…And Also the Elephant in the Rome

Wherein I follow the truth and make some of you uncomfortable, and others angry. I am aware that among those are some of my friends. All I ask is that you find my mistakes.

It is undeniable that when one of the angels speaks to John

17 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” 3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. 5 And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” 6 And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.

When I saw her, I marveled greatly. 7 But the angel said to me, “Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. 8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come. 9 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated

that this is a reference to Rome. Rome is the city founded on seven hills. Likewise, when Constantine built up Byzantium into Constantinople as the “New Rome”, it was consciously built upon seven hills. Babylon, the Harlot, the Necropolis, is spread across the seas, and there are two beasts and one beast has a false prophet. I do not claim to have a mind with wisdom as in full, but I have enough wisdom to know I need more.

Revelation is a puzzle and I don’t mean to set out what it all means here and now. And there is a lot about Babylon in Revelation which I have not quoted. What is Rome? I mean: What is meant by Rome as Babylon? Is it significant that Rome and Istanbul both are set on seven hills? Are they references to the two Roman Empires…or the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church…or the Roman Catholic Church and Islam? When Babylon falls and breaks into three pieces, is that a reference to the two great splits of the Church–and so including Protestants? I don’t know.

I do know that it has to do with Rome, and things that look like Rome, or are symbolized by Rome. I know the end has not yet come. I know that there is a lot of strife described in the text and that there has been a lot of strife in the world around Rome (both physically and spiritually) and there are many things I cannot square with the Roman Church and what is said in the Bible. Let us all submit to the tradition of the Church, but let us never exclude the Bible from Tradition! It seems to me Rome has done that…does that. Protestants and Orthodox have and do too, but at least you can suggest that with them without being dragged down a rabbit-hole of nonsense and–ultimately–gnosticism. The teaching of the Church of Rome is that Gnosticism is a heresy, but the practice of it is Knowledge for me, but ignorance for thee. There is no going back from the Council of Trent except to either eat their way through seven mountains of crow…or destruction.

I am also quick to consider that I am not free from influence. I have been listening to those podcasts and audiobooks; several of which have Roman Catholic thought at their centers. Tolkien was RC. The NRx leaders (and therefore flagship podcast) are are RC. The Reformation series was RC-centric. It did not praise Protestants in any way. But one of the several aspects that stuck out as a back-handed compliment that Madden noted about Martin Luther was that Luther was supremely lucky. Every time Charles V (The “Holy Roman Emporer” was about to put Luther to the torch with the blessing of the various Popes, something got in the way: The Turks, the French (The French are notorious as villains with cause.),…foreign kings in general. Some catastrophe happens which meant parole or pardon for Luther. Someone was looking out for him.

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29 thoughts on “…And Also the Elephant in the Rome

  1. Revelation is a puzzle

    Not entirely. It takes some effort to dig out and parts will remain fuzzy, but keep in mind that it is a revelation and that means it is an unveiling, not a hiding.

    Ping me if you want to borrow some materials on it that may provide some perspective. It is not a major focus of mine, but I know of at least one individual who really digs into it.

  2. tossing in the following random thoughts:

    1. Moscow, which considers itself the heir to Byzantium and the seat of Orthodoxy, is also built on seven hills.

    2. Catholicism,Orthodoxy,Protestantism = 3 splits.

  3. There are three pillars in the RCC. Scripture is one. Capitlal T Tradition is the second. The teaching magisterium (bishops and pope) is third.

    The problem with the bible alone is what you are seeing – you will come to some understanding of Revelation, but I can all but guarantee it will be wrong. Is it talking about modern Israel? For Rome, is it the Roman (civil) empire or the church? You can find lots of prophetic interpretations that the rapture had to occur before the mid-1980s and that the USSR would take over the world, invade Israel, but be nuked. Oops.

    Most Protestants don’t believe in the Real Presence despite John 6 (unless you eat/eat/gnaw on my flesh and drink my blood – the eat/gnaw on is from the greek). They accept divorce despite it being utterly condemned in the strongest language in all four gospels. They accept contraception which was absolutely considered a grave sin by everyone until 1930. But on Divorce and Contraception, there will be proof texts, as well as transubstantiation – even the only two verses in the epistles in red are “This is my body” and “This is my blood”. where Paul goes on to note they are guilty of the body and blood of Christ, not just desecrating symbols thereof.

