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A Catholic view on old heresies in the news

Category: Anglicanism

Was Luther an Antichrist? The Bible suggests yes.

http://headhearthand.org/blog/2014/02/20/seven-characteristics-of-the-antichrist/

Today’s link is from David Murray’s blog.  He identifies as a pastor, professor, and author, so even though it is a blog post rather than news, it is be respectable.  In his post he discusses some marks he sees as indicating antichrists.  Let’s look at each point and see whom it may identify, as is subsequent post points whom he thinks is the antichrist.  In this post I’ll look at what his points tell me about whom an antichrist might have been.

Point 1: Lawless

Mr. Murray searches Scripture and finds that the antichrist is one who disregards God’s law.  Let’s look at part of God’s law of the new covenant — the use of Sacraments.  The Catholic Church has 7 Sacraments, but many have disregarded some of the sacraments.  Anglicans and the Reformed, for instance, have only 2 sacraments — Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  Lutherans have 3 (the Anglican two plus Absolution).  Quakers have none.  Or, looking at law more strictly speaking, who has kept the command of Jesus that divorce is against the law of God?  Only Catholics don’t allow divorce (for you who might chime in that annulment is Catholic divorce; an annulment is actually a claim of a marriage never existing, not the dissolution of a marriage).  This rejection of the law of God is a good argument for the founders of Protestantism to be considered antichrists.

Point 2: Destroyer

This point is that the antichrist is a destroyer.  Well, the destruction of the unity of the Christian Church, which is something Jesus himself prayed would be kept intact (“that they may be one“), was again brought about by the founders of Protestantism.  Protestants now aren’t responsible for this, they aren’t antichrists, but those founders of Protestantism who split the Church seem to fit the bill so far.  And in the bloody split of the church, people on all sides were destroyed physically by death.  One such famous priest killed was Cuthbert Mayne, who became a priest in France and went to Anglican England to die for his faith.

Cutherbert Mayne, Catholic Martyr

Cuthbert Mayne, Catholic Martyr

Point 3: Opposition to God

The first step in understanding this is to know that Christ and his Church are mysteriously one entity.  St. Augustine says, “Marvel and rejoice, we have become Christ”.  Pope St. Gregory says, “Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church”.  St. Tomas Aquinas states, “Head and members [Christ and Church] form as it were one and the same mystical person”.  Joan of Arc concludes, “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they are just one thing”. (For citations see CCC 795).  This oneness is why Paul talks about Christ being formed in us (Galatians 4:19).  As Colossians puts it, Jesus is, “head of the body, the Church”.

Therefore one who is in opposition to the Church is one who is in opposition with Jesus.  Again the Protestant Reformers come to mind.  Their opposition to the Church created a replacement for it, and now people might go to various denominations instead of directly to the Body of Christ.  Which brings us to the fourth point of Mr. Murray.

Point 4: Substitution

The antichrist tries to substitute himself for God.  Mr. Murray says this point is that the antichrist, “is not necessarily an enemy from outside the church, but from inside it. He opposes Christ by replacing him, by taking Christ’s titles, worship, and roles.”  This is exactly what the Protestant founders did with the Church, the Body of Jesus.  They replaced the worship of Jesus passed down from Jesus himself with worship of a Jesus created more after their own thoughts and desires.  It is easy to look at the insecurities of say, Luther, and see why that would psychologically drive any logical person to say we don’t need to cooperate with the mercies of God for our salvation.  Cooperation for such an insecure person means too great a risk of losing God.  Psychologically speaking, Luther makes excellent points.  Luther created a very psychologically fulfilling vision of God, the only problem is that it is a replacement of the truth, which Mr. Murray says is a sign of the antichrist.

Point 5: Deceiver

These Protestant founders then used this psychologically fulfilling vision of God to deceive people away from the fullness of the truth.  By their preaching and actions they deceived people into the substitute Church, the various Protestant denominations.  With admittedly humanly wise words they brought people out of the fullness of truth.  They did not come expressly to destroy the Church, but under the deception of “reform” brought about that effect.

Point 6: Heretic

This obviously tie ins with previous points.  Mr. Murray says, “THE ultimate Antichrist will not deny everything about Christ, but just enough to undermine the power of Christ’s gracious salvation.”  The Protestant denominations still have large swaths of truth — most of the books for the Bible, Baptism, Marriage, the necessity of Grace, even various aspects of predestination and so forth.  In doing so they undermine the power of Christ’s salvation through the fullness of all the Sacraments he gave us and in the fullness of the Truth passed down to us from generation to generation.

Point 7: Politics

Any student of the Reformation can tell you that things got very politically messy.  The German princes used Luther to advance their independence.  Henry VIII used the Reformation to get a politically expedient divorce.  If not for the political involvement to advance their temporal power, the Reformation would have been much more unlikely to get off the ground.  It is not coincidence that religious maps of Europe coincide with political boundaries.

