Formerly the Thinking Catholic Strategic Center
The Fracturing of Christianity is the story of how one Christian Church, established by Jesus Christ Himself, has since become so incredibly factionalized and denominational-ized into literally thousands of divergent Gospel messages and interpretations. In the beginning, there was one Church, and many bishops, and they operated their individual bishoprics in ecumenical agreement on theology. They held great Ecumenical Councils to settle matters of contention into formalized doctrines that all agreed to follow. Then, the purpose of ecumenism was to keep all scattered bishoprics singing from the same hymnal. That was and remains the internal meaning of ecumenism within the Roman Catholic Church. But, we have had this serious fracturing and dividing of Christianity through history, and the word Ecumenism now has broader interpretations.
After all this fracturing – the splitting of East and West into two distinct Churches, and then the devastation wrought by the Reformation, followed by the long descent into denominationalism – the word ecumenism, in broad usage, has come to mean something more akin to a sort of shared spirituality among various kinds of Christians, and an increase in interfaith dialogue not necessarily aimed at total Christian unity into one Church.
For me, ecumenism means, precisely, persuading or helping non-Catholic Christians to return, of their own free will, into the actual Church Christ founded. It involves an examination of the correctness of the one true original Gospel message preached to the one true original Church. It is either both correct and uncorrupted, or it is not. If it is incorrect and/or corrupted, then, where is the evidence of the perceived error or corruption, and, where, exactly, did the original correct and uncorrupted Gospel message go?
For many non-Catholic Christians ecumenism means pretty much the same thing, except that they think their particular denomination or interpretation is the one the rest of the world should adopt and follow, working toward the same ultimate goal involving the achievement of returning Christianity to one and only one Christian Church.
Only the first group – the shared spirituality group – has no real interest in reuniting Christianity into one single Church again. They prefer the stand-alone, I’m OK – you’re OK individual churches, where various confessions can just get together in a vague, indeterminate theology and liturgy. For some of them, who may be ministered by someone who is some form of schismatic from some confession or other, their church is a business, and subordinating their church to any larger Church might put them out of business and / or disqualify their pastor. Thus, they fear real ecumenism.
On the word Filioque - would anyone today believe that a great Church could be torn in two over one word? Well, it was a little more involved than that. Worldly politics were involved. At the time of this particular fracture, the Pope reigned in Rome, but the Emperor reigned in Constantinople, or New Rome, as it was known in the West. This geographic / political point contributed to the schism that was to come. Emperor Constantine had moved his capital there back in 330 A.D.
It may be argued that the whole split between the Eastern and Western Church was instigated by an intrigue of Charles the Great (Charlemagne) when he failed to make himself emperor of the whole Empire. Charles’ plan to marry the reigning Empress in Constantinople was foiled, and, in revenge, he set out to cause a split and destroy the universal rule of Constantinople. (If he couldn’t be Emperor of the Roman empire, nobody could.)
In 792 A.D. Charles sent his Libri Carolini letter to pope Hadrian, criticizing some of the documents of Second Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (787 A.D.) and charging Emperor in Constantinople with heresy. The charge was that the Emperors in Constantinople could not claim to be proper successors because they worshipped idols and they confessed that the Holy Ghost proceeds “from the Father by the Son” rather than “From the Father and the Son.” While the Church was unhappy with the Emperor’s seat being in Constantinople rather than Rome, it rejected the charges of heresy and Charles’ interpretation of the Council of 787. But, this laid the groundwork for the fracture that was to come. It fed a growing animosity between East and West. (The West did not like the Emperor being seated anywhere other than Rome, and that may have been the real root of the ever growing animosity.) Both sides began to harden their stands on the word Filioque.
The charges of Charles were bogus and politically inspired. The Council of 787 had declared that the prayers before icons represented veneration, not worship, of the icons, and that prayers before icons were properly directed at that which the icon art represented. The Council had held for the iconographers and against the iconoclasts, or image-smashers. Similarly, Charles’ “by the Son” charge was largely ignored because there had been more than one interpretation from the beginning, and Filioque was a topic still under active theological discussion within the Church.
To bring it into proper perspective, perhaps we should look at the Credo itself at this point. This is the Creed developed in the First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. with the word in question underlined and in bold print:
The Credo stems from the first two Ecumenical Councils, in 325 A.D. and 381 A.D. The final wording of the sentence in question, from the 381 Council, was “ … Who proceeds from the Father through the Son.” Multiple Scripture verses support both interpretations, and multiple quotes from the early Church Fathers support both interpretations. Only if you consider this proceeding as in time, as we humans understand time, does the word through hold more weight than the word and. The understanding of equality between the three persons of the Trinitarian reality of God was understood in the same manner in both East and West. The Trinitarian nature of God, as universally understood, is explained in the Athenasian Creed, quoted here:
So all three – Father, Son and Holy Ghost – are equally and wholly God; this we accept in faith, knowing that our full understanding cannot be satisfied, because the finite human mind cannot fathom, let alone contain, that which is infinite. We believe it because it is revealed to us, and the Church preserves, protects and passes on the revelation of it to us. The only way, in our limited ability to understand it, that the word through might be more appropriate than the word and would be in a time-line relationship. The Father “sent” the Son for our redemption, and the Son “sent” or called-forth the Holy Ghost – in this way of thinking of it, you would say “ … from the Father through the Son” rather than “ … from the Father and the Son” even though Father, Son and Spirit are all one and the same in substance.
Semantics, you say; a horrible split in the Church, over mere semantics, or different ways of saying the same thing. Well, it’s not that simple.
Ulterior Motives. Other animosities had been smoldering between East and West.
