James Attebury: Theologian, Censor, Judge

For some time now I’ve been reading the work of James Attebury on his blog on Christian theology and apologetics. I’ve referenced his work once before in “Luke 23:43 and Sheol.” His posts have a distinctively academic tone, with plenty of citations. In some ways, it is a lot like Anabaptist Faith, the blog run by fellow Anabaptist Lynn Martin (his blog is in my sidebar). These are the kinds of blogs that I love reading. I felt similarly about Wintery Knight….back before he censored me.

Unfortunately, James Attebury has joined the ranks of apologists who cannot handle dissent, having censored my recent critiques. The sad fact is that I’ve never been banned by a non-Christian blogger. I wasn’t even banned by progressive athiest John Scalzi, Father Ban Hammer himself, for making pro-life comments! By and large, it is the self-proclaimed Christians who censor me and most of them are apologists or teachers. Do they not realize that censorship self-defeats apologetics?

No censor can be an authority of theology or apologetics. The act of censorship disqualifies and delegitimizes them.

Given my stance on censorship, I will no longer be commenting on his blog, nor (as with Sigma Frame and Wintery Knight before it) will I affirmatively recommend them. Moving forward, I will only respond here. Of course I saved copies of my comments, since unfortunately, I can usually intuit—by their fruit—who is prone to censorship, and I’m rarely wrong. If posting here seems overly confrontational and one-sided, it is because he has shut down constructive dialogue. Unfortunately, I am left with no choice but to write one-sided “polemics” moving forward.

As I noted in my previous post regarding Jack @ Sigma Frame, it wouldn’t be the first time an author thought I was actively persecuting or attacking them because I wrote critical articles on my own blog. Keep in mind that if you want to have an open dialogue, you have to actively encourage it instead of actively suppressing it. I would have thought this was obvious. Those who try to control the discussion through rules and demands are the ones who prevent open dialogue. That I get blamed for persecution is truly massive irony.

Apostolic Succession

Many Protestants and Anabaptists, including myself, claim that the church was maintained in the Alpine regions of Europe from the rise of the Roman religion in the late 4th century until at least the Protestant Reformation. Many scholars believe that the Paulicians arose out of the ancient heresies, and that the Bogomils, the Cathars, the Albigensians, and (later on) the Waldensians owe their heretical heritage to the Paulicians. Among scholars there is always disagreement about who believed what and who (if anyone) was a “real Christian.” Sound familiar?

Obviously if any links in the chain are heretics, then they cannot be part of supposed apostolic succession. The rather plain motivation of Roman Catholic scholars is thus to declare at least one (if not all) of these groups to be heretics, and to ensure that none of them can be properly described as holding Protestant beliefs prior to the Protestant Reformation.

James Attebury also considers a number of these groups to be heretics and attempts to trace “True Christianity™” through other paths (e.g. Henricans). Attebury deviates somewhat from other scholars, but nonetheless I questioned his willingness to uncritically accept the biased scholarship that declares groups to be heretics.

The Waldensians

It all started back in December with Attebury’s article on the Waldensians. In the article, James Attebury repeated the common claim that ex-priest Peter Waldo founded the Waldensians. Last year I wrote “Waldensians: An Historical Overview” explaining why this claim is highly questionable.

In my comment, I noted that Eberhard de Béthune, Emilio Comba, Antoine Monastier, Bernard de Foncald, Peter Allix, and Abbot Conrad of Lichtenau all testified to a Waldensian group that preceded Peter Waldo. Furthermore, I questioned whether Attebury’s strict distinction between the Albigensians and Waldensians was real. Attebury responded by saying:

Ultimately that’s why we need to read their own writings. The Cathar text “The Book of Two Principles” shows what [the Albigensians] believed in their own words.

So I did. You can too. Comment below with what you find.

The Albigensians

The Book of the Two Principles is a text written by an Albigensian author that lays out the author’s beliefs as a formal argument from reason and scripture. It is a very Berean approach. It is one of the only primary sources of information on the Albigensians written by an actual Albigensian. The vast majority of information about them comes from their enemies and is questionable at best. The book is quite interesting.

In “Were the Albigensians Christians?“, James Attebury concludes that the Albigensians were heretics:

As a Protestant and a Baptist, I believe that the church has always existed from the time of Jesus until now. There have always been true believers in Jesus and the church cannot cease to exist (Matt 16:18). [..] But were the Albigensians actually heretics or faithful Christians? As I will demonstrate here from their own writings, they did hold to heretical beliefs that distorted who God is and rejected the teachings of the Bible. As my Baptist History professor once said about the trail of blood, “You have to be a Christian first before you can be a Baptist.” [..] We do not need the Albigensians to create a trail of blood. The Henricians and Waldensians did not hold to the false beliefs of the Albigensians and they were true forerunners of the Reformation.

One of the key problems is that the Waldensians almost certainly were closely related to the Albigensians, and it is difficult from the historical record to treat them as separate groups. The issue isn’t whether they are needed. It is truly awful scholarship to make historical claims because your belief requires it to be a certain way. Attebury needs someone to create a trail of blood, lest his worldview collapse. He cannot let the evidence speak for itself.

