A Quote…

Or two…

When you criticize someone with followers, the followers recognize that, if you are correct, they have been sucked in. If they had been sucked in, then they must not be too bright, or at least they were not well enough informed to form a critical judgment which would have led them to identify their leader as someone not worth following. So, a criticism of the leader produces a particular response in the followers. They feel that there has been an attack on them personally. The critic is saying, loud and clear, that anyone who has followed this particular leader is not a good judge of character, intellect, or facts. They are quite correct. This is exactly what the critic is saying.”

―    Gary North

So, if I could translate the above quote, and apply it to this particular blog (and blogger) if you will, then that would include all:

of you.

Oh yes, I said ‘two’:

Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.

― Benjamin Franklin

And one last one:

Never explain: Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe you anyhow.

― Anon

21 thoughts on “A Quote…

  1. Fr. Stephen, If this has anything to do with a certain…unkind…individual in California, then don’t waste your time worrying. Just preach and teach what you’ve been taught and hold fast to the faith. I think we should all never forget that academic qualification, education, vestments, and church buildings do NOT make the priest-pastor.

    I prefer to think Paul is on to some of the essence of Christ’s ministers in his Church when he talks about not being stubborn, irritable, an alcoholic, a bully, or greedy, but showing hospitality, loving what is good, being reasonable, ethical, gold, and self controlled. And most importantly, “They must pay attention to the reliable message as it has been taught to them so that they can encourage people with healthy instruction and refute those who speak against it.” (Titus 5-9, CEB)

    I prefer the East’s discussion about ministry, not focusing so obsessively on any specific issue like apostolic succession or education or learning, but on the faith. The true pastor and the true theologian are firm, practicing full believers first and foremost. No heretic or unbeliever or lukewram Christian is ever fit to be a minister in Christ’s church, no matter their background! Here I think of all those learned academically trained RC priests who abused so many non-adults!

    • Well, why yes it does… The sad reality is that I actually have both an undergraduate degree in Theology (BTh) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bachelor_of_Theology) and a postgraduate degree (BA Hons) from two accredited (i.e. recognised) universities here in South Africa. I have been to seminary and I am currently engaged in MA studies specialising in Biblical Archaeology. My academic qualifications – like the rest of what I do – is completely ‘above board’ and, as a Christian, one who loves the Lord above all and to whom I owe all that I have, all that I am, and all that I do, I could (and would) never present myself as anything but that which I am, which, for the record, is a miserable sinner desperately in need of grace (Rom 7:24). I will stand in judgment before God (not man).

      But thank you for your words of encouragement. I really have seen no need to justify myself before the venom and character assassinations of the person to whom you refer. I have learnt long ago not to engage such individuals before a lost and watching world. It makes for a bad witness. And why should I respond to (or satisfy) the rantings anyway? Next he will have me post the transcripts of my degrees online simply to prove my words. But the Church that I belong to (am Ordained in) has them. The Universities that need them have them. Even the South African Qualifications Authority has them. Why does he need to have them (!) and that simply in and for the wicked vendetta he is openly waging? So I am responding to you Mr Frost and not the one of whom you speak.

      BTW. there are some dictums by which I constantly try to live my life, and one of them is by William Carey:

      ‘If my conduct will not vindicate itself, it is not worth vindicating.’

      • Fr. Robert, I forgot to mention that her Mass card has an icon of Mary on one side and the Memorare (a prayer to her) on the other. Something is so different when the entire thrust of a public funeral is the Theotokos, with Jesus Christ either absent or in the background. That mindset is so alien and so difficult to make sense of, esp. in light of the NT and Gospel.

  2. Fr. Stephen: I did not realize that you, and I presume TAC, were being attacked by this said known person, at least in such an outright manner. Very sad! But sadly too this seems to come with the signs of the deep trouble of the church and culture in postmodernity! And YOU certainly don’t need any vindication here, both your spirit and work itself proclaim, themselves. ‘In Christ’! And as I have said here many times before, there is no outright perfection in the historic Church of Christ, just that reality of the Pilgrim Church!

    • Yes, sadly it is so. But hey, that happens when you are out on the blogs trying to stand for Christ Jesus. Thank you Father for the support over the years… You have been here from the start (the good old Jim West days, remember?… Lol.) and you know my heart (and abilities hopefully). God bless you my Brother.

