Sunday, February 28, 2010

Martin Luther Despised the Widespread Antinomian Distortions of His Teaching on Faith Alone and Did Not Reject Mosaic Law

[ source ]

I have hit upon this motif in the past; most notably in the following two papers:

Martin Luther on Sanctification and the Absolute Necessity of Good Works as the Proof of Authentic Faith (posted in April 2008)

Martin Luther: Strong Elements in His Thinking of Theosis and Transformational Sanctification Closely Allied with Justification (posted in November 2009)

Recently, I made this statement in a post about Luther:

Luther taught the absolute necessity of good works in the Christian life, as an inevitable manifestation of an authentic faith. He didn't separate justification and sanctification to the degree that Calvin (or even his successor Philip Melanchthon) did.

But Luther also did a very poor job of communicating the subtleties of his "faith alone" (sola fide) soteriology to the masses: most of whom were incapable of analyzing the fine distinctions entailed (a state of affairs which is largely true even to our present time). In his extreme rhetoric of separation of faith and works, the necessary continuing connections that Luther in fact maintained in his theology, rightly understood, were lost in the public mind. In this sense, he showed himself to be rather excessively naive, as to the likely misunderstandings that would result and how many people would act in ways that he neither condoned nor envisioned.

As a result, there was a strong tendency at first towards antinomianism and anarchism (neither sanctioned by Luther) among the populace, as evidenced by an increase of immorality (noted often by Luther himself) and the Peasants' Revolt.

Now onto Luther's own words (all the words below, with my blue highlighting and a few added bracketing Scripture references, mostly drawn from other Table-Talk versions). What he states below is scarcely different (if at all) from what St. Paul taught. There are errors elsewhere in his soteriology, assuredly, but I see none here, from an orthodox Catholic perspective.

* * * * *

St Paul says: "What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us," etc. [Romans 8:3-4] That is, Christ is the sum of all; he is the right, the pure meaning and contents of the law. Whoso has Christ [1 John 5:12], has rightly fulfilled the law. But to take away the law altogether, which sticks in nature, and is written in our hearts and born in us, is a thing impossible and against God. And whereas the law of nature is somewhat darker, and speaks only of works, therefore, Moses and the Holy Ghost more clearly declare and expound it, by naming those works which God will have us to do, and to leave undone. Hence Christ also says: "I am not come to destroy the law." [Matthew 5:17] Worldly people would willingly give him royal entertainment who could bring this to pass, and make out that Moses, through Christ, is quite taken away. O, then we should quickly see what a fine kind of life there would be in the world! But God forbid, and keep us from such errors, and suffer us not to live to see the same.
We must preach the law for the sake of evil and wicked, but for the most part it lights upon the good and godly, who, although they need it not, except so far as may concern the old Adam, flesh and blood, yet accept it. The preaching of the Gospel we must have for the sake of the good and godly, yet it falls among the wicked and ungodly, who take it to themselves, whereas it profits them not; for they abuse it, and are thereby made confident. It is even as when it rains in the water or on a desert wilderness, and meantime, the good pastures and grounds are parched and dried up. The ungodly out of the gospel suck only a carnal freedom, and become worse thereby; therefore, not the Gospel, but the law belongs to them.
(Table-Talk, translated by Henry Hazlitt, CCLXXXVI, CCLXXXVII)

The cause that I at the first so harshly spake and wrote against the law was this; the Christian Church was grievously burdened with manifold superstitions and false believings, and Christ was altogether darkened and buried. Therefore I was desirous (through the grace of God, and the Word of the Gospel) to deliver good and godly hearts from such tormenting of consciences; but I never rejected the law.
(Table-Talk, "Extracts Selected by Dr. Macaulay," p. 58, cf. Google Reader Bell / Lauterbach / Aurifaber version, p. 197)

Anno 1541, certain propositions were brought to Luther as he sat at dinner, importing that the Law ought not to be preached in the church, because we are not justified thereby: at the sight whereof he was much moved to anger, and said, "Such seducers do come already among our people, while we yet live: what will he done when we are gone?" "Let us," said he, "give Philip Melancthon the honour due unto him; for he teacheth exceeding well and plainly of the right difference, use, and profit of the Law and Gospel. I, also, teach the same; and have thoroughly handled that point in the Epistle to the Galatians. . . . he that taketh the doctrine of the Law out of the church, doth rend and tear away both political and household government; and when the Law is cast out of the church, then there is no more acknowledging of sins in the world: for the Gospel reproveth not sin, except it maketh use of the office of the Law, which is done spiritually in describing and revealing sins that are committed against God's will and command."
(Table-Talk, translated by Henry Bell in 1650 from the Anthony Lauterbach / Joannes Aurifaber version; "Certain Principle Doctrines of the Christian Religion" section; from the year 1541, pp. 197-198)

Whether we should preach only of God’s Grace and Mercy, or not.
Philip Melancthon demanded of Luther whether the opinion of Calixtus were to be approved of, namely, that the Gospel of God’s Grace ought to be continually preached. For thereby, doubtless, said Melancthon, people would grow worse and worse. Luther answered him and said: We must preach Gratiam, notwithstanding, because Christ hath commanded it. And although we long and often preach of grace, yet when people are at the point of death they know but little thereof. Nevertheless we must also drive on with the Ten Commandments in due time and place.
The ungodly, said Luther, out of the Gospel do suck only a carnal freedom, and become worse thereby; therefore not the Gospel, but the Law belongeth to them. Even as when my little son John offendeth: if then I should not whip him, but call him to the table unto me, and give him sugar and plums, thereby, indeed, I should make him worse, yea, should quite spoil him.
The Gospel is like a fresh, mild, and cool air in the extreme heat of summer, that is, a solace and comfort in the anguish of the conscience. But as this heat proceedeth from the rays of the sun, so likewise the terrifying of the conscience must proceed from the preaching of the Law, to the end we may know that we have offended against the Laws of God.
Now, said Luther, when the mind is refreshed and quickened again by the cool air of the Gospel, then we must not be idle, lie down and sleep; that is, when our consciences are settled in peace, quieted and comforted through God’s spirit, then we must show also and prove our faith by such good works which God hath commanded. But so long as we live in this vale of misery, we shall be plagued and vexed with flies, with beetles, and with vermin, etc., that is, with the devil, with the world, and with our own flesh; yet we must press through, and not suffer ourselves to recoil.
Against the Opposers of the Law.
I do much condemn, said Luther, the Antinomians, who, void of all shame, reject the doctrine of the Law, whereas the same is both necessary and profitable. But they see not the effect, the need, and the fruit thereof. St. Austin did picture the strength, the office and operation of the Law, by a very fit similitude, namely, that it discovereth our sins, and God’s wrath against sin, and placeth them in our sight; for the Law is not in fault, but our evil and wicked nature, even as a heap of lime is still and quiet until water be poured thereon, but then it beginneth to smoke and to burn, not that it is the fault of the water, but it is the nature and kind of the lime, which will not endure water; but if oil be poured upon it, then it lieth still and burneth not. Even so it is with the Law and Gospel. It is an exceedingly fair similitude.
(Table-Talk, translated by Henry Bell in 1650 from the Anthony Lauterbach / Joannes Aurifaber version; "Of the Law and the Gospel" section; from the year 1541)

For thus do the Anabaptists teach, that baptism is nothing except the person do believe. Out of this principle must needs follow, that all the works of God be nothing if the man be nothing. But baptism is the work of God, and yet an evil man maketh it not to be the work of God. . . . Who seeth not here, in the Anabaptists, men not possessed with devils, but even devils themselves possessed with worse devils? . . .

