Posts Tagged 'Internet Protestantism'

Signs/Symptoms of a Radical Traditionalist

Having come across so many radical traditionalists in my time on CAF and even one or two in real life, I thought I’d come up with a set of diagnostic criteria for a radical traditionalist, not unlike the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV for psychologists and psychiatrists.  This isn’t perfect and I know I probably forgot things but this is what I have so far.

For a diagnosis of Radical Traditionalist, three or more of the following criteria may be met (OB is obscure):

-Believes the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, usually referred to as the Tridentine Latin Mass (TLM) is the only valid form of the Mass.  Everything else is inferior, heretical, or Protestant.

-Holds the 1917 Code of Canon Law above the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

-Believes Latin in the only language of the Catholic Church.  All prayers, private or public, are to be said in Latin.

-Believes God only understands Latin.

-Believes Palestrina and Gregorian chant that is sung by an all male choir is the only form of music, esclesial or secular, allowed.

-Believes the Rosary is the supreme and highest devotion.  It is the only prayer, besides the Mass, that is necessary for salvation.  Believes anyone who does not pray the Rosary is not a Catholic.

-Believes the Ordinary Form of the Mass, normally referred to the Novus Ordo and refuses to use the forms of the Church, in the vernacular is inefficacious, is invalid, does not present a valid Eucharist, is inferior, and Protestant.  Believe people who attend the OF are either Protestants or heretics.

-Believes communion on the tongue while kneeling at a communion rail is the only way to receive the Eucharist.  People who are unable to kneel are deemed irreverent.  Communion in the hand is considered heretic and pagan.

-Believes the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima is the only Marian apparition or at least the highest.   Believed to be the best Marian devotion and the only one worthy of belief.  Believe Catholics who do not believe it, follow what was said, or refuse to acknowledge it are heretics.  Requires automatic believe in this apparition as a criteria as to being a real Catholic.

-Believe Confession is required every week.

-Believe most things are a mortal sin, especially if they say so.

-Believe no woman is allowed anywhere near the sanctuary.  This even means the first pew unless they are a nun/sister praying the Rosary.

-Believe there is a strict dress code for every occasion.  This only applies to women and children.

-Believes women are required to veil at all times.  Mantillas only.  Hats and other forms of headcovering are not allowed.  No hair is allowed to show otherwise a woman will be inciting a man to sin.  She is at fault if a mans sees even one strand of hair.

-Believes women are required to wear dresses or skirts (dresses are the preferred option) down to the floor with full length sleeves and extreme high collars.  The prefered style is fundamentalist Mormon.

-Believes women who dress in pants or skirts above the toe are inciting men to lust and other sexual sins and just asking to be raped.

-Believes women are responsible for men’s sins, especially sexual sins.

-Believes the Church does not go far enough is legislating modesty and dress.  Believes the Church should dictate a strict dress code for everyone that must be strictly adhered to at all times.

-Believes women are to be minimally educated.

-Believes women should never work outside the home.

-Believes no one should go swimming do to the immoral form of dress required.

-Believes women are meant only to be wives and mothers, and occasionally sisters but nothing else.

-Believe Natural Family Planning (NFP) is contraception and goes against God’s will.

-Believes the number of children a couple will have is should be entirely left up to the providence of God.  Any abstinence, NFP, or any other method is contraception and a mortal sin.  A mother’s health, a family’s finances, etc. are irrelevant to family size and having children.

-Believes all children should be homeschooled.  All other forms of schooling are tools of the devil.

-Believes colleges, universities, high schools, elementary schools, public and Catholic are bastions of radical feminism, secular humanism, and atheism.

-Believes sheltering children from every interaction with the world and especially other people will make them strong Catholics.

-Believes TV, radio, movies, computers, and any other media that is not explicitly Catholics is immoral, a tool of the Devil, and never allowed in the home.

-Believes EWTN doesn’t go far enough.

-Believes most Bishops, priests, and Catholics to be outright heretics and have no knowledge of the faith.

-Believe Michael Voris is the second coming and like his in the face style and name calling of bishops and fellow Catholics.

-Believe Colleen Hammond is the go to authority for dress and follow her rules exactly.

-Believes if the book is not the Bible, the Early Church fathers, or one of  a select few writers then the books are immoral and advocating devil worship.

-Believe only young earth creationism.

