Culture, Political Economy

Our Luxurious Lives

Old Fashioned Water PumpA few months back I wrote a post called “Our Land of Plenty” in which I reflected on the superabundance of food available to us in the United States. I pointed out that we today have access to a greater amount and greater variety of food than the people of any other civilization in the entire history of the world.

In this post, I’d like to continue on that theme by calling attention to how luxurious modern western life really is.

While there are always going to be some discomforts, our lives in the United States today are more comfortable than almost any other people’s from the beginning of time. Yet how often do we take the time to consider and appreciate this fact? I would venture to guess that the answer to this question is “seldom to never.” Oftentimes, instead of being thankful for how good we have it, we like to complain about those things in our lives that aren’t perfect.

For example, we gripe when the weather is warm and muggy, and we forget that we have the unprecedented option to escape to air conditioned areas indoors. We also complain when it’s cold outside, and fail to appreciate that all we really have to do to make ourselves more comfortable is to turn up the thermostat. For most of us, there’s no gathering wood, no starting fires. It literally takes a turn of the wrist for us to perfectly control our climate.

Then there’s transportation. Most of us gripe about having to drive in a car for a few hours to get somewhere. We forget that in order to travel the same distance, our forefathers—if they were wealthy enough to do so—would have had to hitch up a carriage and spend several days on the road, staying at inns along the way. On those same lines, we like to gripe about 15-hour airplane flights to Europe while forgetting that a mere two centuries ago, that same trip would have meant several months at sea with a very real possibility of dying. Our travelling ancestors had bigger worries than lukewarm, in-flight meals.

Another modern convenience I think we often forget to appreciate is indoor plumbing. The fact that we, even as middle class  or working class people, can take a hot shower in our own homes every day would have been totally unbelievable to even the wealthiest aristocrats of the middle ages. In this regard—as in many others—the poorest among us are living better than even kings of centuries past.

Returning to the topic of food, I think we also take for granted the convenience of modern refrigeration, which allows us to safely store many products that were often eaten partially spoiled in past times, leading to serious health problems.

One final point I’d like to mention is our ubiquitous access to the internet. We live in the information age. The answer to almost any question—whether important or not—is instantly at our fingertips on a wide array of devices like desktops, laptops, tablets, and smart phones. While bibles and other books were once kept chained up because they were so expensive to produce, we today have a world of information at the flick of our index finger or even at our verbal command.

Let’s face it. At least from a physical perspective, we in the 21st century western world have been born into the easiest possible time and the easiest possible place to be alive. Ever.

In general, we today lead more comfortable lives than any other people in history. But among its many other lessons, history shows that comfort isn’t the best way to improve a people’s character. The greatest generations are born out of times of hardship rather than times of luxury.

There are a couple of morals to this story. The first is that we ought to have a better appreciation for how good we have it. Instead of whining about how low the water pressure is, we should be overjoyed to have hot water flowing into our homes at all. Instead of complaining that we’ve only got leftovers in the fridge, we should be thankful that we can even safely store food.

The second lesson is that we should realize that our present conditions are a perfect recipe for molding us into a soft, indolent people, and that in order to keep ourselves from becoming this, we need to begin practicing such things as fasting, mortification, and self-denial. If our current environment won’t shape our character in a positive way, we have to make an extra effort to do so ourselves.

Thirdly and finally, we should all recognize and consider the fact that we might not always have it as good as we do now. The recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and especially in Puerto Rico have shown how quickly all of our creature comforts can be taken away. There may well come a day when we don’t have our perfectly controlled climates, our hot showers, our ease of travel, and our instant access to information. Let’s not make our happiness dependent on our modern conveniences and easy way of life.

I’d like to close by paraphrasing G.K. Chesterton, who once said that the best way to appreciate anything is to realize that it might be lost. To that end, let’s appreciate our modern comforts, and let’s also realize and be prepared for the possibility that we might not always have them.

 

Nicholas Kaminsky

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Culture, Philosophy, Traditionalism

Identifying the Ideological Enemy of the Catholic Church

Jacobin Revolutionaries“Hence we find Liberalism laying down as the basis of its propaganda the following principles:

  1. The absolute sovereignty of the individual in his entire independence of God and God’s authority.
  2. The absolute sovereignty of society in its entire independence of everything which does not proceed from itself.
  3. Absolute civil sovereignty in the implied right of the people to make their own laws in entire independence and utter disregard of any other criterion than the popular will expressed at the polls and in parliamentary majorities.
  4. Absolute freedom of thought in politics, morals, or in religion. The unrestrained liberty of the press.

Such are the radical principles of Liberalism. In the assumption of the absolute sovereignty of the individual, that is, his entire independence of God, we find the common source of all the others. To express them all in one term, they are, in the order of ideas, RATIONALISM, or the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of human reason. Here human reason is made the measure and sum of truth. Hence we have individual, social, and political Rationalism, the corrupt fountainhead of liberalist principles [which are]: absolute freedom of worship, the supremacy of the State, secular education repudiating any connection with religion, marriage sanctioned and legitimized by the State alone, etc.; in one word, which synthesizes all, we have SECULARIZATION, which denies religion any active intervention in the concerns of public and of private life, whatever they be. This is veritable social atheism.

