05 August 2011

I am definitely thinking

that that Jesuit Bellarmine did us a great favor in laying out his arguments, thus inviting Gerhard to respond in his dogmatics, above all in *On the Church.*  What pious and comforting words came out in response!  And he's not out to show Bellarmine in the wrong - for many, many times he simply agrees with him and cites his own words back to him, pointing out gently where he's contradicted himself, and inviting him to cling to what in his words were true.  But what mastery of the Sacred Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers, the Roman and the Calvinist theologians!  I am amazed as argument after argument I had wondered about myself is considered thoughtfully, weighed in the balance, and either accepted or rejected.  I had thought a few years back how not enough consideration is given to the eschatological weight of AC VII when it speaks of the Church as one assembly.  Gerhard was there centuries ahead of me.  He sees the fundamental visibility of the assembly appearing only at Judgement Day.  I'm only up to page 120 - many hundreds yet to go, and I'm already dreading when this joyful book will wend to its end.  How on earth this man was able to produce such work - but a single locus of his many volumed dogmatics - tend a flock with regular preaching, and find time for other masterful works is a miracle all by itself.  He makes me feel like a lazy lob.  And he's taught me the silliness of ridiculing the invisible vs. visible distinction with regard to the Church.  Excellent stuff, I cannot recommend it highly enough - especially to those troubled by Roman or Eastern apologetic attacks in the area of the Church.


Phil said...

My copy of that locus languishes under a pile of three years' worth of reading yet to be done. Could you talk a little bit more about what he says about visible vs. invisible?

William Weedon said...

Alas, Phil, it would take too much at the moment. But I plan on blogging on it in the future. In a nutshell, he works backwards from the assembly of the saints at the last day as THE church catholic - all joined by living faith to Christ - and he distinguishes this assembly from particular assemblies in the church militant where invariably mixed into the assembly are those who are only externally members, but not partakers of that faith that binds to Christ. Much more, of course, but that's the nutshell.

Phil said...

Ah. An ad orientem ecclesiology.

Terry Maher said...

Interesting that the miserable Jesuit (pardon the redundancy, there's only one Jesuit worth reading) Bellarmino comes up.

I'm curious about which works of each you may have had in mind, or if the reference is to each's work overall.

Bellarmino wrote tons of stuff, being one of the heroes of the Counter-Reformation, which in my youth I was taught was the true Reformation and what is generally called the Reformation was in fact a Revolt. His canonisation (1930) and promotion to Doctor of the Church (1931) were relatively recent then. I wonder if by "his arguments" you mean his dogmatic work Disputationes.

Re Gerhard, you seem to be referring to his Loci, but I wonder if you might not mean, or also want to consider, his later Confessio Catholica, which indeed seeks to disprove "Catholicism" against the AC from the works of Catholic theologians themselves.

You might get a kick out of this -- the RC parish named after him here in town is among the most liberal in town. I imagine the Cardinal Inquisitor would not be pleased!