What I Learned About Antichrist While Chatting with Eric Metaxas
We Catholics believe that the pope should function as our chief religious teacher on earth. Those who have read me before will know that I think the present pope, Francis, is quite literally the worst one in history. Yes, worse than those elected via bribes in the Renaissance, or appointed by courtesans before that. They were corrupt but orthodox, and didn’t forge secret alliances with the Communist Party of China.
Francis’ teachings — all offered, cautiously, at a non-infallible level for fear of lightning bolts — throw doubt on historic doctrines, undermine the words of Jesus, and defy the Covenant of Noah. I’d believe Jack Chick had seized control of our church from beyond the grave, were such coups really possible.
The Black Box of a Crashed Pontificate
But the wise man open to Truth can learn even from error. One of the most potent teachers in life is the study of blunders and falsehoods. Engineers pore over the black boxes from airliners that crashed. Philosophers set their students to pick apart logical fallacies.
And I think that we as Christians can learn quite a bit by listening to what Pope Francis says — carefully and critically, to see where he goes wrong. Especially we need to see where he takes deadly wrong turns that we ourselves have taken, albeit on smaller things or in smaller ways. We Westerners swim in the same tainted stream (not The Stream!) where Francis hatched and grew. We face the same downstream current that’s driving him, like the Gadarene beasts, down to the sea.
What if the pope’s grand errors and sweeping falsehoods are meant, in God’s inscrutable plan, to warn us away? They represent our own temptations, lived out on a global scale, like hideous caricatures or ludicrous Mardi Gras floats. That’s one for the history books: a papacy as a vast and horrifying cautionary tale.
Eric Metaxas as Devil’s Advocate
This came to me a few days ago as I spoke on the air with Eric Metaxas. He was kind enough to give me a whole hour’s airtime to discuss a three-part series I’d published here. The topic: why was Pope Francis trying to rehabilitate Judas, and what did it mean?
In the course of doing his job as devil’s advocate, Eric asked some critical questions. Namely:
- Shouldn’t we as Christians, who hope for each man’s salvation, hope for Judas’ too?
- Wouldn’t it be perverse for us to be glad about the Church’s historic verdict, based on Jesus’ own words, that the man was damned?
- Isn’t the stance of Hans Urs von Balthasar — that Hell might in fact be empty of human souls — the right one for us?
Good questions. They merit good answers. Because what Eric was voicing (for the sake of argument) sounded pious and high-minded. These are the kind of sentiments which, were the time not foreshortened, could fool even the Elect.
I chose those words advisedly. What we face today in progressive Christianity is the new gospel of the Antichrist.
You can watch this exchange on the Rumble video embedded here, toward the beginning.
Who Rules Here? Jesus or … Me?
But I’ll sum it up here for those of you (like me) too impatient to click on videos. Here are my answers, boiled down:
- Judas redeemed? We should hope, work, and pray for the salvation of every living human being. It’s not our business to second-guess God’s judgment of dead people’s souls. Their fruit lay where it fell, and is God’s business not ours. But we shouldn’t hope that Jesus’ own solemn words, spoken without hyperbole to Judas’ face at the Last Supper, were empty, misleading, or false. (“The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Matt. 26: 24) What would that imply for the rest of what Our Lord said? Wouldn’t we be free to reinterpret any “hard saying” of His to suit our lifestyle preferences?
- Gloat over judgment? We should hope that God’s justice, tempered by mercy, as He sees fit, always prevails. Our proper hope regarding Judas, the “son of perdition” (John 17:12) should be that we don’t imitate him instead of Jesus. As the ancient Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom prescribes each Christian pray on the way up to Holy Communion: “Of thy Mystic Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of thy Mystery to thine enemies, neither will I give thee a kiss as did Judas; but like the thief will I confess thee: Remember me, O Lord, in thy Kingdom. Not unto judgement nor unto condemnation be my partaking of thy Holy Mysteries, O Lord, but unto the healing of soul and body.”
- Hope for the damned? We shouldn’t hope that Jesus’ own words, in several Gospel passages, describing the torments of some souls damned in Hell were empty, misleading, or false. Likewise the divinely revealed predictions in the Book of Revelation, and St. Paul’s letters. Do we really want to make Scripture itself Silly Putty that picks up our wistful, post-modern squishiness about the seriousness of evil?
We May Join Judas if We Insist
I can put all this much more simply. I think God gave me a little help to do that on Eric’s show. I said, in essence: Where is the ultimate religious authority for us? Is it A) the words of Jesus Himself in the scripture, as understood by the Church since the very beginning? Or is it B) our own sensibilities, our sense of what God should do, or what we would do in His place? Is it the agenda of Caesar, and Mammon, and Sodom, which has seeped into our consciences, to make our lives easier?
Stance A) is the Christian one. Stance B) is the position that Progressive Christians are peddling today. If our sense of “fair play” or “niceness” that we’ve imbibed from our decaying, post-Christian culture sits on the throne instead of Jesus, then we will indeed end up with Judas. Perhaps we’ll even tell ourselves it is Heaven.
My thanks again to Eric Metaxas for taking on the thankless task of devil’s advocate. It’s a dirty job. You might as well get some guy from Queens to do it.
John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream, and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”