Protestants, Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox might regard each other as different religions (then again, they might not), but our enemies certainly don’t. For liberals, Moslems, homosexualists, feminists, radical environmentalists, et al, the three versions of Christianity are just slightly different flavors of the same poison. Or, to switch metaphors, our common enemies see Christians of all sorts as essentially the same pack of rats who deserve to be exterminated.
It is therefore natural to think of ecumenical Christian cooperation against the enemies of Christendom, who are also enemies of the West. But never before had I heard someone express the idea as a pact. Until Mark Citadel, in a comment at The Orthosphere:
That which I consider undoubtedly possible is a religious pact between East Christendom and West Christendom which declares war on any traces of Modernism. Both should carry the penalty of exile against the Cult of Progress, which will come to be known to both as the worst heresy imaginable.
Mr. Citadel identifies the primal enemy as Modernism; we could just as well call it liberalism or political correctness.
[Christendom is also threatened on a primal level by Islam. But the threat from Islam is radically different from the threat from liberalism. In a nutshell, Islam is an external threat our leaders are foolishly empowering because of the Modernist doctrine of multiculturalism whereas liberalism is an organic and malignant growth within the West itself.]
But the three types of Christianity generally regard one another as heretics. Could there be a pact between Christian factions? If, for example, a Catholic were being persecuted for denying justification by faith alone or affirming Purgatory then as a Protestant I would have to say that he had it coming, in some sense. But Catholics are not being persecuted for these things in the modern world. They’re being persecuted for denying abortion and homosexualism, for affirming the divinity of Christ and salvation in him alone, and so on. In other words, they’re being persecuted for believing more or less what I believe. That makes Catholics, in a sense, my natural allies in a culture war. I could support a Catholic who is being persecuted because he refuses to honor homosexuality, for example. And I could join Orthodox Christians in a campaign against, say, abortion or mass immigration. A pact therefore makes sense.
So in one way the pact makes perfect sense and is desperately needed. And in another way a pact seems impossible. Yet if the ways are clearly understood, a pact is possible.
A pact makes sense because the factions of Christendom have many common convictions and interests, and common enemies who see no significant differences between us. But a formal pact would be impossible for several reasons. Each tradition holds the others to be heretical, at some level. The leaders of most Christian denominations don’t oppose our modernist enemies and would therefore be horrified by the idea of an anti-modernist pact. And hard-liners within each tradition would refuse to cooperate in any way with those whom they see as pseudo-Christian heretics, even to cooperate against Modernism.
But an informal pact, agreed to by individuals, could do much good.
The pact would start with members of the three varieties of Christianity affirming their right to disagree with one another, both in the sense of holding different convictions and of speaking publicly against the errors of the other parties. In this way, an individual Christian would retain his sense of integrity and his spirit, both of which would be weakened by too much ecumenism.
But signatories of the pact would also pledge not to attack the other parties in the sense of trying to cause harm. They would identify Modernism as the greater enemy. And they would acknowledge the other parties as being their brothers in a manner of speaking, their brothers in arms against Modernism, and therefore pledge mutual support whenever possible in their common battle with Liberalism.
[“Harm,” as any lawyer can tell you, is an elastic concept. It would therefore be up to the individual to determine whether his actions harm another Christian. And the other Christian might believe that harm was intended when it was not actually intended. The spirit of the Pact is easier to define than the letter.]
In what way could a Protestant, a Catholic and an Eastern Orthodox be brothers? When they are being attacked for supporting the commonly-recognized good. Although I reject his purgatory and his Papacy, a Catholic could be my brother if we are jointly fighting for a good we both recognize.
At the same time, as brothers in a manner of speaking, each of us denies and opposes what we see as the other’s false beliefs. Depending on the temperaments and other convictions of the individuals involved, it might be possible for us to be brothers while still publicly opposing each other’s sectarian beliefs.
What makes us brothers is that we don’t hate one another on account of our sectarian beliefs. We recognize enough commonality to make brotherhood possible, at least in a manner of speaking.
But we must acknowledge that this sort of cooperation will be impossible for some people.