Such is the source of liberalism in the order of ideas; such, in consequence of our Protestant and infidel surroundings, is the intellectual atmosphere which we are perpetually breathing into our souls. Nor do these principles remain simply in the speculative order, poised forever in the region of thought. Men are not mere contemplatives. Doctrines and beliefs inevitably precipitate themselves into action. The speculation of today becomes the deed of tomorrow, for men, by force of the law of their nature, are ever acting out what they think. Rationalism, therefore, takes concrete shape in the order of facts. It finds palpable expression and action in the press, in legislation, and in social life. The secular press reeks with it, proclaiming with almost unanimous vociferation, absolute division between public life and religion. It has become the shibboleth of journalism, and the editor who will not recognize it in his daily screed soon feels the dagger of popular disapproval. In secularized marriage and in our diverse laws, it cleaves the very roots of domestic society; in secularized education, the cardinal principle of our public school system, it propagates itself in the hearts of the future citizens and the future parents; in compulsory school laws, it forces in the entering wedge of socialism; in the speech and intercourse of social life, it is constantly asserting itself with growing reiteration; in secret societies, organized in a spirit destructive of religion and often for the express purpose of exterminating Catholicity, it menaces our institutions and places the country in the hands of conspirators, whose methods and designs, beyond the reach of the public eye, constitute a tyranny of darkness

In a thousand ways does the principle of Rationalism find its action and expression in social and civil life, and however diversified be its manifestation, there is in it always a unity and a system of opposition to Catholicity. Whether concerted or not, it ever acts in the same direction, and whatever special school within the genius of Liberalism professes it or puts it into action – be it in society, in domestic life, or in politics – the same essential characteristics will be found in all its protean shapes – opposition to the Church – and it will ever be found stigmatizing the most ardent defenders of the Faith as reactionaries, clericals, Ultramontanes.

Wherever found, whatever its uniform, Liberalism in its practical action is ever-systematic warfare upon the Church. Whether it intrigue, whether it legislate, whether it orate or assassinate, whether it call itself Liberty or Government of the State or Humanity or Reason, or whatnot, its fundamental characteristics is an uncompromising opposition to the Church.

Liberalism is a world complete in itself; it has its maxims, its fashions, its art, its literature, its diplomacy, its laws, its conspiracies, its ambuscades. It is the world of Lucifer, disguised in our times under the name of Liberalism, in radical opposition and in perpetual warfare against that society composed of the Children of God, the Church of Jesus Christ.”

– Fr. Felix Sarda Y Salvany, Liberalism is a Sin – 


 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Culture, Theology

The Kingdom of God Must Be Defended Like Any Other Kingdom

Saint Thomas Becket - The Kingdom of God Must be DefendedThe Socratic Catholic blog has not spent much time addressing the heterodox teachings of Pope Francis, especially as they have been espoused in the document Amoris laetitia. There are a number of reasons for not covering this kind of material, most of which is the fact that there are already a variety of traditionalist Catholic web pages and periodicals doing exactly this in great detail.

It seems, however, that the Church is entering into a period where a reluctance to address heterodoxy within the ranks of the Church, or even remaining silent on these issues, is no longer a realistic option.

There is a great line in the classic movie, Becket, which perfectly summarizes our situation. When facing his accusers the Archbishop says, “The Kingdom of God must be defended like any other kingdom.”

Is this not a great truth that has been all but forgotten in our time?

God can accomplish all things, but it is for our benefit that He has chosen to work through those made in His image and likeness.

We must work tirelessly to defend the truths delivered once and for all time to the Apostles by Christ Jesus our King. A defense of these truths is necessary against foes outside of the Mystical Body of Christ, and also from within.

With that being said, a courageous group of signatories have issued important corrections to the Holy Father of the Church, Pope Francis.

Let us pray that this course of action might be beneficial and produce great results.

And let us never forget to also pray for Pope Francis.


Here is a link to the official web page correcting the heterodoxy of Pope Francis: Correctio Filialas

Here is a link to the official document: Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis


 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Culture, Politics

Political Revolution is Covert Psychological Warfare

Wilhelm ReichHow is it that the victories in the culture war are so one-side? It seems that for every one or two battles that don’t go in the win column for the political revolutionaries, there are a dozen others that take more territory in their favor. Christians routinely speak of losing the culture and that we now live in a post-Christian era in Western Civilization. How has this happened, especially since Christianity has always had a voice in American society?

It cannot be for a lack of institutions, organizations, conferences, books, articles, etc. There are Christian universities, seminaries, and apologetics programs turning out people to “take back the culture” by the thousands every year. And yet, the revolutionaries and atheistic iconoclasts keep marching forward as though these institutions didn’t even exist. To be sure, the progressive manufacturing centers we call universities are producing activists too, but Christians seem incapable of even slowing down these secular missionaries.

So why has the culture war been lost so badly? Why has Christianity been so thoroughly defeated in the culture of Western Civilization?

There are a lot of ways to answer this question, and all of them are most likely to prove controversial. But there is one reason in particular why Christianity has been defeated. The reason Christianity has been conquered in the West is due to its adherents completely misunderstanding the tactics of the enemy.

Christians have been fighting against the tide of the secular left, militant atheists, and sexual revolutionaries as though it was merely a philosophical dispute which then influences public policy some time in the near future. This miscalculation views the culture war through the lenses of election cycles rather than generational development.

This is has been a serious blunder; so serious in fact that Christianity has been thoroughly routed in every institution, including the Church.

The true nature of the radical social project we are encountering is covert psychological warfare. The radicals have infiltrated the institutions that shape the culture and have succeeded in psychologically conditioning the masses through systemic indoctrination to think in categories that undermine truth, beauty, and goodness.

This revolutionary tactic frames the manner in which issues are discussed by predetermining the language that will be permitted into the debate. Christians think they are ‘defeating the enemy’ when in reality they have already surrendered their arms because they have succumbed to the linguistically allowable categories of discussion. As long as the psychological framework justifying this covert operation goes unchallenged Christians will continue debating around the husks.

Political revolution is covert psychological warfare.

To be sure, there are numerous contradictory philosophical persuasions informing this covert operation, but it is incorrect to refute the philosophy without addressing the psychology of revolutionary moral anarchy. Moreover, it is a tactical error to begin with an attempted refutation of the philosophy undergirding this mindset because it will have no affect on the psychological conditioning that has taken place over generations of institutionalized brainwashing. A person does not reason their way into relativism, for relativism is an affront to reason. Adopting the relativistic framework requires an abandonment of reason, which can only take place through psychological manipulation. Using the tools of reason against views that require the abdication of reason is like giving medicine to a dead man.

