Go read! Timothy Kauffman at Out Of His Mouth blog

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“While many Protestants deny that Roman Catholicism is a Christian denomination, one of the most persistent criticisms of Protestants by Roman Catholics is that we, allegedly, can only trace our religion back to the 16th century. Arguing that point, the Roman Catholic apologist offers what he believes to be the most compelling rebuttal possible: if Roman Catholicism is not the True Church, then the True Church must have perished shortly after it was formed, being then revived only in the 16th century, making Jesus a liar (Matthew 16:18). The Protestant is thereby presented with an unpalatable dilemma: either accept that Roman Catholicism is and always has been the True Church, or acknowledge that Jesus Christ is a liar. Many a professing Evangelical has stumbled at the false dilemma, concluding that because Jesus is not a liar, then Roman Catholicism must be the True church…

“…What we shall find in the following series is that there is an apostolic religion that actually does trace its origins to the apostles, the members of which religion rejected the late 4th century novelties and apostasy of Rome, flying instead to a place of refuge in the wilderness where they were nourished and fed by their Lord and His Word. The godly purity and simplicity of their mode of life stood in remarkable contrast to the base carnality of Rome’s bloody, deceptive and scandalous rise to power, her grasp of the Scriptures so exceptional that her Roman detractors attributed it to demonic possession. At every turn, she resisted what Roman Catholicism invented and imposed mercilessly and relentlessly upon the world, from the late 4th century idolatrous novelties, to the demonic Crusades and the idolatrous 11th century introduction of Eucharistic adoration. Through it all, she was earnestly evangelical, coming down from her place of refuge to minister the Gospel of Christ to a world ensnared in the shackles of the Roman apostasy. Every notable Reformation movement of record—movements as early as the late 4th century—originated with her. The Scriptures, as we shall see, identify her for us along the way, not only by what she did, but also by what she could not be tempted to do…”

THE OTHER WOMAN

Timothy F. Kauffman

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Go read! Timothy Kauffman

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We agree with Mr. Voris when he says that Roman Catholics worship a different god.

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Please don’t be turned off by the title – it didn’t originate with Timothy Kauffman. Michael Voris, a Catholic writer at Churchmilitant.com (the Vortex), used the term “Protty” Jesus as a way to belittle Protestant faith in the true Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible. Mr. Kauffman answers Mr. Voris here:

THE “PROTTY” JESUS

Out of His Mouth blog | Casting the Light of the Word on “works of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11)

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François Fénelon, understanding who he was – part 2

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François de Salignac de La Mothe-Fenelon, Archeveque De Cambrai (1651-1715), Joseph Vivien, 18th century, Public Domain, Wikimedia

Who was this pleasant-looking man? Who was François Fénelon?

He was a defender of the Catholic Church, even to the point of bowing to its decision when some of his writings were banned.

He was a loyal subject of his King and suffered when the King, Louis XIV, exiled him to his archbishopric in Cambrai, some say as a result of his friendship with the French mystic, Madame du Guyon, of whom Louis disapproved; some say because Louis was angry at his novel in which absolute monarchy appeared in an unfavorable light.

Could a man who was so staunch in his own views, and perceptive about human nature, refuse freedom of conscience to others? Could he harden his heart towards their suffering?

Hôtel Dieu - Paris IV by Mbzt, 31 May 2014, Wikimedia CommonsWhile he still had the favor of Louis, he was appointed to the important post of Superior of “Maison des Nouvelles-Catholiques” (House of the New Catholics), an institution where Protestant women and girls were detained for re-education. At the “Nouvelles Catholics,” the harsh treatment of the women sometimes led to their insanity and suicide; or if the women withstood the deprivations and loss of family and friends, and maintained their faith, they were sent to the Bastille, or the ‘Hostel of God’ (Hôtel-Dieu).

So should Fénelon, notwithstanding his integrity, be on devotional reading lists for Christians, including students at Christian colleges? My feeling is that, yes, if you want to know about the times in which he lived, go to him; but if you want spiritual counsel, abstain. But today, despite his suppression of the faith, Christians are reading his devotional works and excerpts from letters to those for whom he acted as spiritual director, just as they would Oswald Chambers, Spurgeon, or the Puritans (some of whom appreciated Fénelon, a friend recently told me).

