The title of this article almost sounds surreal. At first one could be forgiven for thinking it was some sort of low budget End Times movie seen on some local cable access channel. However, the information contained within this article is real, fortunately, as believers and specifically those of us who are Catholic we know that Jesus promised that His Church would not fall despite the attempts of those working for the evil one. God is the truth and God is love, but the mere fact that He is both has caused many rebellions against him literally from day one. Sadly, those who often claim to be the smartest act the most childish, by at first claiming God doesn’t exist and then claiming if He does exist, He doesn’t make sense at least to them. This article will look at this behavior from the world’s earliest moments, but will mainly focus on what has happened in the last few years, right up until this very moment.
The slow inexorable march toward open human rebellion against God by humans began in of all places heaven when Lucifer and one third of the angels tried to take over heaven. What was the cause of their rebellion? The cause was the same as it always was pride, the need for power, the control of others and the turning way from truth and love. Theologians tell us that God showed Lucifer (the Light Bearer,) at the time the most beautiful of angels, the future and the need for the Incarnation. The “Light bearer” could not and would not accept the fact that divine suffering was needed to help the mere mortal, and so the rebellion began and it continues to this day. Those who deny God actually believe in Him more than they we will ever know, they just feel they could do a better than Him.
The Garden of Eden is the perfect example of it, the desire to be just like God and the later realization that life was almost perfect, but one threw it away for complete power. It has happened time and again since that fateful day until this very day. Sadly, we will soon see such an open rebellion against God that even those who hardly seemed shocked by anything will be stunned. Yet, it is nothing new.
We can see the timeline of rebellion against God march on from the Garden of Eden through King Nimrod, who actually thought he could walk up to heaven via his Tower of Babel. Perhaps, he thought he could call the shots or at least intimidate God. Those with out of control egos never seem to learn. All throughout the Old Testament major and minor prophets tried to warn those who would listen that they needed to get closer to God and not their own inhibitions and egos. Man’s folly knows no bounds. With all of God’s gifts and prophets, the subtle rebellion continued. One might think that 2,000 years after the death and resurrection of God’s only Son, with all of its access to information via missionaries, the printed page and now the internet, the world would be on their knees night and day thanking God for His mercy and grace. Sadly they are not, in fact though few have ever spoken out in opposition to Jesus’ teachings, far fewer (percentage wise) follow Him now than did the earth’s populace fifty years ago.
The subtle rebellion occurs whenever we sin, so in a way we always rebel against God in some from or another. However, many of us repent and try to amend our ways. In more recent times, say from the 1960s onward a religious and cultural construct emerged where some claimed that despite the nearly 2,000 year of teachings of Christ, they had found the truths that the best and brightest before them had missed. The hubris of man knows no bounds. The feelings and desires of men and women were now superseding the truths of the Church. Some Christian churches were openly extolling the “option” of abortion and sexual exploration (before and during marriage and with the same sex as well.) Even in the Catholic Church, some priests, bishops and lay leaders were pushing an agenda that seemed far from the Splendor of Truth that Christ gave us via the Holy Scriptures and the Church Fathers expounded upon in Sacred Tradition.
Sadly some churches have seen theological and moral heresy enter into the seats of power. Case in point is the recent statement on traditional marriage made by the openly gay Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson. This leading liberal Episcopal bishop seems to cast doubt on the Christian basis for marriage between one man and one woman. Some of you may recall the interview I conducted with him in 2006. It was certainly eye opening to see the divisions between him and Canon Kendall Harmon (whom I also interviewed) a leading voice of the conservative wing of the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal bishop isn’t alone with his views about marriage, Harry Knox a White House advisor has said that the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict’s view on marriage are very hurtful. In reality the fact of the matter is that traditional Judeo Christian views on marriage should be viewed in the teachings of Christ and the Early Church. For example, Jesus spoke more of the punishments of Sodom and Gomorrah more than he spoke of heaven. In addition, homosexuality was specifically prohibited by the Early Church and every Christian body until the last few decades when some took a more liberal position.