If one heresy die, by and by another springeth up, for the devil doth neither slumber or sleep. I myself, which, although I be nothing, have been now in the ministry of Christ about twenty years, can truly witness that I have been assailed with more than twenty sects, of the which some are already destroyed, . . . But Satan, the god of all dissension, stirreth up daily new sects, and last of all (which, of all other, I should never have foreseen or once suspected), he hath raised up a sect of such as teach that the Ten Commandments ought to be taken out of the church, and that men should not be terrified with the law, but gently exhorted by the preaching of the grace of Christ . . . Such is the blindness and presumption of these frantic heads, which even by their own judgment do condemn themselves. . . . let the minister of Christ know that so long as he teacheth Christ purely, there shall not be wanting perverse spirits, yea, even of our own, and among ourselves, which shall seek, by all means possible, to trouble the church of Christ. . . . Yea, let him rejoice in the troubles which he suffereth by these sects and seditious spirits, continually springing up one after another.

(Commentary on Galatians, Lafayette, Indiana, Sovereign Grace Publishers, Inc., 2002, Preface, pp. xx1-xxii)

Martin Luther: Lutheran Followers of His Version of the Gospel "Do Not Care" Whether They "Live According To It"; "Ingrates" Deserving God's "Wrath"


All the cited words below are Luther's own, from non-Catholic sources. The blue highlighting is my own.

So what is my own "take" on all this business of Luther's teachings and current events in Germany and among the early Lutherans, during the earliest period of Protestantism? I think causes of historical events are always extraordinarily complex, just as causes of human behavior in general are. That has always been my position, as long as I can remember. I despise simplistic attempts of positing single causes for things as obviously complex as our topic of the social / theological situation of Germany in the 16th century.

Cynical, misinformed critics, however, ridiculously caricature "my position" as the following:

1) Luther (a man who was an evil scoundrel, madman, foul loudmouth, and fanatic) wrote a bunch of dumb, heretical stuff that had no redeeming value whatever.

2) Folks therefore responded in kind and doctrinal and moral chaos resulted entirely because of Luther's teaching.

In actuality, my position is far more nuanced than knee-jerk anti-Catholic opponents or quick-to-judge Lutherans unfamiliar with my overall collection of writings on Luther (including many where I agree with him), imagine:

1) Luther was a man with good intentions, who sought to follow God. He was prone to extremely fiery, unhelpful anti-Catholic rhetoric, but he was not mad, and far less fanatical and heretical than the Protestant sects that broke away from his own; including John Calvin's.

2) His teachings were a mixture of previous Catholic tradition, (particularly regarding Mary, baptism, and the Eucharist), and novel error.

3) Luther taught the absolute necessity of good works in the Christian life, as an inevitable manifestation of an authentic faith. He didn't separate justification and sanctification to the degree that Calvin (or even his successor Philip Melanchthon) did.

4) But Luther also did a very poor job of communicating the subtleties of his "faith alone" (sola fide) soteriology to the masses: most of whom were incapable of analyzing the fine distinctions entailed (a state of affairs which is largely true even to our present time). In his extreme rhetoric of separation of faith and works, the necessary continuing connections that Luther in fact maintained in his theology, rightly understood, were lost in the public mind. In this sense, he showed himself to be rather excessively naive, as to the likely misunderstandings that would result and how many people would act in ways that he neither condoned nor envisioned.

5) As a result, there was a strong tendency at first towards antinomianism and anarchism (neither sanctioned by Luther) among the populace, as evidenced by an increase of immorality (noted often by Luther himself) and the Peasants' Revolt.

6) At the same time, Luther's radical change of the rule of faith from an infallible Church and tradition to private judgment and sola Scriptura (Scripture as the only infallible authority) and comments about plowboys being able to interpret Scripture without the checks and balances of that Church and tradition, naturally led to excesses of individuality and sectarianism. People reasoned (consciously or not) that since Luther felt free to break away from Catholicism and gave the example of an ongoing smear campaign of propaganda and calumny against the existing Church, that there was little reason why they could not reject both the Catholic Church and him. In other words, he was again naive to think that he could unleash an entirely new principle, yet expect that no one but him would utilize it, in precisely the way that he had. Hence, Carlstadt and the Anabaptists and Zwinglians and Calvinists and other groups arose, to his great dismay. The truth (whatever it was) was not self-evidently clear to all from Scripture alone. He again failed to see any connection whatever between his teachings on authority, and what ensued.

7) Luther always had the last resort of recourse to the devil as the end-all explanation of any problems in his own ranks. This sort of hypothesis or theory was impervious to any possible falsification: being entirely subjective and speculative. All heretical breakaway groups through history have rationalized persecution or vehement disagreement from others by holding that it was inevitable, just as Jesus and the prophets and the early Christians were also persecuted. This allowed Luther to isolate himself from any possible criticism of his faulty teaching or faulty teaching methods of both false and true aspects of his teaching, as at least a partial cause of the difficulties. He was God's man of the hour, delivering the "Gospel" (as if Catholics didn't already have it); therefore, he couldn't possibly be wrong in any major way. It was unthinkable to him.

* * * * *

Thus we have the teaching of nature and of reason regarding the sin of men's ingratitude toward one another. How much greater the evil, how much more shameful and accursed, when manifested toward God who, in his infinite and ineffable goodness, conferred upon us while yet enemies to him and deserving of the fires of hell—conferred upon us, I say, not ten dollars, not a hundred thousand dollars even, but redemption from divine wrath and eternal death, and abundantly comforted us, granting us safety, a good conscience, peace and salvation! These are inexpressible blessings, incomprehensible in this life. And they will continue to occupy our minds in yonder eternal life. How much more awful the sin of ingratitude for these blessings, as exemplified in the servant mentioned in the Gospel passage for today, to whom was forgiven the debt of ten thousand talents and who yet would not forgive the debt of his fellow-servant who owed him a hundred pence! (p. 333)

Is it not incredible that there are to be found on earth individuals wicked enough to manifest for the highest and eternal blessings such unspeakable ingratitude? But alas, we have the evidence of our own eyes. We know them in their very dwelling-places. We see how the world abounds with them. Not only are the ingrates to be found among deliberate rejecters of the acknowledged truth of the Gospel, concerning God's grace, an assured conscience and the promise of eternal life, terrible as such malice of the devil is, but they are present also in our midst, accepting the Gospel and boasting of it. Such shameful ingratitude prevails among the masses it would not be strange were God to send upon them the thunders and lightnings of his wrath, yes, all the Turks and the devils of hell. There is a generally prevalent ingratitude like that of the wicked servant who readily forgot the straits he experienced when, being called to account for what he could not pay, the wrathful sentence was pronounced against him that he and all he possessed must be sold, and he be indefinitely imprisoned. Nor have we less readily forgotten how we were tortured under the Papacy; how we were overwhelmed, drowned as in a flood, with numberless strange doctrines, when our anxious consciences longed for salvation. Now that we are, through the grace of God, liberated from these distresses, our gratitude is of a character to increasingly heap to ourselves the wrath of God. So have others before us done, and consequently have endured terrible chastisement. Only calculate the enormity of our wickedness when, God having infinitely blessed us in forgiving all our sins and making us lords over heaven and earth, we so little respect him as to be unmindful of his blessings; to be unwilling for the sake of them sincerely to forgive our neighbor a single slighting word, not to mention rendering him service. We conduct ourselves as if God might be expected to connive at our ingratitude and permit us to continue in it, at the same time conferring upon us as godly and obedient children, success and happiness. More than this, we think we have the privilege and power to live and do as we please. Indeed, the more learning and power we have and the more exalted our rank, the greater knaves we are; perpetrating every wicked deed, stirring up strife, discord, war and murder for the sake of executing our own arbitrary designs, where the question is the surrender of a penny in recognition of the hundreds of thousands of dollars daily received from God notwithstanding our ingratitude. (pp. 333-334).

