The Roots of Heresy

Well, I was reading this thread: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=12879524#post12879524 , and ProdglArchitect got me thinking about Protestantism’s relationship with Modernism. So, since my thoughts flow through my mind faster than I can examine them :frowning: I wrote this to hold them down:

The Roots of Heresy

The deep problem with Protestantism is that it doesn’t exist.

Now, I don’t mean that it literally doesn’t exist (anyone can walk down the streets of Pittsburgh and see all the different denominations). What I mean is that Protestants define their very existence on an absence, on a lack of something. Specifically, that something that Protestants deny are other parts of Catholicism.

Think about it. Protestants claim that what separates them from the Catholics is their belief in salvation by faith and revelation by Scripture. The problem is that these beliefs are accepted by both groups. Catholics most certainly believe that we are saved by faith and that God is revealed by Scripture. These beliefs do not divide the Protestants from the Catholics. Rather, what divides the two are the Protestants’ insistence on faith alone and Scripture alone. These doctrines are just a fancy way of saying to a Catholic, “we accept Scripture, but not the rest of Tradition” and “we accept Grace through faith, but not Grace through works.” Protestants accept aspects of Catholicism, yet deny other aspects, ultimately in an arbitrary way (When a Protestant claims that he is “guided by the Holy Spirit,” what he really means is that he is “guided by his own spirit”). In the context of Catholic/Protestant argument, Sola Scriptura is just the absence of the belief in Tradition, and Sola Fide is just the absence of belief in Grace through works.

Therefore, Protestantism doesn’t exist. Its proponents are parasites on authentic Apostolic Christianity. The very name “Protestant” (“protest” + “ant”= “one who protests”) reveals that they only exist because of Catholicism. The Catholic faith is bigger than the Protestant faith, as the Protestants are trapped in their “prison of one idea,” as G. K. Chesterton would put it. It’s modern reductionism at work. In fact, since modern philosophy is ultimately based, in part, on a principle of reductionism (via Ockham and his razor), Protestantism can be thought of as what happens when modernism enters Christianity (there is a reason why the Catholics, Orthodox, Coptics, etc. (Churches that existed in the ancient times) agree where the Protestants disagree, especially on the definition of Grace).

To be continued…

The same critique can be applied to modern secularism as well. Secularists determine themselves by their rejection of religion: again, by an absence. They will claim that what separates them from the Church is their belief in “science and reason”: they offer a positive alternative, rather than a negative rejection/absence. The problem is that this doesn’t separate Catholics from secularists, as both the old religion and the secularists positively believe in science and reason (in fact, the main reason the secularist does believe in these things is because his culture was once based on Catholicism, which loves science and logic). If both philosophies share a similar idea, then that idea can’t be used to differentiate between them (we call this principle the Law of Identity in Logic). What separates secularists then from Catholics is the secularists’ lack of belief in theology. In other words, Catholics believe in theology, philosophy, and science, while the secularists believe in only philosophy and science (sometimes not even philosophy!), while rejecting theology. The word “secular” itself means "absence of religion. Secularism doesn’t exist: it is defined by a lack of belief in God/religion, and is also a parasite on Catholicism.

Both secularism and Protestantism can be thought of as Catholicism minus “pick doctrine here,” or as incomplete Catholicism: a man with no limbs is an incomplete man, and a Protestant/secularist/modern is an incomplete Catholic. In Chesterton’s The Man who was Thursday, Gabriel Syme says to the red-headed anarchist that “we are all Catholics now.” This realization, in part, was what would eventually lead Mr. Chesterton to the Church. The entire book Orthodoxy, in part, is based on this theme!

Modern secularism is somewhat a logical outcome of the earlier Protestantism (it might be said that both are just symptoms of the bigger problem), since both follow the will-based reductionist method. Because Protestants define their beliefs by “picking and choosing” (the root of the Greek word “heretic,” by the way) from Catholics beliefs, Protestants just pick arbitrarily between many of the theological beliefs, while seculars reject the theology while picking arbitrary the beliefs in reason and science. Both are heretics: they just disagree on what parts of Catholicism they will accept. They are, as they call it, “cafeteria Catholics.” They both reveal the methods of modernism. Both try to stuff the Truth into a small box of their design. Catholicism, on the other hand, is bigger than both, as it accepts both their beliefs as true, and more. As Chesterton wrote (paraphrasing), “paganism was the biggest thing in the world, but the Church was bigger; and everything since has been comparatively small.”