In reality, if Jesus, the Apostles, Church Fathers and Popes of the Early Church wanted the Christian message to spread further they could certainly have been more tolerant of homosexuality since most of the Roman world approved of it. Many in the ruling and upper classes, especially men experimented with homosexuality. By the fact that the Christ and His Early Church through the Apostles, Church Father and Popes spoke out so forcefully against it shows the truth nature of Christian doctrine. Jesus was very specific that man could not serve two masters, he had to either serve God or his own inhibitions and there was an eternal price to pay for the latter. St Paul followed by even being more graphic on the subject. This is not to say that the Church condemned those with same sex attraction. In actuality, the Church has always been in the forefront (much to the consternation of some fundamentalist) concerning the fact that everyone is to be loved and comforted in this world. Yet the Church teaches that while on this earth, we are all given a cross to carry. Some people are given the cross of same sex attraction; they are not to act upon those feelings but to live celibate lives. Would any caring person tell an alcoholic that they should act upon their desires for alcohol?
Slowly but surely through time, the teachings of Christ and His Church were being questioned. The first signs of this occurred during the early days of the Renaissance when the few universities that were open would occasionally have to deal with students who would mock the Church while at the same lifting up their ego and intellectual prowess. It was a sign of things to come. Pride was one of the seven deadly sins for good reason. Martin Luther thought once he had the attention of the Christian world those who didn’t like what was going on in Rome would naturally follow him and his teachings. Yet, his fellow reformers went in many directions. Pandora’s Box was open. All the tension and anger came flowing out at the Marburg Colloquy in 1529 when Luther realized that key doctrinal issues where not going to be followed by some of the leaders of his movement. When the Eucharist and other sacraments were shelved, Luther stormed out and exchanged unpleasantries with some of the attendees never to meet with them again. Luther later lamented that some of the Protestant movement ceased to be Christian when they disregarded Christ’ command concerning the Eucharist. We now have 40,000+ denominations and independent churches in the United States even though Christ exhorted us to be One (John 10:16.)
The Eucharist, like many things of God is a no go for some of the enlightened and militant secularists of the world. God’s gift to mankind became a stumbling block (John 6:22-69) because it made no sense to the self appointed best and brightest, it would be a harbinger of things to come. Some of these self appointed best and brightest were emphasizing intelligence and rationality, as if they had a corner on the market. It would be used to attack everyone (especially conservative, religious minded political figures) from the lowliest to God Himself.
Though many have written about the French Revolution as the first open salvo of man’s rebellion against God, it was the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 and subsequent tsunami that was the first concrete example of man mocking God and those who believed in Him. One of the infamous characters of the French Revolution, Voltaire led the charge against those who tried to understand the role of God in this tragedy.
Still today many progressives and militant secularists look with fondness at the French Revolution. It was here that we see the true nature of the revolution which was not to help the poor and needy but to attack God. Ever since Judas’ tirade against those who let the penitent woman pour expensive perfumes over Jesus in thanksgiving for her deliverance, the poor and needy have been the foil for those wanting control of the Church. In addition to royal family members, the leaders of the French Revolution and their henchman killed simple priests, nuns and Catholic believers, the rich and poor alike, who tried to defend the figurative and literal destruction of the Catholic Church in France.
At the famed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the violent mob took great delight in hearing that prostitutes were mockingly crowned with power on the church’s altar. Earlier Voltaire had proudly exclaimed that once the indefatigable Jesuits were thrown out of the country anything was possible. He did not live to see the revolution, though his dream of anarchy continued. However, in Voltaire we see the true wishes of those who admire his ideas, whether they lived in 1789 or 2010.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels would pick up on this theme of violence toward religion and God. It would continue underground in intellectual circles until the age of mass communications when television, music and the internet would not only broadcast the views of the intellectual but the ranting of those who claimed to be rank and file. From there it would get into certain churches and seminaries and universities of theological formation. Keep in mind that it was none other than Saul Alinksy, the mentor of many in the liberal and progressive movements, including many in Washington DC, who dedicated his landmark book, Rules for Radicals to among others Lucifer.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that from the writings of Marx and Engels came the longing for the extermination of those who were beneath the intellectuality of these two, along with the many they influenced from Hitler and Stalin, to Mao and even those who had no political power but had the power of the pen, that being George Bernard Shaw. To see a grainy video of Shaw smiling talking about having each man and woman defend their existence is chilling, to hear of him speak of killing these people humanely while classical music is played is to see a vision of hell on earth. In a more modern example, Che Guevara often mocked Africans and African Americans. He also fondly recalled torturing those who didn’t believe in a worldwide Marxist Revolution. Yet, somehow and only God knows why, images of Guevara are on Tee shirts and other fashions, often worn by the very people Guevara detested. The aforementioned men have made no secret of their hatred of God and somehow, their ideas have made it into the religious world, specifically liberal seminaries.
