Luther Consorting With the Devil?

Earlier this year (when I was a bit pre-occupied with the passing of my daughter) James Swan wrote an article allegedly "Helping Catholic Answers with a Luther Quote."  Swan dismisses the CA (and Fr. O'Hare) criticism by saying:
"Our friend at Catholic Answers is reading Patrick O'Hare's The Facts About Luther. The citation involves one of Luther's disputations with the Devil. As explained below, this was a story being told by Luther as a literary device, not a personal experience. Of course, Father O'Hare missed this."  
One needs to ask ones self, "Is ANY consortia with the Devil a good tactic for Christian apologetics?"  Whether this was a literal discussion with the Devil or a "literary device" seems to make little difference - or shouldn't to the objective reader.  Fr. O'Hare hasn't missed anything here.

Context: (from above link)
Once I awakened at midnight and the devil began the following disputation with me in my heart (for he is able to make many a night bitter and troublesome for me): “Listen, you very learned fellow, do you know that you said private masses for fifteen years almost daily? Did you not in reality commit sheer idolatry with such a mass and did you not worship there simply bread and wine, rather than Christ’s body and blood, and enjoin others to worship them?” I reply: “But I am a consecrated cleric; I have received chrism and consecration from the bishop, and, in addition, have done all this because of the command to do so and in obedience to it. Why have I not performed the consecration validly, since I have spoken the words in earnest and said mass with all possible devotion? You certainly know this.” “Yes,” he said, “that is true; but the Turks and the heathen also perform everything in their churches because of the command to do so and in earnest obedience to it. The priests of Jeroboam at Dan and Beersheba performed everything perhaps with greater devotion than the true priests at Jerusalem [I Kings 13:33]. What if your consecration, chrism, and consecrating are also unchristian and false like those of the Turks and the Samaritans?”
At this point I truly broke into a sweat and my heart began to tremble and throb. The devil knows how to muster his arguments well and to make an impression with them, and he possesses a convincing, powerful way of speaking. Such disputations do not permit time for lengthy and numerous deliberations, but the answers come in quick succession. At such times I have seen it happen that one finds people dead in bed in the morning. He can kill the body. This is one thing; but he can also scare the soul with disputes so that it almost departs from the body, as he has quite often very nearly done to me. Now he had challenged me in this dispute, and I did not really want to be guilty of such a great number of abominations in the presence of God but wanted to defend my innocence. So I listened to him to hear the grounds on which he opposed my consecration and my consecrating.
First, he said, you know that you did not rightly believe in Christ and as far as your faith was concerned you were no better than a Turk; for the Turk and I myself, along with all devils, also believe everything which is written about Christ (James 3 [2:19]), that is, that he was born, died, and ascended into heaven. However, none of us takes comfort in him or has confidence in him as a Savior; but we fear him as a stern judge. This kind of faith and no other is the one you also had when you were consecrated a priest and said mass; and all the others, both the consecrating bishop and his ordinands, also believed this. For this reason, too, all of you turned away from Christ and depended on Mary and the saints, who had to be your consolation and helpers in need rather than Christ. This you cannot deny, nor can any pope. That is why you were consecrated and have celebrated mass like heathen and not like Christians. How then were you able to effect conversion? For you were not the kind of persons who were to bring about this change.
Considering the "advice" being given by the Devil - "he" is trying to convince Luther how "bad" or "unChristian" the Catholic Mass and any devotion to Mary and the Saints are.  Now step back a moment... if the DEVIL thinks it is "bad" - then shouldn't the CHRISTIAN do the exact OPPOSITE?  Again, whether a literal consortia or a literary device - what our ENEMY proposes - WE SHOULD OPPOSE!  Yet, in Luther's dialog (whether real or imagined) he seems to be TAKING the advice, like "Yeah, that's a good point!"  

Swan also writes later this year (just recently) another article answering to "Luther's Demonology" he seems to justify, or at best rationalize Luther's "literary device" with:
Luther is best understood as a religious man with a deep belief in God, and in a daily battle with the Devil. As I've read quite a large amount of Luther, it is true this cosmic battle is never completely set aside in his writings.
The problem I still have here is that in this "literary device" he (Luther) portrays himself as not in battle with the Devil, but in AGREEMENT with him!   

