Friday, June 22, 2007

Query letter to This Rock

This is a query letter to This Rock. A query letter is a 1-page pitch for an article. It's SOP for magazines.

Any comments on grammar, content, etc. would be much appreciated. (Should magesterial infallibility be capitalized? )

June 21, 2007

Tim Ryland
This Rock
2020 Gillespie Way
El Cajon, California 92020-0407

Dear Mr. Ryland,

Between 254A.D. and 257A.D., Pope Stephen defended orthodoxy with respect to both baptism and his own authority in a single decision that stands as the most underrated in Christian history.

Pope Stephen’s decision has been largely overlooked by Catholic apologists as a means for persuading mainline Protestants that sola scriptura is wrong and magisterial infallibility is right. Today, there is no disagreement among mainline Protestants and Catholics as to what constitutes a valid Christian baptism. Baptism is valid if it involves the application of water, and is performed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with the intention of doing what Jesus commanded. Cyprian and others took the unorthodox position that the baptism of heretics was invalid, simply because they were in schism. They defended this position by appealing to Scripture over the authority of the Roman episcopate. It was Stephen who preserved orthodoxy by asserting the validity of any Trinitarian baptism. And he defended his own authority to make this decision with an appeal to Matthew 16:18.

All of us, both Catholic and Protestant, place our hope for Christian unity in our common baptism. Where would we be today if Cyprian had prevailed? Mainline Protestantism requires one to believe that Stephen indeed made a very wise (and scripturally sound) decision on the issue of heretical baptism, but that he grossly misinterpreted Matthew 16:18 in defending his own authority to make that very same decision. This strains credibility. Is there any way that Stephen came to the right conclusion about baptism apart from the Wisdom of God? Would God have granted His Wisdom to a man who would, virtually in the same breath, attempt to seize for himself authority that rightly belonged to scripture alone?

Cyprian loved God and His Word. His stance on the issue of baptism was motivated not by moral rigidity but by compassion. He only wanted to give people an assurance of the forgiveness of their sins. Does this remind you of anyone else in Church history?

I have developed this idea more fully in an article entitled, “Sola Scriptura vs. Magisterial Infallibility: How Baptismal Unity Was Preserved in the Early Church.” I believe this article is well suited for the “Classic Apologetics” section of This Rock.

If such an article would be of interest to you, please send me the requirements for the column. I will tailor the material to meet your needs. Thank you for taking the time to consider my idea.

His servant and yours,

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I'm so proud of this quote that I'm sure it's a sin.

"Tradition may be the living faith of the dead and the dead faith of the living,, but the modern alternative to tradition is the faith of the living dead."

-Xavier Martel, 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Reflections on SOV2

Things are always interesting on the SOV2 blog site ( Though they seldom delve deep the parodiers often need to incorporate elements of theology into their posts. The confused Che for example indirectly refers to Humanae Vitae by referring to Pope John Paul II as someone who was "all about" "STOP THAT."

A job I would hate to have is attempting to respond to the riled up dissenters in charity. Such is the case with a certain Winnipeg Catholic who certainly preaches a different gospel than JP2's Theology of the Body. Feeling somewhat bad that he was met largely with derision and scorn (deservedly?) I made a small attempt to mollify. Based on past experiences I have found this is almost invariably the wrong path to pursue! Such attempts - like standing between two determined combatants - surely results in abuse to oneself.

This minor case points out the inherent weakness in Satire as an effective means of evangelization. Within parody there is little method of expounding truth except through counter example. Che is not about to launch into a deep discussion of H.V. he can't even spell it correctly. He can lampoon the other side but it must be recognized that even this is a very feeble (and unkind) form of criticism. I have little doubt there are people as gullible and as easily misled as Che but they are not likely to see themselves in that light.

The more serious flaw in attempting to use Parody as Evangelism is that the bitter nature of this comedic form tends to drive opponents away rather than drawing them towards the truth. We wouldn't expect Winnipeg to walk away from SOV2 feeling more positive towards groups he labels Cathlofascists or what-not (I'm not conviced that Winnipeg is not himself a parody!)

That is not to say that satire does not have its uses. Msgr Ronald Knox employed Satire to devestating effect in his "Satirical Essays" as he blasted wide holes in the inner logic of modern biblical criticism. The result of this effort was unlikely to win a single soul to Christ, rather the positive effect was to perhaps strengthen and reassure the Christian faith by reducing the Goliath of opponents through ridicule down to a manageable size.

And for this reason parody should spare individuals as much as possible. We must bear in mind that all men are created in God's image. We must remind urselves over and over again that our calling does not lie in the downward in the direction of buffoonery, but rather upward and away from the squalor of our sins.