We Need an Ecumenical Council to Oppose Contemporary Heresies

The liberal revolution has smashed tradition and authority.  Throughout our nation the children are running amok. We need the fathers to step in and reestablish order.

The church is polluted by heresy like never before. Never before have heresies been so varied, so popular, and so powerful. These are not the “classical” heresies such as Arianism or Pelagianism, although these beliefs still have influence. Today’s popular heresies were created no more than a hundred years ago and they have no official heretical status. It’s time officially to stigmatize them as the dangerous heresies that they are.

We’ll define some of these heresies later but observe first that heretics such as Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland and Rob Bell are—from a worldly viewpoint—highly successful and influential. The smog they generate is polluting not only the church, but the cultures of entire nations. Although these heresies all originated in the United States, and within Protestantism, America’s powerful worldwide influence has spread them to all corners of the globe.

Therefore Catholics and the Orthodox should take note: the cultural smog emitted by the contemporary heretics affects you too. Heresy is an ecumenical menace.

And non-Christians should also take note. The contemporary heresies promise this-worldly peace and prosperity and Christians under their influence will not oppose the liberal jihad ravaging Western Civilization. They may even join it, seeking peace with the world so they can enjoy their lives. Heretical pseudo-Christianity is part of the problem, not the solution. By opposing these heresies we don’t just build up Christendom. We also oppose liberalism and help work toward a sane, traditionalist society.

These heresies originated within Protestantism and although it currently has no authorities that seem capable of enforcing a proper order (and this is apparently also true of Catholicism), Protestantism generally recognizes the authority of the Bible. There are pastors and teachers who would command widespread respect were they to issue an unambiguous statement, based on the authority of the Bible, opposing contemporary heresies.

We therefore put forward the idea of an ecumenical council of leaders of biblically-faithful Protestant congregations, denominations, and seminaries which would craft an official response to contemporary heresy. Such a council would have no power actually to defrock heretical pastors, but its unofficial influence could potentially be great. Heretics would be taken aback, and Bible-believing Christians would have an official response from the fathers of Protestantism giving them comfort and support in their battles with heresy.

*

We already hear the protestations of the skeptics saying that churches and denominations will never come to agreement. But while there is much disagreement among Bible-believing Protestants, theologically conservative Calvinists, Lutherans, Anglican / Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists, and so on agree on the basic nature and importance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And all of the heresies to which this essay refers threaten the gospel, not through philosophical or theological subtlety, but by redefining the faith.  There is therefore a good chance that Bible-believing Protestantism can achieve unity about the threat of contemporary heresy.

The only intra-Protestant conflict that could possibly derail the council is the Calvinist-Arminian dispute. But this dispute does not actually pit Reformed and Presbyterian churches against everybody else. Indeed, the “Calvinism” that opposes Arminianism is also widespread within Lutheran, Anglican / Episcopal and Baptist churches, and even other, historically non-Calvinistic denominations such as Methodism and the Assemblies of God. The Calvinist-Arminian dispute has to do with the ultimate cause of an individual’s salvation but even Arminian Christians can agree with their Calvinist brothers that the heresies discussed here are a menace to the gospel. A council to oppose contemporary heresy has a good chance of success.

*

So what are the contemporary heresies to which we refer? Heresy hunters face a target-rich environment, but any list of important contemporary heresies must include the following. And observe that none of them have official designations, largely because the church has never drafted formal denunciation of them.

Warrenism.  This is the “purpose-driven” or “seeker-sensitive” movement that was not invented by Rick Warren but was defined most clearly and given its greatest impetus by him. The basic error of the seeker-sensitive movement is to use business practices to sell a religious product that outwardly resembles Christianity but is not actually the faith delivered by Christ and the Apostles. The seeker-sensitive movement presents Christianity as a means of life enhancement rather than forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ. Seeker-sensitive evangelical churches do not openly deny the basic teachings of Christ. But they fail to teach most of them, and they covertly deny the gospel by presenting Christianity as a religious product designed for maximum popular appeal.

The victim of seeker-sensitive preaching comes to believe that Christianity is about making his life better so he never hears the gospel and never comes to faith in Christ.

[Warrenism may be the only heresy originally aimed at clergy. It promised pastors larger congregations, and therefore more money and worldly glory, if they would adopt Warren’s methods of “doing church.” But the product sold to pastors necessarily involved a changed Christian message and new methods of living the Christian life. Warren became, in effect, a business coach, teaching pastors / entrepreneurs to create a new product to sell to religious consumers.]

Narcissistic eisegesis. Exegesis is correctly explaining the meaning and implications of a text. It is reading the meaning out of a text. (“Ex” means “from” or “out of.”)  Eisegesis is to read a foreign meaning into a text. (“Eis” means “into.”)  And narcissistic eisegesis, nicknamed “narcigesis” by Christian internet radio host and Lutheran pastor Chris Rosebrough, is to read yourself into a biblical text, in effect making the Bible about you instead of Christ. The classic example of “narcigesis,” one repeated constantly in evangelical churches, has the pastor read the biblical account of David defeating Goliath. The pastor then explains to his congregation that this text shows us how to defeat the Goliaths in our lives.

In truth, as Christ himself taught on two occasions mentioned in the New Testament, all Scripture is about him. As the fathers taught from the beginning of the church, the primary purpose of the account of David and Goliath is to show us how God acted to preserve his people. It also shows us a “type and shadow” of Christ. David defeating Goliath is a type and a shadow of his more illustrious descendant, Jesus Christ, defeating sin, death and the Devil.

A diet of preaching rich in narcigesis conditions the Christian to take his eyes of his Savior.  He therefore does not have faith in Christ.

The Word-of-Faith movement, also called the Prosperity Gospel. This movement, which started among Pentecostals but has come to infect much of evangelicalism, holds (without saying it openly) that man can be a kind of god and that the real God is limited in his power. Its most infamous doctrine teaches that words are containers of a spiritual force called “faith,” that God achieves his works of power by successfully using words, and that man can achieve similar results. Instead trusting in Christ for salvation, the victim of word-of-faith teaching comes to trust in himself. And when the WOF movement’s grandiose claims that you can have spiritual power don’t pan out, the parishioner often becomes disillusioned with Christianity and gives up whatever faith in Christ he once had.

The Emergent Church.  This is postmodernism applied to Christianity. Since postmodernism’s essence is radical doubt, the opposite of faith, a postmodernist church is a church of pseudo-Christian doubters. And yet the spirit of the age is radical doubt so the emergent church movement is very popular. Instead of proclaiming the gospel, the emergent church teaches the latest leftist fads, just as the classical theological liberalism began doing a hundred years ago. Emergent Christians have no faith in Christ.

Spiritual laissez faire.  This heresy, not to my knowledge previously named, is the common attitude that “doctrine divides; we just want to love Jesus.” This heresy often raises its head when an orthodox Christian points out the errors of a false teacher. Although the Bible teaches that forgiveness of sins comes through faith in Christ, and that faith is trust based on accurate knowledge of Christ’s teachings, and that false teachings and false teachers are to be opposed because they can drag people down to Hell, the doctrine of spiritual laissez faire leads its victims to reject the correction of false teaching. It teaches that Christians only have to “love Jesus,” with “love” not defined except by the implication that it does not mean believing all that Christ and the Apostles taught. The victim of spiritual laissez faire comes to feel secure in only having a vague emotional attachment to Jesus without having the actual faith that alone can lead to forgiveness of his sins.

 

The common thread uniting all these heresies is the false teacher’s desire to give people what they want rather than Christian truth. These teachings rob people of faith by distracting them from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

*

Opposing these heresies will not be a matter of supporting Lutheranism against Methodism, or Calvinism against Arminianism, or paedobaptism against credobaptism. Or even Protestantism against Catholicism. Instead, it will be a matter of Christianity against paganism or, more fundamentally, order against disorder.

