The Evangelization Station
Pray for Pope Francis
Scroll down for topics
Notes by: Fr. Wm. G. Most, Ph.D.
1. Modernism: False teachers have been around since the beginning. St. Paul in Acts 20 told the presbyters of Ephesus that wolves would come from their own number.
Around the turn of this century modernism, which had deeper roots, began to be a special threat. St. Pius X in his brilliant Encyclical Pascendi, which was soon followed by a Syllabus of Errors struck at it. He called it a synthesis of all errors, and rightly. Modernism tried to change virtually every doctrine of the Church. For example Loisy said: Christ preached the kingdom, but the church came instead. He was reinterpreting things, a basic tactic of modernism. Here are some of the chief ways they work:
They often say things do not mean what they seem to mean, but are theologoumena, e.g., the perpetual virginity of Our Lady they say is only a symbol for purity—nothing physical. There are many things in the Gospels given this treatment.
They are fond of claiming retrojection: e.g., the strong words of Jesus to the Pharisees were mostly not spoken—later in the century Christians and Jews began to quarrel.
Similarly, it was not the Jews who brought His crucifixion: the Romans did that, fearing a dangerous leader of insurrection.
Jesus did die, but there was no resurrection: His body was given a shallow burial, like other criminals. Then wild dogs ate His body.
His miracles are allusions, suggestion or magic. He did not multiply loaves—He got the selfish people to take out the bread hidden under their cloaks.
Cure of possessed people was just handling epileptics.
Infancy Gospels are just a fanciful kind of midrash—they include contradictions e.g., the census, was he found by magi in a home or a stable? At Bethlehem or Nazareth?
OT prophecies on Him are so vague we can get something only by hindsight.
2. From St. Pius X to Pius XII: The vigilance Started by Pius X did not hold too well. In 1950, Pius XII issued a major Encyclical, Humani generis correcting many of the errors of the day. Unfortunately some of his warnings were vague, e.g. he said some are perverting the notion of the redemption. Yes, but he didn't say in what way, and so the false teachers were left free. E. Michael Jones in his lengthy biography of Cardinal Krol spoke harshly of Pius XII, on pp. 83-84, saying Pius XII increasingly took over even details of management, apparently not trusting the Curia and Bishops. Events were to show such fears not without foundation, though overdone. An Italian editor said there were rumors that Pius might declare the Virgin Mary to be Co-Redemptress, "and thus plunge the church into Mariolatry," a misinformed comment worthy of a black Protestant. Pius XII in 1950 in defining the Assumption had said that Calvary was, with due subordination, a work "in common" to her and her Son so that since it brought the glory of resurrection and ascension to Him, it had to bring the glory of the assumption to her. Thus he brilliantly found the assumption in New Eve theme of the earliest Fathers: a remarkable reply to Altaner, a German Patrologist, who 6 months before the definition, had boldly published a claim that it could not be defined—not in the sources of revelation. Really, every Pope from Leo XIII to John Paul II has taught, not always so dramatically, but really, her cooperation on Calvary—a total of 17 texts. Now all theologians admit that if something is taught repeatedly on the ordinary magisterium level, it is infallible—17 should easily qualify!
Two years before his death, Pius XII published a splendid Encyclical, <Haurietis aquas> on the Sacred Heart, which at the end said we must keep the two devotions together because of her role in the redemption.
3. John XXIII: In his opening speech to the Council, John made a most fateful statement, which, surprisingly many—including Jones—have not noticed: "The Church has always opposed these errors. Frequently she has condemned them with the greatest severity. Nowadays, however the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity. She considers she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnation." Except for a few exceptional cases, John followed this rule. So did Paul VI, who even when so many Episcopal conferences contradicted his <Humanae vitae> did not publicly reprove them. John Paul II explicitly endorsed the policy of John in his preface to the new catechism: "...the Council in its approach was not to condemn the errors of the age, but it was to strive before all to show serenely the force and beauty of the doctrine of the faith."
As a result few indeed of the unsound teachers have been removed or corrected. But many, many times those disloyal to our doctrine are allowed to not only keep their positions, but to oppress or even discharge those who are loyal. A glaring case is that of Charles Curran, who was not fired for his unsound doctrine, but brought on a strike at the Catholic University of America—directly under the authority of the US Bishops. He was not only rehired, he was promoted, while Msgr. Kevane, one of the few who dared to oppose him, was forced out of the University.
After some years, the Vatican did declare Curran no Catholic theologian—but not until he had wrought immense harm to all Catholic Universities.
About six and a half years were allowed to elapse between the time John XXIII appointed a committee to reconsider birth control, and July 28, 1968, the time when Paul VI finally gave his decision. The delay was fateful. Out in the middle of that protracted period, moderate Catholics were reasoning in print that: the Pope is uncertain—therefore a doubtful law does not bind—so we are free to contracept.
The very next day after the release of the decision, and about a week before the Bishops received their official copies, Curran had organized dissent to it in the media. So in practice, a right to dissent had been established. Further, as we said above, many Episcopal conferences publicly contradicted Humanae vitae, and were not rebuked.
No wonder our people were confused; even Bishops could contradict the Pope and nothing would be done about it.
E. Michael Jones, (p.358) could write that by the late 60s, the educational system of the Church in Philadelphia was "in shambles".
"Throughout the post-conciliar period, the conservatives showed themselves incapable of a coherent reading of the Council" wrote Jones, on p.431. The depth of Jones' theological incomprehension shows in the very next sentence: "The definitive text for the conservatives became Divine Word Father Ralph Wiltgen's The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber, which intimated, without any recognition of the theological problems that this position entailed, that the Council had been 'hi-jacked' by the Germanophone delegates."
Jones did not know what protection the Holy Spirit gives. It does not protect the floor speeches, only the final texts. What Wiltgen said was this: The Germans managed to get control of the management machinery of the Council, to make it as open as possible to their views and to make those prominent. He didn't mean that the Spirit let the Germans caused the Council to teach error. He did permit imprudence, and a lot of it.
What was and is needed is to go over each text with greatest care, and compare it with previous teaching: Did the Council contradict previous teaching? There are many such claims, none of them true, as I have shown in detail in the second half of <Catholic Apologetics Today>. A list of the actual changes made by the Council in teaching is given in the same book. It did make some positive progress—giving answers to previously debated points of theology—but they are few, about a dozen. And most of them are so small that the average reader would probably not notice them. For example, there had been a debate; When a man dies does he thereby cease to be a member of the Mystical Body of Christ? The council said no, he does continue for eternity. We are saved and made holy if and to the extent that we are members of Christ and like Him, especially in His atoning suffering: Rom 8.17: "We are fellow heirs with Christ, <provided that> we suffer with Him so we may also be glorified with Him" as His members.
So did the Council develop and teach truths that had not been seen before? Very little. We just gave an example. Therefore the claims that it revolutionized all theology are completely false.
It is true that it made large changes in legislation, especially liturgical—we are speaking of the basic things, doctrinal changes.
And we admit the Council shifted emphasis on some things. But that is not a substantial change. Real progress in any field means finding a new fact or truth previously unknown and proving it is true.
Jones in chapters 9-10 shows that Krol never once would stoop to meet with Mrs. Ickinger and her group, who brought very valid charges against the false doctrine being taught in his schools. Those claims were published, and many have read them. They are serious indeed. When he came up for Judgment, Krol had to explain: How is it that so many of my little ones have lost the faith or had it damaged?. He has and had no excuse at all.
