Monday, August 11, 2008

Jouer à la Baisse (Part One)

I'll give you one last aphorism for your book, Goldfinger: "Never go a bear of England." ~James Bond

Over on Turretinfan’s blog, he has written an article titled: Wisdom Chapter 14-Test of Irony that appears to be an attempt at a counter-strike against my previous post here on this blog as well as the comments in his commbox concerning the irony of a Calvinist who professes a belief in the notion of sola scriptura citing two passages from St. Paul’s epistles alluding (I unfortunately used the term “quote”) to passages contained in the Deuterocanonical Book of Wisdom of Solomon as support of the notion of the superiority of Scriptural revelation. After restating Wisdom 14:1-31, which is actually a part of a lengthier polemic against pagan idolatry, Turretinfan unleashes the following salvo:

“Now I ask you which is more ironic: that I (not believing this passage to be the Word of God) accept this passage as generally true, or that others (believing this passage to be the Word of God) nevertheless claim that the prohibition on idols did not last for ever (as stated in verse 13) but ceased after the Incarnation. Which is more ironic, that I believing this to be uninspired believe it teaches the truth (generally) or that they believing it to be inspired nevertheless do not follow its teachings, but make and use in worship images both purporting to be of God and of holy men?”

At first, when I saw TF’s article, I was surprised that he would so unfairly mis-characterize Catholic doctrine pertaining to the use of statues of saints and Our Lord Jesus Christ in connection with the Church's devotional practices. Then after a moment, something else registered and I could not help but laugh at the hidden irony contained in TF's article.

Here is a man who goes by the nom de guerre “TurretinFAN” (emphasis mine) quoting a passage from the Deuterocanonical Book of Wisdom ostensibly to smear Catholics for using statues or pictures of saints and Christ in their sanctuaries and in their devotional practices which also condemns people who engage in "fan" behavior. For you see, the word “fan” or “fanatic” is derived from the Latin word “fanaticus” which was the name given to a person who enthusiastically engaged in the orgiastic temple rituals and temple prostitution of the Romans and the Greeks, acts which are condemned at Wisdom 14:12 and 14:22-31 as perverse rituals and acts of fornication which the author of Wisdom states sprung from the practice of idolatry. Thus, by speculating that he could condemn Catholicism for engaging in allegedly hypocritical and idolatrous acts with his reference to Wisdom 14, TF condemns his own hypocritical and idolatrous actions by his self-characterization as Turretin's fanatic as well!

Now lest I am not clear here, I am not accusing TF of idolatry. In fact, I deny that the Catholic devotional practices he attacks in his article are idolatrous. There are distinct differences in the conduct described in the trope at Wisdom 14 that Turretinfan cites to and the Catholic devotional practices involved in honoring its saints, the most obvious is that we do not worship our saints. But it seems to me that if one is going to misrepresent Catholic devotional practices as idolatrous, that person should come to the table with clean hands and not be engaging in conduct which could also likewise be construed as idolatrous based on the way he is reading Wisdom 14.

I hope to discuss the literary device of irony in Scripture, and will try to provide a more substantive answer to TF's rhetorical questions in the very near future.

God Bless!

(Updated from the original post 8:39 am 08/11/2008)


Anonymous said...

I'll give you one last aphorism for your book, Goldfinger: "Never go a bear of England." ~James Bond

Never go a bear...?

Some Englishism that I don't know?


Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Martin! Yes it is an "Englishism." It is phrase which means "to bet on something losing. We Americans say it a little different as we talk about a "bear" market. "Jouer a la baisse" is a French term that means the same thing.