Attebury then cites Roman Catholics Raynaldus and Bernard Gui as witnesses against the Albigensians. Rather than reject these Roman sources as biased and untrustworthy, he then cites the Book of the Two Principles as evidence that the Roman Catholics were correct, stating:

This teaching is no different from that of the heretic Marcion who taught that the God of the New Testament is different from the God of the Old Testament. He accused the God of the Old Testament of being evil [..] The Albigensians added their own made-made traditions and beliefs to God’s Word. They rejected the God of the Bible who created all things in favor of a form of Marcionism. While they criticized Roman Catholicism for many of their false beliefs, the beliefs they held to were far worse.

Marcionism was a dualistic belief that originated in the second century, adjacent to (but not equal to) gnosticism, which arose at the same time. As we will see, it is important for Attebury to create a link between the 2nd century marcionites and the 12th century Albigensians through dualism in order to establish that they were heretics. This leads him to discount the evidence that they were not, in fact, dualists (at least not in the heretical sense).

First Rebuttal

I responded with a now deleted original comment that said much what follows.

In the Book of Two Principles, the author makes plain that when God “creates” or “makes” evil, it means that he gives sufferance for it to exist for a time, for nothing can exist without the say-so of God himself, for all things to exist requires the authority of Christ. But this doesn’t imply that God directly creates evil as such. That responsibility goes to Satan:

“And in this sense we can freely concede that Satan was ‘created” or “made” by the true Lord God—that is, after he was given license to afflict Job—for by permission which he obtained from the true Lord God he did that which he was unable to achieve by himself. And so he can be said to be “made” by God—that is, he was acknowledged as ruler over the people, not absolutely but, so to speak, indirectly and nonessentially. [..] So, darkness is not created absolutely and directly by our Lord God and His Son Jesus Christ but only in an indirect and relative sense [..] That is, the Lord our God created and made all things, namely, heaven and earth, the sea, and all things which are therein; He made all things in heaven and earth through our Lord Jesus Christ; and all things were created by Him, in Him, and of Him, as has already been demonstrated by many texts.

You the reader remember that last sentence as you read the rest of this post. This Albigensian belief is completely unambiguous and heavily contradicts the words that Attebury places on the Albigensian’s lips when he accuses them of heresy.

The critics of the Albigensians were engaging in semantic bickering…

“Whence, one should give no credence at all to the belief that the true Lord God absolutely and directly created darkness or evil, especially from nothing, which our opponents think is the proper meaning of “to create.”

…and declaring the the Albigensians to be heretics because they understood things differently. See, the critics of the Albigensians thought that God could only create something out of nothing, and so condemned the Albigensians because their own limited worldview prevented them from considering other ways of thinking about the same things. They were so obsessed with defining terms the way they wanted them defined, that the didn’t understand what the Albigensians were saying, even as it was explicitly explained to them!

The Abligensians author explicitly stated that what he means by the ‘creation’ was not ex nihilo creation:

“…our opponents, who believe that for God “to create” is to make something exclusively and essentially from nothing. [..] I grant that the Lord our God is the creator and maker of this creation, but not of the “weak and needy elements” of this world. [..] Therefore, if God made and created and justly ordered all things good, He did not create the darkness or evil, nor did He form the dragon. Nor are even our opponents wont to believe that God had formed the devil as a dragon, but rather as a beautiful angel, nor that He had created angels as demons and things of darkness, but rather as angels shining and luminous.”

The Albigensians merely acknowledged the presence of an evil god who created things from things that were already created by the one true God. Remember that quote above? They were quite explicit that the One God did, in fact, create the world and all that was declared good in it. By contrast, here is a list of the “creations” of the second god:

“…adultery, theft of another’s property, murder, blasphemy, concurring in falsehood, giving one’s word either with or without an oath and never keeping it…”

Does this sound like heresy to you?

“On the Evil Creator. And so, in the opinion of the wise it is quite evident that he cannot be a true creator who, in the temporal world, caused the manifest and merciless destruction of so many men and women with all their children.”

The New Testament clearly teaches in a number of places of another god—principle—of the earth (e.g. Luke 4:5-6; John 12:31; 1 John 4:4; Ephesians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4). That there is another principle besides the One God who rules the earth is beyond question. That god clearly “creates” the evil within his domain. Jesus himself speaks of Satan on many occasions, including when Satan tempts Jesus by offering Jesus Satan’s own domain.

Do you agree that there is an evil creator—Satan—who is not a true creator, but a destroyer? I do, and so does that unnamed author.

I do not understand how Attebury can say…

“[The Albigensians] rejected the God of the Bible who created all things”

…based on the Book of the Two Principles. The opposite appears to be the case. Let’s say that again: the Albigensians explicitly affirmed that the God of the Bible created all things.

Attebury’s claim is simply false. If you go back and read the quotes that Attebury gave from the Book of the Two Principles, it is obvious that Attebury took the meaning out of context in order to affirm his preconception that the Albigensians were dualistic heretics. So when Attebury says…

The author argues that God is not the only sole principle, but there is another principle besides God who is evil who created the visible world

…and cites the actual words…

there is another principle, one of evil, who is the source and cause of all wickedness, foulness, and unbelief, as also of all darkness. [..] But I say that he who created and made the visible things of this world is not the true Creator.

