The Dream of Nabuchodonosor
In my conversion story, titled Beauty, I omitted one significant event leading to my conversion. It now seems to me singularly appropriate to relate this experience in the light of the pontificate of Pope Francis, and the crisis in the Church of which this pontificate is now the most visible and obvious sign of our chastisement.
Between the time when I first began to pray to God that He might show Himself to me, and the events which finally led to my conversion, my wife and I began to attend a Catholic charismatic prayer group. I do not intend here to enter into an analysis as to what extent this movement might be from God or the Devil, or whether it might be largely a matter of psychological and emotional self-deception. Suffice to say that I now am deeply averse to it, but at the same time not unsympathetic towards the aspirations and good will of its followers. And, I must add that I know that God can draw good out from the midst of superficiality, error, and even evil.
It was (and probably still is) an essential practice of the Charismatic Movement to hold what they term “Life in the Spirit Seminars” which culminated in laying on of the hands and prayer for the “Gift of the Spirit” for the individual candidate. This ceremony was conducted in a separate room with only chosen leaders and the candidate present. Before the laying on of hands, we were instructed to pray privately for one of the charismatic “Gifts of the Spirit” as enumerated in 1 Corinthians 12. I did not pray for any of these gifts. Rather, very specifically, I prayed “to be completely burned of self.”
There is no question in my mind that my prayer was answered in a supernatural manner. What I experienced after coming out of that room was no natural state of mind or feeling, even of the most extreme variety. I know that it sounds contradictory: but it was a matter of combining acute self-consciousness with total awareness of my own nothingness — a personal desolation to which not any of the other deep desolations in my life can be even remotely compared. I can only repeat that it was not “natural”.
After leaving that room I went to be with others who had attended the Seminar, and who were now waiting for Mass to begin. I remember sitting there, and thinking “What do I do now?” The answer came in what I can now only consider to have been a supernatural grace through my own thought: “I am totally nothing, but I have absolutely nowhere else to go. I am therefore Yours to do with as You will.” I must add that this thought was not exercised with any consoling thoughts or feelings about God. It was just there.
The overwhelming effects of this experience persisted for some time, but of course over the next several days or weeks I returned to what would be termed normal, if life with egotism can be termed normal. Over the years, however, I have come to realise the extraordinary foundation which this experience established within me in regard to my own personal faith. It is now as though every scandal may come, every consolation be stripped away, and every chastisement befall the Church and the world, and yet I experience no temptation against the Faith, and no confusion in regard to the present crisis within the Church. My only confusion is in regard to my own failure to live what I know. It is as though a band of security has been placed around my mind, but not my flesh.
The King's Dream
This experience profoundly resonated in my own mind and heart with the biblical account of the dream of the Babylonian King Nabuchodonosor, and its interpretation and fulfillment, as related in Daniel 4. And, over the years, this account of Nabuchodonosor’s fall and resurrection has come to image to me the descent of the Church into the chaos of its own chastisement, and eventual rebirth in triumph. I will therefore spend some amount of space and time in relating this dream, its interpretation by Daniel, and fulfillment.
Nabuchodonosor, in his dreams, beheld a vision of a great tree whose height reached unto heaven and seemed to extend over the entire earth: “Its leaves were most beautiful, and its fruit exceeding much: and in it was food for all: under it dwelt cattle, and beasts, and in the branches thereof the fowls of the air had their abode; and all flesh did eat of it.”
While watching this vision, the King also saw “a watcher, and a holy one came down from heaven” who cried aloud,
Cut down the tree, and chop off the branches thereof: shake off its leaves, and scatter its fruits: let the beasts fly away that are under it, and the birds from its branches. Nevertheless leave the stump of its roots in the earth, and let it be tied with a band of iron, and of brass, among the grass that is without, and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let its portion be with the wild beasts in the grass of the earth. Let his heart be changed from man’s and let a beast’s heart be given him; and let seven times [years] pass over him.
None of the wise men in Nabuchodonosor’s kingdom could interpret the dream. Finally he called to him Daniel who, after pondering the dream for an hour, warned him that the dream “be [favourable] to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thy enemies”, and proceeded to interpret it as follows:
It is thou, O king, who art grown great and mighty: for thy greatness hath grown, and hath reached to heaven, and thy power unto the ends of the earth. And whereas the king saw a watcher, and a holy one come down from heaven, and say 'cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, and let it be bound with iron and brass among the grass without, and let it be sprinkled with the dew of heaven, and let his feeding be with the wild beasts, till seven times pass over him.' This is the interpretation of the sentence of the most High, which is come upon my lord my king.
