Reductio ad Nazium

This is a fascinating quote, and even though I don’t think it should be too hard to figure out who wrote it, I’ll toss it out there as a Guess Who anyways. [Update: John H. correctly guessed G. K. Chesterton.] The general topic is the question of whether Hitler was Catholic. Here goes…

In short, [Bismarck] set up a new Protestant Empire, to dwarf and depose the old Catholic Empire; and Hitler is his heir and his executor. These things can easily be shown to be facts, to anybody who knows anything of what happened before the newspapers of a few months ago. We need merely ask what Bavaria was like when it was Bavaria; before it felt the pressure from Prussia. When Bavaria was allowed to be Bavarian, all sorts of things were said against the Bavarians; that they were dreamy, that they were drunken, that they were ridiculously romantic, that they were mad on music, and so on. But nobody ever said that they were stiff or rigid or ruthless or inhuman or mad on mere official centralisation and militaristic discipline. That particular sort of cold brutality came from Prussian prestige; it could not possibly have come from anything else. And that Prussianism came from Protestantism; not, of course, in the sense that it came to infect all Protestants, or that there are not millions of good Protestants free from this error, or suffering from other errors. But it was a historical fruit of Protestantism; and that is not merely a historical fact; it can also be clearly traced as a philosophical truth. The racial pride of Hitlerism is of the Reformation by twenty tests;

  • because it divides Christendom and makes all such divisions deeper;
  • because it is fatalistic, like Calvinism, and makes superiority depend not upon choice but only on being of the chosen;
  • because it is Caesaro-Papist, putting the State above the Church, as in the claim of Henry VIII;
  • because it is immoral, being an innovator of morals touching things like Eugenics and Sterility;
  • because it is subjective, in suiting the primal fact to the personal fancy, as in asking for a German God, or saying that the Catholic revelation does not suit the German temper; as if I were to say that the Solar System does not suit the Chesteronian taste.

I do not apologise, therefore, for saying that this catastrophe in history has been due to heresy.

(I do apologise, however, for formatting this author’s work in bullet-points; I’m sure he’s spinning in purgatory…)

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22 Responses to Reductio ad Nazium

  1. RubeRad says:

    And no, the answer is not Churchill, I just liked the picture…

  2. Pooka says:

    I thought I knew, then I cheated and found out that I didn’t know. I’ve read little of his work but shoulda guessed right, especially with your clues. I won’t spoil it for the ones who do know.

    Re the arguments proposed: Yuck.

  3. John Harutunian says:

    I hate to say it, because he’s one of my favorite writers, but I’d have to guess G.K. Chesterton.
    Assuming that I’m right: Augustine taught that babies who died unbaptized went to hell. Point: everybody has his blind spots. So Chesterton is still one of my heroes.

  4. RubeRad says:

    Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Good job, John.

  5. RubeRad says:

    So to consider some of the meat of the post, I’m somewhat confused. GKC seems to be reaching here and there and hither and yon to find the worst bits of protestantism to make his points.

    The first one about division is standard Catholic rhetoric.

    For the election one, the fatalism point is also standard anti-Calvinist rhetoric that I don’t think it is necessary to spend much time on, but in what way is he thinking that superiority should depend on choice? Whose choice? Sure, if I was given the choice, I would choose to be superior — wouldn’t everybody?

    “Caesero-Papist” — that’s a new term, but is Henry the VIII all he can come up with? Isn’t he an aberration against a 2K background in which neither the church is over the state, nor vice versa?

    “innovator of morals”? I don’t get this one at all. What Reformed churches were dabbling in Eugenics and Sterility? I’m guessing just CoE again, some liberal wing of the early 20th century.

    “subjective” — Is GKC saying here more than the usual personal-interpretation line we get from Cat-lickers? Are there Reformed groups that reject R.C. because it’s too, I dunno, Roman? Italian?

  6. Rob H says:

    And it seems he’s coming from a “everybody knows..such and such” sort of position, which should raise eyebrows right from the start.

    And what about the “all protestants” but not really all protestants. Cheating way of making concessions to save face while summarily condemning the lot anyway. I guess he’s hoping some protestants aren’t really and will come back to Mother Churchia eventually. Maybe because of mudslinging in context?

    I (dis) like how he plays the division card where it should be said there is a separation, which is what the reformers did. Modern tolerance techniques in action.

  7. Rob H says:

    First argument: silly. Nobody claimed superiority because of choice that I heard of. He apparently did a straw man for that? Took predestination types (cage stage, like me) who were all self-righteous and applied their characteristics to the whole.

    Was he locked in his own closet with only a few books to choose from for study? Maybe a dated Encyclopedia Britannica, an RC watchblogger’s memoirs and a leaky pen?

    Eugenics and sterility! You know, that age-old birth control battle? Enter Monty Python scenes ad nauseum. Modern e-vangelicals bought into modern individualism that wanted 2.5 children, no more than, and freedom to dabble without the penalties.

  8. John Harutunian says:

    It’s worth pointing out one thing about Chesterton -he died back in 1936. I don’t know if he would have changed his views had he lived to see the horrors of what happened in Germany during the next nine years; perhaps not. On the other hand, I’d be surprised if there were any major Catholic writers today making any kind of connection between Protestantism and Nazism.

  9. Rob H says:

    I sure hope so, for the first. I sure hope not for the second.

  10. Zrim says:

    Curious is the tick to ascribe whatever is evil, real or perceived, to an -ism instead of human sin. Sinners sin because they’re sinners, not because they’re fill-in-the-blank.

    John, but I believe there are at least a handful of Protestants who might make a connecton between Catholicism and pedophelia. Meh.

  11. RubeRad says:

    Well there is a connection, but it’s not principial; there’s nothing in Catholocism that tends to condoning or encouraging pedophelia. The incorrect doctrine of chastity for priests has a very unfortunate practical side-effect.

