Garry Wills, Apostate, vs. Stephen Colbert, Catechist

In his weird subversive way, Colbert reaches more people with actual catechesis than almost any figure in the media.

Wills, meantime, is completely off the deep end when it comes to Augustine’s views on the Eucharist, his dismissal of Hebrews, and his now thorough Protestant idiosyncracies.

Frank Weathers did the heavy lifting finding the numerous quotes from Augustine on the Real Presence. Sad to see Wills apostatize. Bear that apostasy in mind as the Times looks through its tiny Rolodex of Approved Catholic Dissenters and reliably gets Wills to voice his despair that the next Pope will be Catholic and not the generic liberal Protestant he stamps his tiny foot and demands.

Apostasy and hopelessness are peas in a pod.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Manalive/121980571501?ref=ts&fref=ts Joey Odendahl

    He gives no credit to priests beyond their leadership ability to teach the Bible? He needs to experience what I did when I spent a retreat with a group of Capuchins in Milwaukee. Those guys lived in a neighborhood where every building was covered in graffiti except their own. The more time I spent with them, the more I realized why. They HELPED the people of that neighborhood in so many ways… Shoveling the driveways of shut-ins, helping people do their taxes, handing out free clothes & blankets, running a soup kitchen, homeless shelter and cancer center, prison ministry, hospital ministry, Etc. Etc. No way in hell could he walk away from a retreat like that and ask, “Why priests?”

    • Bill M.

      I spent a couple days with those very Capuchins, Joey, and you are absolutely right.

  • Andrew K.

    I enjoy Wills’ work, but I do not understand why he stays. The Catholic Church is going to continue to be the ongoing train wreck. Better to put effort elsewhere than hope for a renewal that simply will not happen.

    • antigon

      “I enjoy Wills’ work, but I do not understand why he stays. ”

      He stays for the pleasure of watching folk take him seriously, despite the mocking openness of his plagiarism. His master has a similar sensibility.

      • Claude

        I enjoy Wills’ work, but I do not understand why he stays.

        If you really want to know, Wills wrote a book-length response to the question: Why I am a Catholic.

      • dpt

        Yes, the dissenting role brings him attention from the media. It bestows upon him an element of power.

        • Scott W.

          Well if he were to go Episcopalian, he would experience the Matthew Fox Effect–news media would stop returning his calls. Dissidents hang around the Church for the prestige that can be stolen for it–anywhere else and they are dime-a-dozen.

          (Credit to Dale Price for the Matthew Fox Effect. )

          • Claude

            Nonsense. Wills writes on numerous topics besides religion. He won the Pulitzer for Lincoln at Gettysburg. If he became Protestant the literati would be knocking down his door for pieces on Protestantism.

            • thomas tucker

              Whaddaya mean “if” he became Protestant? The only sense in which he is a Catholic is that he was baptized one. His beliefs and self-described doctrines are Protestant ones.

  • Bill

    Oh sure. Gary Willis is transcendent. The Church? Meh, an old busted hot mess.

    Get real Andrew. Wilis has one foot in the grave of relevance and the other on a banana peel.

    But trollers are, as is their nature, going to troll

  • The True Will

    Ah, yes, it’s that pesky Epistle to the Hebrews that causes all the trouble!
    And “You shall lay your hands on the sick and they shall recover” is not in the Bible?

    • http://theophor.us Ignatius Theophorus

      I think he takes Luther’s opinion of the book of James.

  • http://www.wakingupcatholic.com Chad Torgerson

    How can you call yourself Catholic, but question the most important concepts of the Church? He considers himself intelligent, but his contradictions would say otherwise.

    Colbert did a great job of countering his arguments. Some may question Colbert because of his satirical ways, but underneath the character he is playing, there is an intelligent, seemingly well-catechized Catholic.

  • Cheri

    He lost his credibility for me early on, when he mentioned papal infallibility. He doesn’t seem to have a very firm grasp of the concept of ex cathedra. I skimmed the rest and saw plenty of half-truths and misinformation. Typical writing about Catholicism, especially for the Times.

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    I can’t believe it was two years ago, already, but here’s a good piece, also written around this time of year, about Colbert’s “covert catechesis.” http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Colberts-Cloak-and-Dagger-Catechesis-Matt-Emerson-05-27-2011.html

  • David J. White

    If you really want to know, Wills wrote a book-length response to the question: Why I am a Catholic.

    I read it. I didn’t think he really gave a satisfactory answer.

    He stays for the pleasure of watching folk take him seriously

    I’m reminded of what Lytton Strachey says about Newman in his biography of Cardinal Manning in Eminent Victorians: that as long as he remained Anglican, Newman received a great deal of attention, but the minute he became Catholic, he became “unimportant”. After all, an Anglican priest who talks like a Catholic is news; a Catholic who talks like a Catholic is not.

    • Claude

      What was unsatisfactory about his answer?

  • ivan_the_mad

    Wills isn’t even coherent. Where’d he get that foolishness, some random site on Geocities?

  • Modern Revert

    After 20 years as an ECO-Catholic, I was compelled last year to revert into practicing my faith again; ironically driven there by the rabid anti-Catholic hatred encountered on Huffington Post! Since then, I’ve been demoralized by a class of individuals (and groups) I have nicknamed “Corrosive Catholics”. Those who consider themselves “Catholic” while espousing bitter and venomous views so far outside church teachings that it is obvious to everyone (but themselves?) that they are Protestant. Chipping away at the church foundation and structure with words (hammer, picks, fingernails)-they must realize they are also attacking the minds and souls of believers. It’s painful and unnecessary. Please leave, you’ll be happier and so will we.

    • L. Fleure

      “Please leave, you’ll be happier and so will we.” This is not an authentic Catholic response and certainly not the result of prayerful discernment. I might suggest taking time to mediate on Christ encounters with the Samaritan women at the well and with the Syrophonecian women, as well as the parable of the prodigal son. It is fruitful to examine who we would exclude from God’s house. Often this examine leads to insights about our own shortcomings.

  • Stu

    I have a hard time being sympathetic to people who think like Wills. I don’t see how they don’t realize that the changes they want will only come through destruction of the Church’s foundation.

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    Strange, but not uncommon. Sort of like me saying I’m an NBA all-star. Someone might point out that I’m 5’9″, can barely walk and chew gum anymore, would take 200 shots to make a basket, and don’t even care for most of the game of basketball anyway. But, I say it, it is so. I put this in the same category of those 20% or so atheists who say they believe in God. It’s strange, but very modern.

  • http://soulsagabooks.blogspot.com/ Brian

    I have a mixed opnion of Colbert, but Wills’ on-air debacle cemented my disdain for his theology.

    Here’s a tip for authors peddling heretical books: when looking for a show to promote your platform, make sure the host doesn’t teach CCD.

