Heresies In the Modern World

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Throughout the history of Christianity there has come about various heretical ideas that contradict that which is divinely revealed. These heretical ideas include those of the Arian heresy founded by Arius which claimed that Christ was not divine.  Then came Manichaeism a religion founded by the Persian Mani in the latter half of the third century. They held what is known as dualism. They believed in two ultimate sources of creation, the one good and the other evil. God is the creator of all that is good, and Satan of all that is evil. Man’s spirit is from God, his body is from the devil. There is a constant struggle between the forces of good and those of evil.

During the Middle Ages there arose Catharism whose biggest supporters were the Albigensen heresy, which was simply a reemergence of the Manichaean heresy with some several distinctions. Centuries afterwards there came the Protestant Reformation which denied the authority of the Pope and which perverted sound biblical interpretation by omitting various books out of the bible, as well as parts of others. This also included abandoning long held teachings, while adding beliefs which are unbiblical such as “Sola Fide” and “Sola Scriptura”.

This article goes on to presents some major modern heretical ideas that exist within our time. There are various heretical ideas, but I will only list the biggest and most fundamental within our time which I believe has caused the greatest amount of damage.

Secularism

The belief that religion should not play a role in government, education, or other public parts of society. One manifestation of secularism is asserting the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, or, in a state declared to be neutral on matters of belief, from the imposition by government of religion or religious practices upon its people.

This thinking originates in the French Revolution and the Enlightenment itself with its Masonic beliefs. These beliefs include religious indifferentism, including a very wrong idea regarding the Separation of Church and State.

First and foremost the first of “the modern errors that we see in the modern secular sense is an embracing of false ideas of religious liberty and the radical separation of Church and State (as opposed to recognizing them as two distinct spheres, the secular being informed by but not controlled by the religious)”.1

The Church therefore teaches that the Church and the State are two distinct spheres, where the secular is informed but not controlled by the religious. The state has the obligation of forming itself with the teachings of the Catholic Church, and the Church therefore has the duty of forming the state.

Secularism however takes God out of the picture. In the United States we have let God and his teachings be taken out of society. Prayer in public schools has been banned, the Ten Commandments have been banned from public buildings, and even people attempting to take out things such as “In God We trust” from the dollar bill, and “One Nation under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

Materialism

Materialism is a philosophical system which regards matter as the only reality in the world, which undertakes to explain every event in the universe as resulting from the conditions and activity of matter, and which thus denies the existence of God and the soul.

Materialism itself rejects the immaterial. It rejects God, and Angelic beings as you cannot see them. Thus that which you cannot see is automatically discarded as false.

In materialism there is no sense of the supernatural, for only the natural nature exists. Since there is no such thing as God, or any sort of higher beings such as the angels, miracles, and the like are discarded. In this school of thought we are simply machines which exist and terminate at one point or another.

Consumerism

The idea of the allocation of resources. The one who dies with the most toys wins. It is the belief that the only true important thing, or at least one of the most important thing is not absolute truth, it is not about mastering one’s self with virtue, but rather it is the maximizing of one’s possessions.

In our time of consumerism, which Pope Francis has called a “throw away culture,” we can try to switch from a negative approach to dominion over nature, to a more positive one. Everything should be appreciated insofar as it can point us to God: our food, drink, clothing, home, etc. Rather than focusing on what is cheapest and easiest, we can return dignity to the simple things of life.
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Hedonism

A school of thought that argues that only pleasure is a truly intrinsic good; it is the “feel good” mentality. This is one, if not one of the biggest reasons why we have what Saint Pope John Paul II calls the “culture of death” and what Pope Francis calls the “throw away culture”. It is why we have legalized abortions, and why pregnancies are unwanted. In this atmosphere a sex centered culture is created in which the most rampant immorality is seen. The use of fornication, adultery, masturbation, and the like.

Fr John Hardon could not have put it any better when he said: “The reason we have such massive slaughter of the innocents is because we have become a fornicating society, an adulterous society, a masturbating society, a homosexual society, and a contraceptive society. Unchaste people are selfish people. They will not stop at murder if an unborn child would be a burden to their indulgence and sexual pleasure”.

Relativism

The belief that there is no such thing as absolute truth. They state that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration

Relativists flaw greatly in this line of thought, it is truly a contradictory statement that “there is no such thing as absolute truth, for this is itself an absolute statement. Picture this example

If someone said to you, “There is no absolute truth,” and you punched him in the stomach, he’d probably get upset. But by his own creed, he’d have to accept that while punching someone in the stomach may be wrong for him, it might not be wrong for you.

This is when they’ll come back with an amendment to the original statement by saying, “As long as you’re not hurting others, you’re free to do and believe what you like.” But this is an arbitrary distinction (as well as another absolute statement). Who says I can’t hurt others? What constitutes “hurt”? Where does this rule come from?

