There is a popular series of books known as the "For Dummies" titles. The books are written on a plethora of topics, from the mundane to the esoteric, and their purpose is to educate people as simply as possible in the basics of said topic. For example, Bookkeeping For Dummies is written very simply by one or more experts on bookkeeping, so that a person completely uneducated in the field can understand the fundamentals. Notice that the books are to be written for dummies, not by them. This past week I had the misfortune of watching an approximately 14 minute long video produced by a Vatican II sect "theologian" and apologist named David L.Gray. I wrote a post regarding the very poor argumentation of Mr. Gray, which he displayed in his article entitled The Four Fatal Errors of Sedevacantism. (See http://introiboadaltaredei2.blogspot.com/2017/11/distorting-sedevacantism.html).
On his website, Gray presents his CV as follows:
Born in 1972, David L. Gray is an American Catholic Theologian and Historian, and the President and Publisher of Saint Dominic’s Media. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Central State University (Ohio) and a Masters of Arts in Catholic Theology from Ohio Dominican University. His published work, ‘Inside Prince Hall (Freemasonry)’ predates his conversion to Catholicism. He currently resides in the Greater Saint Louis area with his wife Felicia. They are active in Queen of Peace Catholic community on Scott Air Force Base. (See http://www.davidlgray.info/aboutme/). It's interesting to see what the Vatican II sect considers a "theologian." Pre-V2, only clerics with a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from an approved Catholic institution of higher learning could be considered true theologians, and only clerics with a Doctorate in Canon Law (also from an approved Catholic institution of higher learning) could be canonists (aka canon lawyers). Now a married layman with a Masters degree can apparently claim that once lofty title.
In his ridiculous article on the alleged "Four Fatal Errors" I critiqued above, I demonstrated how Gray purposely distorts sedevacantist arguments to tear them down. In logic this is known as "straw man arguments," i.e., "when an arguer distorts an opponent’s argument for the purpose of more easily attacking it, demolishes the distorted argument, and then concludes that the opponent’s real argument has been demolished. By so doing, the arguer is said to have set up a straw man and knocked it down, only to conclude that the real man (opposing argument) has been knocked down as well." (See Hurley, Patrick J. "Informal Fallacies." A Concise Introduction to Logic. 9th ed. Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth, , pg. 121).
Mr. Gray never attempted to answer me. Someone sent him my post via Twitter to which he replied, What a BRILLIANT exercise in making strawman and never responding to the crux of the issue. Sedes lean on their own understanding. They don't trust the Holy Spirit. They are like Martin Luther really, by setting up an outside sect.
I tweeted back:
I responded to each of the alleged "Fatal Errors." You are either culpably ignorant or lying about our positions regarding the Mass, etc. I demonstrated how each allegation was false. The only one attacking stawmen is you. I would LOVE to see you reply point by point to me! Needless to say, he never did. Moreover, when someone linked to my post in the comment section of his "Fatal Errors" post, all he had to say was: Sedevacantism is Protestantism. I[t] really doesn't really deserve a thoughtful reply. It's just a lie from the pits of Hell. My post didn't merit a "thoughtful reply" because in order to do so you must first be capable of logical thinking.
Now, on February 26th, Gray puts up a video on his site (also linked to YouTube) entitled How to Destroy Every Sedevacantist Argument, in which he demonstrates that his reason-challenged arguments sink even lower than I had originally believed. The caption to this video reads:
Are you tired of Sedevacantist bull? Want a quick way to destroy all of their arguments and expose them as being the Protestants they are? Then take a listen to this video (YouTube Link) and I’ll explain to you how to destroy every Sedevacantist argument with just Four Words. (See http://www.davidlgray.info/2020/02/26/sedevacantism/).
A man who purposely distorts what sedevacantism is about and can't make a sound, valid argument, now thinks he can "destroy all sedevacantist arguments" with only four words. I don't know if this guy is hubris on steroids or just plain delusional. In the first part of his video he clings tenaciously to the distorted and debunked Four Fatal Errors. I guess he believes if you ignore the actual position of your opponents and the laws of logic they will disappear. Then he reveals his "four (magic?) words" that can supposedly "destroy sedevacantism." Are you ready? Here they are: "Based on your authority." In other words, David Gray believes that sedevacantists lack authority to make any pronouncement about heresy, Vatican II, the post-V2 "popes," and anything else. This absurd proposition, and the equally absurd consequences which flow from it, will be the subject of this post.