-Believes they must call all behavior not exactly like theirs a sin and everyone who does not believe like them a heretic.

-Believes they are the only one on the right path to Heaven.  Everyone else, except for a select few, is going to Hell.

-Believes having fun is a sin.

-Believes contemporary music is immoral regardless of the lyrics.  Some classical music by some Catholics composers is acceptable.

-Believes the organ is the only instrument.  All other instruments, regardless of use, is profane.

-Believes that quoting documents from Vatican II is sinful and will only cite pre-Vatican II documents to support their arguments, even if they are off topic or have nothing to do with a topic or are out dated.

-Will ignore, put down, or trash Vatican II.

-Believes happiness and joy are useless and pointless especially in the spiritual life.

-Believes it is necessary to point out every little flaw and mistake a priest makes as necessary to stop liturgical abuse.

-Believes liturgical abuse is extremely rampant in OF/NO parishes and have never existed in EF/TLM parishes.

-Believes the Baltimore Catechism is the only necessary catechism.

-Believe the 1950s were the Golden Era of Catholicism in America.

-Believes the 1960s were the end of the Catholic Church in America.

-Believes Council of Trent trumps Vatican II.

-Wants all Catholics to be exactly like them.

-Believe unity is the sam thing as uniformity.

-Believe the EF/TLM would solve all the problems in the Church, including but not limited to sex abuse by priests, lack of vocations.

-Believe a college education is worthless unless you are going to be a lawyer or a doctor.

-Believe they are the only true Catholics and everyone else is a Protestant heretic.

(OB)-Believe women who dress in pants or in skirts above the toe are guilty for their own rape.

(OB)-Believes all Protestants are going to Hell.

(OB)-Believes Jews were abandoned or are ignored by God.

(OB)-Believe Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox are to be Latinized.

(OB)-Believe that is a person receives any sort of spiritual consolation, you are doing something wrong or are possessed by a demon.

 

This is not an exhaustive list but it does include what I have seen, read, and heard.

A Realization

Why I have problems with certain views espoused by certain types of Catholics:

Your personal preference/opinion is not Church doctrine.

I see this rather frequently especially in regards to topics such as women, the Ordinary Form of the Mass, private devotions, people who don’t bow down and worship at the poster’s feet for their opinion (this one comes up the most), evolution, altar servers, dress code, et al., etc.  At the end of the day, we all need God’s help and grace not our hand smacked away because we are asking for help.  I see so much of the hand smacking and not enough the hand grasping and lifting someone up.

Baptism, Assurance of Salvation, and Gnosticism

So I’ve been reading this book about the spiritual life by a non-Catholic Christian.  A Baptist to be precise.  His main focus of the book is being born again and supposedly all that relates to it.  However, he misses a lot, his arguments are weak or non-existent, and he misinterprets passages so badly as to be twisted to mean something they do not.  He also seems to deny some fundamental beliefs (maybe he just didn’t feel them important enough to include them in this book?) that are pretty important even to a Baptist even if they are in direct defiance of Catholic belief.  One of those beliefs he seems to reject out of hand is baptism.  I am preparing a separate post on Baptism because I am including not only the Catholic belief but also mainline (at least what’s considered mainline) Protestant beliefs as well (Lutheran, Episcopalian, Anglican, Methodist, and Presbyterian).  But more importantly, he falls into the heresy I’ve mentioned in my previous posts: Gnosticism.  The idea that human consciousness or awareness can be put above and beyond all else and that with this knowledge and knowing someone can be saved.

The book is Finally Alive by John Piper.  In it, he attempts to argue that we must be born again and what that means to us.  However, he dismisses some important beliefs along with including specific denominational beliefs.

This post will be dealing with three of the top most common problems found: rejection of baptism as a means of salvation (1 Peter 3:21), assurance of salvation, and Gnosticism.

He argues for the new birth (he switches between new birth, born again, new life, and other similar terms that actually have different meanings even if they are slightly different meanings).  He starts with the Gospel of John Chapter 3: 1-10 (I include to verse 15 from the NAB).

“1 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6 What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8 The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicodemus answered and said to him, “How can this happen?”

