Sunday, December 17, 2017


The Augusta Chronicle did a series celebrating the Protestant Reformation some of which trashed the Catholic Church and never mentioned sainted Catholic reformers like St. Teresa of Avila, St, Catherine of Siena, St. John of the Cross, St. Francis of Assisi not to mention The Council of Trent.

To make reparation, the Chronicle is allowing a former parishioner of mine, when I was pastor of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Augusta (1991-2004) to write the other side of the story:

Reformation or revolution? Assessing Martin Luther’s legacy

By Paul Rosenthal Guest Columnist

The Catholic church, hereinafter “church,” needed to be reformed in the Middle Ages, but we need to distinguish between “reformation” and “revolution.”

The church is a divine institution founded by Jesus, containing human members. All humans are sinners. The divine institution has authority to infallibly (properly defined) teach on matters of faith and morals. No one in the church has authority to give false teachings, be corrupt or commit evil acts.

Compare the church to a toddler who plays in the dirt and sometimes messes his pants. The proper remedy is to love the toddler, give him a bath and clean clothes, (reformation), not to throw the toddler or any part of him out with the dirty bath water (revolution). The church needed reformation.

Formed by his being abused by his parents, his confusion about personal sin, lack of trust in God and resulting psychological problems, Martin Luther revolted against Jesus’ teachings and church. He appointed himself as a new messiah, one with authority to change Scripture and 1,500 years of doctrine, thus giving the world an ever-growing catastrophic tower of babel resulting in over 30,000 Christian denominations, with contradictory teachings, each claiming to possess the truth.

THE DEStrUCtIVE SpLINtEr-ING continues. Clearly, individual interpretation of Scripture makes no sense.

The Holy Spirit cannot be the author of confusion. God does not lead people to contradictory beliefs, because his truth is one. (1 Cor. 14:33).

Luther’s “Bible alone” theory is false. It is not supported by Scripture or common sense. Are you a Bible-believing Christian? The Bible didn’t give us the church. The church gave us the Bible.

The Bible doesn’t support “Sola Scriptura” or claim to be the source of all truth. In 1 Timothy 3:15 the Bible says that the church is the “pillar and bulwark of the truth.” In Matthew 28:20 Jesus commissioned his apostles to go and teach in his name, making disciples of all nations. Logically, if there is a need for Scriptures, there is a need for the teaching authority that produced them. See also 2 Peter 1:20-21

The Bible says in John 21:25, “There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.”

Holy Tradition is also supported in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.” The Bible thus affirms that divine revelation is two-fold, both written and oral.

A GENUINE, SINCErE Bible-believing Christian believes, preaches and obeys everything that Jesus said. When pondering that requirement, keep in mind that Jesus, unlike Bill Clinton, knows what the meaning of “is” is. “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Matthew 26:26

Where did the Bible come from? The canon of the Bible was given to the world by the church in the Fourth Century by the Synod of Rome (382) and the Councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397).

The list of books they established was accepted, without practical dispute, until the so-called Protestant Reformation in 1517. The church gave its final, definitive, infallible definition of the Biblical Canon at the Council of Trent in 1546, naming the very same list of 73 books that had been included in the canon in the Fourth Century. Luther threw out seven books of the Bible and attempted to conform Scripture to his personal interpretation, i.e., by adding the word “alone” to Romans 3:28.

No pope, whether good or evil, can change the doctrines of the church revealed in Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition. Even the few rotten popes we’ve had did not infallibly proclaim any false teachings on faith and morals. No pope, theologian, Martin Luther or any other person has authority to teach heresy directly or to misuse “Development of doctrine” as an indirect subterfuge for changing church doctrines or adding to them.

SIMpLY pUt, DEVELOpMENt of doctrine means deepening the understanding of a doctrine, not getting rid of it or changing it.

What is Luther’s legacy? Many books have been written about Luther. Perhaps Luther is best summed up in John C. Rao’s Luther and His Progeny: 500 Years of Protestantism and Its Consequences for Church, State, and Society. (Go to:

“In the twelve essays contained in this volume – based upon lectures delivered at the 2016 Roman Forum Summer Symposium on Lake Garda, Italy – the authors assess the impact of Luther’s novel theological and philosophical doctrines on faith, political theory, law, ethics, economics, and science – as well as his role in the devastation of Christendom and the creation in its place of the contemporary secular culture of the West. Acknowledging that the Reformation is not ‘the sole cause of the social problems of modernity’ but rather ‘one major cause in a chain of causes,’ the authors nevertheless make it abundantly clear that there is ‘nothing about Luther and his Protestant rebellion that we should celebrate.’”

This column’s Part II next week will reveal the church’s current need for some reformation and explore more of Martin Luther’s beliefs.

The writer is a retired lawyer living in Martinez


Gene said...

It is a complete toss-up as to which was worse for the Church...the Reformation or Vatican II...and both were caused by Priests.

Anonymous said...

"Formed by his being abused by his parents,..." cannot be the basis, today, for determining why Luther did what he did. Trying to psychoanalyze historical figures is an exercise in speculation and is very susceptible to modern biases and predilections.

Could we do the same about Peter's denial of Christ, Joan of Arc's "voices," or Napoleon's lust for power and territory? Will we find evidence in the weaknesses of their parents to explain their behavior as adults?

Claiming that Luther "appointed himself as a new messiah" isn't, as far as I know, supported by anything Luther wrote or said.

Is it 30,000 Christian denominations or 15,000? I heard both, and everything in between. And, while there are contradictory teachings among the denominations, there are also many, many convergences.

