Monday, September 21, 2009

Biblical Evidence for Holy Days

[all passages RSV]

St. Paul gives believers freedom to think one day "better than another":


Romans 14:5-6a One man esteems one day as better than another, while another man esteems all days alike. Let every one be fully convinced in his own mind. [6] He who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. . . .

By analogy to the Old Covenant and early Christian adherence to its particulars, the Church has the prerogative to set mandatory holy days. Moreover, there is biblical evidence for the notion of a holy day. The most obvious is the Sabbath itself:


Exodus 16:23 he said to them, "This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy sabbath to the LORD . . .

Exodus 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy

Exodus 31:15 Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD (cf. 35:2; Lev 23:3; Deut 5:12-13; Neh 13:22; Is 58:13; Jer 17:22, 24, 27)

Leviticus 23:8 . . . on the seventh day is a holy convocation . . .

Additional days are described as especially "holy" too:


Leviticus 23:15-16, 21 "And you shall count from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven full weeks shall they be, [16] counting fifty days to the morrow after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a cereal offering of new grain to the LORD. . . . [21] And you shall make proclamation on the same day; you shall hold a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work: it is a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.

Leviticus 23:24-25 "Say to the people of Israel, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. [25] You shall do no laborious work; and you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD."

Leviticus 23:27-28 "On the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present an offering by fire to the LORD. [28] And you shall do no work on this same day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God.

Leviticus 23:33-37 And the LORD said to Moses, [34] "Say to the people of Israel, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the feast of booths to the LORD. [35] On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. [36] Seven days you shall present offerings by fire to the LORD; on the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present an offering by fire to the LORD; it is a solemn assembly; you shall do no laborious work. [37] "These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the LORD offerings by fire, burnt offerings and cereal offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day;

Leviticus 23:39-41 "On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall keep the feast of the LORD seven days; on the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. [40] And you shall take on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. [41] You shall keep it as a feast to the LORD seven days in the year; it is a statute for ever throughout your generations; you shall keep it in the seventh month.

(cf. Num 28:18, 25-26; 29:1, 7, 12)

Nehemiah 8:9-11 And Nehemi'ah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. [10] Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." [11] So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, "Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved."

Nehemiah 10:31 and if the peoples of the land bring in wares or any grain on the sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the sabbath or on a holy day; and we will forego the crops of the seventh year and the exaction of every debt.

2 Maccabees 6:11 Others who had assembled in the caves near by, to observe the seventh day secretly, were betrayed to Philip and were all burned together, because their piety kept them from defending themselves, in view of their regard for that most holy day.
The early Christians observed the Jewish feasts (e.g., Jn 4:45; 5:1; 7:1-2,11,37; 12:20), including Passover (Matthew 26:17-19; Mk 14:12-16; Lk 22:1-15; Jn 2:13,23). The Last Supper was a Passover ceremony. Therefore, the explicit Old Testament evidence for holy days was carried over into the New Covenant, with the express sanction (by their own practice) of our Lord Jesus and St. Paul.

23 comments:

Nick said...

The Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 proves that the Church has the power to lay down rules and regulations. Apart from this form of argument, any notion at all of "holy day" - including Sunday worship - is purely arbitrary.

This issue is a serious problem for Sola Scriptura because the more "conservative" Protestants have no way of arguing even the need/duty for Sunday worship. That's a serious problem in Christendom today where any notion of Sunday as a special day is totally thrown out. It's one more thing in the long list of what's turning us into a post-Christian nation....and Protestantism (via Sola Scriptura) is leading the charge.

Teri said...

Hi Dave,
I know it's a daunting and overwhelming task, but don't stop.

You may never know who you may reach by showing the errors of the "institutes".

Have you ever read this account of the trial of Michael Servetus? I wasn't sure where I found it, but it made my skin crawl. As Sebastian Castellio said, ""To kill a man is not to defend a doctrine. It is to kill a man!"

http://libro.uca.edu/longhurst/luther1-4.htm

Blessings,
Teri

Ben M said...

Teri,

Have you ever read this account of the trial of Michael Servetus? I wasn't sure where I found it, but it made my skin crawl.

