Are the principles of individual liberty and democracy compatible with the Catholic world view?


#1

Hello everyone,

I have been pondering over the current political state of our country, morality, and the intersection of these two concepts. Given the premise that the Church holds the fullness of the truth and therefore is the ultimate authority for morals, what role should the US government play in enforcing Christian moral issues? Phrased in another way, are the principles of individual liberty and democracy compatible with the Catholic world view?

An example of my dilemma that I have been struggling with is the issue of gay marriage. The Church teaches that this is a perversion of what God designed human families for, and is therefore wrong. Because of this, many Christians in this country want to see a constitutional ban on gay marriage. But this country was founded on the principle that rights belong to individuals (not groups). Therefore, banning gay marriage would violate the liberty of voluntary associations to a hypothetical gay couple that wants to get “married”. Should the fact that Christians believe this is wrong concern the government? Alternatively, should government not even recognize marriage, and allow private organizations (churches, etc) to deal with it entirely?

And if you believe that the government should enforce Christian morality, where does one draw the line? Should the government enforce that it’s citizens to go to Mass every Sunday?

These are all hypothetical questions. I love the Church and I want to reconcile my understanding of individual liberty with Christian morals. I look forward to an interesting discussion on these issues.

-erbo


#2

Wow . . . there is way too much here to even get into. Without a dissertation, I don’t think I could do it justice. But simply put, absolutely the principles of liberty and democracy are compatible with the Catholic world view. The Catholic view of subsidiarity (that which can be done at the lowest level, should be) is very compatible with our system of individual liberty.

Should the fact that Christians believe murder is wrong mean that the government can’t make it against the law?

These issues would take much too long to discuss than I can get into here. But I advise you to continue to research . . . you will find that individual liberty and Christian morals are not at odds, as some would have you beileve. Read the founding documents (Constitution, Declaration of Independence). Read the Federalist Papers. The more you read, the more you will be able to understand the principles of our country’s founding.


#3

I guess I did ask a mouthful ;-). It seems that mainstream and secular news organizations tend to push a view that all Christians are “bass-ackward” intolerant bigots, and that Christianity is opposed to human freedom. I find these assertions false and insidious, yet want to explore the supposed basis for them.

Should the fact that Christians believe murder is wrong mean that the government can’t make it against the law?

The government doesn’t make it against the law because Christians believe it is wrong. They make it illegal because it infringes on the personal liberties of another human.

There exists a class of political issues that Christians oppose. Despite Christian opposition, these issues seem acceptable because they don’t seem to infringe on another individual’s liberty. An example would be the gay marriage issue that I presented earlier. Another one that comes to mind would be drug use.

-eric


#4

Yes, that’s the view they want to push. It only works on those who aren’t encumbered by the truth. Yes, they are false and there is no basis for them. That’s why I recommended reading the founding documents. If you have not done so, I think you would be very surprised. I have read the constitutional thought of some of the founders and my initial reaction was, “Wow, the secular media today would have a field day with someone who thinks like that.”

There are lots of issues that the secular media will try to spin in such a way as to make it seem like they are acceptable. Given enough time, I could make a case that opening society up to gay marriage DOES infringe on my individual liberty. Marriage is a foundational institution upon which our society is built. As Pope Benedict XVI said recently, (and I am paraphrasing here) the way to peace starts with the family.

I could go on and on with this, but like I said, I don’t think I can do any of these arguments justice in the format.


#5

Our country was founded on the bedrock of Christian morals…{ no matter what secularists tell you} Gay marriage wasn’t an issue because no one needed to be gay and 'married" People now take the constitution out of context to justify anything they want to. We have become a dumbed down shadow of what our forefathers intended.


#6

My answer to this question would have to be no. I used to be a Protestant Christian. I believed in democracy and most of our Western liberties (minus a couple: the right to homosexual marriage and the right to abortion). As I moved toward Catholicism, though, I discovered the fuller meaning of the scripture that says that the Church is “the pillar and foundation of truth.” If the truth is revealed by the Catholic Church, and the moral positions of the Catholic Church are stable constants in the universe, then it doesn’t make sense to establish a system of government that places the legal status of these truths in the power of “the people.”