*

Catholics and the Orthodox are not the only groups who might regard such a council as an irrelevancy. But insular Protestant denominations should take note: These heresies are poisoning the religious and cultural atmosphere for everyone. Even if your church has no tradition of ecumenical cooperation you should look on this council as an opportunity to dispel some of the religious smog that is poisoning our entire culture, you included.

And conservative Catholics and Orthodox can agree with much of what has been said here. These heresies are damaging all of Christendom. The heretics and their constituents would reject out of hand any rebuke coming from Catholic or Orthodox bodies, so the council would have to be Protestant. But perhaps these bodies can send observers to the council.

In one sense, this council will be different from the previous councils of church history. These heresies do not have to be examined and voted on; they are already known to be heresy. Proving them to be such from Scripture will be easy. The Council’s job will be to define these heresies in clear and memorable ways, give clear Scriptural refutations, and issue a call to action. Its purpose will be to make a formal, official, and widely-heralded statement that will give aid and comfort to Bible-believing Christians as they battle heresy.

There is precedent for a Protestant ecumenical council. The International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, active from approximately 1977 to 1989, held three “summit conferences” which attracted participants from a wide range of theologically conservative Protestant denominations and organizations. The first of these summits is the most well-known, producing the widely-cited Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.  Protestant cooperation against threats to the gospel can happen again.

 

[Note: Hostile comments attempting to propagate the meme that “Protestantism itself is heresy!” will be deleted.]

112 thoughts on “We Need an Ecumenical Council to Oppose Contemporary Heresies

  1. I fail to see how a synthesis of revolutionary nationalism and Eastern Orthodox style Symphonia will not solve this.

    The Church leadership is full of weak old men without the guts to stand up to liberals, Jews, Muslims and heretics.

    An outside force will be needed to change this.

    • The point, or at least part of it, is to define some of these practices as heretical and help save the orthodox stragglers who haven’t been infected by them yet. This stuff is worming its way into all kinds of company.

      • But no one in the hierarchy of the various churches will expound upon what Roebuck or any other orthodox Christian says is heresy. This is because the Church leaders are either asleep at the wheel, weak and cowardly, or like Pope Francis in cahoots with the wreckers.

        The Church leadership will continue to do things like move child molestors from parish to parish or defer to Cultural Marxists.

        What is ultimately needed is a great pruning of the Church at every level.

      • This is one of the advantages of Protestantism: When church officials are derelict in their duties, parish clergy who are not church officials, laymen such as seminary professors or simply men in the pews can remind the faithful of the words of Scripture. With sola scriptura, you are not entirely at the mercy of degenerate church officials. The Chicago statement was largely the work of such people, I believe.

      • Neither of the gentlemen you mention were acquainted with sola scriptura, which is the doctrine that the Bible, being the words of God, is the highest earthly authority (but not the only authority) on every subject about which it speaks.

      • alan, i know they weren’t aquainted with sola scriptura! they both had a huge imact on the philsophy of what sola scriptura is trying to solve; namely, how do we know god.

        both explain that it is by contact with reality, through natural impressions of the world and experience, and through reasoning about experience.

        the bible is not the “words” of god. i don’t know exactly what to tell you on that to change your mind. no theologian i know of would suggest that. what they would say is that you have very much made an idol of the bible quite literally.

        maybe the best i can do for you there, alan, is suggest you read about the bible and engage in history, culture, and learn textual criticism. a great book for you may be “the bible: a biography”, by karen armstrong (a well-respected historian in several fields).

        cheers, mate.

      • Steven,

        On the one hand, you’re speaking to me respectfully. I appreciate that.

        On the other hand, you identified sola scriptura as heresy, which makes you sound like a Roman Catholic. I reject the Catholic view of sola scriptura.

        On the other other hand, you now sound like a modernist skeptic, deconstructing the traditional Christian religion by denying the historic Christian belief that God is the ultimate Author of Scripture and referring me to Karen Armstrong, another modernistic (or perhaps postmodernist) enemy of the traditional faith.

        So I have to ask, where are you coming from? Are you a Catholic? Are you a modernist critic of traditional Christianity?

        Just to let where you know where I’m coming from: I’m a traditionalist confessional Protestant of the Calvinistic variety. I have learned a fair amount of textual criticism, history and culture, as you put it. Not enough to be an expert, but enough to know my way around. And I notice that the modernist and postmodernist critics of traditional Christianity rely on their presuppositions to do their heavy lifting. If, for example, you presuppose that God has not spoken in the pages of Scripture, of that God cannot perform miracles, or that God’s main concern is not to be mean, then the modernist criticisms of “fundamentalism” follow naturally. But I deny the presuppositions.

      • armstrong is catholic and not a modernist (if i guess at what you mean by that), and well worth the read.

        listen, it is not a longstanding view in christianity that the bible is the “words” of god. and what you may build into “inspired by” may be different than what any author intended. i’m only reporting that no theologian i know believes that and in the last 25 years or so in my study of theology, i’ve only neglected reading the most marginal views on either end of the spectrum; sola scriptura falling quite definitely in that category. there’s simple too much to read inside those fringes.

        i’m sorry you expect negative experiences in conversation; certainly that’s probably just been what you’ve faced. that’s not me. nor are any of those labels me, nor would any of them be legitimate reasons to believe or discount anything i’m saying.

        you’re welcome to your beliefs however widely or sparsely shared they are by anyone else. i hope they serve you well.

        all the best.

      • I’m still waiting for you to define your position. What are you? So far you look like a highly-educated nihilist.

        In another comment you called yourself a christian. What sort of Christian are you?

      • what does it matter to say you do or don’t know? outside of solidarity with those in need and participating in the experience in the praxis of jesus’ message, we don’t know a thing about christ atoning. we all believe he does, but again, no one knows how.

        so to ask how i know christ atones is an incoherent question. simply, there are fruits being born from the practice of what i believe; and that is what i know. other than that meaning of “to know”, no christian knows what he’s even asking or how he’d demonstrate knowledge as opposed to pure belief.

      • Stop talking like a postmodernist fool. If you don’t know that you know something, then you don’t actually know it. You’re just fooling yourself.

        You have allowed your mind to be infected with the poison of modernist and postmodernist thought, and it’s dragging you down to destruction. If you want to honor Christ, believe his words and be saved.

      • alan, quit being an ass, eh?

        christ’s words were the standard fare jewish words of doing the good, repenting, and honoring god through both. the only unique bit in christ’s message was looking down into the well, because what’s down there, comes up in the bucket; so the solution is not behaviors and in relation to law and judgement, but with the being of a man and transforming it; christ being exemplar.

        what’s in your well has been coming up in reply to many folks here. given what’s in the bucket, i’d suggest you have a look into the root of whatever is poisoning your own well.

      • Christ and the Apostles spoke of the necessity of not just doing good, but of also believing in Christ and his teachings. And part of that teaching was what is often dismissively called “doctrine,” and the necessity of publicly opposing false teaching. This is the Christianity that many people hate.

        By the way, you’re the one who initiated this conflict, by claiming, in sophisticated language, that we’re foolish literalists. We’re defending ourselves against your accusations, and pointing out how your position is fundamentally illogical in claiming that one cannot know.

      • nah. the message was important, and the only comments from christ were disdain. aside from that castigation, he was silent.

        [ED: Irrelevant personal speculations have been removed.]

      • by the way, alan, purportedly, the only unforgivable sin is grieving the holy spirit. do you know what that is and what that’s called?

        it is called blasphemy and the unforgivable sin is judging a person whose life bears witness to the work of the holy spirit in them, then denying that person is in christ.

        if you’re a literalist, then i’m sorry, friend, but your sin just now is unforgivable. for your sake, i hope that passage is hyperbole.