As it should!

And what sane person, on hearing of the “revolting tortures” meted out by Protestants to any and all who dared to oppose their fiendish hypocrisy, wouldn't feel his skin crawl?

“Political conservatives like Luther always take a dim view (if only to save their own skins) of insurrections by large and poorly disciplined groups of disenfranchised people, but Luther’s recommendations for virtual genocide, as presented in his tract of 1525 ‘Against the Murderous and Thieving Hordes of Peasants’, makes my skin crawl, especially as a recommendation (however secular) from a supposed man of God: ‘If the peasant is in open rebellion, then he is outside the law of God (…) Rebellion brings with it a land full of murders and bloodshed, makes widows and orphans, and turns everything upside down like a great disaster. Therefore, let everyone who can, smite, slay, and stab, secretly or openly, remembering that nothing can be more poisonous, hurtful, or devilish than a rebel. It is just as when one must kill a mad dog; if you don’t strike him, he will strike you, and the whole land with you.’”

- Stephen Jay Gould.

Leonardo's mountain of clams and the Diet of Worms: essays on natural history , p. 256.

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Teri,

You're very sweet to be so encouraging. The illogical and relentlessly sophistical nature of Calvin's arguments is driving me nuts, but I'm about two-thirds done now and nothing can stop me when I am in the "final stretch" of any writing project of mine. I just get more and more momentum till I finish it.

Next time I'd love to find an influential Protestant who actually argues rationally, rather than propagandistically.

Dave Armstrong said...

I have read several accounts of the trial of Servetus, yes, and it is rather bizarre and shocking reading.

Catholics, of course, put many people to death, too, so we shouldn't think this fault was unique to Calvin.

Still, the argument against historic Protestants is that they claim to be so superior to Catholics morally as well as theologically; therefore an incident like Servetus is difficult to defend.

To their credit, Protestants do NOT defend this act.

Ken said...

Dave,
Thanks for trying to at least be a little fairer to Calvin on the Severtus affair.

Have you guys forgotten that Michael Severtus was on trial and jail by the Roman Catholics and that he would probably have been put to death for heresy by the Roman Catholics, if he had not escaped and gone to Geneva?

I don't agree with his execution; but the whole RC culture of Europe believed and taught this at that time. Protestants inherited that church/state culture from the Roman Catholics and history (Orthodox, catholic ideas of government came from the Greco-Roman culture), beginning with Theodosius (380 AD) and Justinian (500s onward).

It was only the modern separation of church and state and other movements for citizens rights and accountability for the kings, etc. (Magna Carta, etc. to the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the USA) that freed us from the mostly historical Roman Catholic culture of torturing and executing heretics (Inquisition) and motivating criminals to do penance and get indulgences by fighting against the Muslims in the Crusades. ( A horrible theology.)

Thank God we are freed from that by the Protestant movement (and added to by the enlightenment and Deism, etc.); even though it took a while to work itself out!

I can understand atheists and skeptics and secularists using Severtus' issue against us; but RCs really cannot use that, for it was the result of the RC context, culture of Europe that Geneva and the Protestants inherited from them. Everybody, both RCs and Protestants believed Severtus was a heretic and should be executed by the state. Calvin merely agreed with the political state's application of the law at that time.

Teri,
You really should read John Piper's chapter on Calvin in The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin.
Crossway Books, 2000.

John Piper gives the balance and does not avoid the hard and wrong things in both Luther and Calvin.

Here are some good videos on the new Calvinistic/ Reformed movement / resurgence happening right now. The last video includes secular and liberal media who ask the new Calvinists hard questions.

Piper is very good; honest, Biblical and does not shy away from speaking the truth, and does it in a passionate and compassionate manner.


http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByConference/35/4217_On_the_New_Calvinists/

Ken said...

Teri (and anyone else) - you can even listen to John Piper's lecture on Calvin for free; and he gives context to the Severtus affair and does not justify it.

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Biographies/1471_The_Divine_Majesty_of_the_Word/

Piper discusses Luther and Calvin (and Augustine's) faults and mistakes and sins in the introduction in his book, The Legacy of Sovereign Joy

Ken said...