The world remains the devil's own. We must remember we shall not by any means find with the world that Christian heart pictured by the apostle; on the contrary we shall find what might be represented by a picture of the very opposite type —the most shameless ingratitude. But let the still existing God-fearing Christians be careful to imitate in their gratitude the spirit of the apostle's beautiful picture. Let them give evidence of their willingness to hear the Word of God, of pleasure and delight in it and grief where it is rejected. Let them show by their lives a consciousness of the great blessing conferred by those from whom they received the Gospel. As recipients of such goodness, let their hearts and lips ever be ready with the happy declaration: "God be praised !" For thereunto are we called. As before said, praise should be the constant service and daily sacrifice of Christians; and according to Paul's teaching here, the Christian's works, his fruits of righteousness, should shine before men. Such manifestation of gratitude assuredly must result when we comprehend what God has given us. (p. 338)

(from The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther Vol.4.2, edited by John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000, pp. 330-342; available online also in the Sermon on the Twenty-Second Sunday After Trinity [Philippians 1:3-11]: revised translation from the 1827 Erlangen edition of Luther's writings by Socrates Henkel, in Dr. Martin Luther's Church Postil: Sermons on The Epistles, New Market, Virginia: New Market Evangelical Lutheran Publishing Company, 1869)

* * *

. . . they who do as the gospel teaches, are true Christians. However, very few of these are found; we see many hearers, but all are not doers of the Gospel. (p. 104)

But who are they that love God, and cleave not to gold and worldly possessions? Take a good look at the whole world, also the Christians, and see if they despise gold and riches. It requires an effort to hear the Gospel and to live according to it. God be praised, we have the Gospel; that no one can deny, but what do we do with it? We are concerned only about learning and knowing it, and nothing more; we think it is enough to know it, and do not care whether we ever live according to it. However, on the other hand, one is very anxious when he leaves lying in window or in the room a dollar or two, yea, even a dime, then he worries and fears lest the money be stolen; but the same person can do without the Gospel through a whole year. And such characters still wish to be considered Evangelical. Here we see what and who we are. If we were Christians, we would despise riches and be concerned about Gospel that we some day might live in it and prove it by our deeds. We see few such Christians; therefore we must hear the judgment that we are despisers of God and hate God: the sake of riches and worldly possessions. Alas! That fine praise! We should be ashamed of ourselves in our inmost souls; there is no hope for us! What a fine condition we are in now! That means, I think, our names are blotted out. What spoiled children we are! (pp. 105-106)

Now the world cannot conceal its unbelief in its course outward sins, for I see it loves a dollar more than Christ; more than all the Apostles, even if they themselves were present and preached to it. I can hear the Gospel daily, but it does not profit me every day; it may indeed happen if I have heard it a whole year, the Holy Spirit may have been given to me only one hour. Now when I enjoyed this hour I obtained not only five hundred dollars, but also I riches of the whole world; for what have I not, when I have the Gospel? I received God, who made the silver and I gold, and all that is upon the earth; for I acquired the Spirit by which I know that I will be kept by him forever; that much more than if I had the church full of money. Examine now and see, if our heart is not a rogue, full of wickedness and unbelief. If I were a true Christian, I would say: In the hour the Gospel is received, there comes to me a hundred thousand dollars, and much more. For if I possess this treasure, I have all that is in heaven and upon earth. But one must serve this treasure only, for no man can serve God and mammon. Either you must love God and hate money; or you must hate God and love money; this and nothing more. (pp. 106-107)

(from The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther Vol. 3.1; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000, pp. 102-117. It is readable online as Second Sermon for the Fifteenth Sunday After Trinity [Matthew 6:24-34] from the book, The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther, Vol. 14, edited by John Nicholas Lenker, Minneapolis, Lutherans in All Lands Co., 1905, 118-126. From Walch edition, Vol. XII, 1234 and Vol. XI, 2171)

* * * * *

Luther's Letter to His Wife Katie Regarding the State of Wittenberg: 28 July 1545

To my kind and dear mistress of the house, Luther’s Catherine von Bora, a preacher, a brewer, a gardener, and whatever else she is capable of doing- Grace and peace! Dear Katie!

John surely will tell you everything pertaining to our journey; I am not yet certain whether he should stay with me, but Doctor Caspar Cruciger and Ferdinand, of course, will tell you. Ernst von Schönfeld has treated us graciously at Löbnitz, and Heintz Scherle at Leipzig even more so.

I would like to arrange matters in such a way that I do not have to return to Wittenberg. My heart has become cold, so that I do not like to be there any longer. I wish you would sell the garden and field, house and all. Also I would like to return the big house to my Most Gracious Lord. It would be best for you to move to Zölsdorf as long as I am still living and able to help you to improve the little property with my salary. For I hope that my Most Gracious Lord would let my salary be continued at least for one [year], that is, the last year of my life. After my death the four elements at Wittenberg certainly will not tolerate you [there]. Therefore it would be better to do while I am alive what certainly would have to be done then. As things are run in Wittenberg, perhaps the people there will acquire not only the dance of St. Vitus or St. John, but the dance of the beggars or the dance of Beelzebub, since they have started to bare women and maidens in front and back, and there is no one who punishes or objects. In addition the Word of God is being mocked [there]. Away from this Sodom! If Leeks Bachscheisse, our other Rosina, and [her] seducer are not yet imprisoned, then help as much as you can to see that this scoundrel loses what he has gained. While in the country I have heard more than I find out while in Wittenberg. Consequently I am tired of this city and do not wish to return, May God help me with this.

The day after tomorrow I shall drive to Merseburg, for Sovereign George has very urgently asked that I do so. Thus I shall be on the move, and will rather eat the bread of a beggar than torture and upset my poor old [age] and final days with the filth at Wittenberg which destroys my hard and faithful work. You might inform Doctor Pomer and Master Philip of this (if you wish), and [you might ask] if Doctor Pomer would wish to say farewell to Wittenberg in my behalf. For I am unable any longer to endure my anger [about] and dislike [of this city].

With this I commend you to God. Amen.

(LW, vol. 50, 273-278)

* * *

Away with this Sodom. Our other Rosina and deceiver is Leak's dung, and yet not in prison; do what you can to make the wretch stultify himself. I hear more of these scandals in the country than I did at Wittenberg, and am therefore tired of that city and do not wish to return, God helping me. Day after to-morrow I am going to Merseburg, for Prince George has pressed me to do so. I will wander around here and eat the bread of charity before I will martyr and soil my poor old last days with the disordered life of Wittenberg, where I lose all my bitter, costly work. You may tell Melanchthon and Bugenhagen this, if you will, and ask the latter to give Wittenberg my blessing, for I can no longer bear its wrath and displeasure. God bless you. Amen.

(in The Life and Letters of Martin Luther, edited by Preserved Smith, Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1914, p. 416)

See related papers:

Martin Luther: After Lutheranism Was Preached, Germans Became More "Avaricious, Unmerciful, Impure and Wicked Than Previously Under the Papacy"

Martin Luther: Protestants' "Manner of Life" No Better Than That of the "Papists"

Martin Luther's Regrets as to the Relative Failure of the "Reformation" (Piety, Morals & Inconsistencies Regarding Replacing Bishops With Princes)

Philip Melanchthon's Agony Over the Sectarianism of Early Protestantism / Little-Known Derivation of the Term "Protestant"

Martin Luther on Sanctification and the Absolute Necessity of Good Works as the Proof of Authentic Faith

Martin Luther: Strong Elements in His Thinking of Theosis and Transformational Sanctification Closely Allied with Justification

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Martin Luther: God is the Author of Evil & Hates Some Men Eternally / Horse & Rider Analogy / No Free Will / Everything (+ Damnation) Predetermined

[ source ]

All the cited words below are Luther's own, from various translations of The Bondage of the Will (his own favorite work). Sources are always non-Catholic ones unless specifically identified as "Catholic". The blue highlighting is mine.

* * * * *

Summary of English Versions of The Bondage of the Will (Luther Treatise of 1525)

Translation by J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Fleming H. Revell, 1957.

Translation by Phillip Watson (based on WA 18 600-787); in Luther's Works [LW], Volume 33.