We all know that for a long time, the majority of the population of the US approved of the enslavement of blacks. The will of the people won’t always favor the right thing, and the rights that protect minorities won’t always be enough. Infants are being massacred in Western countries. Laws to protect minorities are being used to create homosexual marriage. The human intellect and the will of the people are not sufficient to distinguish right from wrong and create good laws. By embracing democracy, our civilization has committed the same sin as Eve. Eve plucked the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and ate from it. When she did this, she decided for herself what good would be and what bad would be, relying on her human intellect above God’s command to her that she not partake of this fruit. She decided, by taking to herself the knowledge of good and evil, that she would have power over good and evil, would distinguish between them through her own mind and willpower. She would no longer rely on faith, trusting God’s command that she not do or that she do. She would decide for herself. Good and evil became her-centered, dependent upon her will. She superseded God’s moral authority and took the place of God in her own life, with her intellect refusing to rely on faith and deciding instead to rely on her own judgment.

Think about the democratic principle. The people make up the laws, deciding between good and evil, through the use of their own judgment. The human intellect triumphs over faith in God’s commands.

The Catholic Church knows what God’s moral commands are. It declares them. These are timeless truths, and they should be given a place underpinning the legal system of the nations that cannot be altered by man’s desire. Everything in the US Constitution and in US law can be changed by man’s desire, if enough people desire the change. The laws of Western countries are flexible. It might be very hard to change certain portions of them, but it is possible to do so. The laws are not timeless. Their provisions can be modified or changed.

Morals can’t be changed. Democracy’s laws about morals can be changed. Democracy subjects unchangeable morality to changeable humans and places them on God’s throne, deciding for themselves what is good and what is evil through the use of their own intellects. It does not do what God did in the Garden of Eden and say, “we will rely on God’s word in faith.” It instead says, “Let’s distinguish between good and evil ourselves.”

Christians might hold to their principles in their personal lives, but the democratic system contains in it the potential for Christian values to be uprooted in the legal realm. In many cases, traditional Christian values have been uprooted in the legal realm through the use of the democratic system. Catholic morals, which once were upheld in law universally throughout the West, have been supplanted in law with the shifting morals of human populations.

History has proven what the outcome of the democratic experiment has been. The purpose of democracy was to establish a law ruled by “the will of the people,” NOT by “the will of God.” That is what we have received. Democracy functions according to the will of God only when the will of God is also the will of the people. The will of the people comes first, the will of God second. The result of the destruction of the political power of the Catholic Church, and the rise of the inherently relativistic system that is democracy has been a weakening of traditional Catholic values throughout Western culture.


#7

We have with us now the fruits of democracy. They surround us. Sexual immorality was legalized through democracy. Witchcraft was legalized. Religious Freedom was established through democracy. What happened when sexual immorality became legalized? It became acceptable and commonly practiced. Compare Western sexual license with Muslim countries where laws still exist that prevent sexual immorality. Sexually transmitted diseases in Oman are extremely rare because of their laws against sexual immorality. The opinions of Muslims who move from North African countries to France have been compared with the opinions of the native French population (which is mostly supposed to be Catholic), and the Muslims have rejected abortion and generally called homosexuality to be sinful, whereas most of the French found it fine.

Witchcraft was made legal, and where in the past it was seen almost universally as evil, now it’s popular! Religious Freedom was introduced, a door opened to heresy and false religions, and they swept in when the door open, though during the Medieval Ages, laws prevented the spread of such evils.

Modern values permitting infanticide (in the form of abortion) and homosexual marriage are simply one more part of a great loosening of values that has been occurring ever since the Reformation shattered Christendom and democracy opened the door to the will of the people superseding the will of God.

In the past, Catholics everywhere acknowledged the need to have a constant moral authority, a Church that could interpret doctrine for nations as well as for individuals, and could prevent the nations from coming up with morality for themselves and thus sliding off track into sin. The Church strongly opposed the idea of democracy, when Enlightenment thinkers first began to propose it. The Church opposed democracy all the way into the early 20th century, and it only reversed this opinion (as it reversed its opposition to Religious Freedom) under the pressure of many nations and populations. The Catholics were the last to conform. Protestants had come to accept Religious Freedom and Democracy long before.

We, in our modern wisdom, have rejected what was the Church’s point of view all the way up to the mid-20th century (the time when it finally became accepting of Religious Freedom), choosing instead to have our laws defined by the inconsistent will of man rather than the constant truths of God.