So we see that it was not merely a matter of semantics, but also a matter of contested secular political power, and of contested ecclesial power. A major contributing factor was simple geographic separation. The reason I say that is that Filioque had been in increasing normal use in Western areas for many years, since perhaps 451, long before the East was even aware of it. In the West it was becoming a commonplace, while in the East it was unheard of. Here is what the Catechism says about it:
The Eastern Patriarch Photius vigorously attacked filioque as early as 867, so the West was at least aware of the growing problem. Although the formula had been recognized since 451 in the West, it was never incorporated into liturgical use until early in the 11th century, and that was when things really heated up. When filioque was incorporated into the liturgy, the East charged that the West had made a unilateral change to the Creed itself, which had been irrevocably established by Ecumenical Council, blessed by all bishops and by the Holy Ghost. This raised the ante, so to speak, from a mere question of semantics to one involving the possible heresy of a pope, papal infallibility itself and the supremacy of Rome in ecclesial matters.
Perhaps at this point, positions had hardened too much and voices had been raised too high. In 1054 Pope Leo IX sent Cardinal Humbert, as his legate, to Constantinople to try to reconcile the matter. Perhaps the Cardinal was not the best diplomat; perhaps the Patriarch of Constantinople Michael Cerularious was too obstinate; who knows. At any rate, they clashed immediately. Cardinal Humbert excommunicated Patriarch Cerularious, and the Patriarch responded by excommunicating Cardinal Humbert. And there the Christian world stood. The validity of Cardinal Humbert’s excommunication of the Patriarch is doubtful because Pope Leo died while all this was going on. However, while there is no doubt that the Patriarch’s excommunication of Hubert was effective, it applied only to Cardinal Humbert, not to the Pope, as is popularly believed.
While these were shocking events in the West, no one really believed the split was permanent. Everyone thought the East and West would eventually reconcile, because all they were talking about was semantics, surrounding one word, having no effect on the true, full nature of the Divine Trinity. But the argument of the East held that no one could add to, detract from or modify the Depositum Fidei, and that whatever doctrine was established by Ecumenical Council was formally recognized, from that point on, as part of the Sacred Deposit. The Creed itself is the Church’s highest and strongest doctrine, recognized as dogma. Every word is vitally important. This is a very strong argument indeed.
The problem is that the West likely always interpreted the verse to mean that the Holy Ghost comes from the Father, but through the Son only in time, as man understands time. He still comes from the Father. But the East has a good argument; even one word of the Creed should not ever change outside of an Ecumenical Council.
In my opinion, the matter will never be settled outside of an Ecumenical Council that includes the separated Patriarchs of the East as well as the Catholic Bishops of the West.
But there were other distracting challenges afoot in the world at the time, and before anything like another Ecumenical Council could be thought of there was the ongoing Islamic invasion to be handled. As a simple matter of self-defense, the Crusades were going on. One of the Crusading armies was diverted, through political intrigue, into going to Constantinople on the way to the Levant. There, through a tragi-comedy of politics, deception and error, the Christian host wound up burning and sacking Constantinople, probably the richest and most beautiful city in the world at the time. You can read the details of these events in the Byzantine 4th Crusade page.
That event pretty well tore the fabric of Christian unity in two, as far as most Greek sensibilities were concerned. This was no mere matter of semantics. No matter what reconciliatory things any popes or patriarchs or kings or emperors might say from that point on, such terrible events would be remembered and passed from father to son for many, many generations.
After the Split the Latin-speaking Roman Catholic Church would become the dominant faith of Western Europe and the New World, while the Greek-speaking Eastern Orthodox Church would become the dominant faith of the Middle East and of the Slavs in Europe. At first, the new Orthodox Church was divided between four Patriarchs, of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. Each Patriarch could legitimately claim direct Apostolic Succession from the Apostles, but only the reigning pope in Rome could claim direct succession from Peter, to whom were given the keys and the authority that goes with them. The East saw the Patriarch of Constantinople as somewhat senior to the other Patriarchs, but not as a pope.
Since then, Eastern Orthodoxy has split into various independent national and social Churches, notably the Syrian, Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Albanian, Greek and Georgian. The Russian Orthodox Church was for some time dominated and administered by the Czarist regime. After the Communist revolution, there was a Communist-forced assembly in which they deposed their Patriarch and endorsed Communism. Those clerics and faithful who opposed Communism were generally deported and banished, sent off to labor camps or killed. With the 1943 Nazi invasion, Stalin stopped his plan of annihilation of non-Communist Russian Orthodoxy and engineered the election of Sergius as Patriarch of all of Russia, and called upon the new official church of Russia to aid in the war effort. From that point on, the “official” Russian Orthodox Church was actually a Communist front organization.
Where the problems between the Western-Latin and the Eastern-Greek Churches may be essentially described as a Schism, in that they involve primarily a questioning of authority, there remains only one doctrinal or dogmatic difference, that being the semantic interpretation of the word Filioque in the context of the Credo. In other words, there is no serious doctrinal difference between East and West as far as the Sacred Deposit of Faith is concerned. That cannot be said of the Protestant movement born of the Reformation. Protestantism is a radical altering of and even direct opposition to the long established Sacred Deposit of Faith, carefully maintained since the death of the last Apostle. Here is what we wrote about the Reformation in the For God and Country page:
So we see from all of this that the doctrinal differences between Protestantism and Catholicism are so great as to warrant the term heretical, and that was the term that was applied, in the Council of Trent.
We have spoken elsewhere on this site, in multiple places, about how America began life as the thirteen Christian theocracies, or as thirteen theocratic colonies. The first Pilgrims came here to avoid state domination of their particular brand of Protestantism. Each of the Colonies was determined to avoid the same thing, and they established themselves as theocracies for that purpose, with one Catholic Colony and all the rest representing various brands of Protestantism. After the American Revolution, during the deliberations developing the American Constitution, a major topic of deliberation involved avoidance of state control of religion. How to do that, with a federal government representing thirteen different Christian theocracies?
The Framers incorporated into the First Amendment the Religion Clause, as follows:
intending thereby to prohibit the newly established Federal government from
This freeing of religion worked out so well in practice that it began a disestablishment movement at the state level, in which the states, one-by-one, incorporated similar religious freedom clauses into their state constitutions. Thus, unlike various European countries, theocracy ended in America.
