Here I Stand, I Can Do No Other


#1

Hey everyone, I’m still around! I know I haven’t posted for a while, but rest assured I have still been thinking about theological matters. I had the opportunity to go on leave recently, and so I was home with my family for a while (and posting on internet message boards was low on my priority list during that time :slight_smile: ).

So, while I was home on leave, I had a few discussions with my mom about my interest in Catholicism. She wasn’t overly excited about it, though she was relieved I hadn’t fully accepted it yet. You must understand, I come from a long line of Protestants. My dad was a minister, my mom’s dad was a minister, and my mom’s grandfather was a minister. If it weren’t for a sudden flash of curiosity about Catholicism, I probably would have been a good Protestant for the remainder of my days.

Anyway, while I was home, I watched the movie Luther. I think perhaps my family wanted me to watch it to remind me of the necessity of the Reformation, though I admit I had always wanted to see it on my own. Now, I know the movie is basically a Protestant propaganda piece (funding provided by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans…Hmhhh… :hmmm: ), but it was still very informative. I guess I was struck by the severe amount of corruption in Rome at that time, corruption that Luther justly fought against. The church authorities had a wonderful opportunity to fight together with Luther against the corruption, but instead it appears that they sided against him.

All of this posed a question. If an authority (such as the Catholic Church) condones sin (even by turning a blind eye to it) and then refuses to condemn the sin when some within it (such as Luther) point out the sin, can the authority still be said to be a valid authority? In matters of government, the U.S. Declaration of Independence says that when government becomes destructive of the ends it must fulfill, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it. Could this (admittedly manmade) principle apply to a corrupt church?

Anyway, these are just some things I have been thinking about. I realize that the movie didn’t show the whole picture, and it really only portrayed Luther’s good side. Still, it made me think. Well, I look forward to your responses! God Bless!


#2

I have to admit I don’t know a great deal about him, but there’s definately loads on here.

Happy reading. :slight_smile: newadvent.org/cathen/09438b.htm

newadvent.org/cathen/09458a.htm


#3

What Luther did was correct. Its how he did it that seperated him from the Church.

He kinda sped things up :). (The changing of the Church was inevitable)

But becaue he stood against the Church, he was in error.

IN Christ.

Andre.


#4

No responsible Catholic would deny that the Church was suffering from appalling corruption in practice at the time of Luther. What needed reforming, however, was middle and upper management practices in the “corporation,” not doctrine.


#5

I agree with mercygate.

I read somewhere once if the entire College of Cardinals was made up of madmen it shouldn’t drive even one Catholic from the church because the holy spirit would still be protecting the truth of the doctrine.

Good to hear from you Iambic…I had noticed you hadn’t posted in a while and was wondering about you.

Best


#6

It seems Luther had all of the best intentions and knew of the appropriate means to accomplish them at first. That would explain how we have him saying things like:

“I do not approve of schism I will not approve of one for all eternity. It is not by separating from the Church that we can make it better”

Please note that this is a paraphrase as I am at work and away from my resources - some one else can provide the popular quote. Nonetheless, it is clear that Luther knew exactly what the Church was and that “separating” was not appropriate, ever.
It was only later on, when confronted by sin within the Church members that he “changed gears” and promoted exactly what he said he never would promote. And that change of gears led to a lot of undesireable behaior and disunity. He even lamented over the mess he had created and how everyone suddenly saw themselves fit to interpret Scripture according to their individual standards - and he was decidely against that.
I admit its easy to judge from my comfy life, but Scripture seems to offer a number of circumstances where ordained authority supercedes dissent of the faithful. This can be seen when Jesus told the people in reference to the corrupt Jewish authorities, “Do as they say, but not as they do”. And in addition, Peter makes reference to the authority of seniority: 1Peter 5:5-6
"Likewise you younger members BE SUBJECT TO THE PRESBYTERS and all of you clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another…humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exault you IN DUE TIME"
Patience is a virtue…

Phil


#7

I think your question can be summarized as “Does sinfulness negate someone’s religious authority?”

Well, let’s look at some other examples of sinfulness:

King David committed murder and adultery.

St. Paul persecuted Christians.

St. Peter denied Christ three times.

I doubt any of the other writers of scripture were impeccable.

The answer to the question is no.


#8

I have found that Steve Wood at www.dads.org has some of the best materials on the Reformation and effects. These 3 CD sets do a very good job of looking at the Catholic Church at the time, the changes caused by Martin Luther and the reasons things turned out as they did.

