Friday, August 30, 2013

Loraine Boettner’s List – Part 5: Disciplines, Authority, Canon, and Confession (Items 21,23,24,25,28,31,36,37,38,41)

Continuing where we left off in Part 4 we move now to some Church disciplines and touch on the topic of Authority and Sacramental Confession. As before, 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 :

21. Fasting on Fridays and during Lent....998.

Fasting on Fridays is mentioned as far back as the Didache (140 AD) [39], thus rendering Boettner more than 800 years off the mark. As for the Lenten fast, Athanasius, writing in his Festal Letters of 331 AD, stated that the faithful should fast for 40 days during Lent [40]. This makes Boettner 667 years off the mark. Canon 69 of the Apostolic Canons, which pre-date 341 AD, admonishes bishops, clergy, and laity to fast during Lent; Canon 56 of the Trullan Synod of 692 AD contains similar regulations [41]. Here Boettner is anywhere from 657 years to 306 years off.
[39] Maxwell Staniforth (trans.), Early Christian Writings. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books, 1968, pg 194.
[40] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 9, "Lent", pg 152.
[41] ibid., Vol. 5, "Fast", pg 791.

[Criticism about fasting often comes from non-Catholics pointing to 1Tim 4:3, “…who forbid marriage and enjoin abstinence from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” The misconception is that, by being told to fast, we are being forbidden from such foods. This is not the case. Catholics enjoy meat, for example, and eat if we want to, and we DO realize that it is good. In fact, the reason we consider it to be a “fast” when we abstain from meat is BECAUSE we realize the goodness of this gift of God. The reason we fast is because Christ thought that we would, and even thought it important enough to tell us how to do it properly (cf. Mt 9:15 and Mt 6:16-18). I don’t suppose anyone is going to say Christ was wrong to say we would fast, or to instruct us on how to do it?]

23. Celibacy of the priesthood, decreed by pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand)....1079.

Celibacy, of course, is mentioned as an ideal by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 7, although not as a mandatory injunction. Several early Fathers, including Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, and Epiphanius appear to have viewed the practice favorably as well; but it was the local Council of Elvira in Spain (295-302 AD) where celibacy was first imposed on bishops, priests, and deacons. The practice was held as the ideal for clergy, but was adopted---or imposed---piecemeal in various locations until it was decreed Church-wide for all clergy by the 1st Lateran Council in 1123 [44]. Boettner is thus off by 700 years in the first instance and 40 years in the second.

In the case of Gregory VII, he did indeed seek to strengthen the practice of clerical celibacy, but it was in two Lenten synods in 1074 and 1075, not in 1079 as Boettner asserts [45]. The second of these synods forbade married priests from saying Mass and laypeople from attending Masses celebrated by married priests [46]. Boettner is thus still off the mark by a margin of four to five years.
[44] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, "Celibacy", pp 483-486.
[45] Kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes, pg 155.
[46] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pg 486.

[Again, in addition to Paul’s support and preference regarding celibacy, we also have Christ Himself affirming for us His praise of those who give up Marriage for the sake of the Kingdom (Mt 19:9-12). The assertion by Boettner seems to be that Catholics are forbid Marriage (again, in context of 1Tim 4:3). But the fact is, every Catholic is free to choose Marriage, evidenced by the fact that not only are most Catholics Married (including Priest’s in the Eastern Rite of the Church) but the fact that the Church views Marriage as so Holy that it considers it a Sacrament and Unity that can never be broken by man. Why Boettner takes issue with the Church selecting candidates for the Priesthood from among those who have given up Marriage for the sake of the Kingdom is anyone’s guess (if that is indeed his position…again, he does not specify).]

24. The Rosary, mechanical praying with beads, invented by Peter the Hermit....1090.

The Rosary had a long and slow development, going back to knots tied in cords and holes drilled in pieces of wood, both dating from the 300's AD. The current prayer, and system of a crucifix and 59 beads, appears to be the result of the devotion as it was practiced in the 12th century; in this state of evolution, it was popularized by St. Dominic Guzman (1170-1221) and later by Alan de Rupe, around 1470 [47].

Peter the Hermit was one of the popular promoters of the 1st Crusade. Along with Walter the Penniless, he helped organize volunteers for the Crusade in 1096, and died in 1115, but there is no body of evidence indicating that he "invented" the Rosary devotion as it is presently known [48].
[47] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 13, "Rosary", pp 184-186.
[48] Matthew Bunson, Encyclopedia of Catholic History. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 1995; "Rosary", pg 733.

[This charge appears to come from Christ admonishing that we not pray with meaningless babble as the pagans did (Mt 6:7), who thought they’d be heard for their many words. But Christ did not condemn all repetitive prayer, only meaningless babble (like that by the pagans in 1Kings 18:25-29). Christ Himself repeated prayers (3 times in the Garden for example, Mt 26:44) and the Psalms are an excellent example of repetitious meaningful prayer (Psalm 136 comes to mind). Rev 4:8 shows prayer being repeated day and night, and Scripture tells us to pray without ceasing (1Thess 5:17) ]

25. The Inquisition, instituted by the Council of Verona....1184.

Although there were both ecclesiastical and secular investigative bodies and tribunals which dealt with various heresies throughout the first 1200 years of Christian history [49], the actual first Papal Inquisition was established by Gregory IX in 1233 to investigate the Waldensian and Albigensian heresies; this was under the auspices of the Pope, as distinguished from episcopal bodies under the control of diocesan bishops [50].

