Historical and Theological Honesty

Pope Benedict XVIWhile doing some research on a different topic entirely, I stumbled over an interesting quote that I thought the readers of this blog might find interesting:

Q. Are there any other reasons to show that heretics, or Protestants who die out of the Roman Catholic Church, are not saved?

A. There are several. They cannot be saved, because

1. They have no divine faith.
2. They make a liar of Jesus Christ, of the Holy Ghost, and of the Apostles.
3. They have no faith in Christ.
4. They fell away from the true Church of Christ.
5. They are too proud to submit to the Pope, the Vicar of Christ.
6. They cannot perform any good works whereby they can obtain heaven.
7. They do not receive the Body and Blood of Christ.
8. They die in their sins.
9. They ridicule and blaspheme the Mother of God and His saints.
10. They slander the spouse of Jesus Christ: the Catholic Church.

Q. Have Protestants any faith in Christ?

A. They never had.

Explanation of Christian Doctrine for the Family and More Advanced Students of Catholic Schools, 1875. pp. 91-93

Of course, we Protestants are “separated brethren” now, but it is interesting to see how a book bearing both the nihil obstat and imprimatur equates Protestantism and heresy and denies that Protestants have any saving faith in Christ.

My how things have changed…

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4 thoughts on “Historical and Theological Honesty

  1. Just because something has a nihil obstat and an imprimatur doesn’t mean it’s infallible or that it speaks for the whole Church. It means one or two officials looked at it (or didn’t look at it very much, as the case may be) and put a stamp on it. Generally you can count on it being acceptable, but you shouldn’t hold one statement up as a straw man by which to attack the whole Church. If you want to know “official” Church teaching, you should read what the popes and councils have said. You might also read this post by Jimmy Akin dealing succinctly with this question (the fruit of a quick google — I’m sure there’s much more out there).

  2. Also, for what it’s worth, it’s too easy to show the fallacies in this logic (which as the citation notes, isn’t exactly directed at a mature academic audience):

    1. They have no divine faith.

    I’m quite sure most pious Protestants do.

    2. They make a liar of Jesus Christ, of the Holy Ghost, and of the Apostles.

    Only by cause of ignorance, not by any malicious intent.

    3. They have no faith in Christ.

    Wrong again.

    4. They fell away from the true Church of Christ.

    Wrong again: Their ancestors did; today’s Protestants can’t be help accountable.

    5. They are too proud to submit to the Pope, the Vicar of Christ.

    Or ignorant of the truth, for which they are not condemned.

    6. They cannot perform any good works whereby they can obtain heaven.

    Wrong again.

    7. They do not receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

    Not in the “Real” sense, but most do honor the Eucharist in some form or another.

    8. They die in their sins.

    If someone dies unrepentant of grave sins, then yeah, they might be in trouble. But very many good folks don’t.

    9. They ridicule and blaspheme the Mother of God and His saints.
    10. They slander the spouse of Jesus Christ: the Catholic Church.

    If anyone does that, it’s not a very nice thing. But God has more serious things on His plate to judge. And what people do in ignorance is not one of them.

    • Just to be clear, I wasn’t trying to hold that one statement up as a strawman to attack the whole of the Roman communion. As I intimated at the end of my post, I find it interesting how much the tone of the discussion around Protestantism has changed.

      I could just have easily, for that matter, found some pretty combative quotes from Charles Hodge regarding Rome, to make the same point. I find it more refreshing, for lack of a better word, to be historically and theologically honest that there was once a point where this sort of language was common, both from Rome and from Protestant churches. As I said at the end of the post, “My, how things have changed!” And that is categorically a good thing.

      • Good. I am a little quick on the trigger sometimes to be defensive, I know. I’m sorry about that. Things have changed a lot. But a lot of people charge that Vatican II and the post-Vatican II Church has been inconsistent with traditional teaching. And certainly people’s attitudes have changed, but as far as official teaching, there’s not the discontinuity that some people (especially modernists within the Church) want to see.

"I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve." (Romans 16:17-18) Please read "The Comments Policy."

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