Catholic Mass as “Idolatry” Reductio ad Absurdum

Catholic Mass as “Idolatry” Reductio ad Absurdum March 27, 2021
Some Protestants want to claim that the Mass is idolatrous? I could just as easily say (only rhetorically, not actually) that their denial of worship of Jesus in the consecrated host is blasphemy, since they are going against the very essence of the ritual and miracle by denying that He is really there (therefore they refuse worship and maintain that the bread and wine are never transformed).
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[excerpt from a Treatise on Transubstantiation that I wrote in 2005]
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JP PrichardHow edifying…
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It’s not meant to be edifying. This is a simple rhetorical / polemical response to those Protestants who accuse Catholics of idolatry. It’s an instance of “turning the tables.” If you have a substantive disagreement, by all means express it. This ain’t Twitter. It’s real discussion on my pages.
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I guess my disagreement  is that it isn’t edifying. It does nothing to foster unity. It is not good, pure, excellent, building up the bride of Christ…
It stirs crap and conflict.
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I agree that some Protestants calling Catholics idolaters isn’t edifying and doesn’t foster unity at all. That’s why I opposed it. I did not accuse all (or any) Protestants of blasphemy in their worship. I believe that they worship God in their services and prayer meetings, etc. piously and sincerely (just as I used to as an evangelical Protestant from 1977-1990). Note that I said “rhetorically, not actually.” The logic is as follows:
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If person X is gonna falsely accuse person Y of false belief A (idolatry), I can just as easily — by the same token — argue (only rhetorically, not actually) that their practice and belief B is blasphemous.
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It’s a bit subtle, but that’s how the argument works. It’s not trying to foster disunity, but unity. It’s showing that the illogical and uncharitable thinking that leads to the charge of idolatry also would lead — following through with their own logic — to a charge of blasphemy on their part. Both things should be thrown out. It’s a false conclusion built upon false premises.
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That’s the nature of a reductio ad absurdum in argumentation, which is what this was. It’s often misunderstood. I can only explain how it works. I’ve now done so.
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Probably good that you are allowing these 12 year old discussions to affect (read: justify) present day feelings of superiority with respect to other believers.
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There is no “felt superiority” here. I was responding to a false charge that anti-Catholics make with a reductio ad absurdum. Anti-Catholics are but a tiny fringe portion of all Protestants. I made it clear that I don’t deny Protestant piety and sincere devotion to God:
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I did not accuse all (or any) Protestants of blasphemy in their worship. I believe that they worship God in their services and prayer meetings, etc. piously and sincerely (just as I used to as an evangelical Protestant from 1977-1990).
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I’m not accusing “any” Protestant of blasphemy (or idolatry) in their worship. I’m replying to the position that claims we are idolaters as we worship.
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Related Reading
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The Absurdity of Claiming That the Mass is Idolatrous [National Catholic Register, 6-17-19]
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(posted originally on Facebook on 12-7-17)

Photo credit: The Adoration of the Golden Calf (1633), by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

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Summary: If some Protestants want to argue about the Mass as “idolatry”, I can just as easily argue (i.e., rhetorically, not actually) that their denial of the Real Presence in the Eucharist is blasphemous.


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