Filthie's Mobile Fortress Of Solitude

Filthie's Mobile Fortress Of Solitude
Where Great Intelligence Goes To Be Insulted

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Making Every Man "His Own Pope..."

I am a big fan of our Friendly Neighbourhood Z Man. If the true measure of a man's intellect is by how much he agrees with you - then Z is a winner hands down. He argues his points as a rational adult should: "here is my work, this is the thought process by which I arrived at my opinion, and this is why I disagree with your opinion..." but he does it in a funny and witty way too. In a recent article he made some comments about Martin Luther that truly baffled me:

"The Church had its corruption, which is true of all man made things. The egalitarian ethos within Protestantism is a lethal defect that cannot be corrected. You can clean up the corruption of hierarchy, but the only way to fix the entrepreneurial novelty that comes with solo scriptura is with the return of hierarchy.

Luther is one of history’s great monsters."

What? Oh, and...

Again, you are confusing corruption with an intrinsic quality. The leveling effect of making every man his own Pope must lead to a proliferation of increasingly bizarre formulations. It is why what passes from Christianity today is a million guys like David French professing his own boutique religion he claims is Christianity.

I’m not saying we need to return to Catholicism. I’m simply pointing out that the same cancer that destroyed Christianity is destroying the West and that radical Protestantism should get most of the blame.

Awhile back, I went to a bible study with the wife and they were looking at Martin Luther. The short version of the story I have was that the church was shot through with corruption (as it still is today, IMHO) - and Luther challenged it by publishing the scriptures that clearly forbade such behaviours, and he made it public with the newly invented printing press. And of course, he was instrumental in putting the bible into the hands of everyone that could read.

Putting a bible in your hands does not make you the Pope. If it did I wouldn't touch the thing. The printing press and wide availability of bibles does not make people their own pope any more than the internet makes the Z Man his own prime minister or POTUS.

Am I missing something here? I am an outhouse christian at best and maybe there is some element of this that I am misunderstanding? I don't know much about catholics other than I disagree with a lot of their theological assumptions and practices which is okay - because they'd no doubt disagree with mine.

There's a couple things going on here, now that I think of it. I see the NRx guys do this all the time and even some of the Manosphere types: they'll take an historical event that I may or may not have passing knowledge of, an element of the bible or a verse out of it - and use the two to support whatever argument they are making. I don't know enough about history or the bible to understand how it supports their point and stay quiet.

In this case I know enough about Martin Luther to be dangerous and that's it. If any of you can shed some light on this... feel free to chime in. I'd appreciate it and would like any background you might be willing to share.


  1. Well...

    The way to study the Bible is to read it and determine what the Scripture is talking about; not the other way 'round. Two common errors that I encounter most often are the relating of an event that's not quite correct, in that several parts of the event are omitted.

    In Scripture, it's generally taking something out of context. For instance:

    Our Pastor gave a series of sermons about Lot (his wife is a bit more famous than he is), and how Lot was the Lord's problem child, emphasizing that Lot lived in a city with a sinful population, and so was always up to no good - why would he live there otherwise? The Pastor makes a good case for this, (Genesis 19, etc.) except that the Pastor neglects to mention that Lot appears in other books of the Bible, notably 2 Peter 2:6-8, where it describes Lot as Righteous. Keep that in mind while you read about Lot in Genesis.

    The Bereans would go to Church services, then go home and read the Scripture over so as to decide if it had been taught correctly. Not many people do anything like this today.

    Rambling right along, it's easy to find an obscure historical reference or two that will support your argument, whatever that may be. I can't find the z-man's missive that you're referring to, but he's stating the obvious; no matter the organization, corruption will be found in it. If the organization is hierarchical, this corruption can be fixed by eliminating the hierarchy. He neatly fails to mention that people are corrupt, some more than others, and when the hierarchy is eliminated the vacuum will fill with people, who by definition are corrupt.

    Z wants to blame radical Protestantism for the whole business of corruption. He neglects to mention that religious attendance in general is down. Also, and maybe more to the point, Protestant Churches don't promote the kind of vice that's causing the problems in our countries.

  2. From the Catholic perspective, ML's heresy was to deny Jesus literally meant the Bread of Life discourse in John 6. Furthermore, he denied the Keys to the Kingdom in Matthew 16 and the bound/unbound which appears in Matthew before the crucifixion and in John afterward...suggesting two different events. He also threw James' discourse on works into the ditch.

    So the issue of ML is not that he wanted to follow the Bible but that he was selective in what he put in and wanted to leave out. As Moses said in Deut 4 "Add nothing. Take nothing out"

    Your mileage will vary.