If this statement is made based on personal preference, it means nothing for anyone else. “Do no harm” is in itself an appeal to something greater — a sort of universal dignity for the human person. But again, the question is where does this dignity come from?”2
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Modernism

 “Modernism consists essentially in affirming that the religious soul must draw from itself, from nothing but itself, the object and motive of its faith. It rejects all revelation imposed upon the conscience, and thus as a necessary consequence, becomes the negation of the doctrinal authority of the Church established by Jesus Christ, and it denies, moreover, to the divinely constituted hierarchy the right to govern Christian society”.3

Modernism itself comes down to a series of false premises. First and foremost modernism teaches that religion and faith come from within essentially as a matter of experience, personal and collective. Furthermore another similar premise is that the Church should adapt itself to the changing mindset of each generation; that the evolution of society requires an equally evolving system of faith and morality. This states that truth is relative to a particular point in time, and a particular place in time. This means that it depends on a certain time and culture, which is always changing, thus a modernist would claim that truth evolves with regards to these two things which is obviously false. Because of these two main premises that modernism holds, it rejects divine revelation, and the Church’s Tradition which does not evolve, but rather preserves the faith as thought through Holy Mother Church throughout the centuries.

Saint Pope Pius X stated in his Oath against Modernism “I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical’ misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously”. 4

This means that it is false to believe that doctrines and teachings “evolve” in meaning. It is definitely true that as our understanding of the Faith increases, then our understanding “matures” in the sense that we fully start to grasp the whole meaning. For example a five year old will be able to point to his dad and say that he is my father. However his understanding is very basic and won’t be able to tell you much about him, other than he is his father. However when you ask him at eighteen, then he will not only be able to simply point at his father, but he will be able to describe almost every detail about him. However this is drastically different than what Saint Pope Pius X is condemning. What Pope Pius X is condemning is the idea that truth and the teachings of the faith for that matter change in its nature, where one day the Church might teach x, the next day it might teach y.

 

Modernism has its origins in both Protestantism and in post-Enlightenment philosophy

Regarding Protestantism and the Protestant Revolution “Luther questioned the right of the Church to teach the Christian world the revelations of Christ with authority. The Christian, he contends, is self-sufficient in his beliefs; he infers the elements of his faith from the Sacred Scriptures, which each man interprets directly under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. He does not admit the existence in the Church of a hierarchically- constituted authority which transmits faithfully to the world the revealed teaching, or that it has the right to interpret, or to claim to guard this teaching in its integrity.”5

Father Chad Ripperger FSSP also shows systematically the effects of Post-Enlightenment philosophy in the Catholic Church. He first states that these ideas first infected Protestants who did not have a concise philosophical system such as Thomism, and obviously no sense of authority which they had rejected. He also shows which Post-Enlightenment ideas were fundamental in bringing about modernism.

First he states are the rationalists who do not believe that one can come to true intellectual knowledge by means of the senses. Then comes Empiricism which is the view of man as simply a material being led to fixing a man’s meaning in the “now” or always in the present. “Since for the empiricist man’s meaning is found only in what he senses or feels, leading to a lack of interest in the past, since the past cannot be felt, or sensed.” There is Hegelianism which held that there was only one existing thing in a constant state of flux. Spinoza systematically attacked the authenticity of oral tradition regarding the scriptures. It is here where Fr Ripperger states “the coupling of the Hegelian dialect with the skepticism of Spinoza regarding the sources of Scripture, the past (including all forms of tradition) came to be considered outmoded or outdated”.6

There are still countless of other Post-Enlightenment philosophies which helped bring modernistic ideas, even amongst those listed above, Fr Ripperger states that the most crucial in bringing modernism are those ideas that correspond with Immanetism and Kantianism. Immanentism olds that anything of importance is contained within the individual; the individual becomes the measure or standard by which things are judged. Furthermore Kant further held that man’s experiences were essentially immanent- that is, they are within or remain within himself. Religion was thus seen as nothing other than personal religious experience, rather than revealed truth itself.

Modernism has done great damage to the Church, as people often compromise the faith, in order to please others. It has brought about the belief that we have to “get with the times”.


Notes:
1) Fish Eaters: Traditional Catholicism 101( A Brief Premer)
http://www.fisheaters.com/traditionalcatholicism.html

2)Deal Hudson: 12 Claims Every Catholic Should Be Able to Answer
http://catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0140.html

3)Desire Joseph Cardinal Mercier: Letter on Modernism
http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=7792
http://www.faithfulanswers.com/what-is-modernism/

4)Saint Pope Pius X: Oath Against Modernism
http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius10/p10moath.htm

5)Mercier op.cit

6)Fr. Chad Ripperger: Conservative vs. Traditional Catholicism
http://www.latinmassmagazine.com/articles/articles_2001_SP_Ripperger.html

 

 

 

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