One of the methods of modernism, which both Protestants and secularists have their faith in, then, is this reductionism based on pure will, this choice of reducing all to one idea, which leads to picking and choosing between Catholic doctrines. You can see this in every heresy: The Arians chose the humanity of Christ, but not the Divinity, while the Gnostics generally chose the Divinity of Christ, but not His humanity. The Church chose both the Divinity and Humanity of Christ. The Calvinists chose Grace over free will, while the Pelagianists chose free will over Grace. The Catholics chose both Grace and free will. St. Pius X called modernism “the synthesis of all heresies,” because modernism is based on the method which heresies themselves arise, as heresy itself is choosing arbitrarily to believe in some Catholic doctrines, but not all of them (error is an absence of of the whole Truth, as an evil is the absence of a good), which explains how modernism can produce every possible heresy.

Modernism, in which Protestantism and Secularism are a subset, thus can be summed up as “either/or” philosophy, while Catholicism can be summed up as “both/and” philosophy.

Christi pax,

Lucretius

Exactly right. If I tell you that I am a Catholic, from that one word you know exactly what I believe (or, at least, what I ought to believe).

If you tell me you are a protestant, I still have no idea what you believe. I have a pretty good idea what you DON’T believe (Catholic stuff).

That’s why I never capitalize the word ‘protestant.’ It’s not a proper noun, because it doesn’t actually refer to anyone (it just means someone who protests).

A lot of Protestants do just fine where they are, God gives them what they need. “prison of one idea”?

I can think of a bunch of things Protestants don’t have. One of them is the Eucharist :smiley:

Protestants are sort of like the lost, wandering Children of the Church. They are baptized, so they are in the Church, but they are lost as to what they should believe and what they should do. St. Padre Pio would advise Protestants if they requested it probably in part because of their baptism (the fact that he avoided Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons speaks volumes over the validity of their baptizisms :frowning: ). At least they have bits and peaches of Tradition. If it wasn’t for their man-made traditions that St. Paul warned about, they might be in full communion…

“Prison of one thought” refers to a quote in G. K. Chesterton’s book Orthodoxy. He is describing what he calls the “mad man mentality” which is the reductionism I just wrote about. I highly, highly, highly, recommend reading him. He is probably one of the greatest thinkers who ever lived. I can’t talk him up enough! He writes like Oscar Wilde, but thinks like St. Thomas Aquinas! The Church has recently looked into his cause for Sainthood.

(Because of his pose, you might have to reread him a couple of times if you don’t understand. It’s beautiful, but sometimes hard to follow).

You can find his books here: cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/index.html

Christi pax,

Lucretius

The root of all heresy is either denial or confusion of the Incarnation of the Word, the Divinity of Jesus Christ, I think we should send to free disc to all Protestants below mainline. Mainline protestants have Pope phobia they need the infallible CD, but out there on the fringe they have another idea of the Incarnation which definitely is further streamlined. Convicted by the HS they tell me.

Protestants are sort of like the lost, wandering Children of the Church.

Sort of like my idea. Protestants are wondering around in the basement of the Church, in the dark. But they hear faintly the singing and smell faintly the incense coming from above, but they stumble around in the darkness. Up above in the great Cathedral of Catholicism, with the light streaming through the stain-glass windows, the choirs singing and the Hosannas from the attendant Angels and Saints while the Eucharist is adored in full public splendour and glory, the wide open main doors beckon to all those who wish to enter through the Main Portal, Jesus Christ. :wink:

Not all heresies are negative truth claims. Take Montanism, for instance. Adherants to it claimed to believe what the early catholic church teaches, plus new teachings from what they claim to come from the Holy Spirit.

One can argue that Christianity itself is a negative truth claim for confessing monotheism (you shall have no other gods before me), that God has only one begotten Son, that there is no other name under heaven, besides Christ, that we can be saved, and that there are no new public revelations after Apostolic times.

So in short, negative truth claims aren’t necessarily false, any more than positive truth claims are necessarily true.

Doesn’t saying that Protestants “are parasites” violate some CAF rule about defamation or the like? To say nothing about being inconsistent with the teaching of the Magesterium for the last 50 years or so?

