Previous | | Next | | E-Mail | | Contents | | V&FT

The Christmas Conspiracy

Part Two: Fundamentalism and Modernism

I was a Fundamentalist when I discovered Peter Maurin. I still am. So is he, I believe.

A Fundamentalist is a radical. A Fundamentalist goes back to the "roots." A Fundamentalist rejects "modernism" in favor of the traditional.

There is a great conflict between Modernism and Traditionalism. I consider myself a Traditionalist, like Peter Maurin, co-founder of the Catholic Worker.

Yet Protestant Fundamentalists are at odds with Catholicism. Why?

Because Protestant Fundamentalists believe that Catholicism is Modernist.

A Paradoxical Word-Battle

  • In the battle between Modernism and Traditionalism, Fundamentalists are Traditionalists.
  • But in the battle between Biblical radicalism and the traditions of Rome, Fundamentalists oppose "traditions."

Getting it Straight

  • For Fundamentalists, the "traditions" are the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.
  • In Catholicism, the "traditions" are actually innovations which have been added to the Scriptural "traditions" in the relatively-modern era.

As a radical, I go to the roots the Scriptures and question all modern innovations in terms of the roots.

Biblical Traditionalism

The Bible speaks of its contents as "Tradition."

Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the Traditions just as I delivered them to you.
1 Corinthians 11:2

Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the Traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.
2 Thessalonians 2:15

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the Tradition which he received from us.
2 Thessalonians 3:6

All other "tradition" is innovation; a departure from Biblical Tradition. (If an alleged "tradition" is squarely based on a Biblical command, it wouldn't be called a "tradition." It would just be plain ol' "Biblical.") All "traditions" which compete with Bible are not traditions, but additions, something not found in the Bible, advanced based on pressure from outside the Church. All tradition outside the Scripture is modernism. Even if the repetition of this worldly wisdom is based on the claimed authority of a religious hierarchy, we shouldn't believe it. It's not Scriptural.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
Colossians 2:8

The Pharisees held to "tradition," and let their traditions take precedence over God's Tradition in the Scripture. Matthew 15 and Mark 7 are the classic descriptions of the conflict between human religious tradition and God's Scriptural Tradition:

Mark 7:1-23

Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem.
[2] Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault.
[3] For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders.
[4] When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.
[5] Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?"
[6] He answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.
[7] And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'
[8] For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men; the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do."
[9] He said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.
[10] For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.'
[11] But you say, 'If a man says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban"; ' (that is, a gift to God),
[12] then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother,
[13] making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do."
[14] When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, "Hear Me, everyone, and understand:
[15] There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.
[16] If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!"
[Mt. 15:12] Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?"
[15:13] But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.
[15:14] Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."
[Mk. 7:17] When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable.
[18] So He said to them, "Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him,
[19] because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?"
[20] And He said, "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man.
[21] For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
[22] thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.
[23] All these evil things come from within and defile a man.

Now in my humble, narrow-minded opinion, the Catholic church is guilty of putting their religious traditions ahead of God's Law.

This was the conflict in Jesus' day:

The Bible says X
Rabbi So-and-so says not-X

Fundamentalists see Catholicism in the same boat:

The Bible says X
Pope So-and-so says not-X

Of course, many Fundamentalists play the same game. Example: Micah says we must beat our swords into plowshares. Fundamentalists say that would be "unrealistic." Christians can't be "impractical."

The Bible says X
President Reagan says not-X

Much like the Jews of Jesus' day, the Roman Catholic emphasis in their public gatherings is on rituals, not on cleansing our lives of

evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, [22] thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness.

There is more emphasis on ceremonial traditions than on becoming truly human, according to the pattern of God's Law which Christ followed perfectly.

Paul experienced true conversion when he left Jewish liturgies and began establishing house-church communities.

And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
Galatians 1:14

But like he told Timothy to do, he purged these traditions from his life, so that he could become fit for use by the Potter. As Peter (the first Pope?) reminded his readers,

As obedient children, do not conform yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; [15] but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, [16] because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy." [17] And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; [18] knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, [19] but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. [20] He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you [21] who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
1 Peter 1:14-21

There is a huge, immeasurable gap between the decentralized housechurch communities of the New Testament and a Cathedral, or even your local parish "Church." And the distance between the Catholic Church and Vine & Fig Tree patriarchy, as exemplified by Abraham, is unfathomable.

