It's official. The Catholic Knight is retired.  I'm hanging up the helmet and passing the torch. There will be no more articles, no more commentaries, no more calls to action. THIS BLOG IS CLOSED. I've spent a very long time thinking about this, I believe the time has come, and is a bit overdue.  I want to thank my readers for everything, but most especially for your encouragement and your willingness to go out there and fight the good fight. So, that being the case, I've spend the last several weeks looking for bloggers who are fairly active, and best represent something akin to the way I think and what I believe.  I recommend the following blogs for my readers to bookmark and check on regularly. Pick one as your favourite, or pick them all. They are all great..... In His Majesty's Service, THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT

Monday, June 20, 2011

Two Babylons -- an Alternate History

A Full-page Anti-Catholic cartoon in Harper's Weekly, September 30, 1871
THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Once in a while I get an email that takes me back to my old Evangelical Fundamentalist days. Regular readers of this blog know about my history. I was born and baptized Lutheran, raised a Baptist, became a nondenominational Evangelical as an adult, with heavy Fundamentalist leanings. My Fundamentalism was due primarily to ignorance of Christian history and an irrational fear of religious ritual. It was at this point I became a raving anti-Catholic loon. My Evangelical pastor saw some potential for ministry in me, so he put me in charge of some Bible study groups in our local Calvary Chapel™ and set me on the path toward ordination as an Evangelical pastor.

It was during my pastoral studies that things started turning around for me. I was the zealous type that would never settle for just textbook information. I always wanted to dig deeper. For example, I knew Jesus was Jewish, so I fully explored the Jewish roots of the Christian faith, even to the point of celebrating the Passover Seder meal and other Jewish feasts. I also wanted to dig down into the earliest of all Christian roots, so as to understand the "mind" of the early Church. I read several history text books, but these always seemed a bit dry, and failed to produce what I was looking for. I did notice however, that all of these history books cited writings from early Christians as sources, dating all the way back to the early Church period. So I decided to read these writings for myself, and wow! did I get an eye opener! Once I was exposed to original source documentation from early Christians, my entire worldview was turned upside-down. These early Christians were a lot more "Catholic" than I would have ever thought. In fact, based on the history I previously learned, they weren't supposed to be Catholic at all. Well, you can guess what happened next. My Fundamental Evangelicalism died out rather quickly. I spent some time in The Episcopal Church for a while, and identified myself as an "Anglo-Catholic." Then as I began to see the writing on the wall of the coming demise of the Anglican Communion, while I simultaneously continued to explore more Church history from original source documents, I came to understand the Catholic Church is the one true Church established by Jesus Christ and built on Peter the "rock." My wife and I were received into the Catholic Church simultaneously on the Easter vigil of 2000. We were both about thirty years old when we received the sacrament of confirmation.

The subject of this article is not really about me. I only cited my religious history to establish my credentials. The subject of this article is actually about "alternate histories," and it's something that I happen to know a thing or two about.

You see, it was Cardinal Henry Newman, and Anglican convert to Catholicism, that said "knowledge of history is the end of Protestantism." He was right. A sound understanding of historical Christianity puts all of Protestantism on it's deathbed, and this most especially applies to Evangelical Fundamentalism. I can attest to that personally. So, one of the ways Protestantism continues to survive and flourish is through a propaganda tool I like to call "alternate histories," and no form of Protestantism does this better than Evangelical Fundamentalism.

This is how it works. Fundamentalists see history as a problem - a big problem - that if their people were exposed to, it would result in the loss of their followers. So how do you deal with such a problem? Simple. You just "change" history. That's right, you change the story, to make it fit your purposes. This is what they do, and they've been doing it for a very long time. They didn't start it you see. Their spiritual forefathers started it centuries ago. The first one to do this was Martin Luther of course, the father of the Protestant Reformation. His "alternate history" was really very simple, and it wasn't really a retelling of "history" at all. Rather it was a labeling of sorts. He simply labeled the institution of the papacy as the "Whore of Babylon" written of in the Book of Revelation. It was a clever little strategy that helped him win a few more converts, and politically portray himself as the lone hero standing up to the "colossal tyrant" of Rome -- a classic "David and Goliath" comparative. What Luther started, others would build on centuries later. The Protestant English crown was adept at twisting current events to villainize the Catholic Church. The history of the Spanish Inquisitions, as reported by the English, is a classic example of this kind of propaganda. Reports of abuse were exaggerated a thousand-fold to produce the desired effect among English Protestants. This propaganda was recorded in history books, for school children to learn for generations, until just recently (in the last 20 years), when the accounts were revisited by academic historians and found to be shockingly inaccurate. Then of course, by the 1700s, English Protestants began to intermingle with Freemasons, an alliance perpetuated to this day among all branches of English Protestantism. This intermingling resulted in a far more organized form of anti-Catholicism that spread to the English colonies in America and played a large role in the early political parties of the United States. Yes, Americans have been subjected to tales of alternate histories from the very beginning of this once great nation. American history is riddled with anti-Catholicism from the early colonial period, all the way up to the presidential election of 1928. However, the apex and pinnacle of anti-Catholic alternate histories is encapsulated in Presbyterian minister Alexander Hislop's book "Two Babylons" (learn more here) written in 1853 through 1858 and published in 1919. It is a masterpiece in propaganda and constitutes the greatest conspiracy theory of all time, citing an alternate history to implicate the Catholic Church as a continuation of Babylonian Paganism disguised as Christianity. Though historians and scholars of all stripes have repudiated the book as diluted fantasy and factually inaccurate, it remains a hot item on Protestant bookstore shelves across North America. The book can be read for free online here, brought to you by your friendly neighborhood anti-Catholic website called "BibleBelievers.Com." Go ahead and visit the links if you dare, but be warned, they're likely to elevate your blood pressure and expose you to some very inaccurate information based on ignorance and bigotry. Herein lies the zenith of Protestant alternate history propaganda.