But, these are Fénelon’s own words:

“The Church must be ready to punish, in the most exemplary manner, all disobedience of indocile spirits. It must finally prefer God to men, and the truth, basely attacked, to a false peace, which will only serve to prepare a more dangerous trouble. Nothing would be more cruel than a cowardly compassion which would tolerate the contagion in the whole flock, where it daily grows without measure. In such an extremity we must employ, says Saint Augustine, a medicinal rigor, a terrible tenderness, and a severe charity. . . . ‘The vigilance and industry of the shepherds,’ says he, ‘must crush the wolves, wherever they show themselves.’”

By the wolves the “sweet Fenelon” designates the Protestants.

This quote can be found at Timothy F. Kauffman’s Out of His Mouth blog, in the articles referred to in Part 1 of my own series. I’m indebted to Tim; it is difficult to find the evidence of Fénelon’s involvement in “Nouvelles Catholiques” in English, except for mention of it.

Fénelon agreed then that, “Indeed, it is entirely within the provinces of the state to punish heretics and schismatics.” (Augustine: Political and Social Philosophy)

Part of the difficulty in learning about him is that some of what he has said has been silenced by applause. He was a man of charm and some human merit. Here is the kind of praise he received in 1902 Britannica:

Fénelon is chiefly remembered for the beauty of his character, his tender and mystic devotion, and the charm of his style as a writer. He is not great as a thinker, nor can the substance of his writings be said to have a permanent value. But there is the same subtle delicacy, sensibility, and tenderness and purity of expression in his style as in his character. An exquisite highly-toned and noble genius pervades the one and the other. As a man he is one of the greatest figures in a great time. As a writer he has been placed in prose on the same level with Racine in poetry. In both there is the same full harmony and clearness, the same combination of natural grace with perfect art.

After this kind of praise who can speak a word against him? Only himself. This will be the subject of the next post in this series. 

Thank you for reading!

 

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François Fénelon, understanding who he was – part 1

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François de Salignac de La Mothe-Fenelon, Archeveque De Cambrai (1651-1715), Joseph Vivien, 18th century, Public Domain, Wikimedia

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Who was Fénelon, this mature-looking man with the intelligent, attractive face? 

Fénelon, François de Solignac de la Motte (1651–1715). Spiritual writer. In 1695 he became archbishop of Cambrai. Through his friendship with Mme Guyon and his defence of her doctrine of pure love, he became involved in the Quietist controversy and was attacked by Bossuet, as a result of which he was banished from the court in 1697. His letters of spiritual direction have long been greatly valued.

JOHN BOWKER. “Fénelon, François de Solignac de la Motte.” The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. 1997. Retrieved December 07, 2015 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O101-FnelonFranoisdeSlgncdlMtt.html

Archbishop Fénelon was a hardworking Roman Catholic priest, a nobleman who Let Go, The Spiritual Classic by Fenelon website photomoved in the circles of the nobility and gave spiritual advice to them, for example to mothers raising daughters, and even to the King of France himself, Louis XIV, the Sun King.

For a time Fénelon was tutor of the Duke of Burgundy, who later became king; was a missionary to the Huguenots (Reformed Christians); and Superior at the “Maison des Nouvelles-Catholiques,” a convent where the re-education of Protestant women, and little girls who had been removed from their parents’ homes, took place. As the author of a novel (The Adventures of Telemachus), other works, and letters he wrote as a spiritual director, he is still admired. It is a matter of concern however, that evangelical Christians are reading him devotionally (Let Go, The Spiritual Classic by Fenelon), despite the fact that he was a mystic – as all true Roman Catholics are – and a persecutor of Christians.

Oddly, the well-read and sensible E.H. Broadbent, whose book The Pilgrim Church I’ve been reading, mentioned him in a section subtitled “INFLUENCES for GOOD in the ROMISH CHURCH”:

Madame Guyon (1648-1717) by her life and writings led wide circles to strive after a life of perfect love and entire acquiescence to the will of God. The gifted and saintly Archbishop Fénelon accepted and defended her teaching at the cost of all his popularity and prospects at court. Louis XIV imprisoned her repeatedly, at last in the dreaded Bastille, but those stone walls, twelve feet thick, could not check the influence and spread of her teaching. (p. 289-290)

As a student I learned about Fénelon in French class, and received the naïve impression that he was only a distinguished person from the golden age of French classic drama and fairy tales. Much later I learned from Timothy F. Kauffman, at Out of His Mouth blogabout Fénelon’s persecution of the Huguenots, and of Kauffman’s concern that Presbyterian pastors and professors were promoting Fénelon, and by means of Fénelon, promoting an appreciation of Catholicism among younger Presbyterians.