To sum up: The chapter heading at the end of Jones' book is "The Desolate City". Yes, it is true, most Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence. At least 80% contracept. Mass attendance has dropped tragically.
We have explained the greatest, not the sole cause: The Pope has a policy of not correcting false doctrine and false teachers. The Bishops follow suit. Parents complain: they often get not even a hearing. They are dismissed for minor things: how they present it etc. But the basic complaint is valid. No wonder we see a Desolate City.
We must add an additional reason. Many bishops seem not to understand the new methods of working on Scripture. So they call on those considered experts—who often are merely leftists.
Still further, there are many false interpretations of Vatican II. For example. The Decree on Lay Apostolate # 8 says all creatures are good for three reasons. True. But then the leftists make a leap and say: Therefore there is no value in giving up anything for a religious reason. Hence a huge drop in religious vocations, and damage to marriages when one of the mates never gives up anything and so remains so immature as to be unable to make a permanent commitment, which is what marriage is and must be.
Chapter 2: Causes of Teenage Doubt: p.3
Reasons for the need of apologetics:
First Reason: a needed changeover. Many people today do not know what to believe. That is because they never went beyond the childhood pattern. When we were children, we believed things just because the older people said so. At an early age, nothing more is possible. But there comes, and should come, a time, when we are no longer satisfied with that: we want solid evidence before we believe.
If people really make this crossover, then their faith can be solid and secure. If they do not, they never know for sure what to believe.
Most persons who adhere to any religion whatsoever do that either because 1) they grew up in it; or: 2) they made a change in later life. But, sadly, the change in later life is commonly made without rational grounds: they just like the looks of something, or how it is done.
For example: Islam is officially the religion of the sword: it was actually spread that way. On what does it all rest? Mohammed claimed he went into a cave and had revelations. He never proved that. Nor were his reports entirely consistent with each other. Nor did he ever work a miracle, and specially, not one with a tie between the miracle and his claims.
Another example: Mormonism rests on alleged appearances of an angel to Joseph Smith. But there is no hard proof of it. And further, since it does not follow the Gospel, it falls under the condemnation given by St. Paul in chapter 1 of Galatians, where Paul says that even if an angel from the sky should teach a different doctrine: Let the angel be cursed. That applies to Joseph Smith. The doctrine of Mormonism are wilder than what most persons know. Here are some things:
1. Mormonism teaches that there are many gods, and that humans can become gods and goddesses in the Heavenly kingdom: History of the Church 6.p.306; <Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball>, pp. 28, 51-53.
2. It teaches that God the Father was a man like us who progressed to become a God and presently has a body of flesh and bone. "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!"—Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, pp. 345-47.
3. It teaches that Jesus is our elder brother who progressed to godhood, after being procreated in spirit by the Father and a heavenly mother, and conceived physically by the Father and an earthly mother. "The Restoration of Major Doctrines Through Joseph Smith." in, The Ensign, Jan 1989, pp. 28-29. They hold that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers—Mormon Doctrine, pp. 192, 546-47, 589-90.
4. It says that the Holy Spirit is a spirit in the form of a man and only his influence is present everywhere.—Doctrines of Salvation I. pp. 38,49-50 by Joseph Fielding Smith.
5. It holds that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three separate Gods—Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.370.
6. It asserts that the Bible is corrupt, missing many "plain and precious parts" and does not contain the fullness of the Gospel—Doctrines of Salvation III. pp. 190, 191.
7. It claims that the lost ten tribes of Israel came across the Bering Strait. But: <Information from the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution>. "The American Indians are physically Mongoloids and thus must have originated in eastern Asia.—Cf. J. B. Billard, editor, The World of the American Indian, Washington DC, National Geographic Society, 1974, 1979. See esp. the chapter "Across an Arctic Bridge" by J. D. Jennings.
We will consider other denominations later, especially Lutheranism and the "born again" type.
Second reason: Somatic resonance: That term may sound difficult, but is really simple. It comes from modern psychology. We are made of two parts, body and soul, matter and spirit. But they are so closely united that if there is a condition on either of the two sides, there should be—for smooth running—a parallel condition on the other side. That parallel is called a resonance. When it falls on the bodily side (most usual) it is called somatic.
For example, a person in a black depression sometimes thinks he is losing his faith. Faith of course is on the side of the spirit, but the parallel bodily condition is on the side of the body. So he still has his faith. The bodily biochemistry of his disease, the depression, interferes with the chemistry that should serve as the resonance for his faith. Faith is on the spiritual side. That does not expel faith, but makes it almost impossible for faith to function. So it seems to the patient that faith is gone.
Now right at the time of the changeover we described above come deep bodily changes, in biochemistry among other things. Thus the somatic resonance to faith is put into a flux. Hence faith wobbles, and the person thinks faith is gone. He finds it hard too to believe many things: hard to believe any older person can understand or know anything.
Third reason: massive confusion of our times: Today those on whom we used to rely confidently are often at variance with one another. Even the most basic truths of faith are being denied. Small wonder if people are confused.
Chapter 3: Existence of Miracles: p.7
People today feel they are so advanced: we can even put a man on the moon—that they find it hard to believe there can be miracles. They even argue: the laws of nature are a closed system. There is no room for any exception.
They forget there is an Almighty, who made all laws, who can do what He wills with them.
On the contrary, we can point to so many miracles not only of the past but of today. We do not mean the loose things some fundamentalists claim every weekend—no checking at all. The Church does not believe things so easily. At the great shrine of Lourdes, open over a centuries there have been thousands of reported cures. I have seen crutches hung up all over there from people who no longer needed them. But the Church has checked and approved only a bit over 60 in all those years. Church requires a medical certificate in advance, saying what the trouble is, and that it is medically possible to cure—suggestion also would not help. Then if a cure seems to happen, at once the patient is taken to the medical office. Any MD from anywhere, even an atheist, is welcome to check everything there. Some do, and are changed, e.g. Dr. Alex Carrel. More checks must be done in the next years before it can be considered a miracle. Here is one example: Madame Biré in 1908 was blind from atrophy of the papilla, the optic nerve was withered. She was taken to Lourdes. When the Blessed Sacrament procession passed, she said she could see. Doctors at once checked her. She could read even a newspaper. But the opthalmoscope showed the nerve still withered. Suggestion might possibly bring back a nerve, but it could not make a withered nerve see.
Again we have the case of the host of Lanciano. About 750 years ago a priest saying Mass had doubts. Then it happened: the outer part of the host changed to flesh, the wine to clots of blood. In about 1971 and two more times later a team of biologists and doctors were allowed to take tiny samples. They found the flesh is part of a human heart, with nerves and blood vessels. The clots are human blood. No preservatives at all: type AB blood. I have seen it myself.
Still another: the cloak of Blessed Juan Diego. He said he had seen the Blessed Virgin, Dec. 9, 1531. His bishop was skeptical, told him to get proof. Next time she came she told him to pick roses, in December. He did, put them in his cloak, took to the Bishop. But the bishop was interested in the cloak: it had the color image of the apparition. Today the colors are still fresh, 450 years later. Science cannot find how the image was put on: not photography, not paint, nothing we know. Further in 1956 two ophthalmologists, Dr. Rafael Torija Lavoignet and Javier Toroello-Bueno, checked the eyes—they seem to have depth on a flat cloth. They have two images right side up, one upside down as in normal eyes. At least four figures can be seen, one seems to be an Indian peasant at prayer. Another was a bearded Spaniard.