The religion clause put two legal restrictions on Congress, and no legal restrictions on anyone else. We have shown, in the Separation of Church and State page and elsewhere in this site, how, since 1947, the predominantly atheist, anti-Christian, Marxist-Redistributionist oriented (if not dominated) Democrat Party has grossly misinterpreted the Religion Clause of the First Amendment and used it to attack and suppress Christian religious exercise and expression anywhere in public and in many other areas of life, most especially in formal education. Suppressing Christianity in public and opposing public religious exercise was not the intention of the framers, nor is it the literal English meaning of the words in the First Amendment.
Go to the Separation of Church and State link to decide for yourself whether the Black Court decision in the 1947 Everson case was evil, stupid or both. In my opinion it was evil, and it remains for a future Congress to set it aside. It was a gross violation of the intent of the authors of the words, and an obvious and radical misrepresentation of the perfectly clear English meaning of the clause. By establishing this 1947 precedent in case law, the Court was able to establish, in essence, a new law, superseding the Constitution itself. New law is the exclusive Constitutional domain of the Congress. This Court-established “principle” of separation of Church and state is a direct violation of the Constitution.
Since that event in 1947 the Democrat Party, not without some Republican support, has been driving Christianity out of the public square, out of the educational sphere, and either promoting atheism or simply leaving a religious void. The cultural results of that political exercise are clearly visible all around us. As a direct result, the cultural ethos of America is in obvious, rapid and radical decline.
But let us consider the pre-1947 cultural effect of this quite unique American Constitutional religious freedom, which was a truly wondrous thing.
American “General” Christian Ecumenism, if that term makes any sense at all, was something new in the world. While it allowed continuance, and perhaps even acceleration, of Christian denominationalism, it brought about a cultural ecumenism, and created and strongly bound-up a new national ethos that was not based on any one Christian denomination, but rather a sort of composite of all of them.
How could you do that? Well, maybe you couldn’t do it by plan or intention. It just sort of naturally happened. (I know, and we all should know, Who the author of nature is.) In the Judeo-Christian Ethos page we talked about our rather unique American national ethos, what it is, and how it came to be. It forms our set of moral-norms and establishes our common or community sense of right versus wrong. Our national morality comes directly out of our religion.
There we spoke of the Ten Commandments, divided into two groups – those that addressed man’s relationship with God – theology – and those that addressed man’s relationship with his fellow man – morality.
The First Tablet Commandments of God, addressing man’s relationship with God, forming the foundation of theology, are summarized in the old and new testaments into one Commandment, that being:
The Second tablet Commandments of God, addressing man’s relationship with his fellow man, forming the foundation of morality, are summarized in the old and new testament into one Commandment, that being:
(Deut 6:4-5; Lev 19:18; Matt 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-31; Luke10:25-28.)
Wiser men than we have held that all of the law is summarized into these two Commandments.
So long as we all hold the First Great Commandment in common, we don’t have to go into enough detail to bicker about fine theological points of contention between denominations. Constitutionally, we do not make laws regarding theology. However, that being said, there is far less difference between denominations regarding moral rules and norms summarized into the Second Great Commandment. In fact, we all hold the actual Commandments themselves in common. This is what we, like the Founding Fathers, can Constitutionally and legitimately base our representative civil law upon. Our Judeo-Christian morality is what forms our national ethos and our commonly held instinct for telling right from wrong.
Here, in our Judeo-Christian morality, do we find solid, firm, common ground for believing Jews, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant confessions. While our clerics may on occasion point the finger of heresy at each other, they, along with all of us laymen all know how to peacefully and respectfully deal with each other out in society and in the free market place. We can all be good neighbors because we all share the same moral sensibilities; we have the same moral code. That is what makes us, as Tocqueville described us, a Good People.
This may be a terrible and false ecumenism in the eyes of the Catholic Church; but I maintain that it is less of a spiritual or religious ecumenism than it is a moral and strictly civil ecumenism. It is an ecumenism of good national citizenship. If the down-side of this overly general Judeo-Christian morality is held to be the increase in denominationalism and the never-ending creation of new denominations, the up-side is that Catholics (and all others) are perfectly free to evangelize and practice real ecumenism. Man accepts the Gospel or he rejects it; man examines and accepts, or rejects, Catholic doctrine, or any other doctrine or theology, of his own free will, which is the only way man can come to God anyway. It is my job as a Catholic to speak the truth; however, everyone simply will not hear the truth, and I have to accept that. No one can be dragged, kicking and screaming against his will, into truth. God gave man free will; who are we to interfere with that?
In Democracy in America Alexis de Tocqueville examined the American citizenry to find out the source of American greatness as a nation, and where he found that source of greatness was in the pews while being preached to from pulpits. America was great because Americans were good, he found, and the source of their goodness came from their common religious morality. He didn’t identify any of the Churches as Methodist, or Baptist, or Jewish Synagogues, or Catholic Churches; just general Churches. Americans went to Church regularly, they heard a common message regarding how to behave in this world, they took it to heart, they put it into practice, and that is what made them good people. And the goodness of the people was the source of the greatness of the nation.
He was right. Paul said the same thing using other words. Once you have been reborn into the Kingdom, the worldly law is less important, because you automatically obey the law, without looking at it or thinking about it. This remains true so long as the people remain morally upright, and so long as the civil law remains morally upright and thus remains representative of the morally upright people. America has a good and moral people; America has representative laws. This is the source of American greatness that Tocqueville found.
So, where the source of proper Catholic ecumenism is found in the examination of Scripture, the Church itself, the sacred Deposit of Faith and history, the source of the unique American secular ecumenism is found elsewhere. It is in the vital principles of America – the American Founding Principles from our Declaration of Independence, and the American Constitutional Principles established in our Constitution itself. Equality, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness is at the root of it all, tempered by Judeo-Christian morality.
I am equally prepared to evangelize or ecumenalize, if that’s a word, on my Catholic faith as I am on my Americanism, if that’s a word. (Sometimes I just make words up as I go along.)
