The Manhattan Declaration As The New Barmen Declaration

Christians are hearing about the Manhattan Declaration with great excitement.  It is a tremendous document with tremendous support from some tremendous Christian figures.

The actual declaration (linked to above) is some 4,000 plus words long, and is available to read at the link above.  But here is the nutshell version:

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:

  1. the sanctity of human life
  2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
  3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

I hope you stand with me – and with (at last count as of November 24, 2009) 106,738 other believers – and sign this declaration.

It reminds me of another time, and another declaration: the Barmen Declaration of 1934, which was a point-by-point denunciation of the fascist and racist ideological doctrines of Nazism and a positive expression of true Christian faith against a government and a culture that had become evil.

Adolf Hitler attempted to redefine – or “Nazify” – the Church and transform it into a component of his ideological agenda.  At one point in its history Germany had been the seat of the Protestant Reformation, and while Germany had since become the most secular humanist nation in Europe, there was still a vestige of Christianity remaining.  And Hitler wanted to harness that still-influential vestige toward his own ends.  The government thus passed resolutions to limit the influence or dictate the agenda of the church.  One demanded the purging of all pastors who rejected “the spirit of National Socialism.”  Another resolution categorically rejected the very foundations of Judeo-Christian transcendent morality even as it tried to conflate “being a German” with “being a Christian”:

“We expect that our nation’s church as a German People’s Church should free itself from all things not German in its services and confession, especially from the Old Testament with its Jewish system of quid pro quo morality.”

The German Confessing Movement was a reaction against the German government’s attempt to impose its agenda upon the Christian Church in Germany.  As Gene Edward Veith put it in his book Modern Fascism: Liquidating the Judeo-Christian Worldview:

The Barmen Declaration thus sets itself against not only the German Christian aberration but against the whole tradition of modernist syncretism that made it possible.

[Article 1 affirmed Christ as the transcendent authority and source of values (as opposed to the German race, the Nazi revolution, or the person of Adolf Hitler)].  Article 2 asserts the sovereignty of Christ over all of life.  Article 3 asserts Christ’s lordship over the church and rejects “the false doctrine, as though the Church were permitted to abandon the form of its message and order to its own pleasure or to changes in prevailing ideological and political conventions.”  That is to say, the world does not set the agenda for the church.  Article 4 teaches that church offices are for mutual service and ministry, not for the exercise of raw power.  Article 5 acknowledges the divine appointment of the state, but rejects the pretensions of the state to “become the single and totalitarian order of human life, thus fulfilling the Church’s vocation as well.”  Article 6 affirms the church’s commission to proclaim the free grace of God to everyone by means of the Word and the sacraments.  “We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church in human arrogance could place the Word and work of the Lord in the service of any arbitrarily chosen desires, purposes, and plans [pp. 60-61].

One article, entitled “Hitler’s Theologians: The Genesis of Genocide,” takes time to describe how various key German liberal theologians systematically tore apart the Bible and orthodox Christianity – and in so doing systematically undermined the ethics and morality of the German people in preparation for the hell to come.  The author begins with Friedrich Schleiermacher, called “the founder of Liberal Protestantism,” and profiles the “contributions” of Friedrich Nietzsche, Julius Wellhausen, and Adolf von Harnack.

Georg Lukacs has observed that tracing the path to Hitler involved the name of nearly every major German philosopher since Hegel: Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Dilthy, Simmel, Scheler, Heidegger, Jaspers, and Weber [page 5, The Destruction of Reason].  And Max Weinreich produced an exhaustive study detailing the complicity of German intellectuals with the Nazi regime entitled Hitler’s Professors: The Part of Scholarship in Germany’s Crimes Against the Jewish People.  Ideas have consequences, and it was the ideas of these liberal theologians, philosophers and scholars who provided the intellectual justification and conceptual framework for the Holocaust.  Thus Nazism did not merely emerge from a liberal theological system, but from a distinguished secular humanist intellectual tradition as well — a distinguished intellectual tradition that had repudiated all the moral and spiritual values inherent to the orthodox Christianity of the Confessing Church.

Josef Hromadka wrote that:

“The liberal theology in Germany and in her orbit utterly failed.  It was willing to compromise on the essential points of divine law and of “the law of nature”; to dispose of the Old Testament and to accept the law of the Nordic race instead; and to replace the “Jewish” law of the Old Testament by the autonomous law of each race and nation, respectively.  It had made all the necessary preparation for the “Germanization of Christianity” and for a racial Church.”

Veith subsequently says, “in deciding whether or not to sign the Barmen Declaration … the dividing line was clear.”  And he states, “The German Christian theologians predictably denounced the confessional movement as being ‘narrow’ and ‘fundamentalist.'”  He rightly described the opponents of the Barmen Declaration as being “modernists,” “existentialists,” and “dialectical” in their thinking.  The theologians who rejected Barmen were men like Emanuel Hirsch, who taught that the resurrection of Christ was only a spiritual vision, and that the idea of a physical resurrection distorted Christianity by focusing attention to the hereafter rather than to the culture and community of the present.

In short, it was Christians who thought like the evangelicals and fundamentalists of today who signed the Barmen Declaration and openly opposed Nazism, and it was “Christians” who thought like the mainline liberals of today who stood for the German Christian Nazification of Christianity and for the resulting Nazification of German ethics and morality.

Confessing Church pastors and priests who resisted this Nazification of the church paid dearly.  Thousands of clergymen were hauled away to the concentration camps.  According to the Niemoller archives, 2,579 clergymen were sent to Dachau alone – and 1,034 of them died in the camp.  And that only refers to the priests and pastors – not the untold thousands of devout Christians such as the Ten Booms who perished in the death camps for their opposition to Nazism.

An article entitled “Asking ‘Why Nazism?’” reviewing a book by Dr. Karla Poewe has this:

“One of the dangers of liberal Christianity, where all sorts of interpretations are permitted, is that it can easily slip into becoming a new religion,” Poewe says. “This is what happened. In a bid to rid Germany of what it saw as Jewish Christianity, several home-grown practices sprang up, including some that incorporated Icelandic and pre-Christian sagas, as well as ideas from German Idealism.”

Although initially these new religions were separate and disorganized entities, they eventually came under the umbrella of what was known as the German Faith Movement. Hitler saw in it a mechanism for transmitting and reinforcing the National Socialist worldview. “He shaped its followers into a disciplined political force but dismissed its leaders later when they were no longer needed,” Poewe says.

We’re clearly not to the point where Jews, or Christians, or anyone else are being gathered by the thousands and placed in death camps.  But we’re beginning to see a trend that is frightening, as government, with the assistance of liberal “Christian” churches and organizations, are trying to impose their will upon the church and its agenda.

We’ve had a “hate crimes” law imposed upon us that makes homosexuality a protected behavior.  And one evangelical expresses the Confessing Church position in a nutshell:

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a written statement the bill “is part of a radical social agenda that could ultimately silence Christians and use the force of government to marginalize anyone whose faith is at odds with homosexuality.”

In another recent case, a Christian mother who has homeschooled her child is being forced to put her ten-year old child in public school, not to improve her academic education, but to limit her exposure to Christianity and forcibly expose her to a government-approved “public” point of view:

According to the court order, the guardian concluded that Amanda’s “interests, and particularly her intellectual and emotional development, would be best served by exposure to a public school setting in which she would be challenged to solve problems presented by a group learning situation and…Amanda would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior.”

