Sunday, February 15, 2015

Heresy Explained



This is from Dale Ahlquist's new book All Roads.

Shortly after I became a Catholic, I was talking with a Catholic woman who said she had always wanted to find out more about the different Protestant churches.  I told her that all she had to do was take the Catholic Church and start cutting parts of it away.  That is basically what each Protestant sect is.  Each has kept something, but has left out smething greater.  Some have, for instance, kept the Bible, but have left out the atuhority of the Church, which gave us the Canon of Scripture.  In some cases, they have kept the sovereignty of God, but left out free will.  They have kept heaven, but left out hell.  They have kept the Virgin Birth, but left out the Mother of God.  And they have kept the homily, but left out the priest.  What most Protestant converts finally realize is that their church has something it still calls an altar, but nothing called a sacrifice, which is the only thing an altar is used for.
Chesterton marvelously illustrates this idea in - where else? - one of his Illustrated London News essays.  He says that a man who builds a pile of stones and burns a sacrifice to his god is obviously doing a religious act.  It makes sense that over time, others would come and participate in such a ceremony, and that he might give them benches to sit on and build a roof for them to keep them out of the rain, and he might turn some of his prayers into ordered chants that can be repeated, and he might take the opportunity to address the other people and explain what he is doing, and write down the prayers and the chants in a book and place the book on a lectern from which to read it to the others.  But in any case, no matter what is added to the religious act, it is clear what the religious act is. 
So what do the reformers do?  They don't tak away all the additions.  They leave the had benches and the lectern.  They take away the real religious thing.  They take away the altar.  They take away the sacrifice.  They take away the God.
In most cases, it is not what heretics add that gets them into trouble; it is what they take away.  It is not so much that they believe a lie, but that they settle for something less than the whole truth.  They prefer the tiny bit of truth they have kept to the gigantic truth they have left behind. 
 
 

3 comments:

Drusilla Barron said...

"What most Protestant converts finally realize is that their church has something it still calls an altar, but nothing called a sacrifice, which is the only thing an altar is used for."

After my parents were killed when I was about five, I lived with a Baptist minister and his family until I was old enough to go to university. I recall staring at the polished, pale wood table at the front of the church and marveling at how empty it was. It's emptiness terrified me. It felt like a coffin.

As soon as I was old enough to find my way, I sneaked out and went to Mass and was confirmed at the Easter Vigil when I was a freshman. Years later, that empty table that reminded me of a coffin still haunts me. I was certain, there was nothing where something ought to have been.

Anonymous said...

These sort, who we call moderns, have been indoctrinated by modernism, which is defined (look at the word!) as a denial of Tradition. Luther denied Sacred Tradition that stretched back to the Apostles, while Descartes denied the philosophical tradition that stretched back to Socrates. These people will be outraged by these "homophobic" and "sexist" posts, while they go on picking and choosing (which is the definition of heresy) what they wish to believe, even if and when it is contradictory. When they say they are "rational", they mean they are sentimental, and sentimental philosophy is just a slave to an age's fads.

They don't care what they deny, as long as the denied is part of Tradition in some form. Moderns are just a different kind of Protestantism. What is denied varies generation to generation.

Dominus noster et Deus Christus Iesus vobiscum sit semper,

Daniel

Anonymous said...

*Actually, I should say that protestants are just another kind of modern. Protestantism is just Modernism applied to Christianity.

Dominus noster et Deus Christus Iesus vobiscum sit semper,

Daniel