OPEN

BYPASS BIG TECH CENSORSHIP - SIGN UP FOR mICHAEL mATT'S REGULAR E-BLAST

Invalid Input

Invalid Input

OPEN
Search the Remnant Newspaper
Thursday, June 13, 2024

What Can We Learn from Michael Matt's Great Grandfather: the Sola Scriptura Doctrine is Wrong

By: 
Rate this item
(17 votes)
What Can We Learn from Michael Matt's Great Grandfather: the Sola Scriptura Doctrine is Wrong

The publication of Hugo Klapproth’s work, Letters to a Protestant Friend (The Remnant Press, 2022), represents an editorial event that can help us acquire a deep understanding of the mentality and constellation of values of a pre-conciliar Catholic. And not just any Catholic, but a convert from Lutheranism who dedicated his life to defending and transmitting the truths of Christian Revelation.

 

Klapproth’s book is not only a highly useful read but also a source of inspiration that urges us to follow in the author’s footsteps to rediscover an almost completely forgotten art today: apologetics. Specifically, I will develop some of the themes presented with clarity, rigor, and grace by this layperson devoted to the Church. For now, however, I want to emphasize the essence of his attitude, which, for all of us, can represent a school of faith. This essence lies in complete fidelity to the faith of the Church, which he loved passionately. Such a strong and ardent love could only have been born from a deepening of Christian faith truths with the goal of clarifying and strengthening one’s own convictions. This is something Hugo Klapproth did exemplarily, proving himself – above all else – a good connoisseur of the Holy Scriptures and the Catechism.

When his great-grandson, Michael J. Matt, says that “Klapproth’s apologetical arguments to his Lutheran friend are some of the most effective I have ever read” (Foreword, p. vii), he is not exaggerating at all. For his great-grandfather experienced what I call a “theological conversion” – one based on thorough reflections on the teachings of the Christian (i.e., Catholic) faith. The fact that he first clarified things for himself, ultimately accepting that the complete truth of Christian Revelation is found whole and undiminished only in the Catholic Church, later allowed him to make fruitful efforts to clarify things for his former Lutheran brethren.

I am convinced that many readers of The Remnant share the same attitude as Hugo Klapproth – whom Michael called “a traditional Catholic pioneer.” And I am equally convinced that his model can inspire us even today, in a historical moment when Holy Tradition seems completely eclipsed. This is why, in what follows, I will attempt to contextualize the value of his apologetic contribution, firmly convinced – like his great-grandson – that he “reminds us that even in times of great turmoil, we can never leave the Holy Mother Church. We are called by God to stay and to defend her, to survive and to hand down the Faith of our fathers to our sons, exactly as our fathers handed it down to us. Our task remains unchanged.”

One of the major shifts brought about by the Second Vatican Council is related to the full embrace of ecumenism. Until then, the Catholic Church had defended the sacred treasure of Christian Revelation by emphasizing that “the religion of the Catholic Church is the only true religion” (Pope Pius IX, Multiplices inter, June 10, 1851).

The danger of ecumenism

One of the major shifts brought about by the Second Vatican Council is related to the full embrace of ecumenism. Until then, the Catholic Church had defended the sacred treasure of Christian Revelation by emphasizing that “the religion of the Catholic Church is the only true religion” (Pope Pius IX, Multiplices inter, June 10, 1851). After the Council, this truth was marginalized to the point of complete exclusion. A large-scale indifference took root in Catholic circles, and the missionary spirit almost completely vanished. Practically, any form of presenting the Christian faith proposed by the Catholic Church as the only true one came to be considered “proselytism,” and those who practiced it were labeled as rigid “fundamentalists.” At the same time, the only “values” promoted in the formation of clergy and laity are the ecumenical ones, as can be seen in the following article (Can. 755 §1) from the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1983 by Pope John Paul II:

“It is above all for the entire college of bishops and the Apostolic See to foster and direct among Catholics the ecumenical movement whose purpose is the restoration among all Christians of the unity which the Church is bound to promote by the will of Christ.”