From this source, "Two Babylons," derives a plethora of modern anti-Catholic propaganda shared by Protestant Fundamentalists and Progressive Liberals alike. Each having their own reason for using it, these opposing groups see the Catholic Church as the common enemy. It's a classic case of the mindset that the "enemy of my enemy is my friend -- for now." It is unclear just how much of a role Freemasonry has in all of this, but suspicions run high, especially in Europe. Hundreds of anti-Catholic books and pamphlets have been published during the 20th century, citing "Two Babylons" as their primary source of information. These texts often build on Hislop's work with their own conspiracies and tales of alternate history. The United States remains the largest producer of such anti-Catholic material which is heavily laced with American nationalism. Sometimes when reading such literature, one would think the United States itself is the Church. Of course, probably the most notorious producer of anti-Catholic alternate history is the comic book retailer "Chick Publications" which again cites "Two Babylons" as it's primary source for information on Catholicism, along with the testimonies of alleged Catholic clergy and religious who claim to have left the Church because of this "valuable information." It should be noted the Vatican has no record of many of these people. When I say "no record," I mean no record of them even being Catholic, let alone a priest or a nun. So make of that what you will.

The alternate history these people rely upon basically goes like this. If you're an Evangelical reading this, it may sound familiar. Here it goes in a nutshell. According to the propaganda, the Church established by Jesus Christ and the apostles went into hiding after the first century and never emerged until the Protestant Reformation 1,400 years later. During the interim period, Christians were first persecuted by the Pagan Roman empire. Then in 312 AD, Emperor Constantine had a brilliant idea, so the propaganda goes. He thought, "if you can't beat em - join em!" So he brought together all the Pagan priests of Rome and told them to start imitating the Christians, mixing Pagan worship with Christian rhetoric, thus creating a new hybrid religion called "Catholicism." (In addition to Protestants, you would be shocked to learn how many Catholics have actually bought into this nonsense.) Thus the secret Pagan religion of Catholicism was born, and of course the pope serving at the head of this new "Babylon" religion, must be none other than the "Antichrist" himself. As you can see this retelling of history is heavily dependent on ascribing certain motivations to dead historical figures who are no longer able to speak for themselves. For example, the heroic act of Emperor Constantine that legalized tolerance of Christianity in the Roman Empire in 312 AD is turned into something negative and villainous. Christians who suffered for their faith in the late third to early fourth centuries are maligned as "traitors" to the gospel. While every faithful Christian who has served the Church for over a millennium thereafter is made out to be an evil servant of the devil. The propaganda goes on to imply that "real Christians" (modern Evangelical Fundamentalists of course) remained in hiding during this time, only to be martyred by the Catholic Church whenever they revealed themselves in public. This of course explains why there is no historical record of them. That is until Martin Luther, and the other fathers of the Protestant Reformation, made Europe safe for "true Christians" to finally emerge from hiding and begin public worship for the first time since the first century AD. Of course, the United States of America would eventually become the "promised land" of all "true Christians" everywhere.

Now fortunately, this alternate history is no longer taught in many Protestant churches. Yes, some Protestant Fundamentalist churches still teach it, but the majority of Protestant churches have dropped it. Even many Baptist, Evangelical and Pentecostal churches have dropped it entirely, recognizing it's poor scholarship and outright lies. Unfortunately, in the absence of the propaganda, many pastors no longer teach on Christian history at all. Thus the result is a rather large portion of the Protestant population in the United States has no knowledge of any Church history between AD 100 - 1517, a collective memory gap of some 1,417 years! This is nothing short of spiritual amnesia! But it is in many ways what keeps Protestantism alive and well.

