15 September 2010

The Many Faces of Protestantism Among Catholics - Part I

There are many 'faces' of Protestantism among Catholics today.  As-a-matter-of-fact, there number is so proliferate, pretty much as many as there are errors and flavors of Protestantism, that it is impossible to enumerate them.  However, this blogger is a bit perturbed over the frequent recurrence, that it seems there is little chance of fully escaping them while even among practicing Catholics.  So, at the invariable risk of making a countless number of people (namely confused Catholics) angry with me, I decided to go ahead, never-the-less, and point them out as they may often appear, and allow the reader to decide for him/herself as to whether or not this is hogwash, or something of a rather serious concern. 

We'll start with a relatively 'lighter' one...

ERROR:  "The 'NEW' Pentecost"
WHERE YOU'LL LIKELY SEE IT:   EWTN, Catholic Radio, Steubenville.
 WHAT THEY SAY:   There is to be a "New Pentecost" and/or that every one is in need of experiencing their personal "Pentecost"
WHAT THE CHURCH TEACHES:  There is only one Pentecost.  It already happened.  Guess when? 
This is a hoot.  This is ever so popular among the Charismatics, even those who are careful enough to not come out and admit to you that they are Charismatic (but they won't deny having gone to a Charismatic service and that they found nothing wrong with it).   It ranges from just starting to step in it, to those who are knee-deep in and even swimming in it.  

"But," you say, "what's wrong with saying that people need to have a conversion of heart by the Holy Spirit?"  Answer:  Nothing, except when you call it another "Pentecost".   The reason:   Pentecost happened once, for the purpose of giving the Apostles a special commission that will not, to that extent and purpose of first bringing the Word of God and the sacred traditions supporting its understanding as given to them by Christ himself --- to the entire world.  That was a time in history that formed the Church and all that was needed to be revealed for the purpose of salvation was revealed.   Since then, anyone else going out to do something similar would not be given the same charisms to the same extent, or for the same purpose.  Rather, charisms may be given to spread what was given to the world already by the Apostles.  Nothing new can be taught, because nothing new will be revealed.   Yes, further clarification can be imparted, but nothing contrary to what is already revealed nor contrary to the understanding of the Church.  It can only be further clarified within the understanding that was already passed down through the Holy Ghost by way of the Apostles. 

Another way this error comes out is through people asking for charisms, and/or putting charisms at a higher level than virtue and holiness.  They aren't even at the same level.  A person can have a charism and not be particularly virtuous.  Also, charisms should not be sought out because it is tempting God.   God gives to whom He wills such things, and they are special gifts --- not graces.  They do not assist in the spiritual welfare of the person who has the charism, but their benefit is intended for others for whom this person comes in contact.   People cannot impart what they don't have, that is why even if someone has a charism, it doesn't mean that their first priority should be, say, evangelization.  Always, our first priority should be to love God, and in order to do that, we must receive His grace.  Therefore, we should be asking for graces to grow in holiness, and not charisms.  

The saints always warned us not to ask for such things, as they will be often granted --- but not from God, who wills not to be tempted, but from the devil, who, by the way, is the great imitator of every virtue except obedience, and can always grant what appears to be a charism to someone with unholy desires for such special gifts. 

Incidentally, Charismatics see holy obedience as a secondary, even at times optional virtue, and definitely second to mystical experiences.  Again, this was warned against by the saints, in particular the Church Doctors, who tell us that even they could be fooled by the tricks of the devil, and that no one should ever ask for charisms or mystical experiences because it is a type of idolatry and in the context of any liturgy, it is sacrilegious.

