Thursday, August 29, 2013

Loraine Boettner’s List – Part 4: Sacraments, Idolatry, Holy Water, Transubstantiation… (Items 8,10,15,16,19,22,27,29,33,34)

As in Part 3, to keep the length within reason, I’ll let Mr. Ariss’ examinations speak for themselves and add my own comments in blue where I feel more clarification is needed. Everything in black ink, from here on, is quoted directly from Wayne Ariss (with his generous permission…see link in the very first part of this series) with the bolded text being the direct quote from Boettner’s list :

8. Extreme Unction....526.

Extreme Unction (or the Anointing of the Sick) is mentioned in the Epistle of James, 5:13-15, written sometime between 60 and 100 AD. In light of this fact, how Boettner came up with the idea that the Catholic Church "invented" it in 526 AD is a total mystery.

[James 5:13-15 reads, “Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” That is the Catholic teaching on “Extreme Unction”, aka “Anointing of the Sick”.]

10. Latin language, used in prayer and worship, imposed by Gregory I....600.

Latin was, of course, the language of the ruling culture in Western Europe at the time of Christianity's inception, being the Roman Empire. As early as 180 AD, the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs mentions that the Gospels and Epistles of Paul had been translated into Latin, and pagan Romans such as Arnobius dismissed such translations as being of a trivial, common, and vulgar form of Latin [17].

The de facto "official" language of the Church appears to have been Greek up until the 3rd century, when official Papal documents began appearing in Latin. This was probably due to the overwhelming majority of Christians being located in the eastern, or Greek-speaking, half of the Empire. Paul, for example, in the 16th chapter of Romans, greets more than twenty people by name, and only six of the names are Latin, the remainder being Greek. However, Latin began to slowly gain more usage, especially in the Roman provinces of Africa, and moving northward. By the 4th century, Jerome had translated the Scriptures into Latin, and the liturgy was being celebrated almost exclusively in Latin in the western parts of the Empire [18].

Although there is no exact date when Latin took precedence in the western Church, virtually all authorities agree that it was during the period from the early 3rd to late 4th centuries. That, along with the lack of evidence of a definitive decree from Gregory I stipulating the use of Latin in his liturgical reforms after 590, places Boettner in a chronological error of several hundred years.
[17] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 9; "Latin, Ecclesiastical", pg 20.
[18] Peter Stravinskas, Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Encyclopedia; "Latin". Huntington, IN: OSV Publishing, Inc., 1991, pp 575-576

15. Worship of the cross, images and relics, authorized in....786.

Boettner appears to get this date from the 2nd Council of Nicaea, even though he is off by one year (the council actually took place in 787). The council stipulated that the Cross should receive an "adoration of honor" [28]. However, the veneration of the Cross is mentioned as far back as 380 AD, in documents such as the Peregrinatio Etheriae, making Boettner's claim 400 years off the mark [29].

Veneration of the relics of saints is mentioned much earlier than Boettner's claim; The Martyrdom of St. Polycarp, written in 155 AD, mentions that the bones of Polycarp, "more precious than costly gems and finer than gold", were carefully gathered up after his execution, and put "in a suitable place" [30].

For more on veneration of images, see Number 4 above. [#4 is in Part 3 of this particular series.]
[28] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 4; "Cross", pg 524.
[29] ibid., pg 530.
[30] Jurgens, Vol. 1, pg 31

[A review of item 17 (also in Part 3) would be helpful here. This “adoration of honor” is in the context of veneration/honor defined by dulia, not latria. The qualifier is “…of honor”. For context see the Catholic Encyclopedia referenced above and the title, “Cross, The True”…which is available online at . The Council clearly stated, in the same explanation, “…But the council points out that we must not render to these objects the cult of latria, "which, according to the teaching of the faith, belongs to the Divine nature alone…”” (link to source above, emphasis in original). ]

16. Holy water, mixed with a pinch of salt and blessed by a priest....850.

The Apostolic Constitutions, a document dating back to the 5th century, attributes the use of holy water to the Apostle St. Matthew; likewise, two more ancient documents called the Pontifical of Serapion of Thmuis and the Testamentum Domini contain liturgical formulas for the blessing of both oil and water at Mass.

The Council of Constantinople in 691 AD makes mention of the blessing of holy water at each church at the beginning of each lunar month. In any event, Boettner is off by anywhere from 400 to 159 years, depending on the source cited [31].
[31] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 7; "Holy Water", pp 432-433.