This is not to say that a person cannot become truly human in the Roman Church. This is to make, as Jesus did, a critique of institutional hierarchies.

Because the Catholic Church is tied to hierarchy-buttressing traditions more than Scripture (whether those traditions are "religious" traditions in the form of ceremonies or doctrines, or philosophical traditions or even political traditions), the Church is not an effective force against the violence and hopelessness of the Modern World. Peter Maurin, co-founder of the Catholic Worker, might be the first to agree.

Fundamentalism and History

"Scripture Study" has become something of the trend in the Catholic Worker. At least in Southern California. We study the Bible and discuss all of its "myths."

I hate that.

This stuff about Mark's Gospel not being literal history is dangerously contaminated with modernism.

It is said that Mark's Gospel (and Moses' Exodus) is not "history," but a "story" or a "myth."

What is all this talk about "myths," anyway? Am I so old that I remember a day when someone could say, "Ahh, that's a myth" and we would all understand him to be saying it was false? But in Catholic Worker circles these days, it's trendy to believe in "myths." Joseph Campbell is the agent of Empire most responsible for this 180 shift in meaning. The idea, of course, is that there really is no such thing as truth, and so it's perfectly alright to believe a myth. This is Orwellian theological doublespeak.

The Bible says myths are bad.

nor give heed to myths and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.
1 Timothy 1:4

But reject profane and old wives' myths, and exercise yourself toward godliness.
1 Timothy 4:7

and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to myths.
2 Timothy 4:4

not giving heed to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn from the truth.
Titus 1:14

For we did not follow cunningly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
2 Peter 1:16

The word "myth" is, in Greek (according to Strong's dictionary), "3454. muthos, perh. from the same as 3453 (through the idea of tuition); a tale, i.e. fiction ("myth"):--fable."

Isn't that great?! "Myths: Lies we pay the State's professors to tell us."
[And this is the stuff Catholic Worker trends are made of ? ]

We also hear about Mark's "socio-literary method." This is designed to put distance between us and the Fundies. Fundamentalists believe the Bible to be inerrant history. We Catholic Workers are more sophisticated. Who is right?

The trendy anti-Fundamentalist thing to say these days in Catholic Worker Bible Studies is that "Mark did not write like a 20th century historian." That is certainly true, given the fact that the overwhelming majority of today's historians are court-appointed toadies whose books are published by State-funded universities or entrenched publishing corporations and who are, to be blunt, anti-Christian. Mark writes as a Christian, not a CBS News-approved propagandist for Empire. Mark is a Christian who believes the Scriptures are the Word of God.

If Dorothy Day who we could certainly say was a "20th-century historian" by virtue of her being a liberal-approved journalist went back to 1st-century Palestine, saw the demonic struggle that was going on, and lived with Jesus and heard His explanations of current events according to the Old Testament Scriptures (Matt 5:17-20; 2 Tim 3:15-17), she would have written a Gospel just like Mark's. She would have understood that the State was energized by literal demons, which is the clear teaching of the Scriptures from cover to cover. She would have seen that in those days there really were "angels everywhere" (I refer to some medieval painting I saw recently see 2 Kings 6:16-17). In fact, Dorothy Day would undoubtedly write more strongly about the miracles, the exorcisms, the healings, etc., to counter the secularization and anti-supernaturalism of the 20th-century.

Now if Carroll Quigley[14] or some other staff historian from the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank went back in time, his "gospel" wouldn't be anything like Mark's, nor Dorothy's. Does that surprise us? Jesus would be portrayed as a deluded crank or religious "extremist," Rome the guardian of "world peace." What do you expect? There is no neutrality. "Twentieth-century scholars" are not "objective" about the Scriptures.