    The Church has always had problems from the earliest – read Acts. They key question is if when reading the Bible, they have the least contradictions and the clearest interpretations. I’d add even the Canon of scripture. Where in the Bible does it say which books and passages are in the Bible?

    Even so, either people are honestly looking for truth and will follow Jesus where he leads, or insists on going. I can’t say given the confusion today that the RCC is the best for all even if it is the “true church”. If you will be saved and achieve a higher place in heaven elsewhere I cannot suggest you move. Sometimes truth is blocked by the sin and errors of the members. But that is true for all churches.

  4. *there are many things I cannot square with the Roman Church and what is said in the Bible. *

    The Catholics in the room rather enjoy this degree of Protestant question begging.

  5. Cane Caldo,

    You insult a Church that was converting the world to Christ a millenia before your religion was founded. And your reasonings in the OP are question begging. If you wish to assert my pointing that out to be scoffing, so be it.

  6. Cane Caldo,

    The OP is a level of question begging that is repeatedly walloped on the heads of Catholics, and I might say is likely the number one reason Catholics apostatize to Protestantism. Some of us might see that as having some rather eternally significant consequences – fair warning to you, friend – and for the on the fence folks who read your otherwise excellent blog they should be presented with the Truth. Once the question begging is exposed for the falsehood it is, Catholics can begin to use it to our advantage. There is nothing derisive to point out the obvious nor was it meant in such a manner.

  7. The Great Whore is most likely the apostate church.

    The Bible uses the image of an adulterous wife who prostitutes herself multiple times as an analogy of God’s people being unfaithful to Him.

    Hosea 1:2 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” 3 So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

    Psalm 106:34 They did not destroy the peoples
    as the Lord had commanded them,
    35 but they mingled with the nations
    and adopted their customs.
    36 They worshiped their idols,
    which became a snare to them.
    37 They sacrificed their sons
    and their daughters to false gods.
    38 They shed innocent blood,
    the blood of their sons and daughters,
    whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
    and the land was desecrated by their blood.
    39 They defiled themselves by what they did;
    by their deeds they prostituted themselves.

    Jeremiah 3:6 During the reign of King Josiah, the Lord said to me, “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there. 7 I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it. 8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. 9 Because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood. 10 In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,” declares the Lord.

    There are many more, but you get the idea. Note that the adulterous act is specifically idol worship.

    Years ago, I would’ve said that the Great Whore is the Catholic Church, because when I lived in Latin America I witnessed the RCC condoning and encouraging a whole lot of Old-Testament-style idol worship. By the way, I’ve found that American Catholics are largely ignorant of the idol worship that is common in the RCC in Latin America and the Philippines.

    I no longer think that the Great Whore is the Catholic Church for a couple different reasons.

    1. I’ve never seen that kind of idol worship among American Catholics, so clearly not all Catholics participate in it, much less condone it.

    2. I now understand that Idol worship isn’t always as obvious as what I saw in Latin America, and a lot of Protestants engage in it.

    The Great Whore, then, represents unfaithful Christians (of all denominations) who worship things other than Christ.

    At some point, these counterfeit Christians will join forces with a Satanic political power (The Beast) and persecute and murder Christians who remain faithful to Christ.

    There exists abundant historical precedent for that kind of thing. For example, the men who translated the Bible into common languages (like Tyndale) suffered mightily at the hands of those who called themselves Christians, but made it illegal for ordinary people to read or even possess the scriptures.

  8. Text without context is no text at all.

    When talking about Revelations, or the Apocalypse of John, it is essential to understand the timing of when John wrote it.

    Babylon is clearly a reference to Rome. Heck, Catholic teaching says as much. We agree it refers to Rome.

    The thing is, when John wrote that, he wasn’t only referencing Rome in the future, but Rome at the time.

    Rome meant something back then. It meant secular power. It meant grandeur and glory and wealth and luxury and everything of that sort. It meant everything of the flesh. It meant the world. Literally.

    Rome meant all of that. Just as Babylon meant all of that before Rome arose. Just as Egypt meant all of that before Babylon displaced it.

