Saturday, December 27, 2014

Does Pope Francis offer an authentic Gospel or the "Social Gospel"?

Back in December of 2012, I wrote, "The "Social Gospel" is more concerned about an earthly future than eternity

Standing before a statue of Mary near the Spanish Steps on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Benedict XVI reminded his listeners that the Gospel is the good news of freedom from sin, that it is "the proclamation of the victory of grace over sin, of life over death."  Proponents of the "social gospel" have forgotten this.  The mission of the Church is not to eradicate poverty or social injustice.  As Dr. Dietrich von Hildebrand explains, while "a deep interest in the earthly welfare of our neighbor is a central duty of the Christian and an essential demand of the love of neighbor," still, "it is definitely no part of the message of Christ that there is to be no more poverty, no more war, that the earth is to become a natural paradise."

Proponents of the "social gospel" fail to understand, as Dr. Hildebrand reminds us, that "..the primary task of the Church is the proclamation of the divine Revelation, the protection of it against all heresies, the the sanctification of the soul of the individual, the securing of his eternal salvation - this is the spreading of the kingdom of God on earth, and not the attempt to build up an earthly paradise." (Essay entitled This-Worldliness).

Dr. Hildebrand explains that, "...the motive of many for eliminating poverty (which itself is not morally wicked, but only a morally relevant evil) is not rooted in the spirit of Christ or His Gospel, but in a humanitarian ideal.  The widespread tendency today to demand everything as a right and to refuse to accept any gifts is surely no manifestation of a Christian spirit.  There is in reality a clear, sharply delineated difference between justice and love.  Justice can and should be protected and demanded by state law; but love of neighbor could never be demanded by any law.  For it is a duty before God, and no state law could or should prescribe it or enforce it.  Love of neighbor presupposes the fulfillment of the claims of justice, but it goes far beyond this.  The words of the Gospel, 'if someone asks you to go one mile, go two miles with him,' clearly go far beyond the sphere of justice.  Of course, it is a pharisaical hypocrisy to the demands of justice as if one were giving alms.  But it is a terrible pride not to want to accept any alms, and to demand that which comes as a gift.  The true Christian should be happier to receive alms and to be grateful for them, than simply to receive what he has a right to.  When he receives a gift he is happy not only over the good which is the gift, but also over the goodness of the giver; and he experiences it as a great source of happiness that he can and should be grateful."

Priests and deacons who have succumbed to the distortions of the "social gospel" seldom, if ever, preach against sin or remind their listeners of the reality of Hell.  Dr. Hildebrand addresses this fact saying that, "this-worldly tendency can be detected in various pastoral letters, and above all in countless sermons.  One speaks more about the fight against poverty and for social justice and world peace - in a word, more about improving the world - than about offending God by our sins, sanctifying the individual, about heaven and hell, eternity and the hope of eternal union with God in the beatific vision.  The this-worldly tendency emphasizes the earthly future more than eternity..." (This-Worldliness).

The true Christian, in the Creed, proclaims: Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venturi saeculi - 'We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come."  But proponents of the "social gospel" have largely abandoned such a hope and prefer instead to embrace a humanitarian religion and to work for an earthly "utopia."  Robert Hugh Benson, in his classic work entitled The Lord of the World, describes this humanitarian religion:

" becoming an actual religion itself; though anti-supernatural.  It is a pantheism.  Pantheism deifies all nature, God is the world, but naturally, man above all is God since he is the highest expression of nature.  It is a religion devoid of the 'super' natural, because since God is nature itself, there is no longer a distinction between Creator and creature.  The creature is God and hence arbitrator of his own destiny and establishes the moral law for himself....Humanitarianism is a religion devoid of the supernatural.  It is developing a ritual under Freemasonry; it has a creed, 'God is man'; and the rest.  It has, therefore, a real food of a sort to offer religious cravings: it idealizes and yet makes no demands upon the spiritual faculties..." (Introduction, p. xvii).