But we are so blinded by the universities and Time magazine that we constantly and unthinkingly spout off this nonsense about the Gospels not being historically reliable. Mark writes as a 20th century CHRISTIAN historian would write. People back then weren't stupid just because they didn't worship science and the State like we do. (See the following essay on the Loaves and Fishes).

The Problem with Fundamentalists

Not just "liberals," but Fundamentalists too are blinded by science and the State. For all their claim to be "Fundamentalists," they really are modernists. That's why I say no Fundamentalist would call me a Fundamentalist. They buy into too much of the Empire's propaganda. They really do want to be accepted and accredited by "the powers that be."

Demonic possession in Mark's Gospel is a good place to check our presuppositions. Was it really possession by an evil but supernatural entity, or was it just a psychological condition?

We have to come to grips with the fact that there really were demons back then, but that Jesus really did something remarkable to them. If you deny the first, you become a liberal; if you deny the second, you become a useless Fundamentalist waiting for the "rapture." Mark says Jesus came to bind the strong man; not an impressive achievement if no such entity ever existed. But if Jesus triumphed over Satan and his minions, then we have the basis for reconstructing society by working for peace and justice.

Here is what I see the Scriptures saying about Jesus' triumph over the strong man:[15]

By His Power over demons, Jesus demonstrated that the Kingdom was not "postponed" but rather "at hand."[16] By His Power over demons, Jesus indicated that Satan was being bound.[17] Through the death (execution) of Christ, Satan was judged,[18] and in His Resurrection and Ascension, Christ was enthroned, and the power which Satan and his host formerly held over the nations has been transferred to Christ.[19]

If you believe all those verses in the footnotes, you become a radical. Fundamentalists pay lip-service to certain of these ideas, but on the whole they deny them. Recall the message of Hal Lindsay's monumental best-seller, Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth. Fundamentalists make the mistake of being "premillennialists" instead of "postmillennialists." And "premillennialism" has spread to Catholics and mainstream protestants, rendering them unfit for The Christmas Conspiracy.

But at least the Fundies admit that there were demons, and don't accuse Mark of being

a) a liar
b) a jerk
c) a dumb-oaf peasant, not as sophisticated and spiritually aware as us state-worshiping mortgage-paying seminary-trained modernists with our Richard Rohr tapes.

What the Fundies can't explain is

Why was Jesus executed for exorcising and healing? Why were His "violations of natural law" also violations of Imperial Law?

Nobody is as close to answering these questions as those who attend Catholic Worker Bible Studies. But if they follow the theological trends of the Empire, they will lose their track and get lost in the Wilderness.

Vine & Fig Tree Home Page


(14) President Clinton's "mentor" at Georgetown, who openly defends a conspiratorial elite Anglo-American domination of the rest of the world. Watch this spot for a jump to a page exposing the fascism of the Bush/Clinton/Quigley regime. [Return to text]

(15) Thesis #55 in my "95 Theses on the State."  [Return to text]

(16) Matthew 12:28  [Return to text]

(17) Matthew 12:29; Luke 10:18; 11:20-22; Mark 1:24; Revelation 12:10-12; 20:1-4  [Return to text]

(18) John 12:31-33; 14:30; 16:11.  [Return to text]

(19) #18; Matthew 28:18-20; Revelation 20:1-4; Luke 10:18; 11:17-22; Colossians 2:15; Psalm 68:18 + Ephesians 4:8; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8; 4:4; Genesis 3:15; Romans 16:20.  [Return to text]

Premillennialists cannot answer this question: If Jesus bound the strong man, then who is "possessing" people today? My answer: today there is no "demon possession;" it is simply self-hypnosis in accord with Statist propaganda. Yes, that sounds suspiciously like what modernists say was happening then. It psychologizes the phenomenon. I'm anxious to discuss this paradox with any who have an interest, but from what I've seen (and there is no research on this that I've found) modern "possessions" take place in the circus-like settings of religious revival, while the possessions in Jesus' day were true "afflictions." Back then, otherwise good people were in bondage, while today "possession" afflicts only "attention-getters." That's my take; what's yours?

Christmas Conspiracy


Vine & Fig Tree

Paradigm Shift


Vine & Fig Tree
Taney County, MO
[V&FT Home Page]