ERROR:  Dale Carnegie Catholicism:  Being a Good Catholic = Winning Friends and Influencing People (i.e. success in career, family, etc.)
WHERE YOU'LL LIKELY SEE IT:   Sermons from both confused traditional and confused Novus Ordo priests, some of EWTN (Johnette B.), Calvin-inspired theologians.
WHAT THEY SAY:   When you use your talents, God will bless you.  He will bless you and with temporal success.    It’s that simple.   Also, you might hear that if you are doing the holy Will of God, that you will become irresistible, and have many friends, and that if you have many enemies, you are probably doing something wrong.  
WHAT THE CHURCH TEACHES:   Our Lord teaches that if you truly follow him, you will end up being a “sign of contradiction”.   Many people will not understand you.   There are those few for whom God has a special vocation to keep them in the limelight so to speak, and God gives them characteristics and opportunities where as they discern and follow HIS will, they will, in fact, grow admirers, but enemies as well.  However, this has more to do with God’s calling for them in their path than anything else.  The grace of God does make a person more appealing, but to those that are on the same path.  Otherwise, people often attack the weaknesses that they are afraid of seeing in themselves, even limitations that are temporal, e.g.: poverty, handicaps, etc.  They will tend avoid such people when they themselves have disordered attachments to the opposite, which in this case would be money and physical well-being. 

God more often separates little by little, those for whom He calls closer to Him in this life.   Again, this is partly to do with the path that God has for them.  Also, don't forget, many of the saints had pretty tough lives, and had many enemies within their very ranks:  St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Basil the Great, St. Bernadine of Sienna, etc. See Bob and Penny Lord's book here.    

ERROR:  What we can do for one another is greater than God in The Sacraments.
WHERE YOU'LL LIKELY SEE IT:   Peppered through out the Church, from both traditional priests and Novus Ordo.
WHAT THEY SAY:   Loving your brother is either (or a combination of): a.) more important than even the Sacraments, b.) more necessary than the Sacraments for salvation, c.) A greater sacrifice than even Christ’s Sacrifice at the Altar, d.) A greater proof of God’s love living within you than His giving to you the body of His Son, e.) *Jesus gave us only 2 commandments, and not one of them was pertaining to the Sacraments.
WHAT THE CHURCH TEACHES:  The Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for salvation.   While it is possible to do a moral good without the Sacraments, it is impossible to please God without being in a state of grace.  The means to this grace begins by receiving the Sacrament of Baptism, and then that life of grace must be nurtured after the age of reason by receiving Christ in the Holy Eucharist.   We are able to love our neighbor in the natural sense without the Sacraments, but Jesus tells us first to love God, then (secondly) to love our neighbor as ourselves.   The means to this order of love is what Christ tells the baptized … “Unless you eat of my body… you do not have life in you.”  God wishes for us to have a supernatural love for our neighbor as that gives Him glory, living under the under this order of love in which we were made to live and give Him glory.

That last point of how I’ve heard this extreme error *(under “what they say”, letter ‘e’), is extreme blasphemy.  God, Himself, comes to us through the Sacraments. 

ERROR:  Calling those who deny Christ our "brothers and sisters in Christ"
WHERE YOU'LL LIKELY SEE IT:   Just about everywhere, but happening less and less.
WHAT THEY SAY:   “…Our “Jewish/Muslim/Protestant” brothers and sisters in Christ…”
WHAT THE CHURCH TEACHES Indifferentism is a heresy.  It is condemned by the Church.  We don’t really know whether or not someone is promoting the ever-so-popular false ecumenism when they say this, but it leans towards that direction.   The Church teaches that in the visible body of Christ, our brothers and sisters are not recognized by those outside the Church.  (see Catechism).
The Church also recognizes that people can be outside the physical body, but incorporated in a mystical way into the spiritual body of Christ, if they do not knowingly object to Christ and/or his teachings given to us by the Holy Ghost through the Bride of Christ.  However, we do not know who these people might be, and it is wrong to presume that those who deny Christ and/or the teachings of His Bride are in Christ’s mystical body.   The Church, therefore, traditionally reserves referencing only those formally in the visible, body of Christ as “brothers and sisters” in Christ.  This, too, has scriptural origins besides traditional.

More often than not, immanentism, the heresy which seeks to place God at level with us by saying either that the highest good is what we can do for one another. Sometimes, this occurs more subtly, suggesting that what we can do for one another is greater than what God does for us in giving us the supernatural life of sanctifying grace (which does not eliminate our free will, but promotes within us the love of God, among other infused graces, from which comes the love of neighbor).

