Not using the authority of bad teachers to support the truth

As we fight for the true Traditional Catholic Faith, we must not use “weapons” or tactics which seem expedient at the moment but which really do more harm than good. 

Don’t quote false teachers to defend the truth

One such “weapon” that does more harm than good, is to use the authority of false teachers when they happen to state the truth on the particular issue for which we seek an authority to support the truth.  For example, we should not quote the “authority” of a sedevacantist, even when he accurately decries the liberalism of the “new” SSPX.

To take another example, if we are defending Our Lady’s sinlessness, we should never cite Martin Luther as an authority for this truth, even though Luther taught this truth in these words:

God has formed the soul and body of the Virgin Mary full of the Holy Ghost, so that she is without all sins, for she has conceived and borne the Lord Jesus.[1]

 Quoting a false teacher (like Luther) to support the truth of our position does more harm than good.  When we quote a bad teacher, we implicitly tell our listeners that they should accept a particular truth (e.g., Our Lady’s sinlessness) because the person we use as an authority is a teacher worthy of belief.  We implicitly tell our listeners that they should seek the truth from him on other issues.[2]  For if that teacher were not worthy of belief in general, then why accept his authority on the one particular issue?

Thus, when we quote a false teacher even for the truth, we endanger our listeners on many issues on which they might accept his false teaching, and we gain (if at all) in the defense of the truth on only a single issue.

Further, if we were to tell our listeners that the false teacher’s particular statement (e.g., of Our Lady’s sinlessness) is the only one on which he is worthy of belief, this would completely undermine that false teacher’s authority even on that one issue.  Who would accept the “weight” of a teacher’s authority if that teacher were only correct on one point and wrong about everything else?

Apart from the danger of our listeners accepting the errors taught by the particular false teacher we quoted, there is also the scandal to our listeners that they would believe we accept the authority of other false teachers who are similar to the false teacher we quoted.  For example, if we quote conciliar revolutionary, Pope John Paul II, as an authority, it can create the danger that our listeners will also accept the authority of other conciliar teachers, as suitable authorities in religious matters. 


It is reasonable to quote a false teacher to show he contradicts himself and is not a worthy authority

Although we should not use false teachers as authorities for the truth, we can quote a false teacher to show he is inconsistent with himself and so is not worthy of belief.  Taking the example of Martin Luther (above), suppose someone (e.g., a Lutheran) used a different quote from Luther to show that Luther taught that the Blessed Virgin Mary was a sinner.  We can use the quotation (given above) to show that Luther contradicted himself and that he also taught that she was without sin.  In that case, our quoting Luther does not give him the status of an authority worthy of belief.  Instead, we show that Luther’s inconsistency is one reason he is not worthy of belief.


It is acceptable to quote a false teacher to prove a matter he admits against his own interests

Although we should generally not use false teachers as authorities for the truth, we can quote them when they make an admission against their own interests, concerning their own bad character or conduct.  This exception is common sense and has always been used.  For example, when the police suspect a particular man of murder, they give little weight to his denial of the crime.  However, if the man admits to the murder, this admission is usually more worthy of belief.  The principle is that a murderer usually denies his crime, but his admission is more likely to be true because it is against his interests.

Similarly, Luther admitted his own drinking, dissipation, and his deliberate ignoring of the Ten Commandments, as a (supposed) way to fight the devil.  Here are his words:

Be strong and cheerful and cast out those monstrous thoughts. Whenever the devil harasses you thus, seek the company of men, or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing.  Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, aye, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you, “Do not drink,” answer him, “I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.” One must always do what Satan forbids. What other cause do you think that I have for drinking so much strong drink, talking so freely and making merry so often, except that I wish to mock and harass the devil who is wont to mock and harass me. Would that I could contrive some great sin to spite the devil, that he might understand that I would not even then acknowledge it and that I was conscious of no sin whatever. We, whom the devil thus seeks to annoy, should remove the whole Decalogue from our hearts and minds.[3]

Although Luther is not a worthy authority for the truths of the Faith and Morals, his admissions concerning his own dissolute life are reasonable grounds for believing his own bad conduct.



Let us not use the authorities of bad teachers to defend the truth because that does more harm than good.  However, we can quote unworthy “authorities” to show their own bad character, bad conduct, or logical inconsistencies.

[2]           The “new” SSPX frequently uses false (conciliar) teachers as authorities to “defend” the Catholic Faith, thereby telling its readers that those conciliar teachers are worthy of belief.  For example:


Ø  The N-SSPX used only quotes from conciliar authorities to “defend” marriage here:


Ø  The N-SSPX promoted the teaching of “bishop” Athanasius Schneider here:  … although Schneider is a conciliar revolutionary, as shown here:


Ø  The N-SSPX promoted conciliar revolutionary, Cardinal Sarah, about “abuses” in the new mass:

(The truth, of course, is that the entire new mass is always a sacrilegious abuse even under the best conditions.)


Similarly, Bishop Williamson accurately points out problems in the “new” SSPX.  However, we should not use him as an authority for those points because he is a bad authority on many other matters – such as telling people to attend the new mass if it helps them.