Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Is Roman Catholicism a Force for Good in the World?

The following is a debate featuring Roman Catholics Archbishop John Onaiyekan and MP Anne Widdecombe (Conservative) against Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens. The debate went well for the Negative according to the poll results released during the debate. Patrick Madrid, who brought this to my attention, agreed with Richard Dawkins in characterizing the debate as "a rout." (link to Madrid) Madrid seems to think that if Peter Kreeft, Benjamin Wiker, Robert George, Dinesh D'Souza, Helen Alvare, Alan Keyes, John Corapi, or Scott Hahn had debated for the Roman Catholic position, the result would have been different.

The result is what it is. I would not tend to base my criticism of Roman Catholicism on the grounds that Hitchens and Fry used.

Link to video - Sorry, but embedding seems to have problems not auto-playing.

16 comments:

natamllc said...

I would only observe that I agree totally with both camps!

What?

Huh?

Yes, all these groups are doing is "making" the "world" a better place.

That isn't what Christ is doing.

Christ on the other hand, as Creator, Son of God, Owner and Righteous Judge is bringing all the world, its good and evil into judgment:::>

Joh 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
Joh 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
Joh 16:9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
Joh 16:10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
Joh 16:11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

I maintain that this world would be a better place to live in if Christians would just shut their mouths and go away and live in conclaves, not disrupting or disputing with the god of this world or proclaiming to his subjects what Jesus said there as cited above:::> "....the prince of this world is judged...".

No one wants to follow a an exposed loser or one condemned! The Gospel brings out into the light that our deeds are evil no matter how much a force for good in the world they are!

The problem the world has and is facing is the Great Commission proclaimed through the Body of Christ. The Body, Whose access to God Our Heavenly Father is through Christ by One Spirit is increasing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and in the world!

So, yes, the RCC is quite motivated to bring about a force for good in the world. She is of the world and doesn't want anything but good for the world!

So, yes, these athiests such as Hitchens and the likes of Fry, are equally a force for good in this world too!

As I said, the problem is not with their force.

It's Our Force they will have to reckon with:::>

Joh 12:28 Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven: "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again."
Joh 12:29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him."
Joh 12:30 Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not mine.
Joh 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.
Joh 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."

It's wartime folks. No retreat. No surrender! Til death do we part from this world into His Glory and these forces for good in it, that is, this world!

Ken said...

I would like to see you, Turretinfan and/or James White take snippets from this debate and provide a Reformed Response in several you tube videos.

Some verses that came to mind as I was watching it were:

Matthew 7:11 - "you being evil" - we are all evil without Christ, not just the homosexual.
we are not better. But homosexual sin has greater consequence on society as a whole.

John 5:46 - Jesus affirms Moses and the law; and He is the eternal Son of God, so His word was in the OT law

John 16:12-13 and 17:8
Jesus' words are also the words of the apostles,

So Jesus did condemn homosexuality in the OT law and the NT epistles, because of who He is; and just because He didn't mention it while on earth, does not mean He doesn't speak to the issue - one must include all of Scripture. It is all Jesus' word.

Alphonsus said...

"The result is what it is. I would not tend to base my criticism of Roman Catholicism on the grounds that Hitchens and Fry used."

I think the debate was a typical result of a post-Christian European culture. Numerically speaking, Catholicism is the most practiced religion in Britain, so if it's rough for Catholics, it's going to be rough for all Christians. I wouldn't consider the debate's result a victory for any Protestant group, any more than the humiliation of ill-prepared Protestants ought to be a cause for celebration among Catholics or Orthodox. That's just my two cents.

Turretinfan said...

The arguments used against the Roman Catholics in this debate would not work with equal force against the Quakers, Anglicans, or Methodists - all of whom you are presumably calling "Christians."

If an Archbishop of Roman Catholicism is "ill-prepared" to handle challenges to his faith, so be it. That claim seems unlikely, but perhaps it is true.

Alphonsus said...

'If an Archbishop of Roman Catholicism is "ill-prepared" to handle challenges to his faith, so be it. That claim seems unlikely, but perhaps it is true.'

Rhetorically speaking, I think it is fair to say that the Archbishop was not prepared for speaking in that milieu. Looking at a soundbyte-filled debate like that one, it seems that Hitchens and Fry were basing their attacks on emotional reactions and on strawmen of Catholic teachings. As it has been said before, how does one refute a sneer?

