[#] A Merciless Beating ( ? ? ? )

I came across this statement on the comments of a blog whose name must not be spoken:

The stark insensitivity to basic human compassion that is produced by this utterly radicalized "timeless truth" version of justification by faith alone, where "Good News" supposedly consists of mercilessly beating other image-bearers over the head with abstract, impersonal Doctrinal Propositions and congratulating oneselves for superior fidelity to "Truth", is not even remotely close to the position and spirit of the Protestant Reformers. Combined with a failure to appreciate the very good things that John Paul II did—things which only someone in the pope's position of cultural visibility could have accomplished—it is a gross discredit to the Protestant cause today. {Emph added}

Now here's what I have no intention of doing: I have no intention of paging through thousands of leaves of reformation treatises to find all the places where guys like Luther, Knox, Calvin, Zwingli, and all the rest were spending time "mercilessly beating other image bearers" over "Doctrinal Propositions". That's a futile piece of work becuase it doesn't matter how many citations one provides, one is always subject to the great contextual retort: "you are trapped in your ignorance of modernity".

So what's the right response? Ignore such a thing? Go out and research the fact that everyone I know who has taken the stand that John Paul II was, in the best case, totally devoted to Mary also noted that he was also one of the most influential political figures in 20th century history? Why bother with that either -- because apparently unless one says he was a "Christian political leader", one is a bigot or some kind of intellectual ruffian who hands out "mericless beatings".

So here's my take on the matter of "mercilessly beating other image bearers" with "doctrinal propositions", and whether that is "close to the position and spirit of the Protestant Reformers". I have a citation from the person who penned those words on the matter of what happened to the Protestants, and what they themselves did with that action:

I think that we need a new Council to revisit the issues that are in dispute between Rome and the Reformation--a Council made up not mostly of a bunch of hotheaded radicals (Trent) who in turn are viciously excoriated by their radically unjustly accused victims (the Reformers) so that a great big huge cycle of Mutually Assured Destruction gets started again, but instead a Council made up of calmer folks from both sides, folks dedicated to not automatically thinking the worst of each other and commited to actually hammering out an agreement, if possible, that each will pledge to live by. This doesn't fit the typical war-monger approach of either side, obviously, but look where the war-mongers have gotten us. Maybe it's time to put them out to pasture and let cooler heads prevail.

What is remarkable about this statement is that, in the first place, it is not even "cold" in terms of when it was authored -- the writer dropped it into the bandwidth last week. In the second place, it makes a confession that cannot be reconciled against the accusation being made this week: the Protestant reformers were, in that author's opinion, "radically unjustly accused" by "a bunch of hothead radicals". What he is saying is that there is no way to justify what was said at Trent in the context it was said, and that those who recognized they were being treated wrongly had a "radically" just case to offer in objection. In that, the essential separation between Rome and the Protestant advocates is clear: the latter is crying out against the injustice of the former, and the former is having none of it.

In that, there is no "merciless beating" coming forth -- unless one looks at the rhetoric coming from (who could guess it?) the folks who hold up Trent as infallible and binding. Go ahead and call this polemicizing. The problem is that it comes from the exact "position and spirt" of the Protestant reformers -- which is the spirit of men who were radically betrayed by Rome.