After this, Fénelon’s advice began turning up in posts at a blog I follow, written by a young Presbyterian. From reading a few of these posts, my impression is that Fénelon’s spiritual direction involved a minute examination of motives in an effort to eradicate selfishness from the human heart. But doesn’t God’s Word sanctify His children? “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17) Also, Fénelon spoke with such authority about things he couldn’t have known, and because of his position people would have listened and felt the need to obey. It is as if he was certain that he could clearly see into a man’s thoughts, when we know that’s impossible, “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?” (1 Corinthians 2:11a)

France has been called ‘the eldest daughter of Rome’ – to me, a chilling label. View of La Rochelle, 1573, pen and ink drawing, Public Domain, WikimediaFénelon was born, raised, and lived in this nation the century after the French Wars of Religion (1562–98), which followed the Reformation, when “between 2,000,000 and 4,000,000 people were killed as a result of war, famine and disease” (quote from Wikipedia, cited to Robert J. Knecht’s 2002 book The French Religious Wars 1562-1598, Osprey Publishing). The supremacy and peace of Fénelon’s One True Church and Catholic France had been undermined by enemies who still lived in rebellion within his homeland. But we know that these enemies were Reformed Christians, many of whom were children of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone; and so it was Christ’s kingdom that had intruded upon France and the Kingdom of Antichrist, as it had in the Middle Ages in the case of the Vaudois (Waldenses) and Albigois (Albigenses). 

Fénelon was an important actor in the Counter-Reformation, so what are Christians doing reading him for spiritual advice? The following gives the Catholic view of his motivations and actions as he strove to help reestablish the Catholicity of France. 

(A link to the Edict of Nantes at a Protestant website has been added in this text.) 

François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon 

New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia online

In 1678 Harlay de Champvallon, Archbishop of Paris, entrusted Fénelon with the direction of the house of “Nouvelles-Catholiques”, a community founded in 1634 by Archbishop Jean-François de Gondi for Protestant young women about to enter the Church or converts who needed to be strengthened in the Faith. It was a new and delicate form of apostolate which thus offered itself to Fénelon’s zeal and required all the resources of his theological knowledge, persuasive eloquence, and magnetic personality. Within late years his conduct has been severely criticized, and he has been even called intolerant but these charges are without serious foundation and have not been accepted even by the Protestant authors of the “Encyclopédie des Sciences Religieuses”; their verdict on Fénelon is that in justice to him it must be said that in making converts he ever employed persuasion rather than severity”.

When Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, by which Henry IV had granted freedom of public worship to the Protestants, missionaries were chosen from among the greatest orators of the day, e.g. Bourdaloue, Fléchier, and others, and were sent to those parts of France where heretics were most numerous, to labour for their conversion. At the suggestion of his friend Bossuet, Fénelon was sent with five companions to Santonge, where he manifested great zeal, though his methods were always tempered by gentleness. According to Cardinal de Bausset, he induced Louis XIV to remove all troops and all evidences of compulsion from the places he visited, and it is certain that he proposed and insisted on many methods of which the king did not approve. “When hearts are to be moved”, he wrote to Seignelay, “force avails not. Conviction is the only real conversion”. Instead of force he employed patience, established classes, and distributed New Testaments and catechisms in the vernacular. Above all, he laid especial emphasis on preaching provided the sermons were by gentle preachers who have a faculty not only for instructing but for winning the confidence of their hearers”. It is doubtless true, as recently published documents prove, that he did not altogether repudiate measures of force, but he only allowed them as a last resource. Even then his severity was confined to exiling from their villages a few recalcitrants and to constraining others under the small penalty of five sous to attend the religious instructions in the churches. Nor did he think that preachers ought to advocate openly even these measures; similarly he was unwilling to have known the Catholic authorship of pamphlets against Protestant ministers which he proposed to have printed in Holland. This was certainly an excess of cleverness; but it proves at least that Fénelon was not in sympathy with that vague tolerance founded on scepticism which the eighteenth century rationalists charged him with. In such matters he shared the opinions of all the other great Catholics of his day. With Bossuet and St. Augustine he held that “to be obliged to do good is always an advantage and that heretics and schismatics, when forced to apply their minds to the consideration of truth, eventually lay aside their erroneous beliefs, whereas they would never have examined these matters had not authority constrained them.”

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Please stay tuned for part two! 