The subtlety of such an operation is why covert psychological warfare is so successful. Unless people are aware of what is going on, they will not be able to guard themselves against it. Christians have been blindsided in the culture because, for the most part, they think we are in a battle of wits rather than a spiritual war. For evidence of this just take a hard look at mainstream apologetics in American society. What is the first move made against our atheistic opponents? It is most often to surrender the power of the gospel in order to appear “objective.” How many times has it been said that we, as Christians commissioned by the King of kings, should put aside our biases and weigh the evidence neutrally? How often has it been said that we can just set aside the Bible, or the divine deposit of faith, in order to use the tools of pure reason against our spiritual rivals? To ask these questions is to answer them, because these are the methodological mantras of the analytic sages of mainstream apologetics. Forget about conversion, we are being implicitly told that all that must be accomplished in defending the faith is to demonstrate that God most likely exists according to a probability calculus, or that God is the “best explanation” for why things are the way they are, or that Jesus was at the very least a historical figure etc.

Mainstream apologetics has stripped the defense of the faith of its commission to baptize the nations by emptying the gospel of its divine power. These methods are not only an all out philosophical surrender, but they are useless against the psychology of revolution motivating rebellion against the Creator of Heaven and earth.

 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Culture, History, Traditionalism

Revolution Begets Revolution

Martin Luther 95 ThesesThis year will mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s revolt and will be celebrated by many who would consider themselves traditional, conservative, and biblical.

This, however, is a contradiction. Conserving tradition and furthering revolution are fundamentally at odds. Preserving that which has been handed down cannot at the same time be rebelled against in the name of its preservation; therefore rendering Luther’s claim to revive the Church by overthrowing it incomprehensible to the demands of reason.

Moreover, to be biblical means to possess and follow the Sacred Page in its entirety as the Apostolic Church has received it, interpreted it, protected it, and cherished it. Claiming to be biblical while manufacturing a truncated version of the written word of God in order to suppress revealed doctrines that are unbecoming of a heretical schematic, is to advance the machinations of heterodoxy.

Furthermore, the exemplification of revolutionary incoherence is found in the statement most Protestants cherish. The dramatized “Here I stand…” moment exposes the unoriginal futility of individually fabricated ideas. Every heretic in the history of the Church has echoed this spirited mantra in rebellion against divinely instituted authority. A difference between them and Luther is that he murmured the loudest when the same treatment was given in return.

Martin Luther didn’t understand, but soon found out, that revolution begets revolution. Protestant denominationalism, to this day, is a rebuke against the errors of private judgment.

The last 500 years of Western Civilization are an undeniable testimony to the all-consuming nature of defiance against truth. The contemporary culture of revolutionary political dialectics is not inexplicable. It is the natural unfolding of institutionalized principles of rebellion.

The liberally heterodox systems of theology, philosophy, and politics since Luther’s sedition have had a focused mission: seize power away from the Church in order to divide and dismantle Christendom. And all of this for the purposes of reshaping nature and reality according to autonomous individualism guided by the precepts of subjective private judgment.

There are consequences to such projects.

The barbarism of the French Revolution, the body count of Manifest Destiny, the death toll of world war, the cultural destruction in pursuit of making the world ‘safe for democracy,’ and the legal ratification of sexual revolution all testify to what men might strive for when building a world without God and the guiding wisdom of Holy Mother Church.

We are deadlocked in a culture war that has been raging for a long time. The roots of this war, however, weren’t planted in the 60’s. The leftist sexual revolution, the bureaucratic welfare state, and the technocratic military-industrial complex all share the same heritage with the Western cultural revolt initiated by the principle of “I will not serve.”

Historically speaking Martin Luther initiated a series of intricately interconnected events. The spiritual leader, however, has always been the serpent that deceives men into believing in their individual autonomy and their power to rebel themselves into a new order.

One of the most ironic things that will take place during the celebration of Luther’s revolt against the Church is that many will be calling for the reestablishment of Christendom. The irony of this exposes the deceptive nature of the revolutionary mind; they always want to have in their possession what they just overthrew.

 

– Lucas G. Westman

 

 

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Culture, History

Horatius at the Bridge

Horatius at the BridgeMy introduction to readers at the Socratic Catholic included the fact that I teach history at both the high school and college levels. I recently gave the following excerpt from one of my lectures on ancient Rome as a speech for my local Toastmasters International club.

The story is that of Publius Horatius Cocles, a low-ranking army officer who single-handedly saved Rome from destruction by her enemies in 509 B.C. I’ve simplified some minor details, but the story itself is true, and I think it contains a valuable lesson for us as Catholics today.

Oftentimes our situation in the world looks hopeless. More often than not, our ecclesiastical leadership seems to be in full retreat from the enemy, and it can sometimes be tempting to join them in their flight. After all, if the bishops and cardinals aren’t standing up for the truth, why should we feel the need to do so? And even if we chose to, what difference could we possibly make?

The answer to that question is that we can make all the difference in the world. As you’ll learn in the following video, sometimes all it takes to change the course of history is for a few, humble warriors to stand their ground and fight, especially when all hope seems lost.

