Michael Voris Offers Unintelligent and Destructive Cultural Commentary

Here he is, for instance, as is his custom, vending factionalism and anger, leavened with sectarian pride as he tackles the pressing problem of Catholics who sing “Amazing Grace”

Voris’ sole message is “I am the measure of Real Catholicism and those who agree with me have the right to call themselves Catholic, while those who disagree are liars and lukewarm fake Catholics”.

His method is to begin, not by proclaiming the Faith, but by proclaiming that whoever has been chosen for denunciation in today’s video is a liar whose lies are about to be trapped and exposed. In short, they are the Enemy, the watered-down, the fifth column. This posture of sneering hostility established he then sets to work, inviting the viewer to join him in mocking whatever it is he is going to mock today.

In this video, our Real Catholic elects to tell us that most of his brother and sister Catholics are half-breed Protestants who, among their many sins, wear “Protestant clothes.” (What? No mention of Protestant hair, Michael?) The point of this little litany is not so much to make sense as to establish, via a sort of hypnotic chant, that there are “Real Catholics” (Voris and his nucleus of Pharisees) and Everybody Else: the great unwashed who are unworthy to be called Catholic.

Then we go to work on today’s specific task: arraigning Catholics who like “Amazing Grace” as protestantized dimwits who are letting the Pure Catholic Faith be corrupted by the base metal of an “anti-Catholic hymn”. Dave Armstrong (who is, of course, not a real Catholic since he questions the infallible Voris) looks at Voris’ tissue of prideful, biblically illiterate and theologically stupid assertions that then follow:

I think it is an interesting presentation by Michael Voris, but I believe that his negative conclusion about Amazing Grace as an “anti-Catholic” song is absurd: much ado about nothing. Catholics believe in Grace Alone, just as Protestants do. It is presentations like this one that divide Catholics and Protestants unnecessarily, and give the latter the impression that we frown on grace or put works on the same plane with it. But the Church teaches Grace Alone and condemns works-salvation, or Pelagianism, so I don’t see this as a contradiction to our theology at all. Grace is amazing!

There is also such a thing as initial justification in Catholicism. There is a beginning-point in the salvation process (baptism). We can receive further grace through the sacraments, but there is an initial time, at which regeneration occurs. And it is all by grace in our theology.

He makes a big deal about “wretch.” I grant his point insofar as he opposes total depravity, but I think he over-argues again and misses the main point. We are all sinners in need of salvation, who would be damned but for God’s grace. Again, we Catholics fully agree on that point; it has to do with original sin.

But I don’t see St. Paul saying anything all that different from the use in Amazing Grace of the word “wretch”. In fact, Paul even calls himself a “wretched man”:

Romans 7:14-25 (RSV) We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. [15] I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. [16] Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. [17] So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. [18] For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. [19] For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. [20] Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. [21] So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. [22] For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, [23] but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. [24] Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? [25] Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

It’s funny; I was looking up Romans 7, thinking it might be applicable here, and happily discovered the phrase “wretched man” in it (as opposed to finding “wretched” by a word search).

Also in Revelation 3:16b-17, Jesus describes the Laodiceans: who were “lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot” (3:16a) — a prototype of a certain sort of unregenerate sinner — as follows:

. . . I will spew you out of my mouth. [17] For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Thus, unregenerate sinners are again described as “wretched.” That is now twice that the Bible uses the exact same word that appears in Amazing Grace.

For more on the meaning of “wretch”, see the Dictionary.com entry.

Moreover, John Newton (1725-1807), whatever his theology (he was, in fact, a Calvinist) could very well have been referring solely or primarily to himself in the lyrics, in using the word “wretch,” since it is well-known that he had been involved in the slave trade and had numerous other exceptionally unsavory personal traits (see Wikipedia: “Amazing Grace”). It is commonly thought, anyway, that he had himself in mind.

Why does this matter? Because I am constantly hearing from fans of Voris who think that his method of perpetually sneering at brother and sister Catholics, tearing down anything that he deems to be not “really” Catholic, and endlessly complaining about and sneering at others for their alleged “impurity” (such as singing “Amazing Grace”) constitutes being a “bold voice of reform”.

It doesn’t. Reformers have a positive vision. They know what they want. This guy only knows what he doesn’t want. And even then, he is often wrong. So in his zeal to sneer at Protestants he ridicules a perfectly Catholic teaching–that we are sinners justified by God’s amazing grace–because that sound Protestant to his theologically illiterate ears. In his love of sectarian fractiousness, Voris behaves, ironically, like the Protestants he condemns and set himself up in judgment over fellow Catholics while making himself the gold standard of “Real Catholic” faith.

And, for a bonus, he actually delivers erroneous Catholic theology while trumpeting his superior “Real Catholic” faith. “Grace does not ‘abide’ in us?” Um, yes it does. Actual grace does not, but sanctifying grace does.

To pick just the most blatant theological error.

I don’t understand what people see in this guy. You can get all the good things he has to say–without the sectarian self-righteousness and cloddish theological blunders and over-simplifications–from lots of other sources. So it would appear that precisely what people want is his distinctive contribution: sectarian self-righteousness and cloddish over-simplifications.

Paul has advice for such people:

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another. (Galatians 5:14-26)

Michael Voris is my brother in Christ. He is not my judge and not the gold standard of “Real Catholic” faith. And “Amazing Grace” is a beautiful and deeply Catholic hymn, Voris’ arrogant and stupidly sectarian remarks notwithstanding.

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  • Deana

    Voris speaks for millions of Catholics who have watched their beloved Church decimated by watered-down orthodoxy, subversive clergy and an infrastructure that is markedly more concerned with immigration policy than saving souls.

    God bless Voris and his organization. He truly is doing “God’s work.”

  • Deana

    Well said. Ranting, sans credible proof or scholarly argument seems to be little more than jealously. Laughable and sad. Voris rocks!