Almost at the end of Piper's lecture, which you can read:

This atmosphere gave rise to the greatest and the worst achievement of Calvin. The greatest was the writing of the Institutes of the Christian Religion, and the worst was his joining in the condemnation of the heretic, Michael Servetus, to burning at the stake in Geneva.

The Institutes was first published in March, 1536, when Calvin was 26 years old. It went through five editions and enlargements until it reached its present form in the 1559 edition. If this is all Calvin had written - and not 48 volumes of other works - it would have established him as the foremost theologian of the Reformation. But it did not arise for merely academic reasons. Here's why he wrote it, soon after he had been driven from France and was safely hiding in Basel:

But lo! whilst I lay hidden at Basel, and known only to few people, many faithful and holy persons were burnt alive in France . . . . It appeared to me, that unless I opposed them [the perpetrators] to the utmost of my ability, my silence could not be vindicated from the charge of cowardice and treachery. This was the consideration which induced me to publish my Institutes of the Christian Religion. . . . It was published with no other design than that men might know what was the faith held by those whom I saw basely and wickedly defamed (see note 64).

So it was the very barbarity of the times against the faithful in France that stirred up Calvin to write the first edition of the Institutes.

But it was this same barbarity from which he could not disentangle himself. Michael Servetus was a Spaniard, a medical doctor, a lawyer and a theologian. His doctrine of the Trinity was unorthodox - so much so as to shock both Catholic and Protestant in his day. In 1553 he published his views and was arrested by the Catholics in France. But, alas, he escaped to Geneva. He was arrested there and Calvin argued the case against him. He was sentenced to death. Calvin called for a swift execution, but he was burned at the stake on October 27, 1553 (see note 65).

This has tarnished Calvin's name so severely that many cannot give his teaching a hearing. But it is not clear that most of us, given that milieu, would not have gone along under the circumstances (see note 66). Melanchthon was the gentle, soft-spoken associate of Martin Luther whom Calvin had met and loved. He wrote to Calvin on the Servetus affair, "I am wholly of your opinion and declare also that your magistrates acted quite justly in condemning the blasphemer to death" (see note 67). Calvin never held civil office in Geneva (see note 68) but exerted all his influence as a pastor. Yet, in this execution, his hands are as stained with Servetus' blood as David's were with Uriah's.

Which makes the confessions of Calvin near the end of his life all the more important. On April 25, 1564, a month before his death, he called the magistrates of the city to his room and spoke these words,

With my whole soul I embrace the mercy which [God] has exercised towards me through Jesus Christ, atoning for my sins with the merits of his death and passion, that in this way he might satisfy for all my crimes and faults, and blot them from his remembrance. . . . I confess I have failed innumerable times to execute my office properly, and had not He, of His boundless goodness, assisted me, all that zeal had been fleeting and vain. . . . For all these reasons, I testify and declare that I trust to no other security for my salvation than this, and this only, viz., that as God is the Father of mercy, he will show himself such a Father to me, who acknowledge myself to be a miserable sinner (see note 69).

T. H. L. Parker said, "he should never have fought the battle of faith with the world's weapons" (see note 70). Whether Calvin came to that conclusion before he died, we don't know. But what we know is that Calvin knew himself a "miserable sinner" whose only hope in view of "all [his] crimes" was the mercy of God and the blood of Jesus.

Ken said...

One of the best books on God's Sovereignty and Suffering is Joni Eareckson Tada (and Steve Estes)
When God Weeps: Why our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty

Joni Eareckson Tada is a woman who suffered with being paralyzed from a swimming accident and wrestled with God's sovereignty over this. She is a powerful testimony for God's sovereignty and purpose in sufferings.




http://books.google.com/books?id=f6dZz4icYKsC&dq=When+God+Weeps,+Joni+Eareckson+Tada&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=Vym6Ssj4Ip-EtgeiitnzDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Dave Armstrong said...

Thank God that we were freed from Catholic tyranny by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I: folks who emasculated Catholics caught worshiping, slowly pulled out their intestines, hung them, tore their heart out while they were still alive, and chopped off their arms, legs, and heads. What would western culture have done without these marvelous advances in civility and tolerance?

