“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5)

We find ourselves at war in this life: constantly we are bombarded with choices for our thoughts and our actions, and we must unlearn much to walk in the Light, as the Apostle John instructed us. This post begins a series on falsehoods that circulate the earth, propagated by man and demon alike, to ensnare and befuddle.

“Existence is suffering.” This Buddhist precept is at the root of much nihilism that ensnares man’s thoughts and emotions. But it is a LIE. Existence qua existence is not stained irrevocably with suffering. This fallacy conflates man’s current, post-lapsarian state with his original being as purposed and created by God Almighty. History is not a cycle of unrelieved misery. History has a beginning and an end: she is compassed roundabout by Eternity, whose circle no man may escape, for “He has put eternity in their heart” (Eccl. 3:11). The glory that awaits us after the Resurrection is beyond imagination, but this we know, for He who promised is faithful: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 21:4). Even in this life, stained as it is by evil, it is a fallacy to think that it is better not to exist than to exist in a state of good mixed with evil. This kind of thinking places man above his Creator in asking for non-existence instead of existence. We know what S. Paul has to say about that – stern words. Yes, and of course, in the post-Edenic world suffering is part of the lot of man, but it is from that road to eternal death we are saved by the sacrifice of the Lamb.

Christ is the dividing-line, so wonderfully captured by the Orthodox Cross, which marks one crucified criminal going down to Hell, and the Penitent Thief going up to Paradise with Jesus. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Matt. 10:34-36, KJV) The true Christ marks Christianity out  among the world’s religions, philosophies, and idols. In the absence of Christ, even one of the best attempts to construct a purpose for life, Buddhism offers at best a somewhat bleak vision in which we are born again and again to suffer until we attain nothingness. In a world without Love, without Comfort, without Forgiveness – in short without God’s true Life – what is to stop man from devaluing himself and sending his race down to the Pit? This is the logical consequence of such beliefs and philosophy. The Gospel message doesn’t deny suffering, but transfigures it: “Behold the Man!” Only in the Cross is the true meaning and purpose of suffering to be found – and there evil is defeated, once and for all.

“True for you, but not for me.” Moral relativism is a great evil that bears much poisonous fruit in the West, where it seems to have been accepted as axiomatic by the masses – and for that reason they perish. In truth, it is a scheme of darkness designed to hide man’s sin and rob God of His right to judge and of His glory as the Saviour of mankind. It is an attack upon Christ – whom God the Father has appointed to judge the human race on the Last Day (Acts 17:31). “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Is. 5:20, KJV) Christ is quite blunt about the matter: “men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (Jn. 3:19, KJV). I would strongly recommend Paul Copan’s book, True for You, But not for Me, which provides a good philosophical rebuttal/refutation for this challenge.

We, who have been redeemed at such a price, are not called to condemn our fellow sinners; we are neither the Unmerciful servant nor yet the elder son in the parable of the Prodigal. But neither is our vocation to call what is sin by another name, nor is it to acquiesce in manifest evil. The Tempter constantly offers us excuses for our sins, and it is so easy to slip into that way of things; but it is the broad path to destruction. When Pope Francis said “Who am I to judge?” the world read him as it would – through its own preoccupations. Supporters of the dictatorship of relativism rejoiced and claimed the Pope for their own – a process aided by the furore among some Catholics who should have known better. To the censorious, Pope Francis was preaching amendment of heart; in a world where too often Christians sound harsh and judgmental, he was reminding us about that; but he was not calling sin by any other name. The reminder was of the Catholic teaching that it is the sin, not the sinner, we condemn; those who find that hard are those who most need to meditate on the Grace they have received whilst still a sinner.

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father, except by Me.” (Jn. 14:6) Christ’s words about Himself admit no manipulation, no “alternative interpretation.” You either accept them and live, or deny them and die. As QVO puts it, tertium non datur. It’s important to remind ourselves of this fact from time to time. God has called us, like Peter, to be “fishers of men” – each man according to the gift that he has been given. In contending for the one and only Truth, we are contending for life. A world where anything is permissible is a world of chaos, the yawning void. This is the world in which the innocent are murdered within their mothers’ wombs, the workman is deprived of his just wages, and the unrepentant criminal set free to murder, corrupt, and steal. From such a world death seems like a wondrous escape – and on this road many of the righteous have fared to a better Realm.

To be continued.