The Church's mission is not to solve poverty.  In fact, Jesus said that we would always have the poor with us (Mark 14: 7).  The Church's mission is the salvation of souls.  When a crowd of people went searching for Jesus and found Him on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, they said to Him, 'Rabbi, when did you come here?'  And Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.  Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you; for on Him has God the Father set His seal."  The crowd said to Him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?"  And Jesus answered them: "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him who He has sent." (John 6: 25-29).

The work of God is believing in Him whom the Father has sent.  Jesus reveals Himself as the Bread of Life.  He reveals in the synagogue who He is, where He comes from and the good things He has in store for those who believe in Him: faith, the Eucharist and eternal life.

Proponents of the 'social gospel" have forgotten that "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4: 4).  Crippled by distorted humanitarian ideals, such confused souls forget Our Lord's injunction to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (food, drink, clothing etc) shall be yours as well." (Matthew 6: 33).

Now, we have this from another blogger regarding Pope Francis' Urbi et Orbi message.

Ask yourself: Does Pope Francis offer an authentic Gospel message or the Social Gospel?


Unknown said...

On the Belgian/Flemish news today : TV was filming the preaching of Bishop Johan Bonny :
The Bishop of Antwerp has called for the Roman Catholic Church to recognise relationships involving people who are gay or Lesbian. Bishop Johan Bonny told the daily De Morgen that within the church there should be diversity when it comes to recognising forms of relationship.
Earlier the Bishop of Antwerp wrote to the Vatican, the world headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, to call for greater respect for homosexuality, people who are divorced and modern relationships. In his interview with the daily De Morgen Bishop Bonny now also says that the Church should provide a formal form of recognition for gay and Lesbian relationships.

The Bishop believes such relationships meet the criteria for a church wedding: "Christian ethics defend durable relationships in which exclusivity, loyalty and care are central."

The bishop says the Church should recognise that people in gay relationships can bring up children. Johan Bonny does not think that there is a form of relationship that fits all.

The Bishop of Bruges is a frontrunner to succeed André Léonard as the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium, he also is a good friend of Cardinal Kasper and P. Francis.
The LGBT's were sitting in the front rows and their faces were radiating !!!!

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in its document entitled Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, warns that even where homosexual unions have been legalized, "clear and emphatic opposition is a duty." (No. 5). This important document stresses that, "any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws" and even any "material cooperation on the level of their application" must be avoided. "In this area," states the document, "everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection."

Considerations makes it abundantly clear that, "The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to considerations of homosexual unions." (No. 11). In other words, there can be no doubt that all Catholics have a moral duty to oppose the homosexual agenda.

Bishop Bonny has lost his faith and wants to lead others to Hell.

This represents a real prayer need.

Anonymous said...

The Church loses credibility when such scandals persist. The Pope should not tolerate such willing disobedience lest he be an accessory to their scandal. If he can't canonically relieve one of their duties right away, he should at least speak out against the one's thinking directly and clearly, but certainly not put such leaders in charge of a family summit, like Card. Kasper. It would be less scaandalous to admit he is not in full control than to let this go as if he is for divorcees remarrying and gays living like the married getting certain sacraments reserved for those in a state of grace. We need, but don't deserve, a Pope Pius X.

Anonymous said...

I support our Holy Father! I place my trust in him as the Lord's representative here on earth.


Anonymous said...

And I don't trust him. His words and actions make me fear his destructive capability.

I trusted all the previous popes. But not this one.

I trust in Jesus forever though. Even while I suspect this pope of being an anti-Pope.

Athol/OrangeCatholic said...

I don't really trust him either. He is meeting with the leaders of ten world religions next month at the University of Santo Tomas.

Are we that much closer to a one-world religion?

Marie said...

Thank you, Mr. Melanson, for this article on "social justice." I've always felt something was "off" each time Pope Francis preaches about the poor, as if the poor are automatically holy just by being poor. So you, the rich ones, must give to the poor because God is with them...or words to that effect.

Well, I'm poor myself and know a lot of poor people and know, too, that poverty does not equate holiness.

I also think that the Pope's humanitarian "theology' to be a late-comer to the default social setting we've been under for some decades now. There's the UN, and Obama, the NGO's, the World Bank, the environmentalists, the feminists, the LGBT, and a host of other do-gooders. Doesn't the Pope think them sufficient enough to fight for social justice that he has to somehow enroll himself into their cause?