      • let me add however, that if heresy is to mean anything at all, and if you reject the traditional teachings of the catholic church, then heresy only means “we in this particular christian community, do not believe anything else” … calvin fled being persecuted literally and specifically for heresy. successful at that, calvin then burned people alive, literally, for heresy (ie not catholic “heresy”, but calvinic “heresy”).

        so to me, some ecumenical council about defining heresy and protecting “us” from it is rather like saying we’ll now define your rights in law; which is exactly only done to do the opposite, to take rights away. it only means we’re going to castigate other folks who don’t think like we do.

        neither here nor there. wesley is a calvin heretic is a lutheran heretic is a catholic heretic is an athenasian heretic is an arminian heretic and on and on.

        who cares?

      • Mr. Hoyt sometimes sounds like a Catholic partisan (“..if you reject the traditional teachings of the catholic church, then heresy only means ‘we in this particular christian community, do not believe anything else’ ” …). And other times he sounds like some sort of nihilist (“Who cares?”)

        Will the real Steven Hoyt please stand up?

      • In what way is “Who cares!” not nihilistic? And in what way is your comment that those who reject Catholic teachings have only their own opinions not Catholic partisanship? You may not have intended to (then again, you may have), but these are the impressions your words create.

      • who cares is rhetorical!

        it means we DO care and what you obsess over doesn’t matter!

        again, no one has ever agreed on anything related to christ except communities that internally agree and fight other communities that think differently.

        the solution is to get on to something that matters, or kill every last person who disagrees with you and your community. and you’ve already said you’re in favor of force. i know exactly what to make of your mindset in that case.

      • Mr. Hoyt is just like us. He thinks he’s right and those who disagree are wrong.

        He also seems to think that strong disagreement signals a hidden desire to kill. But this is not how normal people operate.

      • no, no. i’m only different than you exactly because i don’t claim to know what i can’t. you on the other hand, not only claim to know what you can’t, you also literally want to force it on others.

        listen, it helps to have a spade when you plan to hold up that card and call it one.

      • Mr. Hoyt, it’s pretty clear that we just antagonize one another. Further conversation would serve no good purpose.

      • Svar, I would answer that not all are so-disposed. Consider, eg, MacArthur’s Strange Fire Conference, which included several names within Protestantism who have some authority. I might add a few more like Norman Geisler and Hank Hannegraff, et al.

      • Ultimately, Protestantism wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the wrongs of the RCC. Luther was a reformer not a separatist and it is telling that the Eastern Churches especially the Catholic ones like the Maronites and the Chaldeans never had a successful separatist movement. These Eastern Churches never had anything like the neopagans or the pornocracy either.

        It’s a confusing and disheartening situation and like one of the commenters below who referred to Touchstone Mag, a conservative ecumenism is possible but ONLY amongst small-o orthodox Christians.

        Ultimately the goal should be the reunification of the Church.

      • I don’t think I can disagree with the substance of your last comment, Svar; ultimately, as you say, reunification of the Bride of Christ must be a priority. In the meantime, though, and being as realistic as we can about things, something has to be said *authoritatively* about the (nutty) heresies infecting the Lord’s church.

      • “again, no one has ever agreed on anything related to christ except communities that internally agree and fight other communities that think differently.

        the solution is to get on to something that matters, or kill every last person who disagrees with you and your community.”

        I suppose this is more rhetoric? It is certainly false. Heads up: We’re not here for constant heavy rhetoric. Take it somewhere else pal. We have enough trouble keeping the Catholics and Protestants from bickering here. I was enjoying some of your substantive points. Now you’re losing perceived value in my view.

      • Alan, whoa! You’ve called Hoyt an antagonist now, and now you want to burn him at the stake?! I just don’t think I can go along with that! Lol.

      • @StevenHoyt: “you’re just now figuring that out, mate?”

        Uh, mate, stop being a wise-ass, eh?

        Start acting more like a man, and less like an impostor, eh, mate.

      • I think I just don’t understand Hoyt’s argument, per se; he’s essentially saying that since we know sh*t and shouldn’t, therefore, sit in judgment, that “knowing” Christ is an illusion of the highest order? I mean, I just don’t quite “get it.” Help me out, Steven, eh, mate?!

      • Steven,

        Any intelligible Weltanschauung presupposes an integral philosophy consisting of metaphysics, epistemology and axiology. If you understand what you believe, why you believe it and how your belief informs your hierarchy of value, then please give a rational articulation of your worldview. If you can’t, now is the time to do the hard work needed to be taken seriously. A blog like this attracts the attention of a lot educated and thoughtful men who are more than happy to root out each other’s conceptual confusions. This is a good thing. We all tend to get trapped in our own heads and desperately need people to call us out when we start sounding off with profound sounding nonsense.

  2. “Today’s popular heresies were created no more than a hundred years ago and they have no official heretical status.”

    Let me first say, to Catholicism’s credit, there is a very compelling case to be made that this has happened, though obviously to no heed. Salvany made the case:

    http://www.liberalismisasin.com/chapter10.htm http://www.liberalismisasin.com/chapter11.htm

    “Therefore Catholics and the Orthodox should take note: the cultural smog emitted by the contemporary heretics affects you too. Heresy is an ecumenical menace.”

    None would deny this I think. Catholicism features its obvious heretics *cough* Kasper *cough*, and I admit in my own Orthodoxy, outside of east we witness traces of Liberalism and within the east we see rank examples of profligacy.

    Let us make a clear distinction between those sects of Christianity which are motivated by profit, and accommodate Liberalism in order to be more profitable, and those which are willing conscripts in the war on Tradition, and by extension Christianity. The first is of course shameful and should be condemned, but the second is far more insidious. Such churches used to find condemnation and now find silence. There is no opposition as they essentially defame the Christian religion with outright lies. I have put forward that these are rather than heretical Christians, actually imposters working for a satanic religion, the Cult of Progress.

    Allow me for a moment to criticize my own church’s weakness here. They attack the West and its values without hesitancy, and you can see this in some of Patriarch Kirill’s comments, most recently on the disgusting depravity of the Eurovision Song Contest, but where is their commentary on the heresy of Liberalism within Christianity? There was one declaration regarding the Church of England’s ordination of women:

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100209298/russian-orthodox-tell-archbishop-of-canterbury-ordain-women-bishops-and-you-can-forget-about-unity/

    Where is the follow up? Here is what they had originally said:

    “The introduction of the institution of female bishops will lead to the elimination of even a theoretical possibility of the Moscow patriarchate recognising the church hierarchy of the Anglican church”

    That isn’t good enough. It isn’t nearly inflammatory enough when the situation requires extreme rhetoric. There was once a time, during the Eastern Roman Empire, before the split between east and west, that Christians purged out the old heresies, naming them with courage and making the case for their destruction. I see no boldness, and more importantly according to Salvany, I see no frankness. Svar makes a very good point and that is that the priests are unlikely to do much. I wish they would, but it’s unlikely.

    It is unbelievably frustrating to consider what we might achieve if the priests were on our side, if the priests realized the danger that Christianity is in. It is utterly shameful when the defense of the faith, the defense of scripture, the defense of the great Christian legacies of Europe from the most insidious of heresies and infiltrations, has to be manned…. by online political theorists. It can only be a rank dereliction of duty, a gross negligence in responsibility. Priests today who say and do nothing should remember Nadab and Abihu.

    • The council should probably also condemn theological liberalism, which is an older and more insidious (as Mark points out) heresy. My thinking was that liberals are already openly anti-Christian, whereas the heretics I identified in the post still think of themselves as orthodox Protestants.

      • At least one of the Popes (Pope Pious X?, you Catholics correct me here) did actually condemn liberalism/modernism in a Papal Encyclical. But to little or no avail, obviously. Yes, we need a broader, more authoritative condemnation. I don’t know what that means in actual practice, but I can think of a few Protestant names offhand.

