Reformed pulpits today show Erasmus won...
In his Bondage of the Will, Luther opposes the Roman Catholic church's champion Biblical scholar, Erasmus of Rotterdam. In an earlier post, I put up an excerpt from the beginning of Bondage of the Will in which Luther tells his readers he will be making assertions because it's the character of the Christian mind to "delight in assertions."
One longtime Baylyblog reader who is a committed Roman Catholic thought to defend Erasmus here by placing a large quotation from Erasmus immediately under the Luther quote I had posted.
Reading the Erasmus excerpt, it was apparent Erasmus was saying one thing while doing another. The way Erasmus speaks in this excerpt is common among scholars today and, having put those scholars in charge of the training of our future pastors at our denominational seminaries, we've arrived at the place where preachers often are incapable of saying, "Thus says the Lord God Almighty."
Pastors preach for the approval of the lowest common denominator, scholars and the professional and chattering classes they manufacture, rather than the farmers, truckers, and coal miners who used to be Presbyterian but long ago left for Baptist and Pentecostal churches...You may not buy my sociology, but surely reading this excerpt from Erasmus will lead you to admit that the heirs of the Reformation have decided against Luther and have taken on the method and manner of Erasmus of Rotterdam. Reformed sermons scratch in the direction of scholars' itches. Reformed seminaries turn out geldings who lack faith, firmness of conviction, helpfulness of application, and manliness of method. Preferring the approval of their seminary profs and the wives of the doctors and lawyers on their sessions to the approval of God, they have suffered the abandonment of the Holy Spirit.
As you may imagine, it was dirty work having to write this commentary pointing out the essential dishonestly of most everything Erasmus wrote. Nevertheless, I've seen way too much of this sort of preening by proud men claiming to be the only true keepers of irenicism and compassion, and I thought I might do well to warn others from ceding more territory within the church to these repulsive Uriah Heeps. (TB)
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>>So let us pursue the matter without recrimination, because this is more fitting for Christian men
Luther didn't get the memo. Neither did the Apostle Paul, Jesus, John the Baptist, or any of God's prophets.
In point of fact, though, Erasmus didn't get the memo either. He could simply have proceeded "without recrimination" without telling us he was proceeding "without recrimination" and going on to say those who engage in recrimination are inferior Christian men.
Why does Erasmus engage in recriminations against others, tearing them down for their technique and preening himself over his own? It seems so needlessly hurtful for Erasmus to argue in this way. So proud. Don't we all wish Erasmus had been around to teach Jesus a better way to engage the Pharisees than berating them with His woes? Think of what kind of gentleman Jesus might have become had Erasmus been there to teach Him ways of speaking "more fitting for Christian men."
>>To be sure, I know that I was not built for wrestling matches: there is surely nobody less practiced in this kind of thing than I, who have always had an inner temperamental horror of fighting, and who have always preferred to sport in the wider plains of the Muses rather than to brandish a sword in a hand-to-hand fight.
Oh yes, don't we all pity poor Erasmus with all the force of the Holy Roman Empire behind him having to cross swords with scary, big bad Martin Luther who, himself, has only Frederick the Elector of Saxony standing between him and execution?
There Erasmus is whining about how much he wishes he didn't have to argue--it's so ungentlemanly and rude and scary, even--and he's so timid and weak and fearful. Don't you pity him? All he has is the Pope and all his minions to defend him. Poor pitiable Erasmus.
The Whore of Babylon is selling salvation across Europe and poor Erasmus thinks it's a time for subtlety and nuance and pleading weakness and fear and timidity. And there's big bad Martin Luther being the schoolyard bully over insignificant things.
And the Whore of Babylon is selling salvation across Europe to pay Michelangelo's wages for painting the Sistine Chapel.
>>...I prefer this disposition of mine to that with which I see some people endowed who are so uncontrollably attached to their own opinion that they cannot bear anything which dissents from it; but they twist whatever they read in the Scriptures into an assertion of an opinion which they have embraced once for all.
He does such a fine job of showing us the excellencies of a Christian gentleman, doesn't he? See how he avoids recriminations!
His opponents--he'd prefer to call them interlocutors, actually, but they won't allow it--are "uncontrollably attached to their own opinions," Erasmus says. Is there any man alive who wouldn't see he'd been slapped in the face on a very personal level when he argued from the plain text of Scripture and his opponent responded by attacking and accusing and denouncing him as being in an out-of-control bondage to his own mere opinions--certainly not to any exterior authority, least of all the Word of God?
One wonders if Erasmus is capable of arguing without simply engaging in recrimination against his opponent? I mean really.
