Heretic of the Week

At the back end of 2018 The Catholic Herald launched a new column, Heretic of the Week. Glossing over whether this kind of language has a place in today's world, it has now moved on from the obvious candidates (Pelagius, Arius from days of old, James Pike and Ann Lee from more modern) to people like Menno Simons in the latest issue which you can see here.

First, do shipmates think this is a helpful subject in 2019? It is obvious from the first few columns that the approach is far from tongue-in-cheek.

Second, what should be the response of ++Justin and the CofE when (and I suspect it is when, not if) they get to Thomas Cranmer?
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Comments

  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    Where can I apply? :smile:
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    I struggle to see Menno Simmons as a heretic. Seems like a particularly unpleasant way to remember someone who helped save his (Roman Catholic) pursuers from drowning - even though they later martyred him.

    As to Anglicanism, I've long since given up wondering why Canterbury is so bothered about Rome's opinions of them.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    The Catholic Church is not the only church that considers persons who oppose their views heretics. They can do as they please, provided my standard breakfasts of oatmeal and coffee are not interrupted.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    I can't get Catholic Herald to load on this computer. When you say, Organist, that "the approach is far from tongue and cheek", does that rule out the terminology being intended as humourously over-the-top?

    I'm thinking that maybe the reader is meant to understand that these are people the Church wants the faithful to disagree with, but calling them "heretics" is meant to sound a bit playful. Sort of like the teacher I had in high-school who used to debate me on social issues, and referred to me as a "pinko commie women's libber". It wasn't meant as serious insult(in fact, he was relatively liberal himself), and he even admitted after one shouting match "God, I love arguing with you, Stetson."
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    stetson wrote: »
    I can't get Catholic Herald to load on this computer. When you say, Organist, that "the approach is far from tongue and cheek", does that rule out the terminology being intended as humourously over-the-top?

    I'm thinking that maybe the reader is meant to understand that these are people the Church wants the faithful to disagree with, but calling them "heretics" is meant to sound a bit playful. Sort of like the teacher I had in high-school who used to debate me on social issues, and referred to me as a "pinko commie women's libber". It wasn't meant as serious insult(in fact, he was relatively liberal himself), and he even admitted after one shouting match "God, I love arguing with you, Stetson."

    It doesn't read as playful to me.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    stetson wrote: »
    I can't get Catholic Herald to load on this computer. When you say, Organist, that "the approach is far from tongue and cheek", does that rule out the terminology being intended as humourously over-the-top?

    I'm thinking that maybe the reader is meant to understand that these are people the Church wants the faithful to disagree with, but calling them "heretics" is meant to sound a bit playful. Sort of like the teacher I had in high-school who used to debate me on social issues, and referred to me as a "pinko commie women's libber". It wasn't meant as serious insult(in fact, he was relatively liberal himself), and he even admitted after one shouting match "God, I love arguing with you, Stetson."

    It doesn't read as playful to me.

    Spot on Mr Cheesy.

    No Stetson. I've worked for Rome and I can tell you there is nothing "ironic" or jokey about this.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    I was able to open the article about Menno Simons on a new browser.

    I dunno. It seems mostly like a fairly prosaic statement on his life and views, not much fiery condemnation at all. They even say that he pulled the anabaptist movement away from violence, and describes some of his present-day followers are "conventional protestants with an emphasis on peace". Sounds almost complimentary.

    That said, there really isn't the kind of cheeky humour I was expecting that might justify any self-aware use of the phrase Heretic Of The Week.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited January 7
    This article on Nestorius is slightly more critical, using the word "unfortunately" to describe his change in views, and implying(albeit pretty gently) that certain modern-day protestants are wrong to refuse Mary the title Mother Of God.

    But otherwise, it just seems like a brief encyclopedia article, albeit maybe written by a non-Nestorian. My guess about this column would be that someone at the Herald thought it would be good to educate the readers about historical figures who have disagreed with the RCC, but the editors wanted to make sure that the reader knew these people were considered heterodox, so they included that in the title of the column.
  • I would imagine the real, perhaps not always stated targets of this column's criticism are liberal-minded Catholics, reminding them that heresy is real, the RCC is at war with it as it always was, and it must be rooted out of the Church. Any modern non-RC Heretics of the Week probably represent tendencies in Christianity that conservative Catholics accuse liberal Catholics of sympathizing with and getting too close to, even if not actually agreeing with them theologically.
  • I think you'll find, mr cheesy, that it wasn't Menno Simons but another early Anabaptist who saved one of his pursuers from drowning.