      • What I had in mind here was condemnation of specific heresies of Christianity, not of modernism in general. For the latter, I’m working on another post. Stay tuned.

    • “Let us make a clear distinction between those sects of Christianity which are motivated by profit, and accommodate Liberalism in order to be more profitable, and those which are willing conscripts in the war on Tradition, and by extension Christianity”

      I’d opine that the first is quite as insidious as the second, and for practical purposes not much distinction is needed. The profiteers consistently defame us with outright lies quite as effectively as those that overtly wish to destroy Christianity.

  3. Are you familiar with Touchstone Magazine, Alan? They sort of do this kind of thing. They include Catholics and Orthodox, not just Protestants. I’m positive they’ve addressed some of these heresies even if they used different names. I guess you could call they’re apporach “conservative Ecumenism.”

    • I’ve heard of them. What is needed in addition to that sort of effort is a quasi-official council of respected Protestant leaders which would speak in the name of the Bible to issue formal denunciations.

  4. I consider most of what comes out of people’s mouths blasphemies rather than heresies. The heretics provided some evidence of thinking; but the foolishness of today seems heavily reliant on feeling. They say what they say out of feeling, unaware, apparently, that you can blaspheme while feeling warm and fuzzy about God’s plan for you to be a cat lady sociologist.

    • Calling it heresy is to identify it as a specific and organized doctrine, rather than just the failings of individuals. Heresy is a greater threat because it is organized.

      • Joel Osteen is a Word of Faith heretic. That’s why he’s so relentlessly cheerful; in his theology, speaking negative words causes trouble to descend on the speaker.

      • From a strategic perspective, how does calling most of this nonsense heresy lead to it being got rid of? We don’t appear able to reduce the number of denominations, schisms, etc…- and yet you want a bunch of people who think each other heretics to condemn other people on grounds of heresy? The blasphemers will inflate with self-righteousness, point this out, and become insufferable while imagining themselves to be martyrs.

        If, on the other hand, you start teaching idiots that if they say stupid things about Jesus, regardless of whether or not they say it out of love, it is wrong- well, you can conceivably teach children not to blab on about family members, so it is reasonable to assume it is possible.

      • Not sure what you mean by “think each other heretics.” Confessional, theologically conservative Protestant denominations do not call each other heretics, and the real heretics generally make a pose of tolerance along the lines of “Why cause dissension, my brother in Christ? I don’t denounce you, so don’t denounce me.”

        The point is, a lot of people don’t know that these heresies really are heresies. Taking the time to explain it will be beneficial.

      • It only leads to its gotten rid of over the long term, not the short term. And, yes, much of it is built on faith. So what? What better alternative have you?

  5. A better alternative? Call a council, if you can, and call the sin by its real name- blasphemy. Then explain to the stupid people that they need to be more careful about what they say because they can actually blaspheme while thinking nice happy thoughts. This is the problem- they think blasphemy is some old sin practically nobody ever does and that you have to be mad at God to do.
    In this way, a council of a bunch of people who think each other heretics on particular issues, may actually have some effect, rather than being derided by people who will notice the hypocrisy. You must remember- we have our differences because of our beliefs- our principles- but the rabble merely emote. They say what they say because feelings.

    • here’s what happens … you call a council to decide on some metaphysical ideology. if the fruits are good, folks stay and eat. if not, the community beliefs as well as such councils are irrelevant and people find new ways to talk about christ that are and bear fruit.

      now unless you’re going to suggest reviving the persecution and execution of anyone with different opinions, the any council only has authority over those willing to submit to it.

      this leads rashdall, in “theories of atonement in christianity”, schillebeeckx, in “jesus: an experiment in christology”, and zizeck, in ” the big other does not exist” and many others to say that scripture only has authority in the sense that any one way a community binds to particular ideas the find there, and in the same way, christianity cannot have but one litmus test; which is, christ atones. this too is only communally binding because no christian knows how christ atones, though we have many, many ideas about it; each hardly more or less scripturally supported than the next.

      my solutuon? admit we know shit and not sit in judgment and get on to the only message we can say is christian; repent, do the good, be transformed in doing it.

      • I spent my whole life nervously avoiding labeling people. Now that I’ve taken the Red Pill, I’ve discovered that I am a STEREOTYPING SUPERSTAR.

        Discrimination works!

      • You fingered Hoyt as a probable adherent to the “emergent church” movement. This would not have occurred to me given my scanty understanding of emergent “churchism.”

        In any event I’m totally confused by Hoyt’s ultra-rationalistic, “we-don’t-know-sh*t religionism. But I’m willing to learn whenever his non-apologetic apologetics are put in more sensible terms.

      • Hoyt sounds exactly like an “emergent.” That means that he’s basically a postmodernist: we can’t know anything, it’s all about the “conversation,” etc.

        Of course, postmodernists always claim that you don’t understand them whenever you try to summarize their assertions or way of thinking. And many of them will disclaim the label “postmodern.” These evasions are another set of essential characteristic of postmodernism.

        Postmodernism is more a bad attitude than a coherent system.

  6. Pingback: We Need an Ecumenical Council to Oppose Contemporary Heresies | Reaction Times

  7. There can be no Ecumenical Council at present, because those who think of themselves as Catholics have not really thought through the implications of the crisis. The rot and cowardice in those who consider themselves the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is too profound. Catholics are not even aware of how complete the apostasy is, and refuse to consider such critical points as these:

    1) The more probable opinion of the theologians, is that any man whose heresy is noticeable by the public, even if he himself be only materially an heretic, is ipso facto severed from membership in the Catholic Church (because the marks of Unity, Catholicity and Apostolicity would be defaced, if those who defect from the Faith in publicly noted ways, whether innocently or maliciously, remained Her members). The Church has already condemned, for example, those who would merely *say* that the “accustomed and approved rites of the Church… can be changed into other, new ones by any pastor whomsoever of the Church.” By 1970, *every* sacramental rite had been re-written, and the vast majority said this was tolerable, at least. That’s just one heresy, and we know that modern folk who call themselves Catholics, clergy included, routinely embrace at least one (and more likely, very many) heresies. For many of them, especially ostensible supreme pontiffs, it strains credulity to assume that they are not formal heretics; but in any case, the more probable opinion is that notorious and public heresy, even when merely material, itself does the job of severing one from membership (and office) in the Church.

    2) The Church teaches that some may in fact remain members of the Church by internal ties, but be severed from her by external ties (in either case, one does not hold office in the Church) – so, without wishing to accuse all Catholics of formal heresy and apostasy who remain in communion with the novel destroyers of the Church (since many do so in good faith, in the midst of this confusion), one must point out the basic fact, that the conciliar movement not only fails to maintain a strong, Catholic identity, but actually – one must admit it – it often proves itself to be positively *hostile* to the Faith and to Catholic customs. We know that the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church is Infallible, and that the Ordinary Magisterium is expressed chiefly in the ordinary communication of doctrine to the people from the hierarchs, the implicit teaching in the Church’s official life and practice (Liturgy, Morals, Canon Law, etc.) and in the approbation, which the Church gives to those who are not themselves members of the Magisterium (such as SS. Thomas Aquinas, John Damascene and Maximos the Confessor), but who faithfully exposit her doctrine… or, in the censure the Church gives to those who err and distort her doctrine. One need not bother, therefore, to prove that this or that claimant to the pontificate erred in this or that way. It is enough for us to admit this simple fact: it is impossible, de fide, that the actual Church could give us what the conciliar church has given us for the past 50 years, could censure tradition and tolerate error, as the conciliar movement has done for 50 years. The actual Church cannot give us a Novus Ordo with irreverence and female ministers; cannot give us a Code of Canon Law that grants Sacraments to heretics and schismatics; cannot hound and harass traditional faithful while giving a wide berth not only to heretics, but even to grave, public perverts and sinners; cannot invite pagans to commit idolatry on her altars; cannot kiss the Q’uran and speak of the Moslems’ deity as “the same God” as the Trinity, etc. This is not the Church; it is de fide that the Church could not give us these things with the approbation, consent and positive encouragement even of the Supreme Pontiff. It is a counterfeit church.