What the author said is that the evil god created the darkness, wickedness, foulness, and unbelief.  The evil god is responsible for adultery, theft, blasphemy, etc. But the Albigensian author never, not once, said that the Genesis 1-2 creation was created by the evil God. Indeed, he stated that what was created good was created (out of nothing!) by the One True God. It was the evil god—Satan—who corrupted what had already been created as good. Here is that quote again:

[T]he Lord our God created and made all things, namely, heaven and earth, the sea, and all things which are therein; He made all things in heaven and earth through our Lord Jesus Christ; and all things were created by Him, in Him, and of Him, as has already been demonstrated by many texts.”

This is completely unambiguous. Attebury clearly doesn’t understand the argument that the author has made, and his lack of understanding leads him to conclude that it is heresy. That is precisely what the Roman Catholics have done: take their own ignorance and project it upon their enemies.

Indeed, if you read the Book of the Two Principles it becomes plainly obvious that the author believes that all the evil we see in the world, the visible corruption of death, destruction, and decay that occurred in the world after the Fall of Man was caused by Satan. It is a simple Protestant understanding that the fallen world we live in is not the perfect world that the One True God created, but a fallen world that must needs restoration. All that we see that is visible is ultimately fallen. This is not heresy, it is Protestant orthodoxy! Sure we can look at God’s majesty in a sunset or a massive hurricane, but the death the latter brings is because nature is inherently fallen. This is pretty standard Baptist theology.

Faced with evidence that directly contradicted his own claim, James Attebury deleted my comment.

In his article against the Albigensians, Attebury noted that the supposed Cathar conversion oath required them to swear off meat, cheese, and eggs, as well as swear to celibacy. He used this fact to bolster the testimony of the Roman Catholic Raynaldus.

Their statement that “henceforth you will eat neither meat nor eggs, nor cheese” is parallel to the testimony of Raynaldus that they “abhorred the eating of flesh, eggs and cheese.” This conversion oath serves as evidence that helps to confirm the trustworthiness of his testimony about Cathar beliefs.

In the immediately following paragraph, Attebury concludes that:

The Albigensians added their own made-made traditions and beliefs to God’s Word.

But the Albigensians Cathars were not celibate vegans. In fact, they utterly rejected these things. I then quoted the Book of Two Principles, noting that Albigensian Cathar author explicitly rejected veganism and celibacy as evil. How could this be? He waffled:

The quotations in it about the Garatenses demonstrates that there was diversity within the Cathar movement. Not all Cathars held to all of the same beliefs and practices. The [Albigensian] author of the Two Principles attacks the Garatenses and their abstaining from meat and eggs. He represents one strain of thought about what foods we are allowed to eat within Catharism while the Garatenses represent another. But they were both dualists.

Why, in an article entitled “Were the Albigensians Christians?” is Attebury obsessing over the Cathars and Garatenses instead of the Albigensians specifically?

Attebury is engaging in circular reasoning. Had Raynaldus stated the complete opposite that…

“they loved eating flesh, eggs, and cheese”

…Attebury could have said that…

“[The Book of the Two Principles] serves as evidence that helps confirm the trustworthiness of his testimony about Cathar beliefs.”

Well isn’t that super convenient! He could make one claim or its complete opposite and both would prove his trustworthiness? Nonsense.

Imagine if Raynaldus had watched a Chiefs vs Ravens game and concluded that “in football they wear red uniforms.” He would have been just as factually correct as Raynaldus was when he described the Cathars as being celibate vegans. And he would have been as equally utterly untrustworthy. Had he instead said that “they wear uniforms of color”, this statement of fact would also have been untrustworthy, as it neglected to mention the colorless greyscale uniforms. But Attebury views Raynaldus’ untrustworthy statements as trustworthy, because they confirm his bias.

Attenbury’s article is entitled “Were the Albigensian’s Christians?” There he used evidence of the heretical Cathar splinter-group the Garatenses’ heretical belief in veganism and celibacy as evidence that the separate Albigensians group were heretics, even though their own teachings repudiated the heresy. Why would you bring up the Garatenses novel heresy involving celibacy and veganism in an article examining whether separate Albigensians were Christians? It is completely irrelevant to the discussion. Attenbury’s argument makes no sense at all.

Worse, Attenbury referenced the veganism of the Garantenses sect in order to legitimize the statements by Roman Catholic Raynaldus who mistakenly attributed the Garatenses heresy to the Albigensians. It’s so twisted!

I pointed out this error and James Attebury deleted my comment.

But did you see that Attebury also added the phrase “But they were both dualists?” Why would he say that, as we were not even discussing dualism. Actually, I was, in my discussion on the Paulicians. But James Attebury deleted those comments too. Attebury was trying to ensure that he got the last word and that I got no word at all, and in doing so left evidence of his censorship for all to see.

The Paulicians

Under Attebury’s article “Were the Paulicians Christians?“, I left two comments. He deleted both of them, but not before referencing my comments on dualism in his comment on the Albigensians. You can read the deleted comments are here and here.