      • Amen, WE just keep truck’in to use an old term! I rarely check out old Jim West these days, but I am sure he is still cook’in too! Now there is one “eclectic” Baptist! 😉 No doubt I think I will get to the goal-line before all of you, and see “Christ Jesus”! But God alone knows? Damn this year I will be 64! As I remember Jim is about ten years younger than me (so early 50’s for him?). And you are just near 40? Yes, there are real people behind these here blogs! Though I am surely the “least” blogger for sure! But its just good to be alive and around! 🙂

        God bless you and yours too, my Brother!

      • Fr. Robert, The more I see and experience the more I come to realize that the existential, ontological difference between Rome and everyone else is vast. They see the universe from an entirely different perspective. Like comparing Peter Lombard’s Sentences or Aquina’s Summa (so based on logic, reason, and philosophy) to Melanchthon’s Loci (so biblically and church based) or Wesley’s “method”.

        I encountered a concrete example this morning. A very good friend of my mother’s passed away. Wonderful woman: 7 kids, very active in her local RCC, who was recognized by various groups as volunteer of the year. In her funeral bulletin/pamphlet the family said two very interesting things. First, she “will be remembered for her devotion to the holy rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary”. Second, the central prayer they ask to be said is the Hail Mary. God forbid that at the time of our death we rely on the Theotokos to be our Mediator, Intercessor, and Savior. That is for her Son alone! No man or woman can stand in Christ’s place.

        Instead, I think our focus must more properly be like the Jesus Prayer,
        God have mercy upon me, a sinner! Or like Melanchthon’s prayer of faith:

        “O almighty, eternal, true God, eternal [Trinity]…Creator of all creatures, thou who art wise, true good, just, pure, free, and merciful, and who gatherest to thyself among men for the sake of thy Son, and through thy Son, an eternal Church, I confess and I am heartily sorry that I am sinful and have often acted in opposition to thee. I pray thee, however, that thou wouldst forgive me all my sins and graciously receive me and make me righteous for they beloved Son’s sake, Jesus Christ, and through him, whom thou has ordained to be our Mediateor and Reconciler, I pray thee to guide and sanctify my soul and heart with thy Holy Spirit, that I may truly acknowldge and invoke the true God, eternal Father, eternal Son, Jesus Christ, and eternal Holy Spirit, and be obedient to thee.” (Loci on Justification, from the German, 1555 ed.)

  3. I have been busy this last weekend, but I would like to assure you, Father, of my support in the kind of situation that burns me out when it happens to me. Sometime, when crossing a field, one puts one’s foot in something soft and smelly, very unpleasant and not wise to have upwind from oneself. Keep calm and carry on!

    • Strange, now that you mention it Father, I have a coffee mug with those exact words on: Keep calm and carry on! It helps, often.

      I often failed to understand your objections to the ‘trolls’. Now I realize that there is only one thing worse than them commenting on your blog: Them starting their own… Oh the depth of the hatred of man… So unreasonable. So unchristian. So sad.

      • Oh, I can totally understand how much hate can be lobbed at someone. (And how much hate you -can- lob) The thing is, when trolls start their own blog, you really can’t censor them the same way people can censor their comments section in their own blogs. It’s more than fair- it’s good to be the king! (of your own blog)

        But yes, nothing else you can about trolls do other than shut them up. That’s what John Bruce did with his blog- I bet it saved him a lot of headaches and prevented long posting wars with little or no resolution.

      • Fr. Stephen, Anyone who wastes their time reading that anti-everything-that-isn’t-Rome screed immediately realizes the difference between your Christian thoughts and his unchristian rants. The ultimate irony is that any one–bishop, priest, or laity–or any thing–including the smallest of local churches–that goes into his beloved Ordinariate immediately…miraculously…transmogrifies… that person or object into something good, special, holy, and wonderful. Once he or it goes Rome, then all is exalted and made perfect, no questions asked! I can almost imagine the volte-face hero worship that would imediately spew forth from him if the local TAC-ACA parish in Des Moines, its retired Archbishop, its priest, and its laity just went into the Ordinariate. Oh the dubious and false praise he would suddenly sing?

      • @Ioannes: Why not start your own blog? Btw, the blog is more of a journal like thing for me anyway, i.e. something of our own journey ‘In Christ’. And if someone else reads it, fine, but if not, then fine again too. It’s kind of a one-sided affair really. And no one has to read it! So to each is own!

      • irishanglican:

        Why not start my own blog? Why should I? I have no reason to start my own blog. First, it’s anonymity. If you have a blog, you’re not thinking “Aha! Now, no one can find me and read my ideas!” otherwise, why make them public?