10 Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? 11 Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. 12 If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

Now the problem is John 3:5 is referring not just to being born again but baptism.  While, Jesus only mentions it once in this passage (Piper argues that with the only one mention Jesus never really referred to baptism and that baptism is not required for the new birth) the argument that it is only mentioned once does not mean it is unimportant.  Nicodemus has a hard time understanding what being born from above means (I think the phrase “born from above” is clearer than “born again” thought they both refer to the same event) and how could an old man like him be born again.  Jesus explains but doesn’t say baptism isn’t required.  It’s an argument from silence that since Jesus only mentions baptism once in this passage that it’s just a passing reference that has no importance.  If so, why do Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, Episcopalian, Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians consider baptism a sacrament and a means of grace if Jesus thinks baptism is unimportant? And if a sacrament, why would they wait till someone was an adult when a baby could benefit from the immediate graces gained from Baptism and help the child as they grow in faith and love of Christ?  God isn’t constrained by the world or us.  He is bigger than all that and can use anything as a means of grace.  1 Peter 3:21 even says that Baptism saves:

“21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (NKJV) (emphasis mine)

Or the NIV:

“and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Verse 20 (the preceding verse) talks about how Noah and the others that were saved was a prefiguring of the baptism that now saves.

“who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (NIV).

Baptism saves by baptizing us into Christ’s death and resurrection.

Piper is a Baptist.  While they see baptism as a sign/symbol only, (as a signal that one has converted and asked Jesus into their heart) they still place baptism as an event of significance even if they only think it is symbolic.  So why ignore it in regards to being born again?  There are very few (though increasingly more) that believe baptism has no significance in a believer’s life.  Baptism, like circumcision, is a sign of the new relationship we have with God.  With baptism or circumcision, we are made full members of God’s family and partake in the covenant he created with us.  Baptism is not only the initiation into God’s family as His children it is also a means of grace.  We are baptized into Christ’s death and rise again in new life in him (Roman 6:3 “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?).

Our baptism effects an ontological change in us.  It not only wipes away original sin but also any sins we may have committed while initiating us into God’s family leaving an indelible mark on our souls while uniting us with Jesus in his death and resurrection while providing us graces to live holy lives.

Who knew Baptism was so full of amazing stuff?  Powerful stuff.  And yet Piper places knowledge of God and Jesus, knowing about Jesus over personally knowing Jesus, as more important in having faith.

Piper also argues that even when we sin we aren’t cut off from God and that we are still saved.  Oh boy.  First, he doesn’t understand, at least fully, that sin cuts us off from God.  When we sin, we deliberately cut ourselves off from God.  We choose our own will over Him and His Will.  Plus, not all sin is deadly, which he kinds of hint at but poorly. Actually, he uses the same Scripture reference to mortal sin and venial sin that Catholics use but misinterprets it to mean that if one is saved, then they cannot be cut off from God even in sin. (1 John 5:16) (NKJV):

“If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.” (emphasis mine)

Here we see that some sin will not kill our relationship with Christ (venial sins) but there are sins that will kill (mortal sins; involves three elements: grave matter, you have to know that it is grave matter, and still choose to do it).  Piper, and many others, argue that once one is saved, sin will not cut us off from Jesus.  According to Piper, sin isn’t a relationship destroyer between us and God but rather an inconvenience.  (I hope that isn’t what he means.  I wonder however.)  Doesn’t that say Jesus and God ignore what you did all because you have a special pass and that if you don’t have a special pass you aren’t saved?  God sees everything.  He knows when we sin.  Just confessing it privately to Him isn’t going to fix it.  What if you aren’t really sorry?  What if you never confess it at all?  You think Jesus is going to forget it just because you believe you are saved because you said a prayer and invited Jesus into your life but didn’t change your life?  I still cannot comprehend how people can believe they can sin, not repent or go to Confession, not change their life and their habits and still expect to be saved?  Isn’t that ignoring what Jesus commands of us?  Or say they have repented but haven’t changed their lifestyle or habits to prevent them from committing that particular sin again.  (I know there are those out there that expect that once one makes a decision for Christ that they change their life and do their best to live good lives and don’t believe in once save always saves but in you can lose your salvation (which is consistent with Catholic teaching).  Though with the increase of easy believism and decline in morals with the addition of the false doctrine of “once saved, always saved” it is hard to see this aspect when the easy way out is presented more often.)