No Black and White in the World of Gray
Gray's video is puerile to say the least; and that's actually a charitable characterization. After he references and reasserts his Four Fatal Errors (without the slightest change in their mis-characterizations and inaccuracies), he then announces his Four Words which, he assures us, will defeat every sedevacantist argument and "shut them down," i.e.,---"Based on your authority." He then attempts to demonstrate how his "magic words" work. The video cuts to Gray dressed in a tuxedo and top hat (looking somewhat like a cheesy African-American version of Fred Astaire minus the talent) and he speaks in a deep voice. This is supposed to represent a sedevacantist for some strange reason.
As the sedevacantist, he intones in an ominous voice that Vatican II is heretical. The video cuts back to Gray looking and speaking normally, and he says, "Based on your authority." The film goes back to "sede-David" who says, "No, the heresy is in the documents of Vatican II, it was not in continuity with the Councils before it." "Regular David" says, "Based on your authority." Sede-David says, "No, based on what other popes and councils have said about religious liberty, ecumenism, and salvation." Regular David says, "Based upon your authoritative interpretation of what those documents mean." You get the idea by now.
Here is the linchpin of his argument: "Only the Church can interpret anything that She decreed. Therefore, no one without Magisterial authority can ever discern what any Church teaching means apart from the pope and the bishops in union with him." This presents several salient problems, both in the area of theology and epistemology (the philosophic discipline that studies how we know what we know). He twists and misapplies a valid principle (only the Church can authoritatively pronounce what the correct interpretation of the Bible is and what is to be believed concerning Faith and Morals), which is what leads him to call sedevacantists-- a little further on in his video--"Protestants." Traditionalists allegedly do with Church decrees what Protestants do with Scripture; employ private interpretation.
Why Gray is Wrong:
1. No one could ever know what the Church really teaches.
Sedevacantism rightly acknowledges that the pre- and post-Vatican II teachings are virtually word for word contradictions. Since God is Truth and Truth doesn't change ("Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." [Hebrews 13:8]), both teachings cannot be true. To give but one example:
Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, para. #3-4 teaches:But some are more easily deceived by the outward appearance of good when there is question of fostering unity among all Christians...Is it not right, it is often repeated, indeed, even consonant with duty, that all who invoke the name of Christ should abstain from mutual reproaches and at long last be united in mutual charity?...But in reality beneath these enticing words and blandishments lies hid a most grave error, by which the foundations of the Catholic faith are completely destroyed. (Emphasis mine).
Wojtyla ("Pope" "St." John Paul II), Ut Unum Sint, para. #42 teaches:
The "universal brotherhood" of Christians has become a firm ecumenical conviction. Consigning to oblivion the excommunications of the past, Communities which were once rivals are now in many cases helping one another: places of worship are sometimes lent out; ...(Emphasis mine).
The Church, prior to Vatican II, always taught through the constant teachings of Her popes, councils, Roman Congregations, catechisms, and approved theologians, that true ecumenism means converting non-Catholics to the One True Church, outside of which no one can be saved. All false sects lead to Hell and are a means of damnation. Yet Vatican II decreed in Unitatis Reditegratio, para. #3, "For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them [false sects] as means of salvation..."(Emphasis mine). Which is it?
Now, if what Gray maintains is true, we have no authority to recognize the Law of Non-Contradiction which tells us that contradictory propositions cannot both be true in the same sense and at the same time, e. g. the two propositions "A is B" and "A is not B" are mutually exclusive. In order for the new teaching of Vatican II not to be heretical, Gray would have to believe that what Catholics were taught by the Magisterium since the Church was founded either (a) evolved into something new or (b) there is no objective meaning to words and ideas; what you thought something meant really means something altogether different.
In either case, objective truth and the ability to have a firm faith in a proposition is utterly destroyed. If truth evolves (as the Modernists teach), what was true today (e.g. abortion is murder) might be false tomorrow (abortion is not murder). If there is no objective meanings to the words and teachings of the past, the Assumption of Mary was true when defined by Pope Pius XII, but it could be interpreted as being not true by "Pope" Francis. Therefore, there is no black or white, right or wrong, true or false. You can never be sure what is objectively true and must always be believed. You are left with a Magisterium that is unable to teach.