Chapter 4: Existence of God: p.12
Two ways to realize it. One is just a story, may or may not be true, but it can illustrate. An atheist came to call on an astronomer friend. While waiting he saw on a table a bronze model of the solar system. Push a lever, and all planets revolve at proper proportional rates. When the astronomer came: Who made it?—No one?—But you cannot tell me that.—Yes, you claim the great thing just made itself.
The above is loose, but impressive. Here is a solid proof.
Suppose I am at one point on the earth, wish to travel to another point. First, I must have the capacity. If the trip is made, the capacity is filled or fulfilled. We could call these two the potency and the fulfillment or actuality.
But then we notice that in any change we have the same pattern: first a potency or capacity; then the actuality or fulfillment. We notice too that the capacity involved some amount of emptiness wanting to be filled. If the change happened, it was filled. So: where did the added being come from? How did it get up from potency to actuality? It had to come from somewhere?
We continue: suppose I am causing a change: before, there is the capacity, with some emptiness; then the fulfillment or actuality. Where did I get the extra being? how get up to actuality? Perhaps I had the needed being somewhere else within me. But even so: How did that part of me get up? So I look outside myself for a source: If all sources I look at have same problem of getting up or filled, no answer. Until we reach a source that does not have to get up. It simply is up, pure Actuality. That is God.
More: 1)This Pure Actuality has no potency. So it cannot change (potency is needed for change). So it is outside the change we call time: future-present-past. 2)Also, a potency is not only a capacity but a limit. Think of 3 glasses on the table: 8, 12 and 16 oz. Each has a capacity for so much beer—but also a limit. But, if a being has no potency, it has no limit, is infinite.
To create means bringing something an infinite distance from nothing to something. If something actually had let us say 5 degrees of being, and we raised it to 6, that seems to be a finite change. But to raise it from nothing to any degree—that is an infinite rise: needs an Infinite Power.
We can see what to think of the folly of Von Daniken with his chariots of the gods; he thought the appearances of God in Old Testament were just space aliens, who overawed simple people. But even if that were true, we still have proof of God. And he foolishly took descriptions as in Daniel 7 etc., which if we look closely, do not really resemble a space ship. And he thought in South America there were lines at Nazca: runways for space ships. New research shows they are only ritual divisions in the fields for agriculture.
Chapter 5: Good God and Great Evils: p.18
Many think there cannot be a good God, since if He is all powerful, how can there be so many evils?
The full answer needs Scripture—but we need to first prove Scripture is inspired. So more on that later.
Distinguish two kinds of evils, physical and moral.
Physical evils are inevitable because all thing came from nothing. And so can fall. God could prevent with miracles—but that would involve self-contradiction: Why did He establish laws, and then regularly go beyond them?. Further, He can draw good out of physical evils. More on that when we have Scripture.
Moral evils come from free will. If God wanted to make a human race, it had to have free will or would not be human.
Chapter 6: The Heart of the Matter: p. 21
First stage: We will need to get the answer to three questions about the gospels: 1) whoever wrote them, did he try to get the facts on Jesus?—2) Was it possible at his time to get the facts?—3) Is it possible to have an "uninterpreted report" on events?
Second stage: We look for and find six facts about Jesus which have a very simple structure.
First question on first stage: We start with the Gospels—but do not look on them as inspired, only as ancient documents, to avoid vicious circle. We ask: Did the writers try to get the facts about Jesus?
Objection: Norman Perrin, famous Professor at the University of Chicago,(in Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus, Harper and Row, N. Y. 1967, p. 26) claimed: "No ancient texts reflect the attitudes characteristic of the modern western world." and also (p. 16): "Over and over again, pericopes which have been hitherto accepted as historical reminiscences have been shown [by Form Criticism] to be something quite different.... the gospel materials themselves have forced us to change our mind.... We have been particularly influenced by a consideration of Mark 9:1 and its parallels."
We can see from Perrin, and many others like him, that we have a problem to solve. Let us begin by asking if it is true that no ancient texts show attitudes like those of the modern world. Then, we will begin dealing with the evidence that <forced> Perrin to give up on the Gospels.
There is much help from studying what the ancient Greeks and Romans thought they were doing or aimed to do when they wrote history. As we shall see, N. Perrin shows no knowledge of the statements of the ancient historians—only that way could he claim that no ancient texts show an attitude like modern things.
Ancient Historians on History: Here we need to recall the foolish claim by Perrin that no ancient writings show modern attitudes:
Herodotus, Preface 1: "These are the researches (historiai) of Herodotus of Halicarnassus...in the hope of...preserving from decay the remembrance of what men have done." 7. 152: "...my duty is to report all that is said, but I am not obliged to believe it all alike—a remark which may be understood to apply to my whole History."
Thucydides 1.22: "..I have not ventured to speak from any chance information... I have described nothing but what I either saw myself, or learned from others from whom I made the most careful and specific inquiry." 5.26:" I took great pains to make out the exact truth."
Polybius 3.59: [the historian is obliged] "...to give his own first allegiance to the truth...and to report to us the whole truth and nothing but the truth. As a result, accurate historical research into the subjects just mentioned was not so much difficult as it was impossible in times past. ...But in modern times, the empire of Alexander in Asia and the supremacy of Rome in other places have opened up almost the entire world to sea or land travel...." 1.1: "The knowledge of past events is the supreme corrective of human nature."
Diodorus: 1.1-5: "I have devoted 30 years to the task, during which I have incurred considerable hardships and danger in making extensive travels.... I have been able to obtain accurate information of all the events of the Roman dominion from the national records which have been preserved from an early date. ...I have not tried to get a definite chronology of events before the Trojan War, since no trustworthy table of dates for this time has come to my hands." 1.1: "It is a blessing to be given a chance to improve ourselves by taking a warning from the mistakes of others."
Dionysius of Halicarnassus 1.1-8: "Part of my information has been obtained orally from the chief Roman educated men with whom I have come into personal contact, and part from studying the historical works which have the highest reputation among the Romans themselves...."
Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 1.1-16: "In describing the performances of both sides I will keep a strict objectivity. Reply to Apion 1.1-59: "My own record of the war as a whole and of the incidental details is correct, for I was a firsthand witness of all the events."
Livy 7.6.6: [On the problem of how the Lacus Curtius got its name]. "I would make every effort to find out the truth if there were a path that would lead me to it; as things are, one must hold to tradition when antiquity makes certainty impossible." Preface 6: "Events before the city was founded...are more in the nature of fables than of reliable historical evidence. It is not my intention to bother either to approve or to refute them."
Tacitus, Annals 1.1 "I intend to hand down a few of the last events about Augustus, and then the principate of Tiberius and other things, without anger or partisanship. I am far from having reason for those."
Comments: 1. We can see the purpose in mind: these writers want <to record what really happened>, the truth. They also, as is clear from the comments cited, especially those from Polybius and Diodorus, that they <also want to teach lessons>. Modern writers favor both, with less stress on explicitly teaching lessons. In other words, both ancient and modern writers of history want <facts plus interpretations.>
2. Ancient writers also liked to include speeches at suitable points. Thucydides in 1:22 said of this:" As to the speeches which were made either before or during the [Peloponnesian] war, it was hard for me, and for others who reported them to me, to recollect the exact words. I have therefore put into the mouth of each speaker the sentiments proper to the occasion, expressed as I thought he would be likely to express them, while at the same time I tried, as nearly as I could, to give the general sense of what was actually said" In other words, Thucydides would be careful to get the sense, but not the words, when he could get the reports on the sense. If he could not get even the sense, he would write comments he thought suitable for the occasion.