Luther and Erasmus: Free Will and Salvation, edited by Ernest Gordon Rupp and Philip S. Watson, LCC XVII, Philadelphia: Westminster, 1969.

Translation by Edward Thomas Vaughan, 1823.

Translation by Henry Cole, 1823.

Combination of the Vaughan and Cole versions , by Henry Atherton, 1930.

The Horse (Man) and its Rider (God)

In short, if we are under the god of this world, away from the work and Spirit of the true God, we are held captive to his will, as Paul says to Timothy [II Tim. 2:26], so that we cannot will anything but what he wills. For he is that strong man armed, who guards his own palace in such a way that those whom he possesses are in peace [Luke 11:21], so as to prevent them from stirring up any thought or feeling against him; otherwise, the kingdom of Satan being divided against itself would not stand [Luke 11:18], whereas Christ affirms that it does stand. And this we do readily and willingly, according to the nature of the will, which would not be a will if it were compelled; for compulsion is rather (so to say) “unwill.” But if a Stronger One comes who overcomes him and takes us as His spoil, then through his Spirit we are again slaves and captives—though this is royal freedom—so that we readily will and do what he wills. Thus the human will is placed between the two like a beast of burden. If God rides it, it wills and goes where God wills, as the psalm says: “I am become as a beast [before thee] and I am always with thee” [Ps. 73:22 f.]. If Satan rides it, it wills and goes where Satan wills; nor can it choose to run to either of the two riders or to seek him out, but the riders themselves contend for the possession and control of it. What if I can prove from the words you yourself use in asserting freedom of choice that there is no free choice? What if I convict you of unwittingly denying what you seek so carefully to affirm? Frankly, unless I do so, I swear to regard everything I write against you in the entire book as revoked, and everything your Diatribe either asserts or queries against me as confirmed. (LW, vol. 33, 65)

So man's will is like a beast standing between two riders. If God rides, it wills and goes where God wills: as the Psalm says, 'I am become as a beast before thee, and I am ever with thee' (Ps. 72.22-3). If Satan rides, it wills and goes where Satan wills. Nor may it choose to which rider it will run, or which it will seek; but the riders themselves fight to decide who shall have hold of it. (Packer / Johnston, pp. 103-104)

Thus, the human will is placed, as a sort of packhorse, in the midst of two contending parties. If God hath mounted, it wills and goes whither God pleases; as the Psalmist says, I am become as a beast of burden, and I am ever with thee." (Psa. Ixxiii. 22, 23.) If Satan hath mounted, it wills and goes whither Satan wills. Nor is it in its own choice, to which of the two riders it shall run, or to seek its rider; but the riders themselves contend for the acquisition and possession of it. (Vaughan)

Thus the human will is, as it were, a beast between the two. If God sit thereon, it wills and goes where God will: as the Psalm saith, " I am become as it were a beast before thee, and I am continually with thee." If Satan sit thereon, it wills and goes as Satan will. Nor is it in the power of its own will to choose, to which rider it will run, nor which it will seek; but the riders themselves contend, which shall have and hold it. (Cole)

Either God or Satan rules over men; to this pet thought he adds: "The matter stands simply thus . . when God is in us, the devil is absent and then we can will only what is good; but when God is not there, the devil is, and then we can will only what is evil. Neither God nor Satan leaves us with an indifferent will." "When the stronger of the two comes upon us," he says, " and makes a prey of us, snatching us away from our former ruler, we become servants and prisoners to such an extent that we desire and do gladly what he wills (ut velimus et faciamus libenter quce ipse velit). Thus the human will stands," Luther continues, using a simile which has become famous, "like a saddle-horse between the two. If God mounts into the saddle, man wills and goes forward as God wills . . . but if the devil is the horseman, then man wills and acts as the devil wills. He has no power to run to one or the other of the two riders and offer himself to him, but the riders fight to obtain possession of the animal." (Hartmann Grisar [Catholic], Luther, Vol. II, p. 274 )

God's Foreknowledge the "Thunderbolt" that Destroys Human Free Will

Here, then, is something fundamentally necessary and salutary for a Christian, to know that God foreknows nothing contingently, but that he foresees and purposes and does all things by his immutable, eternal, and infallible will. Here is a thunderbolt by which free choice is completely prostrated and shattered, so that those who want free choice asserted must either deny or explain away this thunderbolt, or get rid of it by some other means. (LW , vol. 33, 37)

It is, then, fundamentally necessary and wholesome for Christians to know that God foreknows nothing contingently, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His own immutable, eternal and infallible will. This bombshell knocks 'free-will' flat, and utterly shatters it; so that those who want to assert it must either deny my bombshell, or pretend not to notice it, or find some other way of dodging it. (Packer / Johnston, p. 80)

God foreknows nothing by contingency, but that he foreknows, purposes, and does all things according to his immutable, eternal, and infallible will. By this thunderbolt, Free-will is thrown prostrate, and utterly dashed to pieces. (Cole, p. 26)

This, therefore, is also essentially necessary and wholesome for Christians to know: That God foreknows nothing by contingency, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His immutable, eternal, and infallible will. By this thunderbolt, “Free-will” is thrown prostrate, and utterly dashed to pieces. Those, therefore, who would assert “Free-will,” must either deny this thunderbolt, or pretend not to see it, or push it from them. (Atherton, section IX)

God foreknows nothing contingently, but that he foresees and purposes and does all things by his immutable, eternal, and infallible will. Here is a thunderbolt by which free choice is completely prostrate and shattered . . . (Rupp and Watson, p. 118)

All That Happens is By Necessity, Not Free Will

From this it follows irrefutably that everything we do, everything that happens, even if it seems to us to happen mutably and contingently, happens in fact nonetheless necessarily and immutably, if you have regard to the will of God. (LW, vol. 33, 37; same in Rupp/Watson, p. 119)

From which it follows, by resistless logic, that all we do, however it may appear to us to be done mutably and contingently, is in reality done necessarily and immutably in respect of God's will. (Packer/Johnston, p. 80)

Hence it irresistibly follows, that all which we do, and all which happens, although it seem to happen mutably and contingently, does in reality happen necessarily and unalterably, insofar as respects the will of God. (Vaughan, p. 33)

From which it follows unalterably, that all things which we do, although they may appear to us to be done mutably and contingently, and even may be done thus contingently by us, are yet, in reality, done necessarily and immutably, with respect to the will of God. (Cole, p. 27; same in Atherton, section IX)

God is the Author of Evil

But hardest is the view of those who say that free choice is a mere empty name, that it is God who works both good and evil in us, and that all things which happen come about by sheer necessity. (LW, vol. 33, 112; this is a statement of Erasmus that Luther is stating back to him in the dispute; Erasmus is opposing the notion, while Luther is supporting it; see Erasmus' own statement of it in Rupp/Watson, p. 54)

'that the opinion of those who say that Free-will is an empty term, for that God works in us both good and evil, is most severe.' (Cole, pp. 119-120)

* * *

Here you see that when God works in and through evil men, evil things are done, and yet God cannot act evilly although he does evil through evil men, because one who is himself good cannot act evilly; yet he uses evil instruments that cannot escape the sway and motion of his omnipotence. It is the fault, therefore, of the instruments, which God does not allow to be idle, that evil things are done, with God himself setting them in motion. (Rupp/Watson, pp. 232-233)

* * *

God works evil in us, i.e., by means of us, not through any fault of his, but owing to our faultiness, since we are by nature evil and he is good; but as he carries us along by his own activity in accordance with the nature of his omnipotence, good as he is himself he cannot help but do evil with an evil instrument, though he makes good use of this evil in accordance with his wisdom for his own glory and our salvation. (Rupp/Watson, p. 234)