    3) I had not been a sedevacantist until recently; I have come to find the actual arguments more persuasive for their opinion, but none of them moved me so strongly as Fr. Cekada’s analysis of the certainly invalid nature of the new rite of episcopal consecration. It is simply staggering. I have never found anything like a convincing rebuttal of it. And, whether or not one finds his conclusion *certain* (though I do), he at least proves that there is a real doubt about the validity of these consecrations. And the Church teaches us, as we know, that we are not free to simply follow a probable opinion in the case of sacraments. Neither is it a late and novel objection; already while the theological commission on the new rite was working, there were objections. Botte, who wrote the new rite, went into a protracted explanation of why it was valid, after facing criticism, but his private diaries indicate that he could have cared less… and that alone is troubling! Ottaviani objected, along with Castro Mayer, Lefebvre Fr. DePauw, the clergy of Spain and others, explicitly citing doubts about validity. Many of these held fast in their opinion; Ottaviani yielded after blindness impaired his ability to directly confirm what was being done; the Spanish clergy yielded to a weak argument from Bugnini (“but that would mean the pope is an heretic; I know you’re not saying *that,* are you, Spanish clergy?”). In any case, there have been serious doubts raised about this since the commission began working, and it seems plain to me that the question was not so much resolved as buried under a flourish of specious authority. So long as there is any room for doubt, the Catholic principle is to avoid this rite and bishops consecrated in it (and Sacraments, including Orders, conferred by them), until the Church can give us *certainty* that the men are validly consecrated bishops, one way or another.

    So, let us say we call this “Ecumenical Council.” How will you ensure that a) only actual Catholics and b) only valid bishops attend? Do you think Kasper will consent to take the Oath Against Modernism and submit to a conditional re-consecration in a certainly valid rite as a condition of participation? Because I am quite certain that Kasper is an heretic and a layman, and most of his “brother bishops” with him, so I will regard any synod at which he sits, as a synod of something other than the Catholic Church. No, the Church is in eclipse and the great apostasy has occurred, and many even of the well-meaning Catholics refuse to face reality. They confuse matters of Canon Law with matters of Divine Law, and imagine that heretics and destroyers of the Church somehow continue to validly hold office in the Church until sentence is passed upon them, and so they continue yielding obedience, even in matters of faith, to men who manifestly no longer hold the Catholic Faith. Sadly, even well-meaning and conservative Catholics are nowadays quite ignorant of what the actual Catholic Faith is, because they have never been taught it; they usually are Modernists, one way or another. Only divine intervention with a spurious claimant to the papacy, or the possible rise to power of reactionary and orthodox Catholics in the environs of Rome, is likely to bring any clarity to anything. An Ecumenical Council in the present environment is impossible, because those who claim to be Catholics are themselves usually confused about just who may or may not really be one.

    • Mr. C. is clearly speaking to Catholics, and not to us Protestants, in this comment. But notice that when the Catholic Church claims plenary, God-given authority, and then (as has happened) goes off the rails, laymen and low-ranking clergy have essentially no recourse to correct things. But in Protestantism, even a layman can point rebellious clergy to the Word of God as supreme authority.

      • The Catholic Church has not gone off the rails, Mr. Roebuck, though your despair of it is understandable, as CuiPertinebit has scandalized you with his presumption to judge on matters outside his possible knowledge and understanding. I am certain, however, that he is not the first Catholic you have observed doing this.

      • I should be quick to acknowledge that many a Catholic has also been scandalized in our day. Yet what is scandal if it isn’t the misuse of authority legitimately held?

      • The Holy Spirit does not appear to have left the building. We have been subject to the most diabolical campaign of psychological warfare that the world has ever seen, and the magisterium has not taught error (we still officially consider usury a sin in 2015, for Pete’s sake). Even the hierarchy will right itself in the end. The social engineering experiment known as the sexual revolution wreaked havoc on the clergy with the heteros dropping out leaving an avant garde revolutionary homosexual element in the clergy. The good news, ironically, is that Catholic identity is so broken that, homosexual revolutionaries now oppose the Church from the outside rather than the inside. By all accounts, the current crop of seminarians are there because they are reacting against the grotesqueness of the age.

      • With respect, that’s not true.

        First: even if it were true, we could easily say the same in the Catholic Church: “laymen can point rebellious clergy to the infallible teaching of the Magisterium, the supreme doctrinal authority.” It’s at least as good an answer as a Protestant can make. But in fact the Catholic Church still exists, and those who know the Magisterium well, can identify who does and who does not remain faithful to this Church and her teaching in the present.

        Second, as St. Thomas Aquinas, in union with that Magisterium points out: when a man rejects any defined point (of divine and catholic faith), he has immediately severed himself from the gift of Faith. From that point on, even if he believes 99.9999999999% of the rest of what the Church teaches, it is clear that it is not the Church he believes, but his own opinion, which merely happens to concur with the Church on most points.

        And so, the point: it is plain that Protestants differ on many points, often even on key points, of scripture. The word of God (assuming by this you mean the scriptures) is by no means a clear and exhaustive exposition of the Faith, and obviously it is not an “authority,” since it is simply a text (though it may be “authoritative”), and a text, at that, which the Church has not even always possessed. Thus, though they mean well, Protestants’ faith is more based upon their trust in their own opinions about a collection of writings, than in fidelity to divinely-established authority – just like the heretic described above by St. Thomas, they are deprived of divine and Catholic faith, and instead have “self-confidence.” As I tried to point out on Kristor’s most recent article (here: http://orthosphere.org/2015/08/21/can-diverse-christian-sects-coexist-peacefully/ ), it is precisely this exigency of Protestantism – that truth be subjugated to private interpretation – that is the genesis of the Modernism and Liberalism destroying the West. Protestantism is first wave Liberalism, as Don Felix observes:

        “Protestantism naturally begets toleration of error… On the principle that every individual or sect may interpret the deposit of revelation according to the dictates of private judgement, it gives birth to endless differences and contradictions… Therefore does it finally arrive, by force of its own premises, at the conclusion that one creed is as good as another; it then seeks to shelter its inconsistency under the false plea of liberty of conscience… Accepting this principle, Infidelity on the same plea rejects all revelation, and Protestantism, which handed over the premise, is powerless to protest against the conclusion; for it is clear that one, who under the plea of rational liberty has the right to repudiate any part of revelation that may displease him, can not logically quarrel with one, who on the same ground repudiates the whole. If one creed is as good as another on the plea of rational liberty, on the same plea no creed is as good as any. Taking the field with this fatal weapon of Rationalism, Infidelity has stormed and taken the very citadel of Protestantism, helpless against the foe of its own making.” – Liberalism is a Sin, Chapter 2

        The same premise that permits private interpretation of Scripture, permits gay “marriage.” That may seem like an extreme statement of the case; howsoever that may be, it is nonetheless accurate.

      • “Laymen can point rebellious clergy to the infallible teaching of the Magisterium, the supreme doctrinal authority.”

        In practice, I don’t think that works. Most people don’t respect something abstract like the Magisterium. They respect something concrete, like the Pope, their priest, or the Bible.

        This is where Protestantism has the advantage. The Pope and the priest change, but the Bible does not.

        …it is precisely this exigency of Protestantism – that truth be subjugated to private interpretation – that is the genesis of the Modernism and Liberalism destroying the West.

