IS IT GOD'S WORD?
BIBLE THEOLOGY AND MODERN TRUTH
R RBIBLE THEOLOGY AND MODERN TRUTH R R GALILEO R R WITCHCRAFT AND INSPIRATION R R ANCIENT FAITH YET FULLY VALID
R R RETURN TO THE INDEX OF CHAPTERS
BEFORE essaying frankly, for the sake of truth, to "search the scriptures" of the New Testament, wherein, says the Christ, "ye think ye have eternal life" (John 5: 39 ), it is of prime importance to consider briefly the relations of those scriptures to the Church and to theological Christianity. Obviously, Bible and Church are vitally related and inseparable; they stand or fall, live or die, together. The inspiration and truth of the whole "Holy Bible, book divine" is the first postulate of every Christian creed. The "Apostles' Creed' enshrines for belief every "fundamental" of the Christian Bible faith. Not to attempt to cite every Christian creed in corroboration of this cardinal fact -- for all Christian sects it is basic -- I quote only the highest and most ancient authority in some of its most modern reaffirmations.
The Vatican Council thus states the dogma of infallible truth of scripture: "These books are sacred and canonical because they contain revelation without error, and because, written by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their Author." More recently, Pope Leo 13:in his encyclical provid. Deus, thus reaffirms the Christian belief in the plenary inspiration: "It will never be lawful to restrict inspiration merely to certain parts of the Holy Scriptures, or to grant that the sacred writers could have made a mistake. ... They render in exact language, with infallible truth, all that God commanded and nothing else; without that, God would not be the Author of the Scripture in its entirety." Says the Catholic Encyclopedia: "The Church, according to St. Paul's Epistle to Timothy, is the pillar and ground of truth; the Apostles, and consequently their successors, have the right to impose their doctrine; whosoever refuses to believe them shall be condemned, whosoever rejects anything is shipwrecked in the Faith. This authority [called the magisterium, or teaching authority] is therefore infallible" (Vol. 15:p. 8 ). That is the inspired doctrine of the Church concerning the Bible and its "sacred deposit of faith" or "tradition."
This same dogmatic assertion of plenary inspiration and total infallibility of scripture -- which sounds oddly assured after the examination in the preceding chapters -- is more anciently expressed in a couple of precious excerpts from the Fathers: "Nothing is to be accepted save on the authority of scripture, since greater is the authority of scripture than all the powers of the human mind [major est Scripturce auctoritas quam omnis humani ingenii capacitas," says St. Augustine in his work De Genesi. Equally credible and more graphic is the assurance of the great Church Father St. Ambrose: "Moses opened his mouth and poured forth what God said to him."
Credulous as may be all four of these dogmatic assertions, their conclusions are of the highest logical validity and truth -- if their scriptural premises be true. This is orthodox faith; it is essential Christian belief; and departure from it by one iota is not only heretical in faith, but un-Christian in fact. "Whosoever rejects anything is shipwrecked in the faith."
The modern "Liberalists" are sadly errant in their vaunted liberalism. They hold to Jesus as son of Yahveh and to his mission to "redeem mankind from the sin of Adam," while they deny that Adam existed and repudiate the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus and throw hell into the discard. This is scriptural anarchy, and its votaries cannot be Bible Christians, however good as citizens.
An edifying instance of this straddling theology, which strives to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds, is afforded by an eminent metropolitan "divine" who conducts a daily column in one of the newspapers. In a recent instalment (June 12, 1926 ) a truth-seeker in the Bible Belt asks: "Do not chapters one and two of Genesis give the only origin of the universe which can be accepted by any one professing Christianity?" Instead of replying boldly that the conflicting accounts are inspired Bible truth in toto, or of frankly stating that both are fables, the "divine" executes this specious bit of deceptive legerdemain: "The first chapters of Genesis contain a poetical account of the origin of the universe which any one who professes Christianity, or, for that matter, Judaism, can accept as a noble and beautiful treatment of the theme. But it is no more historic or scientific than Milton's Paradise Lost or Shakespeare's Hamlet. Your persistency in allying Christianity with the acceptance of the Genesis account can do little, as I see it, except injure the cause. ... A Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ who seeks to obey Him in all matters. ... The Bible shows us the Divine Creator at work. Modern science reveals His methods of creation. Why endeavour to confuse the issue?" The great Dr. Conman's reply is, of course, a gem of disingenuous ingenuity, illumining and solving, rather than confusing, the issue -- and is a typical utterance of the trimmers and reconciliationists of theological Modernism.
These Modernists decry and deride what they term "medieval theology"; but medieval theology is Bible theology and the only orthodox and true theology -- if theology could be true at all. "Modern" theology can repudiate medieval theology with no more logical truth and reason than could medieval theology logically accept Copernicus and Galileo, and the long brilliant line of God's true prophets whom the inspired Church has persecuted and martyred through the past ages of faith for daring to proclaim God's truths which have impeached and destroyed its dogmas of the inspired truth of Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.