    But then, the same could probably said for some of GKC’s points, like the first — there are no Protestants out there shouting, “Yay, division!” (1 Cor 11:19 notwithstanding), but division is a pretty inevitable side-effect of rejecting the R.C. monolithic authority structure.

  12. RubeRad says:

    Eugenics and sterility! You know, that age-old birth control battle?

    Is it that old though? I thought back then all they had was sheep-intestines

  13. Zrim says:

    I’m not so sure that there is as much one-to-one correspondance between the doctrine of priestly celebacy and sexual deviancy. I know most Protestants would like to think so. But it seems to me that Catholics would like to think that there is quite a bit of correspondance between sola scriptura and divisiveness. My point is that sin accounts more for both of these practical errors than the others guy’s principled doctrines.

  14. John Harutunian says:

    Zrim and RubeRad, the contested point here is a tough one. As is usually the case, I think it’s helpful to examine the issue underlying the issue: In what sense is marriage God’s normative will for a person? If it is such, simply and categorically, then I’d side more with RubeRad: there’s a real connection between the widespread pedophilia among priests and the Catholic Church’s false claim to legislative authority in barring her priests from marriage (which hence violates God’s normative will). On the other hand, if marriage is simply a state to which some Christians are called and some are not, then Zrim’s point is the more fundamental one.
    Meanwhile, back on the [Chestertonian] ranch, here goes my attempt to rehabilitate poor old G.K. It’s his eloquent description of the Crucifixion and its significance for human history (from “The Everlasting Man” pp. 215-217). It’s long, but it repays slow, meditative reading.

    “The mob went along with the Sadducees and the Pharisees, the philosophers and the moralists. It went along with the imperial magistrates and the sacred priests, the scribes and the soldiers, that the one universal human spirit might suffer a universal condemnation; that there might be one deep, unanimous chorus of approval and harmony when Man was rejected of men.
    There were solitudes beyond where none shall follow. There were secrets in the inmost and invisible part of that drama that have no symbol in speech; nor in any severance of a man from men. Nor is it easy for words less stark and singleminded than those of the naked narrative even to hint at the horror of exaltation that lifted itself above the hill. Endless expositions have not come to the end of it, or even to the beginning. And if there be any sound that can produce a silence, we may surely be silent about the end and the extremity; when a cry was driven out of that darkness in words dreadfully distinct and dreadfully unintelligible, which man shall never understand in all the eternity they have purchased for him; and for one annihilating instant an abyss that is not for our thoughts had opened even in the unity of the absolute; and God had been forsaken of God.
    They took the body down from the cross and one of the few rich men among the first Christians obtained permission to bury it in a rock tomb in his garden; the Romans setting a military guard lest there should be some riot and attempt to recover the body. There was once more a natural symbolism in these natural proceedings; it was well that the tomb should be sealed with all the secrecy of ancient eastern sepulture and guarded by the authority of the Caesars. For in that second cavern the whole of that great and glorious humanity which we call antiquity was gathered up and covered over; and in that place it was buried. It was the end of a very great thing called human history; the history that was merely human. The mythologies and the philosophies were buried there, the gods and the heroes and the sages. In the great Roman phrase, they had lived. But as they could only live, so they could only die; and they were dead.
    On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.”

  15. RubeRad says:

    Who said “one-to-one correspondence”? I said “connection”.

  16. RubeRad says:

    In what sense is marriage God’s normative will for a person?

    I’d say it’s not normative. Christians have liberty to marry or not.

  17. Zrim says:

    Rube, I had more in mind your latter statement, that “The incorrect doctrine of chastity for priests has a very unfortunate practical side-effect.” The implication here seems to be more one-to-once correspondance than less. I mean, Paul chose celebacy but it didn’t have the very unfortunate practical side-effect. Maybe the difference is celebacy by law versus celebacy by liberty, and from there one might say the former begets more deviancy than less.

    But then again, as much as we indulgers might like to think so, I don’t think as many who are teetotalers by law become alcoholics as we imagine. It’s a nice practical theory to level against the dangers of legalism, and I suppose sometimes it’s the case, but most alcohol-legalists I know remain upright. They sometimes like to suggest that indugance leads to deviancy, but we know how silly that is. Do we really want to return the silliness? So I stand by my point that deviancy really is more the result of human sin than the other guy’s bad doctrine.

  18. John Harutunian says:

    On reflection I think you’re probably right. On the other hand, I think we’d agree that God wants the human race to continue; and marriage is the only way this can happen which is in accordance with God’s law. The problem comes up when one applies this in the context of a particular individual.

  19. RubeRad says:

    I think the continuation of the species is pretty safely guaranteed by the providential fact that people like doin’ it. How successful we will be at keeping together the creational institution of the family, that’s another question…

  20. John Harutunian says:

    Agreed. I think that what you’re saying is already implicit in “marriage…in accordance with God’s law.”

  21. Zrim says:

    Rube, this is getting off-topic, but as long as it is…I can’t recall the conclusion to it now, but a few years ago you and I were going around about the il/legitimacy of unbelieving marriages. My view was, and remains, that they are completely legitimate full stop and I think you took issue with that but then qualified it here and there, or something. Can you refresh my memory, I’m just curious.

  22. RubeRad says:

    I agree that “non-Christian marriages” are fully legitimate (else the Church should re-marry converts), but “Christian marriages” have the additional property of being holy, defined as entitling the children to baptism.

    Another consequence of marriages being fully legitimate without having to be “Christian”, means that ministers of the gospel do not have conducting marriages as part of their job description — and according to the regulative principle, thus should not be doing it. Or at least if they do, they do it “by the power vested in me by the state of…”, and not by authority of the church, or from the bible.

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