They shall cast thee out from among men, and thy dwelling shall be with cattle and with wild beasts, and thou shalt eat grass as an ox, and shalt be wet with the dew of heaven: and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth over the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
But whereas he commanded that the stump of the roots thereof, that is, of the tree, should be left: thy kingdom shall remain to thee after thou shalt have known that power is from heaven.
Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to thee, and redeem thou thy sins with alms, and thy iniquities with works of mercy to the poor: perhaps he will forgive thy offences.
The Analogical Thread: "Nothingness" Without God
King Nabuchodonosor did not heed Daniel’s warning. At the end of twelve months, while walking in the palace of Babylon and contemplating his kingdom, “built … by the strength of my power, and in the glory of my excellence”, it came about by God’s decree that “he was driven away from among men, and did eat grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven: till his hairs grew like the feathers of eagle, and his nails like birds’ claws.”
Shortly after my own experience described above, I related it to an acquaintance who was instrumental in my first beginning to pray, and I told him that it made me feel a strong affinity for the description of Nabuchodonosor rendered above. Unbeknownst to me, he was an artist, and returned with a drawing depicting Nabuchodonosor sitting naked among the grasses with his hair like eagle feathers, dew upon his body, and long claws for fingernails. But it was the eyes which were haunting. They reflected the total loss of a “man’s heart”, and its transformation into the heart of a beast. The picture depicted not an evil beast, but only a man that had become a beast through loss of human heart and reason. It was an icon of spiritual madness.
An analogous affinity can be seen between many souls throughout history and the state of King Nabuchodonosor in his desolation. These analogies would of course always be only partial. I, for instance, in my own personal experience did not lose my reason, and my own personal devastation came about not against my will, but in accordance with my request. But, nevertheless, it is the experience of the “nothingness” of man apart from God which forms the common thread of analogy.
The "Stump" of Grace: Gratuitous and Efficacious
St. Peter, who had brazenly proclaimed that he would never deny Christ, denied Him three times and vehemently proclaimed, “I know not the man!” The desolation and self-loathing which he must have experienced in denying God could easily have led him to total self-destruction, as it did Judas. But as St. Theophylus said of Peter’s descent: “For albeit thou art for a time shaken, yet thou holdest stored up, a seed of faith; though the spirit has shed its leaves in temptation, yet the root is firm.” The tree had lost everything which would naturally preserve its life, but the stump was, in accordance with God’s providence, protected from destruction.
What is most mysterious in the account of Nabuchodonosor’s descent into spiritual madness is the phrase, “Nevertheless leave the stump of its roots in the earth, and let it be tied with a band of iron, and of brass." This “band of iron and of brass” speaks of some sort of divine intervention, or of what theologians call efficacious grace. It accomplishes the preservation of a seed of spiritual integrity which, while not under the power of man to do, yet does not violate his free will. It is truly gratuitous and efficacious. In fact, what newly arises from this “stump” is somehow glorious, transformative, and far superseding what came before.
The "Stump" of Israel
Pre-eminent among such stumps (or “roots”) in all of salvation history is that of Jesse, father of King David. The temporal line of Kings of Judah (the line of Jesse) ended with King Sedecias in 587 B.C., when Jerusalem was captured by Nabuchodonosor, the temple was burned, the Ark of the Covenant disappeared, and Judah was reduced to a province of the Babylonian Kingdom. But out of the root of Jesse, in the line of David, would rise the Incarnation and the spiritual Kingdom of Jesus Christ:
And there shall come forth a rod out of the root [or “stump“] of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. [Is. 11:1]
It is quite worthwhile to ponder the extent to which the faith of the Jewish people, on the eve of the Incarnation, had been reduced to a “stump”. To all external evidence, the promises made by God to the people of Israel had failed. God had promised an eternal covenant with the people of Israel, that they would triumph over their enemies, and that the throne of David would endure forever. All of this was apparently destroyed. God was to be seen nowhere, the Jews were under the heels of the Romans, the Davidic throne non-existent. Moreover, the very centre of God’s presence with His people — the Ark of the Covenant — was gone. To all external appearances, the faith of the Jews was reduced, in analogy, to a sort of Nabuchodonosorian absurdity, and even madness, which of course is precisely how the Romans viewed this people.
