I engaged in a live IRC debate with 'Hammer', a Feeneyite on the issue of the salvific efficacy of Baptism of Desire. I here give my take on the debate with short excerpts enclosed, with some analysis. I post this because Hammer, at his web site, claims victory over me. He claims in this debate, that I was proved to be incompetent. He claims that I switched my position on the issues and didn't even know what I believed. The genesis of this debate is that several months back, the Feeneyites overwhelmed the Catholic Converts Message board with a challenge to me, to have a live debate on the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) on the issue of the meaning of 'No Salvation Outside the Church.' They told everybody who visited that board that they were going to 'crush me' and expose my lies. At the time, I was busy in my studies, but eventually, I agreed to this specific debate on the condition that they agreed to a formal, written debate, which is more my style.
Anyway, I thought I did pretty well in this IRC debate, in fact others told me that it was a good debate, but hard to follow. They either thought: 1)that I did pretty well but was pretty close (though hard to follow, given the format), or 2) "You destroyed him.' The only issue, is that the format that was constructed allowed for him to constantly interrupt me, as we see in the text of the debate. The format which my opponent constructed for the rules to follow, he claimed, was on the model of Presidential debates. In that format there is one has a question, one person responding, and a counter question and counter response. One thing that I agreed to, which in hindsight, I shouldn't have, was the idea that 'if there is any contradiction, (or where anyone perceives a contradiction), one can ask the person to answer until satisfied.' In the debate, Hammer continued to try to use this, as a ploy, to avoid the fact that he absolutely didn't answer any of my questions. In not one Presidential debate was there ever any interruptions in this fashion. After all, if any one sees a contradiction, that can be pointed out quite clearly during the question and answer period. In any case, this format made this debate very hard to follow for many, during the debate itself, and even to those who have read the debate.
This debate ended up being almost exclusively on the meaning of baptism of desire in the council of Trent. I pointed out in this debate what chapter 4 of Session 6 of Trent says in regards to justification. This destroys the Feeneyite position. The First question that I asked, Hammer was absolutely unable to answer all night. The background is that when Trent speaks of the efficacy of baptism of desire it is not only for justification, but also for entrance into the kingdom of God. Feeneyites such as Hammer try to limit the baptism to desire to being only good enough for justification, but not good enough for salvation, and they point especially to canon 2 on baptism, which speaks of the necessity of water baptism to enter the kingdom of God. However, John 3:5 is quoted in not only canon 2, but also in the aformentioned chapter 4 of Session 6, which also confirms the salvific efficacy of the desire for baptism.
With that background in mind, let me show my opening question and Hammer's total inability to answer the questions that I posed to him in the debate. Though there are follow-up questions and soforth available at the debate itself, (and he asks questions as well) for brevity I will show all my opening questions and show his inability to answer any of the questions posed. My debate comments are in red, and Hammer's are in green:
The first question I asked I quoted Trent, Session 6, Chapter 4 about justification and baptism of desire:
Matt1618 - This translation cannot, since the promulgation of the Gospel, be effected except through the laver of regeneration or its desire, AS IT IS WRITTEN: 'Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he CANNOT ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD' -Entering the kingdom of God by desiring the laver of regeneration...what does that mean? Entering the Church? Entering heaven? Entering the kingdom of justification? What is session 6, chapter 4 about justification?
The answer provided by Hammer throughout the night shows his total inability to deal with this fact.
Hammer - Matt, the quote "Cannot enter the kingdom of God" deals with the sacrament of baptism; the "translation" that the council talks about deals with becoming justified…I've read this quote before.… Later Hammer says: 'It talks about the translation to justification, hence the phrase "This translation".'
As I answered his attempted deflection from the fact that John 3:5 is specifically applied to the desire for baptism, I stated this in the debate:
Matt1618 - Ok, again, for everybody to see It says. This translation cannot, since the promulgation of the Gospel, be effected except through the laver of regeneration or its desire, AS IT IS WRITTEN: 'Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he CANNOT ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD' It specifically says that John 3:5, is about entering the kingdom of God and thus, how do you get there ? Well, it specifically says, by the laver of regeneration OR ITS DESIRE. And specifically quotes John 3:5. Not merely about justification. Yes, justification, but not merely about justification. It is also about entering the kingdom of God, which is salvation.