        Protestantism does not teach that “truth be subject to private interpretation.” Not any more than Catholicism teaches that all rulers shall be Catholic tyrants. (I’m replacing your slander with an equivalent anti-Catholic slander.) Protestantism teaches that the Bible has a meaning that can be known using ordinary means, not by requiring a special God-appointed umpire.

        The same premise that permits private interpretation of Scripture, permits gay “marriage.”

        Protestantism does not teach that private interpretations of Scripture are valid. Another straw man.

        Sure, you can find Protestants who believe it. And you can find Catholics who deny Catholic teaching. If the presence of the latter does not invalidate Catholicism, then the presence of the former does not invalidate Protestantism.

      • I’ll also point out, in reply to buckyinky, that this is not a mere question of judgement – “outside (my) possible knowledge” or not. Much of the confusion that arises on the topic of heresy, especially as it pertains to loss of office (and thus the question of Sedevacantism), arises from the fact that the one term “heresy” has a variety of applications. People usually fail to distinguish between: 1) heresy as a sin against Divine Law vs. heresy as a crime against Ecclesiastical Law; 2) formal vs. material heresy; 3) public vs. occult heresy.

        In terms of Ecclesiastical discipline and canon law, there is obviously a more involved process for determining that someone is guilty of the crime of heresy, determining the “dolus of the delinquent” (which Canon 2199 gives as the basis for imputability of an offense), establishing pertinacity, passing sentence and preparing for the canonical election of a new occupant to any see vacated by an heretic, etc. (though I will point out that even when assessing whether one is criminally and formally heretical, all the principles and approved commentaries of Canon Law lead us to conclude that pertinacity is presumed of anyone who holds public heresies contrary to defined points of divine and catholic faith, rather than something which must be exhaustively demonstrated).

        But that is Ecclesiastical Law. Apart from all this, the Church teaches that public heretics lose membership and office in the Church *by Divine Law,* whether there is a declaratory sentence or not. In the case of the supreme pontiff, the Doctors teach that this is doubly true (since the Church has power merely to recognize a pontiff’s defection from the Church, not to pass sentence upon a valid pontiff). There was debate for a time, as to whether this applied equally to merely material heretics; the Church’s mind had coalesced on this point in the affirmative, further confirmed by Pius XII’s “Mystici Corporis,” and this is why you find all the approved manuals of theology stating it flatly and without controversy by the time of the same pontificate. Just to take Ott, for example:

        “Among the members of the Church, are not to be counted: 1) The unbaptized… 2) Open apostates and heretics. Public heretics, EVEN THOSE WHO ERR IN GOOD FAITH [emphasis mine], do not belong to the body of the Church, that is to the legal commonwealth of the Church. However, this does not prevent them from belonging spiritually to the Church by their desire… and, through this, achieving justification and salvation… 3) Schismatics, as well as those who, in good faith, fundamentally reject the Church authority, or who dissociate themselves from the commonwealth of the faithful subject to her. Schismatics in good faith (material), like heretics in good faith, can, by a desire to belong to the Church (votum Ecclesiae), belong spiritually to the Church, and through this achieve justification and salvation.” Pg. 311

        It really is that simple. Of course, it’s also simple to see, as I pointed out, that the Catholic Church cannot have given us what the conciliar movement has given us, because of the Infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium. The towering importance of the papacy understandably gives a Catholic pause, before he dares to depart from union with a man who may be a legitimate pope. But the principles of the Catholic Faith itself, leave us no option when we carefully weigh all of the points. I know how painful it is to contemplate this; it was not an easy decision for me, either.

      • here’s what happens … you call a council to decide on some metaphysical ideology. if the fruits are good, folks stay and eat. if not, the community beliefs as well as such councils are irrelevant and people find new ways to talk about christ that are and bear fruit.

        now unless you’re going to suggest reviving the persecution and execution of anyone with different opinions, the any council only has authority over those willing to submit to it.

        this leads rashdall, in “theories of atonement in christianity”, schillebeeckx, in “jesus: an experiment in christology”, and zizeck, in “the big other does not exist” and many others to say that scripture only has authority in the sense that any one way a community binds to particular ideas they find there, in scripture; and in the same way, christianity cannot have but one litmus test; which is, the belief that christ atones. this too is only communally binding because no christian knows how christ atones, though we have many, many ideas about it; each hardly more or less scripturally supported than the next.

        my solutuon? admit we know shit and not sit in judgment and get on to the only message we can say is one preached by jesus; repent, do the good, be transformed in doing it.

      • …no christian knows how Christ atones…

        Scripture describes how Christ atones. Unless you claim that we cannot know what Scripture really says, or really means, in which case we cannot know even that Christ atones, in which case there is no reason to be a Christian.

        If you tell people to repent, they will respond “Why should I?” And if we cannot know what Scripture means, then we cannot give them an answer that has any authority. All we can then say is “Repent, if you feel like it.” Which is a pointless message.

        If we don’t know manure, then we don’t have Christianity.

        You need to stop listening to the nihilistic critics of Christ and listen to Christ himself, as he speaks in Scripture.

      • oh, lord!

        the RCC is not going off the rails! protestanism is prone to the idol worship of a book, the bible, and it substitutes thinkers like augustine and aquinas for the likes of … joyce meyer and beth moore! and, these are taken as seriously as the others.

        but i digress. you suggest only force will solve things, and, you’re all for that. i would check my own wheels, son, and make sure you have any tracks remotely at hand.

      • A council is not “force,” unless you think that doing what Scripture commands–opposing false teachers– is force.

      • Oops! …

        Then in your very next comment you sit in judgment of Protestantism as a whole, declaring it to be prone to idol worship, and of the followers of Joyce Meyers and whoever else, declaring they hold her/their “teachings” to be equal to that of Augustine and Aquinas! What gives?

        In the first place, most who follow Joyce Meyers, et al, have probably never heard of the Church Fathers. Indeed, the majority of charismatics I know have never heard of Augustine or Aquinas, and a number of them have never heard of John Calvin or any of the other reformers save Martin Luther, whom they know absolutely nothing about either; and in the second place, why do you insist that … crap is the actual face of Protestantism? It is no more so than Bergoglio and the visible, post-Vatican II church is the actual face of Roman Catholicism.

      • @ Steven Hoyt
        I’m not a Christian so the question of Christ’s atonement for me is moot. My critique of your statement, “my solutuon? admit we know shit and not sit in judgment and get on to the only message we can say is one preached by jesus; repent, do the good, be transformed in doing it,” is merely epistemological. Your assertion “we know shit” implies that we can’t know what the good is that you would have us do. The message preached by Christ could be summed by his saying on the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5):
        17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
        18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
        19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
        20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
        Do you accept the Pauline doctrine of the super cession of the Law by the Gospel? If you do, why? If not, why not follow the explicit teaching of Jesus and become a pious Orthodox Jew?

    • CuiPertinebit,

      How will you know when the Holy See is no longer vacant? Will there need to be a complete repudiation of Vatican 2 or a declaration that all Popes from John 23 on weren’t valid Popes?

      • At this point, I suspect there may not be a valid occupant to the Holy See until some sort of crisis compels Western Civilization to give up the charade, and to stop pretending that there can be fellowship between the Church and the Enlightenment. In that case, people in the environs of Rome may know of his election, but those of us overseas may find that we are incommunicado as regards European affairs.

        In any case, it will at this point take either a general council of bishops – validly consecrated bishops who clearly profess the Catholic Faith integrally – to elect a new pontiff; or, if such a council cannot be convened, the people/clergy of Rome could elect a new bishop of Rome. When we see a validly consecrated bishop, who professes the Faith without alteration or cavil, enthroned and accepted by the faithful as the Roman bishop after a proper election, we will know that we have a pope. There are no valid cardinals left, at this point.