In this regard it is worthwhile to consider the seemingly almost miraculous “root” present not only in Mary and Joseph, but also in other New Testament faithful — people like Nicodemus, Gamaliel, or Joseph of Arimathea. They cried out to God in their desolation, they waited, they “possessed their souls in patience”, they prayed. It is impossible not to see God’s efficacious grace as providential in all this preservation of faith in the midst of overwhelming darkness.
The "Stump" of the Church
The parallels that can be drawn between the “reduced” state of the Jews and the current state of the Catholic Church, especially (but certainly not exclusively) during the 3-year old Papacy of Francis, are striking. Virtually everything Catholic seems in the process of being turned upside down. Pope Francis’ denigration of traditional Catholicism and Catholics; his rampant promotion of a false ecumenism; his denial of the Catholic Church’s commission to convert people of other religions, and even atheists, to Catholicism: his promotion of a false mercy at the expense of Catholic truth and the integrity of the sacraments; his promotion of an ecological pantheism in Laudato Si, in imitation of Teilhardian theology — all of these policies, and more, are tremendously disintegrating to Catholic identity. On the surface, they can very easily speak of a failure of God’s promises to His Church.
Satanic Deceit: From Conflict to Communion
Possibly no single event will more clearly unite all the elements of this Catholic disintegration than Pope Francis’ scheduled visit to Lund, Sweden on October 31, 2016 in order to kick off a year-long celebration honouring Martin Luther and the Protestant Revolution (culminating on Oct 31, 2017 — the 500th anniversary of Luther’s nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church).
Along with Lutheran World Federation President Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan and General Secretary Rev. Dr. Martin Junge, the Pope will lead an Ecumenical Commemoration and common worship service in Lund Cathedral — based on the Catholic-Lutheran Common Prayer, released in January 2016 by both the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). This Common Prayer, in turn, “follows directly” from the publication in 2013 of the document titled From Conflict to Communion (the fruit of 50 years of ecumenical dialogue between the PCPCU and LWF). The Common Prayer praises Luther and “the many guiding theological and spiritual insights that we have all received through the Reformation”, and commits both Catholics and Lutherans to the premier guiding principle that all future relations should “begin from the perspective of unity and not from the point of view of division….”
From Conflict to Communion is, in my estimation, the most satanically deceitful document ever to issue forth from a Vatican office. The extent of this deceit, spread over the space of approximately 50 pages, would certainly require a book for full exposition. But the foundations, and principle elements of this deceit, are easily exposed in a few pages. This I will attempt to do below.
The False Guiding Principle
We must first dispose of the false principle stated repeatedly in this document, and also listed as the first principle in the Common Prayer, that all future relations between Catholics and Lutherans “should always begin from the perspective of unity and not from the point of division…”. This might indeed be a valid guiding principle if, as the document claims, “the things that unite us are greater than those that divide us”, but this is simply false. Let us consider the following three points about which, in its rush to embrace a false sense of unity, the document From Conflict to Communion is shamefully silent:
1) The Lutheran Church is not Apostolic and therefore in no way a “part” of the One Mystical Body of Christ.
2) The Lutheran Church does not have valid ordinations and therefore cannot confect the Eucharist, offer valid sacramental Confessions, Holy Orders, Confirmations, or the Sacrament of Supreme Unction.
In consideration of the above two points, we are able to immediately point out the absurdity of the principle that “we must begin with what unites us rather than what divides”. The Protestant Revolution almost immediately severed one-half of Europe from the fullness of Truth guaranteed by Christ as integral to the Apostolic Tradition, and it severed the Sacramental Life of Christ from all those who revolted. We are here speaking about the loss of sanctifying grace to millions of souls. And this “divisive” aspect of the “Reformation” has now been multiplied to an immeasurable degree. To gloss over all of this, to never mention it, and to place “what unites us” at the forefront, involves not only the most profound deception but also a horrendous sin and violation of the fundamental principles of charity and mercy: towards those souls who are suffering under these deceptions and deprivations.