        Furthermore, I got nothing to talk about that I can’t say on comments sections of other blogs with better access to news or whatever else. My blog, at most, would be about “How so-and-so is stupid.” It would be ridiculous because, like atheism, it will be all about what I don’t like and don’t believe in. It doesn’t mean I couldn’t have anything intelligent to say, it’s just that It’s pointless to say it, like making a religion of anti-religion, to make a blog with my thoughts on it. Also, there are enough blogs out there with good content. If not, there are always good books I could be reading.

        But I have another reason why I don’t want to: Mostly because I dislike blogs and people who make them in general.

        Remember: It’s not churchmen who first started making blogs- it’s those godless tech-savvy college-age people with unwarranted self-importance. I have had to deal with those people from day 1 when I discovered the internet. People who populate the comments section are either boot-licking, uncritical fanboys or they’re driven to extreme opposition (From a stance of mild opposition) so as to be labeled as trolls. Hence boosting the ego of the blogger to massive proportions. It’s what happens to people.

        Sadly, I see some unwarranted self-importance from certain churchmen who have their own blogs. (Not Fr. Smuts- I stated it once, and I state it once again- he’s cool because he doesn’t seem to be like some of the pompous, over-educated churchmen I can think of- or if he -is- he doesn’t try to discuss boring and incomprehensible tedium about the finer points of cataloging artifacts on the topic of Biblical Archaeology. He keeps his posts short and sweet for the most part.)

        the TL;DR (Too Long, didn’t read) version of my reason: It’s too much of a hassle over something so inconsequential. People move on and change, both blogger and followers of a blog.

      • Interesting! But, for a guy that doesn’t like blogs… “I dislike blogs and people who make them in general.” You sure spend some time on this one at least! And often with such long statements in the com box! And yes, I think you are one that really likes “anonymity”, which is surely the nature of a “troll”! And btw, how would you classify yourself? A real blogger is someone “known”, at least in some measure, to the people who read the blog, or even when he comments on another. In the church, we call this both responsibility and somewhat accountability! The latter is one of the problems on the religious blogs at least. I mean, who really is “Ioannes”? A young 20-30 Roman Catholic, who is a “Traditionalist”, and who is ethnically one from the Philippine Islands. Yes? I think that is fair little assessment. Complete anonymity is rather hard! 😉

        *And btw, I did not even read a blog until sometime after being in my later 50’s!

      • And “change”? Most certainly, but measure change is the issue! I have somewhat changed on many certain theological subjects, over the days and years. But major change there, and change in my personality? Not hardly, I am Irish! And always a Royal Marine! 😉 One needs to get to 40 at least!

      • How do I classify myself? Well, For now, I am anonymous. I can speak freely because I speak without the baggage of reputation, identity, or other peoples’ preconceived notion of who I am or fear of their opinions. Let them call me a fascist, a racist, a bigot, or whatever. I’d argue against or agree with them if I wished. When I think someone is a liar, I would be happy to justify it without trying to be diplomatic. I can be free to be stupid and wrong, because- how embarrassing would it be for the president, or a bishop or a cardinal or a pope to make silly and stupid mistakes with the world looking at them! I have nothing to censor my thought and my words other than my own self, Fr. Stephen Smuts, and Almighty God, should He choose to end my life this very instant or render me mute or blind or whatever.

        And most importantly, I don’t hide behind the pretty word “Responsibility” to say what is true, regardless of what other people think is their version of “truth”- It would instead be pretty irresponsible of me to claim I am, for example, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf. But not if I say I am John Calvin, because I couldn’t be the person you’d think of first when thinking about “John Calvin”. Though I’d be pretty stupid to say both such things. One thing I am not is -stupid-, at least. (I know nothing of John Calvin other than he is a protestant and nothing from him is worth listening to or reading.)

        I don’t like blogs, but I do like to think. I also don’t like cars, but I’d prefer not to walk long distances. Truth is, anyone of us could be artificial intelligences or some scripted computer program designed to randomly put together a series of words that elicit certain response from other people with the illusion of free will, and that wouldn’t matter. It’s human behavior that makes people treat even inanimate objects as if they’re real people, naming them, talking to them, or even saddened by their loss. So, by virtue of writing and forming what appears to be coherent thoughts over distances away, despite having no real evidence I can use to ascertain for myself, I’d think that passes for somewhat human characteristic. Sometimes, it just takes an act of faith to even believe that I’m not just staring as a computer screen and not believe that the people who say they are real, are in fact real.

        Even determined people who claim to be Barack Obama can manufacture his entire identity through masterful use of photoshop, voice editors, and make it seem as if Barry O. was actually saying or doing something stupid on his supposed Facebook wall. It just wouldn’t be wise, because the FBI may come a-knocking.