  • Michaelus

    Colbert should have asked him if the early female “priests” were a good thing – that would have been fun to watch.

    It is pretty disturbing to read the stuff this guy writes. Possibly he just wants to get invited to parties with the cool people – but it is hard to comprehend how he could be so ignorant.

    • Claude

      Wills is a highly distinguished public intellectual. Cool people want to go to his parties.

      How many books have you written on Catholic history and theology? Let me guess. None.

      • Chris M

        Gary Wills’ small talk has can influence Catholic doctrine.
        The Pope asks for Gary Wills’ blessing.
        St. Peter cannot deny Gary Wills.
        Gary Wills is.. the most interesting heretic in the world.

        • Chris M

          Gary Wills never makes typos. ;)

        • Dave K

          You forgot; “Stay thirsty my friend”.

      • Dave Pawlak

        How many books have you written on Catholic history and theology? Let me guess. None.

        Maybe I haven’t, but Our Esteemed Host has. I’d rather attend one of his parties, thank you very much. I’d be less bored, for one thing…

      • Dale Price

        Jack Chick writes books about Catholic history and theology.

        Do you have an argument that isn’t a variation on “Don’t You Know Who I Am?”

        • http://creativefidelity.wordpress.com Dan F.

          +1 internets to Dale

        • Claude

          It should go without saying that I am talking about erudite books written by thoughtful people.

          But good for you! You scored a cheap point!

          • Dale Price

            Yeah, because arguments from publication are such winners. What, too close for comfort?

            Your “goes without saying” sentence is classic question-begging. However, for the sake of argument, I am willing to concede that Wills is a more erudite version of Chick, even if the latter is more intellectually honest.

            • Claude

              But I’m not willing to concede that “Michaelus,” whose feeble ad hom you appear to be supporting here, is better informed that Garry Wills.

              • Dale Price

                Whereas your argument is “It’s GARRY WILLS–QED!” Ad hominem vs. argument from authority.

                Sounds like a tie.

                Wills’ books on Catholicism have about the same scholarly merit as Nixon’s post-resignation pop-foreign policy tomes: there’s the occasional insight, but there are less-salted fields one can till for knowledge.

              • Mark Shea

                So…. are you seriously suggesting, as Wills appears to be, that a Christianity which hitherto knew nothing of the Eucharist as a sacrifice (and therefore of a priesthood) and of the Real Presence was suddenly dragooned into *inventing* a priesthood and imposing it on the whole Church all the way across the Mediterranean–and managed to do so by means of an anonymous book that too centuries for all the Church’s to even settle on using in liturgy? And nobody made a peep about this? Also, if the whole Melchizedek thing is just something tacked on after the fall of the Temple, how come Jesus seems so interested in Psalm 110 in the gospels? Please answer *without* appealing to the size of Garry Wills testicles. I would like *your* answer. Because it looks an awful lot to me like the *earliest* account we have of the Eucharist in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11 takes the Real Presence for granted and parallels it with and contrasts it to the sacrificial offerings made to pagan gods, all while strongly implying the Real Presence by warning about sinning against it (hard to sin against bread and wine). And since the New Testament witness does look rather like the Eucharist is a sacrifice, it follows that there is a priesthood offering that sacrifice, just as Hebrews points out. In short, Hebrews seems to quite obviously *reflect* long-established Christian practice, not invent and impose it on a Church that a) had never heard of it before and b) had a tendency to be resistant to novelty. Indeed, the reason Hebrews is written is because many Christians were such natural conservatives they were tempted to just chuck it and go back to Judaism and its sacrificial system (which indicates, by the way, that Hebrews was probably written before the destruction of the Temple, not after).

                • Andrew K.

                  I would attempt to answer what you have said, Mark, but we both know their is no point. I would suggest that you are doing ecclesial eisegesis to 1 Corinthians, reading into it your understanding of the real presence. Indeed, a significant portion of 1 Corinthians 11 is about the agape meal of which the Eucharist was a part. I do not think your interpretation is false, but I would caution that it is not the only one, nor the only correct one. And while Wills hangs too much on Hebrews, I think Hebrews subverts the very idea of Eucharist as ongoing sacrifice, pointing instead to re-presentation of the finished work of Christ, both priest and victim.

                  I actually did not come here to troll. I saw a headline at another blog I read here, and I looked in. I left the Catholic Church, and I am a better disciple for having done so. Personally, I enjoyed the discussion that Wills and Colbert had, because they jousted, doing better theological discussion in a five minute segment than EWTN does in 12 hours of programming. I think Wills offers something of value. However, if you think he is a apostate, and belongs outside the RCC, he has a lot of sisters and brothers who would welcome him.

                  • Dale Price

                    Apostate is probably too strong–he confesses Christ’s divinity, at least in some sense.

                    But if he were being completely honest with himself, he’d recognize that he’s an Anabaptist congregationalist with sentimental attachment to the rosary and other non-essentials.

                    Also, it would seem possible that anti-sacramental/-sacerdotal readings of the NT are eisegesis, too, read through low-church, anti-clerical lenses.

                    • Andrew K.

                      But if he were being completely honest with himself, he’d recognize that he’s an Anabaptist congregationalist with sentimental attachment to the rosary and other non-essentials.

                      Nothing wrong with that! He has great company among the Anabaptists. One in particular I have found enlightening is James William McClendon, Jr., an excellent theologian, although he identified himself as a baptist (with a small “b”).

                      Also, it would seem possible that anti-sacramental/-sacerdotal readings of the NT are eisegesis, too, read through low-church, anti-clerical lenses.

                      I should clarify. Eisegesis is usually considered “bad,” but it may also be unavoidable. I just think one has to be careful and aware of how much of your exegesis may really be eisegesis.

                    • Mark Shea

                      He has rejected the Catholic faith. He is an apostate. The people to whom the letter to the Hebrews was addressed were believers in Jesus who hoped, exactly like Wills, to go on being believers while rejecting the Church. Read what Hebrews 6 has to say to them. Wills is a danger to souls. And yeah, your diagnosis of his theology is about right.

                    • Dale Price

                      No, I have no particular beef with Anabaptists. They’re perfectly lovely people. But they don’t insist on calling themselves Catholics, either.

                    • Andrew K.

                      No, I have no particular beef with Anabaptists. They’re perfectly lovely people. But they don’t insist on calling themselves Catholics, either.

                      Exactly. I do not call myself Catholic, beyond my heritage. I say I am out, so I am out.

                      However, Wills does remain a Catholic. He is not out, does not want to be out, and no one is trying to show him the door. Mark Shea has no ability to remove him from the church beyond claiming that Wills is outside of it. Wills remains a Catholic, despite what Mark Shea would say about it. Somehow, I think that frustrates Mark Shea.