Steve Wood was a Protestant minister that converted to Catholicism. He extensively researched and wrestled with these issues as part of his conversion.

Reformation or Revolt? - CD
Sola Scriptura - CD
Justification - God’s Greatest Work - CD


#9

IP,

Good to see you back! I trust you made it home in one piece?

As for corruption and the Church, I think you are failing to make a very significant distinction. The Church is divine, and at the same time the members of the Church are not. It is at once sinless and sinful. Such are the paradoxes of God; God was most powerful when He was the most weak, beaten and nailed to the cross. Again, it’s not an either/or, it’s a both/and.

All of that is to say this: the Church has never been corrupt, despite the corruption that has sometimes run rampant in it. If the Church has never been corrupt, there can be no excuse to rebel against it. We can know that the Church has never been corrupt, as it is the Body of Christ as well as His Bride (the two shall become one - another paradox of God). Only if Christ were corrupt could His Body be corrupt.

So what of Luther? Well, it’s worth noting that he was not a man to emulate, especially regarding his treatment of the Jews or his obedience to ecclesiastical law prior to his revolt (see the bullets here). This is not to tear him down, but to be honest with who he was; he was not a “good Catholic” who was only trying to “reform” the Church and purge wicked practices. He went too far, both theologically and in practice.

More importantly, his objections to the corrupt practices of the time were quite appropriate; if that were as far as he went, I have no doubt his name would be praised amongst Catholics (like the Doctor of the Church, St. John of the Cross’ reforms). But that wasn’t as far as he went. He went so far as to lead people away from the Church, which is the Body of Christ. Did you catch that? He led people away from Christ. He did so because he also confused the Church with her ministers, and wrongly rejected the former because of the latter. Whether or not this was his intention, it was indeed his effect.

On to your question: is it appropriate for the people to reject a corrupt authority? The answer, as with so many Catholic answers, is…it depends. Let’s take the hypothetical instance of a Bishop who is hiding possessions from the IRS through the Church (the modern day equivalent of the Korban rule). Should the people reject this corrupt authority?
Matt 23:2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do." I think that’s pretty clear. Reject their deeds, but do not reject the teaching along with it, as it was given to them by someone a little higher up. What if it’s the Pope who is corrupt? Same thing. The Church will never be corrupt, despite the corrupt ministers who are her children. This is assured to us by the promise of Christ, in Matt 16:18.

What of the U.S.? If the President were to declare himself a dictator, in clear violation of the Constitution, it would be right to depose him. It would not be commensurate with the founding principles of the country to then invent a whole new Constitution. Likewise, if the IRS were to start skimming the taxes at every level, it would not be appropriate to simply start a whole new country. That’s not patriotism, that’s escapism. So it is with the Church.

Does that help at all?

God Bless,
RyanL


#10

Yes. The authority rests not in the people, but in God. The ministers simply represent God, and have an obligation which they must fulfill - and which they can individually fail in.

Matt 23:2 Saying: The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. 3 All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not; for they say, and do not.

No, because the Church is rooted in Christ.

Matthew 16:18 And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

However, Christ can take that action:

Apocalypse 2:5 Be mindful therefore from whence thou art fallen: and do penance, and do the first works. Or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou do penance.

Here this “candlestick” can be seen as the local church of Ephesus.

hurst


#11

Thank you all for the responses! I am nearly done reading the rather extensive article on Luther at New Advent and have discovered a good deal about him. Of course, my Protestant friends and family would urge me to look to a less biased source than the Catholic Encyclopedia to find information about Luther, and I will do so, but I do not doubt the full truth is not far from what I have read. It appears that the movie Luther, as well as five hundred years of Protestant history have omitted a fair amount of information about Luther and the start of the Reformation. It seems that Luther started out with just grievances but then moved on to sinful rebellion (which led to very real violence in Germany and throughout Europe). Some of what he wrote and said was very shocking, to say the least, not to mention some of the people with whom he associated.

I am in the midst of writing a letter to an individual from the Free Methodist Church, the denomination in which I grew up. My father had spoken with him about my religious struggle, and he wrote to me about it. He mentioned a few of the standard Protestant objections to Catholicism, but the main thing that struck me was when he mentioned how I would be cutting myself off from my religious heritage if I left my church and became a Catholic. I must stress that he is a very kind man, and he did not say this in a mean way, but it was a difficult thing to read. I am going to try and talk about how there were fifteen hundred years of religious heritage before the Anglicans broke off from the Catholics, the Methodists broke off from the Anglicans, and the Free Methodists broke off from the Methodists. I just want to do this in a way that is respectful to my old church, from which I learned so much. Please pray for me in this and as I continue my search.