Briefly, and inadequately, I am going to recall here a few of the precious things of God "poured out through the mouth of Moses" to which the Church, fatuously but with unimpeachable logic has clung through the ages of faith, and with which the Church has opposed every revelation of God in nature through the powers of the human mind. These are only a few of the manifold phases of the eternal and triumphant "conflict between science and religion" -- between knowledge and the outpourings of God through Moses. Hu4ey puts it in an aphorism: "Every path of Natural Science is closed with the sign: 'NO THOROUGHFARE, MOSES.'"
Moses, inspired by Yahveh, declared that heaven and earth, and all the fullness thereof, were created by Yahveh out of nothing in six days (or in one); that Adam ate the forbidden fruit of knowledge in Eden, whereby "sin and death entered into the world," and damned all humanity. Father Luther, with all the assurance of an eye-witness, asserts: "Moses spoke properly and plainly, and neither allegorically nor figuratively; and therefore the world with all creatures was created in six days." The Westminster Confession of Faith -- in full force and effect to-day -- specially lays it down as "necessary to salvation to believe that all things visible and invisible were created not only out of nothing but in exactly six days." The Catholic Father Peter Martyr clinched the whole matter by declaring, and with inexorable logic and truth: -- "So important is it to comprehend the work of creation that we see the creed of the Church take this as its starting point. Were this Article taken away, there would be no original sin; the promise of Christ would become void, and all the vital force of our religion would be destroyed."
This is, indeed, the enormous fatal significance of the six days and the Fall, emphasized and explained by the alarmed outcries of the Church against the wonderful discoveries of the human mind in the fields of astronomy, geology, anthropology, and natural science, which wholly disproved their cherished dogmas of revelation, and discredited forever the basic tenets of the whole fabric of the Christian religion. Calvin, in his "Commentary on Genesis," argues that the Genesis account of creation is literally true, and warns those who dare to believe otherwise, and thus "basely insult the Creator, to expect a Judge who will annihilate them."
But modern knowledge, science, has proved beyond all contradiction of inspiration that these inspired truths out of the "infallible annals of the Spirit of God" are contrary to the facts; and makes it impossible for Adam and Eve and Eden to have ever existed. So here alone, with one great crash, the whole Christian plan of salvation, founded on the fable of Adam and the forbidden fruit, collapses to utter ruin.
Moses again, by inspiration of Yahveh, asserts this goodly earth to be flat and square, with "four corners," and all its vari- colored inhabitants to be directly descended from his first man, Adam, through Noah and his three sons. The great pagan philosophers, by the power of their genius of reason, happily untrammelled by Hebrew revelation and Christian inspiration, declared with true inspiration God's truth that the earth was round, and that the antipodes could be and were inhabited by races of men. Centuries before Christ and before Columbus, Pythagoras taught the spherical form of the earth. Aristotle went further and demonstrated the rotundity of the earth by his Three Arguments, concluding: "So that from this it is manifest, not only that the form of the earth is round, but also that it is part of not a very large sphere" (De Caelo, 11, 14 ).
Seneca, who died in 65 A.D., in his Naturales Questiones,, asks how great a way it is from the furthest shores of Spain to India, and answers that it is a space of a very few days if a fair wind drives the ship, One of his great tragedies gives striking expression to his prophecy:
"Venient annis, saecula seris, Quibus Oceanus vincula rerum Laxet, et ingens pateat tellus, Tethysque novos detegat orbes; Nec sit terris ultima Thule." (Medea, 2: 375.)
"There will come a time," he says, "in later years, when Oceans shall loosen the bonds of things, and a huge land shall lie revealed, and Tethys shall disclose new worlds, and Thule shall no longer be at the end of the earth." This is one of the most notable un-"inspired" prophecies on record. In a copy of the Tragedies of Seneca, belonging to Ferdinand Columbus, now in the Biblioteca Colombina, there is attached to these prophetic verses this marginal note: "Haec prophetia expleta et per patrem meum Cristoforo Colon, Almirante, anno 1492."
But no, this is impious heresy, contradictory of Holy Moses, and destructive of the Holy Church! "Scripture," avers the all- knowing Father St. Augustine, "speaks of no such descendants of Adam as the Antipodeans. Men could not be allowed by the Almighty to live there, since if they did they could not see Christ at his second coming descending through the air"; and, he says, the supporters of this geographical heresy "give the lie direct to King David and to St. Paul, and therefore to the Holy Ghost!" The Antipodeans, argues Father Procopius, according to a text of Luke, are theologically impossible. "If there be men on the other side of the earth, Christ must have gone there and suffered a second time to save them; and therefore there must have been, as necessary preliminaries to his coming, a duplicate Adam, Eden, serpent, and Deluge!" We see again, how the Christian "plan of salvation" depends confessedly and utterly upon Adam, the garden, and the talking snake!