                    • Dale Price

                      Actually, Mark speaks for a lot of us when it comes to Wills. Many of us have made serious personal sacrifices to follow church teaching, teaching he routinely offers up for the scorn of the chattering classes–e.g., Humanae Vitae. He continues to do it here, playing Catholic doctrine for clapper humor chuckles.

                      What Wills is saying isn’t remotely Catholic, and no one would have had the chutzpa to state the positions he does and still stubbornly claim to be Catholic prior to the Second Council. The defector in place shtick convinces no one not already in his corner, and has acquired an eau de carnival barker at this point.

                  • Claude

                    I’m grateful to you for this response. I was going to mention the agape but you have done a far better job than I could. I, too, lapsed (long ago), due in part to skepticism of church authority.

                    I also did not come here to troll. I was interested in what people had to say about this delightful Colbert segment. Oh well.

                    • Claude

                      ^ in response to Andrew K.

                    • bob cratchit

                      “Mark Shea has no ability to remove him from the church beyond claiming that Wills is outside of it.” Honestly? Wills own statements are his betrayal, blaspheming Christ. It’s like when St. Athanasius says to the Arians, “Who has deceived you, O senseless, to call the Creator a creature?” Which is what Wills does.

                • The True Will

                  But don’t you understand? The absence of any evidence of the conspiracy to invent an ecclesiastical hierarchy proves that it was covered up.
                  And that chair looks empty, so there is an invisible cat in it.

        • http://losthunderlads.com Acilius

          But Dale, Jack Chick gives the best parties.

      • MarylandBill

        Distinguished Public Intellectual simply means someone who is better promoting their intellectual abilities than they are at applying them.

        It is so easy to loose ones faith by asking what is reasonable because the problem is that there is a difference between what something being reasonable tells us and what reason can tell us when it is applied rigorously.

        • Claude

          Distinguished Public Intellectual simply means someone who is better promoting their intellectual abilities than they are at applying them.

          Um, no. A distinguished public intellectual is an academic who has published widely to critical acclaim over a long career.

          Glad I could clear that up for you.

          • Dave Pawlak

            A distinguished public intellectual is an academic who has published widely to critical acclaim over a long career.

            You mean like C.S. Lewis? He was an academic (Oxford lecturer, then full Professor at Cambridge), still is published widely to critical acclaim from a wide range of believers (Evangelicals and Catholics alike), and had a 30 year run before his untimely death…

          • MarylandBill

            Sorry Claude, I spent enough time in Colleges and Universities to know the difference. To be a distinguished intellectual, you need, perhaps to receive the acclaim of your peers, but to become a distinguished public intellectual requires a large element of self promotion and some luck.

            I also know that in some fields, and church history is one such field, to be widely acclaimed merely requires you to agree with the right hypothesis.

            • Michaelus

              Wills also uses the idiotic “B.C.E. and C.E.” nomenclature so he must be an advanced life form.

              Honestly – it is possible to advance a fairly decent (but wrong) argument for e.g. consubstantiality. It is not possible to seriously argue that Augustine believed that the Eucharist was simply a picnic. Maybe I can go on TV and quote the old Baltimore Catechism definition of a sacrament (“an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace”) and then claim that the Church taught that the Eucharist is just an “outward sign” until John Paul II – or heck until Benedict XVI. That ought to be good for at least one NY Times bestseller.

              • Dale Price

                It is not possible to seriously argue that Augustine believed that the Eucharist was simply a picnic.

                Bingo, to use the Catholic term. In fact, given his research into Augustine, it is safe to say that Wills is being deliberately deceptive with his cherry-picking. But he does so to critical acclaim, which is what counts.

                • Claude

                  Augustine, Sermon 227, as Wills related:

                  Let the Sacrament not appear of trifling value to you because you look upon it. What you see passes; but the invisible, that which is not seen, does not pass; it remains. Behold, it is received; it is eaten; it is consumed. Is the body of Christ consumed? Is the Church of Christ consumed? Are the members of Christ consumed? God forbid!

                  • An Aaron, not the Aaron

                    This seems like Augustine’s response to an argument that if the Eucharist was Christ’s Body, it would be gone already. See the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes for further elaboration on St. Augustine’s point.

                  • Mark Shea

                    Which is not, of course, in the least a denial of the Real Presence still less a disproof of the priesthood.

              • An Aaron, not the Aaron

                Anytime you see someone use B.C.E. or C.E., that’s a good clue that person doesn’t know what he or she is talking about. An old professor of mine tried to convince me once that “common era” language was better because it was “more accurate,” as if one could then pretend that the location in time of the 1 B.C.E. / 1 C.E. split was entirely random. Um, the Christian calendar is based upon the Incarnation. The only way it could be more accurate is if you shifted the numbers a few years. Otherwise, nothing significant is remembered in the split (what is “common” about 1 AD that isn’t “common” about 1 BC?). Deleting the Christian aspect of the calendar only tells your readers that you’re ignorant of the source and background of the calendar, or that you’re dishonest. Either way, you look stupid.

                • jollyroger

                  If you want to be reeeeally archaic use aCn instead of BC. Almost anyone who is not a Latin Major or has orders will cross their eyes trying to figure out what you mean.

                • Will

                  It is “more accurate” to classify Jews and Moslems and traditional Chinese as eccentrics who do not use the “common” era?

            • Claude

              Whose “right hypothesis”?

      • Advocate

        I have not written a book, but:
        ‘Tis better to pen no book,
        than to author a book like that of Garry Wills
        that does not make even the slightest nod to Catholic understanding.

  • Katie in FL

    That was great! It would have been double great if Colbert had brought up the fact that Melchizidek offered BREAD AND WINE as a priest.
    Note to self: Do not attend B&N book signings for this author.

  • Mark S.

    Poor Mr. Wills. Listening to him at first, I was thinking, “Well, theologically he’s just a Protestant.” But the more he talked, the less sure I was he’s even theologically Christian.

  • Ghosty

    I’d never heard of this guy before, and after hearing him talk I can see why. His rebuttal regarding Melkizedek was especially ignorant for someone supposedly versed in Biblical history. “He wasn’t even Jewish”, well yes, that was kind of the point. It’s also worth noting that Abraham wasn’t Jewish yet at that point in Genesis, either, and any Jew who knows their Faith could tell you that. Two “gentiles” were making a pleasing sacrifice of bread and wine to God, with one of them being accounted a true priest of the Most High.

    Jews know this as a reminder that Holiness and annointed priesthoods come before Judaism, not from it, and that Jews were cut from this already-holy stock and set apart in a special covenant for a certain purpose. They didn’t invent the worship of God, nor the holy Priesthood, but rather preserved what gentiles abandoned. The point made in the New Testament is that the good leaven is being reintroduced, and the universal priesthood (seen in the persons of Melchizedek and Abraham) is restored with the coming of the Messiah.