161 English and 269 Irish Catholic Martyrs During the Reign of the Tyrant Henry VIII: 1534-1544 [at the Very Least: 430 Martyrs]

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2008/01/129-english-catholic-martyrs-during.html

312 English Catholic Martyrs and Heroic Confessors During the Reign of Queen Elizabeth ("Bloody Good Queen Bess"): 1558-1603

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2008/02/312-english-catholic-martyrs-and-heroic.html

123 English Catholic Martyrs and Heroic Confessors in the Post-Elizabethan Era: 1603-1729 (+ 66 English Martyrs of Unknown Dates / Martyr Resources)

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2008/02/123-english-catholic-martyrs-and-heroic.html

444 Irish Catholic Martyrs and Heroic Confessors, Persecuted by English Royalty, Anglicans, Cromwellians, Etc.: 1565-1713

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2008/02/444-irish-catholic-martyrs-and-heroic.html

Dave Armstrong said...

Ken wrote:

Thank God we are freed from that by the Protestant movement

Protestants like Ken persist in the stupid myth that the "Reformation" was somehow this benevolent, ultra-tolerant development, that led to the end of persecution and intolerance. It's one of the many Big Lies that still float around, even though it is flat-out false, and outrageously so. I do my best to document the true facts of what went on, to show that Protestants were at best no better, and arguably far worse than Catholics.

Ben M said...

Dave,

Protestants like Ken persist in the stupid myth that the "Reformation" was somehow this benevolent, ultra-tolerant development, that led to the end of persecution and intolerance. It's one of the many Big Lies that still float around, even though it is flat-out false, and outrageously so.

The BIG LIE! YES!!

Ken,

It's futile and, quite frankly, dishonest, to try to defend the Reformers actions. More reasons:

The Reformers possessed neither legitimate authority, nor the proper spiritual and theological qualifications to teach, correct, or 'reform' anyone or anything. Yet they nevertheless took it upon themselves to torture and murder all who refused to bow to their self-appointed "authority." How do you dare try to defend such atrocities?

Further, any honest person with a knowledge of history grasps that the Protestant Reformation was never really about "reform," but rather, about the usurpation of power! The Reformers and the corrupt Princes who supported them would have POWER - and at all costs! But to accomplish their sinister ends, the Church, which stood squarely in the midst of their violent path, had to be utterly destroyed.

William Thomas Walsh:

"In the Protestant Revolt there was something more than the mere breaking away of the northern communities from the jurisdiction of Rome; much more than the nationalism to which Professor Carlton Hayes ascribes perhaps too much importance. There was a spirit in Protestantism in its first phase that sought something more than freedom; it sought nothing less (and this was more evident in Calvinism than in Lutheranism) than the utter destruction of the Catholic Church. Here was a hatred that began manifesting itself by the burning of churches and convents, the violation of nuns, the torture and execution of priests, the defiling of the Cross and the unspeakable desecration of the Blessed Sacrament."

Philip II, p. 243

Moreover, in addition to the relentless violence against innocent Catholics, there was that great campaign of misinformation / disinformation, unparalleled in history. "Corruption of the clergy" was just one (albeit, very effective) facet of this campaign. But, as Walsh reminds us:

"Three other facts about the corruption of the clergy are often forgotten:

"(1) Many of the accounts of church scandals originated with enemies of the Church, who have been proved guilty of gross exaggeration or of downright lying. Sometimes the scandalmonger is an exposed cheat, like Llorente; sometimes a scribbler in the pay of one of the Pope's political enemies, like the lewd neo-pagan Pontano; or a credulous retailer of indiscriminate gossip, like Peter Martryr d'Anghiera; or a disappointed office seeker, like Infessura.

