Wednesday, September 18, 2013


When Marin Luther had problems with certain books of the New Testament which appeared to contradict the new theology he was developing, he tried to have those particular books removed from the Lutheran version of the Bible.  Wikipedia explains it this way:

“Luther made an attempt to remove the books of Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation from the canon (notably, he perceived them to go against certain Protestant doctrines such as sola gratia and sola fide), but this was not generally accepted among his followers. However, these books are ordered last in the German-language Luther Bible to this day.

"If Luther's negative view of these books were based only upon the fact that their canonicity was disputed in early times, 2 Peter might have been included among them, because this epistle was doubted more than any other in ancient times.  However, the prefaces that Luther affixed to these four books makes it evident ‘that his low view of them was more due to his theological reservations than with any historical investigation of the canon’".  Read more here.

Failing to have the Epistle of James removed, he dubbed it the epistle of straw and invited followers to largely ignore it.  This may seem startling to us today, but it still takes place even within the Catholic Church.  Perhaps not with Scripture but we have our own versions of it.

An excellent example would be the documents of Vatican II.  There are certain ideas about Vatican II, which are very popular and almost ingrained into American Catholic society, that don’t quite stand up to all that VII said.  Readers of the documents are invited to skip over the parts that do not agree with this vision and are told they are in violation of VII documents if they, in fact, are trying to do as the actual documents state.

Here is an example that I told you about some time back.  A friend of mine was having dinner in a restaurant and having just come from a VII workshop, happened to have the documents sitting on the table.  A man came by and invited him to come to his church where they were truly putting the documents into action.  When asked which church this was, the man identified a community that had just broke from the diocese and the bishop and was operating as an independent entity. 

Confused, my friend asked how they could consider themselves more closely following VII documents when so much of them were about being in concert with the local bishop and the pope.  “That’s not in there!” replied the man.  Not only is it in there, but it is a major section of one of the constitutions of the Church.  The man had to admit that they disagreed that part of the document.  A document of straw.

Recently we were going to sing the Gloria in Latin for a short time.  My music minister received a certain amount of flack.  The worst came from persons accusing the parish of betraying VII (which in my estimation is one step short of accusing the parish of schism.)  Pointing out that the constitution of the Church not only states that Latin is the official language of the Church and that it is to preserved, but that every person should know their parts of the Mass in Latin and that steps should be taken in order for this to occur, had no sway. 

Now, if someone were to say they simply didn’t like this idea, I could respect that.  If they said that they, in fact, did not agree with VII documents, I would understand.  But if we cannot assume that all of the writing are guided by the Holy Spirit, no matter how contested they may have been at the time, how can we trust any of the writings of VII?  If we cannot trust the New Testament because certain parts of it might mislead us, how can we trust any of the New Testament?  Are we that lost?

I think not.


lgreen515 said...

Hard to know how we can be a universal church without a universal language.

Anonymous said...

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, a term was used to describe the ability to make others pay no attention to what is plainly in front of them. The term is "Jedi mind trick", but it only worked on the weak-minded. Apparently Luther tried to use it. "Pay no attention to those droids, I mean, books."

Anonymous said...

From experiencing World Youth Day, the one unifying factor for all of the countries present was OUR MASS and the one time we were all able to sing in union, was the Latin parts. Please tell your music minister that the youth say YES.

MaryofSharon said...

@young Anonymous:
A hearty Amen! Believe it or not, there are plenty of us middle-aged folks who also prefer Latin and chant. What many of my peers don't realize is that many young people aren't looking for the Church to be"relevant" or to adapt to the ever-morphing youth culture. In fact, many of you are longing for the timeless and transcendent!

Time to roll out the Latin classes at the St. Sebastian Academy of Culture and Arts! I, for one, much prefer singing a Latin chant or hymn when I know exactly what I'm singing. And I have to think the school-aged kids will think it's pretty cool to be able to sing in an ancient language and understand what they are singing. Sounds like the stuff of a sci-fi movie!

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

While I am at Mass, in that hour I feel more directly linked to the entire Church, past and present, than any other time during the week. The new translation changes were somewhat disconcerting, while the addition of Latin is comforting. Society is misguided in its belief that things must always change as we move forward, as though history is to be discarded in the same way as a worn pair of sneakers.

allroadslead2rome said...

My protestant friends get quite confused when I ask them, "Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone - that's an awful lot of alones, isn't it?" :) And how can they know the canon of Scripture without the Church, the pillar and foundation of Truth, as St. Paul said.

I am a child of Vatican II and feel that a rich Spiritual Patrimony was stolen from me. Instead of sumptuous, beautiful churches, with wondrous marble altars, and lofty music that soared to heaven, we were given the age of philistines and such songs as "ashes".

Pope Benedict, while still Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, said it best, "The Spirit of Vatican II is not the 4th Person of the Most Holy Trinity."