Saturday, June 28, 2014

You Might Be A Christian If...

5. Someone says, "Proverbs 31," and you either lament your sad estate, or say, "I don't want to talk about the opposite sex right now."

4. You have ever been at a wedding, and wondered at its canonical validity. (Fullness of Truth/Ben Nguyen/Canon Law Bonus)

3. You shout out Scripture references at random, in conversations about other stuff.

2. Finish the phrase: "God is good..." (And no, the correct answer is not, "Give us the chocolate cake!" but I think Jesus does a great Cosby impression.)

1. You have ever wanted to slap the next person who says, "Sunday fun day!"

[Side-Rant: I'm not even a strict observer of the Sabbath in any form. Not even close. I won't judge you if you go out to eat, or watch the Super Bowl. But I'll tell you this: I'm fully aware when it's a Sunday. Sunday is the day the Lord Jesus rose from the dead for you and me. "Fun" just doesn't get it. I'm all for resting, too. That's the point. But let's get it straight: The least we could do is show up and say "Thank you." That's exactly what "Eucharist" means. And most of you reading this know better. That was easily the most scandalous post on the site "Stuff Christians Like": "Skipping Church on Sunday." Some muddle-headed evangelical had to be the first to think this was OK. I'm sorry. But not. If you have never flat-out skipped a sporting event--like a huge one--because God is God, then you have no right to wonder why your "unbelieving" family member(s) doesn't care about your "good news." That's the truth. Have I ever been guilty of this? Yes. One time. I had no legit reason. But never again. And as much as I push people about being separated from the Church, we all need to talk about this one even more.]

95 Theses XV: The Return Of The Heresy

71. Let him be anathema and accursed who denies the apostolic character of the indulgences. My comment: He does realize, that like the rest of us, his anathema means 2 things: Jack and Squat? In other news, too bad he didn't feel the same way about Holy Orders. 

72. On the other hand, let him be blessed who is on his guard against the wantonness and license of the pardon-merchant's words. My comment: Vigilance is never a bad thing.

73. In the same way, the pope rightly excommunicates those who make any plans to the detriment of the trade in indulgences. My comment: Honestly, Marty, pick a position and go with it!

74. It is much more in keeping with his views to excommunicate those who use the pretext of indulgences to plot anything to the detriment of holy love and truth. My comment: I agree that it is just and prudent of the pope to excommunicate those who set themselves against holy love and truth under the pretext of something else.

75. It is foolish to think that papal indulgences have so much power that they can absolve a man even if he has done the impossible and violated the mother of God. My comment: Indulgences do not forgive sins. 

95 Theses XIV: A Walk To Heresy

66. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets which, in former times, they used to fish for men of wealth. My comment: "These are the darkest days of wickedness ever in the Church!" said every schismatic and heretic in history. We can't do anything, either, because he doesn't name names, and his grasp of what the Church actually teaches...

67. The indulgences, which the merchants extol as the greatest of favours, are seen to be, in fact, a favourite means for money-getting. My comment: If people were teaching falsehood anywhere in my diocese, I'm informing my priest, and most likely, the bishop. He is Christ among us. And beyond him, the Holy Father. If the abuses are that severe, we don't start a discussion.

68. Nevertheless, they are not to be compared with the grace of God and the compassion shown in the Cross. My comment: Why juxtapose them? The true teaching of the Church on any matter is as life-giving as any appeal to conversion.

69. Bishops and curates, in duty bound, must receive the commissaries of the papal indulgences with all reverence. My comment: This contradicts what he claims in (25), so which is it?

70. But they are under a much greater obligation to watch closely and attend carefully lest these men preach their own fancies instead of what the pope commissioned. My comment: Make up your mind. 

95 Theses XIII: Nightmare On Heresy Street

61. For it is clear that the power of the pope suffices, by itself, for the remission of penalties and reserved cases. My comment: This is in contradiction to what he said in (6). (And other places) Were you lying then, or are you lying now?

62. The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God. My comment: The true treasure of man, and God's intent for man, is the Church. It is not a jar of clay that contains the gospel; it is the gospel. It is that communion with God and others which is a foretaste of the glory to come.