Because of the amalgamation of the ideas making their way into houses of worship, many liberal religious bodies have experienced a statistical freefall. Dave Shiflett’s book Exodus chronicles the plummeting congregations of the mainline Protestant Churches. The most extreme example of this can be seen in the Unitarian Church , which two to four former presidents called their own (depending upon your source.) By the 1990s, it was estimated that half of the Church’s congregation was either agnostic or atheist. Two men David Burton and Dean Fisher have become evangelists in their own church preaching that yes God does exist. This is only the start of this theological madness. In some Ivy League Theology Departments half of the faculty is either atheist or agnostic.
These two examples are the end result of drinking too excessively from the Enlightenment. In England, the Anglican Church which once was revered as the shining light of Protestant respectability, had seen its numbers plummet thanks to four decades of liberal theological and social pronouncements. It is now estimated that there are more people attending Friday prayers at their local mosque than attend Anglican Church services on Sunday.
In the United States some liberal Protestant mainstream churches has seen their church numbers fall as much as fifty percent in the last 40 years. In many small towns and cities across the US, historic churches mainline Protestant churches sit empty as many of their adherents have left for the Catholic Church or the local non denominational mega church. While the conservative Southern Baptist Church is holding its own in numbers, the much maligned conservative Catholic Church is still growing in the US. Even in Catholic places like Quebec, which once had one of the highest rates of church attendance in the western world, church attendance has plummeted thanks to much of the province’s leadership having also drunk too much from the cup of the 1960s and 1970s enlightenment.
Yet as Christ promised the Gates of Hell would not prevail against the One, Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Church. In the last few years we have seen a resurgence of orthodoxy in the Church to counter the Dictatorship of Relativism that our current Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has prophetically warned us is occurring in our modern world.
As I noted before, all of this is made manifest in ordination numbers. 64 to 6 and 14 to 4 stand out. What does this mean? In 2006 when writing my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism, I noted that even though the Diocese of Rochester had more Catholics than the dioceses of Lincoln and Omaha combined, Rochester had 6 men studying for the priesthood while Lincoln and Omaha had 64. That same year of 2006 Denver had 14 young men ordained to the priesthood (eleven in May and three earlier in the academic year) while Los Angeles had four; a staggering statistic when one considers that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has 4,300,000 Catholic residents compared to 385,000 Catholics for the Archdiocese of Denver. Los Angeles and Rochester are led by two of the most liberal prelates in the Church, while Omaha, Lincoln and Denver are led by three of the more conservative bishops in the US, a revelatory statistic to say the least.
It doesn’t stop there, Catholic young people (age 30 and under) who attend Mass regularly believe in the Church’s teachings and in her pro life stand more than any age group, including that of their grandparents. Perhaps this is why those who love to rebel against the Church have sounded so shrill lately, they can see what perhaps even the true believer doesn’t always see; they see that the tide is turning toward Church orthodoxy. This can also be seen in the world at large as evidenced by the uproar over a very benign pro life ad during the Super Bowl. Former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, whose mother was told by doctors to abort him, appeared with his mother in an ad that never mentioned abortion. What ensued was a firestorm. Fortunately, like the Catholic youth mentioned above, we know the tide must be turning toward life when the pro abortion lobby gets this exercised over an ad that never mentions the pro life cause.
As I noted in the three previous articles, The Construct of Rebellion, If You Want The Political Left To Run Governments, Look At What They have Done To Religion, As Our Modern Western Culture Begins Tom Implode, the Catholic Church Is Our Last Best Hope, that led up to this the fourth and final of this series, we are seeing a clear demarcation between those who will defend Christian orthodoxy and those who will not. This will eventually lead many to make a decision; will the follow Christ or won’t they, and if they will not what will they follow? The coming open rebellion against God is asking and vociferously pleading for the world not to follow God, though they claim God doesn’t exist, one can easily read between the lines to see they believe He does but because He doesn’t follow their line of logic, they won’t follow Him. They truly have become a spoiled child run amok. (Point of personal privilege, I am not speaking about those struggling with religious belief, but those who adamantly claim there is no belief to follow.)