We would be wise to return to what Tocqueville wrote about us so long ago; it is well worth a revisit. Perhaps his most important truism was this:
The basic morality of the people is at the base of it all. Once the people become immoral, it’s all over. Tocqueville wrote that we Americans combine the notions of religion and liberty so intimately in our minds that it is impossible to make us conceive of one without the other. That will change for the worse as our religion declines, because as religion declines, so does morality decline.
Tocqueville had great praise for our Constitutional Republic, but predicted the descent into Democracy, with forces working toward that end from the top down, and from the bottom up. He said that:
That is why the original Republican political position is correct, and why the original Democrat political position is wrong. America desperately needs to return to being the Constitutional Republic it was designed to be.
In the beginning, Demcracy was thwarted by the design of the three co-equal branches of our government; you can still see it in the Constitution.
Thus, only one house of Congress was subject to straight-up popular vote. The Senate was completely immune from popular vote, as was the Supreme Court. The President stood for popular election, but between him and the populace was the Electoral College, so that the Presidency was somewhat insulated from popular vote by varying state rules regarding how the electors were to vote.
Fracturing of the American Ideal. We have already seen how the Democrat Party is driving Christianity out of the public square, out of formal education and out of the political dialogue. Along with that anti-Christian effort, they are politically working at overtly and subtly changing America from a Republic into a Democracy. Their greatest successful step in this effort so far is the 1913 Amendment XVII ratified under Woodrow Wilson, making the Senate into a simple elected body, no different than the House of Representatives. Now the whole Congress can participate in the contest to see who can buy the most votes with the public’s money, exactly as Tocqueville warned. Our Senate is now nothing but a bunch of professional politicians, no different than the House. We are one giant step closer to pure Democracy. Democrats are still working overtime to demonize, in the public mind, the Electoral College, eliminate it, and thus make the transition from Republic to pure Democracy complete.
And now, Obamunism is working overtime to unconstitutionally and illegally eliminate American borders and American sovereignty, and to spend America into economic oblivion, with no checks on that illegal process whatsoever, since impeachment cases are tried in the Senate, and Obamunism owns the Senate. (Elections have consequences.)
Democrats and all other Marxists of varying spot and stripe know full well that pure Democracy is the downward spiral path into Socialism and eventual economic collapse followed by dictatorship.The old fable about how to boil a frog without any resistance from the frog is to begin with the frog in a pot of comfortable water, and then gradually crank up the heat. The frog will be boiled to death before he realizes what’s happening here. The American Constitutional Republic has been slowly raising to a Democratic boil for at least a hundred years now, beginning with Teddy Roosevelt, America’s first Progressive President, and the process is still going on, directed by the Democrat Party and their propaganda wing, the ideologically Marxist-dominated SLIMC1 .
The Democrat Party, many of the “Establishment” Republican Party, virtually all of academia, virtually all of entertainment and, of course, the SLIMC1 , do not as a rule publicly admit their Marxist leanings. What they hide behind is the softer sounding title of Social Justice advocacy. But if you look a little closer – it doesn’t take much effort – at what exactly Social Justice is, as defined by the United Nations and others who promote it, you will find that Social Justice is a prettied-up version of Marxist Redistributionism and opposition to religion and religion-based morality, and opposition to national sovereignty, all made to look somehow fair, charitable and uplifting of the common man. It’s just another smoke screen for another path to international Communism, under another new title, such as a New World Order, or an Open Society, or a Sustainable System, or a Global Governance, etc. But it’s all the same old thing.
The Fracturing of Catholicism in America is also important to consider. It has almost become a sort of denominational split within Catholicism itself. Changes from church to church are so radical that some churches are hardly recognizable as Catholic, in appearance, architecture, theology, liturgy, music, doctrine or practice. Even at this late date, after all the letters from Rome, after all the recent returning to the original language in liturgy, there is still a lot of this un-Catholic crap going on. We have witnessed Masses at which the priest used no lectionary, missal or missalette, just made up liturgical language as he went along, the Lord’s Prayer was preceded by a “Let’s everybody hold hands” instruction, some of the important prayers of the priest were simply read aloud by lay ministers, and not only was Communion given to non-Catholics, but non-Catholics even served as lay distributors.
We have a real problem with the Catholic Bishops here in America. These are their Churches.
If you think atheistic-Marxism has not reached out and touched a whole lot of American Catholic clerics, go read the Catholic Communizer Dorothy Day page. Read also the Refuting Perverted Catholicism page and the articles linked in the right-hand column of that page, especially those dealing with Cafeteria Catholicism and/or the Athenaeum of Ohio Lay Pastoral Ministry Program, which proved to be a study in corrupt and false Catholic doctrine.
We have long known that Protestants who move to a new town do not necessarily go to the denomination that they left when they seek out a new church to join. Their denomination may not be available in the new location. So, they seek out or go to several churches, they may do research, and they may read the new church’s charter, or constitution, or confession or whatever description is available. What they are looking for is a church and/or a pastor they can be comfortable with, that has values and doctrines to suit their own. For many Protestants, “values” are a purely personal thing, rather than anything out of any fixed revelation.
We Catholics cannot look down our noses at that sort of thing. We do it too. We have no choice if we wish to remain wholly Catholic. So-called Catholic churches in America are just that different from each other.
The Fracturing of Scripture is also a problem, particularly with all the Protestant versions and now the “feminist” and “inclusive” so-called Catholic versions. The important thing to remember about the history of our Scripture is that it didn’t just go Poof and suddenly appear. There was quite a lag between the Garden of Eden and Moses, who is credited with setting down the first five books. And then there was a lag of some 1,500 years between the writing of Genesis, the first Old Testament book, and writing of Revelation of John, the last New Testament book. Up until Moses, none of the Old Testament figures had any Scripture to go by. Everything taught was taught by word of mouth. Man used the ancient practice of memorization and recitation. There were specialists at this sort of thing, usually highly respected individuals who could recite long litanies, genealogies, histories and stories, for hours on end, all from memory. It was a skill; a trained trade or a profession, handed on from father to son.