3) It must be pointed out that the document From Conflict to Communion deals very specifically, and somewhat extensively, with the following doctrines: Justification; Eucharist (including the concepts of Real Presence and Sacrifice), Ministry; and Scripture and tradition (the document always uses the lower-case “t”). In obscuring and falsifying the radical divide between Catholic and Lutheran theology in regard to every one of these doctrines, the authors are always faced with the “hard” and substantive definitions and anathemas of Trent. This is especially true of the Tridentine Canons concerning Justification (canon after canon is clearly directed towards condemning the teachings of Luther), and the Eucharist. From Conflict to Communion therefore finds it necessary, from the very beginning of all of its discussion regarding the above-listed doctrines, to establish the following principle as the foundation of its aberrant conclusions:
While the Council of Trent largely defined Catholic relations with Lutherans for several centuries, its legacy must now be viewed through the lens of the actions of the Second Vatican Council. This Council made it possible for the Catholic Church to enter the ecumenical movement and leave behind the charged polemic atmosphere of the post-Reformation era. [paragraph 90] [emphasis mine]
In other words, this document would reduce the doctrinal definitions and condemnations of the Council of Trent to an historically-conditioned polemic, which has little or no binding force on modern Catholics or others. We are, in other words, here faced with emphatic denial of the binding dogmatic teachings of the Council of Trent. In doing so, the document From Conflict to Communion, and its perpetrators, thus also find themselves in direct contradiction to the following doctrinal teaching of
For the doctrine of faith which God has revealed has not been proposed, like a philosophical invention, to be perfected by human ingenuity; but has been delivered as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ, to be faithfully kept and infallibly declared. Hence, also, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our holy Mother the Church has once declared; nor is that meaning ever to be departed from, under the pretense or pretext of a deeper comprehension of them (can. iii).
The Lutheran Revolt
The genesis of Luther’s revolt is to be found in his personal despair in regard to his own ability or power to cooperate with God’s grace, not only in living the moral law, but also the rules and disciplines of his own Augustinian Order. His entire theological system is therefore rooted in the theological principle of justification which is expressed as “Faith Alone”.
In his own translation of the Bible he in fact inserted the word alone into Romans 3:28, so that it read:
For we account a man to be justified by faith alone, without the works of the law.
The word is simply not there. Nor can the words “without the works of the Law” be interpreted to mean “faith alone”. Under the New Law of the Gospel, man was indeed freed, through faith, from obeying all the ritualistic prescriptions, etc. of the Old Law. But this does not mean that he was freed from the Ten Commandments, the moral law of the New Testament, or the ability and obligation to exercise his free will in order to cooperate with God’s grace in living these laws and truths. Luther denied all this, and in fact labelled the Epistle of St. James as an “epistle of straw”. It is James, of course, who declared that “faith without works is dead.” Luther, in his writings also made the following statements:
"It is more important to guard against good works than against sin."
"This is Christian liberty…that we stand in need of no works for the attainment of piety and salvation."
"The very best good work is a venial sin according to God's merciful judgment, and a mortal sin according to His strict judgment."
"He that says the Gospel requires works for salvation, I say, flat and plain, is a liar."
"If Moses should attempt to intimidate you with his stupid Ten Commandments, tell him right out — chase yourself to the Jews."
“The nature of man is so corrupted that it can never be regenerated, and sin will remain in the soul, even of the just, forever. God’s all-powerful grace does not cleanse from sin. The Almighty does not regard the sins of men. He covers them over with the merits of Christ and does not impute them to the sinner whose faith in the sufferings of the Redeemer is made manifest.”
All this, of course, necessitates a denial of free will and its efficacy in cooperating with God’s grace. Luther wrote a book (directed against the philosopher Erasmus), titled The Slavery (or Bondage) of the Will, entirely devoted to this subject. His view on free will is perhaps most succinctly expressed in the following passage:
So man’s will is like a beast standing between two riders. If God rides, it wills and goes where God wills: as the Psalm says, ‘I am become as a beast before thee, and I am ever with thee.’ (Ps. 73: 22-3). If Satan rides, it wills and goes where Satan wills. Nor may it choose to which rider it will run, or which it will seek; but the riders themselves fight to decide who shall have and hold it. (II, viii)
Luther believed God’s power to be infinite, so the “fight” between God and Satan mentioned above is only a metaphor disguising the fact that Luther believed that God was the author of all evil as well as good. In other words, in denying free will, Luther, out of logical necessity, made God the author of all sin. He, in fact, stated that God was the author of Judas’ sin.