Political and Religious Borders

Simplified Political and Religious Borders

Presbyterianism was founded in Scotland.  Anglicanism was founded in England.  Lutheranism was founded in Germany, and adopted by Scandinavian princes. An authentic reformation should have effected the whole Catholic world, but instead it remained tied to principalities.  Political expediency drove the Reformation forward, which again is a sign that the founders were antichrists.

Now, in turning the page to Mr. Murray’s next blog post, he surprises by saying it is the Pope who is the antichrist.  This is the opposite of what I took his post to be implying, but it is also an old claim (after all, no news is new!).  While there are older claims (see Mr. Murray’s post), none have been so influential as Mr. Alexander Hislop’s work, “The Two Babylons: Papal worship Proved to be the worship of Nimrod and His wife.”  This book was first published in 1853, and is known to be abundant with inaccuracies.  It compiles a lot of the earlier claims about the papacy as a form of antichrist.

The point is that this is an old claim, but when brought up can cut both ways.  It can easily turn into a he said/she said sort of discussion.  Mr. Murray can look at the Bible, and his take-away is that the Pope may be an antichrist.  I can look at the same passages and even the same understanding of the passages and my take-away might be that Luther was an antichrist.

I think this is why Mr. Murray’s point that,

“I don’t believe this should be a prominent part of any Christian’s ministry. Yes, we should outline the Antichrist’s characteristics and call people to look out for this threat, even in the mini-antichrist’s of our own day. But it’s not a huge theme in the Bible and it certainly doesn’t specify the individual.”

is so important.  To fixate upon antichrists takes our attention off of God and our neighbour, which is where our attention should be.  Even putting this post as kindly as I know how, and even recognizing that Mr. Murray did the same, name calling doesn’t help to grow Christian union and doesn’t help ease people’s journey of faith; however that journey may be progressing.  It is an interesting exercise to examine these things (hence my own posting about it), but it should never take our eyes off the prize of communion.

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Germany: where one can be any religion as long as one is atheist in practice.

http://www.wnd.com/2013/09/all-outdoor-christmas-decorations-banned/

The heresy in this article is focused around the following sentence by Social Democratic Party Councilor Martin Becker: “Why should religious festivals be celebrated in public?”  This brings us back to the mystery religions and Gnostics which flourished during the Pax Romana.

A central focus of both the mystery religions and gnosticism is that there is a secret knowledge about faith that is held back from all non-believers.  Scientology is a good modern example of a faith where the truth of their beliefs are slowly revealed over time.  Masonry is another, where each degree progressed grants access to more of the organizations beliefs.

Some see all religion in this same way.  Faith is a secret matter between God and his believers.  From this mindset, it is easy to think there is no reason any religious act should have any component of publicity.

Christianity (as well as Islam and some other faiths) stands in sharp contrast to this.  While in the early years of Christianity it was necessary to keep some secrets (such as the Sacrament of the Eucharist) from unbelievers, this was done out of fear of persecution rather than as a necessary component of faith.  The command of Jesus was for Catholics to make disciples of all nations and to teach them all that Jesus taught.  All of the Church teachings are public, right on the Vatican’s website.  While priests are taught more in-depth (roughly 7 years of schooling, similar to a medical doctor), they are not taught anything different from what the laity are taught (again, similar to a doctor).

This transparency of belief is to be lived out in transparency of life (we aren’t dualists, so belief and action are intertwined).  Our belief in God is the bedrock of who we are, the core definition of ourselves: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  The other aspects of our identities become subsumed into our Christian identity.  To not live out ones faith in a public manner would be equivalent to not living out ones gender or race in a public manner.  Our belief is expressed in our actions.

Next on the legal chopping block, gender reveal cupcakes.

Why should gender of a child be celebrated in public?  Is it time to ban gender reveal parties?

It is a bold claim to state Christian belief is as foundational as gender or race, so let’s look deeper at that claim to see why Christians believe it to be the case.  We believe we have life as a gift from God.  In our sin, we reject God, the source of our life.  Therefore, because we cut ourselves off from the source of life in our sins, we deserve the natural consequence of that, which would be death.  If one cuts a river off from the spring that feeds it, the river dies — so too with our life, we die if we are cut off from the source of life.  Jesus came to fulfill our naturally required death and to therefore restore us to life.  By becoming one person with Jesus, he partakes of the death we deserve and we partake in the resurrection has brought about.  As St. Augustine wrote, “Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself.”  The Christian and Christ are made one.

If we are one with Christ, to conceal that oneness would be similar to concealing other core parts of who we are.  Shall we hide wedding rings as we are also made one with our spouses?

Out of concern for non-married people,

Out of concern for offending single people, “Why should marriage be celebrated in public?”

That Christianity is such a core aspect of identity exposes one of the dangers in confusing freedom of religion (where one can be any religion or none at all, and express those beliefs openly) and freedom from religion (where one can be any religion or none at all, as long as one only expresses being none at all).  We should all have a right to express who we are and how we define ourselves, whether that identity be Christian, German, Gay, or Construction Worker — we should be free to express how we define ourselves.  To be forced to conceal our identity out of concern for others opinions is a dangerous precedent to set.