This is a shocking case, in which the government is usurping both parental and religious freedoms.  And there are many similar usurpations today, in which our government is actively opposing Christian values.

Nearly fifty million babies have been killed in this country by a government-sanctioned “pro-choice” system.  Gene Edward Veith addresses the “pro-choice” movement and its philosophical underpinnings:

Existential ethics brackets the objective issues on abortion entirely.  At issue is not some transcendent moral law, nor medical evidence, nor a logical analysis.  The content of that choice makes no difference.  If the mother chooses to have the baby, her action is moral.  If she chooses not to have the baby, her action is still moral.  If she bears a child against her will or aborts a child against her will — then and only then is the action evil.  Those who believe that abortion should be legal do not consider themselves “pro-abortion.”  They are “pro-choice.”  The term is not only a rhetorical euphemism but a precise definition of existential ethics.

Existentialism is also reflected in those who are “pro-choice” but personally oppose abortion.  They do not believe in abortion for themselves, but refuse to impose their beliefs on others.  In this view, a belief has no validity outside the private, personal realm of each individual.  Moral and religious beliefs are no more than personal constructions, important in giving meaning to an individual’s life, but not universally valid.  Or, to use another commonly accepted axiom, “what’s true for you may not be true for me.”

Such a view of truth flies in the face of all classical metaphysics, which sees truth as objective, universal, and applicable to all” (page 96, Modern Fascism: Liquidating the Judeo-Christian Worldview).

We can return to the historical analysis of Nazism presented by Karla Poewe, and what happened when such “anything goes” belief systems were allowed to rule.  [I have written an article describing how existentialism became a primary component of Nazism, and link to it HERE].

Before we leave the issue of abortion as a vile violation of Christian ethics and morality, let us consider one more voice:

“But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child – a direct killing of the innocent child – murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?” — Mother Teresa

Christians should fight for life.  And allowing a human being to live should not be a “choice,” but a duty.

In 2003 one David Allen Black wrote an article bearing the question, “Do We Need A New Barmen Declaration?”  No Christian with a knowledge of history can answer any other way than, “YES!

The Barmen Declaration was written in 1934, but in many ways it was already too late: The Nazis were already in power.  Hitler was in his second year of power; and the ideas of the liberal theologians, the existentialist philosophers, and the amoral intellectuals were already firmly in place.

It is my fervent hope that we finally have that “New Barmen Declaration” to answer the evils of our own day.  If we already should have written one, then every day that passes is one more day wasted; if we are acting pro-actively, then let us thank God that we acting before it is too late.

From the UK Telegraph:

At last, Christians draw a line in the sand against their PC secularist persecutors

By Gerald Warner UK Last updated: November 24th, 2009

At long last, Christian leaders have faced up to their persecutors in the secularist, socialist, One-World, PC, UN-promoted axis of evil and said: No more. In the popular metaphor, they have drawn a line in the sand. For harassed, demoralised faithful in the pews it will come as the long-awaited call to resistance and an earnest that their leaders are no longer willing to lie down supinely to be run over by the anti-Christian juggernaut. This statement of principle and intent is called The Manhattan Declaration, published last Friday in Washington DC.

It is difficult to believe that so firm an assertion of Christian intransigence in the face of persecution will not have some beneficial effects even here. For this Declaration is no minor affirmation by a few committed activists: on the contrary, it is signed by the most important leaders of three mainstream Christian traditions – the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and Evangelical Protestants. For an ecumenical document it is heroically devoid of fudge, euphemism and compromise.

The Manhattan Declaration states that “the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions”.

For Barack Obama, the PC lobby, the “hate crime” fascists and, by implication, their opposite numbers in Britain, the signatories have an uncompromising message: “We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence.” That is plain speaking, in the face of anti-Christian aggression by governments. The signatories spelled it out even more unequivocally: “We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but we will under no circumstances render to Caesar what is God’s.”

In a world where a Swedish pastor has been jailed for preaching that sodomy is sinful, similar prosecutions have taken place in Canada, the European Court of Human Rights (sic) has tried to ban crucifixes in Italian classrooms, Brazil has passed totalitarian legislation imposing heavy prison sentences for criticism of homosexual lifestyles, Amnesty International is championing abortion, David Cameron has voted for the enforced closure of Catholic adoption agencies, and Gordon Brown’s government has just been defeated in its fourth attempt to abolish the Waddington Clause guaranteeing free speech – this robust defiance is more than timely.

The signatories are unambiguously expressing their willingness to go to prison rather than deny any part of their religious beliefs. Those signatories are heavyweight. On the Catholic side they include Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia; Adam Cardinal Maida, Archbishop Emeritus of Detroit; the Archbishops of Denver, New York, Washington DC, Newark, Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Louisville; and other Bishops. The Orthodox include the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America and the Archpriest of St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. There are also the Anglican Primates of America and Nigeria, as well as a host of senior Evangelical Protestants.

In terms of influence on votes and public opinion, this is a formidable coalition. It has served notice on the US government that further anti-Christian legislation will provoke cultural trench warfare and even civil disobedience. As regards the sudden stiffening of resistance among the usually spineless Catholic leadership, it is impossible not to detect the influence of Benedict XVI.

We need more declarations like this, on a global scale, and the requisite confrontational follow-up. This is Clint Eastwood, make-my-day Christianity – and not before time. From now on, any governments that are planning further persecution of Christians had better make sure they have a large pride of lions available for mastication duties. The worm has turned.

As a young Christian, I was inspired by the music, lyrics, and album cover of Keith Green’s album, No Compromise.  The cover says it all:

The Manhattan Declaration – like the Barmen Declaration – calls for Christians who are willing to stand up and be singled out even in the face of persecution or punishment.

I hope you are willing to be one of those Christians.

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34 Responses to “The Manhattan Declaration As The New Barmen Declaration”

  1. hl Says:

    Excellent article, thanks for the history lesson. I was very encouraged to read last week of the Manhatten Declaration.
    We must stand for righteousness…now.

  2. Michael Eden Says:

    God will always have His remnant. They have stood faithfully through the times of the Prophets – and God preserved them. They have stood faithfully through the ugliest persecutions in human history, as Christianity in love and faith prevailed against the gates of hell of the Roman Empire. They have stood through the gates of hell of a Fuhrer and his blasphemous, hateful, and evil Nazi Reich.

    God will always stand up His people to face dark times.

    Every Christian should pray to be among that number.

  3. hl Says:

    Amen to that!

  4. J.W. Wartick Says:

    What a wonderful thing! I really liked that last article you cited. It is time to, as he said, draw a line in the sand.

  5. J.W. Wartick Says:

    Also, just so you know, the first link is broken. Here’s the link for the declaration itself: http://manhattandeclaration.org/images/content/ManhattanDeclaration.pdf

  6. Michael Eden Says:

    We Christians tend to think of easy forgiveness, easy grace, and an easy life. I’m guilty of that myself.

    But all over the world Christians are taking the ultimate stand, with their very lives being taken from them. And the time is coming when American Christians are going to have to make that choice to join them – or fall away.

    I think of the great crescendo to the faith hall of fame chapter (Hebrews 11)

    “Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated– the world was not worthy of them.”

    What greater prayer can we pray in difficult times than that we live and die in such a way that the world is not worthy of us?

  7. Michael Eden Says:

    I used your updated link. Thanks.

    It’s always annoying to find a bad link.

    I actually copy the entire article when I come across a good article from a liberal source (e.g. the New York Times) because I know it will get scrubbed.