I would add that some years ago I studied Luther in depth, and the above statements are indeed only a fraction of what might be related. Anyone who undertakes any sort serious examination of his writings is bound to encounter these sorts of statements in abundance.
The Corrective Canons of Trent
We must, however, return to the point with which I began this analysis: the denial of the Dogmas of the Council of Trent which is at the root of From Conflict to Communion. The Decree on Justification of the Council of Trent contains the following Canons, all of which are to be seen as specifically directed against Martin Luther and Lutheranism. I am quoting quite a few of them in order to strongly emphasise the absurdities involved in any notion that there is any true unity possible between Catholic and Lutheran thought on the subject of Justification. Further, any attempt to reduce these Canons to historically conditioned polemics is indeed a work which is in alignment with Satan’s goal to undermine all of Catholic doctrine:
Canon 4. If anyone says that man's free will moved and aroused by God, by assenting to God's call and action, in no way cooperates toward disposing and preparing itself to obtain the grace of justification, that it cannot refuse its assent if it wishes, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive, let him be anathema.
Canon 5. If anyone says that after the sin of Adam man's free will was lost and destroyed, or that it is a thing only in name, indeed a name without a reality, a fiction introduced into the Church by Satan, let him be anathema.
Canon 6. If anyone says that it is not in man's power to make his ways evil, but that the works that are evil as well as those that are good God produces, not permissively only but also propria et per se, so that the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of St. Paul, let him be anathema.
Canon 7. If anyone says that all works done before justification, in whatever manner they may be done, are truly sins, or merit the hatred of God; that the more earnestly one strives to dispose himself for grace, the more grievously he sins, let him be anathema.
Canon 8. If anyone says that the fear of hell, whereby, by grieving for sins, we flee to the mercy of God or abstain from sinning, is a sin or makes sinners worse, let him be anathema.
Canon 9. If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema. [This Canon is probably the most succinct as being relevant to our analysis here]
Canon 11. If anyone says that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and remains in them, or also that the grace by which we are justified is only the good will of God, let him be anathema.
Canon 12. If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in divine mercy, which remits sins for Christ's sake, or that it is this confidence alone that justifies us, let him be anathema.
Canon 13. If anyone says that in order to obtain the remission of sins it is necessary for every man to believe with certainty and without any hesitation arising from his own weakness and indisposition that his sins are forgiven him, let him be anathema.
Canon 14. If anyone says that man is absolved from his sins and justified because he firmly believes that he is absolved and justified, or that no one is truly justified except him who believes himself justified, and that by this faith alone absolution and justification are effected, let him be anathema.
Canon 18. If anyone says that the commandments of God are, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to observe, let him be anathema.
Canon 19. If anyone says that nothing besides faith is commanded in the Gospel, that other things are indifferent, neither commanded nor forbidden, but free; or that the ten commandments in no way pertain to Christians, let him be anathema.
Canon 20. If anyone says that a man who is justified and however perfect is not bound to observe the commandments of God and the Church, but only to believe, as if the Gospel were a bare and absolute promise of eternal life without the condition of observing the commandments, let him be anathema.
Canon 21. If anyone says that Christ Jesus was given by God to men as a redeemer in whom to trust, and not also as a legislator whom to obey, let him be anathema.
Canon 24. If anyone says that the justice received is not preserved and also not increased before God through good works, but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of its increase, let him be anathema.
Canon 25. If anyone says that in every good work the just man sins at least venially, or, what is more intolerable, mortally, and hence merits eternal punishment, and that he is not damned for this reason only, because God does not impute these works into damnation, let him be anathema.
Canon 26. If anyone says that the just ought not for the good works done in God to expect and hope for an eternal reward from God through His mercy and the merit of Jesus Christ, if by doing well and by keeping the divine commandments they persevere to the end, let him be anathema.
Canon 27. If anyone says that there is no mortal sin except that of unbelief, or that grace once received is not lost through any other sin however grievous and enormous except by that of unbelief, let him be anathema.
Canon 31. If anyone says that the one justified sins when he performs good works with a view to an eternal reward, let him be anathema.