3. Such were the ideals, the notion of the genre, held by ancient Greek and Roman historians. How well then were able to live up to the ideal is a different matter. They did not always have the means to get at the facts, as we see some of them admitting. Modern historians however would give a high rating for factuality to several of these, chiefly Thucydides, Polybius and Tacitus. (As to the comment of Tacitus that he wanted to write without anger or partisanship, some accuse him of bias against some figures, e.g., Tiberius. But even so, the same commentators admit his accuracy in the facts he reports—the problem is in comments on the facts.
Now, let's go back and deal with Perrin's <Form Criticism> claims on Mark 9:1 and its parallels.
Mark 9.1 has this: "There are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Kingdom of God come with power." Mt 16.28 is the same except that they will see "the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." In Lk 9.27 they will merely see "the Kingdom of God."
Perrin thinks that Matthew and Mark expect the end of the world soon, while Luke has settled down "to face...the long haul of history."
We begin by noticing that all three Synoptics put this saying just before the Transfiguration—a remarkable thing, for they do not nearly always agree on chronological order. So it could refer to that, and Perrin is not really "forced" to give up on the Gospels.
But there is something much better. The words "Kingdom of God" vary in meaning in different texts. Often enough however they mean the Church in this world and/or the next. For example, after the parable of the wicked tenants, which the Gospel notes that the enemies of Jesus understood, Jesus adds (Mt 21.43):"The kingdom...will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will yield a rich harvest." It cannot mean God's "reign" will be taken away—He reigns everywhere, all are subject. It means the favored status of the People of God. Yes, God's call still will hold for them—to return to being His people. But those who reject Christ are on the outside, as St. Paul laments in Romans 9-11. Again, in the parable of the net (Mt 13.47-50) the kingdom means the present Church. It adds that at the end, the wicked will be thrown out of the Church or Kingdom. If it meant reign—there would be no wicked persons included, for they reject the reign of God. The picture is similar with the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Mt 25.1-13, and in the parable of the weeds in the wheat in Mt 13.24-30, and in the parable of the mustard seed in Mt 13.31. In the first edition of <Jerome Biblical Commentary>, (II, p.783) David Stanley thinks Mk 9.1 refers to the coming of the kingdom, the Church, with power, that is, with miracles, after Pentecost. (For the Greek word for <power> is dynamis, which in the plural means displays of power, i.e., miracles.) John L. McKenzie (p.16) writes: "The reign of God in Mt is clearly identified with the community of the disciples."
Even R. Brown, in a review of new translations in his book, Responses to 101 Questions, said that the NAB "reign of God" is unfortunate—should be "kingdom of God". And in another work, The Churches the Apostles Left Behind, he adds that the kingdom many times, not always, means the Church.
So there is no problem, Perrin is not forced: <the text in Mk can readily mean they will not die until they see the Church being established after Pentecost with power, with miracles>. Matthew mentions that the Son of Man will visit His Church. This is the concept of the Hebrew paqad, caring for it, and need not mean at the end: He is providing for His Church in all times. And of course Luke's version, that they will see the Kingdom, is no problem at all.
Form Criticism: Because of the objection from Perrin on the basis of Form Criticism, we should review it briefly. Form criticism starts with the premise that the Gospels evolved in three stages: (1) The actions and words of Jesus, of course, adapted to His audience; (2) The way the Apostles and the first generation preached these things, again, with adaptation of wording to the current audience (so that they might not use the same words as Jesus, but would carefully keep the sense); (3) Some individuals within the Church, under inspiration, wrote down some part of that original preaching: this became the Gospels. Therefore: <The Gospels are simply part of the basic ongoing teaching of the Church, written down under inspiration. In that sense, the Church has something more basic than even the Gospels.>
The trouble is this: form critics like to speak of the "creative community" with little or no mention of Apostles. It is headless, irresponsible; no concern for their own eternity!. This is of course false: their concern for eternity would make people pay attention to those who had been with Jesus, the Apostles, who also worked numerous miracles.
In its next step, Form Criticism would like to try to determine at which of the three stages our present text took its present form, in the hope this will shed some light. The general idea is good. And from it we see that a given passage may be made up of several once independent units, for the original tradition may have had, separately, accounts of individual things Jesus did or said. But the problem is: How to determine where the boundaries of the units lie?
The critics turn to two means: First, what is the literary genre or pattern of writing of each unit. That will help to mark off the borders. Second, what is the Sitz-im-Leben, or original life situation of each passage. For different situations may call for different patterns of writing. (Bultmann and Dibelius the two greatest form critics of the Gospels disagree on this in important cases, e. g, the cure of the paralytic let down through the roof).
Here is a concrete example of Form Critical work. Reginald H. Fuller (in: The Foundations of New Testament Christology, Chas. Scribner's Sons, NY, 1965, p.109) thinks there are four units in Mk 8.29-33, in which Jesus, at Caesarea Philippi, after asking what people in general were saying about Him, then asked the Apostles: (1) Who do you say that I am? Peter replies that He is the Messiah, the son of God; (2) Jesus tells them to keep quiet about it; (3) He then predicts His own death and resurrection (to correct their false notions about the Messiah), and Peter objects to His death; (4) "Get behind me, Satan". Fuller thought that units 2 and 3 were invented by the Church: Jesus had not really taught that He was the Messiah, but the Church later, being embarrassed, invented scenes in which the question came up, but He told people to keep quiet about it. As to the predictions of His death and resurrection, the Church invented those too, for when He really died and rose, the Apostles acted as if they had never heard any such thing.
If in this way the critics could eliminate units 2 and 3 (they cannot), then they say we could read the truth minus the fakery: Jesus asks the Apostles who they say He is. "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Jesus angrily rejects it: "Get behind me, Satan."
We can easily refute the attempts to eliminate units 2 and 3: for details, see Wm. Most, <The Consciousness of Christ>, (Front Royal, Va. 1980, pp. 202-06). We add that the same Fuller today has given up on Form Criticism, and says it is "bankrupt" (in St. Luke's Journal of Theology, 23,1980,p.96). Even R. Brown admits ( in: R. Brown and J. Meir, Antioch and Rome, Paulist, 1983, pp. 199-200) that we do not really know for certain Mark's purpose in writing, nor can we be sure in distinguishing what comes from Mark's editing, and what comes from earlier tradition. (Redaction Criticism studies the editorial work of each Evangelist, while Form Criticism studies the first two of the three stages mentioned above).
Besides the troubles just mentioned, the critics inject massive subjectivity by claiming that the primitive community—they are apt to pass by the Apostles without much if any mention—was "creative." That is, it just faked things. Thus R. Bultmann, who first applied Form Criticism to the New Testament, said (<History of the Synoptic Tradition>, tr. John Marsh, Harper & Row, NY, 1963, p.40.n.2: "The Controversy Dialogues as we have them are...creations of the Church." Briefly, it would be something like this: Group A is arguing with Group B. Group A has no text from Jesus to support their claim, so they make one up. Group B does the same. Again, the same Bultmann said (ibid.p.47), "Naturally enough, our judgment will not be made in terms of objective criteria, but will depend on taste and discrimination." No wonder many Form Critics now declare the method bankrupt. Really, it can be useful, but at first so many did not see its limitations, and acted as if they had "assured results of science" as they called them. They built one insecure thing on top of another, like a house of cards. Now some, not all, are waking up, and throwing out the baby with the bath.
