February 2017 - The Protestant Revolution (Part 2)
Luther’s war against the Church was waged in large part by his three tenants, sola fides, sola gratia, and sola scriptura. By exaggerating the role of faith, grace, and Scripture, Luther destroyed the understanding of all three and rendered religious authority powerless. Furthermore, the teachings of Luther exalt the powers of sin and cast doubt upon the omnipotence of God, while simultaneously enslaving man to his passions by his doctrines of despair.
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
The man who climbs a mountain struggles along the long and winding way to the top. From time to time, as encouragement to continue his ascent, he stops and contemplates the beauty of creation. Then he sets out again with a light heart, not giving a thought to his tiredness. Arriving to the top, he will take time to admire the unique spectacle offered to his eyes.
He who devotes himself to study follows a similar course. Rising above ordinary reflections, he engages himself on a steep path that requires all his attention. From time to time, the truth that he pursues with his whole soul seems to want to reveal itself to him; he then avidly seizes some bits of that truth. He will stop seeking only when his intelligence rests in the contemplation of that truth known from every angle. He will then contemplate, with great joy, the reality that offers itself to him after so many efforts. During his hard labors, when he stumbled into obscure areas, he did not shy away. He did not want to distort reality by imposing upon it his personal views and thus pretending to have solved the difficult questions that arose. On the contrary, when faced with obscurities, he slowly and laboriously reviews his work, as wisdom invites us to do, respecting and humbly subjecting himself to the laws of nature.
However, very few men accept such thankless labor and few among them seek the truth. To serve truth while being subject to reality without distorting it requires a noble soul that understands that the truth is a queen to be served and not a courtesan to be seduced.
Thus, those who use the weapons of seduction in searching for and teaching the truth are criminals. They disguise themselves, seduce people by exalting one or other aspect of the truth while keeping silent about other aspects. But exaggeration and truth are not compatible. The truth reveals itself only to those who respect and approach it with humility.
Luther belongs to this race of seducers who do not care about the truth and who have no other ambition than to subject it to their personal judgement, so as to create their own order and thus exert power over others. The stories of the fall of Lucifer and of our first parents are invariably repeated through the ages. The devil is the seducer par excellence and the father of lies. He continues to dangle before men the illusion that they will be like gods, creators and masters of life. He makes use of these seducers to throw his nets and set his traps.
In his turn, Luther succeeded in the amazing feat of emptying the Catholic religion of its contents by exalting faith, grace and Holy Scripture beyond measure. For him, only these three realities counted. They were the foundation of his system. Let us detail them:
1. Luther proclaimed that only Faith saves, and that it is enough for man to proclaim loudly and clearly his Faith in Christ to be saved. Luther taught that human nature is destroyed and any human work is necessarily evil. Man is destined to sin and cannot escape it, but he must not fear: his sentimental belief in Christ will save him. One of the most famous of Luther’s sayings, “Sin strongly, but believe even more strongly”, summarizes his doctrine on the matter and shows its limits and internal contradiction. He misleads man, because the will to sin and eternal salvation cannot go hand in hand.
2. What is grace for Luther? It simply consists in the merits of Christ covering our sins on account of our “faith” in Christ the Savior. Man basically remains a sinner and can only ever sin – but it does not matter, since the merits of Christ cover us! In this system, grace does not penetrate the soul to heal it – contrary to the Catholic doctrine that it is grace that heals our wounds and restores the flow of divine life into our souls, thus reestablishing the friendship between God and man.
Who doesn’t see in these doctrines a fundamental pessimism which can only lead to despair? And how can one not see there the unspeakable insult given to God by limiting His power in such a way?
Here is Luther’s offense: for him, man is always a sinner and God Himself cannot change this condition since grace is only the superficial covering of an underlying corruption, thus giving man an excuse to wallow in the mire of his sin. Luther removes any sense of responsibility: if a man sins, his sin cannot be attributed to him. How could one cope with sin, when God Himself is defeated by its destructive force? Luther’s doctrine consists in wanting to institutionalize the victory of Satan over God by driving man into a despair without end because without escape.
3. Lastly, Luther uses his favorite weapon, exaggeration, to attack the word of God, Holy Scripture. To make sure that man cannot return to the truth of the Gospel, which is to be found in the bosom of the Roman Catholic Church, Luther takes care to destroy it in a subtle way. He affirms that Holy Scripture, God’s word revealed to men, is by itself sufficient. The man who reads it receives a personal illumination that reveals to him its divine meaning and makes him realize, in an infallible way, whether this passage is inspired by God or not. The interpretation of the Church is obsolete. According to Luther, man has no need of tradition to grasp the meaning and importance of Holy Scripture.
This, of course, is false. Without the authority of the unbreakable tradition preserved in the Catholic Church, nothing would remain of Holy Scripture. What authority could affirm whether or not a passage were of God or not? And if the passage is of God, by its nature it exceeds the power of human intelligence: who would then be able to give it the right interpretation? It is obvious that the word of God needs the divine authority of the Church to be explained and revealed to men. For Luther, that is not the case: the Church has no reason to exist, man is autonomous.
Luther’s claim to exalt Holy Scripture is a frightening weapon which causes a triple destruction. First of tradition, which is replaced by personal inspiration; then, of the Church, guardian of this tradition; and finally, of Holy Scripture itself, because the word of God watered down by personal and dissimilar interpretations becomes only a word like any other, deprived of the force of divine authority.
The three soli of Luther (sola fides, sola gratia, sola scriptura) thus prove to be a massive work of destruction of religion and the establishment of a formidable and daunting system that leads man into a bottomless despair. Far from leading man to God, it separates him from God.
Let us be always wary of these deceiving sirens’ songs – such stories always lead to bad endings....
In Christo sacerdote et Maria.
Fr. Yves le Roux