October 31st 2017 marked the 500th anniversary of the beginning of a period in the history of Christianity commonly known as the Protestant Reformation. According to the traditional accounts, Martin Luther drafted and nailed a set of 95 theses or propositions for theological debate to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.
Even if Luther didn’t actually nail his 95 theses to a church door, it is an undisputed fact that he lies at the epicenter of a chain of events that radically transformed the face of Christendom back in the 16th century. His influence is enormous and practically impossible to dispense with. As a result, the division between Catholics and Protestants have been with us ever since.
Trent has accomplished a remarkable feat in this book by doing two things. First, over the course of 16 chapters that can be read fairly quickly he has touched on all the major points of division between Catholics and Protestants; from the issue of ecclesial authority to the burning question of how people are saved.
Trent’s points and arguments can be easily understood even if you’re not particularly well-read in the field of Catholic apologetics. For example, this quotation from chapter 1 “Sola Scriptura”
“Given that Protestants hold contradictory positions on mutually exclusive issues (such as whether baptism takes away sin), this shows that many who defend sola scriptura do not understand what they are reading” (emphasis in original)
Second, as Trent indicates in the preface of the book, he has incorporated many findings of Protestant scholarship that support arguments made in favor of Catholicism. The strength of this feature of the book should not be underestimated. It means that the evidence Trent has marshaled cannot be dismissed due to a perceived bias. It demands to be wrestled with.
The narrow gate of adherence to the truth
The path to the full and visible reunification of all Christians lies in the heartfelt commitment to dialogue between the disagreeing parties. As more and more Christians become aware of the scandal that their division brings and the damage it inflicts on the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is my hope that Trent Horn’s work, and similar ones, will help the ecumenical initiative bear much fruit for the greater glory of God.
Beginning with the avalanche of sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein a few months ago, each week has revealed more and more allegations primarily against liberal men in Hollywood and politics.
As women (and men) are encouraged to step forward, we’ve seen the rapid demise of moguls like Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, Ben Affleck, Al Franken, Charlie Rose, Russell Simmons, Steven Seagal, Brett Ratner, Dustin Hoffman, James Toback, and Louis C.K.
It’s safe to assume that, ere the year ends, we’ll see another score of popular male actors and politicos accused of sexual assault, abuse, or harassment.
What’s shocking to me about all this is that people are shocked that these revelations are coming out. None of this is surprising. These reprehensible actions are the expected rotten fruit of a society ruled by lust.
From the Church to the Schools to Hollywood
When I entered the Catholic Church in 2001, the sexual abuse scandal was about to break open. I was not surprised or shocked. I knew what men were capable of, and that went for atheist, Protestant, and Catholic.
What surprised me was that people thought that this problem was unique to the Catholic Church. Growing up, my junior high and high school Spanish teacher, an incredibly popular teacher who had taught in the school system for a long time, was eventually accused of abusing students. Rumors had gone around for years but nothing ever came of them. But now the accusations were not being ignored or dismissed, and my old teacher went to his home after school and set it on fire with him inside of it. He burned to death.
A friend of mine has been afraid to have his children go to Catholic school and has been thinking about sending them to the local public schools. I told him that every week my google local newsfeed has stories of abuse, misconduct, and molestation occurring in public schools down the street, in our metro area, and in our state. And these are just the stories that happen to show up in my feed–I don’t even go looking for them to see what more there are. Our chat history just has link after link to news story about the men (and many women!) caught abusing students in the public schools.
My decision for my own family and my recommendations to my friends is: be vigilant, no matter if your children go to public school, private school, co-op school, and no matter which activities they are in. Know that there are predators out there, both sociopathic ones and ones that operate on circumstance.
And now Hollywood stars, directors, and producers are being outed for their lustful, abusive behavior. It’s disgusting, and yet you see the same thing as in all cases: cover-ups, people looking the other way, and people afraid to come forward, until finally the dam has burst and the skeletons are all falling out of the closets.
What Is the Problem? What’s the Solution?
The problem is the Fall of man through sin, and lust as the particular sin.
How boring, right? Yet it’s the truth. These men were not virtuous. They were not strong in the virtue of purity. They were instead slaves to sin, slaves of their own lust, that seeks to use people as objects for their own pleasure.
Love seeks the good of the other, wills the good of the other.
Love sees the other person as a human being made for their own sake, in God’s image.
Love is self-gift, self-sacrifice, and one can only give what one himself possesses. If a man is not self-mastered, and these men are not, then they cannot love. Bottom line. Sorry, no soup for you, come back one year.
The simple yet difficult solution is to grow in virtue. To be transformed in mind, body, and heart by Jesus Christ. To follow the truth that He has revealed to us in divine revelation, safeguarded and promulgated by the Church.
None of these men have done this. They never learned the self-mastery of chastity, and so they hurt lots of people, mostly women.
These are men who 1) have acknowledged that lust is wrong, 2) are striving to overcome it in their own lives, and 3) who have chosen to avail themselves of all the graces God wants to give them to conquer this vice.
And yet even for them it is an uphill battle!
Even for them it takes months, years, decades to grow strong in purity.
Yet they are increasing in virtue, in faith, hope, and love, and gaining mastery over themselves, becoming noble men, saints. It is possible. God gives us what we need to do it, but it requires turning away from evil and to good.
These Hollywood liberals ought to try it.
The program they’ve been following has failed utterly. In fact it has produced the opposite result: women have been victimized by the very men who supposedly knew better, who supposedly championed their rights. It was hypocritical hogwash of the worst kind perpetrated by these guys.
The solution is to change programs. Follow the program of Jesus Christ, where women are created in God’s image to be cherished, respected, and sacrificed for by virtuous men. Imagine if every man chose virtue tomorrow: no more assaults, no more abuse, no more painful wounds inflicted by selfish men!
So each day I’ll watch the news stories confirm all of this. I’ll watch the shock on female hosts’ faces as their male former colleagues get canned and come out with half-hearted, legal-squirming “apologies”.
And I’ll keep striving to help men grow, one at a time, in the virtue of holy purity.