    John was warning the Christian Church of his time about the harlotry of Rome- that is, the lure of the world and the flesh. He was trying to ward the people of God away from the corrupting influence of worldliness which is every present-then, as it is now, and as it will be until the End of Days.

    And then, just as now, there were many “Christians” who had built not houses of God for themselves, but tombs. They lived in great Necropolii which dotted (and still dot) the land. Read the Letter of St. Clement to the Corinthians if you get a chance. That epistle makes it clear that Christians back then were often quick to embrace the harlot. Nothing has changed, really.

    While I cannot prove it, I can quite imagine that if John were writing that text today, it might be the harlot of Rome he would be warning us against. And by Rome, he would mean America.

  9. While I cannot prove it, I can quite imagine that if John were writing that text today, it might be the harlot of Rome he would be warning us against. And by Rome, he would mean America.

    “For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”

    The US is the best fit for that right now.

    Millions of infant sacrifices, exportation of Hollywood values, meddling in world affairs …

    Following verse should also give us pause:

    “Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues;”

  10. Despite the Roman Church’s boast of an visible church compared to Protestantism “invisible Church”, the fact of the matter is that once the development of doctrine is conceded their Church transmute from an institution to a narrative. And a very highly specific narrative at that whose tenets can be discerned only by those possessed of a degree in canon law or a masters in Roman theology. No one with lesser qualifications are capable of the theological juggling necessary to square Unam Sanctam with Dignitatis humanae. This is in fact virtual gnosticism about the Church Catholic.

    A Mexican Romanist once made the following rather insightful remark:

    Generally, contemporary Catholic dislike historical theology, or at least it enters very little into how they think of religious problems. Why this is the case requires some rather creative speculation. I think one reason is perhaps because of the modernist crisis of last century, when Pope Pius X and his goons saw modernist hiding under every Vatican bush. Modernism was all about using history to contextualize doctrine, and such an exercise is always dangerous. Even the last two popes, who many educated Catholics look up to as “intellectuals”, are profoundly “a-historical” in their approaches to theological and philosophical questions. Papa Wojtyla was a spacey phenomenologist obsessed with the idea of “Biblical myth” in the worst sense (theology of the body), and not at all enamored with Patristics or liturgy. The little I have read of Ratzinger shows me that insofar as he addresses history he addresses it like Newman (the other ten ton elephant in the room) addresses it: as a Hegelian procession of ideas through time and the ether. In other words, that doctrines change is admitted but not why they change. History always has to be subjugated to theory: history exists to create the desired ideological result. The real is rational and the rational real, and so forth.

    Not all Catholics are like this, though. One of my mentors (a Catholic) once told me that if Scripture is the object for fundamentalism for the Protestant, and liturgy for the Orthodox, for the Catholic it is very easy to fall into historical fundamentalism. History always has to tell OUR story or things fall apart.

    I developed this argument at greater length in this post of mine: https://rationalityofaith.wordpress.com/2015/08/01/a-sufficiently-nuanced-high-church-ecclesiology-converges-to-the-protestant-doctrine-of-the-invisible-church/

  11. donalgraeme,

    That’s an interesting thought about John’s vision and modern American. I’ve really been thinking a lot lately how Christians can or should “come out of her.” It’s been difficult for me, for sure.

  12. @ Oscar, Donal

    At some point, these counterfeit Christians will join forces with a Satanic political power (The Beast) and persecute and murder Christians who remain faithful to Christ.

    John was warning the Christian Church of his time about the harlotry of Rome- that is, the lure of the world and the flesh. He was trying to ward the people of God away from the corrupting influence of worldliness which is every present-then, as it is now, and as it will be until the End of Days.

    It will likely be composed of all of the different ways the Church falls away in the end time in Revelation 2 and 3 and correspondingly the Christians that fall away. Feminists (Church in Thyatira) being one of them.

    I probably should write on Rev 2 and 3 some because they basically tell us all of the pit falls that we have to deal with in the end times. You can see a lot of parallels happening now.

  13. @Rubati

    Welcome, and thanks. I’ll check it out.

    And a very highly specific narrative at that whose tenets can be discerned only by those possessed of a degree in canon law or a masters in Roman theology. No one with lesser qualifications are capable of the theological juggling necessary to square Unam Sanctam with Dignitatis humanae. This is in fact virtual gnosticism about the Church Catholic.

