Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Catholic Moment

Had this happen to me today.

"You know... pretty sure Martin Luther was in large part responsible for all the splits in the church. Major figure. How come I never hear anyone quote him? I mean, I see lots of quotes from Calvin, from Johnathan Edwards, from various popes, from other religious leaders and figures... why not Martin Luther?"

*reads some Luther quotes and writings*

"...Oh, THAT'S why."

(Seriously, I'm having trouble figuring out who's worse to have as your faith's nominal founder: This guy or Henry VIII.)

20 comments:

Ilíon said...

*reads some Luther quotes and writings*

"...Oh, THAT'S why."


Oh, come on. It's hardly fair to ignore the context if the times -- including what the leader of the Roman church were doing at the time and for centuries after

Look, the Roman church is a bureaucracy, and *as* a bureaucracy, it must always be at odds, to some degree or other, both with humanity and with Christ.

Crude said...

Look, the Roman church is a bureaucracy, and *as* a bureaucracy, it must always be at odds, to some degree or other, both with humanity and with Christ.

That's not a subject I was broaching here at all. Calvin isn't known for his Catholicism, nor is Jonathan Edwards - that's why I brought them up, and why it seemed so odd that I can recall (quite often) people making reference to their thoughts and writings, but for as long as I can remember I've never run into anyone quoting Luther for any reason. (If I dig into my memory, I can recall exactly one time Luther was brought up - and I'm fairly certain it was by an atheist. That 'reason' quote is a doozy.)

I mean, tell me outright - what do you think of Martin Luther's thoughts on religion, the bible, God, etc? High opinion? Low opinion? No opinion?

Ilíon said...

No opinion -- after all, as you've mentioned, (next to) no one quotes Luther. Lutherans do, I suppose, intramurally.

"That 'reason' quote is a doozy."

People, atheists especially (it seems), like to fault Luther for all sorts of things. But, especially, people like to blame Nazism on him.

So, if one is going to talk about "splits in the church" and especially if one is going to approach that as being a bad thing (which it wasn't), and if one is going to say, "Seriously, I'm having trouble figuring out who's worse to have as your faith's nominal founder: This guy or Henry VIII," then one ought to keep in mind the historical context, which includes the very pertinent fact that the Roman church was corrupt top to bottom and has only within the recent few generations -- and only because of Protestantism (and because of American Catholics, who are almost Protestants themselves) -- begun to be not wholly corrupt.

"I mean, I see lots of quotes from Calvin, from Johnathan Edwards, from various popes, from other religious leaders and figures... why not Martin Luther?"

Perhaps Luther was a modest man, who didn't see himself as setting up a new system of understanding Christ and our relationship to God, as Calvin did.

==
Look, I'm not going to attack your religion, even though I believe it's incorrect on some very important issues. And, when people make mindless and/or false criticisms of the Roman church, you can be sure I'll stand with you. But, if you choose to denegrate Protestantism (notice, I said denegrate), then you really shouldn't expect me to remain silent about Catholicism.

Crude said...

No opinion -- after all, as you've mentioned, (next to) no one quotes Luther.

Then I fail to see why my comment has you riled. Actually, I think I do see why.

But, if you choose to denegrate Protestantism (notice, I said denegrate),

Where did I denigrate protestantism? By voicing a low opinion of Luther, judging by his writings? Again: I made it clear that I come across the writings of others on a fairly regular basis, and the first two named on my list were protestants. I said nothing that was a condemnation of protestantism - unless slighting Henry VIII or Luther counts.

I'm standing by my comment here - Luther's writings on religion and God seem pretty disreputable. And I'm going to add that insisting I was denigrating protestantism is just obviously false - again, unless slighting Henry VIII or Luther counts as "denigrating protestantism". And I think having such a view of Luther is no more an insult to 'protestantism' than having a low opinion of FDR implies that one was against the American entry into WW2.

Drew said...

Luther wasn't a real logical and systematic thinker. As a result, he tended to say things that contradicted each other -- to a greater extent than Calvin did. So quoting Martin Luther doesn't always serve a whole lot of purpose. He was more into giving emotional rhetoric for the crisis at the moment. Overall, he was sort of a figurehead for the movement. That said, I like him more than Calvin.

Crude said...

That said, I like him more than Calvin.

Just out of curiosity, what do you dislike about Calvin? Not that I hold a very strong opinion on him either way. I'd just like to know your thoughts on this matter.

Ilíon said...

"Just out of curiosity, what do you dislike about Calvin?"

Calvinism. Isn't that enough?

Crude said...

Calvinism. Isn't that enough?

Well, I'm hoping for more detail than that of course. Especially since, as ever, 'Calvinism' seems to mean different things depending on the person speaking. I'm going to guess it has something to do with free will?

Drew said...

I'm not a big fan of Calvinism, mainly because I think their doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints imposes a subtle legalism on Christians who feel like they have to persevere to stay saved. But also, Calvin just struck me as being more uptight than Luther. I know he was rather authoritarian in his rulership over Geneva.