John P. Meier, in <A Marginal Jew> (Doubleday, 1991) repeatedly charges creativity, yet never gives a shred of evidence that such things happened, though he is most meticulous in demanding evidence for so many other things. He seemingly thinks the Christians were not interested in the truth even though that was vital for their own eternal fate.
These critics also use much the criterion of "Double dissimilarity or irreductibilty." That is, if an idea is dissimilar to the emphases of both ancient Judaism and early Christianity, we may think it comes from Jesus Himself."
Form Critical Claims of Joseph Fitzmyer: In his <Christological Catechism> (Paulist, 1982,p.128, italics his) we read: "...the Biblical Commission calmly and frankly admitted that what is contained in the Gospels as we have them today is not the record of the words and deeds of Jesus in the first stage of the tradition, nor even the form in which they were preached in the second stage, but only the form compiled and edited by the evangelists....neither the Church...nor theologians...have ever taught that the necessary formal effect of inspiration is historicity. The consequence of inspiration is inerrancy in affirmation, i.e., immunity from error in what is affirmed or taught in the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation (see Dei verbum #11)".
Comments: 1. The part in italics is not strictly wrong, but very misleading. It can give the impression that we are not really sure what Jesus did or taught. What the Biblical Commission actually said is this (my translation from the Latin as found in <Catholic Biblical Quarterly>, 25, July 1964, pp. 299-304. Their English translation is on pp. 305-12): "For the fact that the Evangelists report the words or deeds of the Lord in different order does not affect at all the truth of the narrative, for they keep the sense while reporting His statements, not to the letter, but in different ways." We had said the same in describing the three stages above.
2. The rest of the quotation from Fitzmyer seems to reflect an error rather common today, of claiming that Vatican II (DV §11) allows us to think there are errors in Scripture in science, history and even religion—only things needed for salvation are inerrant. This is not at all true, as we can see, for example, from the fact that the Council itself added a footnote on this very passage, referring us to several earlier Magisterium texts which insist there is no error of any kind in Scripture. For further data on this, and on the Instruction of 1964 in general, cf. Wm. G. Most, <Free From All Error>, Libertyville, IL, 1985, 1990, chapters 7, 20, 21, and 22. The 1964 Instruction, while admitting that Form Criticism is legitimate and at times helpful, warns: "Certain followers of this method, led astray by the prejudices of rationalism, reject the existence of a supernatural order and the intervention of a personal God in the world as taught by revelation properly so called, and the possibility and actual existence of miracles and prophecies. Others start with a false notion of faith, as if faith does not care about historical truth or is even incompatible with it. Others deny, as it were in advance, the historical value and character of the documents of revelation. Others, finally, think little of the authority of the Apostles as witnesses of Christ, and of their role and influence on the primitive community, while they extol the creative power of this community. All these things are not only opposed to Catholic doctrine but also lack a scientific foundation, and are foreign to the right principles of historical method."
NB. <What we have been saying about Form Criticism is only preliminary. More important to answer our question about history and the Gospels is to learn about>:
Literary Genre in general: Genre means a pattern of writing. For example, if we today read a modern historical novel about the Civil war, we expect a mixture of history and fiction. The main line of the story will be history, and the background descriptions will fit. But there will be fill-ins, such as word for word discussions between important characters of the period. We do not, because of the fictional elements, charge the writer with ignorance or deception. No, that is the way such a novel is supposed to be written, and understood. There are as it were rules by which we read it. The key word is assert or claim. The writer claims and asserts that the main line is historical, but he does not assert that the fill-ins are historical.
There are many other genres in English, mostly inherited from Greece and Rome with rather little change. So long as we read things in that great culture stream, our natural adjustments, made since we are natives of this culture, do well for us. But if we move into a very different culture, such as ancient Semitic, then we may not take things for granted. Pope Pius XII, in his Encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu, of 1943, told us we must study to find what genres were in use in the ancient Near East, and use this knowledge to help understand Scripture.
Let us keep in mind where we are now in our work on the first part of the first question: we set out to examine two stages: 1) we need to answer three questions about the gospels. We are at work on the first of these three. 2)after that in the second stage we need to find within them 6 very simple facts about Jesus.
Now for the second part of our first stage, namely: Could the evangelists get the facts about Jesus many years after his death?
John P. Meier, in A Marginal Jew says confidently, with no real proof, that Mark wrote first. That is possible, but there are weighty reasons against saying it. However, it is of no moment to us to find out. Meyer and many with him says Mark wrote a bit before 70 AD—his account of the prophecy Jesus gave of the fall of Jerusalem is slightly unclear in one spot. So, says Meier, if it had been written after 70, Mark would have improved that. However many think Mark wrote before that time. But no matter if Mark did write just before 70, there were many sources from which he could have gotten the facts. Some early writers assert that Mark wrote from the preaching of Peter. Remarkably, Martin Hengel, of the University of Tubingen, the fountainhead of so many errors, does think Mark wrote from hearing Peter.
Nonetheless, even if Mark wrote that late: where could he get his facts? Besides listening to Peter, which is likely, there were many other sources.
First of all, Pope Clement I, who was elected in 88 or 92, wrote about 95 AD a letter to Corinth, which we have. In it he says that "Peter and Paul were of our own generation." Now they died in the late 60s. From there to the time of Clement is not a long period. Thousands and thousands in Rome had heard them—probably Clement was among them. If not, there were so many who could have told him the facts.
St. Ignatius of Antioch, second or third Bishop there after St. Peter, was sent to Rome to be eaten by the beasts, around 110 AD. He was eaten. On the way he wrote 7 letters, which contain much on basic Christianity. To the Romans he said that in case any of them might have influence and be able to get him out of being eaten, he wanted to die for Christ.—So let us make a copy of that letter, take it to the lions' den at the zoo and read it there, asking; How much did he just make up? No "creative community" in sight here. Traditions on Christ we strong at Antioch since Peter and Paul both had worked there,
Still another source is Quadratus, earliest of the Greek apologists. About 123 he wrote an apology, in which he said that some persons who had been healed by Christ or cured by Him were still around. That need not be as late as 123, but it would easily cover 80-90, the period when some claim Matthew and Luke wrote, using Mark.
There are still others, but let us mention one last source. We think of some teenagers who lived at the time of the death of Christ. Give the matter 50 years and they would be 64. Not nearly so many then lived to that age, but many did. And they could easily recount what they had seen and heard.
Third and final part of stage one: Was it possible to give an objective, uninterpreted report of events?
We are beginning our search with the Gospels, but at the start, we will not look on them as sacred or inspired—that is to be established only later on. We will look at them as ancient documents, and then put them through the kinds of checking we use on other ancient documents. For that we need to know the genre of the Gospels.
Genre of the Gospels: 1. We have seen what ideals the writers of the ancient world pursued in writing history: facts plus interpretations. We would expect the Gospel writers in general, especially Luke, an educated Greek, to try also for facts, plus interpretations for the sake of faith. For two reasons, they would try harder: 1) They believed their eternal fate depended on the facts about Jesus. 2) Jewish writers held the same ideals as the Greeks and Romans, as we see from the remarks of Josephus cited above. But in addition, The Jews had a better conception of history than did the Greeks and Romans, in that these latter commonly held that everything moves in great cycles. Thus in an important study, Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return, (tr. W. R. Trask, Princeton, 1954, pp. 104, 143) we read: "The Hebrews were the first to discover the meaning of history as the epiphany [manifestation] of God, and this concept, as we should expect, was taken up and amplified by Christianity.... For Christianity, time is real because it has a meaning—the Redemption.... The development of history is thus governed and oriented by a unique fact, a fact which stands entirely alone."