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FURTHER STUDY:

Edict of Nantes (1598)

Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (October 22, 1685)

The eight wars of religion (1562-1598)

PEDDLING FÉNELON

L’INTOLÉRANCE DE FÉNELON – The Intolerance of Fénelon

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What is the pilgrim Church?

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A question keeps popping up from Catholics critical of Biblical faith, and from Evangelicals who defend Catholicism, both here at my blog in a small way, and regularly at Timothy Kauffman’s Out of His Mouth blog. These critics believe that it can’t be answered – perhaps they want to believe that it can’t be. They ask,

If Biblical faith is “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” where was it during the many centuries when Catholicism and Orthodoxy were all there was of Christianity? That is, if Bible Christianity really is the true faith, why did the gates of hell prevail against it so that after the apostles it ceased to exist? 

This has been answered but the answers are usually rejected. E.H. Broadbent, in his book The Pilgrim Church, and others, have demonstrated that the belief that Bible Christianity did not exist is held because Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, which held sway over the church for so long, labeled dissenters ‘heretics’, killed or scattered them, destroyed their writings, and were the ones who wrote the history that came down to us, or influenced much of the history that has been written since. 

Using facts learned through careful research, along with Biblical discernment, God’s children can follow the trail of bloody footprints of those who treasured God’s Word and walked humbly with Him. Sometimes, for a time, the trail disappears in the thickets of the forest of this world and then emerges again. It reappears wherever the Bible is preached, for the Holy Spirit – the Lord – honors His Word that gives life. (Broadbent’s view)

1 Peter 1:22-25 

22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Because these pilgrims desired to live according to New Testament practice, and rejected the prevalent idolatry, the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches accused them of heresy, labeling them ‘Manichaens’* (see below). Once labeled, and therefore shown to be a threat against both Church and State, they could be eliminated.

Excerpt from the Preface to

The Pilgrim Church by E.H. Broadbent

“The tragedy and glory of ‘The Pilgrim Church’ can only be faintly indicated as yet, nor can they be fully known until the time comes when the Word of the Lord is fulfilled: ‘there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known’ (Matt. 10. 26). At present, albeit through mists of our ignorance and misunderstanding, we see her warring against the powers of darkness, witnessing for her Lord in the world, suffering as she follows in His footsteps. Her people are ever pilgrims, establishing no earthly institution, because having in view the heavenly city. In their likeness to their Master they might be called Stones which the Builders Rejected (Luke 20. 17), and they are sustained in the confident hope that, when His kingdom is revealed, they will be sharers in it with Him.”

Excerpt from Chapter III – “Paulicians and Bogomils”

(A.D. 50 – 1473)

“The union of Church and State was in all times looked upon by many of the Lord’s disciples as contrary to His teaching; but whenever the Church had the power of the State at its command, it used it for the forcible suppression of any who dissented from its system or in any way refused compliance with its demands, and great numbers through indifference or interest or fear yielded at least an outward obedience. There were, however, always some who could not be induced to do this, but who still endeavoured to follow Christ and keep the teachings of His Word and the doctrine of the Apostles. These were continually objects of persecution.

“The history of the centuries which followed Constantine unfolds the growth in worldliness and ambition of the clergy, both of the Eastern and Western Catholic churches, until they claimed entire dominion over the possessions and consciences of mankind, enforcing these claims with a violence and guile that knew no limits. It also reveals vistas here and there of the path of tribulation trodden by countless saints who, at all times, and in various places, have suffered all things at the hands of the dominant World-Church, rather than deny Christ or be turned back from following Him.

“The true histories of these have been obliterated as far as possible; their writings, sharing the fate of the writers, have been destroyed to the full extent of the power allowed to their persecutors. Not only so, but histories of them have been promulgated by those to whose interest it was to disseminate the worst inventions against them in order to justify their own cruelties. In such accounts they are depicted as heretics, and evil doctrines are ascribed to them which they repudiated. They are called ‘sects’, and labels are attached to them which they themselves would not acknowledge. They usually called themselves Christian or Brethren, but numerous names were given to them by others in order to create the impression that they represented many new, strange, and unconnected sects, opprobrious epithets being applied to them to bring them into disrepute. It is therefore difficult to trace their history; what their adversaries have written of them must be suspected; words from their own lips wrung out by torture are valueless. There is, however, in spite of these hindrances, a large body of trustworthy evidence, continually being added to by further investigation, which shows what they were and did, what they believed and taught; and these their own records afford a safe guide to their faith and practice.