  8. J.W. Wartick Says:

    Thought you might be interested in this one:
    http://catholicview.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/la-times-says-christian-leaders-going-too-far-civil-disobedience-is-dangerous/

    and the original article:
    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-disobedience28-2009nov28,0,1407498.story

    from the original article:

    “Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox leaders are going too far when they declare they will break laws on abortion and same-sex marriage.”

    “This apocalyptic argument for lawbreaking is disingenuous, but it is also dangerous. Did the Roman Catholic bishops who signed the manifesto consider how their endorsement of lawbreaking in a higher cause might embolden the antiabortion terrorists they claim to condemn? Did they stop to think that, by reserving the right to resist laws they don’t like, they forfeit the authority to intervene in the enactment of those laws, as they have done in the congressional debate over healthcare reform? They need to be reminded that this is a nation of laws, not of men — even holy men.”

  9. Disciple Says:

    Wow, Michael, what a powerful post! Thank you for writing this, for doing the research to write it, for realizing the position we are in, the crossroads at which we find ourselves, the abyss at the edge of which our country and our world stands now, poised to go in either direction. Thank you for having the courage to stand up and speak out and working to change our course, to change the direction on the road down which so many seem determined to lead us. I signed the Manhattan Declaration the day after it was released. Lines are being drawn in the sand. I pray that the battle won’t, this time, be like the one waged in Germany back then. I pray that people will wake up long before things go that far. I never thought we’d see this kind of thing happening here. God help us all if we don’t stop it now.

  10. Michael Eden Says:

    Well, as you know, the Los Angeles Times has consistently been filled with outrage whenever a leftist or pro-liberal group broke laws. Why, I remember the frothing outrage over Cindy Sheehan’s protest!!! And all those times that ACORN and Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton had rallies and boycotts and blocked access. Man, you would have thought fire came down from heaven, the way the Los Angeles Times decried them. And how about when the homosexuals started targeting people who supported Prop 8 for intimidation? Boy, the LA Times was sure heroic in standing courageously against militant homosexuals then!

    Oh, wait. That never happened.

    Oh, shoot.

    But wait. That would make the Los Angeles Times a bunch of …. hypocrites.

    It is sacrosanct that Martin Luther King engaged in civil disobedience to demand civil rights for black people. But how dare anyone think that they should have the right, or defy liberal mandates, to impose abortion and murder human beings. I mean, who do these Christians think they are, standing up for life, as opposed to following the example of other great moral leaders?

    The biggest problem for the LA Times or any other liberal collective is that their worldview doesn’t recognize genuine transcendent morality, and ergo has no room for moral heroes. If there IS no objective, transcendent morality, as they maintain, and society decides what is right and wrong, then how can they justify ANYBODY breaking any law in order to serve a higher law? They can’t. All they can do is arbitrarily support the right of groups they approve of to perform acts of civil disobedience, and decry the right of groups they oppose.

    They are hypocrites. Hypocrisy defines them. It is their quintessential essence.

  11. Michael Eden Says:

    Thank you, Disciple.

    By all means, let us learn our lessons from the past, rather than repeating past follies.

    This is a time when all true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, be they Catholic or Protestant, stand as members of one body (1 Cor 12).

    I have decided to live my life this way, Disciple: if they come to haul away Christians, I want to make sure that I am among the first to be taken away. That way, I don’t have to worry about my courage faltering and failing me as I see other Christians being persecuted before me.

    We can both of us find both heroes and failures from the Nazi era, where both Catholic and Protestant Christian failed, and where both Catholic and Protestant Christians gloriously triumphed (even at the cost of their very lives) in their resistance to evil that the rest of secular German society not only accepted, but joyously embraced.

    We have been confronted with official government evil since the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, in which judges ignored morality and history and invented a right out of thin air to impose on the nation. And too many times, we have as Christians shrugged and accepted evil as “part of the times.”

    It is time to stand, Disciple. And I proudly stand with you as a fellow disciple of Jesus.

  12. Steve Schaper Says:

    The problem I have is that they’ve already partly given in by accepting the lie that homosexuality is a natural thing, not a sinful choice of the near-psychopathic (Romans 1).

    Why couldn’t we just use the Barman again? ? ?

  13. Michael Eden Says:

    The Barmen declaration was a point-by-point refutation of central Nazi doctrine. And while I think we are steering a dangerous course once again toward fascism, even I don’t think that we have embraced Nazism such that Barman would be a statement for our time.

    I read through the Manhattan Declaration, and did not see it condoning the nature of homosexuality. In fact, I find the statement an oath to fight against the homosexual agenda (of which the view that homosexuality is the natural expression of anything is giant part).

    The homosexuals certainly don’t seem to find your “accepting the life that homosexuality is a natural thing, not a sinful choice” part, given their reaction.

    That doesn’t mean I’m saying you’re wrong, Steve. I read through the Declaration too long ago without your attention to detail on this particular issue to make that claim. Perhaps you could post the part you’re talking about?

    I don’t doubt that there had to be a few verbal compromises, given that all of Christendom (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox) all came together.

    The Catholic view of homosexuality (which I strongly disagree with) portrays the act of homosexuality as a sin, but not the temptation to commit a homosexual act. In other words, one can be homosexual and never sin, so long as one never actually commits a homosexual act.

    From what you wrote, I believe you would agree with me and Protestantism, which holds that the very temptation to turn to homosexual acts is a sign of brokenness that needs repentance and healing.

    It may be that to get Catholics and Protestants together, they had to create language on homosexuality that both sides could claim.

    For what it’s worth, I personally distinguish between those homosexuals who are struggling with a “lifestyle” that they are caught up in and feel trapped in, versus those homosexuals who are true militants. I try to show the utmost of compassion to the first group, and a willingness to fiercely oppose the second as they attempt to impose their agenda on issue after issue.

  14. Disciple Says:

    The Catholic view of homosexuality (which I strongly disagree with) portrays the act of homosexuality as a sin, but not the temptation to commit a homosexual act. In other words, one can be homosexual and never sin, so long as one never actually commits a homosexual act.

    So…is it the fact that someone can be tempted that makes him a sinner? Or is it to what sin the sinner is tempted? As I recall, even Jesus was tempted in the desert before he began his public ministry. Yet St Paul says that Jesus was like us in everything except sin. So is a sinner a sinner because he is tempted or because he gave in to the temptation and sinned?

    I think the Catholic position squares with Scripture. But I’d be interested to hear your argument, Michael. :)

  15. Michael Eden Says:

    Disciple,

    Okay. Here’s my argument.

    Jesus was tempted. But I hope you aren’t suggesting that He was tempted to commit homosexual acts.

    Let’s look at the Temptation of Christ. After fasting for 40 days, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. Satan appeared to Him and encouraged him to give in to His human body and eat. And Jesus resisted temptation, telling the devil that there was more to life than eating (i.e., obeying His Father, who had told Him to fast, but had not told Him to eat yet). Then the devil tempted Jesus with temporal power, and an opportunity to take the easy path to “lordship.” But Jesus resisted. And then Satan tried to trick Jesus into giving into pride. But Jesus resisted.

    I don’t see Jesus being tempted to perform fellatio on another man, or to allow Himself to be sodomized. Heck, they don’t go that far even in the seriously-weird gnostic gospels that were written to make Jesus “one of theirs.”