So by signing on to the pact an individual affirms that even when he publicly disagrees with another Christian’s doctrine, or publicly attacks that doctrine, his underlying motive is not hatred of the other Christian. He desires to be faithful to the Christian tradition of which he is a part, and perhaps to call his partially-wayward brother to embrace the true faith. And he affirms that some common action against Modernism is possible.
Again, we cannot call on anyone to regard a member of another Christian tradition as his brother. That is a decision that individuals will have to make on their own. And, of course, many will be unable to do so.
In general, a pact acknowledges that the parties have differing interests but that they will temporarily and partially put aside these differences in order to face a common enemy or to achieve mutually beneficial results. It does not pretend that differences do not exist, or that they are of no importance, but it calls for common action.
A pact also acknowledges (if only implicitly) that there has been hostility between the parties, and even that this hostility has some basis in reality. It expresses that the parties agree temporarily to put aside their hostility in order to meet a greater threat. In this respect, a pact represents a sacrifice on the part of both parties, as each voluntarily (and perhaps temporarily) renounces a valid claim against the other side in order to achieve a greater good.
There are three basic ways in which a member of a sect can relate to other sects. I will illustrate by speaking as a Protestant to Catholicism, but the reader can easily substitute equivalent ways in which his church would address another faction of Christendom:
One: “Our historic conflict has been a tragedy. We must put aside our differences and work together to make a better world.”
Two: “You are not Christians. You are not my brothers.”
Three: “Catholicism teaches some false doctrine. But so does much of my Protestantism. And man does not just live within a church. He is also part of a nation, and our nation is being ravaged by the evil of liberalism. Therefore I can sometimes make common cause with even a Catholic when it comes to opposing abortion, or homosexualism, or atheism, and so on.”
The pact would, of course, take the general approach of the third way.
Here’s what’s especially tricky about this proposal. On the one hand, the pact will not require its adherents to make theological peace with Christian bodies with whom they disagree. This will be a pact against Modernism, not heresy. But on the other hand there must be some theological agreement among all parties to the pact, lest we allow in Jews, Buddhists and Moslems, for example, which would obviously be unworkable. A good starting place might be the Ecumenical Creeds, for example: The Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Chalcedonian Creed. These do not put forward the entirety of Christianity, but they form its sine qua non, its indispensable foundation.
[Yes, there is dispute over even the Ecumenical Creeds. But remember the spirit of the Pact: Perfect agreement is not necessary.]
The pact would continue by identifying Modernism (or liberalism) as the greatest current enemy of Christendom. Modernism sees no differences between the factions of Christendom and therefore Christians of any particular faction will gain nothing by supporting (even if only implicitly) modernist attacks against another faction. If, for example, Modernism were to exterminate Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy while leaving Catholicism standing, this would be no benefit to Rome. A Modernism powerful enough to crush two branches of Christendom would not leave Catholicism standing for long.
Theologically sophisticated Protestants have a long history of opposing the idea of Christendom. [As opposed to lowbrow Evangelical culture warriors of the “Moral Majority” stripe.] For one thing, the apparatus of Christian political rule does not appear in Scripture. For another, an officially-Christian society encourages people to regard themselves as Christian by birth rather than by conviction, which facilitates apostasy. Theologically conservative Protestants affirm that individuals must repent and have true faith in Christ in order to be Christians in the proper sense of the word.
But man does not live by faith alone. (As a Protestant, I affirm that he is justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, but he does not live by faith alone.) Man also needs his daily bread, and he needs to be part of a society which allows him to live as a human being instead of as a slave or a cog in a giant social machine or an atom in a giant social Brownian motion. And Modernism, whether it intends to or not, naturally leads to these outcomes.
Therefore society needs an official religion, regardless of whether it is formally established by law. And in the West the traditional religion is Christianity. It is true that pre-Christian religions were once the “official” religions of the European nations. But we are Christians. We recognize that Christianity is the true religion. Therefore we should fight against the enemies of Christianity and for the re-establishment (in whatever form that might take) of Christianity as our officially-recognized religion.
And fighting requires cooperation. The most effective method of conquest (when it can be carried out) is to divide and conquer, that is, to separate your enemies into small groups which can more easily be defeated one at a time. We must strive not to let the enemies of Christ do that to us.
