Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fruits of Protestantism?

A recent article that appeared in an English newspaper gave me pause. The title: Two thirds of teenagers in England apparently don't believe in God. This conclusion is the result of a poll of some sort was conducted by Penguin Books that found that the majority of English youth do not believe in God. Moreover, one in ten British teenagers that do believe in God also believe that a person is reincarnated as an animal after they die.

While I do have some questions pertaining to the accuracy of the study and I am somewhat skeptical of the article itself as we are talking about the Telegraph which is often anti-religious in general and states Catholic doctrines inaccurately almost as many times as some of the Protestant polemicists I have commented on, it does seem to mirror the general spiritual malaise I have perceived to exist in those European countries that happen to be predominately Protestant or traditionally so. (To be fair I do see this phenomenon to a lesser extent, in Catholic Europe as well).

Could there truly be something about Protestantism's five solas that is endemically inimical to faith in God? Or is Protestantism less immune than Catholicism to the heresy of modernism that seems to pervade all aspects of present-day society because of the devaluing of the role of Church in peoples' lives? Or perhaps Professor White will treat us to a sermon on how it is an established fact that the majority of British kids that denied the existence of God in that poll are practicing Catholics? Anyone have any thoughts on the subject?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Papist Pastiche: A Bushwa Update!!!!!!!!

UPDATE: After Mr. Fan pointed out in the comment section of my last article that there are Catholics who call themselves papists, I decided to investigate further. Mr. Peters of American Papist: Not Your Average Catholic blog graciously responded to my query about his use of the term "papist". Here it is:

Subject: Re: use of the term "papist"

Hi Paul,

Of course "papist" has historically been a derogatory term. My use of it in my blog title is an attempt to reclaim it, saying in effect "sure we follow the pope, and that isn't a bad thing." It's a challenge for folks to re-examine their preconceptions about Catholics.

Now, using "papist" in an ecclesiological sense is interesting. But claiming that "papist" is uniquely-descriptive of Catholics is misleading. What is distinctive about us is that we follow all the teachings of Christ, which includes petrine primacy and infallibility. So, in a sense, being a papist represents living the fullness of the Christian life.

Grace & Peace.

With no small amount of tremulous timority (and some temerity as well), I make the modest proposal that when Catholics read one of Mr. Fan's articles or comments using the term "papist", we Catholics assume that he is praising Catholics who are "living the fullness of the Christian life" as suggested by Mr. Peters' usage of the term. First, it allows us to be more charitable towards Mr. Fan and makes his articles a bit more palatable and truthful when it comes to his discussion about Catholic doctrines.

Second, Mr. Peters' definition is far more attractive than the one Mr. Fan originally advanced before he pointed me to Mr. Peters' blog as an example of Catholics using the term "papist". Since Mr. Fan referenced it, he apparently endorses the way Mr. Peters' is using the term. Surely, Mr. Fan checked it out and knew how the term was being used by Mr. Peters before referencing in his critique of my argument against his usage of the term. Mr. Peters' definition also has the luxury of making sense, at least in the sense of ecclesiology which Mr. Fan believes legitimizes his usage of "papist".

As a bonus, by assuming that Mr. Fan is using Mr. Peters' definition, one has to guess whether Mr. Fan is really not an anti-Catholic after all. Since Mr. Fan believes that God is truly sovereign and can elect to save whom He will, Mr. Fan can not complain if God elects to save Catholics through the Catholic Church, can he? There is some precedent for this notion here. Both John Calvin and the Real Turretin used the term "papist" throughout their writings, but both did think that it was possible that Catholics could be saved within the confines of the institutional Catholic Church. See, Calvin's Commentaries, 1539 Latin, Baker Book House English reprint [1850] 1993, Vol. 9, p. 285; Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 1696 Latin, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing English translation, 1997, Vol. 3, p. 121. Maybe TF is following these men's lead and agrees with them.

Of course in assuming that Mr. Fan is endorsing Mr. Peters definition of "papist" by citing to it, rather than its historical pejorative sense, one must wonder then why Turretinfan hasn't swum the Tiber long ago (given how many times he uses "papist" as a term of endearment), like so many of his former fellow Presbyterians, including folks like: Orestes Brownson, Jimmy Akin, Dr. Scott & Kimberly Hahn, Robert Sungenis, Bishop Henry Graham, and Cardinal Avery Dulles. However, being somewhat of a realist, I am still holding out the possibility that Jack Chick pays Turretinfan a nickel every time he uses the word "papist" in a sentence.

