Digby Anderson believes that the Better Together campaign is using a dangerous strategy
How should we characterize our enemies, that is, the enemies of catholic order and truth? The gentle English saint, the Venerable Bede, writing in the seventh century of Pelagius and his ‘perfidious doctrine’, enthusiastically cites a poem characterizing the heretic as an ‘insect scribbler whose very heart was scorched with hellish spite … a presumptuous serpent in whose breast Vesuvian sulphur reigns.’ He is clear that Pelagianism is the work of the Devil. Pelagius’s great condemner St Augustine believed in the vast power of the Devil to use men, the human race being his ‘fruit tree’, ‘a plaything of demons.’ To condemn heretics and others of doing Satan’s work, does not mean that they are devil-worshippers. But Satan plays on man’s appetites for power, sexual gratification, his gluttony and his pride. Satan is seen not only as the great tempter, but, and this is currently most apt, the instigator of ignorance, the distracter from God and the creator of illusions.
Enemies of truth and order
The great heretics were, by definition, within the Church. And they are within it still. Pope Paul VI in 1972 talked of the ‘smoke of Satan entering the Temple of God’. His successor Pope Benedict’s Chief Exorcist earlier this year said Satan was in the heart of the Church. When members of the Church, including the Church of England allow themselves to be tempted by pride, ambition, ignorance and illusion, it is Satan doing the tempting. Liberals within the Church, in their assault on the Church’s truth, tradition and order, are doing Satan’s work. To say so is simply to say what the Church has always said about the enemies of its truth and order.
The enemies of the traditional Church are, of course unwittingly, the playthings of The Enemy. They should be neither proud of or paranoid about such a condemnation. Satan is also after abortionist MPs, greedy bankers and corrupt journalists. Indeed he is behind many a suburban sofa. But liberal ‘Christianity’ is one of the most succulent and least noticed fruits on his tree.
Values and virtues
Traditionalist Anglicans should know this. It was one of their own who gently but insistently explained it to them. C.S. Lewis not only in Screwtape but in the novels showed just how the tempter uses pride, ignorance and illusion. Yet I do not recall traditionalist Anglicans pointing out that those who attack the traditional order of the priesthood and episcopate are doing Satan’s work. Indeed, in this magazine
there has recently appeared an advertisement for Better Together, an Anglo-Catholic campaign. The word is not used in the military sense. It has no enemies, battlefields, self-sacrifice, no-quarter and no-surrender. It is not a campaign for Christian truth. Rather ‘campaign’ is used as an advertising man might use it to encourage children to eat five-a-day.
The values of the campaign are even more suspect than the campaign itself. They are not Catholic order and Apostolic truth but ‘diversity, freedom, unity and respect’. Diversity and freedom are not traditional catholic virtues and neither are unity and respect in the sense meant by the campaign. Yet these four edge out all the traditional Christian virtues. Worse, the new virtues are not even called virtues but ‘values’; a word slyly used to supplant ‘virtue’ by liberals. Values are what you or I variously choose. Virtues are ordained by God and exemplified in the life, on earth, of his Beloved Son. In short the values and the campaign are secular. And so we have a problem, the ordination of women justified by the secular values of egalitarianism which is to be solved by a secularized campaign preaching values no less secular than those of the enemy.
A clever ruse?
It is dangerous to ape the language of your enemy’s argument. You may wind up making a very similar argument to his and espousing his values through the use of his words. I see, of course, why it is being done. Anticipating a defeat in Synod for traditional catholic truth and order, it seems prudent to cease to talk of these and instead seek a niche where that truth and order may be left in peace. That is an understandable tactic. It may also seem a clever ruse to use the enemy’s values to embarrass him or rather her into permitting this. ‘They’ve always gone on about diversity, well, we are the minority now, they should want to tolerate us in the name of diversity.’ The ruse is not clever. It is dangerous. It means setting aside the reason for our cause. Whatever we ask for should always be asked for in the name of traditional catholic truth and order, and these alone. In Fr Vincent McNabb op’s words, ‘truth alone is worthy of our entire devotion.’
That truth includes not only traditional order but other unfashionable beliefs such as that in Satan. It is sometimes said that modern Christians do not actually mind believing in the Devil too much provided he is not understood as a person. But even Satan as a person need not be so hard to accept. What is really difficult relates to an old dispute: where is the Devil? Where does he live? Some said Hell. Of course he has his home there. But the orthodox answer is on earth.
Our Compline reading warns us ‘Be sober, be vigilant, because your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, roameth the earth, seeking whom he may devour.’ That is why we must treat our Christian enemies as our Enemy; lest we become like them, his unwitting playthings. ND