Now most Protestants simply go through life content with this 1,417 year gap in history. Some however are not, and I think it's safe to say that about 90% of those who actually start reading real history to fill in the gap, end up turning Catholic eventually. I myself am fond of original source documentation, written by the people who were there and lived through it. The following website contains some excerpts from writings of early Christians. They are categorized to specific early Church doctrines. The website is here. However, you can read all of the writings in their full context here. Enjoy!

16 comments:

scotju said...

Sir Knight, A Protestant minister by the name of Ralph Woodrow once publshed a book entitled "Babylon Mystery Religion" which followed Hislop's TTB's pretty close. Several years ago, he stopped publishing his book when he came to realize Hislop's TTB's was wildly inaccurate. He then published a new book, "The Babylon Connection", to explain why his former publication was wrong. if yo or any reader of this blog want to read his book, it can be purchased at ralphwoodrow.org. I'd recommend it to anyone who has been hoodwinked by Hislop's slop.

Matthew M said...

Man, you sent me on a flashback to the early 70's! Normally I flashback on the 60's for other reasons but this time........
Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa. Chuck Smith, Love Song, Children of the Day, Keith Green. Good times - until about 1973 when I noticed a shift in rhetoric. Not by Pastor Chuck so much who had been quite welcoming to Catholic Charismatics but when he saw they weren't leaving the Catholic Church for his growing empire of Calvary Chapels, things got ugly.
Suddenly all the CC Chuck Smith clones were preaching anti-Catholic sermons and studies on their radio programs and they sounded like right out of 'The Two Babylons'.
By that time I had already exited and found my way to the doors of Mother church.

Anyway, just had to relate part of my long strange journey.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sir Knight for that concise historical summary. Unfortunately, the US has created a global culture of consumerism, workaholism, and materialism that has its foundation on various Protestant ideas of work ethic and justification.

What's worse is that the evangelism of materialism is spread around the globe by US television and corporate marketing.

Perhaps when the US is inundated by Mexicans the Protestant culture will hopefully be diluted. A house built on bad foundations deserves to collapse.

Joe Heschmeyer said...

I'm glad scotju raised the issue of Ralph Woodrow. I think it's helpful to know that even the Evangelicals who parrot some of the worst lies about Catholicism typically do so in genuine ignorance. In Woodrow's case, he examined the evidence with an open mind and was converted, even retracting his (sadly, quite popular) earlier book. He's also done a good job of showing that the exact same arguments used to prove Catholicism is paganism could prove the Bible (or anything else) paganism as well.

Since then, he's been accused of being (I kid you not) a Jesuit spy, and all sorts of other nasty things about betraying Christ. While he's still wrong about Catholicism (for different reasons than before, fortunately), I've got a lot of respect for his willingness to follow wherever the evidence leads. He could certainly use our prayers along that journey, as well.

Joe

The Catholic Knight said...

The term "Jesuit" is thrown around like candy for those who have been brainwashed by alternate histories. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've been accused of being a Jesuit. (Not that that would be a bad thing mind you, it's just that all the Jesuits I know are liberals, and I've never received any kind of formal training in ANY religious order.) It's actually kind of laughable. These people actually believe this stuff. Anyone who defends Catholicism well, in such a way they have difficulty responding, is accused of being a Jesuit. It's a classic defense mechanism of denial used by those who have just been exposed to the truth.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps when the US is inundated by Mexicans the Protestant culture will hopefully be diluted. A house built on bad foundations deserves to collapse.

Monday, June 20, 2011

---------------------------

If living in a WASP country is so bad you can always move to Mexico.

I don't understand the hatred expressed here for the historic people of America.

The Catholic Knight said...

Dear most recent anonymous,

I agree that the previous anonymous commenter phrased his comment poorly, but I don't think hatred for historic American culture was the motivation behind it.

Now the subject of this thread is anti-Catholicism, and while the United States has been the most recent exporter of anti-Catholicism, it certainly is not alone. England was a big one for many centuries. France became a big one after the Revolution. Germany played it's share. Russia became the biggest after 1917. The list goes on and on.

In my opinion, America is a nation that is growing and evolving. Increasingly it becomes ever more Catholic as the demographics of the nation shift. Sadly it's also becoming ever more Secular. In spite of how badly things are going now, I actually do have a lot of hope for this nation, and I see a portentially brighter future. No, I don't want to see America lose it's sovereignty, nor do I want to see it inundated by Mexican illegals. However, I do recognize that Mexico is in the verge of collapse and because of that a wave of Mexican refugees is in our near future. If we are a Christian people were going to have to learn how to face that and deal with the problem in a charitable way. But I digress.