Mr. Fan, thank you for helping us find a new definition for "papist". Do you have any suggestions for websites that have the word "romanist" in their title so we can get a better definition for that pejorative too?

God bless!

P.S. Seriously, Mr. Peters' blog is an excellent read and I highly recommend folks stopping by and checking it out!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bushwa Is Still Bushwa (Even When One Is Talking in the Ecclesiastical Sense)!

While I am waiting for a translation of the last piece I need to finish my article on whether St. Athanasius wrote The Discourse on the Holy Theotokos, I happened to visit Turretinfan’s website and saw that he still trying to defend his usage of the pejorative “papist” in an article entitled, “Papist Propaganda.” After noting that the word was coined in 1534 in France, Turretinfan states:

The term "papist" was not coined as derogatory term, nor need it carry derogatory connotations. It does not (contrary to the most bizarre piece of propaganda I recently received) mean "pope worshiper." Although some people do use it in a derogatory manner, you will not find this blogger using it that way, but rather in a way that is descriptive of ecclesiology.

At the outset, Mr. Fan fails to establish in what context the word “papist” was first used in 1534. I have never seen it used in the English language in any context other than an opprobrious manner. I have never seen it used in any context in the French language other than in an opprobrious manner. Since Mr. Fan has identified that the word was first coined in 1534, he should produce the writing in which the word first appeared so one can determine whether word was first used in a context other than in an opprobrious manner.

Moreover, Mr. Fan’s argument is a facile one. Anyone familiar with etymology could use the same sort of illegitimate argumentation that Turretinfan uses to attempt to make the word “nigger” something other than a racial epithet. However, I will not offend anybody’s sensibilities in doing so. The simple fact is that in this country, assuming for the moment that the pseudonymous Mr. Fan is a citizen of this country, the term papist has been used almost exclusively by Klansmen, Know-Nothings, nativists, Neo-Nazis and anti-Catholics as a term of derision and calumny. Is that the kind of companions that Mr. Fan wishes to associate himself with particularly when he claims all the time that he is not anti-Catholic?

Finally, the definition itself as given by Mr. Fan is faulty. As a Catholic, I am not an adherent of a pope. I am an adherent of Catholicism which is made up of the doctrines of the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.” Catholics do not follow the teachings of a man, unless that man be Jesus Christ. For example, there are several people on this planet at the moment who call themselves “pope.” For example: Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Church. He is a good, Christian and holy man, but I do not follow him or his teachings because he is a “pope.”

Rather, Catholics follow the teachings and doctrines of the Catholic Church. A pope may promulgate doctrines and teachings in the course of his papal office that we may be obliged to follow by virtue of our recognition of the validity of the authority of his office within of the Church. However, to use the ecclesiastical sense, as Turretinfan wishes us to use, the best one could argue then is that I am an adherent of the papal system of church government. In that case, one could legitimately say I am a papalist, which accurately describes the ecclesiology of how the Catholic Church as an institution is governed.

To say that I am “an adherent of the pope” or “papist” is like saying that Turretinfan is the adherent of the dead French lawyer, John Calvin. If I were to do so ignores the fact that he professes to be a Presbyterian which in the sense of ecclesiology (which Mr. Fan claims is the all-important underlying justification for using the pejorative term “papist”) is a different Protestant institution of governance or denomination than a Reformed Baptist, Reformed Dutch Church or some other flavor of Reformed Protestantism. Calling someone a Calvinist in the sense of ecclesiology is no more accurate than calling someone a "papist."

Of course, there is a slight difference here. In a theological sense, Mr. Fan himself uses the label "Calvinist" as descriptive of the set of doctrines and teachings first invented by John Calvin to which Mr. Fan may ascribe. However, the term "papist" was imposed on Catholics by Protestants. We have never applied that label to describe ourselves or our form of governance or our doctrines and teachings.

The word “papist” is a religious epithet, pure and simple. Its continued use in today’s society and religious discourse can not be justified given its historical usage in the English-speaking world. Even if Mr. Fan were to establish conclusively beyond a reasonable doubt that the word once meant something other than an epithet 450 years ago when it was first coined, that word has lost that meaning centuries ago. It is time to stop using the term to describe Catholics or if one intends to keep using the term, stop denying that one is an anti-Catholic.

God bless!