March 06, 2004

Odds to no ends

...or, more accurately, odds and ends, but I kind of liked the phrase.

The Qutb series will resume next week (that is, tomorrow or Monday).

I finished reading Out of the Flames: The Remarkable Story of a Fearless Scholar, a Fatal Heresy, and One of the Rarest Books in the World by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. I mentioned it previously here. A few final thoughts: the most interesting passages concern the survival of three printed copies of the Christianismi Restitutio of Michael Servetus, which are, respectively, the fatal heresy (or the work in which it was contained -- one can find an all too brief excerpt here) and the fearless scholar of the subtitle. The least interesting are the passages on Calvin, who is reduced to a cartoon caricacture. One of the most important and principled things Calvin did -- fighting for the right of the congregation and its ministers, as opposed to civil authorities, to regulate the church (including determining who might be a member) is presented as a naked power grab by Calvin, an attempt to wield total dictatorial power. Imagine if Calvin had lost, and if it were an altogether natural thing for elected politicians to run the affairs of churches. I can't imagine why that would be more progressive, more conducive to freedom, than Calvin's insistence on ecclesiastical authority in church matters free from state interference.

Speaking of heresy and ecclesiastical authority, I came across Irenaeus' work Against the Heresies on Amazon the other day while looking for something else -- I'm considering ordering it, although when I'd get around to reading it I'm not sure. I wonder of heresiologists bother with Irenaeus much anymore -- the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library lets some (but not all) of Irenaeus' heretics speak in their own words, eliminating the need for his summaries and descriptions and quotations of their errors. The Amazon page, by the way, contains this reader review, suggesting that the work against heresy never quite lets up:

Heresy is when a post-baptized Catholic, in Christ, turns from the original teachings of the Catholic church of Christ, and decides to accept the man-made doctrines of other denominations by excluding the Sacred Traditions of our fathers (appointed by Christ). The bible warns of man-made doctrines! Protestantism and it's branch offs, accepts man made traditions (ie. scripture only). In turning to these new, truly man-made doctrines, they have chosen to divorce the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that is Christ's. To be Catholic and then turn from it, is divorce. Protestants of course allow members to divorce and remarry. It's ironic that this is how their church was started. Rather than staying in the marriage and fixing it, divorce is chosen. However, Jesus promised HIS church to be one and united. For those in search of the real truth, the true Church of Christ, one needs only to search the history of the first actual, physical church of Christ to accept the Sacred value of the Catholic Church traditions. This book is just what the physician (Jesus) orders. Find out where the traditions came from and how Heresies began. In this book, Irenaeus proceeds to list the succession of the Bishops of Rome to his own day! He adds that "in this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical TRADITION from the apostles, and the preaching of truth have come down to us" I say, the study of Church history, is the end of Protestantism!

Finally, Meryl Yourish asked, in response to a particularly idiotic attempt to spread a virus, "How stupid do you think I am?" Which reminds me of a time when a former boss of mine -- someone, I should add, for whom I had very little respect -- asked me the same question in the midst of an exasperating argument (and of course, I would never make this reply to that question if Meryl were the one doing the asking). "Nobody's as stupid as I think you are," I shot back. Fortunately, the argument was moving quickly enough that he never bothered to think about what I said.

Posted by Ideofact at March 6, 2004 11:43 PM

Wow, you really said that--good for you! In a similar situation I once unsuccessfully defended myself by saying, "I don't look as dumb as I am!!"

Posted by: Mahsheed at March 7, 2004 03:04 AM

Believe me, it wasn't one of my finer moments. As much as I like the line, I'm a bit embarrassed to have said it to someone's face.

Posted by: Bill at March 8, 2004 09:55 PM