His first set of questions to me dug himself further into the hole that he could never get out of, which shows that Trent specifically stated the salvific efficacy of baptism of desire. When my time came again on the issue I pined in again on him on the issue of baptism of desire, chapter 4, entrance into the kingdom of God and canon 2 on the necessity of baptism.
I asked Hammer
Matt1618 - Many from your side quote canon 2 on baptism in relation to John 3:5. However, this very verse in John 3:5 is used in chapter 4, which shows that the desire of baptism justifies, makes one a child of God, and according to Trent, enters the kingdom of God. When Trent quotes John 3:5 in canon 2, we must also consider John 3:5 in relation to chapter 4. You say that baptism of desire is a twisting into a metaphor. Did the Council err in the infallible decree in chapter 4 on justification where it specifically says he enters the kingdom of God, and twist John 3:5 in to a metaphor, or do you err in your interpretation of canon 2.
How does Hammer deal with this fact, that his interpretation puts him in a catch 22. When he calls baptism of desire a twisting into a metaphor based on canon 2, he specifically charges the Council of Trent on Chapter 4 with heresy, especially as John 3:5 is used in both canon 2 and chapter 4. Of course he know in debate he can't say that, so how does he try to get out of it? He knows he is in a bind
Hammer - Matt, I totally disagree again. Trent did NOT say "He (the justified) Enters the Kingdom of God." The quote and the statement from Trent are mutually exclusive. I hold and state that there is no error in Trent, but that the error comes solely from your interpretation. Again, Trent does not say "One who is justified enters the Kingdom of God". It simply makes a statement, gives a quote, but does not explain what the quote means in relation to the topic. No sir.
He again denies what Trent, chapter 4, session 6 directly says, and in my response I merely quoted the text from Trent:."translation cannot, 'since the promulgation of the Gospel, be effected except through the laver of regeneration or its desire, AS IT IS WRITTEN: 'Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he CANNOT ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD'. Hammer weakly claims that he doesn't know why John 3:5 is there quoting right along with the desire for baptism right next to it. Just a coincidence? His position, along with Father Feeney's position, is rightly shown to be in tatters.
Then he attempts to catch me in a contradiction, and he plays this up in his 'analysis of the debate.' I do claim that baptism is necessary for salvation. Trent does indeed show that. However, it is a normative necessity, not an absolute necessity. I also stated in the debate that if one does not actually receive the sacrament, if he dies before actually receiving that and actually desiring it, that would be sufficient. In his analysis of the debate, Hammer claims to have caught me in a contradiction when I stated these things. Well, this is not a contradiction, because Trent taught both of those things. Nevertheless, he asks:
Hammer - I asked you earlier, and we can consult the log if you wish, "Is justification sufficient for salvation"; you said "yes", and you stated that one must persevere in that state. I agree NOW....To the question "Do you hold that the Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for salvation," you answered:
Hammer - 'No. I don't hold it as unnecessary for salvation.' In other words, correct me if I'm wrong, you hold that it IS necessary for salvation, agreed?
Matt1618 - Yes. In the context that I stated earlier
Matt1618 - The desire for it is necessary. we are all required to follow Christ's ordinances unless prevented by circumstance.
Hammer - Ok... .hold on a second. First you said the sacrament was necessary, then you said the sacramental effects are necessary, now you say the desire for it is necessary.> Please choose one position and stick to it The three choices are mutually exclusive I can't debate you unless I understand your position... please state it concretely Hello?
Matt1618 - I say that the effects of the sacrament are necessary. Thus, it is still tied into the sacrament being necessary for salvation. It is not either/or
Hammer - Matt, can one have the effects without the sacrament?
Matt1618 - In relation to salvation, yes.
Hammer - Then the sacrament isn't necessary, is it? All one needs is the effects; he does not need to receive the sacrament, correct?
Matt1618 - 'It is not either/or. One can not separate the effects from the sacrament itself.
Hammer - Then the sacrament isn't necessary, is it? All one needs is the effects; he does not need to receive the sacrament, correct?
Matt1618 - In relation to salvation, yes. One can not separate the effects from the sacrament itself.
After this go around, thinking he is catching me, he asked the question:
Hammer - You hold that "One can not separate the effects from the sacrament itself". Now, If one cannot separate the effects from the sacrament, how does one receive the effects via Desire without receiving the sacrament itself?