The present Pope wants to be different from his predecessors. I'm afraid he's creating a magisterium quite different from the Church's 2000-year deposit of faith. And that's scary.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Thank you for your kind note and insightful comment Marie. As Betty Davis said in one of her films: "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night."

Lazarus Gethsemane said...

The entire premise of a "Social" Gospel is deeply flawed.

Christ prayed that the Church itself be as one. However, He made it abundantly clear that He came to DIVIDE the world. "I have not come to bring peace to the world, but a sword".

He came to "set the world on fire" ... "and how I wish it were already ablaze!".

These two things (Church unity/worldly division) are diametrically opposed. They can not (and SHOULD not) be reconciled. Our Lord came to bring peace to the individual soul. And society will never accept that. It never has, and it never will. His Passion, and Crucifixion and Death, are a testament to that immutable truth. And The Good Lord has every intention of exploiting that societal/Church divide to the fullest in our current time.

THIS, is the essence of martyrdom: Societal conflict in the name of redemption. He calls us to be courageous targets of evil in this darkened world.

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father."

And central to those "good deeds" is the outright rejection of sin. And society will have none of that. But individuals will. And our Faith must divide those individuals from this hellish society and all its temporal evils.

It is no more complicated than that. And yet, it IS extremely hard to live this Holy Life. Now let us stop with this confusion of Our Dear Lord's intentions. Let us get on with dividing this broken world in His Name.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

As one of those courageous targets, I commend you for your comments. Well said Lazarus!

Catholic in Brooklyn said...

I guess Dr. Hildebrand wouldn't like Pope Benedict XVI either. What us with these popes trying to give comfort to the world?! That is something Jesus would never do.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Actually, Dr. Hildebrand would have no problem with Pope Benedict XVI. Pope Benedict never advanced a Social Gospel. Read your own link, if you are capable. Nowhere does Benedict hold Christ as the Savior from poverty and all the ills of society.

Christ came to save us from sin. And He said the poor would always be with us.

An authentic charity always places God first. We read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that, "Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God" (1822).

Proponents of the Social Gospel attempt to reverse this order. They would have us put man first and God (if at all) after. For some 40 years now Catholics have been subjected to a watered-down Catholicism which seeks to replace many basic truths of the Faith with an emphasis on the temporal. It was Bishop Fulton John Sheen who said that the unrepentant sinner turns to 'social justice" to ease his conscience.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Which is not to say, of course, that we will not be judged on such works. Even a cursory read of Matthew 25 by even the most intellectually-challenged amongst us will quickly reveal the necessity of sharing the good things which God has provided us. But, having succumbed to a false social "gospel," clerics who have fallen into this-worldliness fail to understand that temporal justice is not an essential message of the Gospel and, as Father Vincent Miceli reminded us, "...has nothing to do directly with God's economy of salvation as revealed in the life and teachings of Jesus. Christ Himself stressed this truth when He urged His listeners to act as follows concerning their natural needs: 'Therefore I say to you, do not be anxious for your life...for your Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be given you besides.'" (Essay entitled "St. Thomas, Justice and Marxism," citing Matthew 6: 25, 32-33).

Lazarus Gethsemane said...

Catholic in Brooklyn said...

I guess Dr. Hildebrand wouldn't like Pope Benedict XVI either. What us with these popes trying to give comfort to the world?! That is something Jesus would never do.

Actually Jesus didn't come to bring comfort to the world. He came to bring peace to individual souls who turn to Him and away from their sins with humility and contriteness of heart in complete surrender. And that can only happen if those individuals openly reject the world.

Oh but hey, don't take my word for it, let Him tell you:

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. 35For I have come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.’" - Matthew 10:34-36

So what do you think you know that Christ doesn't know?

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

It was John Henry Cardinal Newman who wrote, "What is Satan's device in this day?...He has taken the brighter side of the Gospel - its tidings of comfort, its precepts of love; all darker, deeper views of man's condition and prospects being comparitively forgotten. This is the religion natural to a civilized age, and well has Satan dressed and completed it into an idol of the Truth...Religion is pleasant and easy; benevolence is the chief virtue; intolerance, bigotry, excess of zeal, are the first of sins." (Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 1, sermon 24).

