Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Perpiscuity of Scripture 1524


But now comes the objection, ‘What need of an interpreter, when Scripture is perfectly clear?’ If it is so clear, why have such distinguished men throughout so many centuries been blind, precisely in a matter of such importance, as Luther and his adherents want us to see it? If there is nothing obscure in Scripture, what need was there for prophecy in the apostles’ time? [1 Cor 12:28]. . . But let us grant, as indeed we must, the possibility that the spirit may reveal to some humble, unlearned individual what he has not revealed to many learned men . . . Yet if Paul, in his own age, when this gift of the spirit was flourishing, orders spirits to be tested whether they are of God [1 Cor 12:3; cf. 1 Jn 4:1], what ought we to do in this carnal age? And so, how shall we test the spirits? By learning? There are scholars on both sides. By behaviour? On both sides there are sinners . . . ‘What help in knowing the Spirit are a great many men?’ my opponents ask. ‘What help are a very few?’ I reply. . . . They ask, ‘In understanding the Scriptures, what use is an assembled synod, in which it may happen that no one has the Spirit?’ I reply, ‘What use are small private assemblies, where it is more probable that there is no one who has the Spirit?’ . . . People did not believe the apostles unless miracles had strengthened belief in their teaching. Nowadays anyone and everyone demands to be believed because he asserts that he has the evangelical spirit. . . . If, in the event of some disagreement over the meaning of Scripture, we quote the interpretation of the ancient orthodox authorities, they immediately sing out, ‘But they were only men.’ If asked by what means we can know what the true interpretation of Scripture is, seing that there are ‘only men’ on both sides, they reply, ‘By a sign from the Spirit.’ If you ask why the Spirit should be absent from those men, some of whom have been world-famous for their miracles, rather than from themselves, they reply as though there had been no gospel in the world these thirteen hundred years. If you demand of them a life worthy of the Spirit, they reply that they are justified by faith, not works. If you ask for miracles, they say that miracles have long ceased, and that there is no need of them now that the Scriptures are so clear. And if you then say that Scripture is not clear on this point, on which so many eminent men have apparently been blind, the circle is complete.

("Diatribe on Free Will" [1524], from: "Collected Works of Erasmus," Vol. 76: "Controversies", edited by Charles Trinkaus; translated by Peter Macardle and Clarence H. Miller; University of Toronto Press, 1999, pp. 17-19)

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Blogger Magister Christianus said...

Wow. I did not know Erasmus had a time machine and traveled to 21st century America where these very arguments are still put forth!

December 16, 2011 9:20 PM  
Anonymous russ said...

Yeah Magister, same stuff, different day!
Seriously though, Erasmus was no friend of the Church and quite a critic for a time. The Counter- reformation said that Erasmus "laid the egg that hatched the rebellion."
That being said however, he parted ways with Luther when it came to schism and knew that leaving the Church of the apostles was just plain wrong.
He recognized the fallacy of perpiscuity so early on in the reformation. Saint Vincent of Lerins also spoke of the same thing regarding those who would take scripture apart and attempt to interpret it outside the magisterial protection guided by the Holy Spirit. (and he was many centuries before Luther and Erasmus)

December 16, 2011 9:42 PM  

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