 

Nicholas Kaminsky

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Culture, Ethics, Philosophy

Mises, Eugenics, & the Culture of Death

Mises, Eugenics, & The Culture of DeathOn page 668 of Human Action, Ludwig von Mises says,

“Those fighting birth control want to eliminate a device indispensable for the preservation of peaceful human cooperation and the social division of labor. Where the average standard of living is impaired by the excessive increase in population figures, irreconcilable conflicts of interests arise. Each individual is again a rival of all other individuals in the struggle for survival. The annihilation of rivals is the only means of increasing one’s own wellbeing. The philosophers and theologians who assert that birth control is contrary to the laws of God and Nature refuse to see things as they really are. Nature straitens the material means required for the improvement of human wellbeing and survival. As natural conditions are, man has only the choice between the pitiless war of each against each or social cooperation. But social cooperation is impossible if people give rein to the natural impulses of proliferation. In restricting procreation man adjusts himself to the natural conditions of his existence. The rationalization of the sexual passions is an indispensable condition of civilization and societal bonds. Its abandonment would in the long run not increase but decrease the numbers of those surviving, and would render life for everyone as poor and miserable as it was many thousands of years ago for our ancestors.”

A couple of quick thoughts in response to this passage:

  1. I wonder how many Catholics who are fully committed to championing the thought of Mises, and Rothbard for that matter, have analytically read what he has argued on behalf of concerning the moral order? The above paragraph basically calls for the first pillar of social eugenics as a necessary cultural condition for human survival and flourishing. Mises sounds more like Margaret Sanger than someone “thinking economically.”
  2. Have the numerous Catholics who are champions of Misesian Austrian economics ever thought of criticizing this passage or the principles that give rise to its promulgation?
  3. How can any Catholic embody an unshakable loyalty to an economist that has such strong anti-Catholic biases such as this? This is only one single passage; there are many others throughout the corpus of Mises’s writings where he attacks basic tenets of Catholic social doctrine.
  4. Finally, Mises entirely misses the point of those “philosophers and theologians” arguing against birth control. Regulating the procreative act in an unnatural way does not promote social cooperation and harmony; it is the first pillar of a culture of death and societal discord. It denies the teleological function of sex as procreative, pitting woman against their own natural biological functioning while simultaneously constructing a divisive wall between husband and wife within the union of sacramental marriage.

 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Apologetics, Culture, Philosophy, Theology

The Linguistic Blackhole of Postmodern Meaninglessness

Beautiful Cathedrals in France“The Meaning Gap

Here it is worth exploring one apologetics issue in a bit more detail, to show just how wide can be the gap between the meaning we have for a word and the meaning that a skeptic has for it, even for seemingly very ordinary words: What does it mean to have faith in God?

We can define faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” but for most skeptics, this definition merely illustrates the problem. If faith is “the assurance of things hoped for,” is that not an outright admission of Christianity as wish-fulfillment? (“Gotcha!” says the atheist). Furthermore, “the conviction of things not seen” suggests blind faith, because in our culture today – deeply materialistic and naturalistic as it is – ‘unseen’ is for all practical purposes a synonym for ‘unreal.’ In this view, if something is unseen it cannot be measured, and if it cannot be measured, it doesn’t really exist; thus, “the conviction of things unseen” could apply to the existence of fairies and leprechauns just as much as to the existence of God. (“Proof positive that faith is irrational!” says the skeptic.) And so the very definition of faith from Scripture itself seems, to the skeptic, to be a frank admission that faith is unreal: that we are making it all up. It’s an empty term, not even worth discussing. (“You poor self-deluded thing,” says the atheist.)

Nor is ‘God’ a more straightforward term. Even if the atheist can get past difficulties with the idea of ‘faith,’ his concept of ‘God’ may well be a ‘cosmic sky-daddy’: the idea of an old man in the sky, meeting out rewards and punishments. This is (rightly) unbelievable; given this idea of ‘God,’ it is entirely reasonable to assume that ‘faith in God’ is a cultural construct, a story used to threaten or bribe people into submission, or something that uneducated people believed in before there was Science. Or, for someone who is ‘spiritual but not religious,’ the word ‘God’ might be an abstract term for universal goodness. For that person, talking about what God has done in history or how he offers mercy is a non sequitur, along the lines of suggesting that the number three has a wonderful plan for your life.

So we can see that language about ‘faith in God’ is, in many cases, as meaningless to the skeptic as talking about ‘confidence in snarks and boojums.’ At best, the skeptic attempts to be polite about it, the way one might be polite about an adult who seriously claims a belief in leprechauns in the garden, or alleges to have met Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet. There’s absolutely no question of genuinely investigating claims of tiny footprints or asking to be invited to dinner with the Dane. The discussion between the atheist and the apologist becomes nothing more than rhetorical maneuvering to trap one or the other into admission of irrationality.

Consider this: if I play a game of Monopoly with a friend, and I land on ‘Go to Jail,’ I don’t have to actually go to jail. If we are playing a war-themed video game and I get shot, nobody has to take me to the emergency room. The games use words that point to real-life experiences, but without the substance of them; the players try to win, and may indeed get very emotional in the process, but fundamentally they know it’s a game. If ‘God’ and ‘faith’ and all the other concepts that we want to talk about with skeptics are just words to them, such that our argument is just an intellectual game – well, then we will get exactly nowhere, and we will waste a lot of time talking past each other.

The dangers of using religious language without attention to meaning for the listener are not limited to interactions with skeptics; a disjunction of meaning can (and often does) occur in preaching and catechesis within the Church as well. For instance, a young person raised in the Church may have a fuzzy idea of sin as meaning ‘hurting other people,’ rather than as something objectively wrong in itself that harms one’s relationship with God and injures one’s soul. This young person is thus no hypocrite in agreeing with his parents that sin is wrong, while sleeping with his girlfriend. After all, they’re consenting adults, so nobody is getting hurt…and if nobody is getting hurt, there’s no sin! Against this backdrop, arguments about the immorality of his behavior are likely to be met with incomprehension, or result in a conviction that the Church’s teachings are arbitrary and can safely be ignored. The disagreement about meaning can hide beneath the surface, distorting the conversations without the participants realizing it.

