Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Now That's Steamy

Goofing off when I should be working, I ran into Mark Shea's post, "Scott Hahn Revealed to Be the Most Evil Human Being Who Ever Lived," on Randall Paquette's series of four essay on Scott Hahn. Mark Shea pokes fun at the essays' outlandish titles, but I have to say I'm thrilled by Paquette's prose, if not his errors and slovenly research. Still, check this out, from the essay, "The Desire of Scott Hahn":

In the long and weary history of the Church, one testimony remains unaltered: The Lord knoweth them that are His. And should the roll of the “faithful” increase or diminish; should her fortunes ebb or flow; should the warm tracery of sunlight caress her face, or the cold darkness of night press her sore, He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. All great and noble causes; and good and righteous men, have endured traitors, betrayers, and Judases.

Despair and trepidation are for them who are devoid of all hope, and not for those whose help is the Lord. There appears some panic, amongst certain Christians that some notable ones have run to Rome, and with mouths speaking great things, defend her institutions, justify her liturgy, and laud her power. But what of it? Is our cause lost? Shall some now fail to be saved who might have been otherwise? I fear not that the truth shall loose, nor do I fear the truth being lost. In short, I see Christ victorious, and Babylon the Great, cast down. And I see Jesus, with nary a jewel absent from His crown.

Or again:

What will Hahn’s “biblical theology” amount to? He will call upon half-truths, and untruths, to parade themselves as the Word of God. He will spin a few threads of scripture together, and declare that he has fashioned robes fit for his queen. He will attempt to burnish the pyrite of the papal crown, and present Rome’s High Priest as “the sweet ‘king of kings, and lord of lords,’ on earth.” He will defend the devil’s doctrine of celibacy as a holy sacrament of Christianity. Then he will have to pervert, distort, and deny the verity of Christ’s completed propitiation, and pretend to crucify Him afresh upon a myriad of altars by a hoard of priests. In other words, he will offer the world no new thing, but the hoary head of paganism peering out of the temple.

Whew. I have to catch my breath after reading that. Clearly, here is a man who has studied at the feet of Jonathan Edwards and Charles Spurgeon. Never mind our theological disagreements, I'd go to this guy's church just to hear him preach, especially if he has a deep, gravelly voice.

I do, however, hope Paquette changes careers; a man who can write like that should not be wasting his time attacking Scott Hahn. He should instead be writing dirty paperback novels. If this were a penny dreadful about thewy barbarian swordsmen rescuing exotic princesses from slavering cannibal hordes instead of an essay about ex-Protestant Catholic converts, I'm sure I'd be reading it late into the night and singing its praises on the blog.

I believe I will study these essays closely for their style, if not their substance. Let's take a look at a few of the casual errors in that second quoted paragraph:

1.) Rome does not teach that celibacy is a sacrament; actually, it's marriage that Rome teaches is a sacrament. We can give Mr. Paquette a pass on this if he is using the word sacrament in a very broad sense. In that case, if he wants biblical support for the practice of celibacy, he can look first to the words of Christ in Matthew 19.12. It dismays me to see Protestants, who ought to join us in championing self-control and the subjugation of the passions to the intellect, treating something as mundane as celibacy, which everyone has to practice at some point, as something "devilish."

2.) I rather like the way he describes the Mass here. There's something about a "horde of priests" that sounds so much more sinister than merely "a bunch of priests" or "some priests" or "a priest." I suppose I need merely point out that the Church does not "deny the verity of Christ's completed propitiation" or "pretend to crucify Him afresh upon a myriad of altars." Catholics, too, can read Hebrews 9.25ff without blinking. This notion of Christ being crucified repeatedly is a Protestant error, and if Paquette has read the apologist he's discussing, he should have a good basic grasp of this subject.

Paquette commits the other errors of the overwrought Protestant polemicist, most especially confusing infallibility with impeccability, misunderstanding what the pope could define as dogma, and talking as if Catholics think the pope is God. These errors are embarrassing enough I would think more Evangelicals would have gotten over them by now. Some have, of course; there's a fine book by a Baptist called the Primer on Roman Catholicism for Protestants, which I would recommend to Paquette if he ever stumbled upon my blog.

Of course, a big part of Paquette's essay is a certain unspoken doctrine--the doctrine that all Christian doctrine must derive directly from the Bible. Without explicitly stating so, the essay assumes this doctrine is agreed upon by all parties. He mocks the possibility of a Catholic biblical theology because some Catholic doctrines exist--the Assumption being the most obvious--that are not found in scripture. In failing to mention this Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura, which is not held by Catholics, he never clarifies the basis for his rancorous attacks, and since he is attacking the Catholic Church for failing to abide by a doctrine she doesn't teach anyway, his attacks miss the mark. Of course, sola scriptura cannot be found in the Bible either, and therein lies a dilemma.
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