Here’s a small example of a pact in action: Responding to Pope Francis.
As a Protestant I might say that the current Pope (or “Pope,” as traditionalist Catholics sometimes say) is not a threat to me, except insofar as he promotes false Catholic doctrine. But in fact Francis has become my enemy by issuing public pronouncements giving aid and comfort to homosexualists, socialists, illegal aliens, and so on. In this way he is the common enemy of non-liberal Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox alike. He is an ecumenical offender.
I can therefore make common cause with a traditionalist Catholic by opposing those of Francis’s false teachings that the Catholic also acknowledges to be false.
In order to start discussion, here is a possible anti-Modernist pact. Since no pact of this sort can make specific plans for action, it is worded at the level of first principles: identification of a common enemy, a call for the avoidance of unnecessary hostility, a description of common beliefs, and a pledge of mutual sympathy and support.
A Possible Christian Anti-Modernist Pact
In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen
We the undersigned Christians, acknowledging both the serious doctrinal disagreements within Christendom and the large body of our agreements on Christian doctrine, do hereby express our desire for all possible common action against the greatest of our mutual enemies. This enemy goes by several names: liberalism, progressivism, political correctness, and Modernism. As those who have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and who acknowledge the truth of the morality He taught, we oppose Modernism’s satanic assault on the traditional ways of life within our Western nations and we pledge to oppose it wherever we can.
For Modernism is based on the radical denial of the God of the Bible and fights against any trace of Christendom. Modernism seeks to make man the measure of all things and is therefore blasphemy against the one true and living God and also a hopeless enterprise. For since mankind is finite and sinful, it can never on its own attain the wisdom and virtue needed to flourish.
The body of Christ is regrettably divided into three broad traditions, commonly called Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox. While these traditions agree on a large number of important Christian doctrines, including the Triune nature of the Biblical God, the deity of Jesus of Nazareth, the Resurrection of Christ from the dead, and the necessity of faith in Christ for a man’s salvation, they are also divided over many important doctrines. This division even extends to some Christians, in good conscience, believing that some members of other traditions are not Christians.
We do not call on Christians to drop their opposition to doctrines they oppose. Instead, we call on them to acknowledge the necessity for all possible common action against our common Modernist enemy, when this enemy attacks those doctrines and practices which we all support. We call on a Christian not to hate members of another tradition, while simultaneously acknowledging that as a man of integrity, a Christian cannot pretend to agree with something he regards as wrong, nor can he refrain from publicly disagreeing with what he understands to be falsehood.
Instead, we the signatories to this pact do hereby affirm that we can hold to our sectarian beliefs while at the same time not harboring hatred for members of another Christian sect. We affirm that we will continue, when we judge it necessary, publicly to argue against those doctrines we oppose, but that we will not hate or wish harm on a member of another Christian tradition on account of his false beliefs.
Christians who fight the same Modernist beliefs and practices that we fight are our brothers in this battle. And because we do not hate our Christian brother from another tradition, we will whenever possible render him aid and comfort in his battle against our common Modernist enemy. If nothing else, we will look on him with sympathy.
As the standards which define our brotherhood, we do commonly affirm the ancient creeds known as the Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Chalcedonian Creed. Any person who can in good conscience declare his agreement with these creeds, who recognizes Modernism as the deadly enemy of mankind, and who is prepared to regard Christians of another tradition as brothers in the sense of this pact, is welcome to join us.
As Christians saved by the mercy of God rather than our own virtue, we pledge not to harbor hatred for people who subscribe to Modernism. Although we will oppose the foul deeds and false beliefs of Modernism, and we will not have close fellowship with any person, Christian or not, who shows himself to be a partisan of Modernism, we acknowledge that Modernism, broadly defined, has brought some benefits to mankind, and we also acknowledge that
we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. [Eph. 6:12,13]
We will defend ourselves when necessary, but we will seek to follow the Lord who taught us
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. [Mat. 5:44,45]
[End of proposed Pact.]
Well, Christian reactionaries, there it is. What do you think?