Pastors, ministry leaders, and teachers may simply assume that terms such as ‘faith,’ ‘salvation,’ ‘sin,’ ‘prayer,’ and ‘resurrection’ have shared, real meaning for all those who have professed faith in Christ, when in fact this may not be the case. A persistent failure to attend to meaning within the Church is a real danger to believers on a number of counts. It can lead to pervasive sense of hypocrisy, if Christians begin to wonder whether anyone really means the words used in worship services or in the creeds; to destructive doubts, if Christians conclude that these words do not have real meaning; or to movement away from orthodoxy and toward various heresies, as a persistent absence of meaning for words like ‘resurrection’ can lead to a distancing from or even rejection of the historical particularity of Christianity.

What can we do about it?”

– Holly Ordway, Apologetics and the Christian Imagination – 


 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Culture, Philosophy, Politics

Virtue Signaling Inc.

Virtue Signaling Inc.The downward spiral of movement conservatism into an abyss of political and cultural irrelevance is accelerating at a staggering rate. The election of President Trump exposed the hopeless futility of contemporary conservatism, and as events continue to unfold during Trump’s tenure, the dialectic of “tradition-lite” has morphed into an industry of perpetual virtue signaling.

The first example of this pathetic development is Rod Dreher’s response to Pat Buchanan’s article, If We Erase Our History Who Are We? Dreher denounces the founder of the magazine he writes for (The American Conservative) with a vocabulary appropriated from the enemies of truth, beauty, and goodness. Dreher describes Buchanan’s article as, “disgusting, racist, indefensible,” and continues by saying (original emphasis), “It is abhorrent, and must be rejected in the strongest of terms by conservatives.” Never missing an opportunity to virtue signal his outstanding level of courage, Dreher says, “If this is where the Right is going, it can go right off that racist cliff without me.”

There is a significant problem with this puerile reaction (at least one that goes beyond the desire to make sure progressives see Dreher as “one of the good ones”), which is in the same article he implicitly identifies exactly what Buchanan is attempting to do with his argument. Dreher says,

“It is fine to disbelieve in egalitarianism as an ideology and as a basis for policy. Most conservatives do, and most conservatives rightly reject the idea that all cultures are equally good. And it is reasonable to argue against the puritan iconoclasts who would destroy monuments and historical memory in the name of a mindless, ideological dogmatism.”

This is kind of analysis identified by Dreher is precisely what Buchanan’s argument accomplishes! Anybody who is remotely familiar with the writing career of Pat Buchanan would know that he has made this argument multiple times. And to summarize, the argument is basically this: how far back should history fall into the memory hole given the unconstrained idealizations of the progressives in antifa? Why stop at Confederate statues? As President Trump stated in his press conference, Washington and Jefferson owned slaves, so are they the next victims of the cleansing of American history?

So here again we see Dreher giving with one hand what he takes with the other in order to prop himself up as the likeable “crunchy-con.” You cannot be a critic of the progressive ideology if you continually enslave yourself to progressives’ delicate sensibilities.

The virtue signally does not end with Rod Dreher. This trend now has a home in the “intellectual” circles of movement conservatism. Not only are conservatives piling on the South with progressives looking to reshape reality in the image of their faceless Utopia, but they are now openly defending the pathetic sophistry of philosophers who defend the gratuitous evil of abortion.

Sherif Girgis goes out of his way to defend the presentation of Professor Elizabeth Harmon’s argument for the continued killing of preborn children. Girgis says of Harmon’s view, “Professor Elizabeth Harman of Princeton University defends a striking and original view of when the unborn have moral status—when it might be wrong to harm them.”

This is false. Professor Harmon’s view is neither “striking” nor is it “original.” The argument is a sophistical re-articulation of attributing moral status upon the preborn baby when consciousness is acquired through natural development. However, Harmon’s argument is much worse than this because she bases the moral status of the preborn on our knowledge of whether or not the mother will make a choice to abort the baby. If the mother is going to choose to abort the baby then this baby never had moral status to begin with, and if she chooses to continue the pregnancy the baby now has moral status. This is circular reasoning in defense of evil. It does not deserve to be taken seriously, and it most certainly does not need to be treated with respect.

Another thing to take note of is the demeanor in which Professor Harmon makes the argument. Her expression of nonchalant indifference regarding the life of preborn human persons borders on sociopathic.

To be sure, Girgis goes on to offer criticism of the argument, but the most significant error he is guilty of making is virtue signaling his ability to take garbage philosophy seriously.

Conservatism Inc. has transformed itself into an enterprise of endless virtue signaling. All the evidence you need for this is found in conservatives allying with the left in the denunciation of the South as collectively racist and the conservative defense of sophistry in the name of feigned intellectual hospitality.

 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Apologetics, Culture, Holy Scripture, Theology

Against the Errors of Charismatic Pentecostals

Against the Errors of the Charismatic PentecostalsPentecostalism is being reported as the fasted growing religious denomination in the world. While many other denominations are in decline, the charismatic movement is gaining momentum, and can even boast of having influences within the Catholic Church.

The speed at which a false religious sect is growing can be a cause for concern, but it is the influence this false religious sect is having on the one, true, Catholic Church that is alarming.

I first encountered Pentecostalism in the Catholic Church when I shared with a priest my transition out of the charismatic movement during my days as a Protestant. When he heard that I used to be a Pentecostal, he asked with noticeable excitement, “Can you speak in tongues!?!?” Another instance is when I was speaking to a girl in my parish about her recent trip to the youth conference at Steubenville. She said it was great, and at one point everyone started speaking in tongues. These two brief occasions were not the only times I encountered Pentecostal sympathies in the Church. I have now met people who actively promote this movement arguing that the charismatic “revival” has always been recognized as legitimate within the Church, and have even been told by a Catholic that it would be beneficial to have a very “pentecostally” prayer session with this sect of Protestantism.

These interactions are truly perplexing.

