Lies, damn lies, and mass murder

March 13, 2017 § 12 Comments

Generally speaking there are a lot more ways to get something wrong than there are to get it right.  In the Church there is a special category of lie called heresy, which involves (again generally speaking) denying or distorting a doctrine of the Church specifically.  Truth is a unity, but not all truths are doctrines of the Church.  That water is H2O is true but is not a doctrine of the Church, for example.

The issue has been raised as to whether one of my claims is that liberalism is a heresy in this technical (rather than merely a colloquial) sense, as opposed to simply false or a lie.

My answer to that line of inquiry, for the record, is that I take no firm position on the question[*]. It is certainly arguable that liberalism as I describe it on this blog — keeping in mind the limitations of language, and the fact that liberalism is what it is in reality independent of those limitations – is condemned in various papal encyclicals, for example Immortale Dei.

But from my point of view it doesn’t much matter, and I don’t think the point is especially worth arguing.  Most folks wouldn’t balk at condemning a mass murdering political philosophy like Nazism without really caring much about whether it is or is not, in a technical sense, a heresy.  One would think that political doctrines which drive the mass murder of innocents (as just the most obvious and visible in a long list of atrocities) would run afoul of a Church doctrine here or there, I suppose, at least indirectly. But frankly the whole question seems like a bit of a red herring.

The same goes for liberalism and – depending on where you feel the lines should be drawn – its close modernist cousins.  Some folks feel compelled to draw the lines this way or that, probably driven by a delusion that the substance of the basic criticisms of liberalism can be deflected by some nominalist semantic dancing.

But my thought is that once the body count of innocents murdered reaches a certain point, quibbling over whether or not a particular political doctrine is or is not technically heresy is just Nazis dancing on the head of a pin.

[*] This contrasts with my position on usury, to which I have not really added any original thought.  My work on usury specifically (except where stated otherwise, and of course this doesn’t apply to e.g. more general discussions of currency, securities, finance, property, etc) is simply a reiteration, to the best of my ability, of the timeless moral prohibition against charging interest on personally guaranteed loans “for consumption” (in the pertinent sense) to individuals, with a few suggestions here and there as to why the moral prohibition obtains.

That is, when it comes to usury I do my best to simply restate Church doctrine; and dissent from Church doctrine is heresy.

§ 12 Responses to Lies, damn lies, and mass murder

  • TomD says:

    Speaking of your work on Usury I see you’ve put it in the public domain. Prepare to be amazed/horrified by a physical bound version.

  • TomD says:

    As to the post I’ve seen this problem quite a bit in the “liberal modern” world – in a world where they deny truth they insist that if you say something’s wrong, you are saying it’s the worst possible wrong; that if you say usury is a sin you’re saying that all bankers ever, and all credit card users go directly to Hell; that you can’t insist lying is always wrong without condemning to Hell those who lied to save Jews from Hitler; that if you say sex must be in marriage and open to life you are igniting not only all the gays ever, but every masturbator since the beginning of time.

    The Church is strict, but merciful, and the biggest mercy is that She refuses to confirm us in our sins and continues to call for repentance.

  • Zippy says:


    I’ve actually been considering creating/ordering a physical copy to (potentially) send to every single Catholic priest and bishop on earth, which I would self-finance — though it would likely start as a targeted effort. If you are developing plans to “vanity press” it or whatever, by all means keep me in the loop.

    But yes my usury work is public domain, so folks can do what they like with it without any further permission from me.

  • Aethelfrith says:

    Putting potentially life-saving truth behind a paywall doesn’t strike me as particularly Christian. You are doing God’s work Zippy.

  • Zippy says:


    Thank you, but to be fair to those who do God’s work and yet need to earn a living from it, Providence has been very kind to me.

  • I suppose it is not really relevant, but I for one dream of the day I am accused of polemics rather than heresy. I don’t have the authority to define the church or doctrine, so how could I possibly be a heretic every time I turn around?

    That may be a First World Protestant Problem, however. We seem to really wrestle with the idea that H2O is not actually a matter of theology and doctrine.

  • It is apt that heresy (choice) be applied to liberalism in that choice is a dogma of liberalism

  • I don’t have the authority to define the church or doctrine, so how could I possibly be a heretic every time I turn around?

    First, stop turning around

  • Zippy says:


    We seem to really wrestle with the idea that H2O is not actually a matter of theology and doctrine.

    If that is a protestant problem then we are all protestants now.

    Even among Catholics who love the Church, and other persons who hate her, two persistent complaints emerge from our collective positivist subconscious: 1) the Catholic Church is always telling everyone what to think and how to behave; and 2) we need to know what to think and how to behave, but the Catholic Church won’t tell us unambiguously what that is.

  • Roman Lance says:

    Fr. Sylvany spoke well to issue of Liberalism in his work “Liberalism is a Sin”.

    A highly recommended work that is quite unambiguous, and, for the devout Catholic, maybe even a bit frightening when studiously considered.

  • Mike T says:


    Try Castalia House. They might actually help you make it happen.

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