"Being contemporary does not make a man truthful or reliable. In all ages there has been a continuous and curiously uniform propaganda to discredit the Church and all connected with her. Documents of the Alta Vendita, made public by the papal government in 1846, disclosed a systematic and deliberate campaign of slander. One letter said:

"'Our ultimate end is that of Voltaire and of the French Revolution-the final destruction of Catholicism, and even of the Christian idea. 1 The work which we have undertaken is not the work of a day, nor of a month, nor of a year. It may last many years, a century perhaps.... Crush the enemy whoever he may be; crush the powerful by means of lies and calumny....'

Ben M said...

Continuing with Walsh:

“'If a prelate comes to Rome from the provinces to exercise some public function, learn immediately his character, his antecedents, above all, his defects. If he is already a declared enemy, an Albania, a Pallotta, ... envelop him in all the snares you can lay under his feet; create for him one of those reputations which will frighten little children and old women . . . paint him cruel and sanguinary: recount regarding him some trait of cruelty which can easily be engraved in the minds of the people.' 46

"If this was never formulated so concretely until the nineteenth century, it describes, with startling accuracy, what the enemies of the Church had been doing for centuries. It describes what they did to the reputation of Philip II.

"(2) It is to be noticed that when the breach occurred, it was the ignorant and corrupt priest, monk or nun, who rushed forth to join Luther and Calvin in the liberty of the new dispensation.

"Theodore Beza, as a Roman Catholic, is a glaring example of the too-common corruption. Though not even priest, he enjoys the incomes of two benefices, through political influence, lavishes the Church’s money on his concubine, and generally leads a vicious and dissolute life. When the Church is under attack he hastens to join the enemy. As Calvin's lieutenant, this righteous man thunders against the corruption of the Old Church, of which he was partly the cause. There is no doubt about the laxity of the monasteries of Sevilla and Valladolid, whose members embraced Protestantism; nor of the degeneracy of the Augustinians in Saxony, who broke away from the Church almost en masse in1521.

"In England it was the reformed Observantine Franciscans who withstood Henry VIII even to death, while the relaxed Conventuals and other badly disciplined monks and priests formed the nucleus of the Church of England. The first Protestants, as a rule, were bad Catholics.

"(3) For a whole century or more before Philip II, most of the Popes and large numbers of prelates had been striving to reform the Church. A great deal had been accomplished. A great deal more remained to be done. Some Popes of the highest intentions were compelled to devote most of their energies to the defense of Christendom against the conquering Turks. Others were foiled by the selfishness and criminal quarrelsomeness of European rulers. When Protestantism appeared, its leaders called loudly for reform. Most of them, however, could be depended upon to reject, resist and misrepresent any attempt to hold a General Council of all Christendom, without which no thorough reform would be possible.


Walsh, Philip II, ch. 13, The Spanish Inquisition Is Revived [1559], pp. 251-252.

Ben M said...

Here's an excellent review of Walsh's Philip II.

The review begins:

"Enormous accumulations of evil encircled the sixteenth century, making it one of the most disturbed in history. The enemies of the Holy Catholic Church had been tearing at her in bits and pieces, but it was not until the 1500’s that the throes of Satan seemed to combine in an all out effort aimed at her destruction. From within and without, the blows were unrelenting, and of such an intensity that only a Divine Institution could have survived it. A hatred of Christ and His Mystical Body was the focal point for the beginning of a vast conspira¬torial network of sinister intrigue that would plague the defenders of God and His Church from that century to the present. Thus it was that “one of the heaviest burdens that any mortal had ever been called upon to bear,” fell upon the shoulders of one man – Philip II, King of Spain....

"William Thomas Walsh gives us the complete and accurate story of one of the most maligned figures of history."

Philip II: a Book Review,
by Sister Jeanne Marie, MI.C.M., Tert. October 14th, 2008

Ken said...

You did not read my piece very closely; obviously it took a while for all of western culture to stop the harsh persecutions of other groups. Sorry, I don't accept your evaluation of it.

the early protestants were brutal, because the RC were FIRST the most brutal and we came from harsh milieu and culture. We got it from the Roman Catholics; the western church.

I mean that the modern freedoms and separation of church today of the USA (1776 and beyond) are the results of getting free from the European Roman Catholic Church culture, which was brutal and cruel - inquisition, Crusades, etc. It took a while.