Second Rebuttal

In that article, just as in the previous article, James Attebury uncritically accepts the scholarship that the Paulicians were heretics and not true Christians. Remember when Attebury said that the Albigensians were heretics who rejected the Old Testament?

This teaching is no different from that of the heretic Marcion who taught that the God of the New Testament is different from the God of the Old Testament. He accused the God of the Old Testament of being evil

This is precisely what scholars accuse the Paulicians of believing. This is important, because the ancestors of the Albigensians are supposedly the Paulicians. So if the Paulicians didn’t actually believe that, then we’d have to question whether the Albigensians believed the same thing. The reality is that neither rejected the Old Testament.

I cited this PDF of the Photius, the Roman Catholic critic of the Paulicians. There I noted that the Paulicians had quoted Jesus in John 10:8 and Photius, being ignorant of the words of Christ himself, thought that the Paulicians rejected the Old Testament. But this is absurd. The Paulicians no more rejected the Old Testament than Christ himself rejected the Old Testament.

Notice how Photius tried to smear the Paulicians by accussing them of rejecting the Old Testament because they rejected Roman “sainthood.” Notice too how Photius thought that to reject the abomination that was papal authority of the supposed seat of Peter in Rome was to “curse” Peter. His own doctrinal bias led him to declare the Paulicians heretics, when it was he himself who was the heretic.

James Attebury didn’t like the idea that the Paulicians were Christian, so he deleted my comment.

Third Rebuttal

In his post, James Attebury cited Philip Schaff and Frederick Conybeare. Conybeare refutted much of the lies against the Paulicians. Attebury did not like this, so he rejected Conybeare because he didn’t like his motivations, arguing that:

Conybeare’s beliefs about the Paulicians and Matt hew 28:19 were motivated by his rejection of theTrinity rather than the evidence.

I responsed by noting that by this standard Philip Schaff’s motivations should also disqualify him:

“These sects have often been falsely represented as forerunners of Protestantism; they are so only in a purely negative sense, while in their positive opinions they differ as widely from the evangelical as from the Greek and Roman creed. The Reformation came out of the bosom of Medieval Catholicism, retained its ecumenical doctrines, and kept up the historic continuity.” Schaff , Philip, History of the ChristianChurch, Chapter 12, §131. “The Paulicians”“

I pointed out to Attebury that his own doctrinal biases have led him to reject only those sources that he doesn’t agree with in order to arrive at his (predetermined?) conclusion. I noted that Nina G. Garsoïan evaluated all the available evidence on the Paulicians and concluded that the Paulicians were not dualists.

This is why Attebury brought up dualism, while simultaneously not allowing me to rebut his comment. Beware of such tactics! Any readers of Attebury should be aware of this misleading behavior.

Once can easily imagine the Paulicians pulling out their Bibles and showing the Roman Catholics (like Photius) where the New Testament is “dualist”. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4:4, tells of “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers”, and this is repeated in Ephesians 2:2 “…you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” Were they dualists, or did they just read scripture and accept what it says? It is clear that one could misinterpret those verses in a gnostic frame, and that is exactly what the critics did.

But the Paulicians—and the Albigensians who followed them—were not dualists. They simply read how the Bible tells of Satan—an evil, fallen ‘god’—being the ruler of this world and they believed the words of scripture about him. For this, they have been declared heretics by Roman Catholics (and the Protestants who uncritically accept the Roman Catholic framing).

James Attebury didn’t like being disproved, so he deleted my comment, but not without first sneakily responding to it.

Modern scholars do not like to be questioned. Along with “the science is settled,” attempting to question the framed narrative is how you get censored. Attebury cited, of all things, encyclopedia.com, as proof that the Paulicians and Cathars were dualists:

“At first all Cathari in Italy were subject to Bishop Mark, who professed the moderate dualism of the Catharist church of Bulgaria. The arrival of Nicetas, Catharist bishop of Constantinople and an absolute dualist, in Italy soon after 1174, led Mark to transfer to the order of Dragovitsa, which Nicetas represented. Under Mark’s successor, John the Jew, the Cathari divided into separate groups. The first was composed of the partisans of absolute dualism, called Albanenses, organizing themselves in the church of Desenzano, south of Lake Garda. They were particularly numerous in Verona. Those who remained faithful to the moderate Bulgarian dualism, the Garatenses, constituted the church of Concorezzo, near Milan. Moderate dualists also came together around the church of Bagnolo, near Mantua, adhering to the order of Esclavonia. Like these, the Catharist churches of Vicenza, Florence and Spoleto rejected absolute dualism.”

If a theologian and apologist such as James Attebury can read the primary source (The Book of the Two Principles) and the evidence I’ve presented and mistakenly conclude that they were dualists, then how is a secular encyclopedia going to get theology correct?

Well, you can decide for yourself. At least someone respects you enough to make up your own mind without censoring you.

Commentary

I’m not happy that I got censored. The Paulicians and Albigensians called themselves True Christians. I presented evidence against the claim that the Albigensians and Paulicians were heretics, but represented themselves correctly and accurately. Yet, I’m well aware that the evidence is conflicting, and so encouraged Attebury to exercise caution:

You, the scholar and critic, have the sole burden to prove that specific heretical writings are representative of the whole and represent consistent and clear beliefs over time lest you risk bearing false witness against your fellow self-declared brothers in Christ in history. Extant documents cannot prove either of those claims. Those two assertions—inferences—ultimately come from personal research and opinion. Thus, any error of inference becomes the personal responsibility of the one making the claim. Given how weak the evidence appears to be—as in my recent comments on the other posts, and the evidence below—are you so eager and willing to risk engaging in calumny?