The goal seems noble, but the disastrous results prove how wrong the strategy is. If we can accept that God Himself would want to see all the baptized (validly) united in the same faith and in the same Church, everything we have seen in the last fifty years has shown us that ecumenism is not the way to achieve this. The most important truth, and the one most ignored by Catholic ecumenists, is that ecclesial unity cannot be achieved without conversion to the one true Church, the Catholic Church. The evidence that this truth has been systematically violated is represented by scandalous events such as the meeting in Assisi in 1986 and the declaration in Abu Dhabi in 2019. Alongside these, numerous ecumenical meetings have been promoted by various Episcopal conferences around the world. Slowly but surely, all these have eroded the missionary spirit of monastic orders, the clergy, and lay believers. As a result, today there are very few Catholics convinced that all who seek salvation must convert to the Catholic religion. Even fewer are those who act concretely in this regard.

Personally, after I converted to Catholicism in 2000, the most frequent question my new co-religionists asked me, perplexed, was about the motivation for my conversion (please, note, that here does exist exclusively “Novus Ordo” Catholics). For them, belonging to a schismatic church like the Eastern Orthodox or a (neo)Protestant community was not a problem: they had been taught that you could be saved there just as well as in the Catholic Church. I even had a discussion with a bishop who tried to convince me that I was not a convert, because conversions from the Orthodox Church to the Catholic Church cannot exist. Animated by such a spirit, it is evident that the only result obtained by such hierarchs was the indifference of their own faithful and the proliferation of (neo)Protestant communities, which do not hesitate to loudly declare their exclusive “Gospel.” Incidentally, one of the closest advisors to the bishop I mentioned above “converted” to neo-Protestantism.

In the past fifty years, any apologetic or missionary action was excluded in the name of dialogue. The biggest problem, however, is the relativism that results from this. When you see a pope who does not hesitate to appear alongside women who believe themselves to be bishops, from “churches” that reject numerous essential teachings of Christianity, what conclusions can the faithful draw?

The temptation of dialogue

In the past fifty years, any apologetic or missionary action was excluded in the name of dialogue. This was probably due to the illusion of the possibility of a “soft” conversion of others, without polemics, without debates, without counter-arguments. In the opinion of the ecumenists, dialogue would be sufficient to create the premises for a sort of self-conversion of those involved. Additionally, the excess of rational argumentation in previous eras led to the conviction that apologetic presentations of the faith, instead of leading to conversions, increased the adversaries of Catholicism. This is why many of the Second Vatican Council fathers, as well as those in the subsequent period, concluded that dialogue is the only solution in a world where dominant pluralism leaves no room for alternatives.

The biggest problem, however, is the relativism that results from this. When you see a pope who does not hesitate to appear alongside women who believe themselves to be bishops, from “churches” that reject numerous essential teachings of Christianity, what conclusions can the faithful draw? Most have come to believe that “anything goes.” In practice, this results in a relativism that inevitably generates indifferentism. As a convert, the most difficult discussions I have had were with those Catholics who, when I pointed out the errors/heresies of other Christian denominations, would say that “there is one God for everyone” and that there is no point in insisting on the differences. Such an attitude can only ultimately lead to bracketing one’s own faith, especially when certain teachings of it opposed the errors of (pseudo)Christian communities. As we well know, we must not allow anything to diminish the supernatural grace of faith in our souls.

Hugo Klapproth fully illustrates an attitude of cultivating and continuously growing one’s own faith, accompanied by the effort to combat the errors that attack it and to convert those in error. One of the things he constantly reveals in his letters refers to the absurdity and irrationality of Lutheran axioms, with the famous “sola scriptura” being at the forefront. The main strategy he often used is what we can call, as in logic or mathematics, reductio ad absurdum (i.e., “the method of reduction to absurdity”).