Boettner is off by nearly 50 years for the establishment of the Papal Inquisition, and he is likewise inaccurate in calling the convocation at Verona in 1184 a "council"; more properly, it was a synod, and while severe measures were pronounced against the Cathari, Waldensians, and Arnoldists, the synod was a cooperative measure between Pope Lucius III and Emperor Frederick I, rather than an established Inquisition of later years [51].
[49] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 8, "Inquisition", pp 26-30.
[50] Stravinskas, OSV's Catholic Encyclopedia, "Inquisition", pg 512.
Kelly, Dictionary of Popes, pg 190.
[51] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 9, "Lucius III", pg 412.

28. Auricular confession of sins to a priest instead of to God, instituted by pope Innocent III, in Lateran Council....1215.

Cyprian of Carthage, in The Lapsed (251 AD) speaks of penitents "making confession of their crime", and of "having their conscience purged in the ceremony and at the hand of the priest" [57]. Likewise, Ambrose, in Penance (387-390 AD) writes "Christ granted [the power of penance] to the Apostles and from the Apostles it has been transmitted to the office of priests" [58]. From this, it can be seen that Innocent III certainly did not "institute" the practice of auricular confession to a priest; in fact, it existed 964 years before Boettner's claim.
[57] Jurgens, Vol. 1, pg 218.
[58] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vil. 11, "Penance", pg 620.

[See also Jn 20:21-23, “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Knowing which sins to forgive or retain necessarily implies hearing the sin. And James 5:16 actually say we are to confess our sins to one another: “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.” If we assign a random date of 60AD to the time these books were actually written, Boettner is 1,155 years off the mark.]

31. The Scapular, invented by Simon Stock, and English monk....1251.

Boettner finally has something right. The brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is, according to pious tradition, based on a vision had by Simon Stock in Cambridge, England, on July 16, 1251. In the vision, the Virgin Mary gave Simon a scapular, with the explanation that it was a "badge of her confraternity" [64].

Scapulars have always been associated with "third orders", in which lay people affiliate themselves with one religious order or another, pledging themselves to live good Christian lives; so what Boettner found so awful about this remains a mystery.

However, Simon Stock's vision falls into the category of "private revelation", which means that even when approved by the Church, it is not a required belief of any Catholic by any means, remaining entirely the option of the individual believer. The so-called "scapular promise" given to Simon Stock is likewise nothing more than private revelation, and is certainly not a doctrine, much less a dogma, of the Church.
[64] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 13, "Scapular", pg 511.

36. Jesuit order founded by Loyola....1534.

Ignatius Loyola did indeed found the Society of Jesus in 1534, although the Society did not receive Papal approbation until 1540. Why Boettner seems to feel that the Jesuit Order (as opposed to the Benedictines, Dominicans, Passionists, Franciscans, etc., whom he never mentions) is a "heresy" or an "invention" is puzzling, especially in light of the fact that his own Calvinist denomination did not exist prior to 1536.

37. Tradition declared of equal authority with the Bible by the Council of Trent....1545.

None other than the Apostle Paul warned about the importance of Tradition, or the oral teachings of the Apostles (1 Corinthians 11:2, 2 Thessalonians 3:6); and he equated Tradition with written Scripture (2 Thessalonians 2:15). Trent re-confirmed the authority and equality of Apostolic Tradition with Scripture in the face of the Reformation, which denied the inspiration and authority of Tradition---along with every doctrine it contained which the Reformers disagreed with. The view of the early Christians, however, is borne out in texts such as these:

"What if the Apostles had not in fact left writings to us? Would it not be necessary to follow the order of tradition, which was handed down to those to whom they entrusted the churches?" (Irenaeus of Lyons; Against Heresies, 3,4,1; 180 AD) [71].

"The teaching of the Church has indeed been handed down through an order of succession from the Apostles, and remains in the churches even to the present time. That alone is to be believed as the truth which is in no way at variance with ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition." (Origen; Fundamental Doctrines, 1, Preface, 2; 220 AD) [72].

"Of the dogmas and kerygmas preserved in the Church, some we possess from written teaching and others we receive from the tradition of the Apostles, handed on to us in mystery. In respect to piety both are of the same force." (Basil the Great; The Holy Spirit, 27,66; 375 AD) [73].

"It is needful also to make use of Tradition; for not everything can be gotten from Sacred Scripture. The holy Apostles handed down some things in the Scriptures, other things in Tradition." (Epiphanius of Salamis; Against All Heresies, 61,6; 374 AD) [74].

These examples could be multiplied, but these few more than suffice to render Boettner's idea that Trent "added" Tradition to the Church's Deposit totally null; he again off by 1,365 years in the case of Irenaeus, and 1,171 years in the case of Epiphanius.
[71] Jurgens, Vol. 1, pg 91.
[72] ibid., pg 190.
[73] Jurgens, Vol. 2, pp 18-19.
[74] ibid., pg 73.