2. Luke's Gospel in particular shows great care. In the opening lines he says he consulted written accounts and eyewitnesses. My study, "Did St. Luke Imitate the Septuagint?" in Journal for Study of the New Testament, July, 1982, pp. 30-41 studied Luke's use of a special Semitism, the apodotic kai and found that he certainly did not imitate the Septuagint, as is often said, but instead he translated slavishly from sources in two kinds of Hebrew. (A summary of the article is found in Catholic Apologetics Today, Chapter 9).
We still need another preliminary in answering if the evangelists tried to get the facts.
The Problem of Historicism: Before going further, we must face the challenge of Historicism. Unfortunately, not all use this word in the same sense today. We mean it in the sense a history professor would have in mind, that is, the belief that every person and every event is so close to unique that we have little in common with the past, and so cannot be sure of understanding it. This of course undermines all historical writing, and, obviously, undermines the possibility of getting facts from the Gospels.
Historicism developed as a reaction to the excesses of such writers as Bossuet, who in his <Discours sur l'histoire universelle> (1681) said that everything in history is a contrivance of the higher wisdom of God. Some men of the so-called "Enlightenment", while rejecting the influence of God, still thought that history should be a science parallel to the experimental sciences, that is, it should include hypotheses and laws. By knowing these, people could practically control their own fate. Some prominent proponents were Etienne Condillac (1715-80), John S. Mill (1806-73) and Comte (1798-1857).
G. Vico in his <Scienza Nuova> (3d ed. 1744) prepared the way for Historicism. He said that to really know something, one must have made it. Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803) in his Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit held similar views, and said each society has its own unique lifestyle, which subtly but inescapably determines the mentalities of those born in it.
Not strangely, some saw the application of these ideas even to the past documents of the Church. Thus John W. O'Malley, S.J., in "Reform, Historical Consciousness and Vatican II's Aggiornamento" in Theological Studies 32 ,1971, pp. 596-98 wrote (emphasis added): "The historian...becomes deeply aware of the discontinuity in the past, and he is forced to remove from his consideration any over-arching divine plan. Indeed, historicism was born out of disillusionment with attempts to discover and expose such plans whether in their sacral or secularized forms....every person, event and document of the past is the product of very specific and unrepeatable contingencies.... By refusing to consider them as products of providence or as inevitable links in a preordained chain of historical progress, decline, or development, we deprive them of all absolute character. We relativize them.... contemporary philosophy of history relativizes the past and thus neutralizes it. ...we are freed from the past.... we can with truth speak of a 'changing' or even a 'new' past. ...if the past imposes no pattern upon us, we are free to try to create the future."
The same attitude at least seems to appear in the words of Avery Dulles, S.J. (<The Survival of Dogma>, NY 1971, p.164): "It is far from obvious that the dogmas of the Church, having been 'revealed by God himself,' cannot be revised by the Church.... Our findings suggest that the Catholic dogmas as presently formulated and understood may be significantly changed...."
The Answer to Historicism: 1. It is not strictly true that every person and every event is close to unique. Many sciences can make very broad generalizations, which do have some exceptions, but yet they hold widely, e.g., medicine, psychology, sociology, anthropology. Yes, there is a measure of uniqueness in fingerprints, and in the DNA patterns, but it is still true that there are the large and broadly reaching patterns.
2. We must distinguish between simple and complex facts, and between facts and interpretations.
Complex facts are those that are entwined with an ancient culture, so that we would need to as it were reconstitute that culture to fully understand. Even then, needed facts can be recovered at least in some cases, cf. for example my article, "A Biblical Theology of Redemption in a Covenant Framework" in CBQ 1967, pp. 1-19, in which the concept of hesed (not entirely unknown otherwise) is carefully recovered and worked out. But not all facts are so entwined, e.g., although the notion of prophet is complex within Hebrew culture, the notion of a messenger is understandable in all cultures.
Third and last question of stage 1: The charge is made that "there is no such thing as an uninterpreted account." It means that bias is apt to get into account. There is some truth in this, but it is not true in all types of cases. For example, if someone sees a leper stand before Jesus asking to be cured, and Jesus says: "I will it: be cured: and the man is cured"—there is no opening for bias. One's eyes and ears report simply what has happened.
Again even in more complicated instances in history we can tell the difference between facts and interpretations. For example, the fine Roman historian, Tacitus, says in his <Annals> 1.2 that Augustus "seduced the army with bonuses, and his cheap food policy was a successful bait for civilians."—We can see that he is interpreting the <motives> of Augustus. We can even see that the language is loaded with the words "seduced" and "bait" which prejudge the case. But Tacitus also reports (Annals 1.7-8) that: "At the senate's first meeting [after the death of Augustus] he [Tiberius] allowed no business to be discussed except the funeral of Augustus."—This is a clearly a simple factual report. Anyone there could see and hear that that was the one piece of business. But Tacitus also speculates on the motives of Tiberius, "he only showed signs of hesitation when he addressed the senate. This was chiefly because of Germanicus, who was extremely popular.... Tiberius was afraid Germanicus [who commanded a large army] might prefer the throne to the prospect of it."—Here is a clear case of interpretation.
So if we take the time to sort things out, we can at least in many cases make the needed distinctions, and for certain, as we shall see later, we can locate a few simple, uncomplex facts about Jesus, that are such that there is no room for bias in the report, and yet they amply suffice for building the bases we need.
A Note on Ricoeur and Gadamer: Ideas very similar to those we saw in Historicism have been proposed by Paul Riceour, Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning (Fort Worth, TX U. 1976) and H. G. Gadamer, <Truth and Method> (Seabury, 1975). They both hold that when a manuscript leaves the author's hand it takes on a new life of its own. We neither know nor care much what the author meant: we look at the new meanings, which are many.
Reply: By the use of the method just outlined, plus normal exegetical methods, we can find out what the author meant. The proposal of Riceour is total subjectivism.
A very similar development is found in "Deconstruction", favored by some professors of literature. They would argue that all writing can be reduced to an arbitrary sequence of linguistic signs or words, whose meanings have no relationship to the author's intention or to the world that lies beyond the text. Thus for example, Hamlet would be an impersonal skein of linguistic codes and conventions, the interpretation of which is open to anyone who cares to 'deconstruct' the text and 'complete' it by creating something totally different." The reply is the same. We notice the word "arbitrary". No, usage determines the meaning of the signs and sounds, and people in general can and do recognize them.
The most prominent Deconstructionist is Jacques Derrida. His theory rests on the bases just mentioned and also on the nihilistic philosophy of Nietzsche which denies the possibility of discovering truth.
Further objection: those who were present at a car collision often do not remember well or give different versions. Therefore. Reply: Two things are needed 1)opportunity 2)motive. Opportunity was scant, even if the persons were facing the accident, for it went through so fast. Motive: they had little reason to recall if the left front headlight was broken on one car.
End of stage one: 1) We saw that whoever wrote the gospels was concerned with eternity, and so was careful. 2) We saw there are many places to get facts on Jesus even at late dates. 3) We saw that there are some things of so simple a structure that there is no room for interpretations.
Now we look for six things that are of such a simple structure. They will show us a basis for the divine commission of the church.
A Man sent from God
1. There was a man Jesus. Cf. Tacitus, Annals 15.44."The author of that name, Christ, was executed during the reign of Tiberius, by the procurator Pontius Pilate."