        It may be that the October Synod will provoke something. I do not think it will be much longer, now, before more of the languishing faithful clue in to what is happening. This particular “pontificate” is so absurd; and besides, the internet has been a double edged sword in the culture wars, and a lot of theological information and discussion that was neglected or actively discouraged during prior years, is now being exposited and parsed. Fatima towers over the century and tells us that something momentous has not only happened, but has also been zealously covered-up. I used to find the Sedevacantist position “crazy;” but when I considered the real theological arguments for it (as opposed to simply dismissing some of the unhinged personalities of the movement), I realized it is the only theological position which does justice to all the facts of our current state of affairs: a conciliar church whose “ordinary magisterium” contradicts Divine Law and the actual Magisterium of the Church, staffed by fatuous men who are public heretics (materially or formally so, it matters little), proffering as many theological opinions as there are bishops doing the “wave” at World Yoof Day, tolerating or promoting every variety of error and impiety blithely, while being predominantly hostile to all that is pious and traditional, re-writing every sacramental rite and blessing, using neither the Liturgy nor the Laws of the Catholic Church. It is not possible, that this could be the Catholic Church. None of the excuses and escape clauses do justice to the facts: the Church cannot tolerate what this conciliar movement has tolerated, cannot promote what it has promoted, cannot be represented by the notorious and public heretics that represent it. As Sister Lucia said: “The Church will be in eclipse.”

      • Sorry, I realized I didn’t give a specific answer, but only broadly answered how I would know we had a pope; I assumed condemnations of VII, etc., would come after such an election. To answer your two queries very specifically: I would need to look deeper into the case of John XXIII; it seems that there isn’t enough of a case to call him a public heretic. It is certainly possible, and desirable, for the Church to condemn Paul VI, JPII and Francis as heretics and antipopes. Many things that martyrs have gone to their deaths to avoid, JPII did with a smile. He was not just an heretic; he engaged in acts that would traditionally be regarded as signs of rank apostasy.

        As to Vatican II, it seems easy enough to point out that the synod was manipulated, the assent given to the documents was given on the understanding that they were not doctrinally authoritative, etc., etc., so that only a dishonest or misinformed man would want to regard it as a reflection of the Church’s actual mind. People sometimes think that the title of “dogmatic constitution” indicates that the council intends to define dogma in those documents, but this is a misunderstanding. In point of fact, the council specifically disavowed the exercise of the Extraordinary Magisterium… which is the kind of Magisterium an Ecumenical Council has (so what was it, then?). Even if we ignored this and pretended it taught as the Universal Ordinary Magisterium (as was later claimed), we would have to take the stated intent of the bishops at their word. If your diocesan bishop issued a letter and explicitly stated that he was just spit-balling some pastoral ideas and seeking groovy new ways to communicate a bunch of icky old Catholic junk to you, you wouldn’t conclude: “Gosh, I suppose I owe humble assent to this Magisterial document of my gloriously reigning hierarch.” Even Benedict XVI has minimized the importance of this synod along similar lines.

        So, while it would be satisfying to see some holy pontiff burning Cardinal Kasper at the stake with the solemnly-anathematized documents of VII as kindling, this isn’t necessary. There are plenty of ways to acknowledge the nullity of VII without having to prove that Paul VI was an antipope, etc. That the council is repugnant and tasteless, is clear enough.

    • “We know that the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church is Infallible”

      I thought it was the “Ordinary and Universal” Magisterium of the Church that is infallible. I’ve noticed that sedevacantists tend to emphasize the Ordinary but not the Universal part. I’m confused and would be grateful for an explanation.

  8. Are the words “heresy” and “heretics” appropriate in a Protestant context anyway?
    When has a Protestant Church declared anybody a heretic?
    The things that are proposed to be heresies are sheer nonsense that any proper heretic would be ashamed of. Standard have indeed declined in heresies.

    • Yes, I also marvel at this. Whenever people act as though I’m bringing my “religion” into things, by denouncing gay marriage or abortion, I think: “Didn’t this used to be simple, common sense?” It’s not an heresy to think a man can remove his willy, wear a dress and call himself Susan. It’s just stupid.

    • By “heresy” I mean a false teaching that is serious enough to threaten the victim with eternal damnation and that is widely believed. Sure, the beliefs I cataloged in the post are “sheer nonsense,” but a lot of sincere Christians believe them. So they need to be opposed in a forceful way.

  9. “Heresy, for Scripture and the early Church, includes the idea of a personal decision against the unity of the Church, and heresy’s characteristic is pertinacia, the obstinacy of him who persists in his own private way. This, however, cannot be regarded as an appropriate description of the spiritual situation of the Protestant Christian. In the course of a now centuries-old history, Protestantism has made an important contribution to the realization of Christian faith, fulfilling a positive function in the development of the Christian message and, above all, often giving rise to a sincere and profound faith in the individual non-Catholic Christian, whose separation from the Catholic affirmation has nothing to do with the pertinacia characteristic of heresy… The conclusion is inescapable, then: Protestantism today is something different from heresy in the traditional sense, a phenomenon whose true theological place has not yet been determined.”—Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), The Meaning of Christian Brotherhood, pp. 87-88

    Does the Protestant innovator deny the unity of the Church as Protestants understand the term?

    • The innovator (such as the heretics I listed in my post) breaks the unity of the church by teaching false doctrine, denying the teachings of Christ and the Apostles.

      • Unity of which church?
        Protestants already have too many churches. They are not united. How could one more church offend?

      • Does the Lutheran teaching of Real Presence offend Calvanists and vice-versa?
        Which is the true teaching of Christ and his Apostles?
        Or have you decided that this diference, over which wars have been fought, does not matter anyway.?

  10. To Alan:
    Tangentially: John Piper sat down for a discussion with Rick Warren — a video of which can be seen on Youtube — to “grill” him on his orthodoxy, I surmise. To my knowledge, Piper gives Warren passing grades; but I am not convinced and see in Warren a different spirit, despite his ofttimes Biblical-sounding statements. His making common cause with those from other religions for *good works* projects around the globe (notably Africa) places the emphasis on this world and not the world to come while minimizing the differences between Muslims and Christians, for example — differences with eternal consequences, which are made light of for the purposes of joint projects.

    At any rate, I’ve been trying to convince my conservative Presbyterian aunt that Warren is dangerous, and she’s not buying it because, I think, of her high opinion of John Piper.

    I know that MacArthur is clear-eyed about Warren and that the two have had something of a dust-up. My question to you, Alan, is what is the most central evidence you give for lining Warren up with the rest of the named heretics? It’s important to me so that I can let my aunt know that she (in Memphis, working at a church bookstore) should not be telling friends and acquaintances to check out Saddleback.

    (If this issue/question is just too far off the range for you to address, please don’t hesitate to tell me.)

    As to the topic at hand, heretics are happy in their heresy and will defend it with rigor — and with the world’s approval.
    Believers should see to it that their own houses are in order — that is work enough.
    And pray the Lord’s prayer everyday, and often: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.”

    • Hi Debra,

      The basic indictment of Warren is that his purpose-driven system distracts people from the gospel and teaches that Christianity is life enhancement delivered with a Christian accent. Warren is like a skilled politician: He knows how to tell people what they want to hear and he knows just enough about Protestant doctrine to appear orthodox when he wants to. But for a public figure, private convictions are far less relevant than public teaching.

      The number one go-to-guy for debunking Warren is probably Bob DeWaay, pastor of an independent, Reformed-leaning Baptist church in Minnesota. He’s also a good friend of Lutheran stalwart Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian Radio and Fighting for the Faith.