I didn’t mean it in a mean way. Sorry if I offended anyone :crying: I was just posting my thoughts on this subject. I can’t edit it now though…

The Magisterium hasn’t changed: Protestants are still wrong.

I actually have a lot of respect for Protestants. My mother’s a Presbyterian.

Christi pax,

Lucretius

If I were a Protestant, I would argue that the Catholic Church made a similar error as the Montanists: they added more to revelation. However, that is historically false. I wanted to highlight how modernism and Protestantism follow the same mindset. My article doesn’t prove Catholicism true, it just indicates the mindset behind rejection of the Church.

One can argue that Christianity itself is a negative truth claim for confessing monotheism (you shall have no other gods before me), that God has only one begotten Son, that there is no other name under heaven, besides Christ, that we can be saved, and that there are no new public revelations after Apostolic times.

So in short, negative truth claims aren’t necessarily false, any more than positive truth claims are necessarily true.

Well Christians don’t actually deny the existence of those other gods, rather we claim that they are demons or misunderstood Angels. We don’t base our teachings on a negative truth claim, but instead a reinterpretation of claims. We actually include those beliefs in ours.

Christi pax,

Lucretius

Well Christians don’t actually deny the existence of those other gods, rather we claim that they are demons or misunderstood Angels. We don’t base our teachings on a negative truth claim, but instead a reinterpretation of claims. We actually include those beliefs in ours.

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I agree, but my point is that it can be interpreted either way. By claiming that those so-called “gods” are demons, you are by definition denying that worshiping the pagan gods are good for the soul. So negative-truth claims should not be the basis on which to judge any “heresy.” A heresy is wrong based on its own merits.

Also, a Protestant can just as well argue that Sola Scriptura is a positive truth claim, for they uphold the Scriptures as the one infallible rule of faith; and borrowing your reasoning, they “reinterpret” Catholic traditions as “the traditions of men.”

It is my perspective the difference between Catholic and Protestant faiths revolves around an element of rationalism mixed with relativism and naturalism for the Protestant and an absolute Truth revealed to the Church by God. These philosophies turn the reality of the Sacrament into a symbol of faith. When this element of rationalism applied it to the doctrine of Catholic Church it is sometimes called “liberal theology”. Protestantism however is different in that it synthesizes its own traditional morals for autonomous predetermined conclusions on the premise desired. Often these translate into the spirit of ‘what-feels-good’ must be of the Holy Spirit. Catholicism, on the other hand uses both Tradition and Scripture to teach the God’s revealed Truth; of course within the capability of human knowledge. The matter seems to revolve around of what God’s absolute Truth is, and what it is not especially when it comes to what I “read into the Bible”.

To my knowledge Protestantism holds that each individual can subjectively determine God’s will (I’m referring to the “five solas”). Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany in 1886 addressed this issue in 1886 when he said, “Free-thought begets free morals, or immorality.” See Liberalism Is A Sin (link liberalismisasin.com/ ). In Fr. Salvany’s book you’ll find that the term “Liberal” was understood to mean Protestant or other similar forms of rationalizing faith.

Consequently, I find that Protestants hold an inductive reasoning founded on Christian faith, weighing acts on a synthesis of their own tradition in faith and morals. Catholicism is discarded as being slow, regressive, and narrow-minded. The fault seems to be that conclusions drawn are autonomous intellectual exercises; judgments become subjective reasoning as opposed to absolute moral truths that only Catholicism brings. Ultimately Protestantism must come in conflict with the Church. Protestantism must require toleration of differing moral precepts. Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany seems to support this concept when he states:

“Liberalism is the program of naturalism. Free thought begets free morals, or immorality- Restraint is thrown off and a free rein given to the passions. WHOEVER THINKS WHAT HE PLEASES WILL DO WHAT HE PLEASES (sic). Liberalism in the intellectual order is license in the moral order. Disorder in the intellect begets disorder in the heart, and vice-versa. Thus does Liberalism propagate immorality, and immorality Liberalism.”