Ilíon said...

Crude, did you or did you not write: “(Seriously, I'm having trouble figuring out who's worse to have as your faith's nominal founder: This guy or Henry VIII.)

Did you, or did you not, assert that Henry VIII somehow reflects upon Protestantism? Did you not assert that “this guy” is somehow as bad as Henry, and that that again reflects upon Protestantism?


I'm standing by my comment here - Luther's writings on religion and God seem pretty disreputable.

Again, I have no opinion – I’ve not *seen* these allegedly disreputable opinions. I keep rereading your post, and I keep not seeing even one example.

Crude said...

Did you, or did you not, assert that Henry VIII somehow reflects upon Protestantism?

I did not. Where in the world did you even get that idea? Are you suggesting that Luther and Henry VIII are the 'founders of protestantism', rather than (if anything) the founders of Lutheranism and Anglicanism? Granted, Luther had a major, even central role in the reformation, but I hardly think he counts as the founder of Protestantism, much less that all protestants look up to Luther.

I mentioned Calvin and Jonathan Edwards positively - is that then praise of Protestantism?

Did you not assert that “this guy” is somehow as bad as Henry, and that that again reflects upon Protestantism?

At no point did I. I suppose you could say that what I wrote at least implied that it reflects poorly on Lutheranism and/or Anglicanism. Not 'protestantism'. Come on Ilion, this is close to suggesting that if I say David Koresh is a nutjob that I'm railing against Protestantism.

I keep rereading your post, and I keep not seeing even one example.

I didn't provide one - it was some jotted down thoughts and impressions, not some rigorous argument. Though I did mention the 'reason' quote in reference in the comments.

My post was not an attack on Protestantism. If I slighted anyone, it's Luther and Henry VIII, and I suppose Lutherans and Anglicans could take some umbrage at that.

Drew said...

He doesn't seem so bad to me:

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/martin_luther.html

Crude said...

Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has.

You don't think this is bad?

Now, I can think of some ways Luther could qualify this. Maybe it's taken wildly out of context. But man, as it stands, that's the sort of thing that gives atheists wet dreams.

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

Ilion:

Is your claim that the behavior of the Roman Curia reflects poorly and significantly on Catholicism, but that the behavior of the founders of Protestant movements does not reflect on Protestantism?

I still hope to hear from you about my condensation of your reply about mechanism, information, and ID: http://veniaminov.blogspot.com/2010/12/time-for-subvention.html

Thanks!

Crude said...

The funny thing is, I'm pretty sure you can flip through the Catholic Encyclopedia and find blatant admissions that yeah, this pope was terrible.

I think what Ilion meant was - pardon me if I'm wrong, Ilion - "If Crude thinks it's okay to denounce Protestantism for the acts of Luther, then I'm going to denounce Catholicism for the acts of various popes".

The problem here is, I wasn't going after Protestantism here. I'm not so silly as to identify Luther with all of Protestantism, even if he played a major role in the Reformation. I'm sure plenty of Protestants would argue that they don't hold Luther in much esteem, nor do they have to. And of those who do hold him in esteem, I'm sure they could or would qualify what they mean anyway.

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

I think Ilion has a much stricter view against Catholicism than you're supposing, Crude, but I must let him speak for himself. His position seems to be that the "bureaucratic" operational nature of the Catholic Church is the very embodiment of what makes it inimical (in creed and praxis) to authentic Christianity. I believe Ilion is a "low church" type, so it may be for him that "high church" Christianity (like RC, EO, Anglicanism, etc.) is a sham in every form. But as I say, I don't presume to speak for him.

Drew said...

Making a few dumb statements about reason being a whore or about dogs having golden tails at the resurrection just doesn't mean that much to me. Luther was still pretty cool in my book.

Craig said...

I just found your blog at Tom Gilson's Thinking Christian blog and I'm glad I did.

Just had to comment that one of my favorite quotes of all time just so happens to be a Luther quote:

"If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confession Christ, however boldly I may be confessing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point."

Crude said...

Craig, thanks for the compliment! And I admit, that's a very good quote. Extremely good, in fact.

Syllabus said...

Re: Calvin and Calvinism

One of the things I dislike about Calvinism - and/or Calvinists - is that, depending on when you talk to many of them, TULIP means radically different things. One moment you'll hear one of them say that, "Oh, Total Depravity doesn't mean this, it means that," and then have them turn around and shout the exact opposite at Calvinists that the shouting people think are not "Calvinists" enough. Oh, and the P in TULIP results in one huuuuuuuuuge No True Scotsman fallacy.

Add to that that L in TULIP seems to be flatly contradicted by verses like 1 John 2:2, and that the whole predestination and omnidirigence - to borrow a word - makes salvation a total sham, and I don't see why one wouldn't dislike Calvinism. Oh, and Driscoll.