Metanoia, the Greek work for “conversion” also means “repentance.”  One cannot convert or choose to follow Jesus without repentance and lifelong repentance at that.  We are all sinners.  Even if we were never to sin again after being baptized, we are still capable of sin and must repent of it, must avoid occasions of it, must not put ourselves near it.  The impression I get from reading Piper’s book is that once one has accepted Jesus (and you already predetermined chose by Him so your cooperation is unnecessary) (basically, Piper and many others don’t believe or don’t put forth the need for people to cooperate with Jesus and the graces He gives us because nothing we do matters and so we play no real part in accepting salvation or damnation.  Add to that Calvinism teaches that God has preselected/predetermined (predestination) those who will be saved and those who will be damned well before any one was born and that only the elect (the pre-saved) will be allowed into Heaven.  God creates people just to send them to Hell?  Doesn’t sound like the God of love, that God is love that He is mentioned to be in the Bible.  Sounds like a vicious God that conditionally loves only a select group of people rather than the whole world, again mentioned in the Bible.  We choose to cooperate with grace or we don’t.  While it is grace that saves us, we must cooperate with that grace otherwise what’s the point?  God won’t force Himself on us if we don’t choose Him or to love Him.  He isn’t that mean or vicious.)  Even our acceptance of Christ does not mean we are saved.  Matt 7:21 (NKJV) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”

Assurance of salvation isn’t possible.  We can have confidence but we don’t know for certain if we are saved.  I link you to a This Rock magazine article that lays it out better than I can: http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2009/0903btb.asp.

But back to Gnosticism.  It’s an early heresy that got its first grapple on Christianity pretty soon after the death of the Apostles, if not during the time of St. Paul and the writing of his letters to various communities.  It unfortunately keeps coming back over and over again, like a bad (well, I’ll come up with an appropriate analogy some day).  From New Advent (Catholic Encyclopedia) (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06592a.htm):

“The doctrine of salvation by knowledge. This definition, based on the etymology of the word (gnosis “knowledge”, gnostikos, “good at knowing”), is correct as far as it goes, but it gives only one, though perhaps the predominant, characteristic of Gnostic systems of thought. Whereas Judaism and Christianity, and almost all pagan systems, hold that the soul attains its proper end by obedience of mind and will to the Supreme Power, i.e. by faith and works, it is markedly peculiar to Gnosticism that it places the salvation of the soul merely in the possession of a quasi-intuitive knowledge of the mysteries of the universe and of magic formulae indicative of that knowledge. Gnostics were “people who knew”, and their knowledge at once constituted them a superior class of beings, whose present and future status was essentially different from that of those who, for whatever reason, did not know. A more complete and historical definition of Gnosticism would be:

A collective name for a large number of greatly-varying and pantheistic-idealistic sects, which flourished from some time before the Christian Era down to the fifth century, and which, while borrowing the phraseology and some of the tenets of the chief religions of the day, and especially of Christianity, held matter to be a deterioration of spirit, and the whole universe a depravation of the Deity, and taught the ultimate end of all being to be the overcoming of the grossness of matter and the return to the Parent-Spirit, which return they held to be inaugurated and facilitated by the appearance of some God-sent Saviour” (emphasis mine).

The article goes on further to cover the historical development of the heresy with its roots not in Christianity but in pagan religions and beliefs prior to Christianity.  Of note:

“Although the origins of Gnosticism are still largely enveloped in obscurity, so much light has been shed on the problem by the combined labours of many scholars that it is possible to give the following tentative solution: Although Gnosticism may at first sight appear a mere thoughtless syncretism of well nigh all religious systems in antiquity, it has in reality one deep root-principle, which assimilated in every soil what is needed for its life and growth; this principle is philosophical and religious pessimism.

The Gnostics, it is true, borrowed their terminology almost entirely from existing religions, but they only used it to illustrate their great idea of the essential evil of this present existence and the duty to escape it by the help of magic spells and a superhuman Saviour. Whatever they borrowed, this pessimism they did not borrow — not from Greek thought, which was a joyous acknowledgment of and homage to the beautiful and noble in this world, with a studied disregard of the element of sorrow; not from Egyptian thought, which did not allow its elaborate speculations on retribution and judgment in the netherworld to cast a gloom on this present existence, but considered the universe created or evolved under the presiding wisdom of Thoth; not from Iranian thought, which held to the absolute supremacy of Ahura Mazda and only allowed Ahriman a subordinate share in the creation, or rather counter-creation, of the world; not from Indian Brahminic thought, which was Pantheism pure and simple, or God dwelling in, nay identified with, the universe, rather than the Universe existing as the contradictory of God; not, lastly, from Semitic thought, for Semitic religions were strangely reticent as to the fate of the soul after death, and saw all practical wisdom in the worship of Baal, or Marduk, or Assur, or Hadad, that they might live long on this earth.