It’s horrible.

We can see the results of democracy all around us. For a thousand years, throughout the Medieval Ages, there were laws against witchcraft, false religions, infanticide and sexual immorality, and for a thousand years, these evils, where they occurred, occurred only sporadically and in opposition to the Catholicism-based laws of the land. They were generally rare, just as they are in conservative Muslim countries today, which have laws against these immoral practices (they look at us, with good reason, as incredibly licentious).

The difference between the government that condemned what was evil because of God’s timeless truth and the government that accepts what is evil because it is man’s will is clear.

So the result of democracy is there to see.


#8

But let’s look at the origins of democracy in the West.

The origins of democracy are in our history books: Revolution. The English Civil War helped produce it in Britain, the American Revolution produced it, the French Revolution. These wars were fought over people feeling that they weren’t getting as much freedom as they should have. They felt that they were being unjustly treated.

These rebellions were not the result of people being horrifically tortured or martyred. They weren’t the result of mass slaughters or persecutions. They were the result of a desire for more freedom, for more personal power existing in the hands of the people (or the nobles, as the case sometimes was).

Contrast the decision of these populations to rebel with the decision of the Early Church to submit to the Roman Emperors peacefully, even to the point of death.

The Roman Emperors were infinitely worse than the British or French aristocracies were. They were heathen and were often savage. Their morals were far more depraved, their arrogance infinitely grander (they declared themselves to be gods), and their conduct toward Christians far more atrocious than ever the kings or most of the aristocrats of France or Britain were toward the Americans, the English population or the French population.

The Early Christians were brutalized, tortured and martyred. They had more cause to revolt than any other group in history that I know of. The forces arrayed against them were far more evil, and their cause was far more pure, than the British and French aristocracies were abusive or the American, English or French populations were noble. The peoples of Europe felt that they weren’t getting enough freedom, so they led revolutions and wars that cost hundreds of thousands of lives. The Early Christians were being tortured and put to death, and they submitted to oppression and turned the other cheek, and so from their goodness and gentleness a world was transformed and followed Christ.

The European populations that rebelled against their rulers because they felt that they were being oppressed, or more often, because they felt that they didn’t have as much freedom as they wanted, had nowhere near so much cause to rebel as the Early Christians. They defied the principles laid out by Saint Paul that believers submit themselves to authorities, and turned their backs on the example of Christ and countless other martyrs who gave up their lives when oppressed by governing authorities. The result of their rebelliousness? A new government and a new world, one that was poison in the veins of the Catholicism that had dominated the world scene for a thousand years, and that has corrupted the West to such an extent that the Muslims now justly look at us with scorn.

The result of the faithfulness of the Early Christians? A solid Catholic base of godliness that prevailed and dominated the entire Western world, and the hearts and minds of countless people, for an entire millennium.

The contrasts between the actions of the people of these time periods are as striking as are the differences between the worlds their actions created.


#9

Hi Lief,

I definitely agree with you that democracy has provided a “slippery slope” towards immorality. We are witnessing the de-evolution of society with things like abortion, corporate/personal greed, sexual irresponsibility, etc.

But here is the problem: if the person is free to do what they want (as long as it doesn’t effect the rights of others), they can inquire and embrace religious truth in their own natural way. A person cannot naturally come to love, learn, and appreciate the Christian God if he/she is coerced into it by the point of a gun or by government authority.

So having said that, I am leaning towards believing it is the government’s responsibility to provide a stable and orderly environment that protects the lives of it’s citizens, but NOT enforce Christian morality. I believe that in this scenario, the principles of democracy are a means to an end. That end being the people finding ultimate truth through private means naturally using inquiry and reason.

Therefore, it seems people should be free to practice sexual immorality, gay “marriage”, drug use, or whatever they want (provided they don’t do anything to endanger/kill/or violate the liberties of others). As a Christian, I have the right to live my life in a morally virtuous way to set a good example. I also have the right to speak out against the above issues. But it is wrong for me to ask the government to make a law banning those things.

I guess I’m trying to apply free-market economics to religion. Where the market (the people) will naturally determine the superior product (ultimate truth). If the Catholic Church contains the ultimate truth, and hold the keys to ultimate fulfillment in life, then in the free market of morals and religions, we should have faith that it will naturally take over the market.

