one is properly disposed, the grace of the sacrament is of no effect. In other words, the merit of Christ's sacrifice is unavailable to those not properly disposed. So, yes, in that sense we DO have to ask.

In fact, "For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself."

1 Corinthians 11:29

My old bible was a little more pointed in it's translation;

"For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body."

Jeffrey G
SDG: ...but must rather simply expect [mercy], since Christ's blood is shed for us?
Yes! That is to say, yes, you can expect mercy because Christ's blood is shed for us. That is the good news.

But by all means, ask. There is nothing wrong with that. But know this, before you even ask, your sins are already forgiven. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

We're to demand God's grace and forgiveness, is that it?
No need to demand. It is already granted. That is like a kid jumping up and down demanding dinner when the table is already set.

The table is already set. Eat. Drink. The meal is provided for you.

SDG

But by all means, ask. There is nothing wrong with that. But know this, before you even ask, your sins are already forgiven.

And this is essentially what I understand the Church's attitude to be regarding the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice: When the priest says "Lord, look with favor on this sacrifice..." or similar words, we already know that the Father has and does look with favor on this sacrifice. There is zero chance of the Father one Sunday morning looking down at the Mass and deciding, "No. This time I think I won't look with favor on the eucharistic sacrifice!" We ask, knowing that the prayer is answered.

Maureen

I'm starting to realize that there are a _lot_ of theology problems caused by confusing what we do (and what Jesus did on earth) inside time, with what God does in eternity. "Already done" is also "still doing the same yesterday, today, and forever". That's hard to picture or understand. But that's why we spend so much time contemplating these holy things.

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