    So not only were Wills statements missing the point of the story, they were missing the historical symbolism and meaning of the New Testament invocation of Melkizedek as a precedent, a precedent found in Jewish Scripture first, Psalm 110.

    • LeeAnn

      I learned something new about the faith today. (: Thanks, Catechist Colbert and commenters.

    • Claude

      It’s you who’s missing the point: that late-first century Christians manufactured a priestly pedigree for Jesus in an effort to revive Jewish traditions lost after the fall of Jerusalem. There was no precedent in the early Christian communities for a priesthood or what later developed into the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

      • http://creativefidelity.wordpress.com Dan F.

        ::yawn::

        please make an argument that doesn’t reveal your ignorance of history or go peddle it somewhere where there aren’t well catechized and well-read Catholics.

      • MarylandBill

        Lets keep in mind that our modern term priest actually comes from a different word than the word that would have been used for a Jewish Priest. The modern english word priest comes from the Greek term for Elders and bishops from the word for Overseers. There is obviously many parallels between the two terms, but we don’t require Jesus to have a priestly pedigree for our priests to be valid.

        • Claude

          It’s the church that claims this pedigree:

          CCC 1544 Everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, the “one mediator between God and men.”15 The Christian tradition considers Melchizedek, “priest of God Most High,” as a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ, the unique “high priest after the order of Melchizedek”;16 “holy, blameless, unstained,”17 “by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified,”18 that is, by the unique sacrifice of the cross.

          This is the tradition introduced by the author of Hebrews, hence Wills’s objection that it is a feature of proto-orthodoxy and not of the earliest Christian practices.

          • Ghosty

            The Catechism is referring to Christ’s Messianic priesthood, first referred to in Psalm 110, not Hebrews. That passage has nothing to do with inheriting a priestly pedigree, and Jewish tradition actually ascribes Melchizedek’s priesthood to direct appointment by God rather than lineage.

            The author of Hebrews wasn’t “cooking up” a new priestly lineage for Jesus, he was pointing out that the tradition was that the Messiah would be a priest like Melkizedek.

            • Claude

              Right, but apologists for the male priesthood, for example, appeal to Hebrews as a foundational text for its exaltation of Jesus as a priestly descendant of Melchizedek. You say below that this is a Messianic expectation of Temple Judaism. My understanding is that the meaning of Psalm 110 is contested, and I wonder if its interpretation was so exclusively established in early 1st century Judaism. Would you be willing to expand on that?

              • Mark Shea

                It’s a fairly safe bet that the Christian reading of Psalm 110 and the priesthood of Melchizedek and the fulfilment of the prophecies of a Davidic Messiah in Jesus would have been contested by the Temple elite, Sherlock. They had rather a vested interest in denying that Jesus was the Son of David and a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek, as the psalm promised the son of David. We can, in fact, watch them struggling to avoid that, in the gospels. But as to what the early Church thought about the question, there’s this book called “the letter to the Hebrews” that nicely encapsulates the Christian view of the question. It was part of the Bible till Pope Gary I expelled it from the canon for being too Catholic.

                • Andrew K.

                  Wow, Mark. You are kind of a jerk.

                  • Mark Shea

                    I am impatient with intellectual bullies.

                    • L. Fleure

                      And unfortunately you’ve become one.

                • Claude

                  That was charming. Of course, I did not mean in reference to Jesus.

                  • Mark Shea

                    I note you have not answered my question. How did the Church “invent” the priesthood after the destruction of the temple and use Hebrews to pull the scam off without anybody noticing? Because it looks an awful lot to dumb ignorant duped me like Hebrews reflects the already old praxis of the Church.

                    • Claude

                      I said “revived,” not “invent,” though not traditions of the church but of the synagogue.

                      …late-first century Christians manufactured a priestly pedigree for Jesus in an effort to revive Jewish traditions lost after the fall of Jerusalem.

                      “Manufactured” is my term, not Wills’s, and reflects my preconceived views. (I have yet to read Why Priests, but have got it on order.) My impression is that Wills views Hebrews on this point as apologetics for a movement in progress.

                      But why do you engage? It’s clear you have little interest in actually discussing the matter. Gary Wills is an “apostate,” after all, and in the spirit of Catholic charity and love for your brother in Christ, apparently the thing to do is to reject and despise him.

                    • Mark Shea

                      I haven’t rejected or despised anybody. I have given a clinical definition of his actual position with regard to the Church, which he despises and rejects. To despise and reject Jesus, fully present in the Eucharist, is a very grave thing. And, by the way, you are here to troll. How can I tell? Because you don’t engage my questions and just keep attack (while feigning “concern” about charity.)

                    • Claude

                      I have given a clinical definition of his actual position with regard to the Church, which he despises and rejects. To despise and reject Jesus, fully present in the Eucharist, is a very grave thing.

                      In addition to your vicious slander against Garry Wills, you are calling me a liar. At least I’m in good company.

                    • Mark Shea

                      Look, are you going to actually address my questions, or just troll?

                    • Claude

                      Actually, I did respond to your question. And now, after in effect calling me a liar, you (again) demand that I “answer your questions.” Seriously? I disengage.

          • Dale Price

            This is the tradition introduced by the author of Hebrews, hence Wills’s objection that it is a feature of proto-orthodoxy and not of the earliest Christian practices.

            Of course, Hebrews couldn’t be reflective of “the earliest Christian practices” because…Garry Wills doesn’t like it. QED. The fact Wills is playing the “early Catholicism” card is pretty telling. Rather selective in his scholarship. As they say, critical acclaim covers a multitude of sins.

      • Ghosty

        And your evidence for the “non-priestly” practices of Christian communities prior to the destruction of the Second Temple? What writings did these communities leave behind that contradict the practices that we know as a matter of historical record were solidified and spread across all Christian communities by the beginning of the Second Century, mere decades after the destruction of Temple Judaism and related by Justin the Martyr?

        As for manufacturing a priestly lineage, there was no need to do so at all. The Psalm in question dates to long before the destruction of the Temple, when the Levitical priesthood was in full force, and refers to the Messiah being “of the order of Melchizedek”. This was not an idea manufactured by post-Temple Christians, but a Messianic expectation of Temple Judaism. The writer of Hebrews was not manufacturing anything, but rather was merely stating Jewish expectations and understandings of the nature of non-lineage priesthood and applying it to Jesus, just as the Psalm said it would be applied to the Christ.

        It’s one of the least novel things in Christianity, in fact, as it’s derived directly from Judaism, even Temple Judaism with its Levitical priesthood.

  • http://thecrawfordfamily.net/blog Ken Crawford

    Priests dedicate their life to this -> “Well, they say so”

    Sorry, any quarter I would give him as an honest dissenter goes out the window with that comment. Even Colbert was a bit taken aback by it, and you could hear it in the rising pitch of his “They have”.