“Even in the first three centuries there were numerous bodies of Christians who protested against the growing laxity and worldliness in the Church, and against its departure from the teachings of Scripture. Movements of revival have never ceased to be repeated, and even when no connection between one and another is visible, the underlying cause is the same—a desire to return to the practice of some New Testament truth. In the early centuries Asia Minor and Armenia were frequently the scene of such revivings, as well as being the refuge of churches that had from the first, in varying degree, maintained purity of doctrine and godliness of life.”

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Excerpt from The Key of Truth, a manual of the Paulician church of Armenia

EDITED AND TRANSLATED WITH ILLUSTRATIVE DOCUMENTS AND INTRODUCTION BY FRED. C. CONYBEARE, M.A., FORMERLY FELLOW OF UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, OXFORD, AT THE CLARENDON PRESS, 1898

THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION

The Book called the Key of Truth. It was written x in the era of the Saviour 1782, but of the Armenians 1230; and in the province of Taron.

Address to my dear readers.

Although the throng of distractions, and the temptations and
storms of the world, and the manifold hindrances, strong to disturb
our transitory life in various ways,— although these have sorely
beset us and suffered us not to undertake this necessary work;
nevertheless the pressing needs of the Truth of our Lord Jesus
the Son of the heavenly Father, and zeal of the Holy Spirit [urged
us ] j — yea, and also to meet the prayers of many believers, and
especially because of supreme necessity — I have cast behind me
all the affairs 2 of this transitory life, and have spared nothing in
order to give unto you, my new-born children of the universal
and apostolic Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, the holy milk,
whereby ye may be nourished in the faith. .

Wherefore the Spirit of the Father in Heaven hath taken hold
of us and inspired us to write this ‘ way and truth and life.’ Foras-
much as for a long time past the spirit of deception had shut
up the Truth, as our Lord saith : The tares had suffocated it.
Furthermore it is a little and slender discourse that I have
published to you, briefly and not opulently. The which ye shall
read with deep attention, unto the glory of Jesus the Son, the
Intercessor, and unto the honour of his Father . . .

Excerpts from “The Paulicians – What Were They by Timothy W. Dunkin”

“Hence, while ‘religion’ may predominate in, or even control, an area, this does not mean that true Bible Christianity will be the norm. Indeed, based on these, it seems reasonable to conclude that, especially in times such as the Middle Ages when the socio-political system was so thoroughly dominated by apostate religion, the appearance of biblical Christianity would take on the form of these various ‘out-groups’ that cropped up here and there at times throughout this period. The Paulicians do seem to have been one of these groups, and therefore would legitimately form a part of the Baptist folkways that wind their way back to the original churches of the 1st century…

“Again, I wish to reiterate that I reject the principle of ‘apostolic succession,’ whether in its Catholic form, or in the form adopted by some Baptists who believe in strict, bishop-to-bishop, church-to-church successionism (i.e. Landmarkism). I believe that what gives a church body ‘credibility’ as a true church is where it stands on the doctrines of the Word of God…

“So, when I point to the Paulicians as part of the ‘Baptist folkways that wind their way back to the original churches of the 1st century,’ I do not mean this successionally. Rather, I mean it holistically – God has been at work, throughout this age, working in men’s hearts using His Spirit and His Word. At certain times and in certain areas, salvation and revival have broken out, and these peoples have organized themselves into the polity and followed the doctrines that they found through a plain, literal, and contextual reading of the Bible. The Paulicians were one of these groups, being witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ in Armenia and the surrounding areas during a time of near-universal apostasy.”

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*Manichaeism – a dualistic religious system with Christian, Gnostic, and pagan elements, founded in Persia in the 3rd century by Manes ( circa 216– circa 276). The system was based on a supposed primeval conflict between light and darkness. It spread widely in the Roman Empire and in Asia, and survived in eastern Turkestan (Xinjiang) until the 13th century. (Google Chrome definition)

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FURTHER READING:

The Paulicians – What Were They? by Timothy W. Dunkin at Study to Answer.Net

HISTORY OF THE PAULICIAN ICONOCLASTS – Part 1 by Rand Winburn at iconbusters.com

HISTORY OF THE PAULICIAN ICONOCLASTS – Part 2 by Rand Winburn at iconbusters.com

Full text of “The key of truth, a manual of the Paulician church of Armenia” at archive.org

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