63. It is right to regard this treasure as most odious, for it makes the first to be the last. My comment: Ignore this fine-sounding statement; he's setting us up for something worse.

64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is most acceptable, for it makes the last to be the first. My comment: Ignore, continued.

65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets which, in former times, they used to fish for men of wealth. My comment: No point in pining for the good ol' days.

95 Theses XII: A Few Good Heresies

56. The treasures of the church, out of which the pope dispenses indulgences, are not sufficiently spoken of or known among the people of Christ. My comment: I agree completely.

57. That these treasures are not temporal are clear from the fact that many of the merchants do not grant them freely, but only collect them. My comment: Not much to say here.

58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, because, even apart from the pope, these merits are always working grace in the inner man, and working the cross, death, and hell in the outer man. My comment: Troubling that he puts the cross next to death and hell. A see a false Law-Gospel dichotomy here. And a nominalistic saint-sinner one, too. 

59. St. Laurence said that the poor were the treasures of the church, but he used the term in accordance with the custom of his own time. My comment: OOOH, burn!

60. We do not speak rashly in saying that the treasures of the church are the keys of the church, and are bestowed by the merits of Christ. My comment: I'd say rather that the merits of Christ are the treasures. On the other hand, if the treasury of merit is in view, then this is correct. "Bestowed" belies a troubling notion of imputation.

5 Thoughts For Today

5. First elimination matches for the World Cup. USA plays Belgium on Tuesday.

4. Chances are, I'm going to watch "Dune" a lot of times. It might be my favorite story.

3. If Tolkien's "Beowulf" doesn't get here soon, I'm going to freak out.

2. Why wasn't Landon Donovan chosen to back up Altidore?

1. No, it's not a "sinful desire," but it may be a disordered one, and there is a difference. Sin, properly speaking, involves the will; in the discussion in Romans 7, St. Paul doesn't make the distinction, but it's there.

Friday, June 27, 2014

95 Theses XI: 'H' Is For Heresy

51. Christians should be taught that the pope would be willing, as he ought if necessity should arise, to sell the church of St. Peter, and give, too, his own money to many of those from whom the pardon-merchants conjure money. My comment: I don't see how the pope could be responsible for the possible imprudence of the people.

52. It is vain to rely on salvation by letters of indulgence, even if the commissary, or indeed the pope himself, were to pledge his own soul for their validity. My comment: To my knowledge, the Church has never taught that indulgences could forgive sins.

53. Those are enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid the word of God to be preached at all in some churches, in order that indulgences may be preached in others. My comment: If so, then name names. There is no point in throwing out vague accusations that no one can do anything about.

54. The word of God suffers injury if, in the same sermon, an equal or longer time is devoted to indulgences than to that word. My comment: Is the Church's ministry part of the good news, or not? If it is, then no son of the Church has the right to decide how much or how little to talk about any one thing within it.

55. The pope cannot help taking the view that if indulgences (very small matters) are celebrated by one bell, one pageant, or one ceremony, the gospel (a very great matter) should be preached to the accompaniment of a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies. My comment: On the contrary; every aspect of the gospel should be integrated into the whole of redemption. There is a hierarchy of truth, but we should not deny doctrine in the guise of prioritizing the truths of faith.

5 Thoughts For Today

5. I'd love to go on epic rants against female ordination, (I sympathize, gents, I really do) but I can't. Rather, I feel compelled to point out that John MacArthur isn't pastor of a church, either.

4. I can't follow this with a statement about agreeing with Rachel Held Evans. I just can't. It's the principle of the thing.

3. How do you play baseball for more than a decade without learning to slide properly? That was awful.

2. I don't think enjoying soccer makes you un-American, and some people will look really silly when we win the World Cup.

1. Yeah, I said it.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

95 Theses X: Back In The Heresy

46. Christians should be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they are bound to retain what is only necessary for the upkeep of their home, and should in no way squander it on indulgences. My comment: If they are prudent to do other good works with whatever excess they have, indulgences should in no way be despised. The foolish make rash judgments concerning their spiritual value from the infidelity in their hearts.