Another author, Robert C. Croken regarding this context writes:
The devil now substantiates his position with a number of arguments.  Luther's faith has been basically misplaced.  Instead of trusting in Christ as his Saviour, he has put hist faith in the power to consecrate and to celebrate the Mass (WA 38, 198; LW 38, 150-51). 
Note, Croken (who wrote this piece with the intention of ecumenism) substantiates Luther's consortium with the Devil.  It is Satan who is telling Luther that he is not trusting in Christ - and has attacked the Mass!  The central point of the Catholic religion is the Mass - so therein lies Satan's attack on Christ's Church and Luther is but a pawn in Satan's chess match.   Yes, this is "just a dream" of Martin Luther - but the fact that it is expressed AND appears to be foundational in Luther's First Front, the title of Croken's book.
This power to consecrate is contrary, moreover, to the mind of Christ.  
Again, the lie of Satan is propagated... for it is most certainly NOT contrary  to the mind of Christ - He instituted it!  Jesus took bread and wine and declared it IS His body and blood and further commanded that the Apostles "do this" (that which He just did) in memory of Him.   So they too were to take bread and wine and declare "This IS My body" and "This IS My blood," speaking in the Person of Jesus Christ.
He intended that we should celebrate the sacrament in order that it might be shared with Christians and benefit them.  The very word "communion" means fellowship.  
Agreed!   The Mass IS for the "communion" of the people!   The fact that the Mass IS intended for the people does not negate the "power to consecrate."  The argument has quickly digressed to a non-sequitur.
But in the Winkemesse, Luther has received the sacrament alone and has not shared it with others.  Was this the purpose of his consecration (WA 38, 198-99; LW 38, 151)?  
I am not sure what Croken means here by "the Winkemesse."  The nearest I can tell he may mean "the Deutsche Messe" or "German Mass" - which Luther wrote in 1526, nine years after the posting of the "95 Thesis."  Just a sidenote, even Luther was still calling it a "Mass" at this time.
It was also the mind of Christ that, through the celebration of the sacrament, his death would be publicly proclaimed (1 Cor. 11:26).  
But Luther has not done this in the private Mass: alone, he has whispered to himself; alone, he has received the sacrament (WA 38, 199; LW 38, 151). Again, the sacrament was intended for the community, to strengthen Christians who share it.  But in the private Mass, Luther has reversed this intention: instead of being a sacrament-priest, he has become a sacrifice-priest, offering as an individual sacrifice to God what was meant as food for others.  He has made a special work, not to be shared with others unless sold to them for a price (WA 38, 199; LW 38, 152).
If we are to accept Croken's points here then again we must also accept that Luther felt it was okay to consort with the Devil, or at least through some "literary device" it is alright to accept consultation or advice from the Devil.  Either way this does not bode well for Luther.


Confession and Priests

I thought I might chime in with Scott's theme on confession. 

"Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life. . . , On the Lord's Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure."  (Didache 4:14,14:1 [A.D.70]).

It was a practice of the Church from the beginning.

Thought I would just ask if anyone can tell me who wrote the following.  (Of course, I know)  It might surprise some of our readers when this was written.


Putto (cherub) from Raphael's
"Sistine Madonna"
For if any one will consider how great a thing it is for one, being a man, and compassed with flesh and blood, to be enabled to draw near to that blessed and pure nature, he will then clearly see what great honor the grace of the Spirit has vouchsafed to priests; since by their agency these rites are celebrated, and others nowise inferior to these both in respect of our dignity and our salvation. For they who inhabit the earth and make their abode there are entrusted with the administration of things which are in Heaven, and have received an authority which God has not given to angels or archangels. For it has not been said to them, “Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” Matthew 18:18 They who rule on earth have indeed authority to bind, but only the body: whereas this binding lays hold of the soul and penetrates the heavens; and what priests do here below God ratifies above, and the Master confirms the sentence of his servants. For indeed what is it but all manner of heavenly authority which He has given them when He says, “Whose sins ye remit they are remitted, and whose sins ye retain they are retained?” John 20:23 What authority could be greater than this? “The Father has committed all judgment to the Son?” John 5:22 But I see it all put into the hands of these men by the Son. For they have been conducted to this dignity as if they were already translated to Heaven, and had transcended human nature, and were released from the passions to which we are liable. Moreover, if a king should bestow this honor upon any of his subjects, authorizing him to cast into prison whom he pleased and to release them again, he becomes an object of envy and respect to all men; but he who has received from God an authority as much greater as heaven is more precious than earth, and souls more precious than bodies, seems to some to have received so small an honor that they are actually able to imagine that one of those who have been entrusted with these things will despise the gift. Away with such madness! For transparent madness it is to despise so great a dignity, without which it is not possible to obtain either our own salvation, or the good things which have been promised to us. For if no one can enter into the kingdom of Heaven except he be regenerate through water and the Spirit, and he who does not eat the flesh of the Lord and drink His blood is excluded from eternal life, and if all these things are accomplished only by means of those holy hands, I mean the hands of the priest, how will any one, without these, be able to escape the fire of hell, or to win those crowns which are reserved for the victorious?