    Let me begin with an extreme example: suppose I’m seriously tempted to sexually molest a two-year old. But I don’t follow through with it, perhaps fearing being caught and going to prison. You aren’t suggesting that I’m fine, are you??? You don’t think that my sexual nature hasn’t become seriously deviated, such that such a thing even enters my mind?

    I’m not saying that “temptation = sin”; I’m saying that “homosexuality = brokenness.” It is NOT natural. And the Bible is rather clear on that (e.g., Lev 18:22; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10). Homosexuality violates the essence of God’s creative order (e.g. as seen in Gen 1:28 to be fruitful and multiply).

    If you are struggling with the desire toward homosexuality, something is profoundly wrong. If you are struggling with homosexuality – whether you are “practicing” or not – you are not a healthy person. And you absolutely should not under ANY circumstance be allowed to become a priest until you are fully healed of this brokenness.

    Now, you maintain that the Catholic position squares with the Scriptures against the Protestant view. So I further challenge you to take a look at the massive problem that the Catholic Church is having with homosexuality within the ranks of its priests. We find that as many as HALF of Catholic seminary students are homosexual.

    Gay journalist Rex Wockner commented:

    “When I was in the Catholic seminary in my early 20s (St. Meinrad College, St. Meinrad, Ind., 1982-1983; University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, Ill., 1983-1984), at least 50 percent of the students were gay….At St. Mary of the Lake, the straight students felt like a minority and felt excluded from some aspects of campus life to such an extent that the administration staged a seminar at which we discussed the problem of the straight students feeling left out of things…”

    Here’s an abstract of an article entitled, “Half of Roman Catholic priests identify ‘homosexual subculture’ among peers.”

    And you don’t see that as a problem?

    It very much seems to me that rather than rigidly adhering to a flawed tradition, you should recognize that something is profoundly wrong. And the Catholic Church – now known for “pedophile priests” as much as they are known for mass at this point – has profoundly suffered because of it.

    As one example, here’s a researcher on a secular humanist website talking about this massive issue.

    And for what it’s worth, I can provide at least one Catholic priest who agrees with me.

    I don’t cite all that to be “anti-Catholic.” But there’s clearly a “cause-effect” thing going on here, in which a terribly wrong view has produced terribly wrong results.

  16. Disciple Says:

    Surely you are not going to twist my words into some sort of rationalization for aberrant deviant sexual misbehavior. Nor into some sort of condoning of disordered appetite or tendency or whatever homosexuality is. I certainly did not imply that I condone such behavior. Please stick to what I said: Is temptation the same thing as sin? You said you disagreed with the Church, that she views the temptation as distinct from the giving in to the temptation. This distinction seems logical to me.

    I was not addressing the homosexuality at all, but since you call my view into question, I will state that my view coincides with the Church’s, since I am a faithful Catholic, ie, that the homosexual act is immoral and a sin, but that the temptation is just that: a temptation. We all have temptations to deal with. We are expected to not give in, to struggle and pray and ask for help from the Lord to aid us in our struggle. We do not condemn others for being tempted. We do not condemn them for struggling. To give in and not to struggle, that is a sin. Not only is a sin to give in and commit the act, it is a sin to not ask for help or to give up and give in to despair. But I would not want to drive someone to despair either. I’d want to help them.

  17. Michael Eden Says:

    I didn’t twist anybody’s words into anything. Nor did I accuse you of “rationalizing for aberrant deviant sexual misbehavior.” If you are going to challenge me to stick to what you said, then please show the same courtesy for me.

    When I said:

    Jesus was tempted. But I hope you aren’t suggesting that He was tempted to commit homosexual acts.

    I am not “twisting” anything. I am making the distinction between Jesus being tempted and the temptation to commit homosexual acts, which you DID connect together in your earlier comment.

    Disciple, you are ignoring the central thesis: it’s one thing to say that temptation is not the same thing as sin, and quite another to say that temptation to do anything – no matter how perverted, depraved, or evil – is not the same as sin. I patiently explained that, and offered examples. Then I proceeded to demonstrate that ideas have consequences, and showed the consequences that the Catholics are suffering due to their doctrine.

    The view you are defending toward homosexuality and temptation has had a disastrous ramification for the Catholic church, and even Catholics are seeing that. As the articles I cite demonstrate.

    If I have a constant temptation to torture a baby for the sheer pleasure of doing so, but never actually torture the baby (i.e. “I resist the temptation”), there is still something profoundly wrong in my heart that I would even HAVE such a temptation. There is a massive moral problem going on within me that it even occurs to me to do something like that.

    My point is that there are many things that if one is even TEMPTED to do, it reveals that there is something massively wrong going on.

    Your thesis appears to be that one can be tempted to do anything under the sun, but if he doesn’t actually do that thing, it isn’t sin and there’s nothing wrong with it. That is simply false.

    Allow me to provide a demonstration from Scripture. Remember Jesus saying, “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). The man didn’t act on his lust; he didn’t have sex with the woman; yet it is SIN.

    There are things which even the temptation to do itself reveals a sinful or broken heart.

    There’s a major problem with your view. I think I’ve demonstrated that, and I don’t see you offering anything to even begin to rebut that.

    By the way, I am bothered by your use of the word “the Church” to describe the Catholic church. I don’t disagree with “The Church”; I disagree with Catholic teaching. And there’s a big difference. “The Church” is the body of Christ on earth. And I hope you are not suggesting that only Catholics alone enjoy such status.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Nowhere did I say that there is nothing wrong with being tempted to do such a thing. Nowhere. I simply asked you if you meant that being tempted to do a thing is a sin. I understand the Church to teach that to be tempted is not the same thing as to commit an act, to be tempted is to be tempted. To act is to act. To act on the temptation, to give into it is a sin. To be tempted is human. I am not saying that homosexuality is normal or okay or anything like that at all. I certainly dd not connect Jesus with the homosexual act or the temptation. I connected him with temptation alone, because the Scriptures do so. Temptation to do evil is temptation to do evil, but it isn’t the same as doing evil. That’s the only point I was trying to make.

    The matter of homosexuality in the priesthood is a grave matter. But there are not more sexual deviants in the priesthood than there are in other sectors of society. It’s just that the world loves to see a deviant priest and so gives much more airtime to stories of such. There is not more child abuse being committed by priests. There is more child abuse being covered by the media when priests commit it.

    But none of that is the primary point I was making, which was, and remains, that temptation to sin is not the same thing as committing the sin. Homosexuality and many other behaviors are gravely disordered. I agree. To constantly be tempted to commit them does point to a serious problem. But a serious problem is not a sin, or not a sin…yet. It may be on the way to becoming a sin. It’s wrong, it’s disordered, it’s sad and bad and mad and needs treatment and prayer and I don’t deny that at all. But there is a distinction between a serious problem and a sin that has been committed. This distinction is necessary to make. A pastor of souls, a shepherd to a flock, would need to make this distinction very carefully in order to proceed to deal with the soul under his care.

  19. Disciple Says:

    I’m sorry that it bothers you when I say the Church. I say that because that is the way I’ve seen it written and that’s the way I write it. I’m talking about the Catholic Church because that’s the Church I belong to and the teachings of the Church are the teachings I embrace. The teachings of the rest of the church are so varied as to be impossible to pin down. You’d have to ask each individual Christian what he believes. I’m talking about the Catholic Church and the teachings to be found in the Catechism.

    But that is a good point you make about Jesus and the lust of the eye. As luck would have it, I typed a long response and lost it, and now the shop is closing and I’ll have to reply later. Drat.

  20. Disciple Says:

    Oh, there’s my reply. It went in as anonymous. Weird. That long reply is me, anyway. :)

  21. Michael Eden Says:

    On the face of it, it is clearly worse to do something evil than to merely be tempted to do so. The person who acts both is tempted, and then acts, doing both, for nothing else. And if Hitler had merely been tempted to kill six million Jews, but decided against it, there would be six million more Jews alive.

    That said, you erroneously continue to monolithically affirm the following presupposition:

    “that temptation to sin is not the same thing as committing the sin.”

    as though it applies to any and all temptation, and as though it takes temptation – no matter how vile the act one is tempted to do – as something that can merely be dismissed.

    Yet we have the very words of Jesus to say that the temptation to commit some deeds is itself sin:

    “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

    And that’s just with adultery.

    I’ve said it twice now, and now refer to it for the third time. You have never explained to me how a person who is tempted to molest a little baby but doesn’t do so is “off the hook” because they didn’t act on this utterly depraved thing that entered their heart and their mind to do. I don’t want to be around the person who is tempted to do such things, even if they don’t do them.

    I don’t know what else to tell you. Jesus Himself says looking at a woman with lust is itself sinful. The TEMPTATION to commit adultery is sinful, not just the deed.

    I’m sorry, but the statement:

    The matter of homosexuality in the priesthood is a grave matter. But there are not more sexual deviants in the priesthood than there are in other sectors of society.

    is simply factually wrong. As I document in the 2nd half of this comment (please see the html links). We’re talking about 50% of priests struggling with homosexuality. That FAR dwarfs “other sectors of society.”

    Homosexuals have come to view the Catholic church as a place of refuge, where they have been tolerated for way too long. They now have a giant underground subculture that is literally poisoning the church.

    Here’s another article abstract: “Half of Roman Catholic priests identify ‘homosexual subculture’ among peers.”

    And here’s another full article: “Half of Catholic clergy sees a gay presence in priesthood.”

    And another: “Researchers say priests concerned about gay subcultures in seminaries.”

    And another: “The homosexual subculture in the Church today.”

    What is going on for the most part is that of ostrich heads burying themselves in the sand rather than realize that a particular view about temptation and sexuality is utterly wrong.

  22. Michael Eden Says:

    The reference to the Catholic church as “The Church” goes back to the Catholic self-proclamation of itself as “the one true church.” There are Protestants that think all Catholics are going to hell, and there are Catholics who think that all Protestants are going to hell. I don’t like either view. But I particularly don’t like the one that leaves me outside of “the Church,” such that your views are those of “the Church” and my views therefore aren’t.

    You don’t mean to do it, I don’t think, but you’re still undermining the other bodies of “the Church.”

    Every single Protestant denomination has its catechism and its statement of faith. Every single one. They DO “pin themselves down” as to what they believe.

    Allow me to throw out just one example: the Westminster Confession of Faith. Please read through it, and see if you still maintain that “the teachings are so varied as to be impossible to pin down.” Believe me, they pin.

    The problem is not an inability to pin down the teachings of one denomination versus another.

    The problem is that too many Christians – Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, or otherwise – don’t end up upholding the statements of faith that their particular denomination affirms. You HAVE to know that I can find about a gazillion Catholic priests who hold views that are clearly not in accord with Catholic teaching. And in fact I remember you taking with a grain of salt the discussion I once had with a Catholic priest because you only recognized the official doctrine of the Catholic church.

    And in terms of Catholics as a group, I again refer you to “Catholics” such as Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, and I could sadly go on.

    I’m not trying to pick on the Catholic church because these sorry souls are members. My own denomination could have been so unlucky. But it certainly isn’t true that all Catholics – in contrast to all Protestants – universally believe the same stuff. Because they just don’t.

    I’ve belonged to several (Protestant) denominations. Each had a slightly different statement of faith, but I was never confused as to what the statement of faith of my church was. I have been a Presbyterian, a Baptist, and now I am an Evangelical Free Church member.

    I’m not about my denomination. I’m about the Bible. I don’t feel any duty to rigidly uphold the doctrines of my particular denomination. I care only about what the Bible teaches.

    I don’t believe X because the EV Free church teaches it, and I wouldn’t believe Y because the Catholic church taught it if I were a Catholic.

  23. Disciple Says:

    Well, that’s one advantage of using the capital C in Church. That way I don’t end up implying that the Church’s teachings depend on the misunderstandings of various Catholics or whoever. The Church herself only teaches what she teaches. If I or other Catholics misunderstand that or misrepresent those teachings, it’s no reflection on her but on us.

    And I’m sorry to tell you this, but each and every denomination certainly does not have its own catechism or anything approaching it. Some do. I learned that when I went searching for them. I went to various churches and official bookstores and asked for these things and for the most part, I got looked at like I had two heads. I wish that each church had that. But they don’t. It would be very useful if they did. That’s one of the beautiful things about the Church. I can know what she teaches. You can too. It’s in print. That has nothing to do with how many Catholics accept the teachings or don’t. If they don’t, they shouldn’t call themselves Catholic. But I have to leave that up to maturity that I pray they will attain. And I leave it up to God. I do my part by trying to shed what light I can. But I’m only human. The Church for her part has published her teachings in an easy to obtain format and online. I just wish more Catholics would get a copy and use it.

  24. Michael Eden Says:

    Let me just restate that if I used the phrase “the Church” in a way that specifically excluded Catholics, many Catholics would be upset. And rightly so.

    You earlier mentioned that you don’t intend to come across as possessing “smugness.” But when you use such figures of speech you are very much projecting smugness, whether you intend to or not.

    Which is why I only capitalize “church” when it refers to a specific church as a proper noun (e.g., “The First Presbyterian Church of Westminster”), or when I am referring to “the one true Church as the universal Body of Christ on earth. I would never use the term “the Church” to refer to the “Evangelical Free Church” to which I belong. Because it ISN’T “the Church.” Any more than the Catholic church is “the Church.”

    The other somewhat weird thing about referring to “the Church” is that you capitalize it almost as if it were a deity, instead of Christ. I for one most definitely do NOT worship “the Church.” I worship Jesus Christ, and capitalize pronouns such as “He” which refer to Him because “He” is God. “The Church” is not God, hence I do not capitalize it – unless it refers to the universal Body of Christ (i.e., I will capitalize Christ’s Body).

    There are independent churches that have no denominational affiliation. But if you are a Lutheran, believe me, there’s a very organized and detailed statement of faith. Same if you are Presbyterian, Baptist, Calvinist, Reformed, Episcopalian, Calvary Chapel, Church of Christ, etc.

    I will challenge you that if you provide me with one denomination, I will be able to produce a statement of faith for that denomination.

    What you probably experienced has more to do with the fact that most individual Protestant churches are fairly non-denominational in their presentation. They want to be welcome and open to anyone who comes in the door. And so, while they have a catechism or a statement of faith, they don’t emphasize it.

    I’m okay with that, because I have a rough idea of where most denominations fit (Catholics included) doctrinally, and I know I can get more information about a particular denomination that I don’t know a lot about as needed.

    My own church, Grace Church (that’s the proper name again), is under the Evangelical Free Church denomination. But the senior pastor was ordained as a General Baptist, and the congregation consists of many snowbirds who come from all over the country and even Canada. And they come from a number of different denominations. My church isn’t about “preaching EVFreeness,” it is about being faithful to Scripture and preaching and teaching from the Bible.

    And again, here’s the thing: am I going to go into any Catholic church, and get the same teaching? Does every single Catholic priest think alike? I won’t ever get any heresy in any Catholic church I enter?

    Let me hit you right in the face with a couple quick articles, should you think I could/would:
    Catholic Drag Queen Priest Has No 1 Selling Record With Candy Medicine“:

    “By day, Capretta is none other than Father Anthony (aka Vincent Capretta), a proud practicing Catholic priest from Columbus, Ohio. By night, Big Mama Capretta is a hilarious drag queen performing for her fans.”

    Beloved Mexican priest is branded a rogue“:

    “When [Archbishop] Romo stepped out of his SUV, 20 robed priests from the Tijuana diocese tried to form a procession, but burly men blocked their way. The archbishop tried to say a prayer, but the crowd drowned him out with bullhorns and bells. Priests and parishioners traded insults through the chain-link fence. “Liar,” one person yelled at Romo.”

    I doubt very much that you are that naive to think that you have uniformity of doctrine in the Catholic church. And in every single Catholic church you venture into, you’d better make sure that your priest/bishop is preaching the Bible. Because there are a whopping load who aren’t.

    So rather than saying, “This denomination teaches this, and so I can know that the First X Church of Skippietown will teach me those doctrines,” I know I have to be discerning in every church I go to.

    There are Baptist churches I would walk out of as if the devil were in there (because he probably is). And I hope you would be willing to do the same thing in some Catholic churches.

    The bottom line is that, for all real and practical intents and purposes, I don’t lack for a single thing that you claim to have in having the doctrines of the Catholic church.

  25. Disciple Says:

    I’m sorry that this conversation has turned into your arguments against the Catholic Church. It’s a big topic and we won’t settle it here. I don’t make any claims for the Church that are not made by her for herself. They’re not my claims. I didn’t dream them up. I accept them.

    There are not Catholic churches. There is one Catholic Church and different rites within it (Melkite, Maronite, Latin, etc.). There are parishes (geographical locations) and there are buildings there where we are called to gather together to worship. Sometimes these are called “local churches”. But that’s misleading. There is one Church. One Body, One Faith, One Baptism, One Spirit, One Lord. I capitalize the “C” in Church because that is the way it has been done for a long long time. Does that mean I worship the Church? You insult me. I am Catholic. I use a capital “C” there too. It is a name, a specific name, Catholic Church. That is why it is capitalized. I’m not referring to an invisible entity, I’m referring to a specific visible entity, and I use capitals to identify it.

    It is not smug of me to identify the Catholic Church as she herself identifies herself. I can’t use the lower case “c” to make someone else happy.

    I doubt very much that you are that naive to think that you have uniformity of doctrine in the Catholic church. And in every single Catholic church you venture into, you’d better make sure that your priest/bishop is preaching the Bible. Because there are a whopping load who aren’t.

    Again I think you are confusing the preaching of an individual Catholic with the teaching of the Church. They should be but are not necessarily the same thing. As long as the Mass is valid when I attend Mass, he can say erroneous things from the pulpit, and I am free to call him on it later if I like, and I should. And I am free to write to the bishop too. And I would. Or talk to him in person.

    But it remains true that many many many Protestant churches that I have been in myself may have a general statement of faith but this is not the same thing as a catechism. When I went to the Baptist bookstore, I really thought I must have spoken in Greek by the way they looked at me. I’ve been in several now and I always get the same reaction. I finally found one slim little volume in which the author himself said that there really is no such thing as a formal set of beliefs that all Baptists have to accept and that he could only write a book about what one Baptist, ie, he himself, believes. The book is called “What Baptists Believe” and I thought then he might have entitled it “What This Baptist Believes”. But he didn’t.

    So it becomes difficult to talk about what Protestants believe because they believe many things. Yes, individual Catholic believe many things too, due to the sad lack of proper solid teaching these past few decades. But they can know what the Church teaches if they bother to pick up a paperback that costs less than $9 and open it up and read it. That teaching is there for them to know and it’s the same for all the rites within and across the world in the Catholic Church, even if someone misunderstands it or misquotes that catechism. The teachings are not affected by this. We can always grow in our understanding of them.

    Now I have not even really approached the subject of truth of Catholic versus Protestant. I am only talking about the ability to know what they teach. I’m talking about the teaching of the Church, not what an individual priest may or may not say in a homily. This is a distinction that must be made. The Church teaches what she teaches, regardless of what any one person (or even a thousand individual persons) may say that she teaches. To know what the Church teaches one picks up a catechism. That is what she teaches.

    Too many priests and religious have neglected their interior lives and their true vocations and have become mere social workers instead. This has had a truly horrible effect on their ministries. Too many Catholic schools have ceased teaching Catholicism. This has had a truly horrible effect on the laity and on the vocations that should come from them.

    But none of that has anything to do with what the Church herself teaches. That is still the same no matter what errors individuals make, and they do make them.

    The bottom line is, I am grateful to the Lord that I have the teachings of the Church. I am grateful for the clarity which they afford. I carry my paperback worn, tattered, and dogeared copy with me everywhere I go. I refer to it very often. I ponder. I meditate. I pray. I also carry Bibles with me everywhere I go. Worn, tattered, dogeared, much used Bibles. I refer to them very often. I ponder. I meditate. I pray. I understand more and more. I realize I have far to go in learning to imitate the Lord. I do not apologize for loving the Church. I do not worship her. I worship the Lord. I revere the Church. I love her. How else should I feel about the Body of Christ?

  26. Disciple Says:

    Drat. In my 4th sentence I wrote “Their” instead of “They’re”. I really wish we could edit comments.

  27. Michael Eden Says:

    I edited it for you, on the assumption that I had your permission.

    You write quite well, and I’m sure most people recognize having an occasional careless typo from being a constant ignorant prig. :)

  28. Michael Eden Says:

    I’m sorry that this conversation has turned into your arguments against the Catholic Church.

    Disciple,

    All I can tell you is that if you don’t want to get into an argument, you shouldn’t start one. You posted to disagree with me and post the Catholic position. Which you can see I vehemently disagree with, with abundant evidence in support of my view. And if you don’t want me offering all the reasons in support of my view, well, you probably don’t want me as your debating opponent.

    I don’t mean to come across as a Catholic basher. I respect the Catholic church as brothers in Christ. Clearly, I believe that Catholics have it wrong on a number of significant points, but I’m willing to let those disagreements slide. Unless someone brings those points up.

    Your paragraph beginning:

    There are not Catholic churches. There is one Catholic Church and different rites within it … Sometimes these are called “local churches”. But that’s misleading.

    has just enough truth in it to hide a lot of error.

    First of all, there are 32 references to the plural word “churches” in the New Testament. So the actual writers of the Bible were far more embracing of “churches” (plural) than you. If that isn’t enough for you, Jesus Christ Himself uses the word “churches” 12 times in the Book of Revelation.

    Nor is the plural word “churches” capitalized a single time in the New Testament in any version I know of.

    So there are local churches, and there are denominations. And then there is the one, single, universal Body of Christ on earth, which I have already pointed out is and should be capitalized.

    Here’s where you make your whopping error. You use the word “Church” (capitalized) to refer to the Catholic church, even as you define “Church” as “one Church. One Body, One Faith, One Baptism, One Spirit, One Lord.” But the Catholic church is NOT itself “the one Church, one Body, one Faith, one Baptism, one Spirit, and one Lord” unless it is the ONLY Christian body on the face of the earth. With every Protestant, and every Orthodox believer being outside “the Church” and therefore outside of salvation. And you use the definite article, “THE Church,” to characterize the Catholic church. And simple English (and simple Greek and simple Latin, for that matter) this particular thing and only this particular thing. If the Catholic church is “the Church” (especially as you defined it), then the Protestant church and the Orthodox church cannot be “the Church” too, can they?

    And so when you use the phrase “THE Church” to refer to the Catholic church, you are ruling everyone else outside of it. And that attitude is EXACTLY what the Catholic church had as its doctrine centuries ago. Which is precisely why you can rightly say “I capitalize the “C” in Church because that is the way it has been done for a long long time.” You may not understand what you are doing, but you are doing it nonetheless.

    You seriously need to go back to your own Council of Trent from the 16th century and see how it was used. Strict acceptance of Catholic doctrine and participation in Catholicism was defined as the only way to salvation. And the Catholic church was the only church. Which is to say it was “they Church.” And for everyone else the words “anathema sit” (let him be damned by God) applied.

    So, am I part of “The Church” or not? If I am, then it cannot merely be used of the Catholic church; if I’m not, then we have little to talk about, as you have literally damned me as a heretic and an unbeliever outside of “the Church.”

    So, again, every single time you use the phrase “the Church” to refer to the Catholic church, you are excluding everyone who is not specifically Catholic from membership in the “One Body, One Faith, One Baptism, One Spirit, One Lord.” Whether you mean to or not.

    I’ve explained this something like three times now.

    Now, another significant issue comes up in something else you said:

    “I don’t make any claims for the Church that are not made by her for herself. They’re not my claims. I didn’t dream them up. I accept them.”

    This is all well and good when the Catholic church is correctly interpreting the Bible. But it gets really sad when the Catholic church relies upon traditions that don’t jive with Scripture.

    I’ll just cite a couple of examples. Mary was a virgin until after the birth of Christ. But the Catholic church has decreed her as a “perpetual virgin.” The problem is that Mary had other children (Matthew 13:55,56, Mark 6:3, Acts 1:14, Galatians 1:19). So you literally have to ignore the clear evidence of Scripture in order to maintain an unnecessary and false tradition. Even the OLD Testament prophecies that Mary would have other children: “I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children” (Psalms 69:8).

    Then you have the Catholic church saying for centuries that Peter, being the first Pope, wasn’t married. Yet Peter clearly had a wife (Matthew 8:14; Mark 1:30; Luke 4:38; 1 Corinthians 9:5). You don’t get mothers-in-law without having a wife, and 1 Corinthians clearly says Peter had a wife.

    Here’s a link to an article that brings out these things and quite a few others. I won’t make mention of any of the other Catholic teachings at issue (unless you bring them up).

    The thing that bothers me is that you demand that these Catholic traditions be believed whether or not they contradict Scripture.

    And that’s where “sola Scriptura” comes in and has so much power. The Bible is the Word of God. I do not have men – particularly men who have a rather well documented history of having molested children – standing over the Word of God. The Bible has authority. And if any church (Catholic or any other) places itself over the Bible, it is wrong.

    For what it’s worth, I’m not very interested in getting into a debate as to whether Peter was not married, or whether Mary was a perpetual virgin. The principle itself is my point: you are saying that regardless of what the Catholic church teaches, they own your mind. And even if their teaching contradicts Scripture, what does it matter? “The Church” must be right.

    I don’t have time to go through everything you say. I’ll come to this one and stop:

    When I went to the Baptist bookstore, I really thought I must have spoken in Greek by the way they looked at me. I’ve been in several now and I always get the same reaction. I finally found one slim little volume in which the author himself said that there really is no such thing as a formal set of beliefs that all Baptists have to accept and that he could only write a book about what one Baptist, ie, he himself, believes.

    The man was completely correct, and you were completely wrong in your understanding. There IS no “Baptist” statement of faith. Because there are MANY different Baptist denominations, each of which have their OWN statement of faith. There is the Southern Baptist Convention. There is the Baptist General Conference. There is the American Baptist Association. There is the North American Baptist Conference. Etc. Etc. Etc.

    As you can see, I provided you with a statement of faith for every single one of these denominations. Your question amounted to a category fallacy.

    I’m sorry to tell you, Disciple. But the man in the bookstore gave you an honest answer to a genuinely ignorant question. There is no denomination of “Baptist” under which ALL Baptists must bow. Rather, there are numerous denominations which are called “Baptists.” And if you want to, you can find out to the Nth degree what each of those denominations believe.

    Just like I said you could earlier.

    I have to point this out: I know Catholicism, and respect Catholicism, a LOT more than you know or respect Protestantism. It is a shame that you accord so little respect to learn about what others think. And instead you simply say “It is so” to every doctrine of the Catholic church, without ever once considering whether rival understandings even MIGHT be correct.

    I could never live that way. I need to use the mind that God gave me, and surrender it to Him, rather than to an organization created by men. I say that because EVERY Christian denomination, albeit part of the universal Body of Christ, was created by men. The only thing specifically created by God was HIS UNIVERSAL CHURCH, Christ’s Body, which every single Christian believer in the world is part of and belongs to.

    I’ll end with one other thing you said by means of offering a joke:

    There are not Catholic churches. There is one Catholic Church.

    So be it. I suppose I should regard THIS as the Catholic church from now on. After all, if “there are not Catholic churches,” then this one reflects them all.

    I’m sorry, Disciple. But the Catholic church is no different than any other Christian denomination, save for the fact that it is larger. It is NOT “the Church” unless you pronounce your “anathema sit” upon every other Christian denomination. It offers a statement of faith just like other Christian denominations, save for that it places tradition above the Bible as part of its doctrines. It’s members believe a particular set of doctrines, just as do members of other Christian denominations. And lastly, it is part of the universal body of Christ, called “the Church,” just as are ALL the other Christian denominations.

    In that sense, it is “a church,” not “THE Church.” If you want to say that the Catholic church is “a Church,” and capitalize the word “Church,” fine. I’m with you. But please don’t refer to yourself as “the Church” with the definite article around here.

    I’m not giving the Catholic church one iota less respect than I give to any and all Protestant churches. So if you are offended by my not allowing you to refer to the Catholic church as “the Church,” we’ll have to readdress that “smugness” thing.

  29. Nathaniel Says:

    Michael, you said:

    “In short, it was Christians who thought like the evangelicals and fundamentalists of today who signed the Barmen Declaration and openly opposed Nazism, and it was “Christians” who thought like the mainline liberals of today who stood for the German Christian Nazification of Christianity and for the resulting Nazification of German ethics and morality.”

    And, you also said that the Barmen declaration was a reaction against existentialism and other forms of ‘liberalism’ that sought to bolster the Nazi agenda.

    I just want to point out that Karl Barth and Deitrich Bonhoeffer, two of the prominent theologians who signed the Barmen Declaration, were in no wise comparable to modern day Fundamentalists or some types of conservative American Evangelicals.

    In fact, Karl Barth in almost all respects wrote the Barmen Declaration single handedly and his groundbreaking commentary on the Epistle to the Romans leans heavily on existentialist ideas, particularly those of SorenKierkegaard. He also takes Nietzsche’s critique of foundationalist Christianity (such as ultra-conservative forms of American evangelicalism and Fundamentalism) seriously and suggests that those types of Christianity are just as guilty as constructing idols as the Liberal Protestantism of Schleiermacher and his gang.