  4. What’s the consensus on Anne? I had to stop reading her because she makes my head hurt…

  5. I've spent forty years in the study of scripture in and out of college. My knowledge and understanding are barely scratching the surface of what is available. One of the best explainers of ML and the Reformation is Dr R C Sproul. I learned that ML wanted to reform the Catholic church not replace it. He saw rampant sexual perversion in Rome on his pilgrimage. After crawling up the steps on his knees his thought was "who knows if this did anything." There was a cleric selling indulgences for sin in the next country over. Tetzel's cry was "As soon as the gold in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs!" The money collected was used to finish construction of the St. Peter's Basilica. He saw all this and as he was reading scripture he understood that we can KNOW we are in Christ. And he was transformed.

    The problem with Protestantism is the lack of scriptural training. Major Ian Thomas addressed this with the Caperwray Fellowship which I was privileged to attend in 82-83. Like Ranger school, we took our training back to our churches and lives and passed on what we learned. One doesn't become a scholar overnight. And novice leaders are warned against in scripture. The bar is set high, and it's not being followed to this day.

    ML was a Catholic through and through. He had the mind of a skilled lawyer. He wasn't a rebel, he was a Biblical scholar correctly applying the Word to what he saw. But what he addressed by the custom of the day by nailing those theses on the door at Wittenburg, set a fire loose. And like any protest movement, excesses were and are being made. I agree that a hierarchy is good. But I witnessed one first hand that ran church like a business. When major donors that were unworthy of leadership quit coming, the district was upset because DONATIONS WERE DOWN!!!! After those folks left, the mood of the church improved, people were reading and studying like never before and young folks were finding Jesus as Saviour. Exactly like it was supposed to happen. And they killed the church because it wasn't profitable. I'm glad I left when they showed their hand, before than ran that place into the ground.

    The upshot is, this is God's work. If you screw it up, you answer to Him. It's not just some civic society or club. "You're meddling with powers you can't possibly comprehend."

  6. read 'the orthodox church by kallistos ware
    study helps but praying before you speak is necessary
    don't want to fall into heresy
    romans and protestants are 2 sides of the same coin
    humans are corrupt and fools
    bishops are not necessarily godly
    they are human
    cling to Jesus Himself and take your eyes off of man's constructions
    keeps the red herrings away

  7. Glen, opinions will vary on Luther based on where one falls on the religious spectrum. In general, it is safe to say he was a Catholic Monk that saw issues with the Church of his day and protested them. The Church and The Holy Roman Empire reacted badly to his corrections. Driven by an intense sense that he could never be forgiven of his sin by anything he did, he kept re-reading Romans until he understood that God had done the work already - he had nothing he could contribute to his salvation.

    His publishing of the Bible in German was mirrored by Wycliffe in England, who also sought to put the Scripture in to the language of the commons instead of reserving it for Latin.

    From there, opinions branch off depending on as above e.g. where one finds themselves on the religious spectrum.

    Could it be argued that Luther created the concept of "the little pope" by stating that the individual can interpret Scripture directly, without the teaching magisterium of the Church? The Catholic and Orthodox would say yes. Could it be argued that Luther created empowered the individual to read Scripture and act on it by themselves instead of having a third party, the established clergy, interpret it? Also yes.

    Beyond that, one just gets into fighting.

    Oddly enough, Luther never intend to start a revolution. He was driven there by the response (or overreaction) of the Catholic Church of his day.

    As to Ann - She is a 100% committed Catholic. She is certainly interesting to read and she represents an interesting insight into a very traditional Catholic believer (and, of course, she has the power of her convictions, having quit her job when she felt she could no longer do it honorably and most of her possessions when she refused to fund the government by paying taxes). That said, at least for myself, I also find it somewhat hard to take at times, as she brooks absolutely no questioning or dissent of her views on matters. That can be a source of great strength for the individual, but it also makes it hard to build bridges and alliances (see my earlier post this week on such a subject).

    1. Our guys at the little country chapel seem to view him favourably TB. It never even occurred to me that there may have been more to the story. In fact I have never seen anyone react badly to him…which doesn’t mean anything I suppose. This is the first I’ve seen a negative response to his story and I didn’t know what to make of it.

      I could never argue with Anne even if I wanted too. She has an expertise I can’t possibly match, and half the time she’s talking about people and events I know nothing about. She strikes me as a needlessly contentious woman and that I have little gain trying to figure her out… but whadda I know…?

    2. Glen, Luther is actually pretty interesting to read. I have more than a passing interest in him, as I was raised a Lutheran and spent many years as an adult in the Lutheran Church. He was certainly a larger than life person. And yes, he had flaws: his anti-semitism later in life in some ways enabled Hitler to hijack aspects of Lutheranism; his contempt for his adversaries was often more than dripping with language that seems to belie the fact he believed in Saviour that spoke without malice and wrath. But his dedication to finding the Truth of God's Word and get it out to the people in a way the Catholic Church had not done to that point was enviable.

    3. Luther can be a fun read. Another's writings to check out would be Eramus.