Today, when you read the Old Testament story of Joseph, you should realize that Joseph existed long before the first line of the Old Testament was written and some 1,800 years before the first line of the New Testament was laid down. There was no Scripture. In point of fact, the New Testament was not even begun until many years after the Assumption of our Lord. The letters, or epistles of Paul and other Apostles to various Churches were not yet held to be anything of importance to the universal Church; they were simply held to be common communications intended for specific addressees. That is not to say that they were not inspired, but that they were not yet recognized to be of more importance than the spoken word. It was getting quite late in the lives of the Apostles when it was determined that the Gospel of the Lord should be permanently set down in writing, and then we had the beginnings of the effort, and the beginnings of the canon, or list of important letters and books to be collected and maintained.
Once the Apostles and the Evangelists began writing their Gospels and histories and preserving letters deemed important enough, our New Testament began to be formed. Up until then, and even long after then, the word was preached, not written, and not read. So far as we know, our Lord never wrote anything, nor did he tell his Apostles to write anything. He told them to speak, to make disciples and to Baptize, but he never told them to write anything. Only in John’s Revelation do we find an angel, or a “voice” from his vision, telling him to “write what you see in a book, and send it to the Seven Churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
The full compliment of texts would not be complete until around 90 A.D., and even after that the canon, or the list of officially recognized inspired texts would not be complete for some time. Man would not have a one-book Bible until around 400 A.D. So, at least until around that time, the Protestant dogma of Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) could not possibly have been true. If Scripture alone was the one thing that was necessary for salvation, then no one before that date knew salvation. That, of course, would be an absurdity.
When the collection of important documents were gathered together for ongoing history, they were more of a library than a book; they were called Biblia in Greek, for “the books.” All of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and all of the New Testament was written in Greek. Although Rome had conquered the previously Greek empire, Latin had not yet gained preeminence everywhere, and Greek was still the primary language of education, and of the educated.
Working in a Bethlehem cave reputed to be the cave of the Nativity, St. Jerome completed the first one-language (Latin,) one-book Bible, finishing his work in the neighborhood of 400AD. The only source documents he had that were already in Latin were the Psalms, or the Psalter. Other than that, he worked from original Hebrew manuscripts, and original Greek manuscripts. Although the famous Septuagint – a one-book Old Testament written in Greek – was available, St. Jerome didn’t use it; he worked from the original Hebrew manuscripts. During Jerome’s work the first canon was blessed by Pope Damascus in 382 AD, and thus the new Bible contained all of the blessed books, and the list of apocrypha was settled. Within the Catholic Church, that canon has never changed.
St. Jerome’s new Bible was called the Vulgate, for it was written in “the vulgar” language, meaning the predominant language of the people of the world at that time, which was Latin. A direct, straight translation from Latin to English version of the Vulgate is the Douay-Rheims version, which may be depended upon as an accurate English version. My favorite version is the Revised Standard Version, or RSV, Catholic Edition; but still, today, the original Vulgate is the only version ever blessed by the Catholic Church.
We wrote about what Protestantism did to the canon and to interpretation, rather than translation, in the Catholic Prayer page; you can read about it there. They dropped seven books from the Old Testament, using as a template Martin Luther’s new German Bible, which he plagiarized from the pre-existing Catholic German version known as the Codex Teplensis. I won’t go over all that again here; you can read about it at the link if it interests you.
The important thing about Scripture history up to that point is this: After Jerome’s first one-book Bible, there was a span of a thousand years before anyone ever saw any Bible that looks anything like the one(s) in your house today, because there was no printing press until then. Every Bible in existence up to that time, in whatever language, was a laboriously hand-printed copy.
After the ascendancy of the printing press, Protestantism went a little nuts with versions, all based on Luther’s German Bible and it’s shortened canon. As Luther added the word “only” into the text for his own purposes, many of these new versions included new interpretations, meaning that they went beyond straight translation and actually changed meaning. Most of Protestantism eventually settled on the King James version, which was a masterpiece of Old English, but contained many errors, and the Old Testament was still seven books light. Today the King James Version, known also as the Authorized Version, is the more or less official Bible of mainline Protestantism everywhere.
Catholicism is not innocent in creating these interpretations rather than translations with modified meanings. The New American Version may be an example of what I’m talking about, with feminized, so-called inclusive language throughout, to suit popular socio-political topics favoring a currently popular liberal agenda over original revelation. When you put that stuff in Scripture it winds up in liturgy, and I believe that was the intent all along. The modern Catholic Liturgist and the modern Catholic Historical-Critical Scripture Scholar are close colleagues and the very best of friends, when they are not the same people.
The bottom line is that if Protestants like their Bibles, of whatever version, they should thank the Catholic Church for producing the first one and for protecting it down through the ages. She developed the canon, one of her saints put it all into a Latin single book and she approved it. She then faithfully copied it into many languages, and held fast to the original words and the original meanings. She maintains the only proper authority to properly interpret it, because she authored it, and she continues to keep pure the Gospel she was given and entrusted with. It was from her Sacred Deposit of Faith that it was all written down; and done with the guidance of the Holy Ghost, promised by Christ to “remind you of all that I told you” and to guide her into all truth. Who else should be trusted to interpret it all? Luther? Calvin? Henry VIII? King James? Some graduate of Billy Bob’s Bible College and Transmission Repair shop? Why? Based on what?
You can always trust the Vulgate, which was blessed by the Church. If you don’t know Latin, trust the English Douay-Rheims direct translation version. Today, I use the RSV (Catholic Version) which is the version most quoted these days in many if not most of the most current Vatican documents, Council documents and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If the Church trusts it that much, that’s good enough for me.
What we have been talking about in all of this is the fracturing of Western Civilization, and the fracturing of the Christian part of Eastern Civilization. Christianity is our religion and from Christianity do we draw our guiding moral code and social ethos; that which Tocqueville called our goodness, and the source of our national greatness. The two great enemies of Christianity, equality before the law, individual liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the idea of self-rule are clearly identified today as Marxism and Islam. Both began life as outside-in aggressive systems of conquest – Marxism as an inducement to global violent revolution against the status-quo, and Islam as a simple invading and conquering military force. Both have morphed into inside-out infiltration systems aimed at slowly destroying sovereign nations from within, and eventually taking charge of them by force.