'The arguments used against the Roman Catholics in this debate would not work with equal force against the Quakers, Anglicans, or Methodists - all of whom you are presumably calling "Christians."'

With equal force? Of course not. But it is difficult to see how the defeat of the Catholic side could be considered a benefit or boon to other Christians. In a secular context, whether we like it or not, an attack on one group of Christians affects public perceptions of the others.

Thy Handmaid's son said...

Don't you think it odd... you seem to be happy about an atheist victory. Do you hate Catholics and wish to see them humiliated, more than you love God and wish to see Him glorified?

Turretinfan said...

THS:

Yes, I do want to see God glorified, and no I don't hate Roman Catholics. I'm not particularly happy or unhappy about the debate. I didn't have a dog in that particular fight. The Roman Catholic church and Atheism are two enemies of the gospel.

Alphonsus:

If you view criticism of your church as an "attack" on it, it's hard to imagine how you could ever be persuaded that your church is in error.

-TurretinFan

Alphonsus said...

'If you view criticism of your church as an "attack" on it, it's hard to imagine how you could ever be persuaded that your church is in error.'

I don't mind reasoned criticism of Catholicism (I tend to disagree with it, obviously). Hitchens and Fry, though, were not serving up rational discourse. Rather they were fighting an under-handed rhetorical battle. That's why Madrid said that better Catholic apologists would know how to "street-fight" if the situations required it.

I'm not trying to say that no one can criticize Catholicism, only that, when it comes to atheism and secularism, cooperation between Catholics and Protestants is more helpful than internecine bickering. Think Lewis' "Mere Christianity" or "First Things" Magazine.

After all, in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was not uncommon for Catholic and Protestants to quote and recommend each other's apologetical works in disputes with Deists and atheists.

Turretinfan said...

I have in fact commended a Roman Catholic response to an atheist before myself. No need to look back two or three centuries.

But, of course, I don't consider the Roman Catholic Church to be in ipse a force for good in the world.

It is interesting to hear the Roman Catholic arguments in favor of the resolution, and to hear the attempted rebuttals of the resolution.

It is also interesting to hear the arguments of Hitchens/Fry, even though they are (at least mostly) not arguments I would use.

-TurretinFan

Anonymous said...

in ipse

I believe you meant in se?

--Humilissimus

Turretinfan said...

perhaps (or possibly "in ipsi" or something like that) ... more to the point I ought simply to have said "in and of itself" and avoided the Latin altogether.

-TurretinFan

Thy Handmaid's son said...

TurretinFan, you wrote: "If you view criticism of your church as an "attack" on it, it's hard to imagine how you could ever be persuaded that your church is in error."

Make no mistake. Hitchens and company do not intend to critique the Church, but are very much on the attack against it, because it is the only Christian institution that poses modern secularism any serious risk.

The Archbishop was perhaps imprudently unaware of what to expect in the setting; it's at least evidence that he isn't surrounded by handlers and teleprompters.

The Catholic Church is an enemy of the Gospel? You wouldn't have a single copy of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John if Catholic monks hadn't spent their lives, for century upon century, copying it by hand while the Germanic tribes outside were too busy looting and sacking to bother with things like reading at all. Our interpretation of the texts, and of the life of Christ Himself might be very different than yours; but it is also older, and has made yours possible. A bit of courtesy, if not gratitude, in light of history would be in order.

When Christians lightly lob quips at each other, burn each other at the stake, or what have you, only Satan is pleased and only our pride is served.

As the current drives for gay 'marriage' and the federal funding of abortion make clear, we are going to need each other more and more. It's best we don't make that more difficult, or give our mutual enemies for grist for their mills.

Turretinfan said...

"Hitchens and company do not intend to critique the Church, but are very much on the attack against it, because it is the only Christian institution that poses modern secularism any serious risk."

a) Islam presents a greater apparent risk;

b) Secularism seems to pose a risk to Roman Catholicism - should we presume that the Roman Catholics are "attacking" secularism?

"The Archbishop was perhaps imprudently unaware of what to expect in the setting; it's at least evidence that he isn't surrounded by handlers and teleprompters."

Unlike the pope? Ah - no - I think you are making a comparison to Obama. Ok.

"The Catholic Church is an enemy of the Gospel?"