The violence of the early Protestants was the inheritance of your church tradition and culture.

So, you are both wrong.

Ken said...

The Reformers possessed neither legitimate authority, nor the proper spiritual and theological qualifications to teach, correct, or 'reform' anyone or anything.


And none of your Popes or leaders had legitimate authority either; nor qualifications; they were false teachers.

Randy said...

I mean that the modern freedoms and separation of church today of the USA (1776 and beyond) are the results of getting free from the European Roman Catholic Church culture, which was brutal and cruel - inquisition, Crusades, etc. It took a while.

But the constitution was hardly an excercise in Sola Scriptura. It was the proclaimation of a dogma. All men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights... They based the constitution on what beleifs they held in common. Those were exactly the ones they retained from Catholic tradition.

The trouble is the dogma got distorted. The right to free speech became the right to publish pornography. Rights to abortion and gay marriage are asserted. So there is a lack of an ability to develop this doctrine without corrupting it.

I do believe the US was a grace of God. Christians had to learn to get along and it was not happening in Europe. So tolerance was a blessing but it was not because they had freed themselves of so much Catholicism but rather because they had retained so enough.

The US continues to show the way forward. There are more Catholic converts from protestantism mostly because there are more different flavors of protestantism so the flaws are more clear. It is interesting that God has spared the US from the Moslem immigration of Europe giving it mostly Catholic hispanics as immigrants.

Ken said...

Randy wrote:

But the constitution was hardly an excercise in Sola Scriptura.

It is not supposed to be. Civil/secular Governments are not the church, remember?

It was the proclaimation of a dogma. All men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights...

But this is pretty Biblical.

They based the constitution on what beleifs they held in common. Those were exactly the ones they retained from Catholic tradition.

No; from the Protestant tradition more recently; and whatever was good before then, yes, was inherited from Biblical principles and the catholic tradition.

The trouble is the dogma got distorted. The right to free speech became the right to publish pornography. Rights to abortion and gay marriage are asserted.

We would agree on these points. Those are not inalienable rights.

So there is a lack of an ability to develop this doctrine without corrupting it.


I do believe the US was a grace of God. Christians had to learn to get along and it was not happening in Europe. So tolerance was a blessing . . .

See, you confirmed my point I was trying to make with Dave and Ben.

but it was not because they had freed themselves of so much Catholicism but rather because they had retained so enough.

Not true, they retained the good stuff informed by the Bible; not Roman Catholicism, a false gospel and a false system.

The US continues to show the way forward. There are more Catholic converts from protestantism mostly because there are more different flavors of protestantism so the flaws are more clear.

That is your opinion and assertion, but it is only that. Why has Europe, with the seat of infallibility right there, not able to do better?

It is interesting that God has spared the US from the Moslem immigration of Europe giving it mostly Catholic hispanics as immigrants.

yes, that is the nature of space and proximity and the human desires for freedom.

Randy said...

Why has Europe, with the seat of infallibility right there, not able to do better?

Infallibility is just one way God preserves His church. I know God used the Irish to re-evangelize Europe at one point. They were a long way from Rome too but it was not a matter of defining the truth. It was a matter of believing it. I would not be surprised to see a similar re-evangelization occur from the US at some point.

Ben M said...

Greetings brother Ken!

Always good to have one of our ‘friendly’ little exchanges! LOL

The early protestants were brutal, because the RC were FIRST the most brutal and we came from harsh milieu and culture. We got it from the Roman Catholics; the western church.

I mean that the modern freedoms and separation of church today of the USA (1776 and beyond) are the results of getting free from the European Roman Catholic Church culture, which was brutal and cruel - inquisition, Crusades, etc. It took a while.

The violence of the early Protestants was the inheritance of your church tradition and culture.


Ah, the screechy ravings of a Calvinist! (my friend, what have ya been putting in that Hookah?). ;) But be careful, brother Ken, lest perhaps you too suffer the same fate as your screechy master (now known simply as cOWLvin )! LOL!!