Father St. Boniface appealed to Yahveh's Vicar, Pope Zaebary, to combat this heresy of the antipodes, of men who were beyond the appointed means of salvation; and the Pope, inspired of the Holy Ghost, issued his bull, embellished and fortified with passages from Job and the apocryphal "Wisdom of Solomon," against the heretical doctrine, declaring it "perverse, iniquitous, and against the soul" of whoever maintained it. And the Holy Ghost, speaking further through this bull, harshly condemned the good Saint Vergilius, who heretically held the earth to be round; declaring that such doctrine involved errors as to original sin and the universality of redemption; for, averred the Holy Ghost, if there were antipodes, the "other race of men" could not be descendants of Adam and were not redeemed by Christ. In this conclusion I must confess that the Holy Ghost and His Holiness are right for once.
The holy Council of Salamanca solemnly decided against Columbus's theory of the rotundity of the earth and the antipodes, declaring that texts of Scripture and "the Fathers" were opposed to such an idea; that, as Father St. Augustine said, "If there were any antipodes, the Bible would have said so"; that the earth was actually a flat disk with a dropping-off place; and that if the world were round they would slide off! But Columbus persisted in his heresy; and his epochal voyages, and the circumnavigation by Magellan, proved once again that it is not safe to trust the Scriptures and the Fathers for inspired scientific knowledge.
Shortly after the return of Columbus from his first faith- shattering voyage, the Holy Church set itself up as the self- appointed dispenser of the New World which it had just declared through the Holy Ghost never existed; and God's Vicar, Pope Alexander 6: of savory memory, perpetrated his celebration bull "Inter coetera Divinoe Majestati," in May, 1493, partitioning the New World between Spain and Portugal. As this touches a highly interesting event in American history, of far-reaching consequences, I shall quote from the notable bull, quite fairly turned into the vernacular from the original Latin, published in Volume I of "American Charters, Constitutions, and Organic Laws," published by the United States government. From page 42 I translate the papal grantor's inspired claim to divine power and infallibility in making the partition:
" ... Out of Our mere liberality, and of Our certain knowledge, and the plenitude of Apostolic power ... and by the authority of Omnipotent God to US in Blessed Peter granted, and the Vicarship of Jesus Christ which we exercise on earth ---- "
by these plenipotentiary credentials and divine powers of attorney, his Holiness granted to Spain all the new lands discovered and to be discovered west of a line, dictated by the Holy Ghost, drawn one hundred leagues west of the Azores and Cape Verde Islands. But Portugal angrily protested and made threats, basing its protests and claims not upon the geographical "certain knowledge" of the Holy Ghost but upon sundry human discoveries in geography, which demonstrated such a line to be impossible, as there are about ten degrees of longitude difference between the two groups of islands. So the two rival powers, by the Treaty of Tordesillas, amended the inspired but impossible geography of the Holy Ghost, and established the "Line of Demarcation" at 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands, a line corresponding to the 50th degree of longitude west of Greenwich, and striking the mainland of South America across the mouth of the Amazon River; thus making Brazil Portuguese, while the remaining half of the continent, west of "the Line" became Spanish, as they remain to this day.
Even after Magellan's triumphant voyage of 1519 around the globe had proved the errancy of Scripture, Fathers, and infallible Church, such redoubtable churchmen as Luther, Melancthon, and Calvin stuck to scriptural "revelation" and roundly denied sphericity, as do the holy followers of "Elijah II" Dowie at Zion City, Illinois, to-day. Another bit of geographical Bible lore may be mentioned here. Calvin, in 1553, persecuted and burned to death Serviettes because, among other things, in his edition of Ptolemy's "Geography," he spoke of the Holy Land as not a "land flowing with milk and honey," but mainly barren and inhospitable; Calvin declared that such language "necessarily inculpated Moses, and grievously outraged the Holy Ghost!"
But "the infallible annals of the Spirit of God" were not only discredited by geography and geology and the other sciences named; the science of astronomy gave the Holy Ghost a blow under which it has writhed for three centuries, and from which only the fatuous faith which reasons not nor doubts enables it yet to sustain a precarious credit among those who do not think adequately. The Holy Ghost, through a bull of Yahveh's Vicar, Pope Alexander 3: in 1163, forbade to ecclesiastics "the study of physics or the laws of the world," and decreed that any one violating this inspired command of Yahveh "shall be avoided by all and excommunicated."
There were immortal heroes of science who dared defy such inspired ignorance. Copernicus, truer prophet of God than Moses or pope, wrote his inspired revelation of God in the heavens, "The Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies," which in terror of Yahveh's Holy-Ghost-inspired Church he withheld from publication till the day of his death, May 24, 1543. Then with his dying breath he gave to the world the revelation that the sun is the center of the solar system, and that the earth and other planets revolve around it; and from the security of the border of the grave he defiantly dedicated his immortal work to His Holiness the Pope.