19. Baptism of bells, instituted by pope John XIII....965.

The phrase "baptism" of bells has been in use for hundreds of years, but it was a "pop" usage, which was never instituted by the Church. The actual practice involved the blessing of the bell and application of holy water, the same way that the Church blesses any object which is devoted to the service of God, i.e., an altar, a church, sacred vessels, vestments, vehicles, etc. In no way is the blessing of a bell (or any other object) the same thing as the Sacrament of Baptism, in which a new child of Christ is washed clean of original sin.

The blessing of bells is mentioned in documents dating at least as far back as Egbert, Archbishop of York, in the mid-700's AD; thus we see that Boettner is about 200 years off [36].
[36] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, "Bells", pp 420-421.

[Boettner’s primary concern appears to be (I say “appears” because he does not specify what was so sinister about blessing a bell) linked to a popular non-Catholic belief regarding Baptism. Some non-Catholics believe that Baptism is not a Sacrament through which we are brought into the New Covenant and receive the Holy Spirit. Instead, they see it as only a symbolic gesture with no real significance. That MAY be why he equates "blessing an object with Holy Water” to a “Baptism”. Where the Catholic (and most Lutherans, and many other Christians) recognizes a drastic difference between the two, he does not…so it appears.]

22. The Mass, developed gradually as a sacrifice, attendance made obligatory in the 11th century.

The Didache, written somewhere around 140 AD [or closer to 90 AD according to some historians], mentions that Christians should assemble on the Lord's Day for the Eucharist, but that they should confess their sins beforehand, so that their "sacrifice may be a pure one" [42]; this sacrificial language is echoed later by both Ignatius and Irenaeus. Thus, Boettner's "gradual development" occurred, rather precipitously, within 50 years of the death of the Apostle John, and not over a course of ten centuries as he implies.

As for obligatory attendance at Mass, the Council of Elvira in 300 AD decreed temporary excommunication as a corrective measure for anyone who missed Mass three weeks in a row [43], 700 years before Boettner's date.
[42] Staniforth, Early Christian Writings, pg 197.
[43] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 14, "Sunday", pg 335

27. Transubstantiation, proclaimed by pope Innocent III....1215.

As a concept, transubstantiation can be traced back at least to Tertullian, who states "He took bread, offered it to His disciples and made it into His body by saying, 'This is My body'" (Against Marcion 212 AD); likewise Cyril of Jerusalem says "Once at Cana in Galilee by a mere nod He changed water into wine; should it now be incredible that He changes wine into blood?" (Catechetical Lectures [Mystagogic], 350 AD) [55].

As a term, transubstantiation was first used by the theologians Magister Roland about 1150, Stephen of Tournai about 1160, and Peter Comestor about 1170 [56]; this terminology was then used by the 1st Lateran Council in 1215, which is apparently where Boettner got his date from. As can be seen, however, Boettner is off by anywhere from 865 to 1003 years in the first instance, and anywhere from 45 to 65 years in the second.
[55] Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, pp 381-382.
[56] ibid., pg 379

29. Adoration of the wafer (Host), decreed by pope Honorius III....1220.

The implication here, of course, is that Catholics worship a piece of bread. Catholics do not worship bread, they worship Jesus Christ, Whose flesh and blood the bread has become. The fact that Christians considered the bread and wine to be transformed into the flesh and blood of Christ can be found as far back as Ignatius of Antioch, who wrote in his Epistle to the Romans (110 AD), "I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the Bread of God, which is the Flesh of Jesus Christ...and for drink I desire His Blood" [59].

As for the practice of perpetual adoration of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, the first recorded instance took place in 1226, although the practice did not become widespread until the 15th century [60]. From these examples it seems that Boettner erred more than 1000 years one way and about 200 years the other way.
[59] Jurgens, Vol. 1, pg 22.
[60] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, "Adoration", pg 153

33. Purgatory proclaimed as a dogma by the Council of Florence....1439.

As was mentioned in #1 and #9 of this list [Part 1 of this present series], the concept of Purgatory pre-dates the Catholic Church, and the doctrine has been around since the 2nd century; the assembled bishops at Florence merely defined the existing doctrine; they did not invent it.

34. The doctrine of the seven sacraments affirmed....1439.

Seven sacraments are mentioned by Peter Lombard (who died in 1164) in the fourth Book of Sentences; seven are likewise numbered by Otto of Bamberg in 1139; the Council of London in 1237; and the Council of Lyons in 1274, all of which pre-date Florence [69]. Boettner is thus off by 300 years in his claim of when the seven sacraments were affirmed.
[69] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 13, "Sacraments", pp 299-300."

The next part of the series will discuss disciplines in the Church, such as fasting and celibacy, as well as Sacred Tradition and even an inquisition. 20 more items on his list, and 2 more parts of the series coming soon…

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