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   In Defense of Traditional Bible Texts

"The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever."
. . . Psalm 12:6-7 . . .

Erasmus of Rotterdam
A Good Son of the Roman Catholic Church?

Dr. Gary E. LaMore

The following is taken from chapter 1 of William Packard's Evangelism in America from Tents to TV. The chapter is entitled "Martin Luther And The Protestant Reformation."

Packard says, "Humanist thinkers were also beginning to advance their intellectual arguments and satire against the Church, and these written attacks were more disquieting than any sermons which might be preached against the Church's immorality. Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536) had travelled to England in 1499 to meet with Thomas More, and Erasmus had ample opportunity to observe the corruption and cynicism of the Roman Church. In 1509 Erasmus published his Ecomium Moriae, or The Praise of Folly, which stirred theologians to an uproar with its biting satire on the absurdities of Church teaching, its ridicule of the Pope and celibacy and other sacred tenets of Catholicism. Erasmus reserved his chief scorn for his fellow clergy:

"...whose brains are the rottenest, intellects the dullest, doctrines the thorniest, manners the brutalest, life the foulest, speech the spitefullest, hearts the blackest, that ever I encountered in the world." [p.25]

Mr. Packard is the great-grandson of Evangelist Dwight L. Moody. Based on his own personal statements in his book, one may conclude that he is neither an Evangelical nor a Fundamentalist. Thus he has no theological axe to grind. He is just making a statement based on the research he has done. Why cannot so-called Fundamentalists see the same things concerning Erasmus that Mr. Packard has seen? Why must they declare that Erasmus was a good son of the Roman Catholic Church when the facts of history prove otherwise? Have they not read? Do they not know? Surely these so-called Fundamentalists must know that Erasmus wrote The Praise of Folly (1509) while indisposed with lumbago at the home of his friend [Sir] Thomas More [1478-1535], in England. He wrote it in seven days. If not the most important of his works, it is the one through which he achieved international renown. It went through forty editions during his lifetime. [Hans] Holbein [the Younger] (c1497-1543) illustrated it with pen-and-ink sketches. It is the most popular of all Renaissance classics. Speaking in the name of Folly, Erasmus criticizes the institutions, customs, men and beliefs of his time. The objects of his satire include marriage, self-love, war, the corruption of the Church, national pride, the competition for material goods, the wordiness of the lawyers, the speculations of the scientists, the logic-chopping and hairsplitting of the theologians, the ignorance and diversity of the religious orders, the pride of kings and the servility of courtiers, the neglect of spiritual duties and responsibilities to their flocks of bishops, cardinals and popes. All are held up to ridicule; the true duties and interests of all are shown. Erasmus professed a simple humanistic form of Christianity, and though he was severely critical of the Church, he refused to leave it and join the Protestants though he died among them.

Surely if Mr. Packard can see and understand what Erasmus saw and under- stood, why cannot so-called Fundamental believers do the same? Perhaps they need to read The Praise of Folly themselves. The author of this brief presentation has, and he agrees with the observations and conclusions of Erasmus. Since The Praise of Folly is a classic piece of Renaissance literature, the pseudo-Fundamentalist scholars would have to really understand the Renaissance and the classical models that the Renaissance authors used.
Yes, true Fundamentalists have their Erasmus and pseudo-Fundamentalists have their Westcott and Hort. And what were Westcott and Hort? Apostates. If the so-called Fundamentalists think that Westcott and Hort were not apostates, all they need to do is read Dr. D. A. Waite's book on the Theological Heresies of Westcott and Hort. True fundamentalists are still waiting for their pseudo-fundamentalist friends to write a refutation of Dr. Waite's book. How easy it is for pseudo-fundamentalists to exalt folly over fact. Their pride of intellect will not allow them to come to the truth. It would take true humility for them to admit they were wrong. Also they would have to admit to their students that they were wrong and that they had lied to them because of their failure to really study the issues involved in the so-called King James controversy. Truly Erasmus was writing about them in The Praise of Folly.

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