These verily are they who are entrusted with the pangs of spiritual travail and the birth which comes through baptism: by their means we put on Christ, and are buried with the Son of God, and become members of that blessed Head. Wherefore they might not only be more justly feared by us than rulers and kings, but also be more honored than parents; since these begot us of blood and the will of the flesh, but the others are the authors of our birth from God, even that blessed regeneration which is the true freedom and the sonship according to grace. The Jewish priests had authority to release the body from leprosy, or, rather, not to release it but only to examine those who were already released, and you know how much the office of priest was contended for at that time. But our priests have received authority to deal, not with bodily leprosy, but spiritual uncleannessnot to pronounce it removed after examination, but actually and absolutely to take it away. Wherefore they who despise these priests would be far more accursed than Dathan and his company, and deserve more severe punishment. For the latter, although they laid claim to the dignity which did not belong to them, nevertheless had an excellent opinion concerning it, and this they evinced by the great eagerness with which they pursued it; but these men, when the office has been better regulated, and has received so great a development, have displayed an audacity which exceeds that of the others, although manifested in a contrary way. For there is not an equal amount of contempt involved in aiming at an honor which does not pertain to one, and in despising such great advantages, but the latter exceeds the former as much as scorn differs from admiration. What soul then is so sordid as to despise such great advantages? None whatever, I should say, unless it were one subject to some demoniacal impulse. For I return once more to the point from which I started: not in the way of chastising only, but also in the way of benefiting, God has bestowed a power on priests greater than that of our natural parents. The two indeed differ as much as the present and the future life. For our natural parents generate us unto this life only, but the others unto that which is to come. And the former would not be able to avert death from their offspring, or to repel the assaults of disease; but these others have often saved a sick soul, or one which was on the point of perishing, procuring for some a milder chastisement, and preventing others from falling altogether, not only by instruction and admonition, but also by the assistance wrought through prayers. For not only at the time of regeneration, but afterwards also, they have authority to forgive sins. “Is any sick among you?” it is said, “let him call for the elders of the Church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up: and if he have committed sins they shall be forgiven him.” James 5:14-15 Again: our natural parents, should their children come into conflict with any men of high rank and great power in the world, are unable to profit them: but priests have reconciled, not rulers and kings, but God Himself when His wrath has often been provoked against them.

This is someone who obviously believes that confession to a priest was a God-given sacrament, but also believe it to be a grave resposibility for the priest.  More later...

***Okay, no guesses (besides Scott)? 

It was written by St. John Chrystosom (347-407) in his On the Priesthood, book 3:5-6.  He is considered the most prolific of the early fathers and doctors, and his words were considered fairly authoritative as early as 431, being quoted by both St. Cyril and the Antiochians at the Council of Ephesus.  The Eastern Church -- Byzantine Catholic Rite and Orthodox--today still uses the liturgy form attributed to him. 

Why Must We Confess to a Priest?

Often we (Catholics) get asked about why we believe we must confess our sins to a priest instead of a general confession, as many/most Protestants use.  The fact of the matter is the general or public confession is something Protestantism has gotten from us!  The Confiteor is part of the Latin Rite of the Mass as well as the Eastern Rite liturgies and dates back to at least the tenth or eleventh century - hundreds of years prior to Protestantism even being heard of.  So, for one who is following along you can see - this Confiteor was added to the Mass likely about 1000 years after Jesus Christ and the Apostles celebrated the First Mass on Holy Thursday of the first Holy Week.

So, we know that the common or general confession is an addition to the Christian liturgy - but an addition which much of Protestantism has retained, but how about personal or private confession, where did that begin and upon what authority?  Let us begin with the authority issue.  

Jesus Christ Himself passes on the authority to the Apostles, our first bishops, in John 20:23!  Let us look at both a Catholic and Protestant translation of this verse:
First the Catholic, Douay-Rheims:  Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. 
Second the Protestant, NIV:  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.
Jesus was speaking specifically to His Apostles, again, our first bishops here.  What is notable is the context as well for Jesus doesn't merely give THEM this authority - but in verse 21 Jesus PASSES ON this authority which is His, God's authority to forgive sins!  In verse 21 He says, "As the Father has sent Me, so also I send you."  Part of Jesus' being sent was to send others with His authority - thus if the Apostles were to follow His lead - then they too must PASS ON that authority which was given to them.

So, these men - and their successors have the authority to forgive sins - and nowhere else in Scripture are we shown anyone else being granted this authority - thus if we, today, do not see one of these who are in direct and valid succession to the Apostles, or one whom one of these successors have authorized to hear the confession of others and grant absolution - then are we really getting our sins forgiven?  Keep in mind, Scripture itself states that sins THESE MEN do not forgive are NOT FORGIVEN.  I reiterate the point - those men were also sent, just as the Father sent Jesus - thus they too had to send others with this authority too.  Any church outside the valid apostolic succession from the Apostles does not have this authority, period. 

As we have established, the authority to forgive sins is from Christ, to the Apostles and their successors - thus it is up to valid bishops to forgive or retain sins - or to empower others, priests within their jurisdiction, to fulfill this office.

So, back to the original question - why do we go to a priest for confession?  Because that is the means Jesus Christ Himself provided for His Church.


PS- If you have any questions regarding this article, please leave a comment.