    Sure, there’s the bad apple now and again, but as a whole, the dedication of our priests is unquestionable even by the most violent haters of the Church. To deny that, is to show his true disingenuous colors. I have the book “Why I am Catholic”, I was given it as a gift, and I had thought of reading it someday, but now it goes in the circular file this very moment.

  • Steve S

    Wills has also written a book called _What Jesus Meant_, in which he presumably exercises the teaching authority of his personal magisterium. Funny…I don’t remember Christ promising that His Church will be built upon Garry Wills, and that the gates of hell will not prevail against him.

    Like so many other things, this boils down to whether one chooses to trust that Christ was telling us the truth or telling us lies. Garry Wills seems to indicate that he believes Christ was a liar.

    • thomas tucker

      It is rich that Wills believes in his own infallibility but not the Pope’s.

      • Andrew K.

        Wills made no such claim. He never has.

        • thomas tucker

          Simply ask him if it is possible that he is wrong and the Holy Father is right. See what happens.

  • bob cratchit

    I love to watch Colbert and it’s droll to think him a practicing Catholic but where does the satire end?

  • Jose

    I wish Colbert could be more honest like this more often. He doesn’t seem capable of this kind of rebuttal to stupidity when it comes to the birth control, abortion, and homosexual accusations against the faith. It is good to see his accurate answers to an equivalent of a 12 year old trouble maker.

  • http://www.chesterton.org Sean P. Dailey

    Is anyone else having trouble getting the video to play?

  • http://backoftheworld.com Ryan M.

    Man, *somebody* was not expecting to get theologically pantsed on national television by a COMEDIAN…

  • Gary Keith Chesterton

    He didn’t get pantsed. He doesn’t think Jesus was a liar. He thinks the *Church* is a liar. He *is* an educated and thoughtful guy. He’s just devastatingly wrong about this and other, related topics. He probably doesn’t think he got the worst of it, either, because for one thing answering a few questions on a comedy show for a few minutes isn’t the same thing as making a careful and detailed argument. And he got his name and the title of his new book out there on one of the leading TV shows in the country, so he’s probably the real winner here — or so he thinks.

    • Scott W.

      He probably doesn’t think he got the worst of it

      Yep. Crimestop is like that.

  • http://www.parafool.com victor

    What can I say? Baby Boomers gotta boom. Garry Wills — and this is the first I’ve ever heard of him, despite being Catholic for nearly 40 years — is desperatly reverberating the final echoes of his relevance. Kind of like giving Grandpa the car keys for one last drive, it was an act of charity for Colbert to have him on the show.

  • Daniel Fink

    “He *is* an educated and thoughtful guy”.

    Perhaps regarding subjects other than man’s relationship to God. Dave Armstrong has done much of the legwork here. One doesn’t have to page down far to see Wills utterly contradicted by Augustine, in the most literal sense, regarding the priesthood, authority, and the Eucharist…

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/11/st-augustine-was-catholic-not-proto.html

  • bob cratchit

    This man is educated and somewhere there is a village missing its diot

  • FdS

    As much as I would love think of Colbert as the great stealth catechist, I just don’t see it. Sure, he got the better of Willis on a number of points, but he did so as part of his usual schtick, in which he plays the Bill O’Reilly-type buffoon. Message: “Willis may be a ninny, but only conservative tools believe all that Christianity stuff. For us sensible types, it’s all just a big joke.” Thus Colbert gets a good laugh by kicking the corpse of liberal Christianity, without in any way challenging the postmodern and relativistic assumptions of his audience.

    • Scott W.

      I don’t think he is a great catechist either, stealth or otherwise. But I think you are scraping the barrel too hard for something to object to.

  • Andrew K.

    Okay, this will be the last thing I post here.

    Mr. Shea, how is Wills “a danger to souls?” How would this even be a concern? You are giving Wills a lot of power that he really does not warrant.

    • Scott W.

      That’s easy–he leads people into error. Error can lead to apostasy. Apostasy can lead to eternal damnation. He is, in Biblical language, a stumbling block.

    • Anson

      Why are you here? You have the second comment in the thread and it is classical trolling wherein you refer to the Catholic Church as an ongoing train wreck, on a blog titled Catholic and Enjoying It. Then you later claim that you aren’t here to troll. Then you feign indignation that Mark would treat Garry Wills so roughly. Then you agree that Garry Wills isn’t really Catholic, but then moments later you chide Mark that it frustrates Mark Shea that he cannot write Wills out of the Catholic Church. Is there something we can do for you? Some way in which we can be praying for you? You seem to be seeking something, but I’m at a loss to figure out what your end game is here.

  • Dale Price

    Obviously, it’s a difference in ecclesiology. A believing Catholic affirms that the Church is an object of faith, a la the Nicene Creed. She is was vested by Christ as the font of sacramental life, from which His grace enlivens our souls. She is a trustworthy teacher of the moral life and guardian of the Scriptures.

    Wills, in his polite tones, tells people that all that is mostly bullshit. The effect on a wobbling Catholic or curious seeker who buys Wills’ “witness” will not produce another Wills Catholic. For Wills himself, the Isotope that is his form of Catholicism has not decayed entirely. But it is not stable, nor is it replicable. The uncertain soul who accepts his teaching will wander away from the Church, because frankly, who wants to be in the company of such inept knaves and frauds?

    Have we been hard on Wills here? Yep-per. Frankly, though, we’re just returning his scorn.
    As I mentioned above, Mark speaks for a lot of us when it comes to Wills. Many of us have made serious personal sacrifices to follow church teaching, put up with hostility from friends and family, for being full-orbed Catholics. Especially when following the teaching he snarls at and routinely offers up for the scorn of the chattering classes–e.g., Humanae Vitae. We get hostility–including his–and he gets “critical acclaim.”

    What he does here is of a piece, playing Catholic doctrine for clapper humor chuckles from the expensively-educated.

    What Wills says isn’t remotely Catholic, and no one would have had the chutzpa to state the positions he does and still stubbornly claim to be Catholic prior to 1965. We’re sick and tired of the defector in place shtick. He has received his reward, and we regard him accordingly.

    • Dale Price

      This is supposed to be below Andrew K’s 3:08 post, but I’m a klutz.

    • Andrew K.

      Thank you for the thoughtful reply.

    • Faith

      To me Wills seems as wacky as any right wing conspirator. Somehow in the early church, this power hungry hierarchy waylaid true Christianity which it turns out looks exactly like a garden variety 20th century American, post modern, feminist worldview. He completely lost any credibility when he said Augustine didn’t believe in transubstantiation. What BS! And what insane arrogance to even spout it. He should go hang out with LaRouche or someone. They can exchange wacky theories. God help the man! The fact that this man won a Pulitzer Prize is testimony to how far the West (or at least the powers that create our culture) has sunk in its ability to distinguish truth from fantasy.