Well, one of my roommates needs to use the internet, so I had better go. My posting will be more sporadic in the next few weeks than it was in the “old” days, but hopefully I’ll be back in the good ol’ U.S. very soon, and I’ll have regular internet. Thanks to all of you for supporting me as I’ve studied. God Bless!


#12

Welcome back!

Yes, the authority of the Church is still valid, and the office and authority of the Pope is still valid no matter how corrupt the man may be. God is the ultimate authority and he has promised the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church.

An example from the Old Testament may help. You may remember that David was actively - almost psychotically - pursued by King Saul. David had more than one occasion on which he could have killed Saul, but he had respect for the office Saul held because he was an annointed one. David even mourned Saul’s death. This should tell us something. Although the man may be corrupt (or even if the the whole College of Cardinals was corrupt as someone above said) the office is not and the spirituality of the Church is not, and we have to wholly trust God’s faithfulness when He promised us that hell will not prevail. Is it hard to do? Yes, for me sometimes it is. When I learn about some of things our priests and bishops have said and done, my jaw may drop and I admit I’ve shaken my head in disgust more than a few times. When that happens I remind myself about God’s faithfulness to His Church, and re-activate my trust in Him. I know he is ultimately in control, and my impatient timing is not His timing.


#13

[quote=The Iambic Pen]Hey everyone, I’m still around! I know I haven’t posted for a while, but rest assured I have still been thinking about theological matters. I had the opportunity to go on leave recently, and so I was home with my family for a while (and posting on internet message boards was low on my priority list during that time :slight_smile: ).

So, while I was home on leave, I had a few discussions with my mom about my interest in Catholicism. She wasn’t overly excited about it, though she was relieved I hadn’t fully accepted it yet. You must understand, I come from a long line of Protestants. My dad was a minister, my mom’s dad was a minister, and my mom’s grandfather was a minister. If it weren’t for a sudden flash of curiosity about Catholicism, I probably would have been a good Protestant for the remainder of my days.

Anyway, while I was home, I watched the movie Luther. I think perhaps my family wanted me to watch it to remind me of the necessity of the Reformation, though I admit I had always wanted to see it on my own. Now, I know the movie is basically a Protestant propaganda piece (funding provided by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans…Hmhhh… :hmmm: ), but it was still very informative. I guess I was struck by the severe amount of corruption in Rome at that time, corruption that Luther justly fought against. The church authorities had a wonderful opportunity to fight together with Luther against the corruption, but instead it appears that they sided against him.

All of this posed a question. If an authority (such as the Catholic Church) condones sin (even by turning a blind eye to it) and then refuses to condemn the sin when some within it (such as Luther) point out the sin, can the authority still be said to be a valid authority? In matters of government, the U.S. Declaration of Independence says that when government becomes destructive of the ends it must fulfill, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it. Could this (admittedly manmade) principle apply to a corrupt church?

Anyway, these are just some things I have been thinking about. I realize that the movie didn’t show the whole picture, and it really only portrayed Luther’s good side. Still, it made me think. Well, I look forward to your responses! God Bless!
[/quote]

Welcome back!

First of all, it would be the height of arrogance for any of us to not acknowledge that there has been, at times, corruption and sin among the HUMAN BEINGS in the Catholic Church. I believe (and I could be wrong on this so don’t hold me to it) Bishop Fulton Sheen once said that historically it looks as though the Catholic Church needs to be ‘shook up’ about every 500 years or so to make sure that those who use the structure and authority given to the Holy Mother Church by Jesus Christ for their own sinful ends are removed from power and set straight. The recent scandals are a good example of this…and this does not mean that the Apostolic Authority is somehow removed. That is a covenant and a covenant never ends. It is not a contract, it is a covenant.

The Council of Trent addressed the issues of morality and faith that Luther brought forth. We have problems, sometimes, remembering that at the time of Luther we did not have what we have today in terms of the ability to instantly communicate to each other. So some of his theological points were addressed, some of his questions were answered and in other areas the Church replied that he was not in Communion with Tradition.

Luther himself rewrote his version of the Bible a few times in order to try and bolster his points.