    Just sayin'.
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    Oh, sorry if that's the case.
  • It was a chap called Durke Willems apparently. He turned to rescue a pursuer who'd fallen through the ice. He was captured, tortured and executed on 16th May 1569.
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    It was a chap called Durke Willems apparently. He turned to rescue a pursuer who'd fallen through the ice. He was captured, tortured and executed on 16th May 1569.

    I stand corrected and should have checked.
  • See how these Christians love each other!
    :grimace:

    What a load of shite this 'heresy' business all is. As though any of us, from the Pope downwards, actually knows the mind of god......
  • We all do it, though. We all have 'us' and 'them'.
  • stetson wrote: »
    I can't get Catholic Herald to load on this computer. When you say, Organist, that "the approach is far from tongue and cheek", does that rule out the terminology being intended as humourously over-the-top?

    I'm thinking that maybe the reader is meant to understand that these are people the Church wants the faithful to disagree with, but calling them "heretics" is meant to sound a bit playful. Sort of like the teacher I had in high-school who used to debate me on social issues, and referred to me as a "pinko commie women's libber". It wasn't meant as serious insult(in fact, he was relatively liberal himself), and he even admitted after one shouting match "God, I love arguing with you, Stetson."
    This is what I get too.

    However, I found there is a contact page. In these days of print journalism's decline, if you're polite about it, you can usually get editor and/or author to respond. Better still I found the author is on twitter in about 3¼ seconds. Just to a search on his name on the article and ask him directly about his column. He's American BTW, which gives credence to Stetson's idea I think.
  • I read the linked article, and skimmed a couple from other weeks.

    ISTM the writing isn't meant to be funny at all--but it's not assigning people to hell and calling holy fire down on them, either. The author talks calmly about the subject's life, and then points out some things that the RCC considers wrong/heretical, but doesn't make a huge deal of it.

    I don't think "heretic" is being used teasingly.
  • So much for ecumenical relationships. I'm not surprised tbh as I've heard this kind of stuff on the ground from the RCC. As a matter of fact a member of an RCC congregation came to our evening service last week (this is a Baptist Church) and took communion.

    I saw him yesterday and he said he wouldn't be excommunicated as the communion was (in the eyes of his priest) impaired anyway.
  • Had a look at the series and feel baffled. You have Pelagius rehashed, Mother Ann Lee, a Quaker who played a role in the Shaker movement; Nestorius and his heresy; Eutyches who went too far in countering Nestorius; Arius and the development of the Arian heresy; Menno Simons and the Anabaptist movement.

    Is the point here to give introductions to important thinkers who weren’t Catholic, or who departed from Catholic dogma but had a major influence elsewhere? The tone is sometimes satirical (Belloc’s drinking song for Pelagius) and sometimes mildly respectful or dismissive, but doesn’t give much weight to the historical development of their ideas outside of Catholicism. Why would Ann Lee who was never a Catholic be considered a ‘heretic’? It reads like sideways Catholic triumphalism. What about looking at Modernist thinkers like Teilhard de Chardin or Joan of Arc and their subsequent reclamation?
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    I wonder if it is about highlighting interesting movements or theologies (indirectly, via named people) and underlining to RCs that these are heretical.

    Like a Health and Safety talk that starts "I know you know this, but the management believes regular reminders lead to a safer working environment.."

    That said, I'm not sure how many RCs are particularly interested in the Shakers. It's maybe interesting as a historical theological movement that left behind some nice furniture, but I can't really see there is much of a threat of RC people joining a long-dead religious movement.
  • I agree, mr cheesy.

    What I suspect is that this column or series was a poorly considered, whimsical half-idea on the part of the inhouse commissioning editor who wanted something funny and thought-provoking but not too controversial, a bit snarky and provocative but not obviously non-ecumenical, a little educational too -- and 'heretics', well, that's a catchy word to pique the reader's interest. Don't offend anyone out there beyond the fold but keep it Catholic, and stay away from witch-burning or we'll get a feminist backlash. Let it evolve and grow legs, a long-running column for an awkward space-filler.

