2020/08/25

A Diabolical Heresy

In case you still entertained any doubts that Liberalism--even Classical Liberalism--is a diabolical heresy fundamentally incompatible with Christianity, consider the following Twitter exchange:

Diabolical Heresy 1

Diabolical Heresy

Behold the mental pretzel into which a self-described Christian must twist himself to accommodate the contradictory propositions that a) the true final end of human liberty is salvation in Christ, yet b) the exercise of liberty must sanction a range of human behavior up to and including the commission of evil.

Not incidentally, in no moral universe does the statement, "We have the 'right' to sin," follow from the declaration, "I am Christian."

My interlocutor's fatal error is the false assumption that in order to be be free, the human will must be free to choose evil. Holding such a position betrays his ignorance of what freedom and will mean.

A being is most free when it can act unimpeded according to its nature. Evil is that which is contrary to nature. Therefore choosing evil makes one less free, not more free.

It's fascinating how binary thinkers who reduce the range of free choice to a false good-evil dichotomy never consider that a choice between two goods isn't just a free choice, but is a more perfect exercise of liberty than choosing between good and evil.

Also, asserting the allowance to choose evil without coercion is rather at odds with insisting that evildoers should receive the due wages of sin. God is certainly not a Liberal, if the Ten Commandments are any indication.

As for allowing one's neighbor to choose the shallow grave, his ability to make that choice is implied by the mere fact of his free will, regardless of which system of government he lives under.

The problem, as we've seen demonstrated in recent months, is that our neighbor's choice of the shallow grave all too often lands us there beside him as well.

Cannon Hinnant


Don't fall for the satanic lie of Liberalism, and don't give money to people who hate you

25 comments:

  1. The confusion on the left between needs and rights, or what some call erroneously "positive rights," seems to match the confusion on right between what we are able to do and what we have an actual right to do.

    It's interesting to me that your interlocutor even put the word right itself in dodgy-quotes when referencing the "right" to sin, as he himself knows, at some level, that this argument is incoherent. I'm going to hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will give him on the shoulder, as it were, and help him sort that out, because that notion is clearly contrary to St Paul's teachings in Galatians and 1 Corinthians.

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    1. Yes, I second your call for prayers on his behalf. The above is only a fraction of the whole argument, and from what I've seen, he's racking up heresies faster than I can count.

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    2. His thinking is stunted, with "rights" redefined to mean basically nothing. His conception of the right to choose is nothing more than a restating of an individual having sapience (nothing further is implied when he talks about the "right to choose", if I read him correctly).

      That's actually why during the exchange I mentioned the right to retribution. I suspect that he would argue against it, even though it would be subject to the same thought process. People with his philosophical frame tend to think "judgement icky", and cross themselves citing Matthew 7, indicating that they don't really buy the philosophical frame on people choosing action but really just want license to pick and choose which bad things they wish to indulge in without being second-guessed.

      The topic reminds me unpleasantly of the end of the Wheel of Time series. 14 massive books just to get to "you can't kill the Dark One, otherwise everyone's lost their free will and basically in empty/unthinking thrall to good." Urk!

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    3. Essentially. The vital connection he didn't make is that if liberty is ultimately ordered toward the good of salvation, then choosing sin isn't exercising liberty at all; it's a tyranny.

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    4. Yes, describing it as a "right" to sin is an elision that confuses the matter. What we have a right to is the freedom to choose, i.e. to not have that choice made for us -- even if for the good rather than the bad -- by a more powerful entity. Sinning is an abuse of that freedom, but the freedom itself must still be possessed for the choice not to sin to be meaningful.

      Q.v. the Catechism, article #1740: 'The exercise of freedom does not imply a right to say or do everything. It is false to maintain that man, "the subject of this freedom," is "an individual who is fully self-sufficient and whose finality is the satisfaction of his own interests in the enjoyment of earthly goods."33 Moreover, the economic, social, political, and cultural conditions that are needed for a just exercise of freedom are too often disregarded or violated.'

