WHAT PROTESTANTS SHOULD KNOW
No. 1: EPISTLE TO A LUTHERAN MINISTER
Dr. Russell Frank Auman
St. Peter's Lutheran Church
New York City
Sir:---I have carefully read the booklet containing your "Sermon," on "What Protestants Should Know About Catholicism," sent to me, perhaps by some member of your church. The misunderstandings and misrepresentations cocksuredly set forth therein against the Catholic Church, caused me to exclaim, "Man, proud man; Drest with a little authority (as a minister): Most ignorant of what he's most assured: Plays such fantastic tricks" with Catholicism, as to make the angels in the lower regions rejoice.
Your attempt therein to separate flatteringly the Catholic laity, in principle and obedience, from the hierarchy of their Church, is in line with Tito of Yugoslavia and not with the will of Christ. While you have intensified opposition to the Catholic Church among the misinformed and prejudiced readers of your tirade that bears the dignified title of a "Sermon," rest assured it will have a contrary effect upon those Catholics who may chance to have one of the booklets, that the "generosity" of Rudolph Miller enabled you to "circulate widely." The Catholic laity knows that separation from the hierarchy of their Church means repudiating the authority of the Spiritual Society Christ commanded to be heard.
It is my purpose, as one of the laymen you endeavor to pull off of the Christ-made Bark of Peter on to your man-made raft, to explain, in open letters, what Protestants should really believe about Catholicism to be in accord with the Church of Christ, as recorded in the Bible, and in the history of the Christian centuries.
You begin your "Sermon" with an indictment against "the Roman Catholic hierarchy" supposed-to-be attitude toward the principle of "separation of Church and state"; the effectiveness of which you charge the Catholic hierarchy with seeking to destroy "by subterfuge and direct attack." This is as far from historic fact as was the endeavor to discredit Christ, by charging Him with driving out devils by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of devils.
"Conversion by force has never been native to the American spirit" as you say; neither has it ever been native to the Catholic Church. Hence the charge that the Catholic hierarchy in the U.S.A. is "enlisting the powers of the State to destroy or hamper the work of those who disagree in matters of a religious nature", is a vicious, unhistoric assumption, of which the Catholic hierarchy has never been guilty. ...
You merely echo in your "Sermon" the vicious A.P.A. and K.K.K. charge that was refuted by Pope Leo XIII in these words: "We must indicate a craftily circulated calumny, making most odious imputations against the Holy See itself. It is maintained that vigor of action inculcated in Catholics for the defense of their Faith has a secret motive, much less the safeguarding of their religious interests, than the ambition of securing to the Church political domination of the State. Truly this is a revival of a very ancient calumny, as its invention belongs to the first enemies of Christianity. Was it not formulated, first of all, against the adorable person of the Redeemer?"
The attitude of the hierarchy, and laity, of the Catholic Church toward our American Constitution, including the first amendment thereto, was expressed by Pope Leo XIII 68 years ago, when a deputation of American citizens presented President Cleveland's gift of a magnificently bound copy of our Constitution to the illustrious Pontiff. Upon responding, Pope Leo XIII said, "In your country men enjoy religious liberty in the true sense of the word, guaranteed, as it is, by the Constitution of which you have given me a copy. In your country religion is free to extend every day more and more the empire of Christianity, and the Church is free to develop its beneficent action. Your country has before it a future full of hope, your government is strong, and the character of your President arouses my most generous admiration." [Pope Leo had not been accurately informed; when he later learned the truth he was said to have regretted those accolades. Mr. Goldstein, I am certain, had no knowledge of this at the time he wrote the letter. In the fifties most Americans believed the false promises of the US Constitution in all innocence, a trick of the devil.---the Web Master.]
It is not rightly within the province of your Lutheran Sect, which owes its existence to the State, to question the loyalty of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, who have faithfully adhered the principle of its Founder, by rendering to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, obedience to his rightful official demands; and God what belongs to God, obedience to His ambassadors in matters of faith and morals.
If the father of your Protestant Sect had advocated separation, stead of union of church and state, the German princes would not have joined him in despoiling the Catholic Church of her property. Harnack, one of the foremost exponents of Protestantism, said "that the Reformation getting the upper hand among portion of the German people was due first and foremost to the princes, who aimed at creating territorial churches for themselves ... " (Contemporary Review, 1904, p. 859).
The Catholic hierarchy may declare, without any fear of successful contradiction, that never during the 1,920 years of existence of the Catholic Church did she ever recognize a civil ruler of any state as the head of the Church within his domain, as did the Lutheran church since its inception. The Kaiser was the head of the Lutheran Church in Prussia, until driven into Holland during World War I. The King of Norway is head of the Lutheran Church in his country. The Lutheran Church is also dominated by the State in Denmark, Finland, and Sweden.
There is a desired union of Church and State on the part of the Catholic Church; which to be more exact is the co-operation of the State with the Church, when an overwhelming majority of the inhabitants are Catholics, such as exists in the Irish Republic, wherein the freedom of religious worship on the part of the Protestant and Jewish minorities is safeguarded.
No. 2: "CHURCH AN ORGANISM"
Dr. Russell Frank Auman
St. Peter's Lutheran Church
New York City
Sir:---If the declaration made in your attack upon the Catholic Church, that "the Church Christ founded was not an organization at all, but an organism," were based upon a proper understanding of the terms used, you would, with God's grace, be on your way into the Catholic Church.
