Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

6/24/2014 (7 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A red herring is a rhetorical device to distract someone from the real argument.

In the debate on current issues like same sex marriage, matters of church discipline and moral teaching there are three little red fish that are used in our society constantly, and like those Swedish fish candies, they're sweet and irresistible. The three may be named the sentimental heresy, the utilitarian heresy and the political heresy. These forms of argument are subjective and relativistic. In other words, they are based in personal experience and opinion, not in facts or evidence.

Fr Dwight Longenecker is the author of Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing. His book More Christianity explores the fullness of the Christian faith in the Catholic Church.

Fr Dwight Longenecker is the author of Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing. His book More Christianity explores the fullness of the Christian faith in the Catholic Church.

Highlights

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/24/2014 (7 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Fr Dwight Longenecker, catholicism, catholic, orthodoxy, dynamic orthodoxy, magisterium, living faith, cafetaria catholics


GREENVILLE, S.C. (Catholic Online) - I can't resist those candies called Swedish fish, but whenever I munch through a pack I'm reminded of a different kind of little red fish--a red herring.

A "red herring" is a rhetorical device to distract someone from the real argument. It could be a false clue in a mystery story or a logical fallacy used as an argument or an arguing point that is simply irrelevant.

In the debate on current issues like same sex marriage, matters of church discipline and moral teaching there are three little red fish that are used in our society constantly, and like those Swedish fish candies, they're sweet and irresistible. The three may be named the sentimental heresy, the utilitarian heresy and the political heresy. These forms of argument are subjective and relativistic. In other words, they are based in personal experience and opinion, not in facts or evidence.

The sentimental heresy uses strong emotions-either negative or positive-to argue the case. Here's an example from the debate on married priests: The sentimental argument in favor of married priests goes like this: "Father Bob is so lonely being celibate. He's such a fine man, and a good woman and a beautiful family would make him happy. Think of all those celibate priests who go home every night to an empty house." You get the idea. This is an argument based on emotion.

The utilitarian heresy used for the same cause would be, "Father Bob would understand family life so much better if he were married himself. He would be a better priest because he would have a good woman to back him up, and she could earn a second income as well, which would be good!" In this case the argument seeks to show how a particular innovation would be more useful than the status quo. If it works it must be good--right?

The political heresy turns the debate into a question of human rights and justice and fairness. So for married priests the political argument is, "What right does the Pope have to ban marriage for priests? Don't they have the right to be hap py like anyone else? It's unjust. Why do men have to take on celibacy just because they have a call to priesthood?"

Don't get me wrong. I'm not making these arguments, but giving examples of those three red herrings--sentimentalism, utilitarianism and political correctness.

These three forms of argument are okay when you're dealing with genuine questions of human rights, or a genuine debate about the usefulness of an idea or when you genuinely want someone's sentimental opinion about an issue. Where they become heresies is when they become the only argument, and when they are used in matters where sentiment, utility and politics are of secondary importance-there being a more important and higher priority of truth to be decided.

This is where Catholicism cuts through the muddy thinking. Catholics should understand that there is a hierarchy of truth, and that true teaching on faith and morals trumps mere sentiment, utility and politics every time. The subjective opinions expressed as sentiment, utilitarianism and politics are necessary, but they need to be enlightened and informed by the greater teachings of the Catholic faith.

The teaching of the Catholic Church is not determined by individual opinion and emotion. Neither is it determined by what is useful or brings about a desirable consequence. Nor is it determined by what is popular or politically correct in a particular society or context.

The teaching of the Catholic Church, like the Church herself is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. In other words, it is unified within itself and with all other truth. It is Supernaturally inspired. It is universal through all time and in all places and it is handed down to us from the Lord through the Apostles and on to the living apostolic authority in the church today.

This Catholic truth is a bedrock on which we can build and the successor of Peter the Rock is the living emblem of our firm foundation.

-----
Fr Dwight Longenecker is the author of Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing. His book More Christianity explores the fullness of the Christian faith in the Catholic Church. This is a friendly explanation of Catholicism for Evangelical Christians. Taking off from C.S.Lewis' famous book with a similar name, More Christianity calls Evangelical Christians to come "further up and further in" to the Catholic Church.He serves as the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary church in Greenville, South Carolina.Please visit his blog, listen to his radio show, subscribe to his weekly newsletter and contact him at dwightlongenecker.com  Read his blog, Standing on My Head His latest book is The Romance of Religion --Fighting for Goodness, Truth and Beauty

---


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


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More U.S.