      Perfect conditions for just exercises of freedom can't be provided by classical liberalism per se, no more than any mortal sociopolitical system can. However, I think it is still worth asking whether any other system devised provides a better one.

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    5. The issue isn't whether Liberalism provides better conditions than other systems. It's that Liberalism is based on the inherently and gravely flawed position that freedom divorced from the good is the main organizing principle of society.

      The whole, "Liberalism is the preferred system because it maintains the integrity of human free will," argument is a nonstarter since it is a) metaphysically absurd and b) inherently illiberal since it appeals to a principle above and beyond freedom.

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    6. "Liberalism is based on the inherently and gravely flawed position that freedom divorced from the good is the main organizing principle of society."

      I would phrase it rather as, "Liberalism is the recognition that the alignment of freedom with the Good necessary to give freedom its value cannot itself, by definition, be created via compulsion by the legal force of the State."

      Consider that every totalitarian system in history has been founded on the justification that it knew so obviously what the Good was, in all areas and all ways, that it needed to tolerate no dissent from its citizens about it anywhere. The only place this attitude has ever worked benevolently is in monasteries, and while monasteries are wonderful places, there are inescapable reasons a modern nation-state can't be run that way.

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    7. Stephen J.--You've got an excluded middle there between "Force the good at swordpoint/gunpoint" (totalitarianism) and "Disregard the good altogether." (Liberalism)

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    8. "I would phrase it rather as ..."

      Your rephrasing is erroneous. Liberalism is fundamentally agnostic toward the good, as you demonstrate in your final paragraph when you lapse into moral relativism.

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    9. Liberalism neither disregards the good nor is agnostic to it; its weakness is that it makes no attempt to hierarchically systematize competing goods in terms of primacy, because that value hierarchy is meant to come from the people it governs, not from the government.

      Consider the phenomenon of abusive husbands and fathers. Is it not good that women and children trapped with such monsters, in regular danger of their lives from the very people who should be most protective of them, should be able to escape such bondage with as much legal speed and convenience as possible? "Of course it is," thinks the well-meaning liberal, "so we must institute no-fault divorce." "But that will destroy the integrity of marriage altogether," objects the traditional Christian, "and ultimately undermine society far more than those tragic but not particularly common instances where an abuse victim is unable to prove the abuse to a court's satisfaction." "What?!" erupts the liberal; "How can you call yourself a Christian and still allow innocents to suffer when one simple rule change will spare thousands?!" And while the Christian is struggling to articulate why that particular fence should still be left up (to bring in Chesterton's classic image), the liberal exploits the surge of sentimental compassion in voters conditioned into shortsighted emotional incontinence by the media, and the walls are kicked out of a fundamental support of society, and if certain voters think with furtive private glee of the opportunities now open, the majority still did it with good intentions for good reasons. They simply made a mistake about which good was ultimately more important, and no government system I know of can prevent that error.

      Disregarding the good altogether isn't liberalism, it's anarchy. And I will ask the question again more explicitly: What alternative exists that does not cause more harm? If we are to reject liberalism, with what should we replace it? The historical record of Cuius regio, eius religio does not offer much promise.

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    10. The value hierarchy of goods is set by God. Deferring to the opinion of 50% +1 of the population in that regard is pure quill moral relativism.

      "And I will ask the question again more explicitly: What alternative exists that does not cause more harm?"

      ME: Stop burning yourself with lit cigars.

      YOU: Do you have a better alternative?

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    11. Restrictions on human behavior through state enforcement of laws against evil acts does no violence to free will. Indeed, making and enforcing laws to promote public order and the common good is the chief legitimate role of government. Just ask St. Paul and Aquinas.

      Sin is a potential consequence of human free will allowed but not intended by God. Quite the contrary, God does not intend for us to sin. Hence why He gave us the Decalogue through Moses.

      The Ten Commandments are simply the natural law codified. As Aquinas teaches, human law should be informed by the natural law--to the point that any positive law which contradicts the natural law is immediately self-nullifying.

      Which is why legislation and court rulings feigning to legalize such sins as abortion and adultery are no laws at all.

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    12. "Restrictions on human behavior through state enforcement of laws against evil acts does no violence to free will."

      Said the Stasi monitor, as he argued that the regime's electronic surveillance enabled the prevention of adultery, lies and domestic abuse just as much as it did political subversion.

      "ME: Stop burning yourself with lit cigars.
      YOU: Do you have a better alternative?"


      YOU: The vast majority of modern foods have too much sugar in them and it's making us unhealthy.

      ME: I agree, but the existing infrastructure for food production and distribution is extremely large and complex, and effectively changing it is likely to be more difficult and fraught than we expect. What changes would you recommend?

      YOU: That's not the point. The point is that eating in general is a gravely flawed survival system that is not itself oriented towards our ultimate good of salvation.

      ME: ...

      If your point is that liberalism is neither an adequate substitute nor an indispensable necessity for Christian salvation, I agree with you wholly. However, if your point is that another political system would do better at facilitating salvation (since no mortal State can compel or guarantee it), I think it's a reasonable question to ask what kind of system is envisioned and why it should be considered a better alternative.

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    13. It also occurs to me that we may be talking at cross-purposes. If what you mean by "liberalism" is the currently prevailing set of cultural assumptions and values, then I think we agree much more strongly on criticizing those. If, on the other hand, you mean the formal political system based on the recognition and protection of individual rights, then that is the thing I am much more reluctant to give up by imbuing a government with the power to decree a specific state religion.

      (As a Catholic, I might be marginally happier under a Calvinist regime than a Muslim one, but it's not a choice I should have to make.)

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    14. My point is that we are currently living through the death throes of Liberalism--the formal system based on the recognition of individual rights, which led inevitably to the current chaos--as its internal contradictions tear it apart.

      The question of what comes next is academic. We can no more choose or foresee what replaces Liberalism than Medievals could foresee the American and French revolutions.

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    15. From Immortali Dei, an encyclical of Pope Leo XIII:

      Many, indeed, are they who have tried to work out a plan of civil society based on doctrines other than those approved by the Catholic Church. Nay, in these latter days a novel conception of law has begun here and there to gain increase and influence, the outcome, as it is maintained, of an age arrived at full stature, and the result of progressive liberty. But, though endeavours of various kinds have been ventured on, it is clear that no better mode has been devised for the building up and ruling the State than that which is the necessary growth of the teachings of the Gospel.

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    16. "...it is clear that no better mode has been devised for the building up and ruling the State than that which is the necessary growth of the teachings of the Gospel."

      I agree 100%, but I can't help but note that that isn't very practically helpful; exactly what is the necessary growth from the teachings of the Gospel? How do we get from the Sermon on the Mount to specifics about how the head of state should be chosen, and what civic authority he should have? Oliver Cromwell and Charles I both thought, most likely both in perfect sincerity, that they had the Gospels on their side.

      And I disagree that the question of what comes next is academic. If we have any ability to influence outcomes, then figuring out how best to do so is paramount; as individuals, perhaps all we can do is pray for the best outcome (and we should all be doing that anyway), but that doesn't let us off from trying to do our best to realize the Good as we understand it, and to find a way for those who disagree on the best means to that Good to coexist peacefully.

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    17. As the progressive surrender of Europe to the disciples of Mo illustrates, liberal pluralism is totally powerless to defend itself from a creed that will literally make converts at gunpoint. Explicitly Christian or Muslim is exactly the kind of choice we face

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    18. "...I can't help but note that that isn't very practically helpful..."

      Nor is it supposed to be.
      Conservatives' single-minded focus on practicalities is their biggest Achilles' heel. Anytime someone cautions our side to avoid harmful actions and ideas, without fail he's beset by armchair generals obstinately refusing to listen until "a better alternative" is presented. That's not being practical. It's moral paralysis.

