For years I’ve heard about him. Tan Book Publishers (super conservative Roman Catholic publisher) still prints his book, The Catholic Controversy (Bethany House named my book, hence, no, there is no connection), a series of tracts he wrote that are specifically aimed at converting Calvinists to Roman Catholicism. Many a modern Roman Catholic has referred me to de Sales’ work as the ultimate refutation of the “folly” of Calvinism. It is a manifesto of Tridentine Romanism: denial of all the solas, promotion of the sacrifice of the Mass, purgatory, etc. The book claims de Sales converted nearly 72,000 who had been Reformed back to Holy Mother Church. That kind of claim reminds me of some of the stories I’ve heard about Marian miracles, but the fact remains that de Sales represents the antithesis of Reformed faith from top to bottom. Calvinists have every reason to be deeply offended at de Sales and his writings.
It is truly sad, then, to find the following quotation posted proudly under a quote from Chesterton: “‘We must recapture Christianity…we must recapture Geneva.’ Francis de Sales” Now, that would make perfect sense on a website dedicated to Roman Catholic apologetics. But this is on the blog of a man who continues to insist he is “Reformed.” That would be like my citing Arius favorably, “We must do away with Nicea.” Or, citing Pelagius favorably, “May the memory of Augustine be buried in the depths of the sea.” Or citing Mohammad, “We must retake the West for Allah.” Etc. De Sales’ heresy would make the Judaizers’ in Galatia blush for its boldness, so to have such a quotation on one’s site makes as much sense as my favorably quoting Joseph Smith’s teachings on the plurality of gods while professing myself to be a passionate monotheist.
The huge irony here is that for some odd reason, when others observe these things and go, “Goodness, someone who quotes Chesterton, reads and applauds Congar, constantly rags on the Reformed churches, says Reformed communions are guilty of ‘equal’ idolatry with Rome, says the Pope has been used by God to protect the church, and posts de Sales’ words about converting Geneva back to Holy Mother Church, may just well be on their way to Rome themselves,” there are many who are offended at such “groundless speculation”! Leaves me wondering, too.