38. Apocryphal books added to the Bible by the Council of Trent....1546.

Canon 36 from the Council of Hippo (October 8, 393) lists the following Old Testament books:

"Sunt autem canonicae Scripturae: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numeri, Deuteronominum, Iesu Nave (Joshua), Iudicum (Judges), Ruth, Regnorum libri quator (1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings), Paralipomenon libri duo (1 & 2 Chronicles), Iob, Psalterium Davidicum, Salomonis libri quinque (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Sirach), Duodecim libri prophetarum (the twelve minor prophets---Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi). Esaias, Ieremias (comprising the books of Jeremiah, Lamentations, and Baruch), Daniel, Ezechiel, Tobias, Iudith, Hester, Hesdrae libri duo (Ezra and Nehemiah), Machabaeorum libri duo" [75].

(Bolding mine for emphasis of the disputed books.) [sic]

Likewise, Augustine in Christian Instruction (2,8,13; 397 AD), lists the following:

"The whole canon of the contained in these books: the five of Moses, namely, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; and one book of Jesus Nave (Joshua), one of Judges; one little book is called Ruth...the the four of Kingdoms (1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings); and the two of Paralipomenon (1 & 2 Chronicles)...Job and Tobias and Esther and Judith and the two books of Maccabees; and the two of Esdras (Ezra and Nehemiah)...the Psalms of David...Proverbs, Canticle of Canticles, and Ecclesiastes...Wisdom...Ecclesiasticus (Sirach)...the individual books of the twelve (minor) prophets...Isaias, Jeremias (including both Lamentations and Baruch), Daniel, and Ezechiel. With these forty-four books the authority of the Old Testament is concluded" [76].

(Bolding mine for emphasis of the disputed books.) [sic]

Again, these examples could be multiplied by examining the texts of the Decree of Damasus (382 AD), the 3rd and 4th Councils of Carthage (397 AD and 418 AD), and the Council of Florence in 1441 AD. Since the extant texts of these documents include the seven Deuterocanonical books within their lists of canonical Scriptures, it remains a mystery as to how the Council of Trent could have added them to the Bible (1,164 years later, in the earliest example) as Boettner claims.
[75] Mario Romero, Unabridged Christianity. Goleta, CA: Queenship Publishing Company, 1999; pg 16.
[76] Jurgens, Vol. 3, pg 53.

41. Syllabus of Errors, proclaimed by pope Pius IX, and ratified by the Vatican Council; condemned freedom of religion, conscience, speech, press, and scientific discoveries which are disapproved by the Roman Church; asserted the pope's temporal authority over all civil rulers....1864.

The Syllabus of Pius IX ignited a firestorm when it was issued in 1864---condemned by Germany's Bismarck and Italy's Victor Emmanuel, forbidden to be published in Russia and France. Many saw it as the Pope's declaration of war against the modern state [81].

However, Pius' document is merely a list of viewpoints which, insofar as Catholic teaching is concerned, are erroneous. Among them are the contention that there is no God (#1); that the existance of Jesus Christ is a myth (#7); that all religions are equally legitimate (#16); that the Church has no right to possess property (#26); that bishops may not publish letters to their congregations without the permission of the state (#28); that the state may intrude on the governance of the Church, up to and including the specification of how the sacraments may be administered (#44); that the Church has no right to establish schools; that even seminaries must be subject to the state (#46 and 47); and that the state has the right not only to appoint and depose bishops, but to prevent them from communicating with the Vatican (#49 and 51) [82].

A careful reading of the Syllabus does not reveal a condemnation of freedom of religion or conscience, but rather an assertion that Catholics have the right to freedom of religion and conscience free from interference by the secular state. There appears to be little or no mention of freedom of speech or press, outside of condemning the viewpoint that the state has the right to interfere in the communication of individual Catholics, both lay and clerical, with the Holy See. There is likewise no specific condemnation by the Pope concerning scientific discoveries, as Boettner asserts; but rather a refutation of the wholesale idea that the Church "impedes the true progress of science" (#12). Further, far from asserting the Pope's rights over temporal rulers, the Syllabus repeatedly asserts the right of the Pope to be free from the interference of the secular state in matters pertaining to the governance of the Church.

In short, Boettner created a monster of his own imagination in what he perceives the Syllabus to contain, while conveniently ignoring the stipulations upheld by Pius IX that call for the protection of not only the individual rights of Catholics, but of all Christians---the same rights which would prove to be especially important in the century which followed the issuance of the Syllabus---a century which saw the flourishing of atheism, Communism, Nazism, and secular humanism.
[81] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 14; "Syllabus", pg 368.

WOW! That was the longest one yet. It seems Mr. Ariss and I share a zeal for similar topics, and I could not help but reinforce the Biblical aspect of the Catholic position on some of these contentions from Boettner. There is 1 more to go to complete the examination of Boettner’s List…coming up in the final review: Popes, more about the Popes, [non]scandals, and even more about the Popes.

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