Saturday, January 5, 2008

TurretinFan - Opening Statement

I stand opposed to the resolution. I see no reason from Scripture to believe that Holy Water (so-called) has any effect at all on demonic forces. Let me first address each of PhatCatholic’s (PC’s) points and then provide some counter-points.

PC provides three main points of argument.

1. God uses the things of the created order to produce supernatural effects in our lives.
2. In Scripture, water is used to cleanse, purify, and heal human beings.
3. Demons are rightly repulsed by anything that is holy or blessed by God, and are expelled by His cleansing grace.

The first point is so general that I can certainly agree to it.

As to the second point, I distinguish. Water is used for physical cleansing, and consequently is used symbolically of spiritual cleansing. Thus, water was used for ritual cleansing/purification (the two being essentially interchangeable) in the Mosaic administration, as well as in the rite of Baptism in the Johanine and Apostolic administrations.

There are three examples of water being used in healing, Naaman in the Jordan, the pool of Bethesda, and the healing of the blind man through the dust/spit paste and subsequent washing in the pool of Siloam. Of course, none of the water involved was consecrated water.

PC makes the argument that if water cleanses, and demons are sometimes called “unclean spirits,” therefore it should be that water “can be put to good use against something as unclean as a demon.” There are a couple of problems with that, but the most obvious is that “unclean” is simply a figure of speech for the fact that they are evil.

Having disposed of the first two arguments, let us turn to the third. PC argues that demons “are rightly repulsed by anything that is holy or blessed by God, and are expelled by His cleansing grace.” PC asks, “Does this really need a defense?” The answer, of course, is yes.

After all, the Devil tempted Christ, and there is no one more holy or blessed by God than the Son of God. This, of course, was immediately after his baptism by John (see Mark 1:9-13). Yet, it seems that Christ’s holiness did not immediately or necessarily repulse the devil. Likewise, we read in Job that the devil even appeared before the Father in heaven, among the holy angels, to give an account of his doings (see Job 1:6-7 and 2:1-2). Furthermore, even when demons were confronted with Jesus presence or name they did not necessarily immediately flee (see Matthew 8:29 and Acts 19:15) and the same for Paul (Acts 16:16-17 and Acts 19:15).


1. Exorcism is Through Authority not Repulsion
How then do we explain Acts 19:11-12 (where aprons and handkerchiefs from Paul’s body expelled evil spirits), Mark 9:38 (where someone was casting out demons “in [Jesus’] name”) and Acts 16:18 (where Paul casts out demons “in the name of Jesus Christ”)? The name of Jesus is significant because it connotes authority. Paul had Christ’s authority, and consequently was able to command the spirits to come out, as were the other apostles.

Indeed, it was in recognition of this way in which demons are cast out that the slander against Jesus arose that he cast out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils (see Matthew 9:34 and 12:24, and Mark 3:22).

Likewise that “in the name” refers to authority can be seen, for example, from Deuteronomy 18:5, 7, 20, and 22 and many other Old Testament texts, as well as – for example – James 5:10.
2. Special Miracles
But some might argue that the explanation about authority does not fully explain the special miracles wrote by Paul’s hands, by which the sick were cured through aprons and handkerchiefs that had been on Paul’s body. The answer is that there were additional special miracles in the apostolic age, but those miracles had already long ceased by the time of Chrysostom (circa 347- circa 407), who is considered one of the hierarchs of Eastern Orthodoxy and a saint and doctor of the Roman Catholic Church, having a feast day on September 13 (Homily IV on 2 Thessalonians).

3. Anecdotal Evidence
The anecdotal evidence is less than compelling. The Apostolic Constitutions are acknowledged, even by Roman Catholic Historians, to be pseudonymous works (after all, none of the Apostles survived to the fourth century). Furthermore, the passage cited by PC does not appear in several versions of the Apostolic Constitutions, and consequently may be a later medieval addition thereto. Likewise in the cross-examination, we saw that the citation to the Venerable Bede’s work actually shows dust, not water, being used for expelling demons (and the water involved in the discussion not being water sanctified by a priest, but water that touched a relic). That leaves us with no testimony as to the use of holy water against demonic forces until the medieval times. Furthermore, we have testimony that the use of holy water against demonic forces was simply medieval superstition (see John Paul Perrin, “History off the Ancient Christians” (1847), Book I, pages 33-34).

There is simply no mention of the practice of using holy water against demonic forces in either Scripture or the early fathers. It is a superstition based on the mistaken assumption that water consecrated by Catholic priests is “holy,” it is not. The concept of “holy water” is a medieval innovation. It is also based on the mistaken assumption that demons are repulsed or afraid of holy things. They are not. Satan even goes about disguised as an angel of light. They must, however, submit to the authority of God, which is why Michael invoked the Lord’s authority in his argument with the Devil (see Jude 9). Furthermore, we may have boldness against the devils, for we are promised that if we resist them, they will flee from us (see James 4:7). Thus, we need not be afraid, and resort to talismans or the like to protect us from the power of the devil.


1 comment:

Turretinfan said...

I count exactly 1000 words (including the title, signature, and all Scripture citations, which obviously don't need to be counted). So, this gives you (PC) until January 12th to provide a first cross-examination question.