ERROR:  The 15-Passenger Van is the modern sign of the Predestined.
WHERE YOU'LL LIKELY SEE IT:   A little everywhere, but predominating in traditional circles, where the people mean to follow the Church teachings on everything, but lose sight of the difference between having something better (the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, for example) and being someone better (as comparing oneself to others).
WHAT THEY SAY:   “I give thanks, Oh Lord that I am not like this here sinner/Publican/heretic/fill-in-the-blank!”  It becomes evident also by gossip and detraction perpetuated commonly by unholy curiosity and spiritual slothfulness.
WHAT THE CHURCH TEACHES:   OK, this isn’t just families, but this can be anyone who thinks that they are better than anyone else.   They can recognize that they are better off for having the things that were given to them by God --- not even deserving them, but that is different. 

While it is absolutely true that if a child is raised in a family that teaches values and virtues, that he will likely grow in a better appreciation for them, and therefore be more likely to imitate them, it is not true that a person who does not grow in such a family will be able to lead a virtuous, and yes, holy life.   I mention this because I've heard a few priests say just the opposite:  That a person raised in a bad home will take with him these bad habits inevitably, and fight them even while trying to be holy and live in the Sacraments.  This is taking one bit of truth, and then carrying that ball in the wrong direction.  The bigger picture is that those who are brought to sanctifying grace are given infused graces of faith, hope and charity.  We do not merit these graces, therefore, it doesn't make us egalitarianists to say the simple fact that holiness, such grace comes from God, and not from our parents.   Likewise, it is possible that a child from a traditional home will lack the supernatural understanding and appreciation of the Sacraments, even while he might know more about them than anyone else.   What separates the just from the unjust is a spirit of poverty and humility.   Remember the Pharisee and the Publican:  the Pharisee did everything he was supposed to do and did it well, but without the spirit of poverty.  The Publican, on the other hand, not only did not do what he was supposed to, but then came to such remorse that he dared not approach near the sanctuary, yet begged God for mercy.   Only one of them left justified.

God choses to whom He will give His graces and to the degree that He wills.   

ERROR:  Holiness is passed on by one’s lineage.
WHERE YOU'LL LIKELY SEE IT:   This is a newbie heresy, coming predominately from traditional circles that are often rightfully indignant about the break down of families and the scandals in the Church and the lack of dignity in our culture that they fly off the reservation by becoming scandalized themselves.  When this leads to thinking that they are the chosen ones to lead the world they start forgetting the “first fruits” of charity and become blinded to the teachings of the Church.
WHAT THEY SAY:   “I was born Catholic!”  “David passed on his holiness through his bloodline.” 
WHAT THE CHURCH TEACHES:  EACH AND EVERY, SINGLE ONE OF US was born with our father being the devil.  None of us were “born Catholic”.   We are baptized into the Church --- and it is by the blood of Christ that we are born into the Church and become a part of the Mystical Body.   None of us deserves to be in the Mystical Body, but can have this due to God’s mercy.

David did NOT pass along his holiness.  David passed on a spiritual lineage that designated a special office.  The closest thing we have to this today is the priesthood stemming from Christ, as he passed it to his Apostles.

ERROR: Seeking signs for those who are the Predestined:  i.e.:  Someone who lives a “miserable life” with much suffering is apparently not following God, and therefore predestined to Hell.”
WHERE YOU'LL LIKELY SEE IT:  Strange homilies…the occasional, well-meaning priest who may have missed class the day the seminary taught on the Molinists or the Council of Orange. 
WHAT THEY SAY:   “People who have numerous trials are receiving signs from God that they are headed in the wrong direction, and often have a predilection for eternal suffering,” or, “some people are predestined to hell”.
WHAT THE CHURCH TEACHES:   The Church dealt with this a very long time ago, and re-dealt with it again.   The Molinists were heretics.  God wishes everyone to enter heaven, and no one is predestined to hell.  There are those that are predestined to Heaven, but we can’t know who they are without extra-ordinary graces that only very few saints were granted.  The Church Doctors, however, have taught that continued suffering can be a sign for predestination … to Heaven, but not to hell. Then again, it is only a single ‘sign’, and not meant to determine another person’s eternal destiny or state of soul.   Such thoughts stem from unholy (sinful) curiosities.  

It is important to remember that no one goes to hell by not having committed an unrepented, mortal sin with full knowledge and consent.  Likewise, no one who is goes to Heaven and was also predestined goes there without having consented by their free will to follow the Holy Will of God.+

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