But seriously, the truth of the matter is this: Far from being "brutal and cruel," the Church actually was the great civilizing influence on culture – particularly through the charitable works of the monks of the middle ages. Were it not for the Church, and the civilization she gave birth to, Luther, Calvin et al, would’ve been far worse than anything we might have imagined (running around in grass skirts and eating each other??). LOL!

And none of your Popes or leaders had legitimate authority either; nor qualifications; they were false teachers.

Well, someone should have mentioned that little detail to Augustine! ;) Here are his words (and four versions at that!).

"The Catholic doctrine is so ancient and well-grounded, so certain and clear in these words of the Apostolic See, that it would be criminal in a Christian to doubt of this truth."

“So certain and so clear is the Catholic faith as expressed in the words of the Apostolic See, so ancient and well established, that it would be a sacrilege for any Christian to doubt it.”

“These words of the Apostolic See contain the Catholic faith that is so ancient and well-founded, so certain and so clear, that it is impious for a Christian to doubt it.”

“In these words of the Apostolic See the Catholic faith stands out as so ancient and so firmly established, so certain and so clear, that it would be wrong for a Christian to doubt it.”

To St. Optatus, Epistle 190:23.

Sources:

The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation (1955), Ludwig Schopp and Roy Joseph Deferrari, eds., Catholic University of America, (Letters, 165-203), Vol. 30, p. 286,

Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century, Letters (Epistulae - 156-210), trans. and notes by Roland Teske, S. J., ed. Boniface Ramsey, New City Press, Hyde Park, New York, 2004, vol.3, part 2, ISBN 156548200X, p. 274

Ben M said...

“Formerly, under the Pope people gave very largely indeed and beyond measure ... then they gave in heaps for they looked ... upon the reward.... But now that with the light of the Gospel we are told nothing about our merits, nobody is willing to give and to help." - Luther

Luther’s Own Statements Concerning His Teaching and Its Results, Henry O'Connor, p. 52


This following is from a book review I’ve had probably since 1998 or 99. I believe the review is from a supplement to a conservative Catholic publication called The Wanderer . It’s a bit long, but I thought it worth posting in its entirety, as a reminder of the great good which the Church has historically done.

The review is entitled: Revolution in Charity, by William Doino, Jr.

THE POOR IN THE MIDDLE AGES: AN ESSAY IN SOCIAL HISTORY. Michel Mollat, Arthur Goldhammer, Yale University Press, 1986.


Mr. Doino writes:

“Published to critical acclaim in France in 1978, Michel Mollat’s magnum opus, The Poor in the Middle Ages, has now been translated into English. Since literally dozens of books have already been written on the plight the medieval poor, what makes Mollat’s books so significant? Two things: 1) Professor Mollat, who teaches at the Sorbonne, is considered to be the world’s leading authority on this subject; and 2) Mollat’s book is very favorable to the Roman Catholic Church.

“One of the staples of contemporary history, as interpreted by liberal intellectuals, is that the Roman Catholic Church has wedded itself to oppressive powers and consequently has failed to assist the poor throughout history. The publication of Mollat’s book deals a crushing blow to this viewpoint.

“Not that Mollat is the first to expose the anti-Catholic lies of biases historians. Anyone who has read the immensely rewarding works of Christopher Dawson on this period (e. g., Medieval Essays, The Making of Europe, and Religion and the Rise of Western Culture) as well as the outstanding study by Demetrios Constantelos, Byzantine Philanthropy and Welfare – not to speak of the biographies of the countless saints who have aided the oppressed -knows that the Church has indeed helped the poor since the founding of Christendom. Mollat’s book, therefore, does not stand alone but simply adds to an already impressive body of scholarship on this point.

“The Poor in the Middle Ages begins by giving a general description of the hardships the poor faced during the medieval period. During this time, writes, Mollat, the poor went about ‘dirty, dressed in rags, foul smelling, [and] covered with sores.’ In addition, ‘poor clothing, dilapidated housing, and above all, an unbalanced diet, left the [poor] vulnerable to disease.’ On top of these suffering were the heartless actions of greed (e.g., excessive taxation and usury) perpetrated by rulers and landowners which added to the poor’s distress.