Recently in the comment section on this blog (and other blogs) Sharkly has been going on a tirade acting like a righteous Angel of Judgment, handing out judgments according to what his opinion declares to be true. He’s gone so far as to condemn me to the fires of Hell.

James Attebury is doing the same thing, declaring that whole groups of Christians over hundreds of years are not Christian. This is a truly massive judgment. Do you think on Judgment Day, Attebury will want to be held to the same standard that he held others? Do you think he will want God himself to accept the hearsay of others as evidence of his own belief? I doubt it.

Even when I criticize the Roman religion as being anti-Christ, I do not then claim that Roman Catholics are not Christian. When I wrote “Reviewing Wright’s Universal Apologia” I noted:

Nothing would prevent me from inviting Wright—a Roman Catholic—into my home and having fellowship with him as I would any fellow Christian. Nor can I claim he is not Christian, for he publicly believes that Jesus died, was resurrected in the flesh, ascended to heaven, and sits at the right-hand of God. He has publicly made Jesus his Lord and master after a confession of sin. He has been baptized into the faith. He is a Christian.

Being a heretic does not mean you are not a Christian. All men are heretics, even Attebury. Even Sharkly. Even I am. If heresy was a reason to not be a Christian, there would be no Christians.

All men are fallen and fall short of the glory of God. No man is good, except that Christ does good with him.

Do not be so quick to judge.

12 Comments

  1. professorGBFMtm

    Being a heretic does not mean you are not a Christian. All men are heretics, even Attebury. Even Sharkly. Even I am. If heresy was a reason to not be a Christian, there would be no Christians.”

    This is most likely the hardest thing i have dealt with as far as being a Christian is concerned.

    These verses in Romans seem relevant in such thinking of the subject though.

    2 Therefore you have no excuse or defense or justification, O man, whoever you are who judges and condemns another. For in posing as judge and passing sentence on another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge are habitually practicing the very same things [that you censure and denounce].

    2 [But] we know that the judgment (adverse verdict, sentence) of God falls justly and in accordance with truth upon those who practice such things.

    3 And do you think or imagine, O man, when you judge and condemn those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God’s judgment and elude His sentence and adverse verdict?

    4 Or are you [so blind as to] trifle with and presume upon and despise and underestimate the wealth of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering patience? Are you unmindful or actually ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repent ([a]to change your mind and inner man to accept God’s will)?

    5 But by your callous stubbornness and impenitence of heart you are storing up wrath and indignation for yourself on the day of wrath and indignation, when God’s righteous judgment (just doom) will be revealed.

    6 For He will render to every man according to his works [justly, as his deeds deserve]:

    7 To those who by patient persistence in well-doing [[b]springing from piety] seek [unseen but sure] glory and honor and [[c]the eternal blessedness of] immortality, He will give eternal life.

    8 But for those who are self-seeking and self-willed and disobedient to the Truth but responsive to wickedness, there will be indignation and wrath.

    9 [And] there will be tribulation and anguish and calamity and constraint for every soul of man who [habitually] does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek (Gentile).

    10 But glory and honor and [heart] peace shall be awarded to everyone who [habitually] does good, the Jew first and also the Greek (Gentile).

    11 For God shows no partiality [[d]undue favor or unfairness; with Him one man is not different from another].

    12 All who have sinned without the Law will also perish without [regard to] the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged and condemned by the Law.

    13 For it is not merely hearing the Law [read] that makes one righteous before God, but it is the doers of the Law who will be held guiltless and acquitted and justified.

    Also these too from romans.

    Romans 3:4-8

    4 By no means! Let God be found true though every human being is false and a liar, as it is written, That You may be justified and shown to be upright in what You say, and prevail when You are judged [by sinful men].

    5 But if our unrighteousness thus establishes and exhibits the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unjust and wrong to inflict His wrath upon us [Jews]? I speak in a [purely] human way.

    6 By no means! Otherwise, how could God judge the world?

    7 But [you say] if through my falsehood God’s integrity is magnified and advertised and abounds to His glory, why am I still being judged as a sinner?

    8 And why should we not do evil that good may come?—as some slanderously charge us with teaching. Such [false teaching] is justly condemned by them.”

    Those are some of the most sobering words and verses in the New Testament.

    1. Derek L. Ramsey

      I don’t remember who I heard it from, but I remember reading someone who noted that the biggest threat that Christians face is not from heretics—for everyone is a heretic—but apostates. Those who engage in apostasy—the explicit abandonment or renunciation of the faith—are the enemies of Christ. Those who get things wrong (like those mentioned in the OP) are not.

      I literally believe that Roman Catholic John C. Wright was visited by demons (e.g. an Apparition of Mary) and that he takes the Mark of the Beast whenever he goes to Mass and eats the bread. Yet, his profession of faith is the same as that which Christ himself required and the same profession of faith that I myself have made. Who am I—a sinner—to judge him to the fires of Hell? It is not my place.