The inspired Roman Church quickly denounced the work as heresy, and condemned it to suppression "until his statement should be corrected" to conform to the Bible and to Ptolemy, who was a pagan, but whose geography and astronomy were held almost inspired by the Church. Luther screeched at Copernicus, calling him "an upstart astrologer": "This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth." Melanchthon, another great luminary of reformed inspiration, declared: "It is a want of honesty and decency to assert such notions publicly, and the example is pernicious." Calvin, in his "Commentary on Genesis," condemned all who asserted that the earth is not the center of the universe, and triumphantly appealed to Psalm 18: 1: "The world also is established, that it cannot be moved!" defiantly asking: "Who will put the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?" The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, declared that these new ideas "tend toward infidelity"; and a whole chorus of eminent "divines" -- Melanchthon, Cardinal Bellarmine, Father Lecazre, and a swarm of other luminaries of the Church, both "reformed" and hopeless of reform -- launched their unanimous, bitter anathemas against the impious new discovery. With acute logic they demonstrated unanswerably how the dogmas of the Christian religion must perish before this one stupendous revelation of God in science.
"His pretended discovery vitiates the whole Christian plan of salvation. It casts suspicion on the doctrine of the incarnation. It upsets the whole basis of theology. If the earth is a planet, and only one among several planets, it cannot be that any such great things have been done for it as the Christian doctrine teaches. If there are other planets, since God makes nothing in vain, they must be inhabited; but how can their inhabitants be descended from Adam? How can they trace their origin back to Noah's ark? How can they have been redeemed by the Savior?" [Andrew D. White, History of the Warfare of Science with Theology, (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1925 ) Vol. 1:p. 134. From this great treasures much of the material of this chapter is taken.]
Upon what a string of "silly fancies" the whole "sacred science of Christianity" and the so-called "Church of God" dangle!
In 1618 and 1619 God's prophet Kepler published his immortal works "Epitome of the Copernican System" and "The Harmonies of the World." He lived in a Protestant country, where the Roman Church couldn't get at him. But the Protestant Consistory of Stuttgart solemnly warned him "not to throw Christ's kingdom into confusion with his silly fancies," and ordered him to "bring his theory of the world into harmony with scripture" -- as if truth could be harmonized with ignorant fables! A direr fate befell the illustrious Giordano Bruno, an apostle of learning and of the Copernican system. In the face of Holy Church he flung his immortal satire ridiculing it, "Lo Spaccio della Bestia Trionfante" ("The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast"); and after he had been confined seven years in its foul dungeons, the "Beast" threw his heroic but heretic body and his books to the flames of its Holy Inquisition, in Rome, 1600; but his soul and truth go marching on!
All the world knows and blushes in shame at the ignominious spectacle which the inspired Church made of the venerable, truly inspired Galileo, haled before the Holy Inquisition, dressed in the sackcloth robe of a repentant criminal, there forced upon his knees before God's Vicar and his assembled cardinals, laying his hands upon the "Holy Evangels," and invoking divine aid in "abjuring and detesting the infamous doctrine of the earth's motion and the sun's stability!" This Holy Inquisition, specially convoked by Yahveh's Vicar, Pope Paul 5: after a month's deliberations in solemn session with the Holy Ghost, in 1616, rendered its inspired unanimous decision: "The first proposition, that the sun is the center and does not revolve around the earth, is foolish, absurd, false in theology, and heretical, because expressly contrary to Holy Scripture. The second proposition, that the earth is not the center but revolves around the sun, is absurd, false in philosophy, and from a theological point of view at least, opposed to the true faith." Galileo was therefore commanded, "in the name of His Holiness the Pope and the whole Congregation of the Holy Office [i.e., the Inquisition], to relinquish altogether the opinion that the sun is the center of the world and immovable, and that the earth moves; and henceforth not to hold, teach, or defend it in any way whatsoever, verbally or in writing." A couple of weeks later the Congregation of the Index, at the instigation of the pope, rendered its decree that "the doctrine of the double motion of the earth about its axis and about the sun is false, and entirely contrary to Holy Scripture," and must not be taught or advocated. The decree condemned all the works of Copernicus and "all writings which affirm the motion of the earth," and placed them, and those of Kepler and Galileo, on the "Index of Prohibited Books," from which they were removed only in 1835!
In 1633 Galileo was again haled before the Inquisition, by order of Pope Urban 8: threatened with torture, and subjected to imprisonment by order of the pope. He was forced to pronounce publicly and on his knees this monstrous recantation:
"I, Galileo Galilei, being in my seventieth year, being a prisoner and on my knees, and before you, most Eminent and Reverend Lord Cardinals, Inquisitors-General against heretical depravity, having before my eyes and touching with my hands the holy gospels -- swear that I have always believed, and do now believe, and by God's help will for the future believe, all that is held, preached, and taught by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church. ... An injunction having been judiciously intimated to me by this Holy Office, to the effect that I must abandon the false opinion that the sun is the center of the world and immovable, and that the earth is not the center of the world, and moves, and that I must not hold, defend, or teach in any way whatsoever ... the said doctrine, after it had been notified to me that the said doctrine was contrary to the Holy Scripture. ... therefore. ... with sincere heart and unfeigned faith, I abjure, curse, and detest the aforesaid errors and heresies, and generally every other error and sect whatsoever contrary to the said Holy Church. ... So help me God, and his holy gospels, which I touch with my hands. ... And in witness of the truth thereof, I have with my own hand subscribed the present document of my abjuration, and recited it word for word at Rome, in the Convent of Minerva, this 22nd day of July, 1633." [The Library of Original Sources, Editor-in-chief, O.J. Thatcher; (Milwaukee: University Research Extension Co.), Vol. 5: pp. 306-7.]