The only acceptable haircuts in Germany.  Oops, I mean North Korea.

The only acceptable haircuts in Germany North Korea.

Boobs: what are they for?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2421061/Illinois-mother-furious-told-breastfeed-YMCA-despite-state-law-allowing-it.html

There is nothing wrong about this.

There is nothing wrong about this.

Our culture has oddly sexualized and stigmatized the act of an infant eating.  It used to be even the Puritans weren’t offended by boobs on their tombstones:

Boobs represent God's abundance in the promised land of Heaven.

Boobs represent God’s abundance in the promised land of Heaven.

Now even at the Y they prohibit babies eating, lest someone see a boob.  This hyper vigilance about anyone being even slightly aroused creates weird dichotomies in our society where the below is acceptable for people to watch and not considered pornographic:

miley-cyrus-twerk-vmaAnd this is seen as vulgar:

Mary-feeding-JesusWhat this absurd state of affairs speaks to is a misunderstanding of the human body.  The body becomes a thing to be possessed and owned by “lovers”, rather than as a sign and enactment of love.  A woman giving of her very flesh to feed her child is representative of Christ, giving his very flesh to feed us, and our society distrusts this gift of self.

This didn’t come out of nowhere, but was the result of an event in 1930.  Less than 100 years after first removing books from the Bible (1827 was the first year a Bible was published missing 7 of the books determined as scriptural in the 300’s) Anglicans decided they needed to make another major change to Christianity, and were the first Christians to allow birth control in very limited circumstances.  This decision was made at the seventh Lambeth Conference.  Subsequently all the other denominations have agreed with this a-historical decision.  It wasn’t that the conference dealt with a new aspect of Christian life, but rather it decided new forms of birth control invented by science would not be governed by the same moral rules that the old forms of birth control were governed by.  One of the effects of widespread use of birth control is that sex ceases to have a component of procreation and becomes all about pleasure.  As Humanae Vitae states:

Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

When sex is reduced to pleasure, organs that are involved with sex are reduced to pleasure.  This includes boobs.  The connection of the boob to new life has been cut off by the use of birth control resulting in some men experience jealousy of the feeding infant!  Returning sex to it’s natural ends of both bonding and procreation would help return breast feeding to normalcy because the breast wouldn’t be looked upon only as an instrument of sexiness.

Putting the System Ahead of People

http://www.redstate.com/2013/09/03/selling-your-labor/

I read this article on labor and the minimum wage, and I thought of Henry VIII and Anglicanism — not because of any specifics, but because how how both this article and Henry VIII put the system they existed under ahead of people living in those systems.

The article above talks about selling your labor at a profit.  What is left unstated is that there are many who cannot make a profit on their labor because the jobs they do are so menial.  This is one of the major problems with capitalism: in captialism jobs exist that aren’t worth doing.  People end up employed in those jobs because living in poverty is better than living without anything at all.  A job, to worth doing in Catholic theology, needs to provide enough wealth so that a person might have their needs met “on the material, social, cultural, and spiritual level“.  After these needs are met at a basic level, then account can be made for productivity of work and different salaries can reflect that different value.  However, if a job pays so little these needs are not met in the most vital sense, then the job becomes unjust.  In America today, unjust jobs exist and are filled by those just trying to fulfill merely their material needs, but with nothing left over to partake in society, our culture, or to tend their spirits.

The author from the above article sees unjust jobs and simply part and parcel of life under capitalism — the underpaid worker should simply sell themselves better to employers.  Henry VIII saw having a son as simply part and parcel of his duty as king — his wives should either produce sons or be executed/divorced.  It’s how the system works.  for similar reasons to why Catholicism denies that workers should be abused by the system of capitalism, so too does Catholicism deny that wives should be abused by the system of monarchy.

Henry VIII started off life as a devout Catholic, even going so far as to write a book against Luther.  After his brother died, he was granted a special dispensation to marry his dead brother’s wife, Catherine.  Subsequently she gave birth to a girl (Mary Tudor), as well as having several miscarriages.  This prompted Henry VIII to start looking elsewhere for a son.  After he knocked up Anne Boleyn, he had to move fast because they had to be married before she gave birth if the child was to be a king.  So he said the pope didn’t have authority in England (a heresy beyond Gallicanism, which held pope and crown had equal authority) and promptly had Archbishop Cranmer grant him a divorce.  To Henry VIII’s great consternation, Anne also ended up having a girl (Elizabeth) and miscarriages but no son.  Therefore he moved onto Jane.

Henry and Jane, sitting in a tree,
K-I-S-S-I-N-G.
First comes love,
Then comes a beheading Anne to end your second marriage,
Then comes a baby in the baby carriage!

The point of all this is that he saw the importance of a son for the monarchical line, and he used wives as tools to get that son, disposing wives when they were no longer needed or looked like they would fail to give him what he wanted to meet the needs of the system he was under.  This is greatly similar to the article above, which bows to the demands of capitalism and accepts the fact of payment for labor which is so little that one cannot fully partake in life.