>>They are like young men who love a girl so immoderately that they imagine they see their beloved wherever they turn, or, a much better example, like two combatants who, in the heat of a quarrel, turn whatever is at hand into a missile, whether it be a jug or a dish. I ask you, what sort of sincere judgment can there be when people behave in this way?
Don't you just love how calm and objective and to the point Erasmus' arguments are, never stooping to ad hominem or recrimination?
Young men in love with girls--there's a dignified image showing Erasmus' deep respect for Luther and the Reformers.
Or failing that, how about the image of two combatants in the heat of a quarrel? Isn't that dignified? Doesn't it show Erasmus' equanimity in this debate--that he likens his opponents to men who have escalated their quarrel into physical combat?
>>Who will learn anything fruitful from this sort of discussion -– beyond the fact that each leaves the encounter bespattered with the other’s filth?
So here is Erasmus accusing Luther of running around splattering his opponents with his own... What. Poop? Excrement? Shit?
Isn't it wonderful to observe the great care the Holy Roman Empire's humanist uses in avoiding recriminations?
>>There will always be many such, whom the apostle Peter describes as “ignorant and unstable who twist the Scriptures to their own destruction.”
Wonderful, isn't it, that this particular recrimination could be cited from the mouth of the Apostle Peter? But of course, here the Apostle Peter wasn't talking about that one man standing alone and God help him, was he?
>>As far as I am concerned, I admit that many different views about free choice have been handed down from the ancients about which I have, as yet, no fixed conviction, except that I think there to be a certain power of free choice.
Yes, yes; effete intellectuals are always in process, aren't they? And they expect that simple pronouncment (of them being in process) to commend them to their readers as men of sound judgment.
Why? Well because of their great humility, don't you see? Only proud men allow themselves to arrive at assertions and conclusions. Take Jesus, for instance: "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." And "no man may come to me unless the Father draws him." And so on and so on and so on throughout the Word of God.
But here's humble Erasmus, in process on the matter, reserving judgment for a later date, meanwhile arguing and recriminating against that pathetic monk under the mighty Roman Empire's death sentence who is in such bondage to his own uncontrollable personal opinions that he's throwing his excrement on his opponents.
>>For I have read the Assertion of Martin Luther, and read it without prejudice, except that I have assumed a certain favor toward him, as an investigator may toward an arraigned prisoner.
Aha. The truth escapes him, doesn't it? He isn't, in fact, the weakling over in the corner of the playground being hammered by the big mean bully. Rather, he is the prosecutor with all the force of the Papacy behind him threatening death against its prisoner, Martin Luther.
Funny how this Erasmus goes so quickly from being a victim of a bully to the prosecutor listening to the captive. At one time pleading weakness suits him, but just a few words later institutional power suits him. My this man is changeable!
>>If anybody ascribes this to my slowness or inexperience, I shall not quarrel with him, provided they allow us slower ones the privilege of learning by meeting those who have received the gift of God in fuller measure, especially since Luther attributes very little importance to scholarship, and most of all to the Spirit, who is wont to instill into the more humble what he denies to the wise.
Ah yes, such masterful avoidance of recrimination as befits a humanist, a Christian man; indeed, to reach the highest level, a gentleman and a scholar.
>> if I grant to Luther in this Disputation that he be not weighed down by the prejudgments of doctors, councils, universities, popes, and of the emperor,
There he goes again. Timid and not-made-for-fighting Erasmus, piteous Erasmus, trembling before big bad Martin Luther while reminding everyone watching that he speaks for doctors and councils and universities and popes and the emperor.
So which is it, Erasmus? Are you weak or powerful? Is Luther a bully or a gnat? Why can't you make up your mind? You flit back and forth as if we, your humble readers, can remember from one moment to the next whether you are oppressed or the oppressor? Bullied or the bully? Timid or firm?
>>I would willingly persuade the man in the street that in this kind of discussion it is better not to enforce contentions which may the sooner harm Christian concord than advance true religion.
Oh yes, the eminent scholar, Erasmus, is the defender of Christian concord while Rome sells salvation in order to pay for Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. The religious masters across all Europe are claiming to sell salvation, thereby leading the masses to Hell, and Erasmus believes it's time to avoid contentions and work hard to protect this whole state of affairs he has the audacity to label, "Christian concord" and the advancement of true religion.
And our dear Roman Catholic reader is so blinded as to think this excerpt will commend both Erasmus and the Whore of Babylon to Baylyblog readers.
Boggles my mind. Erasmus may well be the perfect example of crying "peace, peace" when there was no peace.