From this cringing attitude to which he was forced by the inspired vicar of Yahveh, the broken old prophet of the Architect God rose in righteous rebellion of spirit, and muttered back at his holy inquisitors the immortal "Ma pur' si muove!" ("But it does move, for all that!") and tottered out to his hastening death. The world knows, too, whether Holy Ghost or Galileo was right. In 1664, Pope Alexander 7 issued his inspired bull in which be "finally, decisively, and infallibly" condemned "all books teaching the movement of the earth and the stability of the sun"; all works in which the arch heresy was taught or proposed were put upon the Index of Prohibited Books, and true faith was again triumphant on earth.
It is a curious commentary on inspiration and infallibility that the catalogue of the papal Index shows every single book published during all the Dark Ages of faith in which the genius of man sought to reveal God's true knowledge of himself through his works of nature, and to enlighten the human mind and spirit steeped in the dark superstitions of the Bible and the Church to have been banned and burned by the dictates of the Holy Ghost, because, forsooth, God's facts of nature contradicted and rendered ridiculous the ancient tales of Yahveh and "revelation!" Besides the epoch-making works of the great physicists and philosophers, scores of others, such as those of the great modern naturalists, of Linnaeus, of Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire, of Cuvier, of Lyell, of Buffon, appear in that catalogue of inspired ignorance. Buffon, just at the time of our Revolution for Independence, was forced by the inspired Vicegerent of Yahveh to subscribe and swear to this debasing formula of recantation: "I declare that I had no intention to contradict the text of scripture; that I most firmly believe all therein related about the creation, both as to order of time and the matter of facts. I abandon everything in my book respecting the formation of the earth, and generally all which may be contrary to the narrative of Moses." And his monumental Histoire Naturelle of forty-four volumes was put under the anathema of the Church in its Holy Index.
These unhappy instances of human ignorance are of no importance as such, for every day we learn things which we were ignorant of the day before, and thus we grow in knowledge. But the awful significance of these instances and all their kind is that the "Word of God" is the inspired source and fountain of all this ignorance and teaches it as "revelation" of truth; and the "Church of God," which claims to be daily taught and guided by the Spirit of Yahveh, perpetuated humanity in this ignorance under the pretense that the "Holy Ghost" advised it that all this mass of ignorance was the very truth of God, to doubt or deny which meant the terror of ecclesiastical curses and prison and rack and stake. That Bible and Church have in every single instance of conflict with science been defeated and proved in error, demonstrates that the Church is mistaken in its claims to be possessed of infallible scriptures and inspiration.
The Bible throughout, Old and New Testaments, and particularly the latter, teaches that sickness and disease are due directly to devils and demoniacal possession; Christ and his disciples cast out devils, and the sick were thereupon cured. There is never a word of medicine or surgery in all the Bible, except the fig-poultice for Hezekiah's boil, and the spit-salve in the blind man's eyes; and never a hint of the prevention or rational cure of disease. The divine prescription is: "Go, cast out devils in my name and heal the sick." According to the Bible and the Church all plagues are specifically sent by God in punishment of sin. Yes, sanitary sin! against which there is not a single word in all Scripture, though it abounds in incantations and exorcisms and "purifications." The unwashed saints of Holy Church were very active agents of Yahveh in invoking and propagating God-sent plagues. The canon law, given by the Holy Ghost to its infallible Church, declared: "The precepts of medicine are contrary to divine knowledge," for, says Holy Writ: "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up" (James, 5: 14, 15 ). And so declares Father St. Ambrose: "The precepts of medicine are contrary to celestial science, watching and prayer"; a maxim reiterated throughout the ages of faith (id est, the dark ages).
The great Father Origen thus instructs us in celestial science: "It is demons which produce famine, unfruitfulness, corruptions of the air, and pestilences; they hover concealed in clouds in the lower atmosphere, and are attracted by the blood and incense which the heathen offer to them as gods." God save the mark! The quasi-divine Father St. Augustine adds for our faith in celestial science: "All diseases of Christians are to be ascribed to these demons; chiefly do they torment fresh-baptized Christians, yea, even the guileless, new-born infants!" Father St. Bernard warned his monks that "to seek relief from disease in medicine was in harmony neither with religion nor with the honor and purity of their order." The use of the crude pain-reducing anaesthetist of the times was opposed by the inspired Church; especially their use in childbirth was objected to as an attempt "to avoid one part of the primeval curse on women"; and in 1591, Lady Macalyane was burned alive on Castle Hill in Edinburgh for seeking aid for relief of pain in the birth of her two sons! The "Apostles' Creed," regarding resurrection of the body, discouraged anatomical study, and the Church forbade surgery to monks. All dissection was forbidden by decretal of Pope Boniface 8, and excommunication was threatened against all who presumed to practice it, though the Christians tore millions of human bodies to bits on their infernal racks, and burned hundreds of thousands to ashes, thus rendering the bodily resurrection difficult if not precarious.