      What are we, as Christians, to do with such things? Leave our disagreements to the One who judges all men. Only God can tell what are the true motivations of a man’s heart.

      This is what Paul, in Romans, told us to do: don’t judge because you will stand before God’s judgment seat. Notably, he did not tell us “judge others because the person you are judging will stand before God’s judgment seat”, rather the fact that we will all stand before God’s judgment seat is the reason not to judge.

  2. Lastmod

    Didn’t James even say “the demons acknowledge Christ” or something to that effect. I remember once reading an interview in college in a magazine called “Answer Me” by Jim Goad. He actually sat down and interviewed Anton Le Vey.

    Heard such terrible things about him over the years…he sacrifices children, he eats bats, throws white, blonde virgin girls from Marin County into a fiery pit during his rituals…..that kind of thing. Are they true? Probably not. I did feel very uncomfortable while reading it at the time, I must admit. Though Jim Goad always had “uncomfortable” subjects discussed in his magazine.

    I wasnt convinced to follow “satanism” or even read up on it, or research it…..but LeVey did say something that made me laugh out loud at the time “Thank you for this interview Jim, before we part I would just like to thank the Roman Catholic Church, American Protestantism, and many of the Orthodox churches for keeping us in business all these years”

    1. Derek L. Ramsey

      Lastmod,

      “Didn’t James even say “the demons acknowledge Christ””

      Yes, but demons cannot confess Christ as their Savior. The limitations of demons are given in 1 John 4:1-3…

      “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you know the spirit is from God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and is now already in the world.”

      …and in 2 John 1:7…

      “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess Jesus Christ coming in the flesh. This one is the deceiver and the antichrist.”

      Every true, non-demonic spirit must acknowledge that Jesus has come (or “is come”; not “had come”, “came”, or “was”) in the flesh or else it must be rejected. They must not deny that Jesus came in the flesh (i.e. was born fully human), has come in the flesh (i.e. is raised in a resurrection of that flesh after death), or that his flesh remains (i.e. ascended to heaven). This is what the early church asserted and it is what John witnessed.

      A demon cannot attest to these things, and so cannot deceive a Christian who is prepared to test the spirits.[6] But, and this is extremely critical, the Apparitions of Mary—like the demon that appeared to John C. Wright—are not tested by Roman Catholics according to scripture. Roman Catholics have numerous other “tests”[1][2][7] that they use to ‘authenticate’ the spirits, but it is never the specific test that scripture prescribes.

      Only one Apparition of Mary has ever been tested according to the scriptures, and it subsequently failed the test![3] In a single instance where an Apparition of Jesus was tested, it also failed the test.[4]

      The Vatican has officially approved Apparitions of Mary at sixteen locations[5], none of which have passed the Test of the Spirits.

      Because demons cannot attest the above, they cannot make the confession of faith required to become a Christian: demons are permanently lost and cannot be saved. To make the confession of faith, that is, to believe that Jesus died, was resurrected in the flesh, ascended to heaven, and sits at the right-hand of God requires an attestation that Jesus has come in the flesh.

      Demons can acknowledge Christ as Lord, for that is what he is, but they cannot imitate the true confession of a Christian. They are functionally unable to confess Christ, even though they must acknowledge that he is Lord.

      Incidentally, if a person refuses to acknowledge that Jesus came in the flesh (fully human), was raised (in the flesh) after he died, and is even now in the flesh in heaven at the right hand of the father, then they are not Christian. It is one of the very, very few places in scripture where one can know unambiguously for sure that someone is not a Christian.

      A person is able to lie to pass the test of the spirits (it is a test of spirits, not persons!), but if they affirm the demonic view, they prove what they are and whom they serve. Because a person can lie, you need to know their heart to know if they are lying when they confess Christ, something only God himself can do. This is why we normally cannot judge another person to be a non-Christian if they affirm a confession of faith. While a person passing the test of the spirits is inconclusive, failing it is unambiguous.

      This is why you will often see Christians make demands of other people to declare that Jesus died, was resurrected in the flesh, ascended to heaven, and sits at the right-hand of God. Failure to do so proves that they are not Christian, regardless of anything else they say or do.

      Similarly, whatever a demon might do or say, none of it can override a failure of the test of the spirits. And, most importantly, any spirit that isn’t tested must be rejected.

      The test of the spirit is also useful to determine if a theology is anti-Christ. For example, you can read here how the teachings of Ed Hurst of Radix Fidem fail the test of the spirits.

      If you are interested, you can read more about this topic here.

      “I wasnt convinced to follow “satanism””

      If I ever spoke to a person who was a satanist, someone who actually interacted with demons, rather than try to convert them directly, I would try to teach them the test of the spirits. The failure of demons to pass the test would be enough to prove to a satanist the veracity of scripture, as it did with Johanna Michaelsen.[4]

      Peace,
      DR

      [1] Holy water was thrown onto the 1858 Apparition of Mary in Lourdes, who smiled after the attempt. A 1981 Apparition of Mary in Medjugorje was also tested with Holy Water, and was not dispelled. The Apparition confirmed that Holy Water was a valid test, and encouraged the further use of blessed objects against demons. Thus we have the case of demons “affirming” that blessed materials can dispel demons to “validate” demons as authentic. In logic, this is known as begging-the-question.