      When someone points out that your drink is poisoned, it is neither necessary nor advisable to decide on another beverage order before you stop drinking the poison.

      "Oliver Cromwell and Charles I both thought, most likely both in perfect sincerity, that they had the Gospels on their side."

      Another example of the moral relativism that demonstrates why Liberalism is a heresy. The phenomenon of individual men incorrectly or incompletely grasping the natural law does not militate against the ability of others to correctly grasp it. Claiming that it does is a fedora-tier argument *against* the natural law.

      If you want ideas for a practical system of government in line with the natural law and the Gospels, consult Aquinas, The School of Salamanca, or any of the myriad volumes on political philosophy in the Catholic tradition. It's not like we haven't had millennia to think on this stuff.

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    19. For the record, having spent my life under the auspices of a state religion that could not so much as admit its own existence, I would rather be the subject of a literal, actual Catholic king than the "citizen" of a secular humanist, or even a vaguely Deist, republic. The His Catholic Majesty might call me a heretic to my face, but he would at least agree that I have a soul of infinite value and the spending eternity in the presence of God is a man's highest aspiration, which is more we can say for Secularhuman-istan. A Lutheran, Anglican, or Calvinist monarchy would also be acceptable, so long as we can agree not to start killing each other over the sacraments again. I'd even settle for Orthodox, though I think the liturgy would seem very foreign at first.

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  2. Thank you, Valar, you've just made me very grateful I didn't make it past the first book. I spent far too much time and energy wrestling with the whole Balance concept over in Dragonlance.

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    1. Well, part of what made the Balance thing so absurd there is it's dropped on the reader in the last book. No true foreshadowing of that in the previous books. Parts of the resolution were well-founded or hinted at, but the whole idea that people are basically "brainwashed by the Light" without the existence of the Dark One was book 14 only (especially dumb given that as early as book 1 and all through book 14 there's at least one other primordial evil entity with no lineage back to the Dark One -- they're even mutually poisonous to each other). I'd blame Sanderson like a lot of people (generally pretty stupidly) do for lots of the issues with the last 3 books, but that sort of thing is core enough that it had to come from the original author. He had a ton of time to pass on information/take notes for his successor to use to finish the series.

      I still enjoy most of it, and could see doing a re-read at some point if I had more time than I know what to do with. But a fair portion of AMoL did leave a bad taste in my mouth.

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  3. I wonder if one of the problems is the classic issue of confusing what is moral with what should be legal.

    In an ideal world, anything immoral would be illegal. But practically speaking that can't be done. Some things, like thoughts, are private and can't be policed (much as Leftists would love to). Some things are minor enough that they shouldn't be illegal, so you wouldn't have to get the government involved every time you and your neighbor get in an argument.

    It would have been nice if the choices God left Adam and Eve with were just two goods rather than good and evil...

    At any rate, our goal should be to get each other on the right track. Anything else is stupid once you think of it that way--in terms of doing good and seeking happiness, rather than the fuzzy "right to choose" which isn't universally applicable!

    (One of my pet grievances, and possibly a symptom of today's moral confusion, is people who say that Adam and Eve didn't know the difference between good and evil before they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But the word "know" there is the same as Adam "knowing" his wife Eve--intimate union. They knew what was wrong, but hadn't "known" it personally until they made whatever wrong choice that was.)

    Another complaint is that the word "Freedom" is often used both in the proper sense of "free to choose the good" and in the improper sense of "free to do whatever I want," which is really license. Without clarification, it makes it hard to tell what someone is supporting vs. condemning.

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    1. "It would have been nice if the choices God left Adam and Eve with were just two goods rather than good and evil..."

      But then Christ's triumphant death and resurrection would never have happened.

      O happy fault, that won us so great a Redeemer!

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    2. Well, true of course.

      What I was trying to say is it is an interesting point that God left us free to sin, where we humans have a duty to as much as possible remove chances for ourselves and others sinning. (Presumably because God has infinite knowledge and wisdom and we don't!)

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