Only God can make an organism, be it a tree, insect, animal, man, or a supernatural society as is the Catholic Church. Organisms differ basically from organizations in that the life within them is inherent, God endowed; whereas the life of organizations, be they lodges, trade unions, or Protestant churches, depend entirely upon their members.
The Catholic Church alone, of all churches, is such an organism, differing from all other organisms in that she is indestructible. The "gates of Hell" have not, and never will be able to "prevail against" her, as the vital life principle within her is the Holy Ghost. On the other hand, as I said before, organizations such as Protestant churches, depend entirely upon their members for existence. Therefore your claim that the Church of Christ is made up of believers in Christ, whether they are members of the Lutheran, Episcopalian, Baptist, or other church organizations, may be dismissed as being as unsound as your claim that all these churches form the Catholic Church named in the Apostles Creed.
Two signs are plainly evident of Protestant churches being devoid of the life principle of a supernatural organism, their doctrinal and organizational disunity. They foreshadow their being outlived by the Catholic Church, as were the Gnostics in the 1st century; the Montanists in the 2nd century; the Manicheans in the 3rd century; the Arians in the 4th century; the Pelagians in the 5th century; the Jacobites in the 6th century; the Paulicians in the 7th century; the Adoptionists in the 8th century; the Predestinarians in the 9th century; the Anthropomophites in the 10th century; the Berengarians in the 11th century; the Albigenses in the 12th century; the Flagellants in the 13th century; the Dulcinists in the 14th century; the Hussites in the 15th century; the Antinomians in the 16th century; and the Quietists in the 7th century.
Another "step in Roman theology" that you have not "been able to swallow, is the dogma that Christ made Peter the head of the Roman Catholic Church with absolute authority over it, and all the popes have succeeded Peter as the Vicar of Christ and head of all Christendom." This you say "is historically pure fabrication. There is not a shred of proof whatsoever either in the Bible or the writings of the early Church to validate such a claim."
As for the biblical authority of which you said there "is not a shred of proof," I need but point to St. Matthew 16:18, in which Christ the eternal Rock, is said to have designated Peter the rock foundation of His Church: To St. Matthew 16:19, which records he fact that Christ delegated His authority to Peter, by making him the Key-bearer of the Church: To St. John 21:15-17, wherein lie learn that Christ, the Good Shepherd, said to Peter "Feed My lambs," which warranted Peter, and each of his successors, being called the Shepherd of Christendom.
As for the historic proof that successive personages acted as Vicar of Christ, occupants of the Chair of Peter, of which you positively declare there "is not a shred of proof," I need but quote "some of the greatest men of all ages," you say there were in the "Roman Catholic Church in spite of its weakness and corruption."
Cyprian of Carthage (190-258 A.D.,) Archbishop, Saint, Martyr, who said in "De Unitate," that "though to all of His (Christ's) Apostles He gave an equal power yet He set one Chair, and deposed the origin and manner of unity by his (the pope's) authority. The other Apostles were indeed what Peter was, but the primacy is given to Peter and the Church and Chair is shown to be one ... He who holds not this unity of the Church, does he think he holds the faith? He who deserts the Chair of Peter, upon whom the Church is founded, is he confident that he is in the Church?"
St. Augustine (354-430) said, of the "many considerations (that) detain me in the bosom of the Catholic Church ... is the succession of Bishops from the chair of the Apostle Peter himself to whom Our Lord after His resurrection entrusted the feeding of His flock, down to the present Bishop" (Contra. Epist. Manichoei Fundament.).
In the year 1519, Rev. Martin Luther, O.S.A. said:---"If Christ had not entrusted all power to one man, the Church would not have been perfect because there would have been no order, and each would have been able to say he was led by the Holy Spirit (as do you, Dr. Auman). This is what the heretics did, each one setting up his own principle. In this way as many churches arose as there were heads. Christ therefore wills, in order that all may be assembled in one unity, that His power be exercised by one man to whom also He commits it. He has, however, made this power so strong that He looses all the powers of Hell, without injury against it.
He says: " 'the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it' as though He said: 'they will fight against it but never overcome' so that in this way it is made manifest that this power is in reality from God and not from men. Wherefore, whoever breaks away from this unity and order of the Power, let him not boast of great enlightenment and wonderful works, as our Picards and other heretics do, for much better is obedience than the victims of fools who know not 'what evil they do.' " (Eccles, iv, 17 Werke Weim, Ed. I, 1883, page 69).
Like all other priests who have violated their vows, the excommunicated Luther turned from love and defense of the occupant of the Chair of Peter, to hatred of him. On December 10, 1520, this father of your 16th century church viciously declared, "Yesterday I burned in the public square the devilish works of the Pope, and I wish it were the Pope, that is the Papal See, that was consumed."
Pray tell us what, save the Prince of Darkness, caused the founder of your church, Martin Luther, to change from the recognition of Peter as the Vicar of Christ in 1519, two years after he proclaimed his "ninety-five theses," to his hatred of him in 1520?
May the evidence and arguments in my lengthy reply to your assault upon the Catholic Church, prompt a change in your mental outlook, is my prayer.
Sincerely in Christ,