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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 14, No. 9. July 26, 1951

Dear Dr. Munz, in Reply to Yours — Some History Please—

page 8

Dear Dr. Munz, in Reply to Yours

Some History Please—

I Should be pleased that Dr. Munz replied to nay provocation—and Mr. Robinson too—but the gilt is off the gingerbread. Dr. Munz and I are in the same boat with him calling me a liar ("misrepresentation for pro-pagandistic purposes") and my replying: bad historian. What I wanted Dr. Munz to do, among other things was to present some evidence against historicity, but I have already said that the gilt is off the gingerbread.

Dr. Munz and his defender, Mr. Robinson, do not seem to be at one. Did Dr. Munz deny the historicity of the Gospels? I say he did. Mr. Robinson takes a slightly different view, but at least I have proved to Dr. Munz's satisfaction my ignorance on the subject of early Christianity; a considerable feat since I did not set out to prove anything except my dissatisfaction with Dr. Munz's approach to history. That is the point upon which we really differ and it happens to be the very point Dr. Munz misses in his zeal to accuse me of propagandistic misrepresentation.

The Approach is Important

For the purposes of this dispute only I am willing to admit that his description of the beliefs of the early Christians (2nd and 3rd generation) Was correct. My criticism was of his treatment of the question of historicity.

From the denial of historicity Dr. Munz has evolved his concept which results in the Church being based upon the life of a "really kind man." This view I submit is an inadequate basis for a Church which has lasted 2000 years, changed the world and promises to endure in spite of schisms and heresies. At least part of the evidence which refutes the idea of Christ as the kind man comes from the gospels. Once their historicity is questioned or denied then who is to know which part of the Word of God is true, which false. Or are they the word of God at all?

Not History But Argument Ad Hominum

When Dr. Munz was questioned he made use, as ho states in his epistle to the heretics, of two arguments. He did not answer the historical one and that is the fact which I criticise. Once ashed to prove against historicity he adverted to the Catholic view and stressed that. Let him first put the case against historicity, answer criticisms of it, and then argue the Catholic approach if he wishes.

This he did not do, and what was worse he passed to the Catholic argument and used it to bolster up his historical weakness. Ideally he should have approached the question as an historian and ignored the secondary argument which is available to Catholics and some others of a particular view of the Church. He wasted no time relying on history bat availed himself of the more propagandistic plea.

Points Misunderstood

Several points made ho did not answer and Harnack remains a heretic from the Munz-myth. Others he has perhaps misunderstood.

"My opponent admitted, writes Dr. Munz, "that in the last resort he would rather mistrust his reason than his faith. Faith (capital F) meaning the Church puts that reply in a different light. Which would Dr. Munz prefer his reason or the accumulated reason and knowledge of twenty centuries? In these days of intellectual pride a dangerous question but a fair one.

Again he passes judgment (what a miracle is a kind man!): "Either a very bad Catholic—or he was guilty of deliberate misrepresentation for propagandistic purposes." It should be obvious to Dr. Munz that a description of the order of a ceremony has nothing to do with the effects of that ceremony. The young man (who does believe in transubstantiation and communion in one kind) is therefore excused of deliberate misrepresentation. He compared order for order, and they were similar as Dr. Munz cannot deny. The two questions now raised complicate the issue but they are not relevant to it in the context of Dr. Munz's lecture.

The All Seeing Eye

If Dr. Munz can read into my article that I am "free from confusion" and "frivolous ease . . due merely to thoughtlessness and ignorance . . which can lead to little that is good"; then I no longer wonder at his interpretation of history. I did not claim freedom from confusion but I was concerned at Dr. Munz's confusion in argument. It is this confusion which leads him to drag in communion in one kind and tran-substantiation into a question of comparing liturgical order.

This type of confusion has irked Dr. Munz into once again avoiding history and the gospels to talk of the Church and History. Neither Loisy nor Dollinger were excommunicated for their history alone and Dr. Munz's assertion that they were nearly leads me into his "thede-pro-pagandistic-ruses-do-not-appeal-tomo" routine. (Vide Chambers Encyclopedia, Britannica do.) As for the mysterious historian Dr. Munz declines to reveal he is invited to quote the excommunication decree's reasons for the excommunication of this post-war German historian.

Mr. Robinson and Three Points

Mr. Robinson is in error when he suggests that I desire history simple, neat and definitely known. Not all history is like that. I do say that there are some facts and events in history which we know enough about to make a decision.

The red herring concerning my acceptance of a view upon another's authority is not relevant to the historical argument and the historical weakness of Dr. Munz. Nevertheless it is for Mr. Robinson to show that the authority is not to be relied on. He has been accepting facta on authority all his life and because he has thought those authorities reliable has believed. My scrutiny of my authority is probably closer than the scrutiny to which Mr. Robinson subjects many of his sources of knowledge.

It is true that on this question I am not prepared to say that I am mistaken but it does not imply as much as Mr. Robinson seems to think. The Church would be willing to admit historical errors in gospel documents but not that the gospele as written were not historical.

This again is a question of authority and that authority is quite able to withstand the examinations of Mr. Romason, if he is willing to try and see and admit that he may be mistaken. There is little, likelihood that 2 and 2 will ever make five providing their meaning remains constant. Or is truth relative Mr. Robinson?

Read Through and Thoroughly Understand

Dr. Munz appears to have skip read that part of the article dealing with Professor Marsh. I was not present at the lecture given by Professor Marsh and did not say that I was. I admitted that Professor Marsh may have been badly reported but criticised his refusal to answer what, on the face of it, appeared to be reasonably critical letters which appeared in the press.

My suggestion was that the University cannot afford to be an ivory tower of scholarship.

Your Move Dr. Munz

Finally Dr. Munz who has accused me of propagandists ruses involving an immoral view of means and ends an assertion which he has little evidence for; having judged another critic as either a bad Catholic or a liar, and taken the liberty of criticising me in one of his lectures should look to his manners. He ends his letter with talk of the kind man, a rare miracle and an infinite act of divine grace. True, but in the context not very impressive.