Testimony of Josephus is too debated to be of use.
2. Claimed he was sent by God. Review senses of the word prophet in OT. But His claim is evident all over the Gospels.
Some instances; claimed to have authority over the Torah: "You have heard it was said to them of old.... Said He was Lord of the Sabbath...Said was greater than Jonah and Solomon. When John sent disciples, he said in Mt 11:3-5: "Go and tell John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them." Was citing Isaiah 35:5-6: Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame man shall leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb will sing out of joy.—At Nazareth He opened Isaiah 61:1-2 (Lk 4:17-24): "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and he anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor he has sent me to proclaim liberation to captives and sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, and to announce an acceptable year of the Lord." He said: "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
Apollonius of Tyana as Parallel to Christ
Information on Apollonius(died c 97 AD) comes from the work of Philostratus (c 210 AD). About 307 AD one Hierocles, Governor of Bithynia under Galerius, used Philostratus to claim Apollonius was like Christ and better. Eusebius wrote, 311-313 against Hierocles, showing the parallel is false.
From Philostratus it is clear there is no significant parallel.
Apollonius is really just a Pythagorean philosopher. He did not claim he was sent by God to bring eternal salvation by his own suffering. In 8.31: "Even after his death A continued to say that the soul is immortal...yet he discouraged people from meddling in such high subjects." In 8.31 he after death spoke to a young man, and said the soul is immortal, that after death "it leaps forward and mingles itself with the air.... But for you, what use is there in this?.... So why, as long as you are among the living, explore these mysteries?
How he died is unclear. In 8.29: "about the manner of his death, if he really did die, there are many stories." In 8.30: Some say he died in Ephesus. Others say he died in Lindus—entered temple of Athena and disappeared there. Others say he died in Crete—came to temple of Dictynna late at night, a temple guarded by dogs. But they fawned at him instead of barking. So the guardians of the temple arrested him as a wizard and bound him. He loosed himself, ran to the doors of the temple, which opened to receive him. Then the doors closed and a chorus of girls was heard from within: Hasten from earth to heaven.
Philostratus and Apollonius believed in many pagan gods—the Egyptian god Proteus appeared to his pregnant mother. A had many philosophical discussions—some contrived scenes, some poor imitations of Platonic dialogues. He has a discussion on the breeds and intelligence of elephants (2:11-16). At Olympia all of Greece assembled, and he held 40 days of philosophical discussions and debates: 8: 15-19.
There is much travelogue material. In India he saw dragons about 60 feet long (3:7). Their eyes contained mystic gems, and he explained how to get them. They were so large that if hollowed out they would hold enough drink for four men (3:27). He saw robot tripods that served meals (3:27). He found the source of the Nile, a place of giant geysers in a dense mountainous region (6:26). He was afraid of permanent deafness from the roar and was apprehensive since all the demons of the world used the area for a gathering place.
Miracles were never done in a framework with a tie to the claim. In 6:27 he found a satyr annoying women. He quieted the satyr with wine. He met a woman who had a son possessed by a demon—the demon was the ghost of a man who fell in battle. He had been very attached to his wife, and so when she married 3 days after his death he became disgusted with women, and became, <after death>, homosexual over a 16 year old boy and possessed him. A gave the woman a letter with threats to the ghost(3:38). He met a woman who suffered in labor seven times, told her husband whenever his wife was about to bring forth the next child, he should go in to her room carrying a live rabbit, walk around the wife once, then release the rabbit and drive it out of the room—otherwise the womb would be expelled with the child: 3:39.
In some final episodes A proclaims it is fitting for the wise to die for philosophy. Yet he says he cannot be hurt when he has to appear before the Emperor, and finally disappears from the place.
Irenaeus Bishop of Lyons, who had listened to St. Polycarp telling of the preaching of St. John the Apostle, wrote that since it was long to go through the succession of Bishops in all the churches, he would speak of Rome, "founded by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, which holds the tradition and faith announced by the Apostles, coming down by the succession of Bishops even to us.....It is necessary that every church...agree with this church because of its more important principality...in which the tradition coming from the Apostles has always been kept...."
At the early Council of Ephesus, in 431 AD even though it was an Eastern error in question, the Pope sent delegates, who asserted without being contradicted by anyone there: "There is no doubt, it has been known to all centuries, that the holy and blessed Apostle Peter, the prince and head and pillar of the faith and foundation of the Catholic church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ.... He [Peter] lives even to this time, and always in his successors gives judgment." Twenty years later the Council of Chalcedon on hearing the letter of Pope Leo exclaimed: "This is the faith of the Fathers, this is the faith of the Apostles. We all believe thus.... Peter has spoken through Leo."
The General Council of Constantinople in 870 taught (DS 661): "Since we believe that the word of the Lord, which Christ said to the holy Apostles and his disciples, "He who receives you, receives me" and "he who spurns you, spurns me" was said to all those too who after them became Supreme Pontiffs and shepherds in the Catholic Church...we define that no one at all of the potentates of the world should dishonor or move them from their sees, but should judge them worthy of all reverence and honor...."
We conclude, that Vatican II, and Pius XII and the General Council of Constantinople were well justified in taking Luke 10:16 as the foundation of the teaching authority of the Apostles and their successors. It was part of His gradual revelation of self and of His Church, it was a start of the trajectory that was to be made clearer as time went on, as we have seen..
As for women, Scripture consistently forbids them to teach with authority. 1 Cor 14:34 says "the women must be silent in the Church". First Timothy 2:12 insists: "I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man but to be in silence." So, to suppose that of course women received the teaching authority in Lk 10:16 and to add that there is no sign it applied to Peter and the Apostles—this is merely completely biased special pleading.
Chapter 12 Miracles
Sts. Augustine and Thomas think God sometimes works miracles for good people, even if not Christian. But there is never a tie between the miracle and the claim. Tacitus reports some things close to miracles by Emperor Vespasian.
And suggestion is very powerful, and Satan has great powers merely natural to him. Again, the critical thing is if there is a tie between miracle and claim.
We find such a tie often in the miracles of Jesus: The daughter of Jairus, the centurion who asked for healing for his servant, the two blind men, the paralytic let down through the roof.
The NJBC on p.1371 says Jesus consistently refused to appeal to His miracles and gives a list, a foolish list:
Mt 4: 5-7:—He refused to throw self down from temple as devil wanted.
The NJBC also says He often tried to keep attention from miracles—yes, the messianic secret on some occasions.
We note here that the miracles listed above where He asked for faith are of simple structure: dead comes to life, sick healed by a command, blind can see, paralyzed walk.
And no suggestion will work the nature miracles.
Chapter 13: The Inner Circle p.69
It is evident all over the Gospels that He had an inner circle, the Twelve.
If we follow Mark's chronology, He at first taught clearly, until He was accused of casting out devils by the devil. Then He changed to parables. The Synoptics report He cited Isaiah 6:9-10—they give it in varying forms: "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, but to those outside, all is in parables: that Seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven: Mk 4:11.
Why did He do this? Probably to set up two spirals, so that those well-disposed would get more and more, the ill-disposed would lose all. Explain the two spirals, and show how there is both mercy and justice in each. Also, there is a Hebrew pattern of saying God positively and directly does things He only permits—e.g., hardening the heart of Pharaoh, or 1 Sam 4:3: "Why did God strike us today before the face of the Philistines?". But He did not intend to harden. Cf. Mt 23:7: He wept over Jerusalem. And in the parable of the wedding dinner in Mt 22:14; Many are called but few are chosen. And after the parable of the wicked tenants in Mt 21:45 the Pharisees understood He meant them: "The kingdom will be taken away from you, and given to a people who will bear much fruit."