An awful case of belly-ache suffered by a pious nun is solemnly avowed by the Holy Father, Pope Gregory the Great, to have been caused by her having swallowed a devil along with a piece of lettuce which she was eating, she having omitted to make the sign of the cross (which is potent magic as a scare-devil); and this devil, when commanded by a holy monk to come out of her, derisively replied: "How am I to blame? I was sitting on the lettuce, and this woman, not having made the sign of the cross, ate me along with it" (Dialogi, lib. 1:c. 4 )! This Gregory the Great, Yahveh's own anointed Vicar on earth, full of the inspiration of truth, is the same through whom the Holy Ghost made the formal revelation of purgatory; the same who stopped a pestilence in Rome by marching at the head of a procession of monks and priests, and saw Michael the Archangel shooting fiery darts of death into the Holy City.
All this is of a piece with the inspired bull in which Pope Calixtus, moved by mortal fear and the Holy Ghost, is said to have excommunicated Halley's comet. In 1618, "a comet caused an eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which would have destroyed Naples had not the blood of the Invincible St. Januarius withstood it" (see Cath. Enc., Vol. 8: p. 295 ). Thousands of like inspired narratives of the Holy Ghost and Holy Church abound; it would take whole volumes to contain them. Read the Catholic Encyclopedia.
WITCHCRAFT AND INSPIRATION
One of the most piteous and murderous superstitions in all the inspired "infallible annals of the Spirit of God," is the inspired revelation of witches. Many times it is asserted in this "Word of God poured forth by Moses" that witches, witchcraft, and sorcery exist and have wrought wonders on earth; and that God himself commanded that witches and sorcerers should be put to death without mercy. All the world but a Bible Christian knows that the persons who wrote that God told them by inspired revelation to state such things were mistaken, and truth was not in what they wrote. This is the alleged positive enactment of Yahveh on Sinai: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" (Ex. 22: 17 ) -- "or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer."
Wesley, the founder of Methodism was so saturated in this "inspired Word of God" that he declared, in substance, with all the assurance of a credulous intellect: "Unless witchcraft is true, nothing in the Bible is true" -- and I admit he told the truth, though in a contrary sense. Time and again in his Journals he voiced his abiding faith in witchcraft and ghosts. I quote a few precious excerpts with the suggestion that one so credulous of such hocus-pocus may not have been wholly illumined as to other matters. Wesley records a case of "possession" which he witnessed (apparently a young woman in an epileptic fit). Note his plaintive arguments and the typical clerical sneers at the scoffers:
"When old Dr. A--- R--- was asked what her disorder was, he answered 'It is what formerly they would have called being bewitched.' And why should they not call it so now? Because the infidels have hooted witchcraft out of the world; and the complaisant Christians, in large numbers, have joined them in the cry. I do not so much wonder at this -- that so many of these herein talk like infidels. But I have sometimes been inclined to wonder at the pert, saucy, indecent manner wherein some of those trample on men far wiser than themselves; at their speaking so dogmatically against what not only the whole world, heathen and Christian, believed in ages past, but thousands, learned as well as unlearned, firmly believe at this day, ... whose manner of speaking concerning witchcraft must be keenly offensive to every sensible man, who cannot give up his Bible!" [John Wesley, Journal, June 26, 1770; Works, Ed. John Emery (New York: Carlton Lenahan), Vol. 4: p. 333.
Again the great Methodist says: "I cannot give up to all the deists in Great Britain the existence of witchcraft till I give up the credit of all history, sacred and profane. At the present time I have not only as strong, but stronger proofs of this, from eye and ear witnesses, than I have of murder; so that I cannot rationally doubt of one any more than the other" (Id., Journal, May 22, 1776; Vol. 4: pp. 451-5 ). "With my latest breath," he says, "will I bear my testimony against giving up to infidels one great proof of the invisible world; I mean that of witchcraft and apparitions, confirmed by the testimony of all ages, ... against which the unaccountableness of it is no objection to those who are convinced of the littleness of their own knowledge" (Id., "Preface to a True Relation of the Chief Things which an Evil Spirit Did and Said at Mascon, in Burgundy"; Works, Vol. 5: p. 366 ).
The testimony of all history, sacred and profane, regarding many other superstitions of faith, has been (and in some particulars, among some classes of intelligence, yet is) as persuasive as was the testimony regarding witches and ghosts to Wesley; but witches have gone glimmering despite Bible and Church; and the whole Broken-crew of devils, ghosts (Holy and otherwise), and specters of Bible superstitions is fast trailing after them to oblivion.
Hear Wesley's natural history, spoken as if by full inspiration, of primitive wild animals: "Before Adam's sin none of these attempted to devour or in any wise hurt one another; the spider was as harmless as the fly!" He had never heard what science has of late revealed about this little filth-laden, disease- disseminating imp of the devil. it is so -- for Luther is positive that "Flies are the images of heretics and devils!" But to stick to witchcraft for a moment -- not indeed that witches fly in an age of electric light, but to illustrate the darkness of holy inspiration.