    Superb.

    @Oscar

    The Great Whore is most likely the apostate church.

    That is not what John relayed. The apostate church are those who have drank of Babylon’s cup, and who will suffer for it. So by definition, Babylon is something else. That something else is Rome…perhaps it would be better said as “Romanism”. Several times it is mentioned that Babylon is clothed in and famed for scarlet and purple garments. That is Rome.

    Interestingly, the secret of scarlet and purple clothing dye is from the Phoenicians, or–as we Bible nuts call them–Canaanites; just like the Alphabet. According to Wikipedia, it could be the from the Minoans as well. The Minoans were from Crete; whom St. Paul lambasts. The Minoans could also be the forebears of the Philistines (possibly also the mysterious “Sea People”) according to the “History of English” podcast.

    I am glad I pursued this line of thought! Just read this from Wikipedia while searching for “purple rome”, and if true, relevant to the discussion of Babylon/Rome:

    The production of Murex purple [CC: the scarlet and purple dye loved by Romans] for the Byzantine court came to an abrupt end with the sack of Constantinople in 1204, the critical episode of the Fourth Crusade. David Jacoby concludes that “no Byzantine emperor nor any Latin ruler in former Byzantine territories could muster the financial resources required for the pursuit of murex purple production.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrian_purple

    And from Revelation 18

    15 The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,

    16 “Alas, alas, for the great city
    that was clothed in fine linen,
    in purple and scarlet,
    adorned with gold,
    with jewels, and with pearls!
    17 For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.”

  14. Cane Caldo,

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on that.

    Rubati,

    I’ll read your longer post at some point, but some quick thoughts on your comment. As a “Romanist,” I find development of doctrine scripturally supported and utterly fascinating. Call it theological Providence. Much of your criticism assumes a typically Protestant program of splitting theological points into an Either/Or dilemma. But the Bride of Christ sojourning here on earth is both an institution and a narrative. And we glory in that fact. Splitting Christianity into either institutions or narratives is a Protestant undertaking and a significant cause of Protestant confusion. Both sides can play the canon law game. I’ve been a Catholic for about 5 minutes, and I can see the Roman “narrative” as conversion to Christ through His Church and by His instruments of grace. There are difficulties to reconcile in Scripture that are scandalous to atheists, and there are difficulties to reconcile in doctrinal statements of a two thousand year old Faith lived by regular old human beings. I’m not saying that’s a convincing argument, but it is one reason why run of the mill Catholics like myself don’t sweat our lack of theological degrees. I don’t see how doing what your Mother tells you because she said so is gnosticism, virtual or otherwise.

  15. Wood,

    Ironically the Development of Doctrine itself was an unprecedented novelty in the 19th century and was rejected by most Romanists when it was first formulated by Newman simply because it contradicted the main Roman Catholic claim to hold nothing more or less than what has been explicitly taught and believed by the Apostles themselves.

    Before Newman, in the age of Bossuet, virtually every major Roman Catholic theologian in the 16th-19th century (e.g. Boussuet, Francis Suarez, Cardinal John De Lugo, etc) believed that the apostles were explicitly aware of doctrines like transubstantiation and the two wills of Christ, etc. Whatever the Church would later teach are nothing more than faithful transmissions of the very doctrines which the apostles explicitly knew and taught. For them it was impossible for the future generations of the Church or later Christians to claim to know more than the apostles themselves. In the works of the early Church Fathers there is no sense or consciousness that later churches would get a better or clearer idea of the faith than the apostles. Their obsession was with accurate and faithful transmission of what went on before, they did not look forward to some future council to clarify doctrinal teachings or formulas nor did they believe that later Christians would know better than them concerning the faith.

    With the rise of the modern historical method it was becoming increasingly difficult to argue that the early church fathers explicitly knew of doctrines like purgatory or transubstantiation. If they cannot continuously trace an explicit knowledge or confession of those doctrines from the very beginning, then those doctrines are in no sense of the word “traditional”, that is, continuously explicitly transmitted from the beginning. However, Roman Catholics in the early 19th century actually need not have been worried. They could either insist that the practical piety of the faithful transmitted their present doctrines via “unwritten oral traditions”, or they could go with logical deductions from Scriptural premises. There are two things to keep in mind. This was before Vatican I and the declarations of papal infallibility as well as the various Marian dogmas. Roman Catholic theologians back then were still confident that they could make a biblical case for saintly invocation, purgatory and transubstantiation, etc.