2. Every conclusion is a matter of authority; the pope is an oracle.
As a logical corollary of Gray's four magic words, the pope and bishops can interpret anything in any fashion and it must be believed. If Bergoglio were to teach "Thou shalt not kill" means "suicide is wonderful," then you can go and take your life with no fear of damnation. You cannot protest against his teaching because whatever you say to the contrary would be "based on your authority" (of which you are devoid). Then you would be acting like a Protestant. There is no such thing as conclusions based on correct reasoning.
3. Faith is prior to authority.
As Bishop Sanborn so aptly put it:
Faith is metaphysically prior to authority, since authority consists in a relation of the public person to the community, the basis of which is the furtherance of the common good of the community. But it is the Faith which determines the common good, the finality, of the Church. Hence the profession of the true Faith is a condition sine qua non of the assumption of apostolic authority in the Church, and it (the Faith) must be verified before apostolic succession is verified. But Vatican II, the New Mass, and the New Code, contain contradiction to the teaching of the Church.
This contradiction is therefore an infallible sign that the material incumbent of the throne of Peter lacks or lacked the necessary qualities to assume apostolic authority, for we must believe by the virtue of divine and catholic faith that it is intrinsically impossible that apostolic authority contradict itself in faith, worship and discipline, whereas it is not impossible, either by faith or reason, that an incumbent pope lose his authority. (See http://www.traditionalmass.org/articles/article.php?id=41&catname=10; Emphasis in original).
4. Laymen can and should discover heresy on their own.
Theologian Sarda y Salvany clearly teaches this in his theological work entitled Liberalism is a Sin. The book was published in 1886. It was endorsed and praised by the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation of the Index under Pope Leo XIII. Here's what Chapter 32, "Liberalism and Authority in Particular Cases" has to say:
Yes, human reason, to speak after the manner of theologians, has a theological place in matters of religion. Faith dominates reason, which ought to be subordinated to faith in everything. But it is altogether false to pretend that reason can do nothing, that it has no function at all in matters of faith; it is false to pretend that the inferior light, illumined by God in the human understanding, cannot shine at all because it does not shine as powerfully or as clearly as the superior light. Yes, the faithful are permitted and even commanded to give a reason for their faith, to draw out its consequences, to make applications of it, to deduce parallels and analogies from it. It is thus by use of their reason that the faithful are enabled to suspect and measure the orthodoxy of any new doctrine presented to them, by comparing it with a doctrine already defined. If it be not in accord, they can combat it as bad, and justly stigmatize as bad the book or journal which sustains it. They cannot of course define it ex cathedra, but they can lawfully hold it as perverse and declare it such, warn others against it, raise the cry of alarm and strike the first blow against it. The faithful layman can do all this, and has done it at all times with the applause of the Church. Nor in so doing does he make himself the pastor of the flock, nor even its humblest attendant; he simply serves it as a watchdog who gives the alarm. Opportet allatrare canes "It behooves watchdogs to bark," very opportunely said a great Spanish Bishop in reference to such occasions. (See http://www.sedevacantist.com/liberalism.htm for the book online; Emphasis mine).
Ad hominem attack at the end of the video.I would be remiss if I didn't make note of the fact that Gray has announced in advance that he will not engage any sedevacantists in debate. The reason he gives is because sedevacantists are "having a temper tantrum"(!) and "should not be treated as adults." The video shows Sede-David crying and saying, "He called me a Protestant mom!" (OK, and sedevacantists should not be treated as adults?). Why is sound reasoning based on Church teaching "having a temper tantrum"? What makes us "not adults" and Gray "mature"?
The real reason is apparent. I can't believe a man at his age and educational level could really be that obtuse. Rather, he knows he can't reason well and cannot even attempt a syllogistically sound argument against sedevacantism, so he merely calls names and pretends that his four magic words are really defeaters for all Traditionalist arguments. This gives him an out from having to defend his position in rational discourse without looking incompetent or being accused of cowardice.
David Gray has proven, once more, how pathetic the Vatican II sect apologists are in their feeble attempt to defend a false religion pretending to be Catholic. He calls himself a "theologian," and I wonder if that title is self-imposed. If he is officially recognized as such, it would show the Vatican II sect is not merely devoid of Faith, but even bereft of reasoning skills. Should you ever meet David Gray, and he tries to give you an argument against sedevacantism, use these four words: "Based on your stupidity."