Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 14, No. 12. September 20, 1951
From Munz to Munz Meat
From Munz to Munz Meat
Sir,—Dr. Munz suggests that I acquaint myself with the meaning of the word "logic." Instead, I shall harvest the new crop of fallacies he has produced in his latest letter, and thereby help to acquaint him with the thing. "I took my stand," Dr. Munz declares, "with Schweitzer, Loisy and Klausner. Surely this is plain enough." How one can take a stand in three places at once is not clear at all; it is a feat of intellectual acrobatics which even Dr. Munz would find difficult. That these men hold three different views is clear to anyone who knows anything about them. Thus Loisy holds that the mystery religions deeply influenced Christianity, whereas Schweitzer holds that their influence was negligible.
"As a wise Catholic the author of the first volume (of the "Church History" of Martin and Fliche) does not discuss the historicity of the N.T. at all." This statement of Dr. Munz's calls for several comments. First, if Dr. Munz had really read this work he would surely know that it has two authors—Lebreton and Zeiller—not one. Second, using his favourite tactics, he insinuates that Lebreton, the author of the first chapter, is either an insincere Catholic or a dishonest historian. For what else can "wise" mean in this context? It must mean either that Lebreton was wise enough to know that the N.T. is unhistorical, even though the Church holds that it is; or omitted to discuss the question because he knew he could not make a good case for the historicity. Third. Lebreton devotes three pages to the historical Christ and the Gospels (pp. 63-65) and concludes that "if the facts which the apostle relates were not real, he was a lying witness, and the faith of Christians would be vain." The reason why he does hot discuss the question more fully is very simple. The plan of the whole work called for a volume of about 500 pages to cover the history of the first two centuries; a long discussion of the historicity of the N.T. would have been a waste of valuable space, when a full treatment of the subject is readily available in such works as De Grandmaison's Jesus Christ, to which the reader is referred in a footnote on p. 63.
Dr Munz declares that the first three paragraphs of my letter were pointless because he does not "call himself a rationalist." Surely what matters is not what Dr Munz calls himself, but what he is. He argues that because he is a disciple of Schweitzer and Klausner, and "neither Schweitzer nor Klausner are rationalist. We'll let Schweitzer and Klausner pass—though one could reasonably call them rationalists—but what, about Loisy? if Dr Munz "takes his stand with Loisy," he is certainly a rationalist. Dr Munz would be easier to argue with, if he had done some independent thinking and had some firm convictions, instead of hitching his wagon to three different stars.
Dr Munz writes as if his decision not to accept the compatibility of faith and reason proceeded from a judicious weighing of St Thomas's arguments, which like a conscientious historian he has read, presumably in the original Latin. Actually, St Thomas has very little to do with the matter, if you admit that the Christian faith is divinely revealed, and that human reason comes from God, it obviously follows that faith and reason cannot contradict each other. The whole question is: Is the Christian faith divinely revealed? And to find the answer to that question it is better to consult a modem work of apologetics than read St Thomas, for St Thomas does not discuss it at length.