“In response to these crimes against the poor, the early Church Fathers, conscious of their Christian duties, spoke up. St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Basil, and St. Jerome are all quoted by Mollat in defense of the poor. Their sermons, writes Mollat, were ‘unprecedented in force’ and shocked the rich out of their complacency toward poverty.

Ben M said...

Continued.

“One of the greatest of the early Christians was St. Benedict, the founder of Benedictine monasteries which lavished charity upon the poor to an almost unbelievable degree. The poor were treated like kings and queens by the Benedictine monks. ‘St. Benedict,’ writes Mollat, ‘attached great importance to hospitality. The pauper was a prime object of that hospitality, because the honor to be bestowed upon him corresponded to the rank of the person of whom the pauper was the representative, namely, Christ.’

“‘Benedictine benevolence was available to anyone for the asking,’ continues Mollat. ‘Those who came to the gates of a monastery, we may imagine, felt that they were approaching the frontier between a world of penury and an island of abundance. They were … leaving a world of violence and entering a peaceful asylum. … The liturgy of welcome began at the gate.

“‘A monk came and stood in front of each pauper. Upon a signal from the abbot, all ‘bowed down, bent the knee, and adored Christ in his poor.’ Each monk then washed, dried, and kissed the feet of the pauper in form of him. Finally, the poor were given something to drink and a few deniers. A rite of purification preceded the ceremony, of course. The Mass fro the poor was celebrated earlier in the morning, and the feet of the poor received a preliminary washing intended to make them clean. The paupers were also fed to restore their strength.’ The poor were provided with rations of ‘bread … vegetables, cheeses, lard, and sometimes meat. Shoes and clothing worn by the monks were also handed out, along with covers, wood for heating and cooking, and household utensils … gifts of cash were also made in some cases….

“‘Those who were ill were treated by the porter himself and might be admitted to the monasteries infirmary. Those who took to the road again were provided with food.’

“This revolution in charity, which the Church conducted through the first 12 centuries A. D., ‘came into its own during the thirteenth,’ writes Mollat. The greatness of the 13th century –beautifully described in famous James Walsh’s
work, The Thirteenth, Greatest of All Centuries (1907) –was largely due to two men, St. Francis and St. Dominic. According to Mollat, ‘the work of Dominic and Francis on behalf of the poor proved even more successful than nay of their predecessors.’ Since I have already quoted Mollat’s praise of the extraordinary accomplishments of these predecessors, this is quite a statement. Mollat is saying that, although the Benedictines were great and conducted unprecedented amounts of charitable activities, St. Francis and St. Dominic were even greater and produced even more charity!

“Tragedy struck, however, in the 14th century. Between 1347 and 1351, Europe was ravaged by the infamous Black Death.

“It has been calculated that one-fourth of the population of Europe, or 25 million people, died during this epidemic. Many great men perished the plague, draining Europe of its most accomplished directors. The Black Death thus resulted in creating an impoverished environment in which greed and tyranny ruled the day. These were especially trying times for the poor who, having lost many of their benefactors during the plague, now to fend for themselves.

“Yet, even during this dark phase, many Catholics could be found in solidarity with the poor. One indication of this was the publication William Langland’s famous poem, Piers Plowman . ‘For England,’ writes Mollat, ‘Christ was incarnated in the person of the pauper… Piers Plowman became the judge of the wealthy and his fellow paupers constituted the chosen people.’

Ben M said...

Continued.

“Mollat’s book ends at the 16th century, the time of the Reformation, right when ‘Protestantism would do away with the Catholic idea that good works and the suffering of the poor cooperate to bring about redemption.’ It would have been interesting had Mollat elaborated on this point, and compared how Catholic and Protestant cultures have affected the poor.

“Similarly, it would have been interesting if Mollat could have given a more detailed description of the poor in the ancient Greco-Roman world; we could then have seen more vividly how Christianity liberated the poor from pagan oppression. But these are just “minor quibbles about a generally great book. Mollat’s works is an outstanding piece of scholarship and is highly recommended to all.”

END

And I think a perfect follow-up to the above is this:

The Bacterium That Changed History by Norman F. Cantor, Fall, 2001.