    What we see however is a loss of nerve on Cardinal Newman’s part. Instead of resting his case for Romanism upon logical inferences from the Scriptures, or upon such unwritten oral traditions, he instead essentially conceded that the Apostles or early Church were not aware of later Roman Catholic doctrines nor had they once for all established all the necessary truths of the Christian faith. All we are given from the beginning are “seeds” or principles from which later doctrines would “grow” or develop from as the Church reflected and debate on the matter. Newman thus essentially argued for what every major Roman theologian before had denied: That later Christians can claim to know better and more than the apostles about the doctrine of the two wills of Christ or the Christian faith if for no other reason than that they have made the logical deductions and inferences the apostles did not.

    Newman’s theory scandalised his contemporary Romanists who were aghast at this shocking concession to the Protestant argument that the apostles knew nothing of so many Roman Catholic accretions and therefore were guilty of deviating from the traditional apostolic deposit of faith. Newman’s theory was even condemned as heretical by some Roman Catholic thinkers and his theory was strongly criticised by Archbishop Manning. Newman tried to get the approval of Giovanni Perrone, a prominent Italian theologian who occupied a chair of dogma at Roman college, by presenting a list of doctrines he thought could not be accounted for under the traditional theories (the validity of heretical baptism, the canon of Scripture, the sinlessness of the virgin Mary, the doctrine of indulgences, eucharistic sacrifice, etc). Perrone merely responded with an unamused: “All these the Church has always held and professed.”
    It would be instructive to note that both Perrone and particularly Cardinal Manning had a pretty low view of history. Cardinal Manning dismissively pointed out that no Roman Catholic deduces his faith from antiquity or history while to Perrone’s Italian mind Roman Catholic doctrines were logically deduced from dogmatic declarations; what weight do mere inductions from history possess against such rigorous deductions?

    The Lutheran church historian Hermann Sasse noted that even before Vatican I a plausible biblical case for the Roman Catholic position could still be made. With the Marian dogmas and Vatican I, Roman Catholic dogmas could no longer be plausibly inferred from Scripture or witness of the early church, especially when it is frankly admitted that the dogmas are the product of speculative or “conclusion theology” rather than Biblical inferences or even transmission from the early church. It is not by accident that with the Marian dogmas and Vatican I, the theory of unwritten oral traditions was quietly shelved away, the Jesuit theory of logical deductions from Scripture set aside, and Newman’s theory of doctrinal development acquired new strength.

    What is clear however is that Newman’s theory of doctrinal development is itself a novelty, it is unprecedented in its concession that so many central Roman teachings were unknown to the apostles or the early Church. What we are witnessing in traditionalist circles is an ironically modern phenomenon, when the cultural context or background collapses, there is an attempt to romantically reinvent the past to reorient oneself. Tradition no longer refers to actual teachings transmitted from the source. Instead it involves a human idealisation projected backwards in time to give the illusion of antiquity and a grounding upon the past. Of course this foundation is itself ironically sustained only by a presentist act of narration and tale spinning. It is simply not borne out by the facts of history.

    It is perhaps a great irony that one of the most common response to the alleged Protestant deviation from tradition is to invent one’s own version of tradition.

  16. @Wood

    I’m writing them as we type. I do not think you will like it, but I hope that it spurs investigation.

    For the record: I posted facts, and asked questions; including questions which were unflattering to Protestants. I also put forth my personal thoughts, but even then not in an argument form and not specifically and only targeted at Roman Catholics. I focused on your scoff because that is all you actually communicated, and therefore I believe that is all you wanted to communicate; though you perhaps did not think it through. It still happened. This post was not an syllogistic argument, nor a thesis. Therefore the accusation of “begging the question” was entirely irrelevant. You might as well have accused me of stepping out of the ring as I wrote.

    You had and have alternatives. You can dispute facts, or refute them as false. You can forward your own interpretation, or the RC’s interpretation. What you can’t do, and be taken seriously, is just scoff.

