Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Fourth Rebuttal to "A House Divided" & Ivan's Response

Rebuttal by Edward N. Haas on a Catholic Forum

"Well, Johnny Blackpool, famous adventurer, I briefly consulted your blog. It causes me seriously to doubt you have any inclination toward joining the Catholic Church. I think you are merely using that line as a come-on to entice the guillible into your web -- a web in which you hope you can then "reason" them into quitting their Catholic affiliation. One ought not to waste one's time trying to debate with someone like yourself; but, since I'm looking for an excuse to delay cutting a quarter acre of grass and bushhoging 9 acres of weeds, I'll bother to go a brief round with you, little spider, in your web.
If you consult the second chapter of St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, he tells us faith should be founded on seeing a demonstration of the power of God, and warns us against this business of trying to found one's faith on what, in the original Greek, he calls "sophia". This is generally translated as "wisdom"; but the Greek word "sophia" was also used by the Greeks of that day to signify shrewdness, cunning, and craftiness. As you can perhaps see for yourself, the Greek word "sophia" is the root source for the English word "sophistry", and we all know what kind of verbal rigmarole that implies. Thus, what St. Paul is here telling us is this: Faith is not to be founed on an elaborate series of clever, dialectical arguments such as people like you relish in setting forth at great length in books or blogs or what have you; rather, faith is to be founded on the simple act of staring into the face of a what obviously bespeaks divine support.
Therefore, wherever one is truly a Catholic, one's faith is not based upon an elaborate display of verbal gymnastics; rather, it is based upon seeing what obviously says: Such a level of success could not possibly be, unless God is behind it. Incarnate God Himself promotes this principle when, in verses 24 thru 27 of chapter 7 of St. Matthew's Gospel, He tells us how only an edifice built on His word can endure best of all. He again promotes this same principle when, in Matt. 13:31, Mark 4:31, and Luke 13:19, He assures us the kingdom of heaven starts as the smallest of seeds but grows to be the LARGEST of shurbs --- so large it becomes a tree.
Now then, as even the bitterest of its enemies readily admit, Catholic Doctrine has built far, far more effectively than has any other ideology known to history (One group of zealots incessantly thunders that this outstandingly outstanding succees is what proves the Catholic Church is the work of the devil.). It has built by far the largest world-class, centrally organized institution in history and the only such institution to survive for 2,000 years. That it has done despite the fact that the institution it's built (i.e.: the Catholic Church) is also the most violently and persistently attacked institution in history. The military and intellectual assaults upon the Catholic Church are legion, and the number of its martyrs boggles the mind. For all of that, the institution built by Catholic Doctrine thrives far, far more effectively than does any other institution known to history. Past versions of France, England, Germany, and Italy have all tried to destroy the Vatican and to put an end to the Papacy. The Papacy, though, remains a sovereign state, and the France, England, Germany, and Italy which tried to crush it are gone with the wind. Shades of Luke 20:18!
Like so many others, you seem to think that, by listing the foibles of this or that pope or what have you, you make points against Catholic Doctrine's claim to be THE mouthpiece of God. I'm surprised you didn't mention Galatians 2: 11 in which St. Paul recounts how he had to correct St. Peter on a point of doctrine. I'm surprised you didn't mention Pope John XXII who had to be corrected by the king of France on a point of doctrine. Contrary to what you apparently think, you do not, in listing all these foibles, make points AGAINST Catholic Doctrine's claim. On the contrary, you UPHOLD its claim. For, the more you run into the ground those responsible for spreading Catholic Doctrine, the more you exalt the power of the Catholic Doctrine able to overcome such handicaps and, in spite of the Catholics, to thrive far, far more effectively than does any other doctrine. Sixteen hundred years ago, St. John Chrysostom alluded to this principle when he at least effectively said this: If you look at the success of Catholic Doctrine and then look at how pitiful are those charged with spreading that doctrine, it's all too obvious that the latter are much too incompetent to produce the former; and so, the success of the former plainly tells you that it must be God who has done this. Yes, God works thru the incompetent in order that, when great success follows anyhow, it may be obvious that it is God who is responsible for the success. Look at the wretchedness of all too many Catholic popes, bishops, priests, religious, and laity, and it is all too obvious that Catholic Doctrine's outstanding success can't be their doing and, so, is clearly and unequivocally God's doing. Thus is one face to face with what bespeaks divine support, and thus is one presented with faith based upon seeing a demonstration of the power of God rather than upon the long, drawn-out dialetcial, lawyer-like arguments of Johnny Blackpool and company.
Because of the scale on which it has obviously built, Catholic Doctrine's claim to be THE revealed word of God is the most substantiated claim ever given to the human race. That, then, is the basis upon which I rest my unshakably fearless conviction that, in Catholic Doctrine's testimony, I have found what is, by very, very far, the most reliable testimony there is, namely: THE TESTIMONY OF INFINITELY INFORMED GOD. This is the 73 year old, white bachelor, Edward N. Haas, financially independent by birth, and living and writing up a storm (17 self-published books in print) in the middle of 27 inherited acres at 39193 Haas Road in Haaswood, La."

Note by Ivan: Mr. Haas has provided a website you can visit at this link .

