Monday, April 28, 2014

Loftus digs his hole a bit deeper

Inevitably someone wrote in to The Catholic Times to protest about Mgr Loftus' rambling denial of the teaching of Scripture and the Church on the physical nature of Christ's risen body, and inevitably Loftus was given lots of space to ramble some more, adding another 366 words to the 1,465 he had written the week before, as well as delighting his readers with a new column elsewhere in the same edition.

Like all his columns, and all the clarifications of these columns in the Letters page, on this subject, Loftus refuses to as much as mention -- despite it being cited against him by David Goodhind, who wrote this weekend's letter about it -- the Gospels' emphasis on how Christ's risen body could be touched, and how Christ ate in order to show them He was not a ghost. If Loftus wanted to do so, it would be so easy for him to say - 'Of course I don't deny that Christ had a body which could be touched, and which could eat, after the Resurrection; of course this was a glorified form of the body which had been nailed to the Cross, and which still bore the marks of those nails, whatever special properties it might now have'. But he never says this.

This is what he does say, in full.
The Ascension

I am grateful for this opportunity to expand a little on the article to which your correspondent refers.

If we take first the instance of Peter, in a very few days he progressed from denial of reports of the resurrection, to doubt about it, then to belief, and finally to giving witness of it. So there was in Peter’s mind a ‘development’ of ‘working out’ of what had happened. And this applied to all who herd about and then witnessed to the risen Christ. This ‘working out’ is also illustrated by the disciples on the road to Emmaus. They walked with the Risen Jesus without recognising him, realised who it was only when he ‘broke bread’, and believed in him as the Risen Lord only when he had disappeared from their sight.

Then, because the first Gospels contained accounts only of Christ’s passion and death, it took much longer for the early Christians to write down in a definitive form the impressions given to the disciples by the Risen Christ during his appearances to them. As a consequence of this the Gospels recount not just the all-important conclusion reached by the disciples, but also various and something conflicting accounts of the steps which led to the these conclusions. So the differing ‘guises’ in which Christ appeared can sometimes seem to outweigh in importance the conclusion they led to, and the witness they underpinned—‘Christ is Risen from the Dead’. But it is this conclusion and the witness it led to, which is the ‘core’ of God’s revelation.

As some stage the disciples also realised that those ‘appearances’ of the Risen Lord had stopped, and that Christ would not be seen by them again until he returns in glory at the end of time/ It is this which is the core truth of the Ascension. Whether this occurred, as Luke says in his Gospel, on the same day as the resurrection, or on the 40th day after the resurrection, as he says in the Acts of the Apostles, is, like the more graphic accounts of a ‘Cape Canaveral’-type ‘blast off’ for Christ on his way to the Kingdom, all to do with literary style and artistic licence.

In the post I did about three of Loftus' treatments of the Resurrection of Our Lord, I pointed out that in 2010 and again in 2011 he denied that it was an historical event: or, at least, that we know about it as an historical event. In 2012 he wrote:

Christ did not return to life through his Resurrection, any more than we shall return to life when we share in that Resurrection. Rather, Christ entered into a new life, just as we too shall be transformed and enter into a new life.

In the article last week, he reaffirmed this, adding that all the details about the physical nature of the Risen Lord amount to 'wrapping paper', wrapping up the core message of the Resurrection (whatever that might turn out to mean), and in which we should have no interest. Now he clarifies his metaphor by explaining that these details are a matter of 'literary style and artistic license.'

Cape Canaveral: spot the difference.
I think it is evident from all this, amounting to four full-length treatments plus 'clarifications', that Mgr Basil Loftus does not believe in the historical reality of Christ's physical resurrection. For him, talk of the physical side of it in the Gospels is just flummery, 'wrapping paper', 'artistic licence', presumably intended to get across in a vivid way the 'core message', but actually, according to Loftus, getting in the way of our understanding that core message.

I'd be delighted if he denied this, but it seems pretty clear that he has no intention of doing so. In another post I will say something about the kind of motivation people like Loftus commonly have for adopting this kind of position.


  1. I look forward to your explanation of the motivation behind this nonsense. Perhaps you will also attempt to explain why a "Catholic" newspaper would print it. Thank you.

  2. LO,

    “It is written, man cannot live by bread only,” (Matthew 4:4)

    If I give bread alone
    Then man is no more than a dog
    Might as well be the first to come
    To My banquet out of the fog.

    If I give bread alone
    Man’s want, only to relieve,
    Then I am only a baker
    Filling bellies, not souls to believe.

    If I give bread alone
    Being social reforming reform
    Then I am not the Redeemer
    Come to save souls through Me and conform.

    If I give bread alone
    Bring outer abundance instead
    Only a cheap leader of people
    Leaving their inner holiness dead.

    You would have Me begin with security
    Yes, bread, there always must be,
    Lo, bread gets its power to nourish
    “Not by bread alone.” but by Me.

  3. It might be honest for all concerned to admit that when it comes to understanding the nature of resurrection and the relationship between our physical bodily reality and the spiritual reality of the resurrection body none of us has any final answers. The stories in the Gospels do not really give much help here, except to say that there is a relationship and continuity between the two. In charity one might suppose that Mgr. Loftus is trying to say something about the nature of resurrection and finds, inevitably, that our human language creaks under the strain, but can anyone else do any better? To keep having a go at him because of this seems strange behaviour to me. He may be flattered by all the attention you give him, but I imagine he is too sensible to take any notice of it.

    1. You'll find my reasons for concern in the post. If you care to address them, then I could reply to you.

  4. If you care to address the points I raised then I might be able to reply to you. I am wondering about the kind of motivation that people like you have for your continual attack on Mgr. Loftus, but am not presumptuous enough to claim to read your mind as you seem to suggest you can read his.

    1. Hmm, well you could try reading the post.

    2. Savonarola, if people like Mgr. Loftus talk nonsense and are given a platform like the Catholic Times to do so then people are going to, as you say ‘attack them’.

  5. Loftus knows what he is doing. He is deliberately going against the teachings of the Church and he knows it. This silly man is an attention seeker who is bored with his life. We should not take him seriously and pray for him.