Bibliography on Luther and Joint Declaration

The short Dulles piece on the joint declaration is here:

I should mention that Dulles's last few paragraphs seem very weak to me.  It is written for a popular audience, but some of the problems might be with Dulles' own formation and thought.  "Scholasticism" is somehow one (and only one?) among many different "thought forms," and Lutheranism an incompatible "thought form."  He doesn't show much knowledge of Luther or later generations of Lutherans.  Luther himself could and did write like a scholastic, but in my opinion he just wasn't very good at it.  Maybe Dulles is comparing Luther's more popular works with more scholastic Catholic theological works, and doesn't have in mind Protestant Orthodoxy.  But there are also a host of Catholic popular works from the time.    

Chris Malloy has a lot of material, including a whole book on the topic of the joint declaration: Hisbook is at

See also his:

"The Nature of Justifying Grace: A Lacuna in the Joint Declaration" The Thomist 65 (2001): 93–120. 

There is a piece on Thomas More on Luther on Justification: 

Then there is: "Sola salus, Or Fides caritate formata: The Premised Promise of Luther's Dilemma" Fides Catholica 2 (2008): 375-432.

For my own understanding of Luther, I personally have profited greatly from non-Catholic authors.  For a general account of 16th century theories, see Alister E. McGrath, Iustitia Dei: AHistory of the Christian Doctrine of Justification. 2nd ed.  For Luther’s relationship to Thomism in particular, see “Luther Among the Thomists,” in David Steinmetz’s Luther in Context.  I am personally indebted to the late Steinmetz, who was a great figure in the study of the 16th-century.  His Luther and Staupitz has fascinating material on his early development.  For Luther himself, Steinmetz recommended Heiko Oberman’s Luther: Man between God and the Devil.  I also have found helpful Bernhard Lohse’s Martin Luther’s Theology: Its Historical and Systematic Development.  Again, none of these sources are Catholic, but I think that they are helpful for someone with an appropriate Catholic background.  Steinmetz was frustrated because he said that now even many Catholic theologians and theology students don't know enough Catholic theology to distinguish their own position (or different Catholic positions) from those of the Reformers. 

Remembering Fritz

Frederick “Fritz” Wilhelmsen (1923-1996) was, in my estimation at least, one of the great Thomists of the last century. So, I thought it fitting to mark in some way the 20th anniversary of his death. I’m a month late for the anniversary – Wilhelmsen died on May 21, 1996 – but I don’t think that matters much.

Wilhelmsen grew up in Detroit. During World War II, he interrupted his studies at the University of Detroit to serve for three years as an army medic. He eventually earned his BA in 1947 from another Jesuit institution, the University of San Francisco. He completed his MA in philosophy in 1948 at the University of Notre Dame, where he studied under Gerald Phelan and Yves Simon. He completed his PhD in philosophy at the Universidad de Madrid in 1958, with a dissertation on Jacques Maritain.

Wilhelmsen taught at Santa Clara University, Al-Hikma University in Baghdad, the Universidad de Navarra, and lastly at the University of Dallas, where he taught philosophy and political theory for 31 years.

His work ranged from metaphysics and epistemology to political theory and cultural criticism. During his lifetime, Wilhelmsen authored seventeen books, among which, the better known are: Hilaire Belloc: No Alienated Man. A Study in Christian Integration (1954); Man’s Knowledge of Reality. An Introduction to Thomistic Epistemology (1956); The Metaphysics of Love (1962); The Paradoxical Structure of Existence (1970); Christianity and Political Philosophy (1978); Citizen of Rome: Reflections from the Life of a Roman Catholic (1980); and Being and Knowing: Reflections of a Thomist (1991). Several of these books collect separately published papers.

Wilhelmsen co-authored two books with Jane Bret: The War in Man: Media and Machines (1970) and Telepolitics: The Politics of Neuronic Man (1972).

You can find a bibliography of Wilhelmsen’s writings here.

Since there are several good overviews of Wilhelmsen’s life and work available online, I'll forego going any further with the one in this post. Here are four of those overviews:

J. Lehrberger, O. Cist., Christendom’s Troubadour: Frederick D. Wilhelmsen

D.J. D’Elia, Citizen of Rome: Dr. Fredrick D. Wilhelmsen

J.O. Nelson, Wilhelmsen, Frederick

UD Philosophy Department, Frederick D. Wilhelmsen (1923-1996): A UD Legend (Go to p. 2.)

A last word...

It's truly sad that Fritz is gone. We could really use him right now.

Pope Francis Says Luther Correct on Justification

Is it possible to hold 1) that Luther's views on justification are heretical, 2) that Pope Francis states that Luther's views on justification are correct, and yet not conclude 3) that Pope Francis himself is a heretic?

I take it that 1) is indisputable.  All Catholics are bound to accept 1), on the basis of Trent but I think also the whole previous tradition.  It would probably be applicable to what is condemned by Trent and not Luther's own words, but it is hard to argue that the two are unconnected.  Look at Chemnitz or Luther himself.  2) is correct if we believe the recent transcript.  I take it that 3) is possible but most probably incorrect.