    @Rubati

    Re: Newman

    Wow!

    Out of curiosity: How did you find my blog?

  17. I actually found your blog about two or three years back, via Sunshine Mary. But I think this is my first time commenting.

  18. Rubati,

    I didn’t realize how much of this hinged on the Protestant view of Newman. Criticism of Newman is nothing I’m unaware of. He is a polarizing figure in even some Catholic circles. To me, that is quite irrelevant to the discussion of development. There are heretical notions of development, and there are Catholic notions of development. I have no issue judging Newman through that lens, letting the chips fall where they may. And there are Church Fathers and Saints and (nearly every) Ecumenical Council that could be brought forward as evidence of how this works itself out. That it is helpful to you as a Protestant that there are perhaps different current views of Catholic development (which to my knowledge have never been formally defined by the Magisterium) that have yet to be shown in any way contradictory to Catholic doctrine is beside the point. And it is interesting that you find that oral tradition has been shelved away, since such Tradition is mentioned from Pius IX’s definition of the Immaculate Conception to Pius XII’s definition of the Assumption and on down to the current Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    Cane Caldo,

    I enjoy your blog and will look forward to your upcoming post. My further response to my charge of begging the question is the same as my response to Rubati’s statement of
    *The Lutheran church historian Hermann Sasse noted that even before Vatican I a plausible biblical case for the Roman Catholic position could still be made*

    Despite its impertinence – whew, glad we were passably Biblical prior to the great Vatican I meteor – this is begging the question. It asserts the validity of the Protestant interpretive paradigm and then rejects the Church because she is found wanting when viewed through a paradigm which she explicitly rejects.

    Protestant vehement dismissal of the Immaculate Conception and papal infallibility because they are really, really, REALLY not to be inferred from Scripture as opposed to say, the office of the papacy, transubstantiation, views of contraception, etc because those are (apparently now considered) only kinda, sorta not inferred from Scripture doesn’t exactly push the envelope. As with so very many things in this life it ultimately comes back to who is our authority.

    *”but at least you can suggest that with them without being dragged down a rabbit-hole of nonsense”*
    I suppose what counts as facts and scoff are in the eye of the beholder.

  19. @Wood

    I suppose what counts as facts and scoff are in the eye of the beholder.

    What counts is that I did not posture as laughing.

    It asserts the validity of the Protestant interpretive paradigm and then rejects the Church because she is found wanting when viewed through a paradigm which she explicitly rejects.

    It is false to characterize the Reformation as something which came from outside the Roman Catholic Church. Luther was a Roman Catholic theologian, monk, and priest. Zwingli was a Roman Catholic teacher and priest. Calvin was a Roman Catholic lawyer, and trained theologian. Henry VIII too was a trained theologian, and given the title “Defender of the Faith”. The same with Cranmer, Hooker…you get the idea. And they did not go out and recruit a bunch of non-Catholics to their causes, but other Roman Catholics who agreed.

  20. Re: “someone was looking out for him.”

    I don’t think much can be inferred from this. Wicked people materially prosper all the time, not infrequently against long odds. Would you infer from the startling success of Muhammad and his heirs, from the fact that most of their conquerors swiftly converted to their religion, and from their impressive resistance to conversion even when they had been to all appearances utterly conquered by the European powers, that his message was divine?

    And Luther was wicked: he counseled polygamy (though in his defence, because he thought divorce worse), he edited the Scriptures to his own taste even among the books he kept (most famously by the addition of the word “alone”), he broke his vows of poverty and celibacy, he is even reported in Table Talk to have blasphemously accused Christ of three times committing adultery. His followers were, at least for a long time, on the whole probably better behaved than he was. Of course all men are wicked; but should we not expect the founders of a true religious movement to be a cut above the norm, rather than below?

    Then consider that, with the sole exception of John, all the Apostles were martyred. Luther’s survival (or lack thereof, if he HAD been killed, instead of dying at a respectable enough age of 62 from various illnesses) is not by itself much use, I think.