We talked about the fraud of Marxism in the Refuting Marx page. We talked about the fraud of Islam in the Refuting Mohammed page. Millions have been seduced by these two demonically evil false ideologies. They do not recognize the falsehood, deception and evil of them.
Most American Liberals do not recognize themselves as Marxists, or as promoting Marxism, let alone that Marxism itself is a false and evil ideology. Having either abandoned or minimalized religion as any sort of guiding influence on their lives, they no longer see God as the author of nature, and they seek to take charge of and improve nature, including the nature of man. Whether they call themselves liberal, progressive, Leftist, Socialist – it doesn’t matter. All aim at the exact same target. The most idealistic among them aim at the perfection of man and the perfection of a social order, so that the world will be fair, and no one anywhere will ever be wanting for anything. They seek to create a heaven on earth, in other words; worldly perfection. Having first abandoned God, without realizing it, they put themselves in the place of God.
The “in-the-know” true revolutionaries or Alinskyites among them know full well what it is all about, and they use these idealists as tools, as useful idiots, with which to achieve their evil ends.
Most American Moslems do not recognize themselves as Islamists, or Jihadists, or as promoting eventual world domination by Islam, let alone that Islam itself is a false and evil ideology. Many actually believe they follow a true religion. They point to histories of Islamic rulers such as Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who established a secular government over an Islamic state, divorcing religion from government. What they did not realize is that the philosophy of Ataturk was fatally flawed, because Islam itself is a self defined form of government. Islam itself is the law. You cannot faithfully follow the faith of Islam and divorce Islam from the government. You cannot faithfully follow the faith of Islam and form any form of civil law other than the law of Islam. Secular governments of Islamic people are destined to eventually fail and fall into pure Islamic rule.
American “experts” of Islam worry excessively about Sharia Law and the advance of “radical” Islam. But there is only one Islam, and only one Koran. Sharia Law should be the last thing non-Moslems need to worry about. The Islamic imperative to either get us to convert to Islam, forcefully make us submit to Islamic law, or kill us, comes out of the Koran, not out of Sharia Law. It is the order of the prophet Mohammed, recorded in the Koran, and it is an integral and irrevocable part of the Islamic religion. Islam itself opposes individual liberty, freedom of religion, the right to life, our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution and our religion. Don’t take my word for it – read the Koran.
Forces are lining up for world war as European economies crash and burn and Islam moves the Middle East and North Africa toward one or more Grand Caliphates. Some European countries are in serious danger of internal civil war. Russia is aligning with Syria, and China is aligning with Iran, and as much as they might oppose and/or fear each other, they will all gladly ally with each other against us. Islam and Marxism, which you would think to be polar opposites, are joining in uneasy alliance; both seek greater world instability, and both seek to promote it and take advantage of it. The pattern is there; it has happened before. Economic catastrophe is followed by world war, which is followed by a major reshuffling of geo-political power. There are several very big and very ruthless competitors who hope to wind up on top in the end.
They sense that the moment is here, now, because the Obama Presidency is doomed in the next election. While he is in office, he will not come to the defense of Israel; he would not come to the defense of the Vatican; he will not come to the defense of anyone. It is now or never; the iron is hot, and there is no one to stop them.
On our side of the ocean, Comrade Obama, peace be upon him, is desperate for an excuse to suspend the election on an emergency basis, and stay in power. He would love an excuse to declare martial law and suspend the Constitution; if he does, it might be all over. He has done all he can to weaken our defense forces, cut our weapons, cut our fuel production, cut our production of everything, reduce our economy and cause an economic crisis of epic proportions. He has infiltrated Marxists, members of the Moslem Brotherhood and gangsters into the armed forces and security forces. Everyone around him, all of his advisors, read like a who’s who of radical Marxism, anarchy and anti-Americanism.
Chief Justice John Roberts stirs a surprising new blend of anti-Americanism into this witches cauldron of mischief with his two stunning decisions this week. It turns out that he is a deep-cover, exceptionally deceitful anti-Constitutionalist.
First, his hare-brained decision on the Arizona border enforcement was a direct blow against state border security, which is to say state sovereignty. Second, it was a direct blow against American border security, which is to say American national sovereignty. He knew full well when he sided with the other Court Leftists that Comrade Obama, peace be upon him, had made the un-Constitutional and illegal decision to not enforce law and protect Arizona’s border with Mexico. That was the sole reason the Arizona law was legislated. The only part of the law left standing was the one to check ID and report criminals to the Feds; but the Feds would not prosecute, and Roberts knew that. Just to seal it, and to insult Arizona, immediately after the decision the President ordered the Feds to disregard any such ID calls from Arizona; so much for American national sovereignty, and so much for Arizona state sovereignty.
Second, he upheld the whole of the flat-out un-constitutional Obamacare fraud. He actually changed the law as legislated to make the mandate into a tax, of all things. In so doing, he made it into the largest tax increase in the history of the world, and with this legal precedent he enabled the federal government to tax without limitation in the future. Even Woodrow Wilson had to go the route of an actual Constitutional Amendment to establish an income tax – Roberts just established a virtually unlimited tax license for the federal government with the stroke of a pen.
What are we to do about all this. The truly stunning thing about all this is that they – including especially Chief Justice Roberts – actually think that we are so ignorant or so stupid as to not see and understand what they are doing to us, and to America. The disconnect seems to be total. They don’t have the first clue as to how many of us read and understand the Constitution, walk around with a copy in our shirt pocket, and can probably understand it better than they. Nor do they understand that, unlike them, we love it. We have got to get these bastards out of office.
