Monday, March 12, 2012

Time to Quit the Chick Tracts

Has anybody noticed that the style of the cartoons illustrating the 'Time to Quit the Catholic Church' ad in the New York Times is remarkably similar to the artwork in Chick Tracts?

What's curious about the current wave of anti-Catholic paranoia in our country is that it uses much of the same scare tactics, exaggeration, bigotry, distortion of truth and downright lies that have been used for a long time by the fundamentalist Protestants.

The New Anti Catholicism--The Last Acceptable Prejudice by Philip Jenkins--goes through this in great detail. He chronicles how the present anti Catholicism has its roots in Puritan America, the Know Nothing riots, and anti-Catholic legislation.

It should not surprise us that the present atheistic, secularist anti Catholic gangs are using the same tactics as the Protestant fundamentalists, because at the very root of both movements is not only a hatred of the Catholic Church, but the same philosophical decay. Secular, atheistic anti Catholicism is merely the end point of Protestantism. It is, if you like, the retarded child of Protestantism.

Protestantism has at its roots, the philosophy of nominalism--that universals do not exist--just the particulars. The result of this is materialism, individualism and subjectivism. There is no universal objective truth. Instead all that matters is the individual and the particular.

For Protestants this means that only the personal experience is relevant. The end point of this is relativism--that there is no such thing as objective truth, and the end point of this is the secular materialist position--in which all that matters is my own judgement and what you can see here and now.

For both Protestants and secular materialists the idea that there is some over arching law or Almighty lawgiver which mankind must obey--is absurd. That there is an earthly institution that claims to be the channel of communication for that lawgiver is an outrage.

Of course, I am talking about foundational principles here and making generalizations. There are plenty of good Protestants who believe in God and an objective moral law that is communicated through the Bible. The point I am making, however, is that their intrinsic antipathy to the Catholic Church (even when the use polite ecumenical type language) is rooted in the same philosophical assumptions which drive the more rabid anti Catholicism or the radical Protestants and secular materialists.

No wonder therefore, that the NY Times ad looks like a Chick Tract.


  1. That's exactly what I thought of--both the pictures and the content of the ad. The strategic use of the words "Inquisition" and "crusades," the crazy, over-the-top accusations--nutty.

  2. I long ago realised that at its core Protestantism is based on the same ground as secular humanism and eventually atheism.

    Once you start on the path that YOU can determine what God is really saying, rather than accepting the guidance of Church He has given us, then you end up determining that there is no God except yourself.

  3. Cain couldn't abide Abel either.

  4. It's worth pointing out that nominalism, as it concerns Christianity, owes a lot of its momentum to William of Ockham, a Franciscan Friar prominent during the late Medieval / early Renaissance period. Despite a brief period of excommunication by the Avignon Papacy, he was rehabilitated, and his works remain acceptable.

    I'm with you, Father, that nominalism is at the root of what is wrong with much of Protestantism. I merely submit that it isn't a problem unique to Protestantism, but rather a problem with Western Christianity as a whole. The Eastern Church, so far as I'm aware, never had that problem.

  5. I don't think I can agree with your assertion that "Protestantism has at its roots, the philosophy of nominalism--that universals do not exist--just the particulars. The result of this is materialism, individualism and subjectivism. There is no universal objective truth." If you mean "historic roots", I don't think Luther or Calvin would have agreed; they were both pretty confident that they had figured out the "universal objective truth", but that it was not Catholic Tradition. If you mean "the common denominator of Protestantism", at this point I think it's pretty clear that the only thing various Protestants have in common with each other is that they identify themselves as Christians but certainly not Catholics. (They would rarely think to distinguish themselves from the Orthodox. It's the Catholics they're afraid of. I know, I used to be one, too.)

  6. See, the trouble with your particular post here, is that it is absurdly, in some of it's sentences, intellectual. How would a simple man learn about the God who died for him, from the words you have typed? He wouldn't. But then again, maybe you didn't type those words for the simple soul looking for his God. Maybe you typed them for clever fellows, to impress them.

    Stop. Doing. That.

    The Holy Spirit can begin to move, in mighty ways in your ministry tnen.

    Get you and your earthly ambitions, out of the way.

    Private prostration, in prayer, is a good start Father.

    Trust me, I'm an egoist.

  7. Shadowlands, the post was perfectly simple for anyone to understand who was willing to look up a few long words.

  8. Like it or not, the Realism vs. Nominalism debate is at the heart of Christianity. Do you believe Hebrews when it describes the earthly temple at Jerusalem as "copy and shadow of the heavenly things"? Do you believe Paul when he says "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal"?

    Both of those bits of scripture point to a Realist, Platonic worldview, and they don't make a whole heck of a lot of sense without it. Without Realism, as Fr. L suggests, we end up with subjectivism and the present post-Modern mess.

  9. Father, THANK YOU for this EXCELLENT article. I highly recommend the book "Christianity's Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution--A History from the Sixteenth Century to the Twenty-First by Alister McGrath. The author is an Anglican theologian from Oxford. A must read for all Catholics and every Christian. The truth is not supposed to be a free for all and it is very disturbing to see Christian "relativism" with all the continued divisions and endless differing interpretations.