The fact that a Protestant claims he can embrace the faith exclusively through the Bible, excluding Tradition, is simply absurd. For someone has handed him an edition of a Bible. So he has placed trust in a person and a context that supported his conviction that he holds a good version of the Bible in his hands. This is a form – however vague – of Tradition which shows that it is not actually possible to judge based on the Bible without having external support.

Why the Sola scriptura doctrine is totally wrong

Taking the Holy Scripture as the sole point of reference, the Protestant believer thinks that he has eliminated those elements that, as Luther himself believed, have falsified Christianity since its beginnings. Obviously, the main element of this kind is Tradition, against which Protestantism has fought with all its energy. Fully aware of this, Klapproth poses a very simple question that instantly pulverizes the Protestant principle:

“Should you make use of the Bible alone as the source and norm of your Faith, then you must also be certain that the Bible that you have is the genuine Bible. Who vouches for that?”

The question perfectly targets the absurdity of excluding the sacred Christian Tradition. For you cannot decide entirely on your own which is the true Bible – without an entire context. It is exactly the same as with family tradition: none of us can know our parents without accepting a context from which we learn who they are – the context we call “family.” Otherwise, no one could find out on his own, without any external help, who his father or mother is. The fact that a Protestant claims he can embrace the faith exclusively through the Bible, excluding Tradition, is simply absurd. For someone has handed him an edition of a Bible which he trusts a priori to be the correct, genuine version – as Klapproth says. So he has placed trust in a person and a context that supported his conviction that he holds a good version of the Bible in his hands. This is a form – however vague – of Tradition which shows that it is not actually possible to judge based on the Bible without having external support. For a Catholic, this support is represented by the Church itself – the Pope, the Church hierarchy, the saints, the councils, and the catechism. For a Protestant, however, this person can be anyone within his own horizon: Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, or any of the thousands of reformers and pastors who have generated the multitude of sects that continue to multiply even today.

For today we know that, in fact, this was the main, occult goal of the Protestant Reformation: the destruction of any firm Christian identity, based on the unity of the Credo transmitted to us through the “unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam.”

Obviously, the main problem for the reformers was and is the “crisis of trust” in the authority of the Catholic Church. Klapproth knows this:

“But the Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church were and are totally corrupt according to Lutheran teaching. More than this: they are not infallible, they can deceive you, and they can deceive themselves. You have to ascertain for yourself in a different manner what is genuine and what is false from the so-called Holy Scriptures – which Protestantism took over from the Papacy – in order to convince yourself of the authenticity or spuriousness of your own edition of the Bible as well.”

But if this is the case, what results from this total crisis of trust? An unleashed subjectivism, in which everyone is the center of his own religious universe, deciding for himself what is good and what is bad, what is true and what is false. From this have resulted the continuous splits among the various factions. However, what Klapproth saw with his own eyes in the 19th century were the consequences of these splits:

“Look whenever you wish within Protestantism, you will find in the place of a firm Credo a Babylonian confusion of fluctuating opinions, all in dispute with one another.”

Today we know that, in fact, this was the main, occult goal of the Protestant Reformation: the destruction of any firm Christian identity, based on the unity of the Credo transmitted to us through the “unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam.” However, despite this reality, it is certain that – for those willing to listen – he correctly identifies one of the great problems of Protestantism: continuous division and the relativization of faith done in the name of the principle of sola scriptura, which should have led to a unified interpretation of the Bible. Both theoretical, rational considerations and practical consequences prove the fundamental error hidden under the main protestant principle. And Hugo Klapproth is still here with us – through his excellent piece of work – to reveal all these errors.

Latest from RTV — “THE SCIENCE” ON TRIAL: Jeff Sachs and the CDC’s Dr. Redfield Turn State’s Evidence

[Comment Guidelines - Click to view]
Last modified on Friday, June 14, 2024
Robert Lazu Kmita | Remnant Columnist, Romania

A Catholic father of seven and a grandfather of two, Robert Lazu Kmita is a writer with a PhD in Philosophy. His first novel, The Island without Seasons, was published by Os Justi Press in 2023.