There are lots of things about American history that are unsavory, slavery being a big one, segregation another, and most recently abortion the worst. Black Americans have been affected by all three disproportionally. Yet that doesn't mean America is a bad country and it certainly doesn't mean Americans are bad people. In all three cases I listed above, government policy played a huge role in taking a big problem and making it much bigger. Sadly, Washington DC is inclined to always learn it's lessons the hard way. Today is no different. In this we have a government that does not serve us well. It has failed the American people over and over again. I suspect the day will come when we will scrap it all and start over with another constitutional convention.

Yes, anti-Catholicism has always played a role in American history, even today, but The average Ameican people are starting to get wise to it. I see a massive rejection of anti-Catholicism in America's future, and I believe that will be a good thing. Will future Mexican-Americana play a role in that? I suppose so. That's how I interpreted the previous anonymous comment, poorly stated as it was.

Anonymous said...

I have a hunch this played a role in the formation of Mormon theology.

Anonymous said...

In line with previous comments, the Protestant culture in the US has been overblown via propaganda. History books , made by the publishers of the Rockefeller Foundation, love to extol the role of masons and quakers etc. without mentioning that the Father of the country, George Washington, was a donor and worshiper at old St. Mary's Catholic Church in Philadelphia as well a convert to Catholicism on his death bed. John Barry, Father of the American navy, also worshiped at Old St. Mary's and is buried there.

When a previous commentator mentioned that the US culture was founded on weak foundations, I interpret that as meaning that Catholicism has been downplayed in the history books and Protestantism over played. There were many important Catholics in colonial times such as Charles Carroll of Carrolltown who signed the declaration of independence and the US constitution; he was the richest man in the colonies and financially bankrolled the American revolution. Without him, the American revolution would not have happened at all. This is true history and it would behoove Catholics to know it instead of being bullied and brainwashed by often repeated mantras of WASP superiority.

Finally, it was the Catholic French King, Louis the 16th, who helped the colonies win independence from Britain by sending supplies and troops; many US towns including Louisville Kentucky, were named after him.

Ultramontane said...

"No one can have God as father who does not have the Church as mother" -St Cyprian

Mary Ellen said...

Having spent 22 adult years as a protestant--changing churches every 2 years or so because something was always missing--I can state that a lot of these teachings are still alive, but those who speak them do not know why nor can they defend them. These are merely catch-phrases thrown out about Catholics/the Pope/etc. If challenged, protestants cave in rapidly, and often become interested in researching their history--we all know what that leads to. One of my protestant friends was specifically told not to research her church's history by her pastor, when she asked him about it. He told her straightforwardly, that when people start researching their history, they end up getting "sucked into the Catholic church". We really need to tweak protestants' curiosity about history whenever we can. It brought me home, and can bring them in.

zimmerk said...

Oy. You should see the conversation over at http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/ with a Lutheran called 'theoldadam' over the course of the last few articles there. I must say that Joe Heschmeyer is far more patient than I am. The most direct circular argument from a protestant concerning authority I have ever seen, complete with memory gap. You just need to see it; it is truly a headache.

Mike said...

Sir Knight,

Like you, I came from an Evangelical background. I was raised a Baptist and had spent time in a number of different Protestant churches of the Evangelical flavorings until I met the woman who would become my wife. She was a devout Methodist and about 15 years ago, I became one too. Lately, after some heavy searching, I am being drawn toward the Catholic church. My wife does not want to become a Catholic and wants me to stay where I am. But, I am sure I am going to make this move. If I may ask, I was wondering when you started to see the Truth of the Catholic church, how did your own wife initially react? How did you get through it? Any advice you can offer I'm sure would be invaluable.

Cordially,

Michael D. Duty

The Catholic Knight said...

Mike. In answer to your question, she thought I was crazy. I told her I would probably convert but that I didn't expect her too. I did invite her to join me in RCIA classes so she could audit them and see what I'm getting into. In fact, I encourged her to audit them with me, and offer me her criticism as I went through the course. She took me up on the offer, and as a result she ended up converting with me.

Jeffrey Quick said...

I first encountered Hislop as a member of The Way International (Victor Paul Wierwille's fundamentalism-for-pseudointellectuals cult) in college. I re-encountered it as a Wiccan...certain sorts liked to read it "backwards" as a "See, the Christians stole it all from us" book. Of course, you have to overlook Hislop's use of Usher's dating. I'm so glad I'm past all that.

scotju said...

Unlike Jeff, I have no problems with Usher's dating. His number of years for the earth's existance is fairly close to the Jewish calender and it's far more accurate than the wild claims of the atheistic and theistic evolutionists who claim millions and millions of years for the existane of the universe.