16 January 2011

Heresy is Heresy


In today's "anything goes" world, it is all the rage to say that whatever one believes is fine, in terms of religion or anything else. No one is allowed (at least by society) to criticize anyone else's beliefs, unless, of course, those beliefs are traditional ones. Strange how that works.

Believing what you want in religion is considered acceptable for a whole variety of reasons. One of these is that it furthers the general liberal and socialist agenda by breaking down people's belief in the truths of Christ. Another is that religion is now considered merely a matter of belief, i.e., "not like things we can know for sure, like science." Of course, religion is very much a science (read Thomas Aquinas for a proof of that). To claim that things of a religious nature are mere "belief" because they cannot be proven by modern secular science is both arrogant and wrong. Following Aquinas, two sciences may explain the same phenomenon in their own ways insofar as they may somewhat overlap. Yet, a higher science cannot be made to depend on a lower science. Music, for example, depends on rules coming from the sciences of mathematics and physics. Mathematics and physics, therefore, are higher sciences. Both, of course, explain more of the world than music. Neither mathematics nor physics, however, depend on the rules of music. That music cannot explain certain things in the world does not mean that the explanation given by mathematics or physics is wrong. In the same way, religion covers the entirety of time and space even beyond the comprehension of we mere humans. Modern secular science explains some of the same things, yet cannot explain everything. Secular science is the explanation of God's universe in human terms so that we may better understand the universe. It depends wholly upon God and, therefore, religion. Religion is the superior science, and therefore does not depend on secular science for proof. Failure to grasp this is the source of many modern "rationalist" heresies.

If one has an opinion contrary to the rules of physics, one is justly considered wrong and ignorant. Yes, there are some grey areas, particularly where new ground is being broken. Yet, if one wants to hold vigorously to the opinion that the normal sky color during the daytime in the world is green, one is clearly wrong. Holding that viewpoint does not make it right or make it the truth. Neither does holding that viewpoint make it "right for you."

In religion, it is no different. One can have an opinion or even a deep-rooted belief that is contrary to Sacred Scripture or the doctrine of the Church. That doesn't make it right. Just as with secular science, there are grey areas, though in the case of religion, they either stem from man's inadequacy in interpretation or matters of religious discipline. The Bible is actually self-interpreting. Its divinely-inspired perfection is not challenged by any inabilities of humans to understand all of the vastness of God and His Word.

Fortunately we have the Holy Church to guide us and to be the final word on what the Sacred Scripture means. This is the Sacred Tradition and the teaching authority of the Church. This was established by Jesus Christ Himself. Feel free to consult the Bible if you forgot about that.

What is unfortunate is the division in the Church. While some in apostolic succession have separated into autonomous jurisdictions over various issues, the real crime against religion is the vast number of those without any Biblical authority to interpret, teach, or decide who have opted to place their own intellect above that of the Church and above two thousand years of the collective wisdom of the Apostles and the Bishops, Doctors, and theologians of the Church. Many of these disagreements center on partial interpretation of the Bible, choosing to focus on certain parts while ignoring the rest. Whatever the reason, cause, or motivation, this amounts to pure heresy. It is as worthy of condemnation as ignorant behavior as is the notion that the normal daytime sky color is green. And, it is far more dangerous. Errors in belief regarding modern secular science affect only the mind. Heresy affects both the mind and the soul.

Heresy can be within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church just as much as it can be found in the hodge-podge of protestant denominations. Recent polls of Catholics have shown that only a small number actually believe and practice to the best of their ability the teachings of the Church. Some promote outright heresy. It is one thing to struggle with understanding, believing and practicing the teachings of the Church. This is a normal part of the faith journey. However, it is important to remember that struggling with belief and working on growing your faith is completely different from saying "I don't believe it now, so it isn't true and doesn't apply to me." One is a true Christian working on building his faith. The other is a heretic.

Heresy must be openly opposed wherever it is encountered. This is easier said than done these days, when the world says that everyone's individual beliefs are sacred and therefore cannot be challenged by anyone. Yet, if we stand by and do nothing when we have the chance to do something, we become part of the problem. There is but one Church. You're either in it or you're not. By following, promoting, or supporting heresy, whether actively or passively, even in the face of the truth of the Church, you effectively excommunicate yourself.