The Most Important Question For Life

Falling back on my Lutheran roots, often when I need to pick up my wife from work on a Sunday morning, it coincides with the broadcast of The Lutheran Hour in our area, so I give it a listen.  This week Rev. Gregory Seltz preached on The Most Important Question For Your Life.  Well, first off, I like the phraseology!  He uses "for your life" instead of "of your life" and this question is indeed FOR your life, both mortally and eternally.  He begins:  
So, what might some of those important questions be? How about this? "Do you like ketchup or do you like Tabasco? Do you like vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, Neapolitan ice cream or no ice cream at all? Are you a morning person or a night person? (I think that my wife would have liked to know that answer before we got married.)" But these aren't the big questions are they? These questions and answers do help us share a bit about ourselves, but these questions and answers aren't life changing in nature. In the big scheme of things, it really doesn't matter whether you like mustard or ketchup, tap water, mineral water, or that carbonated-sugar-water that everyone seems to like to drink.  
So far, I'm with Rev. Seltz... skipping down a little...
Each of the synoptic Gospels makes this "question to the apostles," the very central question of the Bible, one that all of us must answer too. Jesus wants to know what Peter, James, John, what you and I think about Who He is. This answer, my friend, will literally change your life.
And again, I agree with Rev. Seltz!

Jesus wants Peter; He wants you and me to get this answer right. He won't let you hide behind other people's viewpoints. He won't let you hide behind your musings about what God should be. That's a "ketchup-Tabasco discussion" for most people. No, Jesus is God in the flesh, born into sinful man's mess of His world, a servant to a rebellious humanity. Jesus is God in the flesh, who will go to another's cross so that they might be born again through His death and resurrection to His eternal Gift of Life. So, pardon me, says Jesus, but "Who do you say that I am?"
And once again - Rev. Seltz and I agree!  
I thank God that Jesus kept on asking those Disciples as He keeps on asking us.

"But, what about all of you? Who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven."

Life's most important question, then, is "Who is Jesus Christ and is He that for you and for me?"

It's life's most important question. Because our Spirit-filled answer connects us to the living God with the dynamic relationship of faith.

"Our answer, like Peter, should be, 'You are the Christ, but You are also my Christ, the Son of the Living God, for me!'"
Now here we find Rev. Seltz stopping just a little early in the context he's quoted from (Matthew 16:18-19).  While I agree that this indeed is the most important question "for" life - eternal life - the good reverend leaves out the part where Jesus continues to say, "Thou art Peter (Rock) and upon this rock I will build my Church and whatsoever you shall bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven; whatsoever you shall loose on Earth shall be loosed in Heaven."  So, while recognizing that Jesus Christ is God Himself Incarnate - let us not forget that it is in this same context where Jesus established St. Peter's authority - separately from the Apostles as a group (which He gives later to them, as a group - not individually - in Matthew 18:18).  Jesus Himself tells His followers (all Christians) how His Church would be established!  That Church would be founded upon Peter, initially (in primacy) and also upon the apostolic office - the bishops.  If you're TRULY following Christ, you're a member of THAT Church.

So again, Rev. Seltz and I agree on most points - but he stopped a little short in his quotation which would, or should, point the objective reader/listener to the One, True Church.


Text of sermon:

Blessing of the Bell

On the Feast of the Assumption the new church bell was blessed at our chapel!

The ringing of the bell from here on out brings the grace of a sacramental to all who hear it and are properly disposed to receive such.


The Latest on Father Corapi - The Black Sheep Dog

Father Corapi, and I can't help still calling him that - for "once a priest, always a priest..." still lingers in my head, appears to be "moving on" from messages all about himself.  I consider that a good thing!  He seemed, in my humble opinion, to be too caught up in himself.  Now, I understand that he believes he was wronged and wanted to defend himself - but the problem was (and somewhat remains) that as a priest making such a public stance and contrary to his superiors... well, it was (and remains) scandalous.  

Anyway, I am a bit cautiously optimistic in his latest endeavor.... he's producing a series on abortion - which I'm certain any faithful Catholic will applaud.  I'm not so sure about the price tag, but now that he's "The Black Sheep Dog" and on his own, one can't blame him for trying to support himself.  Below is a video from RealCatholicTV talking about the Fr. Corapi situation:

Another video from October 2011 - not much more info... (added 3/18/2012)

Recap of NFP Discussion

Someone asked for the URL to read the whole dialog regarding cathmom5's comments and my support of her.  Well, there was no single URL so I am making one (long) article to recap the discussion which started with an article by me, a comment by cathmom5 which was followed by Mr. Hays reductio ad absurdum.   I'll not be including EVERY comment - if anyone is interested they can follow the combox comments which are included in each posting started by Mr. Hays and myself.  At the end of this article I'll also be including the chronology of postings - so anyone who wants to read every comment in the context of the article they were posted, they can.  Text I am adding in this recap will be in purple (as here).

It starts with an article by Mr. Hays, which I quoted entirely in my response to it - so I will begin here with my response:

On Triablogue there's an out of context quote from Alexander Pruss and comments which should be answered...
Pruss writes:  In fact, the biological union does not even require the couple consciously to will the striving towards reproduction. The biophysiologically united man-woman organism instinctively and automatically on a biological level strives toward that end. What is required is only that the couple should not place an obstacle in its way, because the act of placing the obstacle is an act of disturbing the union. The act of contracepting is opposed to the end of the teleological process by which union is constituted. A distinction between permitting and causing is relevant here.
The couple that contracepts is the intentional cause of their infertility. The NFP-using couple, when infertile, is not the cause of the infertility: the natural cycles of the female body are the cause of the infertility, which cycles are independent of the couple’s decision to use NFP. The couple permits the infertility, and draw good from it, even though it would be wrong for them  directly to will this infertility. That the distinction between permitting and causing is a significant one can be seen in at least two other examples. One is the distinction between letting die and killing, often discussed in the context of euthanasia.

Note please, Pruss does indeed state that it is WRONG to directly will this infertility.  Thus a couple who directly wills infertility is wrong and mortally sins in doing so - by WHICH EVER MEANS they choose to be infertile.  With NFP the couple cannot willfully refuse one another - regardless of the time in the woman's fertility cycle.  They may "plan" to participate in "the marriage act" during the time of infertility - and that's the "planning" part - but I reiterate, they cannot refuse each other during the time of fertility.  If the desire is there, then they must allow "the marriage act" to go on unimpeded - by ANY means of contraception.

On to the illogic on Triablogue:
It’s odd that someone as astute as Pruss would leave it at that. It’s of course true that the distinction between causing and permitting can sometimes be morally relevant or exculpatory. But it’s easy to come up with counterexamples where that distinction is morally irrelevant or culpable.
But Pruss didn't "leave it at that!"  If one investigates the link provided by Mr. Hays they can see that Pruss indeed explained further:
The other example is that of theodicy. God never causes an evil.  However, in order to draw a greater good out of it, He sometimes permits evils. The greatest and clearest example of this was the crucifixion. God did not cause Judas to betray Jesus and Pilate to condemn Him, but He permitted it, in order to bring a greater good out of it. It is essential to the way that sexual union as one body is constituted that while willing the union one not simultaneously unwill the end (reproduction) the biophysiological striving towards which constitutes the union. However, it is not necessary that one explicitly will this end, only that one not will anything contradictory to it. The implicit willing of the unitive meaning of the sexual act, in the absence of a contradictory willing, suffices to make the teleological striving that constitutes the union be a willed striving—and hence a striving of the person, and not merely of the body, thereby effecting a willed personal union.
It is a bit disingenuous of Hays to say Pruss left it "at that."  Hays even quotes that Pruss says there are "at least two other examples" and then only quotes one of them - and has the audacity to accuse him of "leaving it at that."
In The Little Foxes, Regina doesn’t cause her husband to die from a heart attack. Rather, she permits him to die by withholding his heart medication.   In that situation, letting him to die is morally equivalent to murder, even though she didn't positively bring about his demise.
Sorry, but "withholding medicine" which is not an extra-ordinary means of keeping someone alive DOES CAUSE HER HUSBAND TO DIE!  Certainly "the cause" is the underlying heart condition - but if one willfully withholds the medicine from another against his will - that would be murder.  A clearer example of this would be a mother refusing to feed her newborn infant... that is negligence and murder for the mother has caused the death of her baby.  No rational human being with any sense of charity or concern for the helpless/innocent would simply say the baby died of starvation and leave the mother's culpability out of the picture.  Clearly in The Little Foxes, Regina does kill her sickly husband by withholding his medicine, which IS Hays' point here - but the point Hays misses is the fact that "planning" to participate in "the marriage act" during infertile times is not the same as "doing it" during fertile times and then killing the seed by some chemical or physical barrier.
Natural family planning has a contraceptive intent, and–where successful–a contraceptive effect.
This illustrates the problem with Catholics who use natural law to ratify a conclusion they arrived at by other means.
I'm sure that those who condone contraception believe this to be the case, but if the intent is contraception then the couple is in mortal sin.  The intent is to have "planned" participation in the period of infertility of the female cycle.  If either party refuses the other during a period of fertility then that person has committed a mortal sin.  Hays uses either false logic here - or demonstrates ignorance of what the Catholic Church really teaches on the matter of NFP.

Other comments on this article (at the time of the publication of this article/response):

BBB said:
One of the main proponents of John Paul II's "Theology of the Body", Christopher West, uses this kind of reasoning as well.
He says that some people ask "What's the difference between causing infertility, and just waiting for the woman to be infertile?" His response is "what's the difference between killing grandma, and just waiting for grandma to die?"
The same illogic as above and has already been explained/dismissed.

