Pope Francis (and Others) and Analogies to Jesus

Pope Francis (and Others) and Analogies to Jesus January 6, 2020

Explanation of a Widely Misunderstood Aspect of Analogical Arguments

Someone responded underneath my paper, Dialogue: Pope Francis vs. Gospel Preaching & Converts? No! (vs. Eric Giunta). His words will be in blue.

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First, the following words in my paper were cited (I added, however, two more paragraphs of my original words here, for clarification):

He’s making one of his extreme contrasts. It’s just how he [Pope Francis] talks. But so did Jesus. He said, for example:

Luke 14:26 If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

It’s hyperbole, of course, but atheists and many others completely miss the point because they wrongly interpret hyper-literally. Elsewhere, Jesus clarifies what He meant:

Matthew 10:37 He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;

He explains how He is not pitting one thing against another. It’s not literally hate; it’s relative degrees of allegiance. Same thing with the pope. He’s not saying that we ought to hate or reject evangelism; only that we need to do it with the right spirit. And that’s made clear the more we examine his overall thought on the topic, as I and others like Jimmy Akin have done (and you clearly haven’t done).

Dave, you’ve used this kind of argument before and I don’t think it’s a good one.

1. The pope isn’t Jesus.

2. The situation of Jesus’ hearers in the first century AD isn’t necessarily the same as people who listen to the pope today. Did you teach your children right and wrong using parables or “extreme contrasts.”?

It’s irrelevant (and silly) to note that he isn’t Jesus (we knew that already). That doesn’t defeat the analogical reasoning, which is as follows:

1) Jesus does or says x.

2) Since He is God, He is perfect, and this can’t be wrong or sinful.

3) Jesus is also our model for behavior.

4) Therefore, if one of us does or says the same thing, it also can’t be objectively wrong or sinful.

5) Making an extreme contrast for emphasis is one of these things.

I have agreed again and again that it would be good (or better) for the pope to clarify when he is misunderstood. But just because he is misunderstood, it doesn’t make him wrong; as was also the case with Jesus, Who was massively misunderstood, even when He did explain Himself. When this happened, many times He would say, “you don’t have the ears to hear, and the eyes to see” or that they had hardened hearts.

But does the pope believe he has been misunderstood, particularly on the need for Muslims and Jews to convert? Look at what the pope told the Muslims which I quoted above. If someone were to say that the pope believes there was a sharp break in teaching on non-christian religions between pre-V2 and V2 would the pope say he has been misunderstood?

I’ve been round and round with this evangelism pseudo-controversy. If you don’t get it, you don’t. With people who are determined to be hostile to this pope, evidence is irrelevant. Also, reactionaries and traditionalists have the hardest time comprehending the nature of authentic ecumenism, and the fact that it is perfectly harmonious with apologetics and evangelism. There is a time and a place for everything.

Ecumenism is perfectly biblical and it didn’t appear from nowhere at Vatican II. For example, the term and notion of “separated brethren” goes back at least as far as Pope Leo XIII: 125 years ago. Even Pope St. Pius X used the term “dissident brothers” (dissidentes fratres).

Principles of ecumenism were elucidated by St. Thomas Aquinas. And they are thoroughly grounded in the Bible. Nor is Vatican II’s Nostra Aetate “religiously pluralistic” & “indifferentist”.

These are all myths and old wives’ tales. For much more on this, see my Ecumenism and Christian Unity web page.

Not every aspect of Jesus’ life is a role model for us. Would you approve of Francis calling the Jewish leaders in Rome a “brood of vipers”?

If they deserved it, sure. It’s correct if the recipient is worthy to be called it.

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Another variation of this same sort of fallacy with regard to analogies and analogical reasoning occurred yesterday and today on my Facebook page, with my friend, the former evangelical (and politically far left) atheist Jon Curry (his words in green below).

I had noted how the former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick had blasted “terrorist” America for killing the terrorist Iranian general Someilani, on the grounds that we always supposedly attack “Black and Brown people.” I commented on the article I linked to:

How much you wanna bet he was cheering when President Obama okayed the killing of the brown brother Osama bin Laden? I would bet the farm on that.

In other words, this was my comment on the (I think) likely hypocrisy of Kaepernick (as opposed to a complete equation of General Someilani and Osama bin Laden). It was a political observation: Kaepernick (like almost all liberals today) was quick to pounce on Trump; so I wondered aloud if he had had the same reaction when President Obama had Osama bin Laden killed. I highly doubt it.

But then Jon (as is his wont) dug in and committed similar fallacies having to do with analogical arguments: in two different ways. Here is our exchange:

You’re going to equate Someilani, a guy who fought against ISIS with OBL?

Stalin fought Hitler, didn’t he?

[Jon was arguing, in effect, “hey, this guy fought ISIS! So [strong insinuation] he can’t be nearly as evil as bin Laden!” My retort was another logical observation: that fighting against an evil group does not prove that one is not himself or herself evil; hence, a prime example of “evil against evil”: Stalin fighting Hitler. Stalin was no less evil because he fought another extraordinarily evil person, like himself]

So…Someilani is now Stalin? A week ago you had never heard of him and yet so quickly the war propagandists can have you equating him with Stalin and OBL?

[now Jon has made the same mistake twice: the analogical logic employed here simply doesn’t require an equation to be made. For my point to be a valid one I didn’t have to equate Someilani with Osama bin Laden or Stalin (nor did such a thing ever cross my mind). Jon simply doesn’t grasp the sequence of reasoning: and this is very common when analogies are made. Also, when Hitler and/or Stalin are mentioned — even when it is relevant to the discussion –, the reaction is usually emotional and knee-jerk and not logical]

Once again, it is the common mistake of pretending that an obvious partial analogy is intended equivalence. You’re not nearly that stupid, to make such an elementary logical mistake.

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Photo credit: Jesus at the Home of Martha and Mary, by Jacopo Tintoretto (d. 1594) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

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