    Re: “false to characterize the Reformation as something which came from outside the Roman Catholic Church”

    I’ll agree with that. All heresies must start with a truth from which they deviate. As such, all schismatical groups, including many widely recognized as heretical by the bulk of Protestants (such as the Arians, and even in a sense Islam, though at a couple of removes) can be said to come from the Church. That wasn’t what Wood said, though. He merely said that the Church rejected that paradigm, as indeed it did and does.

    For my own part, conversion to Catholicism was largely an issue of “where else can I go?” Protestantism does not stand up well to scrutiny, either by history (already in the earliest fathers we see the real presence, confession, the authority of bishops, the primacy of the Roman See, the veneration of the martyrs, and so on; I realize that, with one exception, many Anglicans also accept these, but not the bulk of Protestants), by doctrines (the Anglicans, for instance, not too long ago changed their mind about the validity of their own orders, and Canterbury now teaches they are of the same nature as other Protestants rather than Catholics and Orthodox; other denominations have had similar startling reversals), by Scripture (“Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth,” anyone?; not to mention that practically all, and even most of the Byzantines, accept divorce), or by fruits (not that there weren’t problems before, but Protestantism shattered Christendom into a thousand squabbling children, and the eventual attempts to remedy this by religious neutrality and, with all respect to Mr. Lewis, “mere Christianity” have undermined any religious foundation we might have once had as a culture). No, Catholicism has plenty of problems, but Protestantism is even worse, a half-way house, not only philosophically and morally but even historically, between Catholicism and atheism or other forms of nihilism; indeed, to the degree that Catholics in this day and age suffer from the same problems, it is in large part the result of attempts over the last few decades to become Protestants.

    As far as Rome being Babylon, I believe, though I’ll confess to have not yet read more than a few excerpts, that a similar idea is suggested by St. Augustine in The City of God. It is certainly not a foreign idea to Catholic theology, though a distinction is generally drawn between Rome the city and the Roman See. There are even a few folks who, while remaining faithful Catholics, speculate that the Antichrist will be a member of the visible hierarchy of the Church. I don’t have an opinion on the subject myself, but even fairly strict interpretations along the lines of Babylon=Rome which assume that Revelation is exclusively concerned with the end of the world (a respectable minority believe it to be primarily concerned with events much closer to the time of its writing; again, no opinion on the subject myself, as really haven’t looked into it) are not necessarily incompatible with Roman Catholicism, and those baseline assumptions are themselves far from certain anyway.

    I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “Knowledge for me, ignorance for thee.” Could you explain in more detail?

  21. “false to characterize the Reformation as something which came from outside the Roman Catholic Church”

    I’ll also agree with that. Although it had nothing to do with my point.

  22. @ Hrodgar

    Protestantism shattered Christendom into a thousand squabbling children, and the eventual attempts to remedy this by religious neutrality and, with all respect to Mr. Lewis, “mere Christianity” have undermined any religious foundation we might have once had as a culture).

    And yet twas not until after the Roman Church schismed itself away from the rest of the church that this splintering began.

  23. @Hrodgar

    I don’t think much can be inferred from [Luther’s escape from Rome]. Wicked people materially prosper all the time, not infrequently against long odds. Would you infer from the startling success of Muhammad and his heirs, from the fact that most of their conquerors swiftly converted to their religion, and from their impressive resistance to conversion even when they had been to all appearances utterly conquered by the European powers, that his message was divine?

    And Luther was wicked

    What I highlighted as the importance in the story of Luther isn’t about how good or right Luther is, but the failure of the Roman Popes and Emperors to stop him. What I infer from Muslims is that they come from a place near where the Euphrates dried up. (Rev. 16)

    There are a lot of evil actors involved. St. Paul said that there are many vessels in the house of the Lord; some for honor and some for dishonor. The Muslims played a large role in the Reformation. If Luther is wicked, what can we say of Henry VIII? He has precedent in the Bible in Zimri, Jehu, and others. God used those two to clean house, didn’t he?

    I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “Knowledge for me, ignorance for thee.” Could you explain in more detail?

    Sure. The RCC (most specifically the Magisterium) stretches the definitions of words like interpretation and meaningbeyond their limits. The effect of this is that creates a circular argument.

    Ok. Why?

    “Because the Magesterium said so. Only the Magisterium has the ability to interpret rightly. Here are some encyclicals on the subject. If they seem to disagree with each others it’s because you can’t interpret properly. If they seem to disagree with the scriptures, it’s because you can’t interpret properly either the encyclicals or the scriptures.