      [2] The following tests have been used: (1) The self-declaration of apparitions to their own identity as Jesus or Mary; (2) use or sign of the cross; (3) the performance of various signs, wonders, and miracles; (4) visible appearance of holiness: garments, auras, mien, and expressions; (5) confirmation by various scientific tests; (6) commanding apparitions (e.g. in the name of Christ) who then “obey”; (7) applying the biblical test for human prophets in Matthew 7:15-20; (8) the ability of apparitions to accurately quote scripture.

      [3] Maureen Hinko, Seven Hills, Ohio on September 21, 1993. — “Holy Love: Messages from Our Blessed Mother Leading Souls to Holiness” (Holy Love Ministries). 1994. pages 32-33.

      [4] In the early 1980s, psychic Johanna Michaelsen became a Christian. She had been visited by spirits for many years, but only after she became a Christian did she discover how to test the spirits. So one day she challenged the spirit of ‘Jesus’ before her, commanding in the name of Jesus that he attest that “Christ is God uniquely incarnate in human flesh.” Without answering, her visiting spirits immediately departed in a violent flash. They had failed the test. (Timothy F. Kauffman, “Quite Contrary.” (1997) p.68-69)

      [5] Five apparitions at Guadalupe (1531), one at La Salette (1846), thirty-three at Beauraing (1932-33), one at Knock (1879), size at Fatima (1917), eighteen at Lourdes (1858), eight at Banneux (1933), many at Laus (1664-1718), two at Rue du Bac (1830), one at Pontmain (1871), one at Filippsdorf (1866), nine at Gietrzwald (1877), two at Lezajsk (1578), many at Siluva (1608-1612), one at Rome (1842), and many at Kibeho (1981-1989). Roman Catholic Bishops have also approved for devotion Champion, Quito, Querrien, Montagnaga, Castelpetroso, Betania, Akita, Cuapa, San Nicolas. Popes, Bishops, and other Roman Catholic clergy have expressed praise for many others, including those at Medjugorje. Some sources give a number of other approved apparitions, besides those listed above.

      [6] Incidentally, this is one reason that demons much more rarely appear to Protestant, Anabaptist, and Orthodox Christians, but rather most Apparitions appear to Roman Catholics and most other “spirits” appear to non-Christians. A demon appearing to a member of the groups that follows John’s instructions is highly likely to be exposed. It is considerably safer to appear to a Roman Catholic, because Roman Catholics are trained not to test the spirits.

      [7] Roman Catholic exorcists routinely note that spirits (whether, allegedly, demon or angel) appear to obey Roman Catholic exorcists, but fail to obey Protestant exorcists. This is used as proof of Roman Catholicism. This only makes sense if the demons themselves are not gaming the system. Demons can deceive others by appearing to obey only Roman Catholics. It is well-known that demons allow channelers to believe that they are the ones in power “binding” the demons to their control. The same is true of Roman Catholic exorcists, who believe the demons are bound to their exorcisms. This illusion. A simple exercise of logic makes it plain that deceiving a Roman Catholic exorcist priest by leaving the possessed subject voluntarily is far more important than remaining in the possessed subject, for deceiving the priest is of far greater value to Satan’s work. If Roman Catholics used the test of the spirits to test the “good” spirits, then there would be no advantage gained by the demons to “obey” the exorcists, just as all demons resist Protestants (even as they resisted being cast out by Jesus!).

        1. Derek L. Ramsey

          One of the things that is relevant to both my comment and the Albigensians mentioned in the OP is the simple observation that God himself gave—permitted—domain over the earth to an “evil god”—namely Satan:

          Again, the Devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and he said to him, “I will give all these things to you if you will fall down and worship me.” — Matthew 4:8-9

          Often, when a demon takes possession of a person, it is within Satan’s God-given domain to do so. Satan has a right to those who are not under the authority of Christ.

          This is why, in Mark 5:1-20, the demons negotiated with Christ to be sent into the pigs rather than sent out of the region, and Jesus honored their request. Christ clearly and unambiguously had the authority to send the legion of demons away, but by the authority of God himself, the demons had a right to be there, just as they had a right to accuse Job before the throne of God. And so Jesus permitted them to stay.

          In Matthew 7:13-23, Jesus notes that:

          “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

          Christ declares that there will be people who successfully cast out demons in the name of Christ who will not enter heaven. Think about that: Jesus warned that successful exorcisms by people claiming Christ were not proof that the exorcist is a follower of Christ. Christ’s enemies can cast out demons!

          Can a person cast out a demon if that demon is there by the authority of God himself under the rightful domain and authority of Satan? I suspect this is why Protestants are often unsuccessful in casting out demons.

