Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lies, damned lies and political ads

Here's what the Louisiana Democratic Party wants North Louisiana Protestants to think gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal said:

HERE'S WHAT JINDAL really wrote in the New Oxford Review:

Just as C.S. Lewis removed any room for comfortable opposition to Jesus by identifying Him as either "Lord, liar, or lunatic," so the Catholic Church leaves little room for complacent opposition to her doctrines. Without inflating the issues that separate Catholics from Protestants, for we do worship the same Trinitarian God who died for our sins, I want to refute the notion that Catholicism is merely another denomination with no more merit than any other.

The Reformers who left the Catholic Church rejected, to varying degrees, five beliefs which continue to be upheld by the Catholic Church. The Church claims that these points are found in Scripture, and they have been consistently and clearly taught throughout the Church's history. I will support the Church's claims here.

(1) SCRIPTURE AND TRADITION: Is sola scriptura (the Bible alone) a sufficient basis for the modern Christian to understand God's will?

The Bible does not contain either the claim that it is comprehensive or a listing of its contents, but does describe how it should be used. Scripture and Tradition, not the Bible alone, transmit God's revelation. Tradition is reflected in the Church's authority to interpret Scripture.

+ The meaning of Scripture is not self-evident. One cannot discern its intended meaning through prayerful reading alone, for Scripture is "hard to understand" and individual misinterpretation can lead "to our own destruction" (2 Pet. 3:15-6; see also Acts 8:30-34). The Holy Spirit's guidance, acting through the Church, "the pillar and foundation of truth" (1 Tim. 3:15), is necessary to avoid error since "there is no prophecy of Scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation" (2 Pet. 1:20; see also Mt. 18:17; 1 Tim. 6:3; Rev. 2:17). It is nearly impossible to derive the orthodox understanding of the Trinity, and other teachings which were disputed in the early Christian community, from Scripture alone without recourse to Church teachings. Sincerely motivated Christians studying the same texts have disagreed on the fundamentals of the faith, thereby dividing not only Protestants from Catholics, but also particular Protestant denominations from each other. Post-Reformation history does not reflect the unity and harmony of the "one flock" instituted by Christ (Jn. 10:16; see also Jn. 17:11, 17:21-23; Acts 4:32; Eph. 4:3-6, 4:13; Rom. 12:5, 16:17-18; 1 Cor. 1:10-11, 3:4, 12:12-13; Phil. 1:27, 2:2), but rather a scandalous series of divisions and new denominations, including some that can hardly be called Christian. Yet Christ would not have demanded unity without providing the necessary leadership to maintain it. The same Catholic Church which infallibly determined the canon of the Bible must be trusted to interpret her handiwork; the alternative is to trust individual Christians, burdened with, as Calvin termed it, their "utterly depraved" minds, to overcome their tendency to rationalize, their selfish desires, and other effects of original sin. The choice is between Catholicism's authoritative Magisterium and subjective interpretation which leads to anarchy and heresy. All churches follow their own traditions, but the Catholic Church claims a continuous link to the oral tradition which preceded and formed the canon of Scripture, the same apostolic (Acts 2:42) Tradition St. Paul commanded us to abide by (2 Thess. 2:15; 2 Tim. 2:2).
WHAT JINDAL WAS DOING was using Reformation figure John Calvin's own arguments (and his own words, i.e. "utterly depraved") to make a case for why there needs to be one authoritative body -- the Catholic Church -- in charge of interpreting sacred scripture and codifying Christian doctrine.

And, by the way, Calvin thought we were all utterly depraved, Catholics and Protestants alike. As a Catholic, I think Calvin overstates the case with the word "utterly," but there is some sliver of truth in his position concerning The Fall -- here's what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about man's fall from grace and original sin.*

You might not agree with Jindal -- and Christians not agreeing with one another is why we have something like 20,000 or 30,000 different Christian denominations today -- but you can hardly say the man was hurling epithets here.

And shame on Louisiana Democrats for resorting to a level of demagoguery and distortion that's . . . well . . . about par for the course for the state party machinery.

Really, if the state's Democrats are that bereft of electable candidates and that wanting for serious political argumentation -- and there's much fodder for such argumentation if they could demonstrate that Jindal intended to govern as a Bush-Rove Republican -- they just need to quit insulting American democracy, quit wasting their donors' money and go home.

THE DEMOCRATS' REAL PROBLEM isn't that Jindal has bad ideas, it's that they have no ideas. And no candidates for governor who promise to be half as competent and/or corruption-free as Jindal does.

And they have no credibility left. Sigh.

Here's the Catechism paragraph that most directly deals with Calvin's idea of the "utter depravity" of man:

Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it; subject to ignorance, suffering, and the dominion of death; and inclined to sin—an inclination to evil that is called "concupiscence." Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back toward God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for placing the whole article here for us to read. Its just too bad the Liberal Dems can't read. Maybe the article could be made into a comic book format for them.