Yes, at least since the time of Trent the Roman Catholic Church is an enemy of the gospel.

"You wouldn't have a single copy of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John if Catholic monks hadn't spent their lives, for century upon century, copying it by hand while the Germanic tribes outside were too busy looting and sacking to bother with things like reading at all."

a) It's anachronistic to view those monks you refer to as "Roman Catholic." If Aquinas is any indication of medieval views in the Latin-speaking churches, they didn't hold to things like papal infallibility or the immaculate conception.

b) Most of our Greek texts are from monks (and other scribes) who were not in communion with the Roman bishop.

c) We have texts of the New Testament in a wide array of other languages besides Greek and Latin, including Coptic, Georgian, Armenian, Syriac, and Ethiopic.

d) Plenty of the transmission of even the Latin translations of the New Testament were done by folks who Rome has traditionally viewed as heretics, such as the Donatists.

"Our interpretation of the texts, and of the life of Christ Himself might be very different than yours; but it is also older, and has made yours possible."

a) Same anachronism as above; and

b) In many cases, that type of claim is demonstrably false. For example, it is plain that the view of the bodily assumption of Mary is something that came later (at least in orthodox circles) than a view of simple lack of knowledge regarding the end of Mary.

"A bit of courtesy, if not gratitude, in light of history would be in order."

Saying that a group rejects the gospel (assuming the statement is true, of course) is not discourteous or ungrateful. The Jews reject the gospel as well, and yet we are thankful to them for their work in preserving the Old Testament Scriptures in the original Hebrew.

"When Christians lightly lob quips at each other, burn each other at the stake, or what have you, only Satan is pleased and only our pride is served."

When we define Christianity outside the parameters of the gospel, we do a grave disservice to those who are following a false gospel.

"As the current drives for gay 'marriage' and the federal funding of abortion make clear, we are going to need each other more and more. It's best we don't make that more difficult, or give our mutual enemies for grist for their mills."

Mormons and Muslims are also likely political bedfellows on those issues. Agreeing with their political views does not mean failing to warn them that their path is the path that leads to destruction.

So to, I would be showing hatred, not love, if I failed to inform you that salvation comes by trusting in Christ alone. If I concealed the fact that Rome's gospel is not that of the Scriptures, I might seem kinder, but truly it would be like failing to tell someone that ingesting foxgloves is inadvisable.

-TurretinFan

Thy Handmaid's son said...

"a) Islam presents a greater apparent risk;"

The secularists do not see it that way; for the most part, they eager refer to the presence of Muslims among their multicultural panoply in order to legitimate their war against Christianity.

"Unlike the pope? Ah - no - I think you are making a comparison to Obama. Ok."

I honestly wasn't intentionally comparing the Archbishop to anyone.

It is anachronistic to refer to anyone, monk or not, as "Roman Catholic" before "Anglo-Catholics" coined the phrase during the English Reformation. For the most part, we do not refer to ourselves as such, though there are certainly numerous examples. In any event, it is not at all anachronistic to call those monks as Catholic, inasmuch as they called themselves that, and meant by it the same thing that we do today. As the dogmas of papal infallibility and the immaculate conception had not been defined yet, they were free to view those (at the time) theories however they wanted without it impacting their "Catholicness". Aquinas certainly indicates a great deal about medieval views in the West, and to some extent is even normative; but not entirely so, and in his day his was not the only opinion. The Church has not sided with him on everything.

The fact that the Greek texts come from Eastern monasteries isn't salient to my point. Luther didn't use Greek texts, and neither did Calvin. Moreover, neither they nor their forefathers learned the Gospel from reading Greek texts. The Latin manuscript tradition, preserved by the Latin church, dominated the west until about the time of the Reformation. The existence of texts in other Eastern languages is even more irrelevant because those were certainly not in use in the West until centuries after the Reformation. Even now, their actual incorporation into translations is fairly minimal, with the exception of Syriac, which is used as a corrective.

"Saying that a group rejects the gospel (assuming the statement is true, of course) is not discourteous or ungrateful."

That's not what you wrote. If you had written, "The Roman Catholic Church rejects the Gospel," I could give you the benefit of the doubt of having good will and say to myself, "Well, he means 'the Gospel as we Calvinists understand it.'" But that's not what you wrote. You called the Church an "enemy of the Gospel." To be an enemy is to oppose intentionally. It acknowledges no good faith, good will, or good intention on the part of the other. That alone is uncharitable; as we generally want others to assume our own good intention, it seems at least prudent to make the same assumption about others.