How could the Catholic Church unite herself to a movement that not only began outside of the Church, but is also intimately associated with the flamboyantly heretical health, wealth, and prosperity gospel of the word of faith movement? How could a uniquely Protestant theology, invented in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, promoted by charlatans such as Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Gloria Copeland, Jesse Duplantis, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Paula White, Joel Osteen, Victoria Osteen etc., make its way into the Mystical Body of Christ?

One word provides the answer – ecumenism.

The promoters of Pentecostalism and the prosperity “gospel” would vociferously rebuke the mendicant orders of the Scholastic era started by Saint Dominic and Saint Francis. According to the heretical doctrines of this false gospel, God wants you to be healthy, wealthy, and have a great career. If you do not have these things – health, wealth, and a prosperous career outlook – then you not only lack true faith but also do not have the blessings of God on your life. How does this teaching square with the evangelical poverty of the mendicants? How does the teaching of true faith being united to bodily health work out in light of the ailments Saint Francis of Assisi was afflicted with, such as blindness late in his life? The mystically received stigmata Saint Francis carried on his body would most certainly be rebuked by any one of these false prosperity peddlers named above, and yet, their theology is being welcomed with open arms into the Mystical Body of Christ, the true Church.

It is also worth noting that there are Protestants exercising more wisdom on this matter than Catholic clerics. Protestants are sounding the alarm against these false teachers while the true shepherds of Christ willingly allow wolves into the fold.

The wrecking ball of modernism truly knows no bounds.

Instead of swallowing the lie, it is our duty as faithful Catholics to expose this error so that others might see the truth; not only so that Catholics might guard their souls against these heresies, but also, that Pentecostals might be rescued from damnable error and enter into the Church where Christ is truly encountered in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass.

There are multiple errors within the Pentecostal sect, but two of them are quite prominent. The most popular false doctrines of Pentecostalism are second baptism (baptism of the Holy Ghost), and glossolalia (speaking in tongues). To be sure, these errors stem from foundational errors such as the rejection of the magisterial authority of the Catholic Church, the adherence of ‘Bible alone’ theology, and private judgment. And to justify their autonomous private judgment (as St. Augustine cringes looking down from heaven), the oft-repeated phrase “the Holy Spirit has laid it upon my heart” is quickly utilized when cautious minds inquire into these teachings. When I started asking questions about the credibility of Benny Hinn’s theology, for example, I was allegedly being informed by the “spirit of doubt” and not really concerned with finding truth on this matter.

In order to reveal the destructive nature of Pentecostalism, let’s focus on the errors of second baptism and speaking in tongues, and how they are derived from incorrect scriptural exegesis resulting in a man-made doctrine.

Part I: Second Baptism

St. Paul the Apostle says,

“Therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, beseech you, that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called. With all humility, and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity, careful to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. One body, and one spirit: as you are called in one hope of your vocation. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.”[1]

Despite the fact that St. Paul refutes second baptism in the above passage, this error rises and falls on a single verse, which is most often taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible:

“He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.”[2]

The word “since” is used in two different ways – “because” or “from”. The verses that use “since” as “because” are 1 Corinthians 15:21, 2 Corinthians 13:3, and Colossians 1:4. An example of using “since” as “because” can be demonstrated in this sentence, “Can you pay for me this time since/because I paid for you last time.” The verses that use “since” as “from” are Matthew 24:21, Mark 9:21, Luke 1:70, Luke 7:45, Luke 16:16, Luke 24:21, John 9:32, Acts 3:21, Acts 24:11, Colossians 1:6 and 9, Hebrew 9:26, and 2 Peter 3:4. An example of using “since” as “from” can be demonstrated in this sentence, “I’ve been sick since/from last week.”[3]

The charismatic Pentecostals are attempting to divide the above passage through the introduction of separately distinct periods of time in the life of the believer by changing the interpretation of a single word. The correct way to read this passage is by its interconnectedness from the aspect of when a person believed because they have received the Holy Ghost.[4]

Pentecostals use the KJV to support the false doctrine of second baptism, sometimes referred to as second blessings, by using this verse in an incorrect way. This is accomplished by using the wrong definition of “since”. The error persists because “since” is used as “from” rather than “because” as demonstrated above.[5]

The correct way to read this passage would be, “He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since/because ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.”

The Douay-Rheims commentary on Acts 19:2 affords further clarification,

“S. Paul first inquires of them, if they have received the Holy Ghost by confirmation. There answer is probably not to be interpreted with rigor; since they must have heard something of the Holy Spirit, so often mentioned in the Old Testament, by whom the prophets are said to speak of. They meant, they did not know there was in the Church, any means of communicating this Spirit to the faithful.”

The incorrect way to read this passage, that is, the Pentecostal way of reading this passage would be, “He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since/from when ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” This reading, when compared to the correct interpretation above, is being used to justify the Pentecostal idea that a person can believe without receiving the Holy Spirit, and then later be baptized in the spirit by way of spiritual “slaying.” Being “slayed” in the Spirit means to have a Pentecostal minister lay their hands on you or pray over you so that the Holy Spirit will baptize you into receiving the gift of tongues. When this gift is allegedly received, the person will usually crumble to the ground in a dramatic manner and remain paralyzed by the experience. This of course usually takes place after a couple of hours of emotional prompting through “musical worship” in order to muster the appropriate level of emotional expectation.

The basic problem in assuming Acts 19:2 is speaking of two distinct periods of time (initially believing, and then receiving the Holy Spirit later in the life of the believer) is that in order to do so, two nouns must be used in such a way that believing is not correlated with receiving the Holy Spirit. “You received” and “The Holy Spirit” are syntactically connected; as the Holy Spirit is the direct object of received, so they cannot be two separate events.[6] This leaves “believing” as a stand-alone participle to describe the event of initial belief. In order to interpret these as two events, this would have to be an attendant circumstance participle, which would make these events coordinate.[7] It is not ever intended for the second action to happen sometime eventually, that is to receive the Holy Spirit later in the future or possibly not at all in an attendant circumstance participle, which would be the best hope of supporting this false doctrine.