I think it is best to remember that Luther was motivated by good - he saw a real need to ‘clean up’ the misdeeds of MEN in the Church. St. Francis was also told to ‘rebuild my Church’. What I, and others, see as sad is that he felt it necessary to tear the Church apart rather than stay and fight for what needed to be repaired. It would have been tougher - but in my (Monday Morning Quarterbacking) mind? He took the easy way out - you don’t like what I say and you won’t do what I want? Fine, I’m starting a new Church. so there.

Ok, so I’m being simplistic. You get my drift though, right?


#14

[quote=The Iambic Pen]I am in the midst of writing a letter to an individual from the Free Methodist Church, the denomination in which I grew up. My father had spoken with him about my religious struggle, and he wrote to me about it. He mentioned a few of the standard Protestant objections to Catholicism, but the main thing that struck me was when he mentioned how I would be cutting myself off from my religious heritage if I left my church and became a Catholic. I must stress that he is a very kind man, and he did not say this in a mean way, but it was a difficult thing to read. I am going to try and talk about how there were fifteen hundred years of religious heritage before the Anglicans broke off from the Catholics, the Methodists broke off from the Anglicans, and the Free Methodists broke off from the Methodists. I just want to do this in a way that is respectful to my old church, from which I learned so much. Please pray for me in this and as I continue my search.

!
[/quote]

Have you thought about contacting the Coming Home Network or Dr. Scott Hahn with any of your questions?


#15

Five hundred years ago some church leaders were corrupt in their practice of the faith. Luther was corrupt in his doctrine.

Who has inflicted the longest lasting wounds to unity in the Body of Christ – the sinful bishops of five hundred years ago or Martin Luther?


#16

Iambic:

Great to hear from you again!

There’s a great book by Hilaire Belloc entitled How The Reformation Happened. There’s many dimensions to the break of Christendom. Luther became the striking rod, but many things led to this crack.

Just one thought, the true reformers of the church: St. Francis, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Dominic, the Cluny monks. True reform is internal and it works, what Luther and the others did is nothing short of rebellion.

in XT.


#17

There’s a great story about Napolean telling a bishop in Europe that he will destroy the Church. The bishop replied something to the effect of ‘You’ll never be able to. We haven’t even been able to do it ourselves’. I’m sure my quote isn’t exact, but it gives you the general picture. Even with all the corruption that has invaded the Church, it is the only institution that has lasted for over 2000 years, and the corrupt leaders have never changed infallible teachings on faith and morals. That just could not happen without the hand of God.


#18

Perhaps some research on the Counter Reformation would help. The Church did address the 95 theses and fixed the problems it brought to light. Not to say that each of the 95 theses were valid, as Luther denied sacramental confession and other important doctrine, but those points he made that were truly problems were fixed.


#19

In the words of G.K. Chesterton, “The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right.” Martin Luther was correct in pointing out the corruption in the Church of his time, however, he was wrong for separating himself from Her. He didn’t end up reforming anything. He just started his own “church” rather than trusting in Jesus’ Church, and in the process, he endangered the souls of many by leading them astray as well. Luther recognized the sin of causing a schism. Steve Ray has a quote of Luther’s in his book Crossing the Tiber in which he says something to the affect of: “I do not want a schism. The Church of Rome is the most beautiful of all things.” (If any of you know the exact wording or the source, I would appreciate it because I don’t have my copy of the book with me.) Irenaeus also had a quote that I don’t know verbatim, but it went something like: “There is no reform that is worth causing schism over.” (Likewise, if anyone knows this one, let me know.) The only problem was that Luther didn’t only cause a schism but he also fell into heresy. To quote Chesterton again, “A fad or heresy is the exaltation of something which even if true, is secondary or temporary in its nature against those things which are essential and eternal, those things which always prove themselves true in the long run. In short, it is the setting up of the mood against the mind.” Luther did this with his doctrines of *sola fide * and sola scriptura. He raised faith and Scripture above the other essential truths of the Christian Faith. For more on Luther, I strongly suggest that you check out one of my blogs by clicking HERE.


#20

[quote=Aaron I.]Perhaps some research on the Counter Reformation would help. The Church did address the 95 theses and fixed the problems it brought to light. Not to say that each of the 95 theses were valid, as Luther denied sacramental confession and other important doctrine, but those points he made that were truly problems were fixed.
[/quote]

That doesn’t make much sense since Confession can be found in Luther’s Small Catechism. :confused:


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