This utter pessimism, bemoaning the existence of the whole universe as a corruption and a calamity, with a feverish craving to be freed from the body of this death and a mad hope that, if we only knew, we could by some mystic words undo the cursed spell of this existence — this is the foundation of all Gnostic thought. It has the same parent-soil as Buddhism; but Buddhism is ethical, it endeavours to obtain its end by the extinction of all desire; Gnosticism is pseudo-intellectual, and trusts exclusively to magical knowledge. Moreover, Gnosticism, placed in other historical surroundings, developed from the first on other lines than Buddhism.”

Further: “These magic formulae, which caused laughter and disgust to outsiders, are not a later and accidental corruption, but an essential part of Gnosticism, for they are found in all forms of Christian Gnosticism and likewise in Mandaeism. No Gnosis was essentially complete without the knowledge of the formulae, which, once pronounced, were the undoing of the higher hostile powers. Magic is the original sin of Gnosticism, nor is it difficult to guess whence it is inherited.”

Sounds familiar?  Mormons use special formulas in their temple ceremonies and have secret words that have to be said when Jesus comes again otherwise they are not saved.  But while Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses are Gnosticism regurgitated, I am not dealing with these two false religions with a veneer of Christian language.  I am talking about Gnosticism in general and it periodic reappearance in Protestant theology.  This salvation by knowledge is dangerous and has been repackaged in bright colorful packaging with new brand names and pretty new spokespeople.  This dangerous heresy has come back and infiltrated not only Protestant Christianity (already full of heresy) but presents itself as the solution to the problem of Protestant Christianity and even more so, to Catholicism.

In regards to soteriology (the study of salvation): “In Marcionism, the most dualistic phase of Gnosticism, salvation consisted in the possession of the knowledge of the Good God and the rejection of the Demiurge. The Good God revealed himself in Jesus and appeared as man in Judea; to know him, and to become entirely free from the yoke of the World-Creator or God of the Old Testament, is the end of all salvation.

The Gnostic Saviour, therefore, is entirely different from the Christian one. For the Gnostic Saviour does not save. Gnosticism lacks the idea of atonement. There is no sin to be atoned for, except ignorance be that sin. Nor does the Saviour in any sense benefit the human race by vicarious sufferings. Nor, finally, does he immediately and actively affect any individual human soul by the power of grace or draw it to God. He was a teacher, he once brought into the world the truth, which alone can save. As a flame sets naphtha on fire, so the Saviour’s light ignites predisposed souls moving down the stream of time. Of a real Saviour who with love human and Divine seeks out sinners to save them, Gnosticism knows nothing.”

Jesus did not die for our sins, as believed and espoused in the Nicene and Apostle’s Creeds.  In Gnosticism, and Marcionism in particular, Jesus was a teacher of this hidden knowledge that allows humanity to rise above their human selves, not the Son of God and born of the Virgin Mary who was crucified, died, buried, and rose again.  He is merely a teacher that teaches the knowledge that is necessary to restore the order of things.  We are beings of spirit not of flesh and that the secret knowledge is necessary to “break free: from the bonds of the flesh.  However, there is no resurrection of the body (remember the body is “bad” and spirit and knowledge is good, dualism and a major part of the heresy of Manichaeism though not prevalent in all the “schools” of Gnosticism though it did play a role).  There is little mention of heaven and hell largely because these eternal destinations require a physical body rather than an “enlightened” mind.

I recommend reading the New Advent article in full to truly appreciate the history and impact that the heresy of Gnosticism had on Christianity though it did not last long due to its nature and the fact that it was born out of dying religions.  However, Gnosticism has come around again.  In researching for this article, I found a website praising and supporting Gnosticism and preaching it as “real” faith.  Here is one example: http://www.gnosis.org/gnintro.htm.  Gnosticism has once again regained a foot hold because the idea of possessing secret knowledge, adhering to something outside mainstream Christianity, the media, etc. have put forth the idea that possession of secret knowledge will make someone better, faster, stronger, help them to succeed.  It’s particularly appetizing to those that want to follow a set of beliefs but not a set of rules, especially ones that impact their life morally.  They want a “faith”  that allows them to have secret knowledge that few possess (exclusivity), secret rituals, special membership, and only the “special” or “anointed” can belong to and fully understand what it all really means.