There is nothing in the Constitution preventing impeachment of Supreme Court Justices, Senators or Representatives, as well as Presidents. Five members of this Court just flat-out opposed the clear English wording of the Constitution they all swore to protect against all enemies, foreign and domestic, in their oaths of office. If they so willingly oppose our Constitution, they have no business sitting on our Court. Show me where there is any prohibition or restriction in our Constitution against impeaching any Justice of the Supreme Court. If there were any such restriction, all I can say is that if Woodrow Wilson could amend the Constitution on one year flat, so can we, and if that is what we have to, we should do it.
I knew it would come to something like this with Comrade Obama, peace be upon him, but I never dreamed Roberts would pull a wild decision like this out of his ass. Look at the I told you so page and the right-column articles; before he was elected I predicted the need to impeach him. After the election, I said we needed to take the Senate in the 2010 election, because only the Senate tries cases of impeachment, and I knew what he intended to do to America. It was all easily predictable. Rush Limbaugh recently named Nancy Pelosi Queen of the planet Stupider, an absolutely apt title. But if she is the Queen, then Harry Reid is the King of the planet Stupider, and so long as he owns the Senate, no one is going to impeach anyone. I told you so, long ago. And here we are.
We need to take the Senate and the House and the Presidency, with big numbers. We need to repeal Obamacare completely, and not replace it with anything; just repeal it. Romney used the word “replace” twice in his speech; I’m not surprised; he’s a Progressive too. Once again, the Democrats picked our candidate for us, just like last time. We need enough Constitutional Conservatives in the House and in the Senate to see to it that he gets no “replacement” bill to sign. Repeal the whole damned thing, and do not allow any federal legislation to touch health care or health care insurance.
In the first place, the federal government is not qualified to practice medicine, or to practice medical insurance.
In the second place, the powers of the federal government are limited and enumerated; there is nothing in Article 1 Section 8 (or anywhere else) about medical practice, or about medical insurance practice. Therefore, the federal government has no business even addressing these topics.
The Congress legislates law; the Executive executes law; the Judiciary adjudicates law. None of them do medicine, and none of them do insurance.
At least not Constitutionally, which is to say legally.
Among the most stupid assed Court decisions, this one approving Obamacare has got to rank right up there with the Douglas “penumbras formed by emanations” decision spoken of in the Abortion page, and the Black decision spoken of in the Separation of Church and State page. In both cases, we called for legislation to set those decisions aside and remove the “legal precedent” they established in case law, because they had the effect of making new law, or, in the abortion case, of voiding legislated, representative law in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Making law is in the domain of the Congress, not the Court. The same sort of thing needs to be done now to Obamacare, so that no future government jackasses can use new tax laws to make us buy turnips, or Cadillacs, or solar panels.
The longer I live the more I am convinced that Washington is full of people with long resumes, advanced degrees out the ying yang, lots of class-room theory, but in the practical world, they can’t hit themselves in the butt with both hands.
Pray hard that America makes it to and through the next election and inauguration.
God help us.
Fri Jun 29 06:24:32 2012 Addendum:
Justice Robert’s ruling on Obamacare, which he made only after his personal major modification of the legislation, is not only the largest tax increase ever, but the only tax ever established in which the recipient was not a government. This is the establishment of a tax that goes to “private” insurance companies that are in bed with the Obamunist regime, in a form of crony-Capitalism or quasi-Fascism. The tax will go to insurance companies only temporarily, through the early years, until the tax is raised too high and the insurance companies are put out of business in the interest of creating a single-payer system. Perhaps by that time the insurance company directors may have morphed into government bureaucrats of some sort, to manage the socialized medicine program intended from the beginning.
Sat Jun 30 08:46:56 2012 Addendum:
Another new twist, brought out by Rush Limbaugh yesterday – the Mandate is not only the largest tax increase in the history of the world, and the first tax ever imposed that does not benefit a government (yet), but it gets even more ridiculous when you consider the penalty for not paying this insurance premium pretending to be a tax. The penalty for not buying into the plan is a tax, to be collected by the IRS, as a sort of sales tax computed on something you did not buy. The analogy Rush used involved a visit to a convenience store, changing your mind about making a purchase, telling the clerk you didn’t want to buy it after all, and the clerk then says “Okay, that will be $6.42 sales tax, and if you try to leave without paying it, I’m calling the cops.”
The opening up of the possibilities for future federal government power over the American people are unlimited. This means the end of individual liberty in America.
Someone, anyone, please, tell me how and why we could not and should not impeach five Supreme Court Justices after the election. They quite clearly oppose the very idea of Constitutional America.
Sarcastic Acronym Hover-Link Footnotes: For the convenience of those readers using devices that lack a mouse, these footnotes are provided for all webpages, in case any webpage contains any hover-links. (If you don't have a mouse, you can't "hover" it over a link without clicking just to see the simple acronym interpretation. Click a footnote link to see the gory details.)SLIMC1 Secularist Liberal Intellectual Media Complex
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Date: Sat Jun 30 21:32:54 2012
You always wind up going to far, and once again, parts of this border on hysteria. I doubt that this decision on the affordable health care act means the end of the republic. But putting all that aside, your animosity toward the Democratic Party and journalism is almost rabid. All Democrats and all journalists are not Marxists. But you insist on repeatedly referring to them as “ … the Democrat Party and their propaganda wing, the ideologically Marxist-dominated SLIMC.” You do this sort of thing all the time, all over your website. You don’t believe in global warming, and so you demonize all who do believe in it, as part of a Marxist conspiracy against America. And yet you seem so intelligent in other areas. Do you not see where you take things too far:? Even the SLIMC article is too broad and too damning of too many. You have good arguments but you always, always go too far.
Date: Sun Jul 01 06:55:31 2012
From: Vic Biorseth
Sorry; I do tend to get a little wound up whenever I see our constitution being trashed by our highest court. And I admit to even becoming rabid about it. But the record shows that the Democrat Party and American journalism are so intertwined as to be one and the same entity. They are, overwhelmingly, redistributionist in their guiding ideology, and they push “Social Justice” and “fairness” issues, exactly as they are defined by the United Nations, which is to say, they are ideologically Marxist-dominated entities. You cannot tell where the Democrat Party stops and American journalism begins. They are simply different branches of the same organism.I have said it before, and I’ll say it again: You show me a Marxist and I’ll show you an ends-justify-the-means liar. And, in general, if you show me an American journalist, I’ll show you a MEJTML14 . If they are members of the SLIMC1 , they are liars, pure and simple. It’s what they do for a living. Go to the Professional Liars page and see the right-column linked articles for my evidences. The most typical modern American journalist is a professional liar.