It seems to me that 1) and 2) would entail 3) only if it were restated as "Pope Francis assents to Luther's views on justification," and it would entail formal heresy with contumacy only if it were restated as "Pope Francis assents to Luther's views on justification in defiance of earlier Church teaching."  The Pope may have had in mind the joint declaration on justification.  As Chris Malloy, Avery Dulles, and others have shown (which is not at all difficult), this declaration was theologically incompetent, and motivated more by false ecumenical ends than by historical or theological accuracy.    If the Pope consequently doesn't understand the issues, it is arguable that he is not a heretic.  Hence 1) and 2) can be true, and yet 3) false.  There is a difference between being intellectually unable or perhaps unwilling to grasp certain basic issues and being a heretic.

For the transcript, see

"I think that the intentions of Martin Luther were not mistaken. He was a reformer. Perhaps some methods were not correct. But in that time, if we read the story of the Pastor, a German Lutheran who then converted when he saw reality — he became Catholic — in that time, the Church was not exactly a model to imitate. There was corruption in the Church, there was worldliness, attachment to money, to power...and this he protested. Then he was intelligent and took some steps forward justifying, and because he did this. And today Lutherans and Catholics, Protestants, all of us agree on the doctrine of justification.  On this point, which is very important, he did not err."

I wonder if it is harder being a Catholic now than in Luther's time?

Gardeil on Garrigou-Lagrange: Nothing New Under the Sun

It seems to me that many contemporary Thomists describe as "Post-Vatican II" what have been common Thomist criticisms of Jesuits and others concerning happiness, the virtues, the beatitudes, the gifts of the Holy Ghost, etc.  I was surprised to recently read the following comments of Fr. A. Gardeil on Garrigou-LaGrange in the Revue Thomiste 24 (1929), p. 272:

Par contre, le T. R. P. Garrigou-Lagrange dans son article de la Revue Thomiste: L'Habitation de la Sainte Trinité et l'Expérience mystique, parlant de la manière dont je conçois et explique la divine habitation et l'expérience de Dieu qui en procède, m'a apporté ce précieux suffrage : « C'est là une grande confirmation de la doctrine que nous soutenons depuis plusieurs années ... La contemplation infuse des mystères de la foi est dans la voie normale de la sainteté. » Ce n'est pas à vrai dire, pour moi, une nouveauté. Dès octobre 1881, étant étudiant de première année en théologie j'entendais leT. R. P. Beaudouin, régent des Études, inaugurant son commentaire sur la IIa Pars par une Relectio sur la Théologie mystique, affirmer avec vigueur l'identité de la IIa Pars avec la Théologie de la mystique : Elle est là tout entière, disait-il, et, pour comprendre les grands mystiques, vous n'aurez jamais besoin de chercher ailleurs. J'ai, depuis lors, travaillé dans le sillon ouvert et n'ai pas eu à m'en repentir. Il n'est pas étonnant que, disciples d'une même tradition, le P. Garrigou-Lagrange et moi, aboutissions à une même conclusion.

Phone Apps for Text-Mobbing Speakers with Textual References at Conferences

I had the pleasure to witness (and to be honest, participate in unwittingly) a relatively-new phenomenon that is an interesting intersection of medieval thought and modern technology: Text-Mobbing.

In olden times (2-3 years ago), an audience member might have a question or helpful thought about the presenter’s claim about or interpretation of a text of St. Thomas Aquinas. But unless one had the encyclopedic knowledge of Thomas’s corpus such as Fr. Lawrence Dewan, O.P. used to demonstrate, the best you could do was make a note of your concern or suggestion, look up the reference upon returning home, and then follow up with the presenter in an e-mail.

Now, however, there are a multitude of useful apps for your phone that give you immediate access to the whole of Thomas’s texts in your hand, so that you can look up and find the relevant Question and Article on the fly. This permits you to immediately direct the speaker’s attention to the text itself in the question and answer period.

When the questions are particularly interesting and/or contentious, however, and multiple audience members have looked up the passages they deem relevant but did not get a chance to share their thoughts, then themoment the polite applause designating the end of the session has ceased, the speaker is approached by a zealous mob with texts in hand, eager to demonstrate their points.

Hence: Text-Mobbing.

The poor speaker is confronted with multiple phones bearing tiny text that they are implored to read, all at once. It is generally polite to enlarge the font of your text, and allow your target to focus his or her eyes on the phone before launching into your argument. And like any other polite conversation, the speaker should be allowed to conclude reading one text before somebody thrusts another phone before their eyes.

As for the sources of these texts, any smartphone, tablet or computer can point its browser to:

for the Corpus Thomisticum or to the Dominican House of Studies site for Thomas’s texts:

But if your internet connection is spotty or slow, there’s no substitute for having the whole text on your device; for that, I can recommend the following apps:

iPieta (iOS and Android)

Probably the best app I’ve found is iPieta, which has multiple modules that allow you to have Thomas’s Summa Theologiae (Latin and English), Catena Aurea and Compendium of Theology, along with the Fathers of the Church, a plethora of spiritual writings, prayers, daily readings, etc.

STh It (Android)

This is the Summa Theologiae from the Corpus Thomisticum, as adapted to the Android OS by by the Polish Dominican Fr Andrzej Nakonieczny. It has the advantage of retaining the indexing from the Corpus Thomisticum, as well as “+” and “-“ buttons to increase or decrease the size of the font with one click.

Microsoft Office Lens



Office Lens allows you to snap a picture of a sheet of paper and instantly turn it into a PDF with text recognition. This allows you to easily scan the useful handout of the person sitting next to you, when there are not enough copies to go around or if you just want your handouts available electronically for future reference.

The above apps are all available free, and can be immensely useful for finding relevant references during a talk or in polite conversation afterwards.