If, in future items, Mr. Rosenthal references the well-known anti-Semitism found in Luther's writings, I hope he will reference the anti-Semitism of the (Catholic) Church Fathers and other ancient Catholics whose attitudes toward the Jews are well known.

Gene said...

I was told by a Priest that, even in Trappist sign language, the sign for Jew is a combination of the signs for crafty and greedy.

Anonymous said...


Saying that Luther's parents miss-treated their son Martin is a fact no one would dispute. It is not psychology it is history. Also, at the time the Fathers commented on the hostile behavior of the Jewish establishment, the Christians were the persecuted minority. No need to inject ideology. If you honestly reflect on the subject article you will have to agree Mr. Rosenthal has his facts pretty much in order. Also, he is writing a defense of the Church in a news paper column not presenting a formal, detailed volume. Modernists liberal "Christians" delight in debasing themselves and the Truth.

Anonymous said...

What Luther's parents did or did not do may - may - or may not be factual as Rosenthal reports. Determining from a distance of more than 500 years that the purported abuse led directly to Luther's actions as an adult is rank speculation. That's long distance psychologizing and it is the weakest of arguments.

The anti-Semitism expressed by the Fathers and other Catholic luminaries lasted long after Christians ceased to be a persecuted minority.

I take no issue with what may be factual in Rosenthal's piece. Much of it is not, however, factual.

Gene said...

Oh, seminary we were treated to Erickson's "The Young Luther." It was roundly dismissed by all the professor's as "psycho-history" or "psycho-biography." Erickson is the least of the "Neo-Freudians," with his watered down version of developmental psychoilogy. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigarette.

Unknown said...

Previous comments suggested Catholic Fathers and luminaries expressed anti-Semitism but no examples were provided (I'm not denying it, but the person making the claim is obligated to provide sources). Also, a person's biases does not (necessarily) translate into infallible teaching.

Luther suffered from scrupulosity, and it certainly played a major role in his theology.

The majority of the article is a well-written and concise apology of the Church; however, there were more than just a few bad popes (unfortunately).

Anonymous said...

"(I'm not denying it, but the person making the claim is obligated to provide sources)."

Ian, do you have a similar expectation regarding the sources of Rosenthal's assertion, "Formed by his being abused by his parents, his confusion about personal sin, lack of trust in God and resulting psychological problems,..."?

Anonymous said...

“The other disease which my tongue is called to cure is the most difficult... And what is the disease? The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews which are soon approaching.” — Saint John Chrysostom (349-407)

"The custom of circumcising the flesh, handed down from Abraham, was given to you as a distinguishing mark, to set you off from other nations and from us Christians. The purpose of this was that you and only you might suffer the afflictions that are now justly yours; that only your land be desolated, and you cities ruined by fire, that the fruits of you land be eaten by strangers before your very eyes; that not one of you be permitted to enter your city of Jerusalem. Your circumcision of the flesh is the only mark by which you can certainly be distinguished from other men…as I stated before it was by reason of your sins and the sins of your fathers that, among other precepts, God imposed upon you the observence of the sabbath as a mark." - Justin Martyr - Dialogue with Trypho (Between 138A.D. and 161 A.D.)

"The synagogue is worse than a brothel…it is the den of scoundrels and the repair of wild beasts…the temple of demons devoted to idolatrous cults…the refuge of brigands and dabauchees, and the cavern of devils. It is a criminal assembly of Jews…a place of meeting for the assassins of Christ… a house worse than a drinking shop…a den of thieves, a house of ill fame, a dwelling of iniquity, the refuge of devils, a gulf and a abyss of perdition."…"I would say the same things about their souls… As for me, I hate the synagogue…I hate the Jews for the same reason." - John Chrysostom (344-407 A.D.)

"How hateful to me are the enemies of your Scripture! How I wish that you would slay them (the Jews) with your two-edged sword, so that there should be none to oppose your word! Gladly would I have them die to themselves and live to you!" - St. Augustine (c. 354-430 A.D.), Confessions, 12.14

(Oddly enough, this passage from Augustine is echoed in the thinking of many present day evangelicals who "love" the Jews and who "love" the State of Israel, but only to the point that the presence of Jews/Israel is a precondition for the Parousia and the destruction of Israel and the eternal damnation of Jews who do not "accept" Jesus as Lord and Saviour.)

"Yes, you Jews. I say, do I address you; you, who till this very day, deny the Son of God. How long, poor wretches, will ye not believe the truth? Truly I doubt whether a Jew can be really human… I lead out from its den a monstrous animal, and show it as a laughing stock in the amphitheater of the world, in the sight of all the people. I bring thee forward, thou Jew, thou brute beast, in the sight of all men." - Peter the Venerable, 1092-1156

Among others.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

What about the things our Lord says of His religion in John's Gospel??????

Anonymous said...

What about those thing our Lord says...?

Notes on the correct way to present the Jews and Judaism
in preaching and catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church

See also Nostra Aetate

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Of course that's rewriting history to be politically correct as necessary as it is.

Anonymous said...

What's "rewriting history"?

TJM said...

Anonymous (Kavanaugh) at 9:07 AM,

Left-wing loons generally re-write history to support their sick agenda.

Anonymous said...

And Rosenthal is wrong about the development of doctrine if, by his statement, he means the expression of a belief cannot be changed, even substantially.

Unknown said...

"Ian, do you have a similar expectation regarding the sources of Rosenthal's assertion, "Formed by his being abused by his parents, his confusion about personal sin, lack of trust in God and resulting psychological problems,..."?"

Yes, I have the same expectation.

And, thanks for the examples I asked for.