    What good is it to address false interpretations by writing words that no one can understand unless they are the interpreter herself? All it does is turn earnest Roman Catholics into talmudic scholars; always sifting ever greater numbers of encyclicals that no one else can interpret which were supposedly meant to explain the things that no one else can interpret!

    @Hrodgar and Wood

    Wood said: It asserts the validity of the Protestant interpretive paradigm

    To which I responded: It is false to characterize the Reformation as something which came from outside the Roman Catholic Church

    By which I meant that what you have called a Protestant paradigm was actually a Roman Catholic paradigm. We could fairly say that the Roman Church rejected what it birthed.

  24. The view I’ve come across that is the most consonant with the Scriptural narrative is that Babylon represents unrepentant Israel. Unrepentant Jerusalem, rejecting the Mesisah, became like Babylon to God and fell in AD 70 as prophesied. I didn’t dig into the detailed exegesis though.

  25. My point regarding Luther’s wickedness was not that he could not have been used as an instrument of God. My point was that his survival is no indication of the truth of his doctrine. Muhammad, to all appearances, was a scourge on the Eastern half of Christendom, but I don’t think “cleaning house” is the right phrase for what he was doing.

    I’ll confess I have noticed occasional tendencies to what might be called “talmudism” among Catholics, but I am inclined to attribute this largely to positivism, which is a problem for a lot more people than just Catholics these days. Then, too, such persons not infrequently become schismatics or sedevacantists or similar things. In any case, such tendencies are by no means unique to Catholics, nor even, so far as I have seen, particularly prominent among them. You might as well claim that Catholicism encourages voting or saluting the flag. Practically everybody votes, and military members are required to salute the flag.

    The Protestant paradigm is obviously not the Roman Catholic paradigm, or there would have been no schism. Yes, Luther was trained by Catholics. Lots of people have been trained by Catholics. Practically every heresiarch ever (with the notable exception of Mahound) was trained by Catholics. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but even the best parents sometimes produce bad offspring. The stories of David’s sons might be worth a look. And, of course, the repeated faithlessness of the Israelites, all of whom had been raised under and taught the doctrines and ordinances given to Moses, in no way makes murdering your children for Moloch a Mosaic paradigm. And who is generally the best person to ask about a teacher’s view of the subject? A student, or the teacher himself?

    Students often mistake their teachers’ meanings, even when the teachers are completely correct themselves. Even if Luther’s teachers were flawless in their doctrine, that is no guarantee that he learned what they were trying to teach.

    Re: Moose Norseman

    If the Catholic Church is the true Church, then by definition she cannot schism off of anybody else; others schism from her. In any case, the disputes were certainly not so one-sided. The Photian Schism, for instance, takes its very name from the fact that it was Photius I, Patriarch of Constantinople, who started the whole thing.

    Not to mention that as late as Council of Florence in 1439, several Eastern Patriarchs, including those of Moscow and Constantinople signed on to the following declaration. Indeed, the Emperor of Constantinople himself was present at the Council (h/t St. Louis Catholic):

    “We define that the Holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff have primacy over the entire universe; that the same Roman Pontiff is the successor of Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles; he is the authentic Vicar of Christ, Head of the entire Church, Father and Doctor of all Christians; that Our Lord Jesus Christ has transmitted to him, in the person of Blessed Peter, full power to nourish, sustain and govern the Universal Church, as is attested also in the Acts of the Ecumenical Councils’ and in the Sacred Canons” (Conciliorum Oecumenicorum Decreta, Centro Editoriale Dehoniano, Bologna 2013, pp. 523-528).

    Even the most fierce detractors of Holy Rome (as opposed to Imperial Rome, which resided at that time in the East; it’s successor these days, as Ianto Watt maintains and as several have already mentioned on this blog, is America) cannot honestly claim that the Vatican was entirely at fault in the various schisms with the East, as your comment implied.

  26. Correction: Not practically everybody votes, but it is widely regarded as the norm and even people who don’t think along similar lines.

    Actually, scrap that whole analogy. Not very good one. I might come up with a better one later, but point stands regardless.

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