We must raise $368 by March 31st to pay critical bills. Essential to continue our mission. Donate now!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

faith no fancy

By Diogenes (articles ) | Oct 05, 2007

Before there were blogs, there were pamphlets. The 17th and early 18th centuries were especially fertile of theological attacks and counter-attacks carried out by preacher-pamphleteers. Concision of argument was not highly prized by the disputants, and one interesting feature (not without its parallel in blogdom) is the way in which the titles of successive screeds reflect the escalating temper of their clergyman authors. In browsing through Harvard Library's on-line catalog the other day, I came upon a work by one Ralph Erskine (1685-1752, according to the entry) which bears this particularly enchanting title:

Faith no fancy, or, A treatise of mental images discovering the vain philosophy and vile divinity of a late pamphlet intitled Mr. Robe's fourth letter to Mr. Fisher, and shewing that an imaginary idea of Christ as man (when supposed to belong to saving faith, whether in its act or object), imports nothing but ignorance, atheism, idolatry, great falsehood, and gross delusion : with an appendix, relating to part of the late writings of the Rev. Messrs. Willison and Currie, especially touching some points of gospel doctrine injured by their defence of the act of assembly, 1722, &c. : together with a sermon, titled, The true Christ no new Christ : and some other extracts from the same author.

Impressive. If the Rev. Erskine couldn't spit out his title in less than a hundred words, imagine would it must have cost his congregation to sit through the actual harangue. We web-rats rejoice in this advantage over our Forefathers in Theological Truculence, that even the most prolix and intemperate controversialist can be zapped into oblivion with a click.

Not that prolixity and intemperance, mind you, are necessarily bad.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Progress toward our March expenses ($368 to go):
$35,000.00 $34,631.96
1% 99%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Oct. 05, 2007 8:29 AM ET USA

    The Reverend Mr. Ralph Erskine, as befits a dour Presbyterian, was ordained to the ministry in Scotland after studies at Edinburgh. But of greater local interest is that in1839 Erskine College, named for our scribe, was established by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Due West, South Carolina, one hour south of Greenville. Today Erskine is a small liberal arts college "in the Presbyterian tradition." O tempora, O mores!

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org
Shop Amazon

Recent Catholic Commentary

Insights on the enigma that is Pope Francis March 27
Our Most Characteristic Vice? March 27
Recognizing the Noonday Devil March 27
Patricia Jannuzzi on gay activists: And the real problem is? March 27
Surrogate parenthood = exploitation of desperate women March 27

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope announces Jubilee: a Year of Mercy CWN - March 13