God works evil in us, that is, by us, not from the fault of God, but from the fault of evil in us: -- that is, as we are evil by nature, God, who is truly good, carrying us along by his own action, according to the nature of his omnipotence, cannot do otherwise than do evil by us, as instruments, though he himself be good; though by his wisdom, he overrules that evil well, to his own glory and to our salvation. (Cole, p. 211)

* * *

Hence the divine action and omnipotence impels the will of Shimei, which like all his members is already evil and has already been inflamed against David . . . (Rupp/Watson, p. 234)

* * *

Why then does God not cease from that motion of his omnipotence, by which the will of the wicked is moved to go on in evil, and to become worse? I answer: this is to wish that God, for the sake of the wicked, would cease to be God . . . Why does he not then change, in his motion, those evil wills which he moves? -- This belongs to those secrets of Majesty, where "his judgments are past finding out." (Cole, p. 214)

God Decrees the Damnation of the Lost From All Eternity

Now, if you are disturbed by the thought that it is difficult to defend the mercy and justice of God when he damns the undeserving, that is to say, ungodly men who are what they are because they were born in ungodliness and can in no way help being and remaining ungodly and damnable, but are compelled by a necessity of nature to sin and to perish (as Paul says: “We were all children of wrath like the rest,” since they are created so by God himself from seed corrupted by the sin of the one man Adam)—rather must God be honored and revered as supremely merciful toward those whom he justifies and saves, supremely unworthy as they are, and there must be at least some acknowledgement of his divine wisdom so that he may be believed to be righteous where he seems to us to be unjust. For if his righteousness were such that it could be judged to be righteous by human standards, it would clearly not be divine and would in no way differ from human righteousness. But since he is the one true God, and is wholly incomprehensible and inaccessible to human reason, it is proper and indeed necessary that his righteousness also should be incomprehensible, as Paul also says where he exclaims: “O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!” But they would not be incomprehensible if we were able in every instance to grasp how they are righteous. What is man, compared with God? How much is there within our power compared with his power? What is our strength in comparison with his resources? What is our knowledge compared with his wisdom? What is our substance over against his substance? In a word, what is our all compared with his? (LW, vol. 33, 289)

And if you are concerned about this,—that it is difficult to defend the mercy and justice of God, seeing that, he damns the undeserving, that is, those who are for that reason ungodly, because, being born in iniquity, they cannot by any means prevent themselves from being ungodly, and from remaining so, and being damned, but are compelled from the necessity of nature to sin and perish, as Paul saith, " We all were the children of wrath, even as others," when at the same time, they were created such by God himself from a corrupt seed, by means of the sin of Adam,— (Cole, p. 370)

But if this disturb us, that, it is difficult to maintain the mercy and equity of God, in that he damns the undeserving, namely, ungodly men who are even of such a sort, that, being born in ungodliness, they cannot by any means help being ungodly, remaining so, and being damned; yea, being compelled by the necessity of their nature to sin and perish (as Paul speaks, "We were all the sons of wrath even as others"), being created such as they are, by God himself, out of a seed which became corrupted through that sin which was Adam's only. (Vaughan, p. 460)

God Hates Many Men From All Eternity

God’s love toward men is eternal and immutable, and his hatred is eternal, being prior to the creation of the world, and not only to the merit and work of free choice; and everything takes place by necessity in us, according as he either loves or does not love us from all eternity, . . . (LW, vol. 33, 198)

[T]he love and hatred of God towards men is immutable and eternal; existing, not only before there was any merit or work of Free-will, but before the worlds were made; and that, all things take place in us by necessity, accordingly as he loved or loved not from all eternity. (Cole, p. 240)

We know very well, that God does not hate or love, as we do; since we both love and hate mutably; but he loves and hates according to his eternal and immutable nature: so far is he from being the subject of accident and affection. And it is this very thing which compels Freewill to be a mere no thing; namely, that the love of God towards men is eternal and immutable, and his hatred towards them eternal; not only prior to the merit and operation of Freewill, but even to the very making of the world; and that every thing is wrought in us necessarily, according to his having either loved us or not loved us, from eternity: insomuch that not only the love of God, but even his manner of loving, brings necessity upon us. (Vaughan, p. 305)

* * *

. . . the hatred by which we are eternally damned . . . (Vaughan, p. 306)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Erik Erikson Believed That Martin Luther Was a "Manic-Depressive" (Bipolar)

Erik Erikson (1902-1994) was a well-known psychologist and author of the famous book, Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History (1958). I hadn't realized that he regarded Martin Luther as a "manic-depressive" (current fashionable term: bipolar disorder). Here is what he wrote about it in his book:

I will not claim that the clinical form which this martyrdom assumed in Luther's middle age, namely, a severe manic-depressive state, could have come about without a specific constitutional make-up. But I would point out, as I did with regard to Martin's identity crisis, the life-stage which provided the scene for this breakdown. (p. 243)

In its excess, Luther's obscenity expresses the needs of a manic-depressive nature which has to maintain a state of unrelenting paranoid repudiation of an appointed enemy on the outside in order to avoid victimizing and, as it were, eliminating itself. (p. 246)

Luther then tasted fully the danger of this stage, which paradoxically is felt by creative people more deeply than by others, namely, a sense of stagnation, experienced by him in manic-depressive form. (p. 260)

Previously, at least four Catholic biographers of Luther (Heinrich Denifle, Albert Maria Weiss, Hartmann Grisar, and Paul J. Reiter: a psychiatrist) were of the same opinion. Erikson, however, was Jewish, so the ubiquitous accusation of "Catholic bias" doesn't realistically apply to his analysis.

I myself have not taken a position one way or the other as to whether Luther was bipolar. I have cited in two papers many historians who note his undeniable bouts with severe depression:

Luther's Frequent Depression, Spiritual Crises, and Erroneous Projection Onto St. Paul of His "Evangelical Experience"

Did Martin Luther Suffer From (Probably Biochemically Produced) Serious Psychological Maladies (Particularly Recurring Severe Depression)?

In the first I wrote:

I don't maintain any particular position as to Luther's mental health, though I understand that it is pretty much the consensus of historians that he at least suffered fairly regular (if not cyclical) bouts with severe depression, . . . But even if he were bipolar or whatever, so what? Millions suffer from this malady, and it is now known to be largely if not wholly chemical in nature. One cannot be held responsible for chemicals in one's brain going awry. . . .

I hasten to add that I wouldn't hold serious depression or wrestling with the devil or the dark night of the soul, or tormented conscience per se against anyone, having experienced, years ago, severe depression and existential angst myself (shortly after that I converted to evangelical Protestantism and have never experienced it again).

And in the second:

I don't judge the man, if indeed he suffered from significant psychological difficulties (as appears to be the case), in all likelihood caused by (as we now know) biochemical imbalances. I'm the parent of two special needs children, and I surely don't blame them or look down on them because of factors beyond their own control.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

We Made an Igloo! Loads of Winter Fun . . .


I've been wanting to do this for years. The closest I came was about 22 years ago in my parents' backyard, but I only got to a few feet high before the snow ran out (and I was sick as it was). We finally got socked last week with big snow (surprisingly, up here in southeast Michigan we haven't gotten much snow this winter, while everyone else has).

So about six days ago I decided to take the bull by the horns and make an igloo at long last. There was lots of fresh snow and it was perfect packing, at just under 32 degrees. I started by myself (the first three hours' worth of work). I carved out the inside diameter with a snow shovel (about 8-10 feet), left the snow as it was around the edges, packed it down with a shovel and carved it at a 45 degree angle on the outside, so that the foundation was about twice as thick as all layers above it.

After that, it was pretty simple: I made snow bricks using a dishwashing pan, stomping on it so it was well-packed. Then I added bricks all the way around for level two, alternating bricks up and down (because the dishpan tapers out on the sides). I set the bricks about two inches towards the middle, past the edge of the previous layer. We did this for the rest of the construction. Then I packed in the angled spaces on the outside with snow, so that it would be smooth. My gloves were absolutely soaked!