Regarding the anthropomorphic global warming scam, it was a fraud invented and pushed by elitists who, typical of elitists, seek to legislate or regulate the rest of us non-elites into blind submission to grand programs at our expense, with a huge migration of power from the people to the government, and another enormous expansion of government and expenditure of national treasure. For a fraud. Let me say about global warming essentially what I said about government medicine and government medical insurance:
In the first place, the federal government is not qualified to practice meteorology, or to try to control the local weather, let alone the global climate.
In the second place, the powers of the federal government are limited and enumerated; there is nothing in Article 1 Section 8 (or anywhere else) about legislating, regulating or otherwise controlling the weather or the climate. Therefore, the federal government has no business even addressing these topics.
At least not Constitutionally, which is to say legally.
Date: Mon Jul 02 22:59:06 2012
The division of Christianity extends even further back than the Eastern Orthodox Churches to the Oriental Orthodox Churches, which I am sure you are aware of, but did not mention due to them being much smaller groups.
Date: Tue Jul 03 06:06:40 2012
From: Vic Biorseth
No, I was unaware of it until now.
This was a schism, or split, in the 5th century over Christological definitions from the Council of Chalcedon, resulting in six Churches leaving the Catholic fold:
All of these became hierarchically independent Churches.
I had always thought of the Eastern Orthodox schism as the first major split, because it involved very nearly half of all Christianity at the time of the split. And, geographically, it nearly split the known world in two.
This shows that my education in history is somewhat lacking, perhaps in formal discipline. My mostly self-education is more the result of where my interest and curiosity has led me, than any of the truly limited advanced formal education I have.
Date: Wed Jul 04 16:15:32 2012
From: Bill and June
We hope you don’t mind some constructive criticism. This article is very well done in the beginning, but toward the end, it became sort of schizophrenic. The title was “The Fracturing of Christianity” and began describing that fracturing through time. Then, it moved into American politics, and for awhile it kept Christianity somewhat in the story line, but at a reduced level. Then, it switched completely and took off on the Supreme Court, and never came back to the topic. Were you so discombobulated by the Obamacare decision that you lost your whole train of thought? We felt kind of let down at the end. We agree with what you said about the Court, but was that the way you intended to finish this article?
Just wondering …
Date: Thu Jul 05 06:24:56 2012
From: Vic Biorseth
Bill and June:
Thank you, and yes, I finished the article the day the decision was announced. It made me so angry I couldn’t see straight, and it completely threw me off my intended course. See the Impeach the bastards page for how strongly I felt at that absolute, outright betrayal of us, our Constitution and all the foundational and constitutional principles that make America America, unique in all the world.
I apologize to all readers for getting so far off track. How I had intended to end this page was to talk about how America became the first nation in the history of the world to rise above being just another nation of men, ruled by men, subject to the arbitrary moods and changing notions of rulers. America is designed and constituted to be a nation of laws, not merely of men, and for the first time, all men, rulers included, are subject to the same law. The Constitution itself is the supreme law of the land, not the rulers. The rulers are subject to the Constitution; the Constitution is not subject to the rulers.
The whole American idea is wrapped up in that one document designed to protect the citizenry from the government. What I wanted to point out was the absolute brilliance of the document itself, and of the Declaration, and of the Founders and the Framers who came up with this beautiful idea for a good nation, and a means of supplying representative government to a good people. Good, in this sense, meaning people who closely follow and order their lives according to the Judeo-Christian ethos that comes from our religion.
The Constitution is our touch-stone. It is to the American citizen what the Bible is to the Protestant. It is the Supreme Law here; everyone abides by it. Every elected officer, in whatever office, swears with his hand on the Bible to abide by it, defend it and protect it. Every elected officer is subject to it. That’s the law. Thanks to the Constitution, every citizen, of any color, stands equal before the law with any other citizen, including any President, Senator, Congressman or Justice.
Our Constitution begins with the words “We The People … “. We will not be ruled. We will have no ruler. We have our Constitution. We are a nation of laws, not of men. The Constitution is our law, and no citizen of any rank may arbitrarily disregard it without suffering consequences.
As to the fracturing of Christianity, the hope, always, is for a healing through ecumenism. I’m sure all of us, of whatever denomination, would like to promote ecumenism, although we don’t all agree on what form it might take. The important thing to note about it is that here, in Constitutional America, we are all free to try and achieve it, and probably more free than anywhere else. Thanks to the Constitution.
I apologize again for getting so fired up and going off the rails.
I had also intended to end on a more positive note, expressing faith in the American people. Despite the overwhelmingly negative, immoral message you receive when you turn on that TV, and despite the depravity abundantly clear in Washington, on the East Coast and on the West Coast, Americans, in their overwhelming majority, are still a good people, as Tocqueville found them to be. There are still more of us who go to Church regularly than do not. There are still more of us who know right from wrong than do not. In the end, we, the people, will right this ship.
Saturday, December 29,
Converted Page to SBI! Release 3.0 BB 2.0.
Date: Mon Nov 17 2014
From: Vic Biorseth
Changes pursuant to changing the website URL
and name from
Thinking Catholic Strategic Center to
Catholic American Thinker.
Pulled the trigger on the 301 MOVE IT option June 1, 2014. Working my way through all the webpages. .
Never be lukewarm.
Life itself demands passion.
He who is indifferent to God has already forfeited his soul.
He who is indifferent to politics has already forfeited his liberty.
In America, religion is not mere window dressing and citizenship is not a spectator sport.
Do not allow our common destiny as a whole people to just happen without your input.
Seek the Truth; find the Way; live the Life; please God, and live forever.
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