With regards to Protestantism, Gnosticism rears its ugly head in the plethora of books about “how” to have a relationship with Jesus with the expectation that if one reads the book and does what it says then they will be saved.  And the more they read, (instead of prayer, sacraments, etc.) the more holy they become, and the more likely they will be saved.  It is the veneer of Christianity with Gnosticism at its root.  Jesus isn’t the center of these peoples’ universe; it is knowledge about Jesus rather than Jesus himself that becomes important to them.  They read blogs, books, websites, attend conferences, watch videos, etc. instead of reading the Bible (though Bible reading can be a part of Gnosticism especially if they look to it for all their information about the world and in making decisions), praying, worshiping God in Sundays, making use of the sacraments (if they posses any which they only posses Baptism and Matrimony).  They fill their brains and not their hearts.  They become passive receptacles rather than active vehicles.  They talk about Jesus but don’t talk to Jesus.  This is what I see on the Internet and hear from people.  Now, this isn’t a broad brush and not all Protestants or even Catholics are doing it.  However, the fact that there are even a few doing it is dangerous.  And many don’t know that they are doing it.  They think they are “learning” rather than “hiding” or looking for secret knowledge.  Unfortunately, it is too easy to fall into this trap, reading, watching, and searching for answers instead of looking to Jesus.

This heresy has gained a foothold largely in part due to the Internet and how easy it is to access “information.”  Many people believe what they read on the Internet to be “true.”  Or they belong to a group or have a belief or practice that limits what they can read to only group approved/belief approved materials.  Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses do this by requiring their members to never read material that might present an alternative view or even the truth about their false religion.  They must only read Watchtower approved or Leadership approved materials.  Everything else is apostate.  They are not the only groups who do this, however, and this restriction isn’t just to religious materials but also news, medical, research materials as well.  If you can control what people read, you can control what they think and what they believe.  Even if one is not restricted in their reading materials they can be restricted in their theology or in their own choices.  If Person A chooses only material that supports his Calvinist beliefs, on salvation, on how no one else is saved, he isolates himself in his views.  If he looks to the Internet for all his information about his beliefs instead of reading books, talking a pastor, praying, he not only isolates but ignores the human factor.  If all Person A does is read websites and blogs and books about Jesus rather than praying and forming a relationship with Jesus, he has fallen into Gnosticism especially if he thinks all this knowledge will save him.

Do I have a solution, a means of fighting this heresy?  Learn the faith.  Learn why you believe what you believe and why.  Prayer.  Fasting.  Make use of the Sacraments (if you have them).  Be careful in your choice of reading material, especially anything  by authors outside your own faith and especially in a tradition that rejects intellectual pursuit.  Be careful in how you spend time and what you spend it on.  Be aware of what you use in your faith life.  They might be the old tried and true but they work.

Internet “Protestantism”/Internet “Catholicism”

So I’ve fleshed out a little what I mean by Internet “Protestantism” and include Internet “Catholicism” because what I’m about to write applies to both.   It’s still a working hypothesis and developing work so it’s in the early stages.  It would be interesting to see what studies on social networks that use the Internet look like and how they directly and indirectly impact social relationships, faith relationships, faith development, etc.

Internet “Protestantism”/”Catholicism” is not a theology though it affects the expression of theology.   What I mean is, that Internet “Protestantism”/”Catholicism” focuses on the methods and medium of how the theology and spirituality are spread, discussed, and disseminated.  In this case, it involves the “protest” of online posters to past means/methods of media.  The main medium is the Internet/web though they may use other media to share, express, etc. their faith.  The “protest” may come as a result of rebellion, rejection, abandonment, lack of knowledge about previous media, definitive generational aspect (Millennials are more likely to use the Internet exclusively for information and social aspects), and/or other reasons.  It may not be a true “protest” but a change in relationship to the developing media and technology.  People today are more likely to use the Internet for fun, communication, entertainment, work, etc. than when it was first used by the public.  I don’t think this is necessarily a new wave of theological development though it is a new “wave”/aspect of social interaction.  Also, Internet “Protestantism”/”Catholicism” use the Internet exclusively or nearly exclusively to share, express, question, etc. their particular faith.  Many people may confine their more troublesome aspects of their faith life to the Internet where they believe anonymity and virtual environments will protect them from scorn and protect their Christian reputation.