    • Dan C

      “As I mentioned above, Mark speaks for a lot of us when it comes to Wills. Many of us have made serious personal sacrifices to follow church teaching, put up with hostility from friends and family, for being full-orbed Catholics. Especially when following the teaching he snarls at and routinely offers up for the scorn of the chattering classes–e.g., Humanae Vitae. We get hostility–including his–and he gets “critical acclaim.””

      So…when Kung gets a visit from the Pope, I will pay attention to that pope. Very closely, particularly when he speaks of the unity of the Church.

      This is not speaking of it. No whining Mr. Price. The elder son whines. We do not. We are Catholics.

      You sound bitter and angry and vengeful. Joy and cheer define Catholics. The angry bitterness is so passe.

      • Scott W.

        You sound bitter and angry and vengeful.

        I think you are projecting a tone onto Dale Price that is not warranted by what he said.

        • Dale Price

          Thank you, Scott. But don’t worry, I’m used to it: it is becoming a pattern with this commenter. He is fond of ascribing malice to me, as he did when he said the violence of the inner city was my “dream world” as an NRA member.

          How that reflects joy and cheer is difficult to say, but mileage varies.

    • Claude

      Wills spent five years in seminary in training to become a Catholic priest. If I recall correctly reading Augustine (at what point, I can’t remember) renewed his faith. He has written over half a dozen books on Augustine alone. He views the Catholic Church as not just the hierarchy, but the entire community of believers, is deeply religious, and has written quite thoughtful and reverent devotional books on Jesus, Paul, and the Gospels. The venom expressed here toward Wills is ridiculous.

      • Scott W.

        Error has no rights.

      • http://Www.SaintLouisAcupuncture.com Dr. Eric

        Are you Wills in disguise?

        • http://Www.SaintLouisAcupuncture.com Dr. Eric

          This was in reply to Claude.

        • Claude

          Right, Garry Wills would feel compelled to defend himself pseudonymously on Mark Shea’s blog. You can’t be serious.

          I’m an obscure person, not a scholar, not a writer, not a PR man for Viking. I’ve read Wills over the years and admire him a great deal. That is all.

        • Dale Price

          Why in God’s name would Garry Wills bother to rub elbows with hierarchically-minded peons like us? I say that in all seriousness. He clearly regards Catholics who believe all the crap he doesn’t to be–at best–”People of the land, the common clay of the new West. You know: morons.”

          Look, he’s been doing this thing since he coined “Mater Si, Magistra No” in 1961, consigning Catholic social teaching to the dustbin for National Review. I’m not sure how he holds to the divinity of Jesus/belief in some kind of divine presence in Jesus.

          If he’s going to be consistent, he’s going to have to do to Christ what he’s done with the church–his historical-critical hermeneutic demands it. And he’s nothing if not consistent. The assured results of critical scholarship are delighted to point out how Jesus is in large part–perhaps even mostly–a projection/construct by the early believers, and having chucked virtually everything else, why not plumb the waters there? He holds to a Christ of faith, but it’s not clear why.

          • Claude

            He clearly regards Catholics who believe all the crap he doesn’t to be–at best–”People of the land, the common clay of the new West. You know: morons.”

            Come now, why the paranoia? It’s not remotely “clear” that Wills is the uncharitable mandarin you are making him out to be. Quite the contrary. Neither has historical criticism compelled him to abandon the Credo. He remains Catholic.

            I’ve been reading some reviews of his dismantling in Why Priests? of church apologetics for the priesthood. Apparently the book is carefully researched, exhaustive and persuasive. I look forward to reading it. Ironically, though, I’m ambivalent about an RCC without priests. I don’t know why I should care, since I lapsed a long time ago, never attend Mass, and am (usually) a non-believer. However, when the Church gets you in the cradle certain of its effects–primarily, reverence for Jesus–are indelible. Regardless of a priest’s ability to consecrate the host, the traditional Mass is beautiful, and for that there must be priests!

            • Claude

              ^Sorry, forgot the close tag.

            • Dale Price

              Come now, why the paranoia? It’s not remotely “clear” that Wills is the uncharitable mandarin you are making him out to be. Quite the contrary.

              Oh, please. Wills is a polemicist of long standing, quite comfortable calling people cowards, liars, frauds, phonies, etc. I hadn’t thought of “uncharitable mandarin,” but yes, it fits him like a glove.

              http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/feb/15/contraception-con-men/

              And since the Creed came from a hierarchal system he regards as corrupt from its misbegotten start, I don’t know how anyone could say with a straight face that he believes in it.

              • Dale Price

                “Agrees with it”–maybe. “Believes”–nope. That would be giving the hierarchs credit.

              • Claude

                Thanks for the link. That was excellent!!

                The Creed, or parts of it, are pretty old, as you know. Unless you think 1 Cor 15:1-8 is an interpolation, which I’m guessing you don’t.

                Further, it doesn’t follow that because Wills thinks the Catholic priestly tradition is dubious that he rejects all church teaching. Who are you to say Wills doesn’t believe what he says he believes?

      • Faith

        Yes, and there are many, many more people who study Augustine and go to seminary and do not come to the conclusions that Wills does. And who views the Catholic Church as just a hierarchy? No one here, I’ll wager! He may be deeply religious but it is a religion of his own making. His responses to Colbert were glib, arrogant and irresponsible. He spoke of beliefs that are in direct contradiction to Catholic church teaching, but he holds himself out as a Catholic. That’s fraud. I’m tired of these people who think they know better than the Pope. I am tired of the media who gives them so much attention. If they want to make up their own religion, go do so, it is a free country (sort of), but leave mine alone!

        • Claude

          I have news for you. The Catholic Church isn’t “yours.” The people of God form the Catholic Church. It belongs to the whole family of believers who identify as Catholics. Wills isn’t inventing his own religion; he is simply engaged in a project that is as old as Christianity itself to move closer to Jesus. These are dark times for the RCC. It’s rocked by scandal, its reputation is battered, and there has been a steady exodus of Catholics alienated by the sex-abuse revelations, the culture wars and the authoritarianism and rank hypocrisy of the hierarchy. I join many others in complete dismay at what the Church has become. No matter how “tired” you are, dissidents like Wills are not going away. You may disagree with him, but you’ve no standing to deny his good faith.

          • Mark Shea

            Of course he is inventing his own religion. The Eucharist–that is, Jesus Christ–is at the heart of the Catholic faith. Get rid of it and you are inventing your own religion. The absurdity of his position is that he is trying to palm it off as “What Jesus Meant”. He’s a Protestant pretending to be a Catholic, with some sort of vestigial attachment to the Church that is due either to sentiment or the malicious hope of subverting the Church from within. I’m not a bishop and so don’t take it upon myself to kick him out of the Church. But his ideas on the priesthood and the Real Presence I utterly reject.