    Whether one likes it or not, Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer both would be more at home in a moderate mainline reformed denomination than a conservative or liberal denomination. And, trying to create a parallel between the two texts this precise does an injustice to their perspectives.

    And one final note, both Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer were very ecumenical in their ideas about the relationship between Protestantism and Catholicism. They both considered Protestants, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox to be part of the body of Christ.

  30. Michael Eden Says:

    It seems to me that what you’re doing is providing your own reading of Barth. You’re not the first. Barth was labeled as “neo-orthodox” by those who liked neo-orthodoxy; the problem was Barth himself emphatically rejected that label.

    The key regarding Barth was his rejection of his training in the predominant liberal theology typical of 19th-century German/European Protestantism.

    T. F. Torrance ( in”Karl Barth: An Introduction to His Early Theology”, and “Karl Barth: Biblical and Evangelical Theologian”) described Barth’s work as “a theology of the Word.” Barth’s theological thought emphasized the sovereignty of God, particularly through his innovative doctrine of election. In that, there was absolutely NOTHING “existential.”

    I googled the phrase ‘existentialism defined.’ This was the VERY FIRST entry:

    A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one’s acts.

    Now, if you can logically demonstrate that one can hold to existentialism as it was widely understood in the 1930s, and at the same time hold to the complete sovereignty of God, particularly as coupled with the doctrine of unconditional election (and it’s accompanying doctrine of irresistible grace), you will win quite a prize. Good luck, because that will be quite a project in twisted logic.

    You’re going to have to explain how a man who emphasized the sovereignty of God and the Reformed doctrine of divine election was an existentialist – which would have meant that he DENIED the sovereignty of God and DENIED the doctrine of divine election.

    In Barth’s emphasis on the theology of the Word of God (i.e., the Holy Bible), Barth was solidly evangelical in his theology.

    In his commentary The Epistle to the Romans (particularly in the thoroughly re-written second edition of 1922), Barth argued that the God who is revealed in the cross of Jesus challenges and overthrows any attempt to ally God with human cultures, achievements, or possessions. This was fundamentally and diametrically opposed to the existentialism of Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger, and just as fundamentally opposed to the teachings and ideas of the German Christian movement – which amounted to the attempt to “Nazify” Christianity that I describe.

    This was the extent of Barth’s “existentialism”: Barth’s commentary on Romans draws heavily on the existentialist philosophy of Kierkegaard, with his characteristic emphasis on the infinitely qualitative distinction between God and humanity. If that’s all it takes to qualify one as an existentialist, then I’M an existentialist.

    To submit that Barth shared certain affinities with Christian thinker Soren Kierkegaard, and that therefore he embraced in any way, shape, or form the fully developed and fundamentally atheistic existentialism of Nietzsche, Heidegger, De Man, Camus, or other existentialist thinkers of the 1930s, simply could not be more false.

    Barth argued that the Church’s allegiance to the God of Jesus Christ should give it the impetus and resources to resist the influence of other ‘lords’–such as the German Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler. In this also, Barth was as evangelical as Billy Graham. Evangelicals love their limited government.

    I would also point out that countries that had genuine and sizable evangelical Christian traditions/followings have never had to struggle with Nazism to begin with. And in fact, it was those countries that STOPPED Nazism.

    And what made Barth and Bonhoeffer great was that they stood AGAINST the existentialist-and mainline-liberal-dominated German Christian movement that you seem to think they were for. I, as an evangelical, have read the Barmen Declaration, and agree with it point-by-point. Few mainline liberals today would be able to do so.

    You show me either Karl Barth or Dietrich Bonhoeffer demanding the ordaining of openly homosexual pastors/priests, and I’ll agree with you about how much affinity they had with “mainline liberal denominations.”

    As for your last paragraph:

    And one final note, both Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer were very ecumenical in their ideas about the relationship between Protestantism and Catholicism. They both considered Protestants, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox to be part of the body of Christ.

    I submit you are creating a straw man. I am an evangelical. And I have studied evangelical thinkers for years. It is simply untrue that the acceptance of Catholics and Eastern Orthodox as true believers in Christ is in any way not “evangelical.” For what it is worth, I consider any true believer in the deity and lordship of Jesus Christ, His atoning death for the sins of the world, and His bodily resurrection from the dead, as a genuine saint of God, be that person Catholic, Protestant, or Eastern Orthodox.

  31. J.W. Wartick Says:

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer would definitely be at home in conservative congregations. I am a Lutheran of the LCMS variety, and Bonhoeffer is widely circulated in LCMS circles. I personally believe that Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship” should be required reading for any Christian.

  32. Michael Eden Says:

    Thanks for chipping in, J.W.

    I have Bonhoeffer’s great work in my library, and have read it twice.

    Bonhoeffer found in the liturgies and creeds of Lutheranism the history that led him properly back to the “Jewishness” of Jesus and of the Scriptures. Which, of course, is quite “evangelical.” Most don’t know this, but the very WORD “evangelical” originates in the Greek word euangelion, meaning “the good news,” or, more commonly, the “gospel.” Paul was not ashamed of this gospel, for ‘it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek’ (Rom. 1:16).

    The German Christian movement theologians, who embraced Nazism, denounced the confessional movement that Barth and Bonhoeffer helped found as being “fundamentalist,” as Franklin Littell documents in “Church Struggle and the Holocaust,” page 25.

    So apparently they were “fundamentalists,” too.

    If one would like to see an “existentialist” theologian, one should look to Emmanuel Hirsch. He was a dialectical theologian (think Heidegger). Robert Ericksen, in “Theologians Under Hitler: Gerhard Kittel, Paul Althaus, and Emanuel Hirsch (1985), page 120-123, said that Hirsch was “rooted in the existentialism that marked the best theologians of his generation.”

    And what did his existentialism do in his theology? Like other modernist theologians, Hirsch taught that the resurrection of Christ was only a spiritual vision, not a historic fact. The Easter narratives were later additions to the New Testament. The idea of a physical resurrection distorts Christianity by focusing attention to the hereafter rather than to the present (page 81). He criticized Christians [such as Barth and Bonhoeffer] who would try to separate Christianity from culture (page 139).

    THAT’S what “existentialist ‘Christianity'” looks like.

  33. Folklight Says:

    I agree Bonhoeffer was a very bright light in a very dark age!
    However I believe we are closer to slaughter than you’ve admitted.

    Given the modern ‘right’ to abortion, we now see euthanasia emerging in the mainstream as acceptable or even as another ‘right’.

    The nation who does not protect it’s children [or elderly] has no hope!!

  34. Michael Eden Says:

    We’re very much on the same page, Folklight.

    I’ve written a number of articles on abortion, and have frequently quoted D. James Kennedy:
    “Watch out, Grandpa! Because the generation hat survived abortion will one day come after you!”

    Here are just a few of the articles I’ve written on this dreadful nexus between murdering our babies and the already occurring murder of the elederly in the name of “compassion.”

    Health Care Debate: As Charges of Nazism Abound, Which Side Is Right?

    ObamaCare Will Bring Abortion Mindset To Treatment Of Elderly

    What Lies In Store For Your Parents Under ObamaCare (It Will Be Even WORSE For You!)

    Porkulus Package Includes Medical Rationing

    We live in an era in which an intelligentsia hates God and everything God stands for, who rule over an ignorant people no longer capable of thinking for themselves. That is the beginning of statism, and statism is the beginning of the next bloody round of nightmare.

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