Those who have openly and loudly announce God doesn’t exist and then find themselves in the halls of power have a horrifying track record. The diabolical Adolf Hitler ( hated organized religion, especially Catholicism) who had six million Jews killed along with six million others, including many Catholic and Lutheran clergy came in third to the likes of Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao Tse Tung. No one knows for sure but Stalin and Mao had at least 20 million killed. Yet, for some strange reason Mao is somehow fashionable in some western intellectual circles.
Take for example, then White House Communications Director Anita Dunn. While giving the 2009 Commencement address for St Andrew’s Episcopal High School at the nation’s cathedral In Washington DC, Dunn told the graduating seniors that her two favorite philosophers were Mother Teresa and Chairman Mao. It would be interesting to know how many clergy through the years, both Catholic and Protestant have passed through the national cathedral, affiliated with the Episcopal Church, on their way to China, never to be heard from again, one of the tens of millions of victims of Mao’s war on the Chinese people. Many doors are open to the graduates of St Andrew’s Episcopal High School, and for the price their parents pay one can expect this to occur. The tuition for a high school student at the renowned school is $31, 107 per year. These students are the future leaders of the nation as evidenced by the commencement speaker herself. Imagine being told that that the biggest mass murderer the world has ever known is one of two of your commencement speaker’s favorite philosophers.
For all of his demonic and grisly accomplishments even some faithful believers can’t seem to fathom Stalin’s skills at undermining the Church. When Bishop Fulton Sheen baptized former Soviet Communist Bella Dodd into the Church and pronounced the faithful needed to hear her warnings many scoffed. Even today many don’t believe her assertion that Josef Stalin and the KGB attempted to infiltrate the Catholic Church through atheistic Communist seminarians. Some years ago Dr Alice von Hildebrand, widow of Dr Dietrich von Hildebrand, who was revered by both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, wrote that Bella Dodd came to her home and spoke to her and her late husband to personally relate this story. Yet, today even some orthodox-minded Catholics call the idea fantastical.
It doesn’t stop there, even when respected orthodox minded priests like Father Dwight Longenecker have articles published on Michael Brown’s Spirit Daily website, some roll their eyes. The desire to be respected by the powers that be in the religious world is too powerful for some, who would rather have the admiration of the powers that be than those who believe that miracles and signs can still occur.
Mention the horrors of the 20th century atheistic rulers, specifically Mao and Stalin to the dynamic duo of atheism, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, and you are bound to get an earful. Yet, if you truly listen to their words both Hitchens and Dawkins sound like they are more upset with God’s modus operandi, quite a peculiar thought process for someone who claims something doesn’t exist. Case in point, the uproar over Philip Pullman’ sci fi futuristic book The Golden Compass, which some have billed as the atheist’s Tolkein. Christopher Hitchens, whose main claim to fame is his one man crusade to hurl as many shocking insults at Mother Teresa as humanly possible, seemed filled with glee over Pullman’s fantastical plot of humans trying to overthrow God. This seems quite peculiar for a man who says God doesn’t exist.
In the mists of history, atheism and agnosticism seems to come and go, though it rather troubling to see their numbers increase so drastically within the last decade or so. Another new wrinkle to the atheist is their demographics. Though, Communist regimes made many millions atheists (under the point of a gun) many once freed from their disbelieving master’s thumb returned to their original faith tradition, which is why the current spate of atheism is troubling. Besides, the self loathing liberal college professor, trendy Hollywood actress or the full of himself Phil Cannon character (Bill Murray) in the movie Groundhog Day, more and more atheists are coming from all walks of life, seeming to enjoy the novelty of being the neighborhood rebel. We can only hope and pray that the anger or ego that caused this problem to fester will heal the wound and these souls can become the people God intended them to be .
As we can see battle lines are being drawn between those who either hate God, pretend He doesn’t exist or those who are believers. There really isn’t any room for middle ground here, which Jesus seems to have predicted would happen. He told us we couldn’t serve two masters and so it will be. We do know we will when the battle because Jesus said so when He made Peter the first pope. Jesus’ words that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church (Matthew 16:15-20) will certainly continue to be comforting, the closer we move to the abyss. However savagely we are attacked by those who hate God; it still grieves the heart of the believer that for whatever reason, some have chosen to walk in darkness. For the believer, we can do what we always do when we realize a task is out of our hands; pray for a change of heart and or for their souls.