Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

10/28/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We need to pray for the faithful Christians within every community

From its birth, the Christian Church has been sent into cultures and societies filled with people who thought they were "progressive", when they were anything but. What is at stake are two competing visions of the human person, human freedom, human flourishing and human progress

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/28/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: error, heresy, heterodoxy, mere christianity, faithful, apologetics, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - In 2009 I wrote an article expressing concern over the decision of the "Evangelical Lutheran Church in America" to ordain non-celibate practicing homosexuals to their clergy. I claimed the denomination had succumbed to heresy.

I wrote the article because it involved significant news. I also did so because I am a Catholic. As a Catholic, I believe I should be concerned about other Christians who are struggling within the communities which evolved from the Protestant Reformation.

The article generated some disapproving comments. They ranged from the reader who wondered why such an article was "even published on a Catholic Web Site", to others which used the term "schismatic" in reference to all Protestant Christians.

Some objected to my use of the term, "orthodox' to distinguish those Lutherans who adhered to what C.S. Lewis would have called "Mere Christianity" - by accepting the fundamentals of the Christian faith - from those who had  succumbed to error within their own denomination.

Still others wanted to re-fight the Protestant Reformation and offered combative comments concerning where these communities erred in their initial division with the Catholic Church. I agreed - to some extent - with the analysis of some of my readers on these topics.

After all, I am a Catholic by choice. However, that was not the point of the article. Rather, it was to report on the sad turn of events within a community of fellow Christians with whom we share a common baptismal bond.

Finally, some readers accused me of lacking compassion because I called the intentional ordination of practicing homosexual's error. There is a huge difference between respecting the human dignity of all men and women, including those who struggle in this area, and failing to help fellow Christians reject error.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA) erred when the leadership of that community "voted" to abandon Christian orthodoxy. Their national assembly in Minneapolis struck down a policy that no longer required those with same sex attraction issues to remain celibate. In doing so they rejected the clear unbroken teaching of Christianity.

Christians abandoning the teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the Christian Tradition is not a new phenomenon in the 2000 year history of the Church. What is new is the massive support that such a sad turn of events now receives in some segments of the media which seem to delight at reporting on such matters.

All one has to do is look to the first few centuries of the Christian Church to see that this matter is not new. The same struggles existed very early on in the Church. Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyon, France, was born in Asia Minor in the year 125. His efforts are one example of the many early Church Fathers who contended for the truth - and pulled no punches.

His seminal work was entitled "Against Heresies". It was dedicated exposing and opposing false teaching in order to protect the Christians of that day from poison. His treatise is a refutation of the teachings of certain "Christian" Gnostics whose followers fell for similar errors and condoned disordered sexual practices in the process.

Irenaeus' goal, stated in the Fifth Book of the treatise, was to ".reclaim the wanderers and convert them to the Church of God" and to "confirm at the same time the minds of the neophytes" (Preface, Book V).This imust be the response of the Christian Church in our age. Irenaeus loved the heretical Christians enough to speak the truth precisely to try and lead them back to the faith. We must follow his example.

The AP report in 2009 contained these words "The ELCA - the nation's seventh-largest Christian church - reached its conclusion after eight years of study and deliberation. That culminated Friday when the church's national assembly in Minneapolis struck down a policy that required any gay and lesbian clergy to remain celibate."

The length of time it took for this group to reject Christian orthodoxy and embrace this heresy has no bearing upon the matter. Truth is not subject to change based upon a vote!

The struggle we face today involves a clash of worldviews, Christian and pagan. The positions espoused by the "majority" of the ECLA who voted in 2009 were heretical. The lifestyles affirmed by some who claim the moniker "progressive",l even in the Christian community, are anything but progressive.

They are an example of the regressive effort to turn the clock back to pre-Christian paganism.

It was the Christian vision of faithful, monogamous marriage, family, authentic human freedom, the dignity of every human person and the existence of objective truth from which we derive a common morality which has guided social progress.

In fact, it was these very insights which have helped to free people from the bondage of disordered appetites and unshackle them from the tyrannies - personal and social - rooted in sin and the structures which it fosters.

It has been the Christian vision of the human person, the family, the just society and the true common good that has helped to overcome the slaveries which arose from flawed pagan ideologies and superstitions.

From its birth, the Christian Church has been sent into cultures and societies filled with people who thought they were "progressive", when they were anything but.

Many of those cultures practiced primitive forms of abortion and even "exposure", a practice of leaving unwanted children on rocks to be eaten by birds of prey or picked up by slave traders.

Ancient Christian manuscripts such as the Didache (the Teaching of the Twelve), the accounts of Justin Martyr and other early sources, expose cultures - not unlike the one in which we live - where people were treated as property, "freedom" was perceived as a power over others and unrestrained license masqueraded as liberty.

The early Christians did not back down from contending with the pagans of old. They knew then - and we must reassert in our own day - that what is at stake are two competing visions of the human person, human freedom, human flourishing and human progress.

The early Christians demonstrated the superiority of their claims by their compelling witness of life. So must we. They lived in monogamous marriages, raised their children to be faithful Christians and good citizens, and went into the world of their age offering a new way to live.

This "way" (which is what they first called the early Church) presented a very different worldview than the one that the pagans embraced. As a result, they sometimes stirred up hostility. Some of them were martyred in the red martyrdom of shed blood.

Countless more joined the train of what use to be called "white martyrdom", living lives of sacrificial witness and service in the culture, working hard and staying faithful to the end of a long life spent in missionary toil.

Slowly, not only were small numbers of "pagans" converted and baptized, but eventually their leaders and entire Nations followed suit. Resultantly, the Christian worldview began to influence the social order.

The "clash of freedoms" continued, but the climate changed significantly. It was the Christian faith and the practices of these early Christians that began to win the hearts of men and women.

