Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Catholic Defender looks at Indifferentism

Going back to 1983, I was living in Arkansas not too long before I would join the Military. I would develop an interest with the "Letters to the Editor" portion of the local news paper.

The work I had been doing with the Knights of Columbus was getting a lot of responses, both pro and con, as they gave their opinions.

On one occasion I responded to a debate concerning Christmas.

A lady called in on a local radio program when the announcer wished her a "Merry Christmas". She was not happy about the "season's greetings" and responded back to the announcer that if he wanted to join the Catholic Church in worshiping a "false Christ", he could do so. She said there was nothing to support that the early Christians celebrated Christmas.

This lady was not a supporter of Christmas. I wrote a letter to the editor in response to this lady informing the community that Pope Telephorus, the 8th successor of St. Peter, established the custom of "Midnight Mass". In fact, "Christmas is literally taken from Christ's Mass! Even Santa Claus is taken from the real historical person of St. Nicholas.

This was about the year 125 A.D. and I couldn't help but notice this was but a short 90 years after the Resurrection of the Lord.

The Popular Christmas scene we see often today was something that St. Francis began in the 1200's.

The next evening, I received an angry phone call from an individual who told me he was raised a Catholic.

He proceeded to inform me that he had 12 years of Catholic School. I responded back in defense of the Catholic Faith when he retorted back that "if I wanted to be Catholic I could move elsewhere".

Talk about "cut and run", his hatred blinded his heart towards the Catholic Church. He was a practicing Jehovah's Witness.

Through experiences like this I began to see a bias of hate towards the Catholic Faith and to those who stood up for the Church. I wanted to be an instrument for the Lord, people from all over the local area were coming to me asking questions.

Some came challenging me, others came interested in learning about the Church. I spent countless hours with people as they would invite me to their homes, I would be in the parking lot at a store, work, anywhere that people cared to discuss it.

Inside the Church, people would ask for me to sponsor them for their Baptisms and Confirmations.

That was a high honor for me. I felt like I was a first base coach sending people towards second base where Father would coach from third base, where he would guide them to home plate.

It was at this point that I began to see a new trend within Protestantism that became more and more prevalent.

To these people, they maintained the view that there was no true church. They believed Christ did not establish a church. It was an invisible reality that encompassed people of all denominations, maybe even some "Catholics".

To them, truth was a matter of a personal choice, your own perspective, your own interpretation of the Bible becomes the real truth no matter what church you participate with. To them, differences in Christian teachings does not matter as long as you "know Jesus in a personal relationship".

I saw this in college to a degree, but never to this extent. I was amazed how people would credit the Holy Spirit for their positions and opinions. As a Catholic, I recognize the Holy Spirit's role in the life of a Christian, but I could not bridge the apostolic witness and authority to all these people wanting desperately to know Christ in a personal way.

They spurned dogmas and sacraments because their "leaders" were demonizing the Catholic Church. I would learn that this is a major heresy of our time called the "Heresy of Indifferentism".

This is dangerous for obvious reasons: when any teaching of a doctrine becomes "personally" obnoxious the indifferent follower is inclined to follow the least line of resistance. They lull themselves into a state of self-conviction, and follow after their own conscience.

What they can't see is the very Lordship of Christ being reduced to a personal opinion. Jesus is Lord, yet not of my body, Jesus is Lord, yet not of my mind. We become reduced to our own understanding.

That is why there are 33,000 denominations within the world of Protestantism because they reject the Church of the New Testament. They reject the Church that Christ established giving it His authority.

To the Catholic, God's truth is absolute not guided by situations ethics bound by the human will. The Indifferentist always follows the least line of resistance and rejects Catholic teaching to include serious problems we face today: homosexuality, abortion, artificial birth control, Sacraments, the bible to name a few.

The "Heresy of Indifferentism" view opened the door for plurality in belief, liberal thought, and the New Age Movement to gain a foot hold in the Western World.

This strain of heresy is prevalent in the "Non-Denominational" groups many ranging from a Charismatic/Pentecostal background to a congregational "Baptist" setting.

In the 1990's some liturgical influenced groups began to emerge. Many of these churches have more of an auditorium with a stage set with lights. This is great for concerts, but it's not your traditional sanctuary bearing the Lord's Tabernacle and altar.

I have found success in witnessing to many of them as authority can resonate with them as they discover the doctrine of authority. When they discover the historical significance of the Church Christ founded and the authority he gave it, it becomes apparent. As a Catholic, we are called to respect those with sincere faith in their love for God. It is important for Catholics to understand their faith as some are drawn into some of these groups because of the great music, "praise and worship" centered events. It's easy to lose the will through the extreme.

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