James said:
Most Catholics (1) don't abide by the Church's stance on contraception anyhow. In any rate, (2) there's no substantive difference in intent between contraception using a calendar or with a piece of rubber (or a pill). (3) Doesn't the Church keep reminding us that contraception is "ineffective"? If it is, then there's not a greater likelihood of preventing pregnancy with a condom than with NFP.

(1) What this undocumented "most Catholics" may or may not abide by is not relevant to the moral position of the Church.  If a Catholic does not abide by the Church's stance - then, all rationalizations aside, they are in mortal sin.
(2) On this point James MAY be correct - IF the INTENT of the couple is contraception AND they have deliberately refused one or the other during a fertile period.  THE point here is INTENT.  If the couple PLANS to only participate in "the marriage act" during infertile periods - but "the mood" arises during a fertile period - then they cannot refuse each other without committing a mortal sin.
(3) Whether or not artificial forms of contraception are "effective" or not is NOT the point!  Again, THE POINT is that it is a sin to artificially prohibit conception and it is still a mortal sin if the couple engaging in NFP refuses one or the other during a fertile period.

Tom R said:
Well, yes. And the Spartans didn't practice infanticide, strictly speaking - they just left imperfect babies exposed on the hillside overnight.
The irony is that in other spheres, "Catholic social teaching" is scathing of the "just leave people alone" thrust of Whig Protestant capitalism. Governments, say various Popes, have an affirmative duty to ensure that their subjects have healthcare, food, etc. You can't just ignore them while they starve, like Dives with Lazarus, or the "goats" on Judgment Day. Yet when it comes to methods of contraception, the Vatican has copied Judith Jarvis Thomson's "live and let die" defence of abortion and moved it a stage earlier in the life-cycle.
Well, J.J. Thomson's "violinist" analogy (the "unplug and let die" analogy) is 1) not taught by the Catholic Church in NFP and 2) how this violinist "gets connected" is not the same way most women "get connected" to their babies - in fact - the only possible comparison would be to that of where pregnancy resulted from rape (very few abortions are because of rape).  The obvious difference here is that an innocent child dependent upon his/her mother is not the same as a presumably not-so innocent violinist who him/herself could choose not to remain connected - regardless of how this person (male or female) may feel about it. Tom's comparison is fatally flawed.

cathmom5 responded:
It just seems to me that the attempt to compare NFP--used with the correct intent--and contraception is just an excuse to justify the fact that they want to use contraceptions. Those "christians" who use contraception, I believe, know deep down they are morally wrong. The FACT that the majority of contraceptives are abortifacient doesn't matter. The FACT that contraceptives (the pill) causes cancers and infertility for thousands of women doesn't matter. The FACT that the legalization of the pill, historically, led directly to the legalization of abortion doesn't matter. Those "christians" must find a way to justify their disobedience of God's will by "taking down" the Church's moral stance--like the bully on the playground making himself feel better by making the others feel bad. Why else would this ignorant (in the dictionary sense!) argument keep coming up?
My husband and I do use NFP, however, as you pointed out, our intent is not to be closed to the possibility of life. I am almost 50 and have 5 children. I don't know if my body could handle another child, but I tell you what, I trust God enough to believe that if I were to become pregnant He would have it all under control! And, I refuse to commit a mortal sin by using other artificial means to kill my baby or slowly kill myself.

Steve Hays responds to cathmom5:
cathmom5 said: It just seems to me that the attempt to compare NFP--used with the correct intent--and contraception is just an excuse to justify the fact that they want to use contraceptions [sic]. Those "christians" who use contraception, I believe, know deep down they are morally wrong...Those "christians" must find a way to justify their disobedience of God's will by "taking down" the Church's moral stance--like the bully on the playground making himself feel better by making the others feel bad. Why else would this ignorant (in the dictionary sense!) argument keep coming up?

Well, if that’s what motivates Protestants, then by parity of logic, it just seems to me that the attempt by popes to defend “natural family planning” is just an excuse to justify the fact that they want to fornicate with nuns and hookers without wearing a condom or fathering a kid out of wedlock. Popes who defend “natural family planning,” I believe, know deep down they are morally wrong. Lascivious popes must find a loophole to excuse their lechery. Why else would they concoct so many ad hoc distinctions?

Scott Windsor (CathApol) responds to Steve Hays:
Mr. Hays reaches a new low with me in this response.  His response to cathmom5 is nothing short of anti-Catholic BIGOTRY.   Have SOME popes been "bad popes" and sinned as Hays accuses?  Perhaps - but it is NOT the norm and neither is the rationale behind Natural Family Planning.  It appears to me that cathmom5 struck a nerve with Mr. Hays and he lashed out irrationally.  For example of this irrationality - Pope John Paul II was a public proponent of Natural Family Planning* - and I would challenge Mr. Hays to provide PROOF or at least some SOUND EVIDENCE of any such "lechery" - such as "fornicat(ing) with nuns and hookers" with Bl. Pope John Paul II.  Such debased language without some sort of support is irresponsible, invalid argumentation and even un-Christian.  

