Michael Voris: his senseless rejection of ‘Amazing Grace’

In the video by Michael Voris on the song Amazing Grace, he objects strongly to the use of the word ‘wretch’ in the song. He claims that the use of this term is an expression of Protestant theological errors, incompatible with Catholic teaching. Not so. For Protestantism is not apostasy; the Protestant denominations still retain much of the true Faith. Their every word is not an error.

Sacred Scripture uses the term wretch:

[Jeremiah 45]
{45:1} The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch, the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book, from the mouth of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, the king of Judah, saying:
{45:2} “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to you, Baruch:
{45:3} You have said: ‘Woe to me, a wretched man! For the Lord has added sorrow to my sorrow. I have labored in my groaning, and I have not found rest.’

The prophet of God calls himself ‘a wretched man’. Therefore, a song writer can refer to a person saved by grace as, in some sense, ‘a wretch like me’. The fact that the writer is Protestant does not imply that his every assertion is an error. Saint Thomas Aquinas based much of his theology on the philosophy of pre-Christian (basically pagan) philosophers, such as Aristotle. We should accept truth wherever it is found.

{3:15} I know your works: that you are neither cold, nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot.
{3:16} But because you are lukewarm and are neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit you out of my mouth.
{3:17} For you declare, ‘I am wealthy, and I have been enriched further, and I have need of nothing.’ And you do not know that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
{3:18} I urge you to buy from me gold, tested by fire, so that you may be enriched and may be clothed in white vestments, and so that the shame of your nakedness may disappear. And anoint your eyes with an eye salve, so that you may see.
{3:19} Those whom I love, I rebuke and chastise. Therefore, be zealous and do penance.

In the quote from Revelation, “the Spirit says to the Churches” that a particular portion of the Church is fittingly called, not only ‘wretched’, but also miserable, poor, blind, and naked. So the claim that the mere use of the word ‘wretch’ indicates Protestant errors is false and absurd.

And the Psalms contains this assertion:

[Psalm 21] (22)
{21:1} Unto the end. For the tasks of early morning. A Psalm of David.
{21:2} O God, my God, look upon me. Why have you forsaken me? Far from my salvation are the words of my offenses.
{21:3} My God, I will cry out by day, and you will not heed, and by night, and it will not be foolishness for me.
{21:4} But you dwell in holiness, O Praise of Israel.
{21:5} In you, our fathers have hoped. They hoped, and you freed them.
{21:6} They cried out to you, and they were saved. In you, they hoped and were not confounded.
{21:7} But I am a worm and not a man: a disgrace among men, and an outcast of the people.

So the use of the word ‘wretch’ by us poor sinners to describe ourselves, especially what we are apart from the saving grace of God, is entirely in accord with the teachings of Catholicism and Sacred Scripture. The mere use of the word ‘wretch’ does not imply the false doctrine of Calvinism that man was totally corrupted by the fall from grace.

One more example should suffice. This text about Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich contains a relevant quote from her:

“A few hours before death, for which she was longing, saying, ‘O Lord assist me; come, O Lord Jesus!’ a word of praise appeared to detain her, and she most energetically rejected it by making the following act of humility: ‘I cannot die if so many good persons think well of me through a mistake; I beg of you to tell them all that I am a wretched sinner! Would that I could proclaim so as to be heard by all men, how great a sinner I am! I am far beneath the good thief who was crucified by the side of Jesus, for he and all his contemporaries had not so terrible an account as we shall have to render of all the graces which have been bestowed upon the Church.’ ” (Emmerich, Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Introduction)

She calls herself a wretched sinner, even though, as a Blessed, a holy nun with visions from God, a woman who suffered both immensely and willingly for Christ, she is a shining example to the rest of us. So certainly we can sing ‘that saved a wretch like me’ without falling into Protestant errors.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and Biblical scholar

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