If these economic principles can be applied to religion, then the secularization of society is not a problem because Christianity will win out in the long run.

I’d be very open to charitable criticisms of this “thesis” :thumbsup:

-erbo


#10

Jesus Christ has set us “free” we are no longer under “bondage” to anyone. Jesus himself said: " do you want to go under bondage again"?

That is why people in early times were murdered, tortured, held in prision, children taken away from them etc.---- if they did not believe in their teaching and by their rules etc.

They were forced to practice their faith in seceret! Christ and the Apostles forced “NO ONE” to accept him, but shook the dust off and moved on!

God Bless


#11

I agree with you that one person aiming a gun at another won’t convince him to love God by those means. However, by aiming a gun at him, he will frequently prevent the heretic from spreading his false ideology to other people. This, in turn, may help to keep the nation pretty much Christian.

Meanwhile, I believe that heretics or nonbelievers, where they exist in a Christian state (possibly paying lip service to Christian doctrine while not actually believing it), should have the opportunity to ask questions of priests and try to come into a real understanding of Christian doctrine. They can do that if they want, or they can pretend to be Christian and thus refrain from leading others astray by the lies and false doctrines they would preach if given the opportunity.

Non-Christians and heretics should, essentially, have the right to seek and find the correct answer, but they shouldn’t have the right to seek and find the wrong answer. They should be given opportunity and encouragement (by which I don’t mean force, but the love of believers) to find life, but their ability to embrace and spread death should be restricted as much as possible. These principles are loving.

They are also, it is worth noting, the way that God always dealt with believers in the Bible. Repeatedly, and in Revelation, which is New Testament, God behaves in the same way, God punishes the immoral and rewards those faithful to him, encouraging life and restricting death. He punishes idolaters, witches and the sexually immoral, along with murderers (We only punish the latter, now), and at the same time he encouraged and rewarded those faithful to him. In both the Old Testament and the New, he urged his followers to do the same.

I won’t bother with going through the Old Testament scriptures advocating physical punishments for these sins- I’m sure you’re acquainted with them.

In the New Testament, Jesus said that if someone gives even a cup of water to one of his brothers in Christ, he would not lose his reward in heaven. He thus encouraged kindness and love toward fellow believers. On other occasions, he taught this compassion for nonbelievers as well, but he placed a special emphasis at times in the New Testament on the bonds of love that hold believers together.

In 1 Timothy 1:8-11, the Apostle Paul supported the use of the Old Covenant Law in punishing nonbelievers. He taught that, “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.”


#12

Continued . . .

The Early Church Fathers agreed with him. Some of them, like Paul, openly supported the use of physical punishments for heresies. Many of them called heretics such things as “wild dogs,” or “servants of Satan.” Their rhetoric was extreme, and as soon as Christians gained political power through Constantine, physical punishments were dealt out toward many heretics. Pagan temples were fined or in other cases demolished, and Arius and his followers all were banished from the Empire because they refused to conform to Catholic doctrine. The main disagreement in the Church was exactly what the punishments should be, how far they should go. The disagreement wasn’t over whether or not punishments should exist. That disagreement is a primarily modern issue. The Church never accepted Religious Freedom before the mid-20th century. The original proponents of Religious Freedom were also an unholy combination of Protestant heretics and Enlightenment philosophers. Not the Catholi Church.

Either the Catholic Church lagged way behind secularists and liberals in its understanding of truth in the critically important areas of justice and form of government, and heretics and nonbelievers were there much faster and had to drag the Catholics into the truth mainly through the pressure of immense outside influence over a long period of time, or the Catholic Church held the ground of truth on these issues far longer than anyone else did, but gradually and tragically gave way to liberal pressures. Either it was always wrong, and the non-Christians and Protestants led it back onto the right path only in the last century, or it has just begun to go wrong. And considering the amount of apostasy and sin in our Western culture, as opposed to the far greater strength and unity of Christian faith in past centuries, I find the latter option to be much more likely. Simply from a historical perspective. The problem is that we grow up in this modern culture, so it’s far harder for us to see in the darkened room (or world) we’re presently in, without our sunglasses (or modern perspectives) blinding our ability to see. We see through this time period’s mentality, as that is what we are born with, and that is what we grow up with.