Dr. von Hildebrand notes how, "burning zeal for the truth, for God, for Christ and His holy Church, is looked on as fanatical, intolerant, and incompatible with charity. Of this burning holy zeal, which every true Christian necessarily possesses, Newman says: 'Now I fear we lack altogether....firmness, manliness, godly severity. We are ever-tender in dealing with sin and sinners. We are deficient in the jealous custody of the revealed Truths which Christ has left us. We allow men to speak against the Church, its ordinances, or its teaching, without remonstrating with them. We do not separate from heretics, nay, we object to the word as if uncharitable....' In the saints we find..union of burning zeal and triumphant love of neighbor - one has only to think of the Apostles, of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John, or of St. Athanasius, St. Augustine, St. Francis de Sales, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila, and countless others....But today we find a twofold evil: harmlessness and loss of holy fear, as well as loss of burning zeal for supernatural things..."

We congratulate ourselves on how "civilized" we've become. How tolerant. But we forget that lukewarness is the Devil in disguise. Do we hate sin and error? If not, then we do not really love God. Our love of God is a sham, a counterfeit, a fraud. It is not without reason that God will say to the lukewarm: "I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth." (Revelation 3: 16).

Which will we embrace: a harmless religion which makes no demands (a natural religion which prepares the way for the Man of Sin) or a supernatural faith which unites burning zeal for truth with love of neighbor? Do we even understand what charity consists of? If not, we should reflect very carefully on 1822 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Natural religion, harmless religion, is the religion of Antichrist. This is the seduction of our time: we are overwhelmed by a culture which exhorts us to be "reasonable." To be "tolerant." But, as Pope Benedict XVI writes (in his book Jesus of Nazareth): "If we had to choose today, would Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Mary, the son of the Father, have a chance? Do we really know Jesus at all? Do we understand him? Do we not perhaps have to make an effort, today as always, to get to know him all over again? The tempter is not so crude as to suggest to us directly that we should worship the devil. He merely suggests that we opt for the reasonable decision, that we choose to give priority to a planned and thoroughly organized world, where God may have his place as a private concern but must not interfere in our essential purposes..." (p. 41).
"Be reasonable," our culture says: "Don't rock the boat, what do you care if a woman wants to have an abortion? After all, that's her affair. You should stop being so fanatical and intolerant. You believe life is sacred? Good, but keep your beliefs in your Church." And: "Why shouldn't people of the same sex be married? Stop denying them their civil rights. You are being judgmental. After all, God is love."
The Pope has said it. The Devil merely suggests that we opt for the reasonable decision. But we do so at the price of apostasy.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Since "Catholic in Brooklyn" doesn't care to engage in honest dialogue, I won't be publishing her comments.

She left another comment asserting that men are primarily interested in the food for the body. She misses the point.

Lucifer was the first preacher of the Social Gospel. He said to Jesus, "Turn these stones into bread."

And how did Jesus respond? With the most succinct rebuttal of the Social Gospel: That man does not live by bread alone but by the Word of God.

Lazarus Gethsemane said...

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Lucifer was the first preacher of the Social Gospel. He said to Jesus, "Turn these stones into bread."

And how did Jesus respond? With the most succinct rebuttal of the Social Gospel: That man does not live by bread alone but by the Word of God.

Yep. And Our Lord made this point abundantly clear in the Bread of Life Discourse. In fact, this Immutable Truth IS the Source and Summit of the entire Catholic Faith:

"I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." - John 6:49

Anything that is emphasized above (or even equal to) the Bread of Life - is apostasy. Plain and simple.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Fulton Sheen on false compassion and the counterfeit "Social Gospel":

Anonymous said...

Pope Francis is an apostate antipope who definitely puts man above God. As faithful catholics we are under no obligation to follow a heretical and schismatic pope on the contrary we should disregard anything he teaches that goes against church doctrine. The legitimate pope is still Pope Benedict because he was forced to retire. And proof has come out of Rome that there was convassing during the conclave.

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