            • Claude

              Belief in transubstantiation isn’t essential to receiving the Eucharist (“thanksgiving”) in remembrance of and communion with Jesus. The point is to commune with the mystical body of Christ.

              Again, I have yet to read Wills’s book so can’t comment on his argument beyond his brief remarks on Colbert.

              • Mark Shea

                Belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is and always has been at the heart of apostolic teaching. Apart from one out of context quote from Augustine, all Wills really has going for him is a highlyt dubious theory that Hebrews is somehow part of a campaign to impose a priesthood and sacrificial system on a Church that had never had one, backed by a deep hostility to the heirarchy current in contemporary post-Christian culture. It sells well with Catholics pissed about the Scandal who know nothing of the roots of their faith, and with protestant and post-Christian Americans for who anti-Catholicism is as normal as the daylight. I come from the “communion is when the Christ in me greets the Christ in you” take communion. I’ve done my homework on this. The reality is that belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist is right at the heart of Christian teaching from day one, as is the priesthood, as is the conviction that Jesus is a High priest, as is the habit of seeing Jesus in terms of temple, priesthood, sacrifice, Passover, and all the rest of the Jewish liturgical worldview. All Hebrews does is reflect, not invent, this worldview.

                • Claude

                  The Church fathers also (presumably) believed in geocentrism, but modern-day Catholics (presumably) have abandoned that conception of the solar system. Many Catholics consider the doctrine of transubstantiation likewise antiquated.

                  I trust you aren’t basing your critique of Wills on the basis of his Colbert appearance! In other words, have you read the book?

                  • Mark Shea

                    Are you suggesting that Church Fathers were unaware of the fact that the Eucharist appeared to the senses as bread and wine, but that you–2000 years smarter you–have now figured that out? You are aware, aren’t you, that transubstantiation is not an attempt to explain some sort of chemical change in the Eucharist and that it has nothing to do with the sciences? So appeals to geocentrism are red herrings. I would be very very surprised if the Catholics who decree transubstantiation antiquated have the foggiest idea what it is.

                    Why would I bother reading Will when he plainly rejected the teaching of Jesus and the apostles on the Real Presence in the Eucharist? Life’s too short and there are too many good things to read. I heard enough to know I don’t want to waste my time.

                    • Claude

                      Are you suggesting that Church Fathers were unaware of the fact that the Eucharist appeared to the senses as bread and wine…

                      Whatever gave you that idea? You are probably right that many Catholics are unfamiliar with the arcane apologetics surrounding the Real Presence and the doctrine of transubstantiation, but I doubt there’s much confusion these with the perception of bread and wine.

                      Anyway, I wouldn’t analogize physics with metaphysics. My point is more obvious: the notion that a priest in persona Christi transforms bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ is often greeted by the Church’s own practitioners with the same skepticism as other ancient tenets.

                      As for dismissing Wills on the basis of his passing remarks on the Colbert show, duly noted.

                    • Claude

                      confusing these…

                    • Dale Price

                      “Passing remarks”?

                      No, he seemed pretty adamant that he rejects the Real Presence, misusing Augustine as a laugh line on the subject. It is of a piece with his rejection of any kind of priesthood beyond that of all believers. Far from emphasizing that the hierarchy is not the entire Church (true), he takes the more radical step of arguing the hierarchy is antithetical to what he thinks the Church properly is, picking and choosing from the scriptures to reach his conclusion.

                      Yes, this has a long pedigree: it stretches all the way back to Marcion and Valentinus.

          • Faith

            It is mine! I am an actual believer! Not just a believer in Christ in his manifest love for us found in his Bride the Church. I believe that in spite of all the terrible scandal (which is disgusting and breaks my heart!) its teachings are guarded and protected by the Holy Spirit. I believe that if the Church tells me that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ, then it is! Wills is the one who is not in communion. I have read Wills a long time ago. Back when I was agnostic/atheist. I have heard him interviewed on NPR, etc etc. He has no intellectual integrity but is a sophist trying to sell his own version as the Truth. I hadn’t thought about Wills for 10 years at least, until I saw the clip here. All I could think was, that jackass, still at his silly tricks.

            • Claude

              Your beliefs are your own business, but to say that Wills has no intellectual integrity is just wrong. People who disagree with you (particularly someone who is as fluent with the Church as Wills) do not by default lack intellectual integrity.

              • Dale Price

                No, Wills lacks intellectual integrity because he cherrypicks from Augustine to argue against the Real Presence. It is utterly fraudulent for one as familiar as he is with Augustine present such an argument. Ditto Wills’ rants against the priesthood, of which Augustine was an exemplar.

                • Claude

                  How do you know he cherrypicks? You haven’t read his argument!

                  • Dale Price

                    Ah. So I shouldn’t believe my lying ears–e.g., Wills offering what “Augustine said” about the Eucharist in the video above.

                    Much less weigh it against the evidence collected in the Weathers link, also above–which Wills would certainly be aware of?

                    Maybe, yes, there are some texts supporting a memorial-only view of the Eucharist in Augustine’s corpus. Which would mean–perhaps, depending on context–that Augustine was all over the map when it came to the Eucharist. But in light of the countervailing evidence, it is disingenuous in the extreme to hold up one text as Augustine’s position.

                    • Claude

                      Wills offering what “Augustine said” about the Eucharist in the video above.

                      Well, Augustine did say it! So before you dimiss Wills as disingenuous, maybe you should consider the additional evidence Wills brings to his argument.

                    • Dale Price

                      It’s not that hard, Claude. Augustine also said reams that support the Real Presence. It’s deceptive to proof-text in that manner.

          • thepost15

            Dismayed at what theChurch has become or dismayed because you don’t want to follow its teaching? Because the teaching…well it hasn’t changed…

            • Claude

              Like I said, I’m a lapsed Catholic and non-believer, so whatever the teaching may be does not affect me.

              However, that the church of the Lord Jesus of my childhood became an institution dangerous to children and increasingly reactionary is dismaying. It is a travesty.

              • Mark Shea

                No argument from me on the abuse scandal. No argument from any sane person. However, the abuse scandal and the question of whether Jesus founded a priesthood are completely separate issues.

          • Jmac

            The geocentrism/heliocentrism debate is scientific. I don’t care what the Church fathers thought about that any more than I care what they thought about modern liberal democracy or quantum mechanics. The only thing I would rely on them for is explication of the theology of the early Church.

          • L. Fleure

            Claude,
            Please save your breath and blood pressure. This site appears to host many fundamentalist converts who have brought their sensibilities into the Catholic Church. Be glad they’re with us and let the Holy Spirit sort things out. We all have to begin somewhere.