    Given that all-encompassing brief, the series writer just headed for the Catholic Encyclopedia and various potted biographies of religious mavericks, and then wilted...

    I've been there, done that.
  • Heresy is all fun and games until someone gets burnt.
  • MaryLouise--

    FYI: Mother Ann didn't just play a role in founding the Shakers--she actually founded them.

    FWIW.
  • Ah, I thought Jane Wardley was an earlier founder, along with Lucy Wright. Thanks, GK.
  • I don't know about them, one way or another. But Mother Ann is cited as the foundress, had the visions, and got the "Mother" title.

    OTOH, beginnings of movements can be blurry and confusing.
    (:angel:)
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    Golden Key wrote: »
    I don't know about them, one way or another. But Mother Ann is cited as the foundress, had the visions, and got the "Mother" title.

    OTOH, beginnings of movements can be blurry and confusing.
    (:angel:)

    Not according to Wikipedia.

    Maybe we should all give up citing things from memory - we're not good at it and liable to be incorrect.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    See how these Christians love each other!
    :grimace:

    What a load of shite this 'heresy' business all is. As though any of us, from the Pope downwards, actually knows the mind of god......
    A heretic is often just a member of the group that lost.
  • It may well depend on whether you are talking in America or World Wide as their own website states.
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    Maybe it was intended to be amusing and uplifting - "look at the interesting stories of these "heretics"" but the editing has reduced it into a slightly-pointless historical snapshot of individual lives.

    The other odd thing about specifically mentioning Mennonites is that the RCC central structures made such an effort to promote dialogue with them.

    And I know of Anabaptist groups which are (oddly) close to Roman Catholics.

    Of course, that can't happen with Shakers, because they've (basically) died out.
  • FWIW: every documentary I've seen has indicated that the Shakers were founded by Mother Ann. The Wikipedia article on her mentions the people MaryLouise mentioned, and their society from which Shakerism sprang.

    I've skimmed several pages on the Shakers in the last hour or so. There were other founders and leaders. Ann was the one considered to be the Second Coming of Jesus.

    I honestly wasn't trying to fight or claim any great knowledge. I was going by what was in documentaries over the years, and I thought perhaps MaryLouise just hadn't come across that.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    At first it struck me that the concept of 'heretic' was outdated, but on second thoughts that although the word itself might be considered archaic the phenomenon is alive and kicking. One only has to consider, for example, the thought crimes of Germaine Greer regarding her views on gender, to know that the threat to the expression of unpopular (apparently) views is an ever-present threat to free expression even in societies that consider themselves liberal.
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    I suppose the idea has led to (at least some) investigation about these 'heretical' groups/people.

    Other than the celibacy, the Shakers sound quite fun.
  • My interest in and limited knowledge of the Shakers comes out of some research I did into Shaker architecture and crafts for a piece on rustic furniture.

    I was also interested in the theory that their 'shaking' ecstatic prophesying origins may have been influenced by the French Camisard movement, a radically militant prophetic Protestant group wearing white shirts and dancing or trembling as they recounted visions, or sang Psalms they understood to be prophetic for them. There isn't much online and I last read up on them a year or two ago, which is where I came across mentions of Jane Wardley and her later style of ecstatic preaching in Quaker meeting houses. Not sure of the connection --
  • They did some great craft work, and interesting architecture. Like building a barn into the side of a hill: they could drive a wagonload of hay right into the hay loft (upper level of barn), rather than going in the main entrance and hauling the hay up!
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Shipmate
    edited January 8
    It was ingenious and brilliant, GK -- a couple of years ago the Metropolitan Museum of Art held a Simple Gifts exhibition showing the huge influence Shaker design has had on artists and designers like Isamu Noguchi and Torsten Sherwood, as well as various Modernist architects. That austere clean design was far more sophisticated than most of us realised.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited January 8
    So much for ecumenical relationships. I'm not surprised tbh as I've heard this kind of stuff on the ground from the RCC. As a matter of fact a member of an RCC congregation came to our evening service last week (this is a Baptist Church) and took communion.

    I saw him yesterday and he said he wouldn't be excommunicated as the communion was (in the eyes of his priest) impaired anyway.