It may be doubted whether Wesley was fully inspired. But the Bible is admitted to be so; and Holy Church admits that itself is. Several of its divinely inspired vicegerents of Yahveh, "by virtue of the teaching power conferred by the Almighty, and under the divine guidance against any possible error in the exercise of it" (such is their holy formula), have from time to time during the ages of faith emitted God-inspired fulminations against the unholy practices of witchcraft and sorcery so often avowed as fact and denounced as the work of the devil, in Old and New Testaments alike. I shall mention but a few samples of the infallible teachings of the Holy Ghost on this subject, by which we may judge of other like inspired teachings on other subjects; remembering "falsus in uno," etc.
Yahveh's Vicar, Pope John 22: in 1317, in his bull (it is odd that Holy Church speaks, like the Irishman, always in bulls) "Spondent Pariter," and others of like tenor, complains that both he and his flock (i.e., of "sheep") are in danger of their lives by the arts of sorcery and witchcraft; he declares that sorcerers can send devils into mirrors and finger-rings, and kill men and women by a magic word; that they have tried to kill him by piercing a waxen image of him with needles in the name of the devil. He therefore calls upon all rulers, secular and ecclesiastical, to hunt down the miscreants who thus afflict the faithful, and he especially increased the powers of the inquisitors in various parts of Europe for this pious purpose. Yahveh's Vicar, Pope Eugene 4: in 1437, in another bull exhorted the holy inquisitors of heresy and witchcraft to use greater diligence against these human agents of the Prince of darkness, and especially against such of them as have the power to produce bad weather! Yahveh's Vicar, Pope Innocent 8: on December 7, 1484, perpetrated the famous bull "Summis Desiderantes," inspired by the divine command "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," exhorting the clergy to leave no means untried to detect sorcerers, and especially those who "by evil weather destroy vineyards" (he was evidently not a prohibitionist, -- as have been none of his inspired successors, this being the unique instance in ecclesiastical history in which these vicars of Yahveh have ever pretended to champion "personal liberty" of conduct or conscience). Armed with his manual "Malleus Maleficarum" ("Witch Hammer"), his witch-hunting inquisitors scoured Europe for victims, extorting confessions by torture, and murdering millions of victims of their fanaticism.
Similar bulls were inspired by the Holy Ghost and issued by Yahveh's Vicars, Pope Julius II in 1504, and Pope Adrian VI in 1523; tens of thousands of unhappy -- and innocent -- persons were thus piously destroyed because of the inspired but ignorant belief in witchcraft and sorcery. James I of England, "By the Grace of God, King, Defender of the Faith" -- he who instigated the "Authorized Versiore' of this old Jewish witch book, and to whom it is dedicated in terms of most disgusting adulation -- wrote a famous book of demonology, and used torture to get evidence of witchcraft with which to adorn its veracious pages. On the occasion of his august bride's being driven back by a storm at sea, Dr. Fian, under torture, with his legs crushed in the "boots" and with wedges driven under his finger-nails, confessed that several hundred witches had gone to sea in a sieve from Leith and had raised storms and tempests to drive back the princess! Sir Matthew Hale, in burning two witches to death, judicially declared that he based his judgment on the direct testimony of Holy Scripture! The Church still clings to its puerile superstition: "In the face of Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Fathers and theologians the abstract possibility of a pact with the Devil and of a diabolical interference in human affairs can hardly be denied." (Cath. Encyc., Vol. 15:p. 677; art. Witchcraft.)
ANCIENT FAITH YET FULLY VALID
Yet all the foregoing outpourings of Yahveh through Moses are of the most essential "fundamentals" of the Christian religion. They are Catholic and Protestant "truth" alike, and according to the creeds of them all, "necessary to salvation," to be professed and believed; they are Christianity. The truth is admirably, if presumptuously, expressed by the great Father St. Augustine: "Neither in the confusion of paganism, nor in the defilement of heresy, nor in the lethargy of schism, nor yet in the blindness of Judaism, is religion to be sought; but among those alone who are called Catholic Christians, or the orthodox, that is, the custodians of sound doctrine and followers of right teaching" (De Vera Religione, Chap. v). The Athanasian Creed, reaffirmed by the papal encyclical "Pascendi Dominici Gregis," in 1907, avers: "Whoever will be saved, it is necessary above all else that he hold to the Catholic Faith."
Faith is the "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," as defined by the great dogmatist of the faith. The preceding pages have shown much of this "substance" very unreal, and as "evidence" of actuality to be less than nil. Some progressive and "modernist" theologians, indeed, would wave all this away as old stories, ignorant superstitions long since abandoned and forgotten by Holy Church, shining but discarded vagaries of "medieval theology." But truth is of all time; Bible and Church, in all of truth they ever had, are -- if ever they were -- as infallible, and hence as eternal, as truth -- the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. The same "Holy Ghost" inspires the Bible and presides over and inspires its infallible Church to-day as in its beginning and through all the dark ages of faith.