Matt1618 - Well, for example we know that one can be justified through the laver of regeneration or its desire. Now, we agree that baptism of desire justifies. Yet we see what justification is. Here is what Trent says about justification. "JUSTIFICATION is NOT ONLY A REMISSION OF SINS BUT ALSO THE SANCTIFICATION AND RENEWAL OF THE INWARD MAN through the voluntary reception of the grace and gifts whereby an UNJUST MAN BECOMES JUST and from being an enemy becomes a friend, that he may be AN HEIR ACCORDING TO HOPE OF LIFE EVERLASTING." Through desire for baptism one is in a state of grace and heir to eternal life. This is the effects of the sacrament, without the sacrament itself.
My quoting of Trent totally destroys Hammer's whole hypothesis and his response to my point avoided that fact. The grace of baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation. I have shown that baptism is necessary, though normatively necessary, not absolutely necessarily. However, the effects of this desire for baptism results in everlasting life, producing the same effects as baptism. This quoting of Trent destroyed his hypothesis, despite his claims of 'catching me.'
Trent teaches what St. Thomas Aquinas, in Summa Theologica, III a Q 68 &3, a.3, the doctor of the Church writes, when talking of the Eucharist and Salvation that "the reality of the sacrament is the unity of the Mystical Body, without which there is No Salvation' And it has been said above (Q. 68, a.2) that before receiving a sacrament, the reality of the sacrament can be had through the very desire of receiving the sacrament. Accordingly, before the actual reception of this sacrament, a man can obtain salvation through the very desire of receiving the sacrament. Accordingly, before the actual reception of this sacrament, a man can obtain salvation through the desire of receiving it, just as he can obtain it before Baptism through the desire of Baptism, as stated above (Q. 68, a 2).'
Trent, specifically speaks of justification as entering the kingdom of God through the desire for the sacrament. The way I answered it, was the way Trent answered it, which reflected St. Thomas' position.
Question # 3 for Hammer:
Trent 7th session, canon 4 - If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary for salvation but are superfluous, and that without them or without the DESIRE OF THEM men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification, though all are not necessary for each one LET HIM BE ANATHEMA.
Trent infallibly declares that the desire for the sacrament, puts one in a state of justification, thus meriting salvation. Why does it mention the desire for the sacrament on the same terms as the sacrament itself in reference to salvation, and absolutely no mention of a baptismal character as necessary for it? '
Hammer - hahahaha! This canon states 1) If anyone says that the Sacraments of the New Law are NOT necessary for SALVATION ---- OR-----2)that without them or without the DESIRE THEREOF men obtain of God through Faith alone the GRACE OF JUSTIFICATION... let him be anathema. In other words, the SACRAMENTS are necessary for SALVATION, but the desire of them can give the GRACE OF JUSTIFICATION. I agree totally. The sacraments are necessary for SALVATION, but Justification can be had with only the Desire. I totally agree. This canon says NOTHING about the desire for the sacrament meriting Salvation. It says JUSTIFICATION. The Sacraments of the New law are Necessary for SALVATION.IN answer to the question, Trent says the Sacraments are necessary for SALVATION, but that one can have JUSTIFICATION with only the desire of them. It says nothing about desire/Justification =Salvation '
Notice, despite his weird laughing, he again did not answer the question. Yes, Trent specifically says that the sacraments are necessary for salvation, but right then, again says that the Desire produces justification, which we saw earlier produces entrance into the kingdom of God, which does equal salvation. If Trent meant that justification was insufficient for salvation, why in the world did it mention justification, right in the context of the issue of salvation? Hammer can't answer that question. The sentence in which the desire and the sacraments are mentioned, puts them on the exact same level. Absolutely nothing says that 'well, justification is not enough for salvation.' Hammer acts as though Trent is totally disjointed in the very same canon! He thinks that the second part of the canon (about justification coming about by the desire for the sacrament) is totally separate from the question of the issue of salvation. Again, the reality of the sacrament is given, through the desire for the sacrament, as seen earlier. This is St. Thomas' theology on this issue, to a tee. And of course he can not address the issue of the baptismal character never being mentioned here, nor in the canons on baptism, nor in the 16 chapters or 33 canons on justification. However, Father Feeney's theory that he unfortunately buys, makes that the pivotal difference on salvation. Trent never makes such a distinction. Again, Hammer throughout tries to play up a distinction, but never answers the question.
