I’ve had a fair bit of response to the HB over the years. Some of it comes over the transom from anonymous writers (anonymous comments are generally forbidden on the HB) and it usually goes where anonymous correspondence should go. This one, however, piqued my interest.
I debated about whether to post it. On one hand I’m not sure that it faithfully reflects Roman dogma at every point—but then, as we’ve seen, it’s not always easy to know what Roman dogma is hence the need for implicit faith. On the other hand it surely reflects what is believed on the ground by faithful Romanist laity. It illustrates very nicely the QIRC-y nature of the Romanist’s quest for certainty via implicit faith (fides implicita) in secret knowledge (gnosticism) that someone else has or must have. The post comes from “Roman Catholic” and is presented without any alteration:
We are frankly disgusted and TIRED of phony “Evangelicals” attacking our Pope, our foundations (2,000 years old) church and traditions.
Typical evangelical preachers have a FRACTION of a percent of knowledge of the ORIGINAL scriptures (which are held in the Holy Archives and NONE of you phonies have EVER seen).
Try being unification of ALL Christian faiths in light of the hatred from the Left and Muslims.
Your hit piece on Pope Benedict is simply crap.
As you can see, “Roman Catholic” does not indicate to which post he refers. It’s interesting that he identifies me as an “Evangelical.” Is RC trying to hurt my feelings or do all Protestants all look alike? I can tell the difference between a Jesuit and a Franciscan but RC can’t tell the difference between a Reformed confessionalist and a child of the Second Great Awakening.
Notice that our correspondent believes that the Roman communion is 2,000 years old. Why? Because this is the myth that Rome peddles about herself. Sed contra: The Roman communion, as we know it today, didn’t take its present shape until the 13th century (Fourth Lateran, 1215). In which case it is coming up on its 800th birthday. That’s pretty old but it’s not 2,000 years. The Roman sacramental system did not begin to come into existence until the 9th century and it did not become dogma until the 13th. The Papacy did become what it is until the 7th century. There has been a pastor in Rome for a long time but a “pope”? Not so much. Then, as we recently noted, there was that little matter of the Avignon Papacy, which makes the whole business of tracing the apostolic succession ever so much more difficult.
Our devout Romanist cannot read Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Yet, he (or she) attacks Protestants because they have not read the “ORIGINAL” Scriptures. Our correspondent has not seen these alleged originals and likely has never met anyone who has seen them but knows that there must be a secret edition of Holy Scripture that lies hidden in the Vatican archives and that someone else has read and understood them. This person has does not know the secret traditions of the church but knows that they exist. Fides implicata. It is enough for our correspondent that someone else has read Scripture and knows what it says (or must say). In the spirit of a certain Augustinian monk, respondeo dicendum:1
Our papist cannot read the Biblical languages but I can.
Our Papstesel cannot translate Holy Scripture but I can.
Our Romanist cannot hold the magisterium in one hand, but I can.
Therefore tell him that Dr Clark will have it so.
Sic volo, sic iubeo, sit pro ratione voluntas.2
Finally, it is interesting that a Romanist appeals for Christian unity against external enemies: “the left” and Islam. First, if one is concerned about “the left” one should look at Rome herself. The “left” flourishes within Rome. Catholic Worker anyone? Has this person ever read the decisions of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops? It’s the Democrat Party at prayer. Vatican II, which was not a gathering of the Evangelical Theological Society, constituted the triumph of the theological (and social) left over the theological and social “right” in Rome and the decrees of Vatican II have dogmatic authority. So, our presumed conservative needs to fall in line with holy mother church. Physician, heal thyself.
I take it as a manifest fact that Islam is a threat to all civilized people and has been since its inception but it is not obvious how submission to the papacy would keep Islamists from flying planes into buildings. Perhaps our Romanist should read Augustine’s City of God again?
This correspondence is interesting because it vindicates some of the most basic Reformation complaints about Rome and suggests that, whatever dubious ecumenical agreements have signed by misguided evangelicals, on the ground not much has changed. It is also illustrative of the reason why many are attracted to Rome: rest. This is what the newly minted former evangelical converts are selling, Rome, Sweet Home. “Don’t you worry your pretty little head there missy, we know someone who knows everything. You can lay down your burdens in the narthex of St Peter’s Basilica.” The Protestant says, “Yes, well, we know someone who knows everything and he’s revealed his saving and moral will in Holy Scripture, which is plain enough for the simplest person to understand what is necessary to believe for faith and life.” Jesus Christ is our pontifex maxmimus. His Father is our Holy Father and the grace of the Holy Spirit and iustitia are freely given to sinners sola gratia, sola fide.
Dear Romanist, I think you wrote because something you saw troubled you. It raised doubts. Perhaps what you’ve been told isn’t true? Perhaps you can never please God by your acts of penance? Perhaps you cannot cooperate with grace sufficiently? Perhaps things are not as you’ve been told? Please see yourself for what you (and we all) are by nature: dead in sins and incapable even of cooperating with grace (Rom 1–3; Eph 2). Turn to the Christ of Scripture, who finished his work, “once for all” (Hebrews 7:27), who propitiated God’s wrath for all who believe (Rom 3:25) and whose righteousness is credited to all who believe (Rom 4:3), and on the basis of whose righteous alone, received through faith alone, we stand before God (Rom 3:28). These are not Protestant tricks. This is God’s truth.
1. Sed contra = “But on the contrary” and Respondeo dicendum = “I respond by saying.” There are formulas used by Thomas Aquinas in the Summa theologiae when replying to objections.
2. “I will it, I command it, my will is reason enough.” A quotation from Juvenal’s sixth satire, which Luther often used to characterize the arbitrary power of the pope. See Luther’s letter on translating.