Part II: Glossolalia

I Corinthians 14 of the KJV provides more ammunition for this false doctrine by adding the word “unknown” in front of “tongue” when in reality this word is not found in the Greek. The context bears this out in verses 6-9 and is epitomized here: “There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.”[8] This doctrine is completely negated by going back to Acts 2, where speaking in tongues initially took place, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance… every man heard them speak in his own language.”[9] God gave the Apostles the supernatural ability to breach the language barrier in order to preach the Gospel to all nations.

The false doctrine of speaking in tongues as espoused by charismatic Pentecostals is a novelty of the 19th century, as the unanimous testimony of the fathers indicates:

– St. Augustine –

“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. And when the sound was heard, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed, and marvelled, saying one to another, Are not all these which speak Galilæans? and how heard we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, in Armenia, and in Cappadocia, in Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the regions of Africa about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews, natives, Cretes, and Arabians, they heard them speak in their own tongues the wonderful works of God.”[10]

“If that night began after the Lord’s ascension, how was it that the apostles wrought so much? Was that the night when the Holy Spirit came, and, filling all who were in one place, gave them the power of speaking in the tongues of every nation?”[11]

“But “the Spirit was not yet given;” that is, with that abundance of spiritual grace which enabled those assembled together to speak in every language”[12]

– Clement of Alexandria –

“The apostle thus speaks: “So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue a word easy to be understood, how shall ye know what is spoken? For ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.” And, “Let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.””[13]

– St. Gregory of Nazianzen –

“XV. They spoke with strange tongues, and not those of their native land; and the wonder was great, a language spoken by those who had not learnt it. And the sign is to them that believe not, and not to them that believe, that it may be an accusation of the unbelievers, as it is written, With other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people, and not even so will they listen to Me saith the Lord. But they heard. Here stop a little and raise a question, how you are to divide the words. For the expression has an ambiguity, which is to be determined by the punctuation. Did they each hear in their own dialect so that if I may so say, one sound was uttered, but many were heard; the air being thus beaten and, so to speak, sounds being produced more clear than the original sound; or are we to put the stop after “they Heard,” and then to add “them speaking in their own languages” to what follows, so that it would be speaking in languages their own to the hearers, which would be foreign to the speakers? I prefer to put it this latter way; for on the other plan the miracle would be rather of the hearers than of the speakers; whereas in this it would be on the speakers’ side; and it was they who were reproached for drunkenness, evidently because they by the Spirit wrought a miracle in the matter of the tongues.”[14]

– St. John Chrysostom –

“Ver. 1. ‘Yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts; but rather that ye may prophesy.’

Ver. 2. ‘For he that speaketh in a tongue, speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth; but in the Spirit he speaketh mysteries.’

Ver. 3. ‘But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men edification, and exhortation, and comfort.’

At this point he [St. Paul] makes a comparison between the gifts, and lowers that of the tongues, showing it to be neither altogether useless, nor very profitable by itself. For in fact they were greatly puffed up on account of this, because the gift was considered to be a great one. And it was thought great because the Apostles received it first, and with so great display; it was not however therefore to be esteemed above all the others. Wherefore then did the Apostles receive it before the rest? Because they were to go abroad everywhere. And as in the time of building the tower the one tongue was divided into many; so then the many tongues frequently met in one man, and the same person used to discourse both in the Persian, and the Roman, and the Indian, and many other tongues, the Spirit sounding within him: and the gift was called the gift of tongues because he could all at once speak divers languages.”[15]

The evidence presented against the two most prominent errors of the charismatic Pentecostals is devastating to their most important positions. In order to justify the heretical doctrine of second baptism they incorrectly interpret the Sacred Page by driving a temporal wedge between a person’s believing and receiving the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the abuse of speaking in tongues is justified only by ignoring the context of Acts 2 and the testimony of the Church Fathers. Instead of babbling incoherently, the Apostles were given the miraculous gift of speaking in the intelligible languages of other nations. Our Lord commissioned the Apostles to baptize the nations, and it makes sense that in order to accomplish this mission, they might need the ability to preach in the native languages of the people they would encounter during their missionary journeys.

Most importantly is the fact that these errors cannot be attributed to a move of the Holy Spirit, that is, a new 20th century Pentecost where God is inflaming the hearts of those outside of the salvific ark of the Church. To the contrary, the Spirit of Truth has nothing to do with heresy.

 

– Lucas G. Westman & Tyson Carter


Appendix

Part I – Extended Exegesis

Once the synonym is used in place of “since” in the verse, this becomes completely obvious, as it becomes an incoherent idea. This is easily demonstrated first by examining the passages where the KJV translates a word or phrase in Greek meaning “from”, always have either a preposition or a pronoun, or both, modifying the noun. It is never understood with the participle as alleged in Acts 19:2. In addition to the absence of a prepositional phrase, the fact that it is a participle is also a problem, since the participle functions as a noun or adjective, despite being a verb. The noun in the syntactical structure preposition + pronoun + verb (from (since) + the time + [I] entered) is the pronoun “the time/which time”. The verb in the example phrase above from Luke 7:45 is aorist indicative active, not a participle. This is because there is a requirement to have a pronoun understood in the verbal phrase in order for it to make sense, which is normally not a problem when the prepositional phrase “from when/since” precedes a noun (Matt 24:21). The syntactic structure of this phrase is not consistent with the use of the prepositional phrase “since”, but rather consistent with the conjunction “since”. In truth neither are present in this passage in the original Greek, but the relationship between the aorist participle, and the act of receiving the Holy Spirit, are conditional upon each other, which is shown by the conditional conjunction εἰ.

“Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,” (Colossians 1:4, KJV 1900)

Εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ θεῷ …. ἀκούσαντες τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ

We give thanks to God … Hearing the faith   our   in Christ Jesus

εἰ πνεῦμα ἅγιον ἐλάβετε πιστεύσαντες

if Holy Spirit you received believing

The semantic relationships between “We give thanks to God” and “hearing of our faith in Christ Jesus” (Col 1:3-4) are identical to “you received the Holy Spirit” and “believing”. The verbal phrase is conditional upon the participle. This means that “We give thanks to God” is conditional upon “hearing of our faith in Christ Jesus”, just as receiving the Holy Spirit is conditional upon believing. In the case of Acts 19:2, the aorist participle of “believe” functions as an adverb and modifies the previous clause “If you received the Holy Spirit”. This will generally answer when, where, how, or why of a proposition. This syntactical structure clearly points to the use of “because” rather than the prepositional phrase “from when”, as this is how these questions are answered. You receive the Holy Spirit when you believe, or more appropriately, because you believe.

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” (Ephesians 1:13, KJV 1900)

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,” (Ephesians 1:13, NIV)

πιστεύσαντες ἐσφραγίσθητε τῷ πνεύματι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ ἁγίῳ

The syntactical structure of this phrase is identical to the last two examples, it is a conditional phrase made up of a verb, the direct object of that verb (a nominal phrase), and the adverbial participle that represents the condition of the verbal clause (i.e. You received/were sealed with the Holy Spirit). This participle can actually be characterized as: temporal, manner, conditional, and result. The first two answer the questions: when and how, conditional carries the sense of “if”, and the result shows what the verb accomplishes. At what point are we saved? When we believe. How are we saved? By believing. We are saved if we believe, and the result of believing is being saved.

In addition to this, Pentecostals also try to use the “baptism of John” argument using Acts 18:25, 19:3-4. This is a false dichotomy wrought by poor exegesis, as the same phrase is used in Matt 21:25, Mark 1:4, 11:30, Luke 7:29, 20:4, and Acts 1:22, before the Holy Spirit had even come down on the Apostles. This is another example of reading one’s presuppositions back into the text and coming out with a meaning not intended by the author. This is also made obvious by St Paul in the previously quoted passage in Ephesians 4. This immersion (baptism) of repentance (Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3, Acts 13:24, 19:4) is also found in the Jewish Mishnah (Kippurim 8:9A & I), showing it to merely be a Jewish tradition that was later adopted by the Church as a sacrament.

One receives the Holy Spirit through water baptism (Acts 8:36-38), which saves us (1 Pet 3:21), which is a necessary part of believing in Christ, as we are buried with Him in baptism in which we are also raised together with Him through faith in the working of God (Col 2:12). Unlike what other Protestants will try to claim, believing in Christ requires we believe in everything He taught, and not just a small part of it, as the above-cited passages (and many others) show.


[1] Ephesians 4:1-6

[2] Acts 19:2, KJV 1900

[3] Here is the fragment in question in Greek, and then word-for-word directly into English underneath:

εἰ   πνεῦμα ἅγιον   ἐλάβετε           πιστεύσαντες

if     Holy Spirit       you received   believing

The εἰ in this context makes the statement interrogative, which in turn changes the translation of the aorist second person singular conjugation of “receive” (you received) to “have you received?”. The nominal phrase “Holy Spirit” is in the accusative case, which means it is the object of the verb. Thus, the phrase “εἰ πνεῦμα ἅγιον ἐλάβετε” should be translated “have you received the Holy Spirit?” which is fairly uncontroversial.

[4] The controversial aspect of this short passage upon which so much doctrinal error is based is the role of the aorist participle of “believe”.

[5] See appendix for further explanation

[6] Aside from this, the Holy Spirit is a noun and does not make sense without the utilization of a verb, which would also not make much sense without a direct object (unless the verb is intransitive, which it is not).

[7] While many of the requirements for an attendant circumstance participle are met, it is not possible for these participles to be read this way. For example, “Rise and take the child” (Matt 2:13), “Go and learn” (Matt 9:13), “came and bowed” (Matt 9:18), “Go quickly and tell his disciples” (Matt 28:7), “They left everything and followed him” (Luke 5:11), Go and show yourself” (Luke 5:14), “Sit down and write fifty” (Luke 16:6), and many more of these types of participles all have one thing in common, you never have the participle occur and not the verb. The angel was not telling Mary and Joseph to rise, and then maybe take the child sometime in the future, or possibly not at all. If it were possible to have one half of the attendant circumstance participle construction to occur and not the other, then the message “Rise Peter, kill and eat” bears no significance to the abandonment of Levitical dietary practices, if “rise” is not without “kill and eat”. Likewise, the Great Commission “Go and make disciples” (Matt 28:19) would merely be a suggestion, if “Go” was not immediately connected to “make disciples”. Were “go” and “tell the disciples” (Matt 28:7) not inextricably connected, one with the other? Like all of the other examples, the participle that is coordinate with the next verb is always in immediate succession. It is not ever intended for the second action to happen sometime eventually, or possibly not at all in an attendant circumstance participle, which would be the best hope of supporting this false doctrine. This is the closest one could get to Acts 19:2 teaching the doctrine of second blessings, to interpret the participle in one of the other ways would either be so absurd as to not make sense, or is not constructed appropriately either morphologically or syntactically. But abusing grammar in this way causes theological problems elsewhere, in addition to being exegetically irresponsible.

[8] 1 Corinthians 14:10, KJV 1900

[9] Acts 2:4, 6, KJV 1900

[10] St Augustine of Hippo, Against the Epistle of Manichæus Called Fundamental

[11] St Augustine of Hippo, Lectures or Tractates on the Gospel according to St. John

[12] St Augustine of Hippo, Lectures or Tractates on the Gospel according to St. John

[13] Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata

[14] Select Orations of Saint Gregory Nazianzen

[15] Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the First Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians

 

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