The final question that I asked :
Matt1618 - Now, Hammer, in the 400 years since the canons and decrees of the council of Trent. Do you have one person , saint or Pope, who ever said that the distinctions between justification and salvation is made on baptism. That one can be justified by the desire, but one will go to hell, unless he gets water baptized. This is the Foundation of Father Feeney's theology. Can you give me one person who makes the distinction that desire will only produce hell?
Notice that I asked specifically for someone who said that baptism of desire only merits justification and was not enough to achieve salvation, and desire was not enough. Here I give both of his answers.
Hammer 1- Yes, I do. Matt: Since the council, there has been no debate over the issue. However, if you look up in any theology book, even Dr. Ludwig Ott's "Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma", which supports Baptism of Desire as being salvific, and look up the differences between Salvation and Justification, the distinction is very clear.
It's a question of word definition; Trent used the words Justification and Salvation for a reason; there is a distinction, they are not synonyms. Look them up in a Catholic Dictionary if you don't believe me.
Hammer 2 - Oh, ok! I understand what you're saying... there is no one who says that, because one can not die in the state of grace without receiving the sacrament of baptism. It's impossible. If you wish me to explain why, it may take several minutes
He had four minutes (two two minute answers) already to answer what I thought was a very clear question (including my follow-up question). I asked for a quote from the Magisterium primarily, but anybody who thought Trent meant baptism of desire will send somebody to hell, if they do not receive water baptism. As Father Feeney says, "Baptism or Damnation."(Father Feeney, Bread of Life, p. 25.. Hammer did not produce one saint that thought Trent meant what Father Feeney meant on Baptism of Desire, justificaiton and salvation. Funny, in his boisterous claiming of victory, and his analysis of this debate, where he had days to produce an answer, he produced items saying that God will provide baptism, but nowhere did anyone of them say that it is impossible for one to die in the state of grace, without water baptism . Amazingly, he actually quotes Alfonse De Liquori as supposedly saying this, ignoring the fact that De Liguori believes, as do the Fathers and Saints of the past, that there are three baptisms - Water baptism, Blood Baptism, and Baptism of Desire that suffice for salvation as Trent did. And De Liguori himself (Unfortunately, although aware of the quote, I did not have the quote with me on hand during the debate) says that it is 'de fide' that baptism of desire saves (Alfonse De Liquori On Baptism, chap. 1).
In his after the debate commentary, where Hammer personally attacks me as incompetent, he fails to address the point that he did not answer a single question, either the initial question, or any follow-up questions that can be seen in the debate itself. Now I invite you to look at this whole debate, to see whether I am correct in this analysis. Also, I find it very revealing that his page does not give anybody direct access to the debate. You have to go through his 3600 word Clintonian spin machine tell you how great he is, and how incompetent I am, to prepare you, before you get to even look at the debate. If he proved how incompetent I am, why does he not let the people discover that for themselves? If that was true, surely people reading the debate would come to that conclusion on their own, right? It is obvious because he knows he lost the debate. I am only responding here because of his after the debate attack on me. I let people come to their conclusions on their own. Unfortunately because of Hammer's constant interruptions of me during the debate itself, it is hard for people to follow this debate. You will notice that even I lost track on whose turn was when. Notice, however, not one time did I interrupt him during his answers, while he was constantly interrupting me when I was answering his questions. When one comes to my debate page, they get to go directly to the debate, whereas, Hammer's incompetency is exposed by the fact that in his web page one can not go directly to it.
He complained in his 'analysis' about me not wanting to give 4 minutes time in the closing arguments, because I was scared that I didn't want to give him time to answer the questions that he didn't answer for the previous 3 hours. Well, we agreed beforehand for only two minute closing arguments. I stuck to what we originally agreed to. He never answered the specific question (about anyone in the last 400 years in the Magisterium, Pope, or Father, who said that baptism of desire was only sufficient for justification, but not for salvation, and that it was impossible for anybody to die in the state of grace before being baptized) not only during the debate, but even in his 3600 worded post-debate analysis. His answer not only verifies that the magisterium never interpreted Trent in this way,but in the last 400 years, no one had ever interpreted in this way against the salvific efficacy of baptism of desire. Father Feeney's view is an innovation.
I again apologize for consenting to a debate where the rules allowed constant interruptions. Outside of the rules, Hammer did consistently interrupt me, when I tried to make my statements, (although you will notice, I never interrupted Hammer). Having said that, the following is the debate itself:
© 1999 Hammer turns to Mush ....By Matt1618. This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.
This article created, September 3, 1999
This article created, September 3, 1999