By that first day I had it built about three feet high. The next day my 13 yo son helped the whole time, and my 8 yo daughter did the filling-in packing on the inside (perfect for her since that was so low at first). We kept making bricks and bricks and got the igloo up to about 6 feet high after the second day of construction; eventually using plastic toboggans to pull loads of six bricks at a time to the construction site. We worked on the doorway, making it straight up, and then put in one piece of wood at the top, to make sure it wouldn't collapse. That was the only part of it that wasn't snow (if you don't count the wooden door).

On the third day we were determined to finish and see if the dome would hold. It was exciting! For some reason it got less round the higher we went, and took on more of a rectangular shape. But that probably helped stabilize the top more. It was a happy accident. The snow was less packable than the day before, when it was perfect. Now it was more icy and less like wet sand on the beach. After a few more hours, the igloo got to where there was just a small hole on top.

The top layer had to be added from the outside with the help of a small step ladder. We just set some bricks on top that covered about six inches or so of empty space. My son packed snow real good from inside, on the ceiling (saved my back!). I then put two more layers of bricks on the top, figuring that would cause the top to melt more slowly. That's what gave it the pointed "top of a mountain" look, because of this extra "padding" and the already rectangular top section. It was solid all around, with no hint of possible collapse. We had done it! We had no major obstacles to overcome. Everything had gone smoothly.

It snowed some more in the next few days, making a nice smooth sparkling white exterior. It looked like a miniature mountain. On the first night my son and I played chess inside of it, with a camping lantern (he won: he's better than I am). And the next night he actually slept in it, but got cold at about 6 AM (probably because he didn't have a proper winter coat: it was wet) and took refuge in the house. I camped in Rocky Mountain Park in 1979 (all of age 21 then) at 9000 feet in a funky little pup tent, and when I woke up a few inches of snow was on the ground. Gorgeous to hike in! I was perfectly warm with my down jacket. The day before I had hiked 17 miles at that altitude: a huge circle. His night reminded me of that adventure.

For the last three or four days the temperature has been above freezing, so unfortunately it is melting rapidly. What a shame, after all the work. But it was a blast. I wouldn't trade the experience, working / playing with my son, for anything. He said it was some of the greatest fun he had ever had, and I said I felt like a kid again: the new, fresh experience. It was one of those classic, priceless father-son "moments." That's what it's all about.

Hope you enjoy the photos. I'm curious to hear if anyone else has made one of these and if you constructed it differently, and if you ran into any "engineering problems."

Pretty dark inside and very quiet. The walls were about a foot-and-a-half thick. The square item is a plastic milk crate.

A different angle. With our big evergreen tree it looks like it is really out in the wild.

The dimensions may be hard to reckon. It was about 8 feet tall (five feet on the inside), and 8-10 feet diameter on the inside.

Here is my adorable daughter having a blast. My son rigged up a rope for the door that went through a hole, like a drawbridge.

And a close-up of the little sweetie-pie. Ah, the wonder of childhood . . .

And here's my son who worked so hard. The inside looked exactly like a cave (I slept in one in the Grand Canyon in 1978), with white walls. It settled in to something between ice and hard-packed snow.

Here it is after several days of melting. The whole thing appears to have sunk. My son is almost 5'8", so the top has lost about two feet and the doorway is about two-thirds as high as it originally was. The inside is still solid: for now!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How Anti-Catholics Often Argue (Massive Use of Ad Hominem, Personal Insult, Smear Tactics) / My Humorous, Satirical Retorts

Since I have been the target of these antics on many occasions (being an apologist who defends the Catholic faith, and thus a visible target), I often use myself as an example, below, of what such attacks are like. Even this has been utilized by anti-Catholics, as supposed evidence of my alleged "martyr / persecution complex," "narcissism," etc. LOL! I'm attacked because these people despise what i defend: the Catholic Church. Period. End of story.

"BJ Bear" (Lutheran)

Using your style of citation and interpretation an atheist can easily prove that the Bible teaches there never was a god. Using your method it would go like this, "In the beginning ... There is no god ... You are gods." (November 2002)

Gene M. "Troll" Bridges
I don't read, Kim Jong Armstrong's blog [with pictures of the North Korean dictator]. Unlike him, I'm not so self-obsessed that I troll about the internet looking for references to my name so that I can find targets to test fire missiles. . . . Reading the post, the debate is, itself, more about his feeling left out, mocked, etc. than it is about the truth of Scripture, theology, etc. No, the list of resolutions are, for the most part, all about Dave's ego . . . attention he so desperately craves . . . I think me debating Dave would be as profitable a use of my time as a US official debating Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. . . . you are a chronic liar . . . If you would write something less than the long, incoherent, and rambling posts you write - posts that an English professor would grade "C" at best, I might be willing to do a blog debate. . . . shoddy, incompetent,and anachronistic exegetical work. . . . Titus 3 says to reject the factious man. You are the epitome of that man. You've demonstrated that several times. Further, this isn't about the truth for you Dave, however defined, it's about stroking your own overbloated ego. . . . a person of such obviously low character . . . (10-25-07)

Generalissimo (In)Fidel Armstrong's Polit Bureau [with a picture of Castro] . . . Here's a challenge for Dave: Stop with the self-flagellation and self-absorption and maybe you'll be taken more seriously. . . . And Barney Fife, Dave, and Barney Fife. (10-26-07)

Dave . . . earned those posts because he was behaving like these petty, impotent dictators. If the shoe fits . . . These sorts of posts are made, in case Dave hasn't yet figured it out, so we can draw out the real Dave. On the one hand, Dave is a pious man; on the other, when the veneer is stripped away, he's a vain idolater who worships at the altar of Dave. . . . what makes you evil in darkness for doing it is your hypocrisy and the fact that you devote long, involved, heavily detailed treatises, . . . all for the sole purpose of defending your honor. . . . From my perspective you've apostatized. What does 1 John say about praying for such people, Dave? On the other hand, I have no idea if you are reprobate. That's above my pay grade. I'll pray for mercy for you, Dave, . . . I'll pray for your regeneration. (7-16-09)

The pattern is always the same...he interjects himself into a discussion, beginning with pious words. Within a few posts, we're able to bring out the real Dave, the Dave full of contempt. Maybe it never occurs to Dave that he gets treated this way because it serves our purpose: to get the real Dave to come out to play. Honestly, that's what is really going on here. Dave falls for it every time. . . . Dave Armstrong - Pious Fraud. Here's a word of advice for Dave...keep your big mouth shut and these situations could easily be avoided. You remind me of the victims of domestic violence who go back to the men who abuse them. (12-14-09)

Dave's words are all about Dave. Sorry, Dave, you fool nobody, except yourself. Your actions give the lie to your words. You are a foolish man full of contempt for anybody that does not agree with Dave. You can't even keep your own word . . . Let the record show, yet again...Dave Armstrong, liar, pious fraud. (12-14-09)

Jason Engwer
We have to sift through a lot of dross in Dave's posts before we find material that's of much significance. There are misrepresentations and irrelevancies throughout Dave's posts, . . . What does it tell us about Dave Armstrong's apologetics when he argues this way, and does so with such frequency? (July 2003)

Steve "Whopper" Hays

So guys like Dave Armstrong . . . present an artificially Evangelicalized version of Roman Catholicism . . . sterile hybrid theology that isn't consistently Catholic or Protestant.