In fact, everything that was predicted by those who warned against religious freedom and democracy has been coming true more and more for centuries.

Dryden said in the 17th century that democracy would lead to anarchy. If he had been able to look forward in time and see our modern freedoms and massive emphasis on the rights and freedoms of the individual, things that never existed in his era, he would see his warning as confirmed.

Popes such as Gregory XVI and Pius IX warned against Religious Freedom in the 19th century, calling it “liberty of perdition,” in the words of Augustine, and warning that if it was given position in society, there would never fail to be men who stood up stridently against the truth.

Those who made such accusations happen to have all been right.

When Paul was spreading the good news, he was not in an earthly government capacity. It was not his job to enforce just laws through the human justice system. So he didn’t. Neither did he waste much time talking about it, for in his letters, his audience would have gotten very little from a commentary about how a righteous government should behave. The same goes for Jesus. His audience would have gotten very little from a lecture about government. Besides, the Old Covenant talks a lot about government, and Paul and Jesus both affirmed that the Law still had a place. Jesus said it was fulfilled, not revoked, and Paul said that it should still be enforced in such and such cases, even while he said many of its ritual elements no longer applied, as Christians had the truths those rituals pointed toward in their fullness now. Hence, while there are parts of the New Testament that talk about earthly government, there are not very many.

Paul spread the good news through evangelism. When, through peaceful and submissive processes, a kingdom comes to humble itself before God, it is the responsibility of the nation to enforce just laws. It was not Paul or Jesus’ responsibility to enforce just laws, or the responsibility of the Early Christians (as they, in the first centuries after Christ, had very little political influence). If it had been their responsibility to enforce just laws, you can bet that they would have assigned punishments to people often, rather than just declaring God’s forgiveness on them all and letting them go.


#13

Continued . . .

There are many passages in the Bible that praise governments for their justice. How are governments to rule justly, if they don’t enforce Christian morality? Seeing as Christian morality is timeless, and the rejection of it is immoral. And won’t be just.

Romans 13:3-4 says, “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer.”

The authorities, according to Paul, are God’s servants. It is their responsibility to do what is right and to adhere to Christian morals, for how else can they distinguish between right and wrong, protecting society “for your good,” while executing “wrath on the wrongdoer”?

You know, the only way to truly separate Church and State is to ban all religious people from voting. Otherwise, they’ll put people in office who they feel will do what is right, and the religious impulses of voters will make a difference in politics.

I think that you’re much more advanced in your thinking than many Christians are, in a sense. You’re willing to follow an ideology through to its logical conclusions, rather than sitting in the current generation’s version of it (a version that will, of course, be radically changed in future generations, if history is anything to go by). But I strongly feel that your premise is off. Your premise is a modern mindset that you acknowledge has had some very evil consequences, and which, if one looks back and sees the Enlightenment and Protestant sources from which it originally springs, and the anti-Christian rebellions that gave it root, had some very evil origins too. I really urge you to try out a different premise. The premise of modern civilization goes back to the Reformation. That’s where it originated from, the Reformation and the Enlightenment.

Look back at the Early Church Fathers and the beliefs of the Early Church Fathers and Medieval Catholic Church, the time when the Catholic Church really had power and was not so heavily influenced by modern liberalism and secularism, and try examining the differences between their premise and conclusions, and the premise and conclusions of modern ideology you’re working off of.

What you’re saying is a logical progression of the religious freedom and democracy ideologies of our time. Your thesis makes sense, in view of your modern premise. This journey, though, based on the modern ideologies, is one that centuries of democracy’s existence has proven will only lead to further moral decay. On the other hand, a millennium of Christian morality being mandated in law has proven that having a government in power that holds to righteous, Biblical principles, can help its country to avoid going astray.

Your thesis a step further in the logical progression of modern thinking than most Christians are presently willing to go, so I can see that you have the courage to look beyond one’s present society and analyze. The very fact that you were willing to raise the question you did, which opens this thread, shows that you are willing to consider alternatives to the modern perspective. But the logical progression your following has a premise that is very modern in its origins, and has, over time, become more and more destructive in its results.

I very, very strongly encourage you to reexamine the premise of your thesis.


#14

Continued . . .