"Edward N. Haas here again. Add this to my prior reply. It's from pg. 42
of the Catholic Cathechism. It's also designated as paragraph 156. Here,
then, is how the Catholic Cathecism expresses and affirms what I said in
my prior posting:
So 'that the submission of our faith might nevertheless be in accordance
with reason, God willed that external proofs of his Revelation should be
joined to the internal helps of the Holy Spirit.' Thus the miracles of
Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church's growth and holiness, and
her fruitfulness and stability 'are the most certain signs of divine
Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all'; they are 'motives of
credibility' (motiva credibilitatis), which show that the assent of
faith is 'by no means a blind impulse of the mind.'
Even as some saw Jesus raise the dead, they turned away from the obvious
demonstration of the power of God and chose, instead, to cling to a bit
of mental gymnastics using scripture as its source of power: "Scripture
speaks of no prophet coming from Galilee. But, this man comes from
Galilee; therefore, this man is no prophet . Furthermore, this man's
acts contradict scripture when he heals on the Sabbath. But, no man of
God contradicts scripture; therefore, this man is not from God.
Therefore, we shall not believe no matter how many people he raises from
the dead. Not even if he himself rises from the dead! For, we can prove
by logical arguments drawn from scripture that he cannot be a man of God
no matter what." No matter how powerful the demonstration of Divine
support, some always have preferred, and always will prefer, the
inferences produced by the complex gyrations of their own minds ---
particularly those inferences seeming to feed off of scripture. For
them, no miracle means anything, until one can thoroughly explode every
one of the adverse inferences which their mental gymnastics can produce.
And what good does it do to explode every one of their adverse
inferences? For, if you convert them that way, then they'll wind up with
a faith based on "logic" rather than on seeing the power of God
demonstrated. Such faith shall not endure. For, somewhere down the line
they'll come upon some new bit of mental gymnastics which shall
instantly destroy their faith, unless and until, they or someone else
can explode the new inferences produced by this latest bit of mental
gymnastics. Show me, then, a man with a catalogue of inductions and
deductions which must be exploded before he can believe, and I'll show
you a man who --- as long as that is his attitude -- is inherently
incapable of GENUINE faith, which is to say faith based upon SEEING THE

Ivan's Response to Mr. Haas' Rebuttal
Mr. Haas,

you bring up many good points, and i think you bring up something that i really did overlook: that we are not saved by sophia, but by the demonstration of the power of God. and clearly the power of the R.C. Church and its ability to endure for so long do show that God's grace is with it. I don't contest that and it's something I shouldn't overlook any longer (also, if it's alright with you, i'd like to put your response up - and this answer - on my blog, as it was a very good one).

i do still have a couple of questions, though. while you stated that my "real" goal is to entice catholics into my web & suck the life out of 'em (not your exact words, but i like my description better), i assure you it's not. i think if their faith is genuine and the work God is doing in their lives is genuine as well, then they should stay put. i'm only asking, why should I convert to catholicism from my current tradition (Baptist)?

and maybe a little of my personal background would help you understand why it's even an issue for me. I am a Christian and i love God with everything i am. But i felt a call to the ministry and in my study of the Church, what she teaches and her history i became convinced of the importance for unity in the Body of Christ (that this is Jesus' desire during his last prayers in John 17:20-21 is clear). in fact, because Jesus prays so fervently for unity not just for his immediate disciples, but for all "those who will believe in [Jesus] through their word;" and this became my passion.

unlike a lot of other Baptist pastors, i'm not content to see the Church split in a million pieces. i think it would show a hard heart if i were. and so that left me looking at the largest Communion of Christians, with clear apostolic succession and continuity, and left me wondering whether i should convert. but that also left me looking at all these issues of doctrine (for instance "required celibacy," i have a wife & son and that would preclude me from R.C. priesthood, but not priestood in any of the other denominations). it also made me seriously consider the actions of the Church over the ages, as James makes it clear our actions are the sole evidence of our faith and Jesus states in John that our love for one another is the standard by which others will judge the truths that we speak.

but when we look at the history of the Church (and not just on the R.C. side, but on the Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant sides as well), we see a lot of inward strife, hatred and political machinations against fellow brothers and sisters. because of all this (and the doctrinal issues that seem to contradict scripture), i ask myself "Do I need to join the Roman Catholic Church to be fully in communion with God's people?"

Can I be just as fully in communion if I become Eastern Ortothodx (as they also have a chair of Peter in the bishopric of Antioch and exhibit the same ancient apostolic succession as the R.C. Church, as does the Oriental Orthodox communion)? Or if I become a Pentecostal preacher? You said to judge by the demonstration of God's power. They still speak in tongues, prophecy and cast out demons. In fact, they're the fastest growing Christian communion (especially in areas where the Church is heavily persecuted). We can't ignore their claims either.

I want to know what makes the Roman Catholic claims unique in the face of all this? i don't think the answer is to pull a Joseph Smith and start my own religion (what a mess that would be!). but i'm also not convinced that i or anyone else needs to join the R.C. Church or that the Roman communion holds the title of One True Church solely within her institution. but if we are to become unified as the people of God, how should we tackle these issues? by the way, i for one think this exact dialogue is a great first step; but we must have dialogue, ministerial cooperation, and dogmatic decision bottom-up (through regular believers) as well as top-down (through the hierarchy).

And since Mr. Haas was kind enough to submit his real name, here's mine:

Ian Hyde, Pasadena CA (though everybody calls me "Ivan").

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