      There is a wealth of resources showing what’s wrong with Warren’s teachings. Here is a web archive of 15 radio broadcasts of DeWaay explaining what’s wrong with Warrenism. DeWaay’s book Redefining Christianity provides more details. You could also go to youtube and type “Rick Warren” and “Chris Rosebrough” to get a list of archived programs from Fighting for the Faith documenting Warren’s dalliances with foolishness and heresy. If you have three hours, you could watch the online documentary Church of Tares to learn about the damage caused by the megachurch movement and Warren’s role in the movement. This may be the most accessible and entertaining way to show someone what’s going on.

  11. From Steve Sailer today:
    As a child, Donald Trump attended Norman Vincent Peale’s church in Manhattan, which was part of the Reformed Church of America, which is, I think, kind of like Presbyterian but a little more liberal.

    Peale (1898-1993) was associated with Protestant business leaders such as Thomas Watson of IBM and Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was the author of the huge self-help bestseller The Power of Positive Thinking.

    One interesting aspect is that Trump comes out of this pro-business power of positive thinking Protestant background, but without the Ned Flanders-style nicey-niceness that often goes with it. Romney was kind of dragged down by his related Mormon nicey-niceness, and George H.W. Bush had to struggle with his.

    Trump and his family attended First Presbyterian in Jamaica, Queens before going to Peale’s Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan.

    Peale’s positive thinking is definitely evident in Trump’s attitude and speaking style and presentation. Trump is relentless in applying positive thinking. Everything he says about himself and his projects and goals is unequivocally positive.

    The positive thinking “philosophy” was very much a part of bourgeois, pro-business, Protestant American mainstream culture, but now largely persists among some evangelicals e.g. Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life” and in a non-Christian, New Age context. The self-help tropes about having a positive attitude, thinking positive, waking up in the morning and staring at the mirror while repeating positive mantras about yourself to yourself every day, etc., derives from positive thinking. Mainline Protestants today find it declasse and are sort of embarrassed by it.

  12. This just illustrates how ineffective it is to try and pin down certain kinds of bad teaching with mere words. These so-called heresies are so nebulous that more legally precise wording is simply not going to help: Warren, for example, doesn’t actually deny any core Christian teaching and the postmodernists are notorious for twisting language in knots.

    The problem is having a bad sensibility to begin with and that can’t be cured by heresy trials and such.

  13. Another issue is that many of the modern heresies Mr. Roebuck identifies here are the same ones having the most success in the Third World. In some instances they appear to actively help the process of modernization in some others they appear to be merely a symptom of it. Either way this should dispel the hope that places like Africa or modern South America are going to be bastions of anti-modern Christianity, at least for those of us who adhere to pre-modern religion.

  14. Interesting proposition on creating a council. Nevertheless, I think it will be a bit difficult to achieve any sort of unity in Protestant circles in order to combat heresy, since they have numerous denominations and are already quite divided on their interpretations of sound Biblical doctrine. Basically, the council will be squabbling from the start.

    While Catholic and Orthodox Christians might already have such a council in their churches, Protestants on the other hand are stifled not only by political liberalism in their churches that might creep in (e.g., sodomy, feminism, environmentalism, communism, capitalism), but also by theological liberalism from within. That’s a polite way of saying that Protestantism is itself heretical.

    Protestant churches are run like democracies, and pastors themselves are already considered as guides to personal revelation stemming from the non-Biblical concept of “sola scriptura”. If their own pastors aren’t respected as authorities, then a council won’t garner much support. Protestants are individualists at heart, and don’t act as a collective, or a unified community.

    Essentially, Protestants think like moderns, and tend to dislike any historical connection to tradition.

    • If you say “that’s a polite way of saying Protestantism is itself heretical,” then, I guess, you’ve found a way around Alan’s warning that such hostile comments containing such assertions will be deleted.

      • You mean that on a blog named The Orthosphere men are actually so feeble as to be offended by mere words? I guess this is a sign that we’ve already lost to the politically correct.

      • Who are you referring to, me or Alan? Or both of us?

        The commenter’s words don’t offend me – sticks and stones, and all that – just pointing out that Alan anticipated that someone or other would likely attempt to hijack the discussion in that way, and gave fair warning their comments would be subject to deletion. Nothing wrong with that, and nothing PC about it either. But since you brought it up, we lost to the PC police decades ago. Where ya been? 🙂

      • It’s hard to tell, but I think the readership and writers at this sight are fairly skewed towards Catholicism. So I think Alan gets a disproportionate amount of grief and criticism which can be distracting from the topic at hand. So I think his “delete comments” policy was reasonable.

      • I actually said “delete hostile comments…” Other than that, Bruce is on the money. I’m trying to minimize distractions.

    • Basically, the council will be squabbling from the start.

      I addressed this in the post. Protestants who acknowledge the Bible as their authority agree on the gospel.

      Protestants on the other hand are stifled not only by political liberalism in their churches that might creep in (e.g., sodomy, feminism, environmentalism, communism, capitalism), but also by theological liberalism from within. That’s a polite way of saying that Protestantism is itself heretical.

      Catholicism is just as infested with nonsense as Protestantism. I don’t know as much about Eastern Orthodoxy as I do about Catholicism, but I know the times and I know human nature. So I conclude that Orthodoxy is in similar sorry shape. A saying about people in glass houses and stones comes to mind.

      Protestants are individualists at heart, and don’t act as a collective, or a unified community.

      Modern western mankind, including Catholics and the Orthodox, are generally like that. But in Protestantism there is a tradition of respecting the words of the Bible. (That’s why liberal biblical interpretation arose; Protestant liberals wanted to feel that the Bible supports them.) In Catholicism and in Orthodoxy, the bottom line tends to be what your superior in the chain of command says, whereas in Protestantism people pay more attention to what the Bible says.

      Yes, we Protestants cannot just wave a magic wand, say “in the name of Jesus!” and make the problem go away.

      But neither can other Christian bodies.

      • “Protestants who acknowledge the Bible as their authority agree on the gospel.”
        Names please of the Protestant Churches that meet the above condition. We have to judge that doctirnal difference that exists between these Protestants is not going to prejudice my chances of salvation.

        That is, if I choose LCMS but it turns out that I should have chosen Methodists–they were right about certain things crucial to salvation and LCMS were wrong.

      • Here’s what I think vishmehr24 is getting at.
        I get the impression that a theoretical “mere Protestantism” essentially consists of opposition to Roman Catholic belief. This is, after all, really what “Protestant” literally means.
        The different denominations have such diversity of belief and practice. Anglicans believe the “dominical” sacraments are “generally necessary to salvation” (39 articles) and have a moderately Calvinist understanding of election (preach election to those showing fruits for comfort – do not drive others to hopeless wretchness with it). Lutheranism is similar on sacraments (more literal on body and blood, sacraments generally necessary) with a position somewhere between Calvinism and Arminianism on election. Reformed apparently don’t believe in sacraments other than as signs (I thought I read Calvin had a high view) so I assume Lutherans and Anglicans must be “works-salvation” types to Reformed. Reformed believe the elect must simply hear the Gospel. Baptists believe in authentic conversion experience and sacraments as mere signs. Mennonites believe similarly and add pacifism. Etc.
        I think all Christians can and should work towards common goals but a Protestant ecumenical council has limited use. I guess if the heresies you list are common to all Protestants then maybe it makes sense.

      • The Reformers identified the formal principle of the Reformation as sola scriptura, the belief that the Bible is the highest, and sole infallible, authority, and the material principle as being sola fide, the belief that justification (basically God’s declaration that the sinner is not guilty) is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. That’s Mere Protestantism.

        The conservative wings of all the sects you mentioned do hold to these principles. While one could play up the differences if one chooses to do so, traditional Protestantism is more united than first meets the eye.

        And yes, the heresies I mentioned threaten not only all of Protestantism, but all of Christendom.

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