I know, that’s how the theory works for Protestants of my acquaintance too. I can tell you, though, temptations are fierce, and some people will succumb to them. If the temptations are more widespread, more people will succumb to them. Some people would have maintained virtuous lives if the charismatic atheist hadn’t come by and swept them away from their religion. I would not have spent about a year struggling against sinful sexual thoughts if I had not read a vivid rape scene in a fantasy book one day in a library. When temptations are more common, it is more likely that more people will succumb to them. When temptations are legally shut down, fewer people will succumb.

Tests are going to be there to challenge the faith of every believer. For instance, a farmer in the field has a bad harvest and suddenly has to rely on faith, or a mother loses her child in a pregnancy gone wrong, and she has to rely on faith. Our faith is going to be tested, which purifies us, but temptation is something else. Something worse. God tests believers to purify them. Satan tempts believers to destroy them.

The Lord’s Prayer says, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” and one of the epistles says, “the Lord does not tempt anyone, but man is tempted when led astray by his own evil desires.”

Withstanding temptation can still glorify God, but that doesn’t mean that this is the ideal manner in which God would like to be glorified.

When I open my soul to sin by repealing in my own life the laws that God put inside me to govern me, and when I go by instinct, by “free market” in my personal life, my instincts have the potential to destroy me. I’d probably go and sleep with prostitutes if I didn’t have the law of the Lord in my heart to keep me steady. My instinct desires those things, because I still have fleshly impulses within me.

It is the same with a nation. When the nation opens its soul to sin by repealing the laws God gave it to govern it, going instead by its impulses in a free market of feeling and desire, it destroys itself. The nation needs the law of the Lord in its legal corpus, just as a soul needs the law of the Lord in its deepest being. St. Paul said, “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14).

Personal sinful desires can lead us astray as individuals, if they are given any place in the mind. National sins can lead people astray as groups, if they are given a place in the law.

That’s why, when abortion was first legalized, it could only be legalized as a court decision. Originally, the vast majority of people in the country all objected to abortion on moral grounds. But then, when abortion became legal, more and more people came to do it, and then nearly everyone knew someone who had committed an abortion, so they were no longer comfortable with judging, and abortion became acceptable in much of society.

What I’m saying isn’t theory- it’s history. It has happened again and again. The same with sexual immorality. Before, it was widely rejected. It became legal, and now it’s widely accepted. Heresy was illegal, and it was despised. It became legal, and now it’s accepted and acceptable everywhere (Even, in many places, in the Catholic Church!). Witchcraft was illegal and scorned. It became legal, so the number of witches is mushrooming (especially after the release of Harry Potter, according to BBC News).

We’re accepting evil into the nation by removing the laws and letting people choose for themselves. This is the same as Eve ignoring God’s law that mandated she not take fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and choosing instead to rely on her own intellect in distinguishing between right and wrong, instead of relying on God’s Law. Just as removing a law of God in the soul opens the door for instinct to corrupt us, so removing the moral laws of God in the nation opens the door for instinct to corrupt the people. And the results are observable all around us.

I hope my criticism wasn’t too uncharitable :D. It is very sincere, and I respect your desire to look beyond the current cultural views, asking questions and proposing ideas that aren’t presently everywhere accepted.


#15

Concluded (at last) . . .

By the way, I wanted to respond to this also:

[quote=erbo]I guess I did ask a mouthful ;-). It seems that mainstream and secular news organizations tend to push a view that all Christians are “bass-ackward” intolerant bigots, and that Christianity is opposed to human freedom. I find these assertions false and insidious, yet want to explore the supposed basis for them.
[/quote]

I very much respect your desire to prove that Christianity is not “bass-ackward”, and to show that we aren’t “intolerant bigots.” I have worked overtime to prove the same for years, on various websites. Before I became an intolerant bigot :stuck_out_tongue: :D.

But let me just try to warn you, you’re trying to show that we’re not intolerant bigots on modernistic terms. That’s the problem. The modern era is built on a different premise than Christianity is. In order to prove that we aren’t intolerant bigots, you’d have to show that we’re like the liberals or secularists of today. You have to show the non-Christians you’re trying to convince that you’re actually very much like them. So you’re fighting on their terms. Christians fighting on their terms have had to give more and more ground over the centuries.

There isn’t much of a way to prove that Christians aren’t ignorant, backward bigots, except by pointing toward the liberals and to the recent generations of Christians who have increasingly conformed to modern ideologies. Join them, and you’re not a bigot.