Right and wrong become subjective; morality and integrity become matters of positive law, as opposed to Divine Law. The liberal trait is exhibited as autonomous authority to have “freedom from” doctrine as well as “freedom to” implement proxy ethics independent of God’s will, e.g. abortion, divorce etc. As such the standard of right and wrong differ from individual to individual; so it’s no surprise when we hear the refrain “it might be wrong for you but its right for me,” or vice versa. This ideology becomes progressively independent of God’s authority in its thinking as it no longer needs God for authority; this is evidenced by the number of independent non-denominational Christian Churches along with Protestant denominations – which pushes beyond 30,000 with new dissidents among the dissidents daily – it was only one in 1520 (well maybe 3), within 10-years that number climbed to well over one-hundred. Tracking the liberal history we can see that this autonomous authority over morality becomes asymptotic with atheism. While still holding to the ‘symbol’ of Christianity, liberalism progresses to the point where God is no longer needed (or wanted); thereby God ceases to exist in the heart and mind, except, of course, when it is desirable to defame the Church.

Protestantism is disciplined philosophy of schism. Only the Sacred Scriptures has authority insofar as they are subjectively interpreted.

JoeT

I’m not trying to demonstrate the falsity of Protestant beliefs. I’m writing to a Catholic audience describing the history of philosophy in the West for the last 500 years.

Christi pax,

Lucretius

[quote=JoeT777]This ideology becomes progressively independent of God’s authority in its thinking as it no longer needs God for authority; this is evidenced by the number of independent non-denominational Christian Churches along with Protestant denominations – which pushes beyond 30,000 with new dissidents among the dissidents daily – it was only one in 1520 (well maybe 3), within 10-years that number climbed to well over one-hundred. Tracking the liberal history we can see that this autonomous authority over morality becomes asymptotic with atheism. While still holding to the ‘symbol’ of Christianity, liberalism progresses to the point where God is no longer needed (or wanted); thereby God ceases to exist in the heart and mind, except, of course, when it is desirable to defame the Church.
[/quote]

Great post Joe! I was going to reply somewhat in this same vein, but you have done a better job. The only thing I will add is that the opposing principle to liberalism is the dogmatic principle. The Catholic Church of course is a dogmatic one. This is the yoke that liberalism/Protestantism has thrown off.

A great scholarly book on the origins and development of the liberal principle traced from William of Ockham in the 13th c., is “Politicizing the Bible” by Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker.

Don’t bring up Ockham! William is the grandfather of modern thought. His biggest blunder is that he put the will over the intellect, and the moderns have done the same.

C.S. Lewis thought that evil grew worse and worse over time. He said that hell was a mercy from God, as it stopped evil from getting too bad. We can only fall so far.

Christi pax,

Lucretius

My apologies for expressing disagreement on a point you never made.

You are right that Western philosophy has changed in such “negative” (double meaning) way in the past 500 years.

[quote=Lucretius]Don’t bring up Ockham! William is the grandfather of modern thought. His biggest blunder is that he put the will over the intellect, and the moderns have done the same.
[/quote]

Yes, in the book Politicizing the Bible, they are somewhat gentle with William of Ockham (unlike his counterpart Marsilius of Padua), in that he promoted liberalism unconsciously or inadvertently. But certainly in his own time, the trend was evident and elicited much concern and dispute, especially with respect to the Bible.

If we were to consider dogma as a yoke, which I don’t, then Protestantism didn’t succeed in throwing off its yoke, rather they built a new and improved version dogma requiring man to draft yet more weight, finding order in chaos. Not only does he now have a ‘secrete’ yoke, unwritten, but he also has a written yoke, Sacred Scripture. Both of which are viewed as being individual, subjective, and nominative - pure anarchy of dogma which must exhibit itself in the form of nature. At least a portion of this dogma must, at least at some point, be aimed against the Catholic Church. The very existence of Protestantism is challenged by the Catholic Church. And, whenever she decides to standup Protestantism will fall down.

This would explain the abject failure of ecumenicalism of Vatican II. The great council thought it would be addressing ‘bodies of faith,’ albeit not the Body of Christ. They weren’t, the Council was addressing individuals who claimed to be the Body of Christ, i.e. an autonomous Church of one, an amalgamation of individuals called the Protestant faithful. This body needs no sacrament, because he showers himself with grace in saying “I believe”, he absolves his own sins in reading Scripture, and he gives himself life by turning the Eucharist into a symbol.

Had Vatican II given the same focus to evangelism that they did to ecumenicalism their success would have been assured. Instead, the liberalism infected and confused the younger members of Body of Christ with those of the bodies of men. And, like these men, they say ‘any church is as good as another.’

JoeT

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