Turretinfan said...

On Islam, secularists are tolerated more in Roman Catholic countries than in Islamic countries.

"It is anachronistic to refer to anyone, monk or not, as "Roman Catholic" before "Anglo-Catholics" coined the phrase during the English Reformation."

It is not a question of the label, but the concept. After all, it is not really anachronistic to call Stephen a "Christian" martyr, even though that term hadn't been coined yet.

"For the most part, we do not refer to ourselves as such, though there are certainly numerous examples."

The issue is not the label, but the concept.

"In any event, it is not at all anachronistic to call those monks as Catholic, inasmuch as they called themselves that, and meant by it the same thing that we do today."

They use the term, we use the term, and you use the term. But you and we do not use the term in the same way. You typically use the term to mean that someone is in communion with a Roman bishop. They didn't, and we don't, use the term that way.

"As the dogmas of papal infallibility and the immaculate conception had not been defined yet, they were free to view those (at the time) theories however they wanted without it impacting their "Catholicness"."

a) There is no historical evidence to support the idea that some of those ideas were even "theories" in the ante-Nicaean church.

b) Your church has made belief in those doctrines mandatory, thereby making it definitional of your sect that those doctrines are held. Identifying people who didn't hold those views with your sect is anachronistic at best.

c) Does it matter to you that the apostles didn't teach these doctrines that your church now not only teaches, but makes mandatory?

"Aquinas certainly indicates a great deal about medieval views in the West, and to some extent is even normative; but not entirely so, and in his day his was not the only opinion."

Indeed. I was citing him as an historical example, not as proof of the true doctrine.

"The Church has not sided with him on everything."

Right. In some cases, that may be good. In other cases, your church would have done better to stick with the position Aquinas enunciated.

"The fact that the Greek texts come from Eastern monasteries isn't salient to my point."

Your previous claim was: "You wouldn't have a single copy of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John if Catholic monks hadn't spent their lives, for century upon century, copying it by hand while the Germanic tribes outside were too busy looting and sacking to bother with things like reading at all."

Contrary to the stereotype, the Gothic translation of the Scriptures comes about the same time (perhaps slightly before) Jerome produces the Vulgate translation.

The existence of the Greek copies refutes your claim.

"Luther didn't use Greek texts, and neither did Calvin."

Yes, they did. Luther translated his New Testament from Greek, and Calvin frequently referred to the Greek.

[cont'd in part 2]

Turretinfan said...

[cont'd from part 1]

"Moreover, neither they nor their forefathers learned the Gospel from reading Greek texts."

This seems irrelevant to your original claim.

"The Latin manuscript tradition, preserved by the Latin church, dominated the west until about the time of the Reformation."

Yes. Sadly the Roman pontiff and his underlings suppressed the propagation of translations of the Bible, such as the translation into Roumant (circa 1180) and English (circa 1380).

"The existence of texts in other Eastern languages is even more irrelevant because those were certainly not in use in the West until centuries after the Reformation."

You might be surprised at how fast they were in use. Nevertheless, your claim was that we wouldn't have a "single copy" without the Latins - which is plainly false.

"Even now, their actual incorporation into translations is fairly minimal, with the exception of Syriac, which is used as a corrective."

You might be surprised, but generally the Syriac, Coptic, and Armenian are given more weight than the Vulgate in translation decisions. However, of course, the Greek texts are given by far the most weight.

I had written: "Saying that a group rejects the gospel (assuming the statement is true, of course) is not discourteous or ungrateful."

You responded: "That's not what you wrote. If you had written, "The Roman Catholic Church rejects the Gospel," I could give you the benefit of the doubt of having good will and say to myself, "Well, he means 'the Gospel as we Calvinists understand it.'" But that's not what you wrote. You called the Church an "enemy of the Gospel." To be an enemy is to oppose intentionally. It acknowledges no good faith, good will, or good intention on the part of the other. That alone is uncharitable; as we generally want others to assume our own good intention, it seems at least prudent to make the same assumption about others."

Would you make the same criticism of Paul's word choices:

Romans 11:28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.

Philippians 3:18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

-TurretinFan