Cultures once embracing pagan practices, such as plural marriage, active homosexual practice, exposure of infants and abortion began to change dramatically. This dynamic continued for centuries.

Christianity taught such novel concepts as the dignity of every person and their equality before the One God. The Christians proclaimed the dignity of women, the dignity of chaste marriage and the sanctity of the family.

Christians insisted that freedom must be exercised with reference to an objective moral code, a law higher than the emperor, or the sifting sands of public opinion; a Natural Law which could be known by all men and women, through the exercise of reason, because it was written on the human heart.

Christians presented a coherent and compelling answer to the existential questions that plagued the ancients such as why we existed and how we got here. What was the purpose of life? Questions like how evil came into the world and why we could not always make right choices? What force seemed to move us toward evil and how we could be set free from its power?

Christian philosophy began to flourish and the arts also flourished under the Christian worldview. Philosophies of government and economic theory began to be influenced by these principles derived from a Christian worldview. It offers the same genuine liberation to the contemporary age.

Some say we live in a post modern age; indeed others call it a "post Christian" age. I will not use either description. If anything, it is a pre-Christian age, ripe for the "New Evangelization" of the Church. The future belongs to the Church.

The message and gifts she holds for every age pave the road of true progress. The contemporary re-emergence of ancient paganism, even embraced by some within some Christian communities, is not the path to freedom and flourishing but to misery. It must be exposed, opposed and rejected.

Fortunately for Catholic Christians, we have a "Magisterium", a teaching office, which, continuing the apostolic mission, guards the deposit of faith against heresy in both doctrine and practice. Many of our friends in other Christian communities do not.
 
We need to pray for the faithful Christians within every community in our own day. Together we must rededicate ourselves to standing "Against Heresies" by proclaiming the Truth which alone sets all men and women free.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Living Faith

Worldwide Christian persecution among four vital issues behind Pope and Russian patriarch's visit Watch

Image of Both the Catholic Church and Russian Orthodox Church have spoken out clearly to stop the

By Andrea Gagliarducci, CNA/EWTN News

The first, historic meeting between a Pope and a Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church does not come from nowhere. Both the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate and the Holy See have been working on such an event for decades. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - In at ... continue reading


Can we set aside our differences?: Catholics and Russian Orthodox Patriarch unite for the first time in 1,000 years Watch

Image of Patriarch Kirill will meet Pope Francis on this historic day (AP).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Vatican recently announced the historic meeting between Pope Francis and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The meeting is set for Friday and will be the first time the heads of the Catholic and Russian ... continue reading


Oldest copy of Old Testament recognized as world treasure Watch

Image of The oldest surviving copy of the Hebrew Bible has been officially recognized.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The oldest surviving copy of the Old Testament was officially recognized as a world treasure by the United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Aleppo Codex is the oldest surviving copy of the Hebrew ... continue reading


More than a thousand 'super confessors' released by Pope Francis to tackle 'reserved sins' Watch

Image of One of the Pope's

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Those who commit "reserved sins," transgressions that are deemed especially egregious by the Catholic Church, will have another chance this Jubilee Year. Those who have committed such sins previously only pardonable by the Pope may now seek out the 1,142 ... continue reading


'What could happen if every church would rise up in prayer': Christians join before U.S. Supreme Court to call for prayer Watch

Image of Texas Loves Life stands to protect the unborn (bound4life).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Christians stand together outside the U.S. Supreme Court to call other believers to pray the pro-life law passes. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - While the Supreme Court considers a Texas pro-life law, Texas Loves Life calls for Christians to pray for the fates of ... continue reading


If 'Jubilee doesn't arrive to the pockets, it's not a true Jubilee,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of In his continued catechesis on mercy as seen in Scripture, the Pope noted how the Jubilee year is an

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

For Pope Francis, mercy is not just spiritual, but is something that ought to be expressed in concrete acts of service and in sharing one's goods with the poor, which was a key tradition during Jubilee years throughout Scripture. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - ... continue reading


'You can't have Jesus': NASA accused of censoring use of Christ's name Watch

Image of NASA announces the use of Jesus' name in e-communications is a violation of the First Amendment (SacredHeart).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Members of the Praise and Worship Club, composed of NASA employees, were shocked to receive a notice from NASA ordering they cease to include Jesus' name in their religious e-mails. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The use of Jesus' name came up in May 2015, when ... continue reading


MAKE YOURSELF COUNT! Complete this quick Ash Wednesday survey

Image of Take the Ash Wednesday survey so we can better serve your needs.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online is conducting a global survey on Ash Wednesday practices. Each reader is asked to participate once. The survey will take less than a minute to complete. The results of the survey will help Catholic Online determine how best to serve your needs in the ... continue reading


Santa Muerte gains popularity throughout Mexico - Will Pope Francis react during his visit? Watch

Image of Santa Muerte's popularity has spread throughout South America (Pinterest).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Despite the Catholic Church openly saying Santa Muerte is not recognized as a saint, the death saint continues to spread in popularity among Mexican citizens. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Santa Muerte is an absurdity," Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Mexico's ... continue reading


Bible-themed luxury resort to be built in San Diego? Watch

Image of Televangelist seeks to build Bible-themed resort (YouTube).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Televangelist Morris Cerullo has been attempting to build a Bible-themed luxury resort for the past few years - and now there is only one more hurdle to jump. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - After purchasing a foreclosed Mission Valley hotel, Cerullo's plans for ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 58:9-14
9 Then you will cry for help and Yahweh will answer; you will call and he ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Prayer Of David] Listen to me, Yahweh, answer me, for I am poor and ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 5:27-32
27 When he went out after this, he noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 13th, 2016 Image

St. Catherine de Ricci
February 13: St. Catherine was born in Florence in 1522. Her ... Read More