Canon 32. If anyone says that the good works of the one justified are in such manner the gifts of God that they are not also the good merits of him justified; or that the one justified by the good works that he performs by the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit an increase of grace, eternal life, and in case he dies in grace, the attainment of eternal life itself and also an increase of glory, let him be anathema.
Canon 33. If anyone says that the Catholic doctrine of justification as set forth by the holy council in the present decree, derogates in some respect from the glory of God or the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, and does not rather illustrate the truth of our faith and no less the glory of God and of Christ Jesus, let him be anathema.
In other words, the exercise of man’s free will is necessary for cooperating with the graces which lead to justification; necessary in cooperating with the grace of justification itself; necessary for persevering in Faith and good works, both of which are necessary for salvation; and necessary for performance of those good works which merit an increase of glory in eternal life.
Luther denied all of these Catholic doctrines.
Luther’s entire theory of Justification therefore made man totally depraved, and in so doing, blasphemed God Who created man in His own Image.
We need to note that, in “derogating” from these dogmatically binding teachings of Trent, and claiming a unity where there is no unity, it might well be concluded that the authors of From Conflict to Communion are subject to the anathema pronounced by Canon 33.
It is also abundantly clear that the deceit involved in the “unity” which is now alleged to exist between Catholics and Lutherans on the subject of Justification is equally present on the Lutheran side.
Lutheranism (of all varieties) is a “Confessional Faith”, involving “Confessional Documents” which must be adhered to in order to be considered a Lutheran. Premier among these Confessional Documents is the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, published in 1580 (and signed by 8,188 theologians, ministers, and teachers). It was promulgated in order to clarify and purify the formulation of the dogmas of Lutheranism in the light of many disagreements and theological differences which had arisen in the aftermath of previous documents, especially the Augsburg Confession of Philip Melanchthon.
Article II of the Solid Declaration is entirely on Free Will, and contains the following Declaration in paragraphs 6-7:
In order to settle this controversy in a Christian way according to the Word of God, and by God’s grace to bring it to an end, we submit the following as our teaching, belief and confession:
“We believe that in spiritual and divine things the intellect, heart, and will of unregenerated man cannot by any native or natural powers, in any way understand, believe, accept, imagine, will, begin, accomplish, do, effect, or cooperate, but that man is entirely and completely dead and corrupted as far as anything good is concerned. Accordingly, we believe that after the Fall and prior to his conversion not a spark of spiritual powers has remained or exists in man by which he could make himself ready for the grace of God or to accept the proffered grace, nor that he has any capacity for grace by and for himself or can apply himself to it or prepare himself for it, or help, do, effect, or cooperate towards his conversion by his own powers, either altogether or half-way or in the tiniest or smallest degree, ‘of himself as coming from himself,’ but is a slave of sin (John 8:34), the captive of the devil who drives him (Eph. 2:2; II Tim. 2:26). Hence according to its perverse disposition and nature the natural free will is mighty and active only in the direction of that which is displeasing and contrary to God. [Emphasis mine].
As I have said, a book could be written concerning the errors present in the Vatican document From Conflict to Communion. Suffice here to point out that Luther, in falsifying the most fundamental doctrine of Justification, was bound to falsify virtually everything else. The doctrine of Justification necessitates a true understanding of Who God is, who man is, and their proper relationship. Once these basic concepts are falsified, all the integrated and interwoven truths of our Faith are bound to crumble or become perverted.
Long Papal Pedigree
It must also be understood that the document From Conflict to Communion is not essentially the product of Pope Francis’ pontificate. It is the fruit of 50 years of ecumenical prostitution, and was released only 4 months after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council and the man responsible for promulgating this document, was appointed to his position by Pope Benedict on June 1, 2010. Its teaching on Justification was in fact almost wholly the result of the document Joint Declaration on Justification issued in 1999, under the pontificate of John Paul II. This was a project long in the making, and receiving the blessings of several pontiffs.
We have been rightly very concerned about Pope Francis’s support of pastoral efforts which would undermine the Sacrament of Matrimony, and promote Eucharistic sacrilege. But what will be happening in Lund, Sweden can be seen as a much deeper assault upon the Catholic Faith. Even though no doctrine is to be promulgated, and the Infallible Magisterium will remain intact, the blessing and leadership which the Pope will be exercising over this event undermines the deepest roots of Our Faith. The deleterious effects which this will exercise upon the whole Church cannot be overestimated.
