Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The crux of the matter

I've finished book one of Burnett's "The True Church", which I've posted on previously, and have begun book two (both are bound as one volume). Book two answers particular questions raised by Protestants.

It has been my observation that Burnett is quite the gentlemanly scholar and debator, never descending to personal attacks, always following the arguments to their logical conclusions in the interest of truth, and with the greatest respect for the parties of the other part.

Here follows an interesting observation of his regarding Martin Luther and the reformation. It is, to say the least, interesting!

Burnett wrote:

The principal of private interpretation in the last resort, was, therefore, forced upon Luther. It was either that or no Reformation. There was no possible middle course. Either the right to construe the law in the last resort resided in the Church, or with each individual. It could not be divided between them. Two supreme tribunals to execute the same law over the same persons could not exist under the same system of government. We could just as readily conceive of two Supreme Deities, creating and governing the same universe.

The authority of the Church was the last restraint that Luther cast aside. It cost him much pain, as he himself relates. “After,” says he,

I had gotten the better of all the arguments which were opposed to me, one remained still, which, with extreme difficulty and great anguish, I could scarce conquer, even with the assistance of Jesus Christ; namely, that we ought to hear the Church.

But it must be conceded that Luther may have been mistaken in the supposed assistance of Jesus Christ. He may have mistaken Christ’s abandonment of him for His assistance. Whether this be true or not, there was a very remarkable circumstance connected with his rejection of the authority of the Church.

After having prevailed over his scruples, and in his last struggle to shake off the authority of the Church, “he cries out,” says Boussuet,

Like one set free from some irksome bondage, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast their yoke from us,”

This quotation, made by Luther, is from the third verse of the second chapter of Psalms, where it stands in this connection:

2. The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast their yoke from us.
4. He that sitteth in the Heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

The Catholic thinks that Luther made a quotation precisely suited to his position and the effort he was making.

1 comment:

  1. Whenn I read Bainton's biography of Luther, I came to much the same conclusion. Luther was a man who rejected the Church out of a sense of his own unworthiness of It.