. . . if you do a spot-on impersonation of someone who’s hypersensitive, paranoid, an ego-maniac, narcissistic, with a martyr and persecution complex, then how are we supposed to tell the difference between the person and the impersonation? The make-up, inflection, &c, is just uncanny. . . . For that matter, have you ever encountered a self-obsessive individual who admits to being a self-obsessive individual? Don’t we expect a self-obsessive individual to deny how self-obsessive he is? A self-obsessive individual spends endless amounts of time talking about how he’s not a self-obsessive individual, which, of course, is just another way of talking about himself–over and over again. Does that ring a bell? Sound like anyone you know? . . . Not only is Dave an idolater, but a self-idolater. He has sculpted an idol in his own, precious image. A singular, autobiographical personality cult. (7-16-09)

I used to think that Dave Armstrong was just a jerk. Not deeply evil. Just a jerk. . . . He isn’t just a narcissistic little jerk. He’s actually evil. It’s not something we can spoof or satirize anymore. He’s crossed a line of no return. (4-13-09)

. . . you play the innocent victim when someone exposes your chicanery. . . . you’re a hack who pretends to be a professional apologist . . . you don’t do any real research. . . . If I did pray for Armstrong, do you think I’d announce it in public? But suppose I didn’t? There are, after all, billions of people in need of prayer. He can get in line like everyone else. Dave isn’t somebody who lost his faith and went quietly into the night. No, Dave is a stalwart enemy of the faith. He’s no better than Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. Just like the militant atheist, his MO is to destroy faith in God’s word to make room for his alternative. In this case, his corrupt denomination. (1-28-10)

. . . your persecution complex (btw, you need to have your psychiatrist up the dosage) . . . I didn’t say you were evil in this one instance. You have an evil character. This particular instance brought that to the fore. . . . Since you can’t out-argue [Jason Engwer], you try to discredit him by creating a deceptive narrative about his performance. . . . There’s always a clientele for P. T. Barnums like you. . . . I’m supposed to be taken in by your bipolar tactics? (1-29-10)

It’s entirely possible for a schizophrenic guy like Armstrong to contradict himself from one moment to the next. Indeed, just look at the wild mood swings which he has put on display in this very thread. . . . The question is not whether the accusation makes sense, but whether Dave makes sense. Dave is confusing logical consistency with psychological consistency. It’s psychologically possible for an emotionally unstable guy like Dave to be logically inconsistent. (4-18-10)

That disclaimer would be a bit more plausible if Dave didn’t go on and on and on in one hysterical comment after another after another. One of Dave’s problems is his lifelong love affair with himself. He reacts to any imagined slight the way a normal man reacts if someone slights his wife or mother or girlfriend. . . . Dave is self-important. . . . People who are truly self-effacing don’t ordinarily crow about how truly self-effacing they are. If would help Armstrong if, in refuting the allegation that he’s emotionally unhinged, if he didn’t become emotionally unhinged whenever he hears the allegation. A hundred hysterical comments later: . . . (4-18-10)

Well, since you ask, one of Armstrong’s problems (yes, the list is long, I know) is his repudiation of Pauline sola fide. And we see the practical outworking of his life. Because he doesn’t trust in the merit of Christ alone for salvation, Dave has an insatiable need for self-justification. He, like other Catholics, has no peace of mind. (4-18-10)

Yes, Dave, that's evil. Pure evil. (4-18-10)

Of course, that’s symptomatic of Armstrong’s instability. He will post reams and reams of high-strung reaction pieces in the heat of the moment, then, after a cooling off period, when it dawns on him that his impetuous commentary unwittingly backfired, he will follow that up with a mass purge. (4-18-10)

Both Paul Hoffer and Dave Armstrong are bad men who imagine they are good men. That's not unusual. Bad men often have a high opinion of their own motives. And Catholicism reinforces that self-deception. (12-7-11)

David T. King

I already have a very low view of the integrity of non-Protestants in general, . . . most of you are too dishonest to admit what you really think. (on Eric Svendsen's Areopagus board, 4-15-03)

It is a typical Roman Catholic tactic to misrepresent one's opponent purposely in order to "name and claim" a victory.
(on Eric Svendsen's Areopagus board, 6-5-03)

Poor DA, so misunderstood . . . My heart goes out to this filthy, foulmouthed Romanist! Good ole DA, a legend in his own mind, and a magisterium of one. (3 April 2009)

Rev. Paul T. McCain (Lutheran Contra-Catholic)

Dave Armstrong is one of those sad persons who apparently spend nearly every waking moment on their Internet site. He is a Roman Catholic apologist who culls through the Internet looking for any chance he can to pounce on people who dare breathe a word of protest against what "Holy Mother" Rome has to say on anything. As is the case with most apologists like him, he tends to get his facts pretty screwed up. If you engage him, it is akin to sticking your hand on flypaper, he and his groupies like to swarm. (March 2007)

I had not looked in at this site for a very long time, but there was no surprise when I did recently. Armstrong is still spouting his nonsense that is an embarassment [sic] to any good Roman Catholic with only a modicum of a decent education in Reformation history. I suppose its only to be expected though that the Roman Catholic Church have its share of amateur "apologists" who bring shame on it much as we have ours as well. If this wasn't such a tragedy, it would be, truly, laughable. (20 September 2009)

Armstrong's attacks on Lutheranism are just embarrassing. The scholarship is an example of a first-rate, third-rate grasp of facts. He relies on sources that are purely polemical RC tripe. I mean, seriously, how anyone can possibly begin to take the man seriously is quite beyond me. (19 February 2010)

He is the Roman version of a guy like James White, who has a similar style. Dave Armstrong is not interested in "helpful discussion" but only attacking non-Romanists. . . . Mr. [Armstrong] has made a little business for himself playing at apologetics, and thrives on the kind of petty sniping that this blog site seems to be more about than anything else. The whiney tone is unbecoming a Christian man. If you can't stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen. . . . stop taking yourself so seriously and stop all the self-referential posts. You are just making yourself foolish and your position weak. . . . Grow up. Be a man and stop acting like a 14 year old kid in an Internet chat room. I'm quite sure that Rome deserves better and, frankly, even you realize it. I hope you have some friends who can counsel you and help you find a more constructive manner in which to go about your "apologetics" work. Truly, I'm embarrassed for you. . . . The best/worst thing that a person can do to a dysfunctional personality like yours is ignore them. God bless. . . . a Roman Catholic layman named Armstrong who self-published a book titled, The One Minute Apologist. . . . Armstrong is still spouting his nonsense that is an embarassment [sic] to any good Roman Catholic with only a modicum of a decent education in Reformation history. I suppose its only to be expected though that the Roman Catholic Church have its share of amateur "apologists" who bring shame on it much as we have ours as well. If this wasn't such a tragedy, it would be, truly, laughable.

Peter Pike

For the record, an anti-Catholic is anyone who disagrees with Dave Armstrong. I know he's got this pretend definition that he pulls out, but when you look at who he calls an anti-Catholic it's pretty clear that it's nothing but a sledge-hammer to use against those he hates. (12-14-09)

I don't think Dave is capable of seeing how petty and vindictive he looks right now. He literally reminds me of a four-year-old throwing a tantrum because someone took his toy and he wants it back. Words cannot express how pathetic it is to be reduced to blubbering about word counts and percentages instead of dealing with substantive issues. (1-29-10)

. . . you have the character of a charlatan and you are the kind of person who would delete a post and claim Blogger did it. . . . But you really do need to get therapy, Dave. This is not an insult. This is an honest assessment. I've never met anyone with as over-inflated ego as you have. . . . Doesn't your pathetic little world ever get boring for you? Expand your horizons. Turn off your computer and leave your basement occasionally. Then you'll see that the world doesn't revolve around you, and you are not some great mystic champion for the Truth. You are a lesser-known wannabe who's only claim to fame is crying a lot about nothing. . . . your obviously diseased mind . . . (9-27-10)

"Rhology" (Alan)

In reality, you're a special case. You're a false teacher, and a borderline obsessive-compulsive, incorrigible, tenacious one at that. Biblically, a Christian is not to treat you like he treats the majority of lost people. Rather, you are a wolf in sheep's clothing, cooing "come back to the true church" to unwitting people, some of whom follow the sweet voice and are devoured by the enemy. You are to be opposed, and that means exposing your foolish reasoning and false Gospel and "answering a fool according to his folly". May God have mercy on you. (8-21-09)

"Saint and Sinner"