There are three areas/divisions: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  (Yes, it’s the title of a movie but it works well here.)

The good: main purpose is to share and help others by providing useful information, support, and resources.  There is a balance between Internet life and real life (an essential element in these divisions).  People in this group use the Internet as a tool but know that it has limitations in regards to actual relationships and the accuracy of information.

The bad: main purpose is to keep control/a tight leash on a select group of people (“believers”) or looks to a select group or individual’s posts/blogs/sites for all their spiritual, emotional, faith needs.  They spend inordinate amounts of time on the Internet or may balance unevenly towards too much time focused on one thing.  Or they may spend a balanced amount of time but focuses on one specific group or individual to the exclusion of all others.  Looks at the Internet as the ultimate weapon rather than a tool.  Refuses to see limitations or applies limitations only others especially those that don’t agree with them.  May post offensive, false, or misleading information, especially of other faiths and use that false, offensive, misleading information as a measuring stick of acceptability (if you agree with A, you’re okay but if you disagree you an apostate and damned to hell).

The ugly: main purpose is to attack, demean, degrade, libel anyone who does not agree with them. Very isolationist.  Refuses to read or accept any opinions/fact except his/her/the group’s own.  Has strict rules that must be adhered to.  Requires readers/members not to read outside their own beliefs.  Demonstrates no love of others.  Hatred is a required element.  Spends time destroying others through words or video.  Deliberately refuses to discuss any point.  Believes their theology is the “only correct” theology possible and everyone else is a mission field or an apostate.  Targets specific groups.  Uses fear and lies to accomplish this.  (Jack Chick is an example of this especially in regards to Catholics.)  Time is spent in attacking or coming up with attacks on others and considers those who don’t do the same as uncommitted, lacking in faith.  Has a narrow definition of those who are “truly Christian” which includes only their specific theology and other tagged on beliefs.  Will not discuss or dialogue and if they do, steps around the questions, deliberately does not answer or provides half an answer with no evidence or support, resorts to name calling and attacks if the person they are “dialoguing” with doesn’t automatically agree with their opinion, can’t stand to be shown they are in error. Adheres to double standard in behavior.  Possible mind control and spiritual abuse.

These are beginning, working classifications.  They are far from perfect but they give an overview of possible traits and behaviors of those in “Internet Protestantism/Catholicism.”  I’ll be continuing to work on this subject as I come across information, ideas pertaining to the topic.

More Salvation by Knowledge, Internet Protestantism, and My Truth is the Only Truth

Okay, so I visited the blog/website I said I wouldn’t visit again.  At least I didn’t read the comments. That would have been too much.  But the blog is promoting a book to “fix” your relationship with Christ.  More Salvation by knowledge.  I need a better definition but it comes down to reading as many books about Christianity and the faith instead of focusing on Jesus, prayer, the Bible, and the Sacraments.  Now, I understand the desire to read to help but this blog seems to read books in excess.  Forget talking to Jesus or getting to know Jesus personally.  I’ll just read about him and that will save me.  No, it won’t.  It’s sad at how many people will choose smoke and shadows over the real thing.

Internet Protestantism

This is something I’ve “defined” in the last few days.  It seems to me, an observation more than anything else, that Protestantism (not a good term but I’m talking about a movement, academically and socially rather than necessarily theologically) (still not a good definition) on the Internet is becoming, will become, intends to become, has become, is different, is the same as, is something I’ve made up that is different than “real life Protestantism.”  What I mean, is that people who call themselves Christian on the Internet seem to hold entirely different beliefs than their real life counterparts.  Moreso, they engage in behaviors and postings that most people would refrain.  I guess I see Internet Protestantism as a digital playground that doesn’t adhere to the rules previously decided on by Protestants or common courtesy in the real world.  Online behavior is deplorable, as evidenced by the blog  I mentioned in my last post and other blogs and even “official” websites belonging to apologetic organizations and churches.  It’s an anything goes mentality that is incompatible with Christianity.  What I mean, is that online Christian posters are more willing to malign, condemn, degrade, belittle anyone who does not agree with them and feed these posters to the wolves.  If on Blog A run by Poster A, poster B posts a comment that is in disagreement with Poster A, poster A will resort to name calling on Blog A and run a smear campaign against poster B and if poster B has Blog B, then a smear campaign against the blog.  There is no discussion.  It’s just a free for all and no body is safe especially other Christians.  Poster A and Blog A are also pretty willing to engage in digital damnation that is setting themselves as God and declaring others as saved or damned, all based on a single post or belief even if they do not know the poster or what they believe.  Pretty much, they see monsters under every rock and retaliate rather than taking a good look at the monsters in their own heart.  They would rather play the victim than accept that there are other people out there who do not agree with them and would rather treat those people with hatred and contempt than love and acceptance (though they don’t have to accept their beliefs).

