“ . . . the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” __ Tim. 3:15
Douglas has been reproducing some of Luther’s writings here that are interesting but without substance for any Catholic who might read them . . . though there is often some rather good nuggets to be found here and there which cause no conflict in belief. He often speaks of works and faith alone etc. as one would expect but ignores the elephants that still run rampant in the room. Today he speaks of trees and good fruit, from cherry picked verses of Scripture, which he couldn’t have done unless it were by the providence of God. He must rely on the fact that these quotes were included in the Canon of Scripture by the One Church that was created by Christ and to Whom He sent His Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, to protect. Indeed, the Scriptures do not tell us that they are the Scriptures; His Church did. It is provident that within our Scriptures we read that the Church (not Scripture is the pillar and ground of Truth). And that the Truth is Christ.
So if we are to speak of trees and fruit it seems that it might be propitious to speak of the Tree of Life that is the Mystical Body of the Church and produces the saints that are its most prized fruit. It is true that there are more sinners and poor fruit at times than we find good fruit and no institution or Church can claim anything different. Men have lost the preternatural gifts of Adam after the fall and so we all are born with concupiscence and many fight with it and win (good fruit) and many more fight with this tendency and lose the battle (bad fruit). Faith can take root or faith can be planted in poor soil and not take root; also a parable of Christ’s.
I could go on and write of many aspects concerning this problem with those who are of good will and those of ill will but all of it hinges on how we view authority and its use and how it came to possess such authority; for Luther and others write as if they were given such authority and yet even by their own pen they do not claim such (as neither do the writers of Scripture). God did not come down and publicly yank the the keys from the hands of the Pope and the Church and ceremoniously deliver them over to Luther, Calvin or anyone else for that matter. In fact Luther and Calvin were at odds as to what should be considered Scripture. All they really knew was that they disagreed with the Church. For these men to have true authority then they would have to show either immediate authority (that of God) or mediate authority (invested by God). They can claim neither but the Church, obviously can; by the giving of the keys to bind and loose and by the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost it is clearly seen that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is God-sent to His Church and that we would not be left as orphans. We may make a mess of things and even break our vows given to Him but He is faithful and will do that which He has promised.
In this case let us then make an assumption that this Church which Christ founded is a tree (or vine) with fruit per the metaphor made by St. Paul in Romans regarding the Jews and Christians. It would then make sense that at times, due to situations that might arise in His Church, that we have more and deeper rooted corruption and bad fruit among us at some particular time than we do good. God benevolently allows storms and ill winds, such as the ‘reformation’, to prune the dead and rotten wood from the branches. It will not rid the tree of all of them but God does bring good from evil. An interesting side note to the reformation is the appearance of Our Lady of Guadeloupe that brought forth more Catholic converts of good will than we lost in Europe during this crisis.
Now these storms and ill winds are an evil. However God can use them to help foster a great good . . . and such was the aftermath of the reformation; not least among these goods was the Council of Trent. But I would certainly stop short of declaring the storms and ill winds as positive goods on their own. But they can simply be made use of for the betterment of the Church.
However, if the Church is like a tree, Luther is like a man who is sitting on a branch and sawing himself off this tree while proclaiming that his branch has now become the real tree; although the tree remains and God continues to prune and water it as He has for over 2000 years. He has cut off his nose to spite his face. For where is the Truth to be found even among the wheat and the tares?
Truth is found where Scripture proclaims that it is found; in the Church. If God created a new Church then where is the public sign of God and His blessing on such an endeavor? It does not exist and therefore the authority that is self-proclaimed has no roots and is connected as by a dotted line back to its partial acceptance of what it got from the Tree which was abandoned; namely, the Scriptures were delivered to mankind by this Church around A.D. 400. But even then, Luther felt impelled to despoil even the deposit of the scriptures by declaring some of them to not be worthy of being in the Bible. Once again, where is his authority for this? Other things he kept as well but the key is that they are no longer part of the living tree but part of the limb that lies in its shade. Can God bring good from evil? Absolutely. Does God save people who are invincibly ignorant? Yes, of course.
But if it is easier for the Jews to be grafted back onto the vine (or tree) wouldn’t it be nice if the branch that Luther willingly clung to and to which he willingly pruned away, make an effort to once again unite itself to the living Tree that Christ planted, and watered with His own blood and then supplied with an attendant that was nothing short of the Spirit of the Living God Himself? Christ’s prayer for unity should make us all ashamed. We have enough in common that such an endeavor should be possible. I know it is easy to quit but much harder to return and to show the humility of the prodigal son, but with God all things are possible.
It seems to me that the question of true authority is the question that seems to never go away. Authority is always either immediate or mediate and we find mediate authority given only to the Church . . . which told us that the Scriptures were without doctrinal or moral error. What is preventing this reunion then other than pride and self-appointed authority?