Here’s Dave’s attempted rebuttal. I would encourage everyone (who has the time!) to read my post, write down the specific points / arguments / counter-arguments that I made, read Dave’s post, and see if he actually responded meaningfully with anything I said. Good luck! (10-5-07)

[H]e rants and raves ad nauseam [sic] and ends up drifting away from the issue. (10-6-07)

Eric "the Yellow" Svendsen

RC apologists will do or say just about anything--true or not--to advance their cause. They engage in the strategy of deception regularly.
(on his Areopagus board: 4-27-03)

[W]e have experience with those who use the "strategy of deceit" to mislead people down the road to a false gospel. (on his Areopagus board: 6-4-03)

[T]here are not that many of us who take Armstrong's writings seriously . . . To correct him always requires discussing foundational issues that Armstrong should have known before embarking on writing in the first place (which is justification for my prior statement that his writings are little more than a bunch of words that have been loosely strung together). (1-3-05)
It appears that direct and substantive critiques of his work have proved too much for Dave Armstrong. He has pulled the plug on his little blog experiment gone bad . . . now, as poetic justice would have it, Dave Armstrong is not merely closing the comments section of his apologetic blog--he's getting out of the apologetic blog business entirely! (1-4-05)

. . . strategy of deceit that he [yours truly] uses all the time . . . (1-11-05)

[T]he "nature" of his apology was insincerity . . . That's the "strategy of deceit" that Paul refers to in Ephesians 4. (1-13-05)

. . . He has no problem with lying, so long as he thinks he can pin that same charge on someone else; that way he doesn't "appear" to be lying. What a sad spectacle. (1-14-05)

. . . DA's strategy of deceit, . . . (1-14-05)

What's my "lack of charity" got to do with DA's lack of honesty? Nothing. . . . that's just what DA does best--he deceives, and he usually accomplishes that by focusing on half-truths (that's the "strategy of deceit" that marks the heretic). (1-15-05)

"Truth Unites.....and Divides"

But I say you're deleting our comments because they're really showing that you, Dave Armstrong, are the real imbecile. You're embarrassed and you want to hide. Hence, you delete comments and structure the thread discussion to a one-sided slant in your favor so that you don't look as bad as you would if you had just let all comments stay up. P.S. I'd probably concede to the charge that I'm not spending my time wisely by continuing to interact with such a delusional loser like Dave Armstrong. (9-29-10)

Please leave Dave Armstrong's invective up on this blog thread. . . . I say let it remain because it clearly shows what a horse's ass he is. (at Boors All; probably will be deleted there; 9-30-10)

I'll also say that I get comedic value out of Dave Armstrong's comments. They are so over the top in his rhetoric, plus the fact that he really believes in what he's writing, that I just bust out laughing at this pompous blowhard. (Boors All; probably will be deleted there; 9-30-10)

Frank Turk (aka "Centuri0n")

I have contacted several "professional" apologetics ministries
about you to see if there was something I was doing wrong in approaching your position and your person, and they all, unanimously, said that you do not participate in any kind of fair method of dialogue . . . (7-16-03)

Hi Dave! Seems I'm not the only one who thinks you're a cry-baby who is unable to rightly handle historical primary sources. . . . anyone about to stick a needle in the balloon which is Armstrong's alleged arguments deserves support and kudos. (1-11-04)

The logo ["Biblical Evidence for Catholicism"] is cleverly worded to confuse Protestants (who will think that it means Scripture teaches Catholicism, which it does not) while corresponding to the objective of the author of that blog, namely to tack Scripture onto Catholic dogma that never came from Scripture . . . of course, most of what appears on the web site is not even pretext at Biblical apologetics, just inflammatory material . . . (10-18-07)

Dave's defense [in a proposed chat room debate that TAO declined] would not be a defense of Roman Catholic dogma but a Protestantized version thereof (especially considering Dave's apparently anti-Tridentine acceptance of Reformed Christians as Christians rather than as anathema . . . I have no desire to debate whether Roman Catholicism is Christian with someone who is not fully Roman Catholic . . . Obviously, for now, the debate is on hold, pending Dave's decision about whether to follow Roman Catholic dogma or not label himself Roman Catholic. (10-27-07)

Dave . . . is a self-appointed e-poligist [sic] and largely self-published author. . . . not all of his doctrines are Catholic . . . Dave has apparently never defined Christianity. . . . Maybe Dave will actually stand behind the dogmatic declarations of the church for which he is allegedly an apologist. (10-29-07)

. . . you're not really in line with orthodox Roman Catholic teaching, Dave. (7-6-09)

Your dishonesty stopped surprising me when you pretended that I refused to debate you. (8-21-09, 8:22 AM)

You are as kind as you are wise or honest. (8-21-09, 1:10 PM)

I've recently commented on your lack of integrity. It seems this is going to be an ongoing trend for you. (8-21-09, 5:56 PM)

Many folks would be ashamed to have the reports of their dishonesty recalled, but you seem to wear the judgment of godly men like Dr. Svendsen and Pastor King as a badge of honor. You actually seem proud to have been judged dishonest by them. I'm glad to be in their company in concluding from my personal observations to the same effect: that your agenda is more important to you than the truth. (8-21-09, 7:29 PM)

Bishop "Dr." James White

1) DA lacks the ability to engage the text of the Scriptures in a meaningful fashion, and 2) DA will use anything to attack the truth. . . . As to the first, I simply direct anyone to the "exegesis" presented in A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, his 2001 publication. The book is a monument to how to ignore context, avoid grammar, shred syntax, and insert the traditions of Rome willy-nilly into any passage you cite. . . . DA thinks himself a modern Socrates, yet, his writing takes wild leaps from topic to topic, inserts endless (and often gratuitous) irrelevant material that serves only to cover the shallow nature of what is being said, and in the end requires one to possess the skill of nailing jello to a wall to be able to respond to it for its utter lack of substance. (3-28-04)

[Y]ou know, in your heart of hearts, that this fella, uh, bless his soul, has no idea what he's talking about. . . . he's clueless . . . This guy [sigh], sadly, there are people who write recommendations of his stuff! I mean, you got Scott Hahn, all these folks, which amazes me. Uh, because you [laughter] look at some of his books, and it's just like "wow! there's just no substance here." It's just rattle rattle rattle rattle, and quote John Henry Cardinal Newman and that's the end of the subject. And there's no meaningful argumentation going on at all.

[webcast of 4-20-04: listen to the complete audio file, or you can listen to only the nine-minute portion directed towards me

Related Papers, Documenting Anti-Catholic Smearing Tactics:

Reply to James White's Unwarranted Trashing of Protestant Philosopher and Apologist William Lane Craig / Does Dr. Craig Believe in Original Sin?

Anti-Catholic Reformed Baptist James White's Bizarre Obsession With Insulting and Smearing Catholic Apologist Steve Ray

Bishop James White's Unbounded Admiration and "Respect" for My Apologetic Work (Particularly in Reply to John Calvin)

Does No Protestant Denomination Whatsoever Regard Deacons as the Equivalent of Pastors and Elders? (Reply to James White's Ad Hominem Extravaganza)

James White's Hypocritical Sense of Humor

Yet Another James White Hit Piece / Correction of Erroneous Blurb Concerning My Catholic Conversion

Documentation of James White Posts That Are Solely Personal Insults, Without Any Substance or Actual Counter-Reply (Reply to "Turretinfan")

My Humorous, Satirical Reactions to the Mudslinging

His Holiness James White Pope Doll (satirical visual caricature)


My Collection of Rush-Like Take-Offs of Songs (Humor)

A Day in the Life of an Anti-Catholic: Steve "Whopper" Hays (includes a satirical take-off of the Beatles' song, A Day in the Life)

2008 Don Rickles Chronic Insulter of the Year Award Goes to Bishop White [includes take-off of Bob Dylan song Positively 4th Street]

Updated on 20 December 2011.