But now we must ask: How and why did Jesus and the Scriptures speak in a way so readily misunderstood? We add that toward the end of His public life some in the crowds began to suggest He might be the Messiah. But others said no, for the Messiah must come from Bethlehem (John 7:40-44). He could so easily have said on that occasion: But I was born in Bethlehem. But He did not.
So we ask why? God wants faith to be free, not coerced. He could have arranged to have His resurrection take place with all Jerusalem, including His enemies, assembled before the tomb. This would have bowled them over. There would have been no freedom left to such a faith.
To understand, we need to notice that there are two main kinds of evidence that lead us to accept something as true: compulsive and non-compulsive. Compulsive evidence, such as the fact that 2 x 2 = 4, forces the mind, does not leave it at all free. But non-compulsive evidence is different, Further, there is a broad spectrum of non-compulsive evidence running from some things at the top of the scale, where the evidence is so strong that no one actually doubts, e.g., that Washington crossed the Delaware. But at the low end of that scale there are things where feelings can enter, e.g., if one would say, about the original Mayor Daley of Chicago, that he was a good honest politician, those who received favors would agree he was good and honest. The opposition would say quite the opposite.
Now the evidence for things of our faith is objectively adequate, but definitely non-compulsive. It lies somewhere on that scale we mentioned where it is rational to believe, but one's dispositions can enter into the result.
This in turn is the same sort of framework we can see with the parables. If we wanted to follow the chronology of Mark—we are not sure of it of course—Jesus at first taught rather clearly. But then the scribes charged He was casting out devils by the devil. Then He turned to parables, and all three Synoptics quote Isaiah 6:9-10, in varied forms, saying the same thing: It is so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.
This was not deliberate blinding by Him. Otherwise why would He later weep over Jerusalem for not understanding the time of their visitation (Mt 23:27)?
No, He was setting up a marvelous divine device for dividing people according to their dispositions. We might speak of two spirals, in opposite directions. Let us think of a man who has never been drunk before, but tonight he gets very drunk. Next day—for this is the first time—he has guilt feelings. There is a clash between his moral beliefs and his actions. Our nature abhors such clashes, and something will have to give. Either he will align his actions with his faith, or his faith will be brought into line with his actions. This goes on and on, like a spiral that gets larger as it goes out, and feeds on itself. In other words, the man is getting more and more blind. In time he will lose perception of other moral truths and even of doctrinal truths.
Here is another remarkable thing. We know that God is identified with each of His attributes, so He does not have love, but is love. Similarly He is justice, and He is mercy. How is this possible? We can begin to understand as we are now explaining. The man who goes out on the bad spiral is getting more and more blind. This is justice, he has earned the blinding. But it is also mercy, for the more one knows about religion at the time of acting, the greater the responsibility. So his responsibility is mercifully being reduced. And in one and the same action, we find both mercy and justice exercised.
On the good spiral we also see both. The man who lives strenuously according to faith, which says the things of the world are worth little compared to eternity, he will go farther and farther on the good spiral. His ability to understand spiritual things gets greater and greater. This added light is, in a secondary sense, merited, and is justice. We say secondary, for in the most basic sense, no creature by its own ability can establish a claim on God. So all is basically mercy. Yet as we said, secondarily there is justice: God in the covenant has promised to reward those who keep His covenant law. So again, in one and the same action, there is both mercy and justice exercised.
So it seems we may have found at least some insight into God's ways in these matters. One example is that He wants Scripture to be difficult, so we may work on it more, and get more out of it (cf. EB 563) but still more, so that those well disposed will be justly rewarded, while those who ill-disposed will lose the little they have. To him who has, it will be given. From him who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away (Mt. 25:29).
Here we might borrow a line from St. Paul (Romans 11:33-34): "O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are His judgments, and unsearchable His ways." We have had the privilege of seeing, not all things about His wisdom, but some little corner, like Moses who had the privilege of seeing God from behind (Ex 34:23).
Chapter 14: Behold I am With You all Days p.76
The fifth and sixth items are these: He sent them to continue His work, His teaching, and promised God's protection on their teaching—a thing we would really expect considering what we have already learned of Him. And we already saw the many texts for this last point at the end of chapter 11.
Was His mission only for one generation as some Protestants claim? It would be foolish to become man, to die, to suffer so much and then have it for only one generation—as if other times did not need it.
In Mt 18:17-18: "If he will not hear them, tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to you as the heathen and the publican. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven. And whatsoever you shall loose upon earth shall be loosed also in heaven." Protestants say (e.g., Expositor's Bible Commentary) all Christians have this commission, it is to preach justification by faith with Luther's mistake. How foolish. In those days bind and loose meant a decision by authority: not all have authority.—and there is no hint of preaching a foolish mistake such as Luther made. Albright and Mann in Anchor Bible on Mt 16:19: "Peter's authority to bind or release will be a carrying out of decisions made in Heaven. His teaching and disciplinary activities will be similarly guided by the Spirit to carry out Heaven's will."
Jesus He showed many times His commission was for all times. Mt 18:18-20: "All power is given to me in heaven and on earth. Go then and teach all nations....". He always had all power, but had emptied self. But now, as we find in Romans 1.4: "He was constituted Son-of-God-in-power" The parables of the weeds and of the net make it clear too: the image is of the end time.
1 Tim 4:11,13,16: "These things command and teach.... till I come, attend to reading, to exhortation and to doctrine....Take heed to yourself and to doctrine: be earnest in them. For in doing this you will save yourself and those who hear you."
2 Tim 1:13-14 and 2:2: "Hold the form of sound words which you have heard from me in faith, and in the love which is in Christ Jesus. Keep the good deposit committed to your trust by the Holy Spirit.... And the things which you have heard of me by many witnesses, the same commend to faithful men, who shall be fit to teach others also."
The first generation understood this: Acts 5:13: "But of the rest, no man dared to join himself to them, but the people magnified them."
Then Clement I wrote with authority to Corinth, c. 95.
So we now see before us a group or church, commissioned to teach by one sent from God, and promised divine protection. Then we not only intellectually may, but must believe their teaching. Thus we have a bypass around the quibbles of foolish men who point to many spots in the Gospel asking: How do we know this is real?.
We need only the 6 very simple things we have given. Then this group can tell us that the ancient documents are inspired—that the messenger is divine—that there is a Pope and what he can do. They can also guarantee the resurrection. For at first, the Apostles had seen Him, and could appeal to it. But now many doubt the resurrection.
Chapter 15: Küngly Objections: p.82
K believes: 1) He did not found a Church in His lifetime—He said He was sent only to the children of Israel. The command of Mt 18:19 is post-paschal.
2) He never required a membership of a Church as a condition for entering God's kingdom. He had "criminal irregularity, casualness, spontaneity, freedom". So he offended the passive world-forsaking ascetics by His uninhibited worldliness.
3) Unlike John the Baptist, the sign he used was feasts in a joyful atmosphere. He expected the end soon. Even the Last Supper is just one more of these meals of celebration. He was having a high time with friends who continued the practice after He died.
One reviewer has tried to answer him by saying: We must have faith. But that is asking us to leap up onto Cloud 9, having no basis for faith.
There are two stages: 1)Prove that the Church has a teaching commission: this is the work of apologetics; 2)Now with faith, after the process of #1, work further, following all the teachings of the Church, on four levels of teaching.