By Steven J. Grisafi, PhD.
A common complaint of Protestantism toward Catholicism has been that Catholicism has strayed too far from the Holy Scriptures. While there may be margin for argumentation as to what constitutes Holy Scripture, I tend to agree wholeheartedly with this assertion. I believe this is so because the departure was intentional and it began during the reign of Emperor Constantine. In modern times, it is the nature of writing a blog such that one can expect one”s readers to begin reading a series of commentaries at any point along the postings. While I would like to think that my readers would give me the benefit of any doubt regarding my knowledge base, it is because of my own recognition that there is much nonsense published on the Internet, that I feel compelled to plead innocent to the charge of heresy. A reader coming upon my series of commentaries at the point of reading Blame Columbus without having first read Sorry, Very Sorry may not only accuse me of the Arian Heresy, but also an ignorance of it. Although I have mentioned that I have read in its entirety the Bury Edition of Gibbon”s masterpiece, and therefore would not be ignorant of this important episode in the development of Christianity, a reader coming upon my commentaries randomly may wonder about my knowledge base. As I indicated in Sorry, Very Sorry, my contemplation of the faith of my family began in earnest with the passing away of my father thirteen years ago. At that time I found amongst his books a treatise on the Shroud of Turin entitled The Way of the Cross in the Light of the Holy Shroud written by Msgr. Guilio Ricci. Although I had read Gibbon”s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire years before this, it was Father Ricci”s book that crystallized my thoughts.
I plead innocent to the charge of the Arian Heresy. My claim that Saint Jerome did not assert that Jesus was the Son of God is based upon my own reading of the Vulgate coupled with Gibbon”s exposition on the development of the Primitive Christians. Gibbon explains the importance of the embrace of Christianity by the Franks and their zeal for the acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God. Although this occurs more than four centuries after the First Council of Nicaea, in which the Church bishops rejected the Arian assertion regarding the substance of the Holy Trinity, my assertion is far more empirical. I engage not in any ethereal conjecture regarding that which we can never know, but only assert what is written. My assertion is one of Latin reading comprehension of which I charge the Franks were deficient and the Italians were disingenuous.
Councils settle nothing. It is only through the force of arms that issues are settled. When the Christian bishops held their first council in Nicaea, during the reign of Emperor Constantine in the year 1105 A.U.C., they recognized that they could not assert a straightforward reading of the New Testament. To do so would only validate Judaism, not their faith. So they had to assert something else: the virgin birth of the Son of God. When Theodosius became Imperator in the year 1132 A.U.C. the Roman people were still overwhelmingly pagan. He attempted to convert them to Christianity through the force of arms, but still they silently remained true to their pagan worship. The vulgar Latin language of the peoples of the collapsed western Roman empire transformed slowly into the Romance languages. When the Franks began uniting Medieval Europe, to create the Holy Roman Empire in the year 1553 A.U.C., the people still spoke vulgar Latin. Those who could read could not overlook that the Gospel according to Matthew began with the genealogy of Joseph. It traced his genealogy as that of a Jew. But the Franks and the Goths knew little or no Latin of any kind. They bore no encumbrance toward accepting the proposition that the New Testament asserted the virgin birth of Jesus as the Son of God. It was through their zeal, and their force of arms, that Europeans came to accept the assertion of Jesus as the Son of God.
Although well intentioned, Martin Luther was a simpleton. He did not recognize that the Church was the secular government of all Europeans and not solely their religious institution. Although there were also other thinkers, such as John Calvin, the Protestant Reformation was primarily an assertion of nationalism from the native peoples of Europe who saw the Catholic Church as a foreign entity. Thus ended all hopes for a united Europe, for which a monetary union is no substitute.