    So, is the anecdote about Communion meant to demonstrate that opposition to heresy is a uniquely Catholic thing?

    If a minister at your Baptist church, for example, were to say "You know, I think the Jehovah's Witnesses might have a point about Jesus actually being Michael The Archangel", he would be allowed to continue on with this line of thought week after week, with no expressed concern from anyone higher up?
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Kwesi wrote: »
    At first it struck me that the concept of 'heretic' was outdated, but on second thoughts that although the word itself might be considered archaic the phenomenon is alive and kicking. One only has to consider, for example, the thought crimes of Germaine Greer regarding her views on gender, to know that the threat to the expression of unpopular (apparently) views is an ever-present threat to free expression even in societies that consider themselves liberal.

    And, when we're talking about churches, the concept of free expression doesn't really come into it. Unless you live in some sort of theocracy, if you don't like what you're hearing from the pulpit every Sunday, you are quite free to quit that church and find one more amenable to your views.

    And, yes, your previous outfit will probably consider you a heretic, but no one is going to be seriously restricting your right to believe what you want.

  • Whatever else it is or looks like, it's pretty poor taste. Why stir the pot when there's no need?
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    'Heretic' is not a word which I would use about anyone, but it is a technical term which is used to describe someone who has departed from what is considered to be orthodox teaching. I don't read the Catholic Herald, but I find the articles which have been indicated here interesting inasmuch as one finds out about those who have or have had other ideas which are not those of the Catholic Church. That said I don't think that many churchgoing Catholics today would have either heard or cared about Nestorius.

    On a technical level all those who deny Mary the title of Mother of God (or God bearer !) are denying one of the doctrines of the Undivided Church from the time of the Council of Ephesus and are therefore 'heretics'
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Forthview wrote: »
    'Heretic' is not a word which I would use about anyone, but it is a technical term which is used to describe someone who has departed from what is considered to be orthodox teaching. I don't read the Catholic Herald, but I find the articles which have been indicated here interesting inasmuch as one finds out about those who have or have had other ideas which are not those of the Catholic Church.

    I suspect if the series were called "Historical Critics Of Catholicism", with the content of the articles exactly the same, it wouldn't raise an eyebrow anywhere.

    Probably the writer just used "heretics" to mean something like what I said above, but was tone-deaf to the contemporary connotations.
  • Whatever else it is or looks like, it's pretty poor taste. Why stir the pot when there's no need?

    Agreed, but to be fair to the RCs, I've heard a lot, lot worse said about Catholics from Protestant pulpits and lecterns, including Baptist ones, than anything that was said about Menno Simons and Anabaptism in general in this article.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Whatever else it is or looks like, it's pretty poor taste. Why stir the pot when there's no need?

    Agreed, but to be fair to the RCs, I've heard a lot, lot worse said about Catholics from Protestant pulpits and lecterns, including Baptist ones, than anything that was said about Menno Simons and Anabaptism in general in this article.

    My observation as a Catholic raised in close proximity to protestants is that protestants tend to know what it is that they don't like about Catholicism(even if they don't quite get it right all of the time), whereas Catholics, while they have the basic idea that protestants are wrong, don't really bother much with the details.

    So, for example, when an old-school prot meets a Catholic, he might(assuming he was in an argumentative mood) say "You guys worship the Pope and think Mary is neccessary for salvation". But a hardline Catholic meeting a protestant would probably just say "You guys are lost without the guidance of Rome", and leave it at that.



  • So much for ecumenical relationships. I'm not surprised tbh as I've heard this kind of stuff on the ground from the RCC. As a matter of fact a member of an RCC congregation came to our evening service last week (this is a Baptist Church) and took communion.

    I saw him yesterday and he said he wouldn't be excommunicated as the communion was (in the eyes of his priest) impaired anyway.

    I'm pretty sure that receiving communion from a Protestant church - even if Rome considers that communion invalid and even if the Protestant church itself does not believe in the Real Presence - is a mortal sin in the eyes of the RCC hierarchy, although I do not think it is grounds for excommunication unless someone believes (after having been taught the RCC's teaching) that an invalid (in the eyes of the Magisterium) communion is valid. I don't think the mere act of receiving it makes one a schismatic and therefore automatically excommunicated but someone can correct me here.