Now, perhaps Mr. Hays is objecting to cathmom5's use of "Christian" (in quotes) as if to imply those who practice Artificial Birth Control (ABC) are not even Christian.  As I explained to "BBB" (who was much more respectful in his approach) - from a Catholic perspective, those who would accept and even embrace such violence against the sanctity of the marriage act - and against innocent life, well - it IS hard to consider them to be "Christian" at all.  Perhaps Mr. Hays is ignorant of the fact that virtually ALL of Christendom opposed ABC methods prior to 1930 and it has been just since that time that non-Catholics began embracing this mortally sinful practice.  I reiterate, it is difficult to see those who are WILLFULLY engaging and embracing MORTAL SIN to be "Christian" at all.

Now to answer Mr. Hays disgraceful polemics - he DID ask a question which I will respond to:  "Why else would they concoct so many ad hoc distinctions?"  I would need Mr. Hays to clarify just who the "they" are who have participated in such "concoctions" and repeat my challenge for Mr. Hays to document those who have "concoct(ed) so many ad hoc distinctions" actually participating in "fornicating with nuns and hookers."  Further - please explain at least SOME of these unnamed "ad hoc distinctions."

Will Mr. Hays clarify his position(s) and present some VALID argumentation - or should we dismiss him as a bloviating anti-Catholic bigot?  Will he back down and even apologize (as a Christian should do) or will he entrench himself in his debased argumentation?  Or, will he just try to ignore this and hope it passes by unnoticed?  

I would also hope that other non-Catholics would join me in condemning Mr. Hays argumentation.   

I state, here and now, if Mr. Hays can VALIDLY support his argumentation - I will acknowledge that.  I do not believe it is possible for him to present valid argumentation to support what he's said - so what I would expect from an honest Christian debater is a retraction (or, again, VALID support).

Scott adds a comment to his own article:
It IS encouraging to see that at least SOME non-Catholics ARE taking Mr. Hays' approach to task on his blog. Kudos to them.

Hays also explains that "It's often useful to take a foolish position to its logical extreme." Perhaps Mr. Hays would consider first challenging cathmom5 to clarify her statements (as I believe I have, if I was not too bold in speaking for her) before calling them "foolish" and then lashing out as he did and CALLING it a "logical extreme."

cathmom5 responds to Scott’s response:
Thank you, Scott, I appreciate your clarification of my comments on Triablog. It was not my intent to insult anyone personally, but several times when I've made comments on an issue, I have been personally attacked. I don't believe anything I said was foolish or I wouldn't have said them. I am sorry if my style or passion made anyone feel insulted.

Just to say one thing--I don't think what I said, in any way, would lead to Hays' so-called logical extreme. To me that argument about a pope using NFP as an excuse to do what he please isn't even on the same planet as what I said. What I believe I said is that ABC and NFP (practiced as intended) are not the same, and those who try to claim they are, are looking for justification for what, I believe, they know deep down is morally wrong.

Back on Triablogue under “Team Players,” Steve responds:
Mr. Hays reaches a new low with me in this response.  His response to cathmom5 is nothing short of anti-Catholic BIGOTRY.  

If a Catholic indulges in a blanket, prejudicial smear of Protestants by impugning the motives of all Protestants who support “artificial” birth control, even though said Catholic is in no position to know their motives, that’s not anti-Protestant bigotry–but if a Protestant responds with a reductio ad absurdum, that’s “anti-Catholic BIGOTRAY”!

Windsor betrays the insular mindset of the team player. The team player automatically cheers his own team and automatically jeers the other team. The team player keeps a tally of every real or imagined foul by the other team while turning a blind eye to every foul by his own team.

It’s the Mafia mentality. One standard of la familia, another standard for outsiders.

Have SOME popes been "bad popes" and sinned as Hays accuses?  Perhaps - but it is NOT the norm and neither is the rationale behind Natural Family Planning.  It appears to me that cathmom5 struck a nerve with Mr. Hays and he lashed out irrationally.  For example of this irrationality - Pope John Paul II was a public proponent of Natural Family Planning* - and I would challenge Mr. Hays to provide PROOF or at least some SOUND EVIDENCE of any such "lechery" - such as "fornicat(ing) with nuns and hookers" with Bl. Pope John Paul II.  Such debased language without some sort of support is irresponsible, invalid argumentation and even un-Christian.  

Here’s a guy who presumes to be an apologist for Rome, but he can’t grasp basic forms of argument. He doesn’t grasp the nature of a tu quoque, or a reductio ad absurdum.

An argument from analogy only has to be analogous to be valid. The counterargument doesn’t have to be any truer than the argument it opposes.

That’s the point. For the argument works either way.