"Communion" with Decadence and Heresy?
The pathos of this coming “Commemoration” is only increased by considering its location. The event will be held in the Lund Lutheran Cathedral, which was stolen from the Catholic Church and desecrated in approximately the year 1530. Sweden is one of the most irreligious countries in the world. A 2009 Gallup poll found that only 17% of the Swedish population considered religion as an important part of their daily life. The Lutheran Church is looked upon as a national Church, and until the year 2000 held the position of the official state church. The number of listed members is high because until 1996 all newborn children were registered as members unless their parents had actively cancelled their membership. Only 2% of registered members regularly attend Sunday services.
Theologically, the Lutheran Church of Sweden is considered extremely liberal. Women have been ordained as priests since 1960, the “Primate” is a woman, and in 2009 the performance of same-sex weddings was approved. A second woman Bishop, Eva Brunne (Bishop of Stockholm), is “married” to a fellow woman priest and is (or was) the world’s first openly lesbian bishop within a mainline Christian denomination. She and her partner have a son, who I believe is now 10 years old. Her episcopal motto is “Don’t show favouritism.” In September of 2015, Bishop Brunne attained worldwide notoriety for proposing that the Seaman’s Church in Stockholm Harbour remove all Christian symbols, including crosses (so as not to offend incoming Moslems), and replacing them with directions to Mecca.
The Pope seeking any sort of “communion” with such decadence and heresy is indeed spiritual madness.
Infidelity as Prostitution and Harlotry
There is a parallel that can be seen between the present condition of the Catholic Church and that of the Jews previous to the destruction of their nation, and their being taken into Babylonian captivity.
The Jews had been recipients of extraordinary gifts from God, including the promise of protection from, and victory over, all their enemies. Such gifts were conditional upon them placing their faith and trust exclusively in Him. The response of both Israel and Judah was to reject this gift and seek help through all sorts of diplomacy and alliances with pagan neighbours and countries, especially great powers such as the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Chaldeans. This of course led to all sorts of horrendous sins: worshipping of their idols, sacrificing their children to these idols, fornicating with their women, etc. All this diplomacy and “dialogue” was simply infidelity and harlotry in the face of God. The words of the prophets are horrendous in their condemnations:
For my people have done two evils. They have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and have digged to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. (Jer. 2:13)
But thou hast prostituted thyself to many lovers: nevertheless return to me, saith the Lord, and I will receive thee. (Jer. 3:1).
The consistent image for this infidelity is always prostitution and harlotry:
For on every high hill, and under every green tree thou didst prostitute thyself. (Jer. 2:20)
This prostitution always entails the loss of good “pastors”, and the scattering of the flock:
Because the pastors have done foolishly, and have not sought the Lord: therefore have they not understood, and all their flock is scattered. (Jer. 10:21)
This turning away from God and towards the world (especially towards nations and religions which traditionally have warred against God and His people) in search of peace and mercy always ends in exposing the spiritual nakedness of God’s people, and effects the opposite: the withdrawal of God’s peace, mercy, and healing:
I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the Lord, my mercy and commiserations. (Jer. 16:5).
Behold, I will gather together all thy lovers with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all whom thou hast loved, with all whom thou hast hated: and I will gather them against thee on every side, and I will discover thy shame in their sight, and they shall see all thy nakedness…. Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast provoked me in all these things: wherefore I also have turned thy ways upon thy head…. (Ezekiel 16:37-43).
Triumphant Flower of the Naked "Stump"
We see it now everywhere within the Church. Catholics, and especially their “pastors”, lie down with those who have hated them: Lutherans and all the various Protestant denominations, Judaism, Islam, Eastern Orthodox, Atheists, Russia, China — all now courted as lovers and fellow-travellers towards a Teilhardian Omega Point of world evolution.
No one can deny that the nakedness of the Catholic Church — spiritual, moral, and even physical — is now widely exposed to both those who have loved and those who have hated her.
The doctrine of Justification, explained so clearly and precisely in this critique, is not the only Catholic teaching to be sold out in the document From Conflict to Communion. Other paragraphs subvert eucharistic doctrine and the Mass. Since it is vital that readers are informed about these particular paras and their main objective — facilitation of inter-communion between Catholics and Lutherans — Mr Larson will address them in October: in which month the Pope is visiting Lund to put his seal on the destructive cause of false unity.