47. Christians should be taught that they purchase indulgences voluntarily, and are not under obligation to do so. My comment: I agree.

48. Christians should be taught that, in granting indulgences, the pope has more need, and more desire, for devout prayer on his own behalf than for ready money. My comment: Devout prayer is indeed the heart of the matter. But of what use is the prayer of one who denies the pope's jurisdiction and authority?

49. Christians should be taught that the pope's indulgences are useful only if one does not rely on them, but most harmful if one loses the fear of God through them. My comment: This is also a ready excuse for those who would deny the Church's agency in granting them.

50. Christians should be taught that, if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence-preachers, he would rather the church of St. Peter were reduced to ashes than be built with the skin, flesh, and bones of the sheep. My comment: It does not appear this person is competent to judge distortions of doctrine in the first place, so such a warning rings hollow. False doctrine is just as harmful.

Monday, June 23, 2014

95 Theses IX: The Heresy Strikes Back

41. Papal indulgences should only be preached with caution, lest people gain a wrong understanding, and think that they are preferable to other good works: those of love. My comment: Everything in Sacred Theology should be preached with caution, and due reverence, by the nature of the case. Yet it must be said that everything that pertains to it should be preached at one time or another, and certainly not denied. Moreover, every action ought to be motivated by supernatural love, so the juxtaposition here is the mark of faulty thinking.

42. Christians should be taught that the pope does not at all intend that the purchase of indulgences should be understood as at all comparable with the works of mercy. My comment: I think doing the work required to obtain an indulgence is a work of mercy. Sure, it's not the only one, but once more, we see the hardening of a false dichotomy, the fruit of Luther's ecclesial Nestorianism.

43. Christians should be taught that one who gives to the poor, or lends to the needy, does a better action than if he purchases indulgences. My comment: This is monstrously false. There's an implicit naturalism here, one whose full fruit will be seen in the Social Gospel. We have no idea the spiritual weight of our actions, and it's probably for the best. (Lord, have mercy!) In any case, works of a spiritual nature are better than corporal works, though both are good and necessary.

44. Because, by works of love, love grows and a man becomes a better man; whereas, by indulgences, he does not become a better man, but only escapes certain penalties. My comment: On the contrary; Christians should be taught that they will escape all penalties of either kind only by means of agape. Holy Mother Church intercedes ever and always with agape as her driving force. Once more, we see a false dichotomy.

 45. Christians should be taught that he who sees a needy person, but passes him by although he gives money for indulgences, gains no benefit from the pope's pardon, but only incurs the wrath of God. My comment: I'm inclined to sympathize with this comment, but only if supernatural charity, inspired by the Holy Spirit, dictates that a physical need is more pressing in any one case. To make a blanket statement like this smacks of the same naturalism above. Suppose my father needs an indulgence more than a particular poor man needs my money? Judas thought the money could be better spent, too.

95 Theses VIII: The Children Of The Heresy

36. Any Christian whatsoever, who is truly repentant, enjoys plenary remission from penalty and guilt, and this is given him without letters of indulgence. My comment: This is very subtle, but he's denying the whole sacramental system here. No Catholic could say this in 1517 without being in heresy.

37. Any true Christian whatsoever, living or dead, participates in all the benefits of Christ and the Church; and this participation is granted to him by God without letters of indulgence. My comment: Wrong. Indulgences are one of the means of participation in the life of grace. You can say 'participation' all you like, but if you deny the Church's intercession, and the sacramental system, you're not thinking like a Catholic.

38. Yet the pope's remission and dispensation are in no way to be despised, for, as already said, they proclaim the divine remission. My comment: This sounds good, but it's wrong. A priest or bishop does not merely announce the divine remission; he effects it. That's why Holy Orders are so important.

39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, to extol to the people the great bounty contained in the indulgences, while, at the same time, praising contrition as a virtue. My comment: I don't seem to be having trouble.

40. A truly contrite sinner seeks out, and loves to pay, the penalties of his sins; whereas the very multitude of indulgences dulls men's consciences, and tends to make them hate the penalties. My comment: The Church ought to be the judge of true contrition. The abuse of a thing does not negate its proper use, either.