That’s the problem. We aren’t bigots, but Christianity is built on a different premise than our current society is. Our current society is sliding into deeper and deeper depravity, so they’re looking down on those who hold back from that slide. They condemn them. But those who resist are holding onto an ancient premise, a Christian root that is enduring constant erosion and attack by modern culture. The premise of the Early Catholic Church Fathers, of the Bible, and of the Medieval Church, as well as of the modern Catholic Church all the way up to the mi-20th century, is “backward.” It is 2,000 years old, and counting. Praise God it’s backward rather than modern.


#16

Sorry if my response to you, Erbo, was excessively long. I agree with ncguy that it’s very hard to do this issue justice in this format ;). It’s a big one. VERY worth discussing, and I’m glad you started the thread and raised the question. It’s hard to cramp oneself, though, when replying.

Plus there’s the fact that I’m verbose on paper :D.


#17

Hi Lief,

Wow! I’ve briefly read over your replies, and there is a lot there. You have given me some good scripture to read and to check my initial premise against! Thank you!

I’m just tired of being called a “bigot” from people I know who are more secular, and “liberal” from my religious friends. :rolleyes:

When I began this thread, I was worried that I might have to fundamentally change my modernist worldview in order to continue to properly grow in my Catholic faith. It seems now that I am at a point now where I need to study more. I need to read the documents our modern society was founded on, and compare that with the writings of medieval Catholic fathers.

From this discussion, I have noticed one interesting thing in modern society: a perversion of the word “free”. I think both Christians and secularists believe people should be “free”, yet they mean very very different things. It seems that secularists equate “freedom” with “doing whatever the heck you want”. Christians (or maybe Catholics specifically) equate “freedom” with something a bit more complex…being able to live a virtuous life through divine Grace so one is not a slave to sin.

Thanks again!

-erbo


#18

Believe me, I know exactly what you mean. I’ve never really been called a liberal, but I have been called a racist, sexist, homophobic, persecuting, discriminating, blind, cowardly, lying, arrogant, bigoted, demon-led, Anti-Christ-led terrorist who plans to turn the world into a Taliban.

We just have to accept the insults and try to turn the other cheek (This is something I’m praying I’ll be able to do more effectively) and stay the course, holding to the timeless standard regardless of how the world shifts and turns around it.

I hope it does lead to that, eventually :). Even though it’s hard and opposed by most people, even within the Catholic Church (nowadays).

That’s such a good idea. I’m going to be doing the same.

Bull’s eye.

That is a very, very important point. I’m very excited that you came to it through this conversation! :smiley:

It is great talking with you :).


#19

i must say i disagree with a lot of things on this thread i do not think democracy or religious or any type of freedom is bad. i also don’t think the enlightenment was a bad thing it fact i think it was one of the most beneficial events of history in the West


#20

Again, time dictates that I can’t properly respond to all in this thread. But I’m chomping at the bit here. Suffice it to say, more reading will help (and I could take myself up on my own advice). The more you know, the more you will be pleasantly surprised. But be careful, the insults will come faster and with more venim when you are armed with more facts.

One small point . . . there is no separation of church and state in the founding documents. That’s right. Read the Constitution. It’s not there. The first place that I am aware of the existence of the phrase, “separation of church and state,” is in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a baptist minister who was concerned that the new American government would interfere with his being able to be baptist. Jefferson wrote to assure him that he was protected by the new constitution and that there was to be no establishment of religion . . . in essence, Jefferson explained, there was a wall of separation between church and state. This was to assure the baptist minister that the state could not interfere with his practice of his religion. It was not intended to mean that Christian values have no place in our government.

The phrase “separation of church and state” became part of what we know it today in the early 20th century by an activist judge on the Supreme Court. Read Mark Levin’s “Men in Black.”

Another good book (though I have not read it) that brings to light the Catholic view of subsidiarity is Rick Santorum’s “It Takes a Family.” I believe its subtitle is “Conservatism and the Common Good.”

I recently saw an interesting book that looks like something you might find enlightening. It’s called “The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States.” It was written in the mid 1800s and has recently been put back in print. americanvision.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=1818

Enjoy your reading! I’m glad to find I’m not the only one that actually thinks about this stuff!


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