        People can’t really prove who or what they say they are with 100% certainty, and this is especially true over the internet. When I hear news of people actually thinking that there’s Nigerian Royalty who needed their (monetary) help, and they actually fell victim to it- part of me says “That’s an injustice!” and another part says “You had it coming!” What’s more outrageous are the amount of people who know something is a lie but keep on believing it- why, because “It makes them happy.”

        How do you know I am who I say I am? Only God, when He spoke to Moses could truly say “I am that I am” because He is Truth. For all you know, I could be a white, Anglo-Saxon protestant pretending to be a Catholic from the Philippines who doesn’t even live in Los Angeles! And then let us not discount sheer chance and coincidence. In a city of 3 million, there are many Filipino Catholics especially from the islands themselves- I don’t know how many are traditionalists, and I don’t know how many are named “Ioannes”- but if you do find him, please don’t bother him- he probably doesn’t know what you’re talking about (or he’s lying.)

        You can’t even really prove the existence of God with 100% certainty just with living life without the internet as well, or knowing who believes and how much they believe in God, or whatever their religion teaches. Anyone of you think that people who wear robes or call themselves “father” aren’t suspect? That just because they’re friendly and talk about the Bible, or claim to be X, Y, Z, and the Bishop of Istanbul- they’re immediately believable because of what they say? Even sedevacantists make sense in their doubt! But ultimately, the deepest reaches of doubt lies in atheism. I have not reached that depth. But I can understand why so many people are starting to become atheists- people are wholly unreliable, and there are ways to ascertain if people are lying. With the amount of liars in the world, even self-deceivers, it’s not surprising. But if I did not at least believe that Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist and everything that follows from it and what the Catholic Church teaches are elaborate hoaxes, I might as well let go of the entire sham of theism.

        After all, why would I trade the lie of one group for the lie of another? Even atheists can’t get along with each other. If I cannot trust myself, then why have the confidence to get up in the morning when I could have ended my miserable, godless life the night before? Is it just the willpower to live? If I can be trusted to be true to myself, then what’s stopping me from doing what I want, even if that meant destroying the whole world out of pure frustration and rage over it, over the lie of beauty and the prevalence of suffering?

        Everything is in a constant change of flux. A faithful Catholic one day, becomes Protestant the next, and the an atheist on another. Or it can go the opposite direction, if you don’t include all other sort of religions and beliefs in the world. People live, die, sometimes before birth, and sometimes they don’t even get conceived. Sometimes people have near-death experiences, and they’d change. Or don’t. But they’d change anyways in some other way. But what are these accidents of life worth, when the ultimate truth that all people must acknowledge is death?

        The only thing I’d find reliable is God Himself, Who is above everything. But I cannot say He does not care at all. For when God judges me, I trust that He is just and merciful and will give me what I deserve. What that is, only He knows.

      • Well to get more serious, this is getting very labored, i.e. this so-called anonymity! So I will stop with so-called “Ioannes”. And if we all got what we “deserved”, we would ALL be left to judgment, and an eternity without God! But thankfully, God In Christ does have an “election of grace”, and here for us who truly believe, we are given the blessing of “regeneration”! (Titus 3: 5) And this Text is certainly NOT Baptism (itself, the sign & seal however, of salvation).

      • Fr Robert, Not sure how it happened but my two recent posts in regard to your discussion with Ioannes went to the wrong places above. Out of place and order. Guess I accidentally replied to the wrong Reply? The first one is longer. The 2nd shorter one, really an addendum to the first, I’ll repeat here: “Fr. Robert, I forgot to mention that her Mass card has an icon of Mary on one side and the Memorare (a prayer to her) on the other. Something is so different when the entire thrust of a public funeral is the Theotokos, with Jesus Christ either absent or in the background. That mindset is so alien and so difficult to make sense of, esp. in light of the NT and Gospel.”

      • Well, I too would go with Melanchthon here! As For Roman Catholicism, I am just thankful to God In Christ, that He has brought me out that! (Years ago) Though there are no doubt some real believers there. But indeed the “papacy” itself saves nobody! And even sadly, it is and has become a stumbling-block historically in the visible Church! Just look at the mess in L.A. over the sexual sin, and even misconduct of the leadership, to seek to cover-up the sins of so many priests! (And that’s just in LA!) Shame, indeed shame, on the name and cause of Christ! There is nothing else that can be said here, but Lord have mercy, and repair those that are YOUR people therein!

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