Saturday, July 14, 2007


Other bloggers are up in arms about this idiotic commentary over at on the recent CDF publication.

And well they should be, because it's loaded with some of the most ignorant blasphemy to be found on the web.

Mr. Martin (a talk-show host) contends that,
For [Pope Benedict] to even suggest that only the Catholic Church can provide true salvation to believers in Christ shows that he is wholly ignorant of the Scriptures that [Mr. Martin has] known all [his] life.
He immediately admits to an inaccuracy, saying that he did not know the Scriptures for his 25 dark years as a "die-hard Catholic," since Catholics aren't allowed to read the bible. Of course, these twenty-five years are his claim to credibility in bashing the Church.

But does even a cursory look at the facts bear out Mr. Martin's argument? Would a look at respectable Catholic institutions and the official documents of the Church display a negative attitude toward Scripture or personal meditation thereupon? How about Pope Benedict himself? Can anyone who's even just glanced at one of his works claim that he is "wholly ignorant" of the Scriptures? Argue, if you will, that Pope Benedicts evaluations and conclusions based on Scripture are incorrect, but you cannot claim that he does not have constant recourse to Scripture and a very deep knowledge of the Bible.

Mr. Martin has other arguments, however. Here's a logically flawed construction if I've ever seen one:
...[A]s I reflect on my years as a Catholic, it pretty much was a wasted experience, as there was more identification with the church, and not with Christ. And that's why Pope Benedict XVI is meaningless, along with his decision to re-state the primacy of the Catholic Church.
A play by play yields argumentum ad authoritatem from personal experience, jumping to an ad homimen, rounded out with a non sequitur. What a workout.

Eventually, Mr. Martin gets to the substance and leaves personal evaluation aside, supposedly:
But what ticked folks off was his assertion in the 16-page document by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that the only denominations that can call themselves true churches are ones that can trace their roots back to Jesus Christ's original apostles. He even suggested they suffer from defects.
First of all, Mr. Martin has his facts wrong. Note he cites "his (i.e., Pope Benedict's) assertion" in the "document by the [CDF]". Sorry, Mr. Martin. Although the document might express the belief of the Pontiff, you have to dig a little deeper in your research in order to make this inference. If you want to tie such opinions directly to Pope Benedict, you need to familiarize yourself with something that the Pope actually wrote himself, and even then you have to differentiate between what he said in his official capacity as the CDF Prefect and what his personal theological leanings might be. The fact is that when the Pope certifies a document to be published by the CDF, then the assertions therein are the official teaching of that Congregation and no claims of personal attachment can be inferred. In fact, such an inference is yet another logical fallacy. And it shows a lack of precision and fairness with regard to how such documents as this one are generated.
This is nothing but a naked attempt by Pope Benedict XVI to "own" Jesus by virtue of the Catholic Church considering the apostle Peter as its leader.
Again, an ad hominem assertion about intention which cannot justly be inferred. One might say that this is a claim by CDF that the Catholic Church is "owned" by Jesus in something of an exclusive way. That would be nearer to the truth, but still somewhat inaccurate.

Mr. Martin's argument continues in an errant vein with selective use of Sacred Scripture to try to establish a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" as the true Gospel faith as opposed to membership in a Church which Christ established.

Mr. Martin quotes the "Great Commission" from Matthew's Gospel: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations." (28:19) From this quotation and its context, Mr. Martin somehow concludes that "[i]t doesn't matter what Pope Benedict XVI has to say, or for that matter, any other religious leader. A Christian believes in Jesus Christ and what He had to say, not what a man of God has to say."

Let's get down to brass tacks. A Christian believes in the Gospel message, "what [Jesus Christ] had to say," to be sure; but that message has been transmitted through the words of men. It was these eleven men of God (and eventually a couple others) who carried out that great commission and carried the message of Jesus Christ out to the ends of the earth. Their testimony was the foundation of the spreading of the faith, and they were given authority in order to safely transmit and interpret the knowledge that they'd been given. Either the very first apostles "got it wrong," or the way in which they carried out the commission to which Mr. Martin appeals must be taken into account. Since it is by their word that we know about this great commission to begin with, then it is worthwhile considering how they saw that commission as best achieved. And whether we look in the letters of Saint Paul, the second Lucan narrative, the epistolary teachings of the early Fathers, or Apostolic sources such as the Didache, we see the early Christians ordering and establishing a Church under the leadership of presbyters who had authority to instruct and correct. And all of this before ever a written canon of Scripture was even assembled!
Protestant leaders: Don't buy into the foolishness. Let Pope Benedict XVI keep running off at the mouth and making pointless declarations. If you keep bringing good news to the poor, setting the captives free and assisting those who seek to know Jesus, then you'll make more headway in doing the work of Jesus than any 16-page document will.
It is in his last paragraph where Mr. Martin's disrespectful and despicable rhetoric becomes downright infuriating. Why this sudden cynicism towards written communication from someone who has clearly espoused the sola scriptura doctrine, I cannot say. That the Roman Catholic Church remains a paradigm of charitable missionary work shows that we have not neglected that aspect of the Gospel mission at the expense of the equally important task of teaching and correction. Another cursory look at the letters of Saint Paul will show that he wanted his churches to be have sound doctrine and right opinion as much as he wanted them to live out these charisms.

Mr. Martin has stirred up quite a response around St. Blog's and I'm sure he would find many a willing interlocutor if he wished to develop his thesis or debate it in a proper way, based on familiarity with Holy Scripture and logical argumentation. It is my hope that those who have been led astray by his spurious drivel will find some of these bloggers' replies and gain something of a better perspective from their consideration. For any who have found my post in such an attempt, I direct you to please consider the sources (see below) before making any judgments. And I also would direct you to some other, more capable apologists.

"Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church" - Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - 29 June 2007

Lumen Gentium - Dogmatic Constitution on the Church - from the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council

Ut Unum Sint - Encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II on ecumenism

Dominus Iesus - CDF Declaration on the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church - 6 August 2000

Other sites of interest:

Jimmy Akin (link) is lookin' to have an argument.

And Catholic Answers is one of the best places to see why Mr. Martin shouldn't quit his day job. See especially their forum thread on the subject, and their answer tract on salvation outside the Church.



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