The other day I was reading through some of the online content at First Things and I was amused to see a commenter trot out a 1990s-vintage argument regarding sin.
Back then I was no paragon of virtue, and a bitter opponent of organized religion, but even so I recognized that it took a remarkable amount of special pleading to argue that the only actual sins were those specifically enumerated by Jesus in the Gospels. Now this was intended to legitimize sodomy, but if taken at face value, it also included rape, incest and a host of other crimes.
The problems with this are manifest, and I need not elaborate on them, but it struck an eerily familiar chord with commenter CN's observations about Jewish witchcraft, which while not an oxymoron, should be.
I suppose there's some comfort in the knowledge that stupid ideas pushed by equally stupid people never really go away. Just as each year sees the change of the seasons, and the heat of summer gives way to the cool contemplation of fall, so hackneyed sophistries continue to be recycled by mid-wits who think they've found the killer argument against Catholicism or something.
Indeed, some years ago, a former friend trotted out a bunch of well-worn cliches in an attempt to undermine my Catholic faith, and after spending entirely too much time batting down his feeble barbs, I finally suggested that, since he was so smart, he should start his own church. He laughed with delight, noting with satisfaction that he'd driven a Catholic priest to a similar 'admission of defeat' years before.
I then pointed out to him that it wasn't an admission of defeat, it was simply an observation that nothing he said was either original or compelling. Like me, the priest wasn't overwhelmed by the force of his logic, but bored by the dullness of his arguments. This is one of the reasons he is a former friend.
Still, there is no denying the thrill of trying to square the moral circle by declaring witchcraft and devil worship fully compatible with Judaism or that "true" Christianity is actually a goddess cult dedicated to hedonism. One is tempted to reply:
Sure, go with that.
However, we are in a time of heightened spiritual warfare, and the Enemy is attacking on every front. That is why is necessary to set aside our pride (and boredom) and face these claims patiently but seriously. Failing to do s0 risks allowing the cancer of this heresy to spread unchecked, with dire results.
This includes having the moral courage to say that no matter what blasphemous ceremonies or blessings are given, sin remains sin. To its credit, the Global Anglican Future Conference did exactly that earlier this year.
The lesson here is that a generation of tolerance and "being nice" got us to a very bad place. Clearly, a more aggressive response is required.