If it’s valid for cathmom5 to impute immoral motives to millions of Protestants she’s never met, then it’s valid for me to impute immoral motives to the popes.

Notice that Scott Windsor doesn’t demand any evidence or proof from cathmom5 for her defamatory allegations. That’s because she’s a fellow teammate, so the rules are different for her.

My argument is predicated on a conditional premise: if her argument is valid, and my argument is analogous, then my argument is valid.

But Scott Windsor is one of those sociopathic partisans who will fly into a rage the moment you make their team play by the same rules. A loyalist can never step out of his own viewpoint to see an issue from the viewpoint of the Other. It’s the same thing we see in the political sphere every day. 

cathmom5 comments:
First off, thank you Cathapol for your defense of my comments and, more importantly, NFP and the Church's moral stand on openness to life.

Secondly, my intent was not to insult anyone. I find it ironic that certain things I say are taken personally by some protestant readers of this blog. I think it may be my style or my passion, but it is my intent to support the truth of the Church's teaching not offend Protestants. I think if we were to talk to each other face to face there would be less misunderstanding of motive or intent.

As Cathapol explained, some find it hard, I admit including me, to call those Christian who do not follow Christ's teaching. The sacredness of life was one of His core teachings. I believe that Christ's Sacred Heart is wounded every time a woman who claims to be a Christian puts a birth control pill in her mouth. She is not only injuring her own God-given body but could be killing an innocent life--both mortal sins.

Third, I don't believe I created any "straw men." I was a Protestant for over 30 years. I went to a Protestant, Bible-based College. I heard and I know the attitude toward and acceptance of contraceptives in that arena. My own mother, a wonderful Christian mother took ABC for 20 years--she no longer does, thank God, for personal reasons.

Now, just because a lot of women in the Catholic Church have been talked into accepting this easy way of "family planning" does not make the Church's moral stance on sanctity of life wrong. Nor does the fact that I accept and agree with the moral and Scriptural stance of His Church on this matter make my passionate defense of it necessarily make me wrong.

Those who try to say that NFP is the same as ABC are just plain wrong. In my experience, those who are the loudest in their protest against NFP or try to pretend NFP and ABC are the same thing are the ones who know the least about NFP or ABC. They, for the most part, want to justify their use of ABC by saying that NFP is the same--trying to take down, so-to-speak, His Church's moral stance on the sacredness of the marriage act. I don't believe that is a straw man--that is from my perspective and my experience.

Having practiced NFP for years, I know that it is not an easy course to take. A couple who practices NFP must communicate with each other, they must be "in tune" with each other morally, they must be in agreement on being open to life, and they must work, as a couple, to make NFP work. In my experience, a couple who is practicing NFP can hardly be doing it with the wrong motives. With so relatively few couples practicing NFP, I would hardly think motives are the problem.

We can also turn it around. NFP, practiced correctly, can also HELP a couple conceive which is one reasons why it is called Natural FAMILY PLANNING and not birth control. Couples have used NFP to conceive a new life, the same cannot be said for ABC.

I have spoken in as general terms as possible. I have not insulted anyone personally. I have expressed how I feel on the subject of NFP--From my personal experienc on BOTH sides of the "church" fence. If one feels personally insutled by anything I have said on the matter, I think they must look to themselves and wonder why what a perfect stranger says strikes such a nerve.

Scott responds to Steve’s “Team Players” argument:
Let's be clear - I am not the one calling people names here. Your response to cathmom5 reflected anti-Catholic bigotry (my point) which is not directly calling YOU a bigot - but that the argument was bigoted. There's a difference.

Second, I fully understand your use of the reductio ad absurdum - and I've merely challenged you to put forth some VALID argumentation, like avoiding the common fallacies of rhetoric (ad hominem especially). One thing to bring to the forefront - IF we were to agree that cathmom5 were wrong (which I do not) then please explain to the few who may still be reading along how "two wrongs make a right?" You justified your argumentation saying, "If it’s valid for cathmom5 to impute immoral motives to millions of Protestants she’s never met, then it’s valid for me to impute immoral motives to the popes." (The tu quoque fallacy).

Both cathmom5 and I explained her statements - you did not deal with these explanations in the least, instead you concentrate on ad hominem (also a fallacy).

I challenged you to present valid documentation of ANY pope who publicly supports or supported NFP and also participated in the lechery you stated they participated in. I would remind the reader too - you went well beyond "motives" - you flatly accused popes of participating in fornicating with nuns and hookers and using NFP to rationalize what they had done. You crossed the line of valid argumentation, and you appear to be in staunch refusal of the error of your ways, not to mention the LACK of "Christian" spirit in your response to cathmom5 (and to me too for that matter).

Now, if you wish to rationalize your argumentation down to reductio ad absurdum - then I am willing to accept what you said was absurd and let it go.

Chronology of Posts on This Subject:
  3. (not responded to as of this posting)




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