The Prophetic Connection Between the March for Life and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is no accident that the March for Life always falls within the National Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It is prophetic.We have been thrown together in a common defense of life in a western culture which has lost its moral compass. Our Marching together ... continue reading


Early Christian Deacon and Martyr Vincent Calls Us to Heroic Christian Witness in a Hostile Culture Watch

Image of Vincent was born in the Third Century in Huesca, Spain and born again to eternal life only four days into the fourth century. He lived in Saragossa where he served the holy Bishop Valerius as a Deacon.He was one of the scores of Christians who suffered brutal persecution under the evil Roman emperor named Diocletian. Diocletian is associated with the last of the ten persecutions of the nascent undivided Christian Church of the first millennium of our history.  Like many early deacons of the undivided Church such as Stephen, Lawrence and Ephrem, the hagiography which has been passed down through the Church records his holiness of life and heroic virtue. He lived the way he died, as a sign of the power of the Gospel and the truth of the presence of the Risen Jesus Christ in our midst.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Deacon Vincent was a man like us who encountered the same Risen Lord Jesus whom we have encountered. He struggled with the choices which always accompany living the Christian life in the midst of a culture which has squeezed God and His truth out of the ... continue reading


Caught in the act: Telephone scammers get comeuppance from plucky woman Watch

Image of Becoming pro-active, Rachel Fitzsimmons decided to take action in an effort to spread awareness so that others do not fall for the swindle.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

Telephone solicitors threatening phony legal action are the bane of many people's existence. They typically prey upon "old-timers" who still have landlines in their homes and are home in the evenings. Rachel Fitzsimmons, of Denver, Colorado received such a call ... continue reading


Is Israel beholden to Obama? Should the president be able to hold the American people hostage via threat of veto? Republicans and Israeli prime minister say no! Watch

Image of Benjamin Netanyahu is set to speak before a joint session of Congress on March 3 about keeping nuclear capabilities out of the hands of Iran.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

On March 3, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu will speak before the a joint session of the U.S. Congress, a move which is as much a show of support for Israel from the Republican dominated legislature as it is a rebuff of President Obama. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


Upset over private donations, Liberal protestors barged in on the Supreme Court Watch

Image of Members of 99rise during a protest.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As the Supreme Court opened on January 21, a rare disturbance broke out which caused seven protesters to be removed. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Chief Justice John Roberts was about to announce the day's opinions when a protester stood up and began shouted: "We ... continue reading


The First Right is the Right to Life. It is Time to End Legal Abortion on Demand Watch

Image of The great human rights movement of our age is the struggle to restore to the Civil and positive law the legal recognition of the fundamental Human Right to Life. It is already a fundamental human right, and one which can never be taken away. This Right to Life is the foundation of all other rights. It is the first solidarity issue. The child in the womb is our innocent neighbor. It is wrong to kill any innocent neighbor. We know this and we have perpetuated the lie for too long.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

No one with integrity any longer argues that the little girl or little boy killed through procured abortion is not a human being. When the abortion occurs through miscarriage we properly enter into the mourning of the mother over the loss of the one we call - her ... continue reading


Archbishop Josť H. Gomez: OneLife LA and 9 Days for Life Watch

Image of Archbishop Gomez - In granting a legal right for some people to take the lives of others, the Supreme Court in effect decided that human rights are granted by government - not by God. That gives the government the final say - not only in defining what is right and wrong, but also in deciding who gets to live and who does not. There are many injustices in our society, but the most fundamental is the one our society rarely acknowledges - the routine taking of innocent human life every day through abortion.

By Archbishop Josť H. Gomez

Roe v. Wade continues to shape American consciousness and public life. At the political level, from debates in state legislatures to federal questions about health insurance, our country is clearly still divided over whether to allow abortion and what limits ... continue reading


The Dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Must Include Our Youngest Neighbors in the Womb Watch

Image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - Remember his words,

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On this day when we remember the dream and honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we must continue his work and not succumb to the counterfeit agendas which seek to leech upon his noble memory. There is no doubt that any positive or civil law which ... continue reading


Roe v Wade, Doe v Bolton: The Deception Continues

Image of

By Catherine Contreras

The abortion lobby, their media lapdogs, and pro abortion politicians have been able to continue the deception that there is a "right" to take innocent human life in the womb because of a scam perpetrated by the United States Supreme Court in 1973.  On ... continue reading


Filing for bankruptcy, St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese owns up to sexual abuse lawsuits Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Taking responsibility for myriad abuses of the past, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has filed for bankruptcy. Archbishop John Nienstedt of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese says that the financial reorganization will help pay each of its ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jonah 3:1-5, 10
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to Jonah a second ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
4 DIRECT me in your ways, Yahweh, and teach me your ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 1:14-20
14 After John had been arrested, Jesus went into ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 7:29-31
29 What I mean, brothers, is that the time has become ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 25th, 2015 Image

St. Peter Thomas
January 25: Carmelite Latinpatriarch and papal legate. Peter was born in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter