Monday, September 13, 2010

"Anti-Catholic" vs "Anti-Catholicism": Is There an Essential Difference?

By Dave Armstrong (9-13-10)

I've been over this linguistic merry-go-round or ring-around-the-rosey times without number. Anti-Catholics (those who deny that Catholicism is a Christian theological system, just as Protestantism is) will object to the use of anti-Catholicism in the sense just defined, all the while using a host of their own "anti" terms (anti-Calvinism, anti-Reformed, anti-Baptist). I've documented this several times, and won't even bother to make the links. All the major online anti-Catholic Protestants do this.

There is a further rhetorical argument used, however, that is a bit more subtle. The objection is made specifically to use of anti-Catholic as a label for one person: it is thought that this specifically makes the person so labeled as anti-person (Catholics as people or individuals), rather than against the system. Thus (in this thinking), anti-Catholicism is directed towards theology, whereas anti-Catholic is directed towards persons in an ad hominem fashion.

It is a greater objection-within-an-objection. If the term is used at all, they at least want the "ism" included in it, to make these distinctions more clear. I would say this is considerably straining at gnats. What I mean by anti-Catholic is exactly what I mean by anti-Catholicism (against the Catholic system, claiming it is not Christian by nature). I've reiterated that about 5,865,203 times as well. A proponent of anti-Catholicism is logically called an anti-Catholic. It means "against Catholicism" not "against Catholics."

The anti-Catholic generally loves Catholics (albeit in a theologically and spiritually patronizing, condescending fashion). He wants to see them "saved" and safe within the bosom of Protestantism, so they can "know Jesus" as they supposedly never have, hear the gospel they allegedly have never heard at Mass, and make it to heaven and not be damned with the Whore of Babylon and her idolatrous, blasphemous, semi-pagan, unregenerate ways.

It's an exact parallel to a description such as anti-Communism. What is a person called who holds to that view? An anti-Communist. Even President Kennedy was rightly called that. Does this mean an anti-Communist is personally opposed to Communist people? No; it means that he is against the Communist system. Anti-Communist is used because calling a person an anti-Communism is linguistically ridiculous and impermissible.

I submit, with all due respect, that if I went through all my posts and edited every use of anti-Catholic, and kept only anti-Catholicism, that our dear Christian friends would still not get it, and I would continue to hear the same criticisms. I'd bet the farm on it.


Adomnan said...

It's clear from the evidence you present, Dave, that these anti-Catholic heretics maintain that they are justified in calling Catholics anything they want, whereas we Catholics must be very circumspect indeed about what we call them. That's what one would expect from people so shameless and so abusive of language and logic.

For my part, the good old Biblical word "heretic" describes what they are quite well. It's a word we should employ more often.

Dave Armstrong said...

They are heretics insofar as they reject any received, apostolic, traditional, dogmatic teachings of the Catholic Church, but not in terms of not being Christians at all.

The latter aspect was made crystal clear by Vatican II (also being evident in papal writings before it took place).

Do we agree on that? Use of "heretic" must be carefully defined, lest it be misunderstood.

Dave Armstrong said...

I am prepared to agree, however, that certain of the more extreme anti-Catholics, at least, may indeed, possibly be literally unregenerate, and/or out of God's good graces at present, since the fruit they exhibit is so far from that of the Spirit of Christ, that one is quite justified (on explicit biblical grounds) in wondering whether they are indwelt by that same Spirit.

They are as subject to wolves in sheep's clothing in their ranks as anyone else.

Paul Hoffer said...

The latest demonstration of anti-Catholicism one sees now is how the folks referenced in your article like to call Pope Benedict XVI as "Ratzinger" refusing to show him any sort of respect. It is actually quite funny that these same folks vigorously decry any sort of slight or claimed lack of respect to the self appointed pope of Calvinism when Catholic and some Protestant apologists do not recognize his right to put a "Dr." in front of his name because he did not earn it in an accredited institution.

God bless!

Dave Armstrong said...

I have thought of that irony, too, yes. For example, White generally refuses to call someone like Fr. Peter Stravinskas by his title, all the while regularly using his own illegitimate title and pretending to be something that he is not.