    The situation is more complicated for RC faithful receiving communion in an Orthodox church or in a breakaway church from the RCC that the RCC believes still has valid Eucharist (such as the Polish National Catholic Church in the US or the Patriotic Catholic Church in China). I think the RC teaching is that it is ok to receive communion from such a church if one if prohibited by whatever circumstances from receiving it from an RC church or RC eucharistic minister - although there is no obligation to receive communion at all under such circumstances. Of course, the Orthodox Church prohibits non-Orthodox from receiving communion, and the RCC tells its members to honor the Orthodox Church's rules - which is why I say it's complicated!

    Also worth bearing in mind is that there is a very, very large group of Roman Catholics in Northern Europe, North America, Australasia, etc., who are not terribly concerned about the validity of non-RC sacraments and whether it is a mortal sin or an excommunicable offense to receive them (even if they choose not to receive them).
  • I should also add that, based on the little I have read from the Catholic Herald, its point of view is much more rigid and dogmatic than that of the vast majority of Roman Catholic laypeople I have met here in the US.
  • Whatever else it is or looks like, it's pretty poor taste. Why stir the pot when there's no need?

    Agreed, but to be fair to the RCs, I've heard a lot, lot worse said about Catholics from Protestant pulpits and lecterns, including Baptist ones, than anything that was said about Menno Simons and Anabaptism in general in this article.

    Strict and Peculiars may be. Most of us (General) Baptists no longer see the RCC as the Whore of Babylon. Why Ian Paisley was more chummy as the years went by.

    In this neck of the woods the RCC punch very big -- 50% of all churchgoers -- and they aren't exactly on friendly terms with the rest of us
  • It's not that long since that a Baptist Union Baptist church I knew invited an RC priest to deliver some Lenten meditations only to have a number of people leave as a result.

    Sure, the real anti-RCs tend to be the independent bods, the Reformed Baptists with a capital R and the Strict and Particulars. Even so, I've encountered strong anti-RC sentiments in Baptist Union churches too, and many of them have a relatively high proportion of former RCs.

    Of course, these things cut both ways. Around here the RCs are pretty ecumenical and eirenic but I know that's not the case everywhere.
  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host, 8th Day Host
    I think the terminology is challenging. I don't have an issue calling someone (or more a set of ideas) heretical. I have done it and will do it again (for those right-wing, racist, hating ideas we are hearing more of).

    But to call a particular person a heretic because there is something they teach that is different to the official churc hteaching is wrong and dangerous, I think.

    S-cat - definately a heretic. According to most churches.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Forthview: 'Heretic' is not a word which I would use about anyone, but it is a technical term which is used to describe someone who has departed from what is considered to be orthodox teaching.

    While 'heresy' might be correctly regarded as a technical term it only has that meaning within a particular framework where orthodoxy is the undisputed truth and that the holding of deviant (heretical) views is to invite anathema and damnation. That way of thinking is (or should be) alien to the epistemology of open societies, where orthodoxy is understood as no more than 'the commonly held view' and heresies as 'alternative views'. Such an approach applies as much to theological speculation as any other branch of learning. Heresy has no part in it, and is one which I personally applaud.
  • hear hear Kwesi. There's no place for heresy in Christianity. Just shun people who make you feel weird.

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    stetson wrote: »
    So much for ecumenical relationships. I'm not surprised tbh as I've heard this kind of stuff on the ground from the RCC. As a matter of fact a member of an RCC congregation came to our evening service last week (this is a Baptist Church) and took communion.

    I saw him yesterday and he said he wouldn't be excommunicated as the communion was (in the eyes of his priest) impaired anyway.

    So, is the anecdote about Communion meant to demonstrate that opposition to heresy is a uniquely Catholic thing?

    If a minister at your Baptist church, for example, were to say "You know, I think the Jehovah's Witnesses might have a point about Jesus actually being Michael The Archangel", he would be allowed to continue on with this line of thought week after week, with no expressed concern from anyone higher up?

    I thought that for the Baptists, the only higher-up was One much, much higher.

    As to GG's post - St Sanity is in an ecumenical relationship with other local churches. 2 Uniting, the Catholic Parish, spread over 2 churches, and a Baptist. There used by 2 Baptists in the covenant relationship, but the elders of one became very toey about the concept and and withdrew. Very sad.
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