The Holy Ghost, unburdening itself through Pope Leo 13:in the encyclical AEterni Patris, of August 4, 1879, the purpose of which was "the revival of scholastic philosophy, according to the mind of St. Thomas Aquinas," begins with the humorous assurance, that "the Church, although officially the teacher of revealed truth only, has always been interested in the cultivation of every branch of human knowledge"! It then demonstrates how such "philosophy prepares the motives of credibility in matters of faith, and explains and vindicates revealed truths. But the truths unfolded by reason cannot contradict the truths revealed by God; hence, although in the pursuit of natural knowledge philosophy may justly [How condescending!] use its own methods, principles, and arguments, yet not so as to withdraw from the authority of divine revelation!" The encyclical next shows, by extracts from many Fathers of the Church, "what reason helped by revelation" can do for the progress of human knowledge! (Cath. Encyc., Vol. 1, p. 177.)
As if fearful that these sacred truths might be discounted, if not impiously laughed quite out of countenance in this modern age of reason and of knowledge, the Holy Ghost has very recently and repeatedly gone to much pains and suffered no little skeptical ridicule, to reaffirm the eternal truth of all its dogmas, and its own and its inspired Vicars' total infallibility in all matters of faith or belief -- or credulity.
In the year 1870, the sacred Vatican Council, convoked by Pope Pius IX and presided over by the Holy Ghost itself, expressly avowed the immutability -- the stagnation -- the fossilization -- of religious truth in all its ancient and hoary dogmas and beliefs, which some threatened to reject as discredited superstition, averring: "The doctrine of faith, which God [i.e., Yahveh] has revealed, has not been proposed as a philosophical discovery to be improved upon by human talent, but has been committed as a Divine deposit to the spouse of Christ, to be faithfully guarded and infallibly interpreted by her." It embalms its petrified "Sacred Science of Christianity" as the eternal and unchangeable revelations of Yahveh, asserting: "The Successors of St. Peter have been promised the Holy Ghost, not for the promulgation of new doctrines, but only for the preservation and interpretation of the Revelations committed by the Apostles." All this was a sort of Socratic leading-up to the climacteric formulation in writing of the terms of the inspired mandate granted of old orally by the Holy Ghost to its vicar-general on earth, and reiterating the venerable dogma of its own infallibility:
"Faithfully adhering, therefore, to the traditions inherited from the beginning of the Christian faith, we, with the approbation of the Sacred Council, for the Glory of God our Savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic Religion, and the Salvation of Christian peoples, teach and define, as a divinely-revealed dogma, that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra -- that is, when he, in the exercise of his supreme apostolic authority, decides that a doctrine concerning faith and morals is to be held by the entire Church -- he possesses, in consequence of the Divine Aid promised him in St. Peter, that infallibility with which the Divine Saviour wished to have his Church furnished for the definition of doctrine concerning faith and morals; and that such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not in consequence of the Church's consent, irreformable."
All this is as lucid of expression and inspiration as one could reasonably expect; and it expressly and Solemnly, in A.D. 1870, puts the Great Seal of Yahveh on all the bulls and claims of ecclesiastical inspiration and infallibility from the New Testament and the witch bulls, to the celebrated encyclical "Pascendi Dominici Gregis" ("Feeding the Lord's Flock") of Pope Pius X. Like Gregory 16:His Holiness finds his text in the horrified question of Augustine: "What is more deadly to the soul than the liberty of error?" and proceeds to place all liberty of thought under the curse of Yahveh God.
This monumental emanation of inspiration, put forth on September 8, 1907, reiterates the axiom of Holy Church: "Faith has for its object the unknowable"; and at great lengths proceeds to aver its own infallible knowledge of all these unknowable things; puts its ineffable anathema upon all the priceless truths of human knowledge acquired through the ages in defiance of Holy Church, and upon the precious boon of liberty of thought and conscience attained fearfully in spite of the Churches -- all of which the popish encyclical sneering dubs "Modernism," asserting that this "Modernism embraces every heresy against the inspired revelations of Bible and Church" (which, indeed, is true). It concludes with a sweeping formula of abjuration, to which all priests and clerical persons "are obliged to swear, reprobating the principal Modernist tenets" -- which, of course, include the utter denial of witches and sorcery, possession by devils, the flatness and stability of the earth, miracles, the inspiration of revelation, the virgin birth and divinity of Jesus Christ, the validity and justice of the plan of salvation, and a thousand like relics of ancient faith, incompatible with modern knowledge of the truth.
Thus in the twentieth century, the Holy Ghost itself, if Pius X -- now about to be canonized by his Church for his own miracles -- is to be credited with authentic knowledge of its true sentiments, harks back with conscious pride through the Dark Ages of Faith to its original fountains of inspired verity, and puts its seal of approval on the classic formula of faith: "Illa sola credenda est Veritas quae, in nullo ab Ecclesiastica et Apostolica discordat Traditione" -- "That only must be believed as truth which in nothing disaccords with the ecclesiastic and apostolic tradition!"
O, Fratres Ignorantiae!
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