The concept of my truth is the only truth again comes from the bit on Internet Protestant”ism” and behavior of Christians toward people who don’t accept/can’t accept/don’t understand Protestant Christianity.  I specify Protestant Christianity because it’s members are more likely to adhere to this concept in a negative and derogatory way and Catholicism, while there are definitely members who act and behave in the same way do so more towards other Catholics and adhere to schismatic or heretical groups rather than Catholic teaching, but mostly because I’ve seen this behavior and attitude among Protestant posters.  Now I know some very charitable non-Catholic Christians who are willing to engage in dialogue with other non-Catholic Christians and Catholics even though they don’t share the same beliefs and do so very well and intelligently.  However, there are other non-Catholic Christian posters who see anybody who doesn’t agree with their narrow and incomplete version of the truth as damned and not worth talking to.  Like the the blog I mentioned previously.

There was a post on a Calvary Chapel “pastor” blog that covered dealing with someone who doesn’t believe the same as the “pastor.”  I qualify the word pastor here because he has no real training, seminary work, or background to preach and pastor a congregation since anybody can become a Calvary Chapel pastor as long as they believe the distinctives and worship Chuck Smith as their “pope.”  No education required.  This “pastor” mentioned having a conversation on Facebook about truth and God.  The “pastor”, who called the poster “Sue,” argued that truth is absolute and that his truth is the only truth one needs to believe.  Well, there is absolute truth.  What he gets wrong is whose version of the truth “Sue” “needs” to believe.  He questioned “Sue’s” questioning of God (how else are you going to learn, to know God except through questions?) and told her that she needed to accept “his” (the pastor’s) truth or she was lost.   He doesn’t allow her to come to grips with the truth on her own.  He pushes and pushes her to accept his definition and version of the truth, trading on the fact that he’s a “pastor” so that means he knows the truth and is the only one who can help someone find the truth.  Wrong.  As Catholics and the Catholic Church has said, faith and reason are not mutually exclusive things.  Faith can lead to reason and reason can lead to faith.  We can use logic to learn the Faith and to understand what we believe.  Non-Catholics (especially those groups that have formed in the last 50 years or so) abdicate and reject reason and logic as a means of understanding.  You aren’t supposed to use your brain because that means you don’t really believe and aren’t really saved.  But they’ll read books to help them find “faith” and to “fix” their relationship with Jesus.  I just don’t get it.

What really annoyed me was the post by the “pastor” that said that someone who commits murder isn’t a murderer (argue that in court, I dare  you) but because someone is a murderer then they commit murder.  Okay, post hoc ergo propter hoc, and therefore because of.  B happened therefor A must of caused it.  A logical fallacy, a bad argument.  Someone chooses to commit murder otherwise, by his reconning, we couldn’t prosecute anyone for murder because they were always going to commit murder and therefore there could be nothing done to stop it.  That didn’t fly before and it ain’t gonna fly now.  Why would we need a Savior if God was always going to save us?  Why did Jesus have to suffer, be scouraged, and crucified if it was going to amount to nothing?  Because that is what that “pastor” is saying and it doesn’t make a lick of sense.  We wouldn’t need God at all if we were going to be saved or damned regardless of what happened on the Cross.  If were born to be murderers and God knows this, why send His Son to rescue us from damnation and an eternity separated from God?  Why make us in the first place if the effort was going to fail?  Sounds like a god I wouldn’t want to follow.  It’s also a really badly twisted understanding of the Fall and Original Sin.


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