            • Claude

              I appreciate the sentiment, L. Fleure, but Catholics should be willing to entertain alternative points of view without becoming hysterical that the entire faith is under siege, especially in regard to someone like Wills who has much to offer. After all the Roman Church has a long and dynamic intellectual tradition. The reflexive assumption of bad faith and “ignorance” by many here is discouraging.

              But thank you for your charitable comment.

              • L. Fleure

                Hi Claude, It can be discouraging. Keep Edwin Markham’s words in mind: “He drew a circle that shut me out. Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But Love and I had the wit to win. We drew a circle that took him in.” Lenten blessings!

                • Claude

                  And also to you!

      • Dale Price

        Not nearly as ridiculous as his behavior on Colbert, alas. It’s easy to be sanguine when someone else’s ox is being gored. We get it: you share Wills’ worldview. Ergo, Garry’s right, we’re wrong–and we’re blinkered, stuttering fundies what don’t have no book contracts from fashionable publishing houses, to boot.

        Mission accomplished.

      • Patrick

        Martin Luther was a big-time Augustine guy. He wasn’t a very good scholar either. Big deal.

  • Dante Aligheri

    Actually, there is some evidence that Jesus did consider Himself – and the Apostles recognized in him – a High Priest in addition to God’s Glory/Wisdom/Word/Name and Messianic King. I would recommend a historian of Second Temple Judaism named Crispin Fletcher-Louis. His essay on Jesus’ own conception of Himself as High Priest also illuminates just how central the priesthood was to Second Temple Judaism as – when officiants – conduits of God’s presence. I might also recommend Lutheran historian, Margaret Barker. Yes, she has some odd “Jewish goddess” postulates and supposes that Israel left the true faith with Jeremiah. However, she also writes movingly on how Temple, priesthood, kings, and angels have to do with Early Christian conceptions of theosis. Crispin Fletcher-Louis also wrote a book called All the Glory of Adam about how theosis – or, as he calls it, an “angelomorphic” eschatology – can be found in Early Judaism.

    Furthermore, if Christianity started as a rival Temple movement as N.T. Wright suggests – or, at least, with the belief the Temple’s function has been fulfilled and God’s locus has reached the Eschaton, then Jesus as builder of a new Temple would certainly have a new order of eschatological priests forefront on His mind, not unlike the Essenes but with a different theological approach.

    • Claude

      Thanks, much appreciated!

    • Dante Aligheri

      That essay is called “Jesus and the High Priesthood” by the way, which appears as a PDF as the first item on a Google Search for Marquette University.

      God Bless.

      • Claude

        You’re very kind, thank you. I will look it up!

      • Claude

        I doubt you’re still reading, but just in case…thanks again for pointing me to that essay. It was a fascinating read, and I’ve been enjoying discussion elsewhere on the web on Fletcher-Louis’s thesis. Glad I got to it before settling in with Why Priests, due to arrive on my doorstep this week.

        Much obliged!

  • Subsistent

    My fallible understanding of current Canon Law is that, technically, both Gary Wills, who claims to be Catholic, and “Andrew K.” and “Claude”, who do not, are indeed Catholics. But anyway, we who have heard about “conservative” folk heroes, seem now to have in Gary Wills a clear instance of an American “liberal” folk hero, with “Andrew K.” and “Claude” as two of his fans.

  • http://www.ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca Randy

    Bryan Cross comments here. The whole article is relevant to the discussion.
    http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/12/church-fathers-on-transubstantiation/#comment-46465

    • Mark Shea

      The Church Fathers have nothing to say about transubstantiation. They have plenty to say about the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. In short, their conviction that Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said “This is my body. This bread is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world. etc.” Transubstantiation is a philosophical stab at answering the question “How can something that appears to our senses as bread and wine actually be the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus?” That question is not attempted till long after the time of the Fathers.

      • Desi Ersamus

        Yes, the Eastern Orthodox make a similar point (they refer to “mysteries of the faith” rather than “sacraments”), and encourage their erring brethren in the West, who have been squabbling and fragmenting into thousands of sects and conventicles since their departure from Orthodoxy, to return to the fold. They may have a point: Bishop of Rome as “first among equals” rather than “first over equals”. I wonder if Francis may see the light and give that a try. It could clear up many other confusions at the same time (like the filioque, a 6th century addition, and the nineteenth century additions “sinless Mary” and “infallible Pope” that have caused so much confusion and dissension.).,

  • Subsistent

    As a believer in the Real Presence, I get nervous when defenders of that Presence assert (Mr. Shea himself does not, as far as I know) that our Lord is there “physically”. Because as far as I know, no Magisterial declaration of that presence uses that root “physic-”. That He is really, truly, and substantially present bodily, corporeally, I admit. But *physical* is ambiguous. Hence Cardinal Ratzinger was Englished in 2002 as saying in 200o (in the book *God and the World*): “It has never been asserted that, so to say, nature in a physical sense is being changed. The transformation reaches down to a more profound level. Tradition has it that this is a metaphysical process.”

    • Mark Shea

      Yup. As a priest friend said, “The moment we know what matter is and what the risen body of Jesus is and how the two interrelate, then we can start talking about how wrong and primitive and dumb the doctrine of the Real Presence is.” Meanwhile, Einstein was fascinated with the idea.

    • Subsistent

      Actually, belief in transubstantiation and the Real Presence does not require us to admit that the appearances of bread and wine which remain after the Consecration are themselves the Christ. For according to the Eucharistic theology of Thomas Aquinas, after the Consecration the appearances of bread and wine which we see stand on their own. So what our eyes see is not Christ. Our eyes see the appearances characteristic of bread and wine, appearances under which, but not identical with which, the Lamb of God, “beheld” with the “eyes” of faith, is really and substantially present.

    • Subsistent

      After Consecration “the appearances of bread and wine which we see, stand on their own.” More precisely put (as I see it): After Consecration the sub-microscopically tiny dimensive volumes of the erstwhile ingredients of the “bread” and “wine” subsist on their own, while their surfaces and other modifications “inhere” in those volumes, so that collectively, all those unchanged modifications result in unchanged physico-chemical properties and appearances.

  • The True Will

    Another fun troll-stomp!

    All right… suppose I said that I am a Moslem… but I don’t believe in the inspiration of the Koran or the prophethood of Mohammed… and I stamped my foot and whined that those nasty old mullahs have no right to read me out of the ummah…. do you think anyone would take me seriously?

    Or suppose I say I am a “libertarian”…. but I support a military draft, criminalization of narcotic use and homosexual acts, eminent domain, and confiscatory taxation of “the rich”. Then complained because some people DARED tell me I didn’t belong in the movement.

  • http://allpartoflifesrichpageant.wordpress.com James

    We have a term for Mr. Wills’ brand of Christianity. It is called “Protestant”.

    • Derek T

      He’s too much for many Protestants.


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