          I may criticize Ed Hurst for teaching heresy, but he gets this right:

          “On the other hand, there is a whole herd of folks who are utterly certain they can tell Satan to stop doing things when God isn’t going to back them up. There is an awful lot of stuff that has been set in motion and God didn’t grant you the authority to derail it. We’re talking things that God has already approved. I’m amazed at the mass stupidity of people who have no idea how this stuff works. [..] Satan is destroying Western Civilization. It was built by Satan and its his to destroy, but he’s doing it at God’s command. You cannot possibly do any good trying to rebuke the Devil from tearing it down. It’s so stupid I cannot even put it into words. Yet, I’ve seen people doing things like that. [..] You aren’t going to drive demons out of the US government. It belongs to those demons, so let’s focus on the things God has called us to do about that.”

          We are not to go out of our way to oppose the work of Satan at-large, because Satan is operating within God’s own authority. Those who reject God sow the seeds of their own destruction, and Satan is the means of that destruction. Our job is to spread the gospel. We can’t actually conquer Satan, it is not within our power. While there will be specific instances where an exorcism is necessary, it will not always be the case.

          In any case, we Christians put ourselves under the domain and authority of Christ, so that Satan has no authoritative claim over us.

        1. Derek L. Ramsey

          “This is very interesting and informative, Derek. Thank you for this writeup.”

          …and…

          “this was very informative. Thank you!!!”

          I find it incredibly funny that if this was Sigma Frame blog, Jack would be lamenting about how no one was engaging with the material in the original post, but was instead going off-topic and being engaged with something that only very loosely had to do with the original.

          I realize that many of my long, rambling articles are of little-to-no interest and/or applicability to most people, and that’s really quite fine with me. For many years I had no commenters at all and just wrote for the joy of writing for myself. I’m glad that I could write something in a comment that you guys find valuable and I sincerely appreciate your appreciation.

          I hope that I can continue to write useful things from time-to-time.

  3. professorGBFMtm

    ”The vast majority of information about them comes from their enemies and is questionable at best.”

    That seems familiar doesn’t it?😉

    “This is very interesting and informative, Derek. Thank you for this writeup.”

    “this was very informative. Thank you!!!”

    Also very accurate as far as i’m and others here are concerned.

    ”I find it incredibly funny that if this was Sigma Frame blog, Jack would be lamenting about how no one was engaging with the material in the original post, but was instead going off-topic and being engaged with something that only very loosely had to do with the original.”

    That seems familiar and accurate too.

    ”I realize that many of my long, rambling articles are of little-to-no interest and/or applicability to most people, and that’s really quite fine with me. For many years I had no commenters at all and just wrote for the joy of writing for myself. I’m glad that I could write something in a comment that you guys find valuable and I sincerely appreciate your appreciation.”

    If it wasn’t for outsider non-mainstream go along with the crowd bloggers/commenters like you there would have never been the golden age manosphere

    Nor jack’s sf three successful golden ages(that someone l wish they could claim a large hand in it too like us) with i, lastMOD ,LIZ and a dozen others like TON in 2021 nor with you, last MOD &LIZ in November ’22 and again this past May.

  4. Lastmod

    The manopshere in general now has (and has had) its “unmoveable” rules set for awile, as much as they now whine, complaine and moan that “men who speak the truth are being scrubbed from the Interenet”

    There indeed *may* be a case for this but in usual manosphere fashion its because we live in a “feminist / blue pilled / cucked society” the real truth is “clicks” are down. Some of this is self-imposed.

    Roosh, for example. He pulled *all* his PUA / p*ssy worshipping material down. He renounced his past, fled from *evil* and became anew. All of his books, his “Bang” series. All videos that glorified this in the name of his new life in Christ.

    Stuff has been shared, rebranded, copied, archived and said over and over. How many times can a MGTOW on his page say “marriage is a bad deal for most men”?

    Rollo’s YouTube is running fine. He has not been removed……the complaints are mostly for the fact he probably cant make money (monetize) anymore, and there are so many books you can sell that say “women are hypergamous”

    The whole slew of early bigtime “game” and PUA guys ALL have renounced their past. Especially Neil Strauss who wrote the book “The Game” (which I read). All of them met “the one” and have families, children and lives. Neil Strauss mind you is an excellent writer and his years in Rolling Stone magazine, connections to famous people……..he reallly doesnt have to worry about a new career path.

    Again, there is only so much you can say on this topic. Even “Playboy” magazine of the 1950’s had sections and advice for men on how to “get a date” and “women to find appeal with you” and this was in the “good ol days” when all women evidently were devout christians, and just wanted a man to take care of them (sounds like every ad I get for meeting a nice Ukrainian woman who just wants to be a wife).

    Money isnt coming in, clicks are down, so much has been arleady said and its always by “better men than me” and smugly as well.

    These same men then smear their fellow men “I guess men just want to be cucks and dont want to put the work in” tripe.

    Must be wonderful to have women fawning all over you, just wanting to have your baby

    1. Liz

      King Solomon addressed this long, long ago in Ecclesiastes .

      Kind of amusing though, when Tucker Max “hope they serve beer in hell” guy is waxing poetic about the importance of family (which is true), then shows a picture of his wife holding a baby in a…very diaphanous gown.
      Guess he found his grift partner.
      Only after making an initial fortune, of course.

    2. Derek L. Ramsey

      ““clicks” are down”

      I always find it amusing that I got into blogging (both as an author and as a reader) at the very point at which the death-knell of blogging had rung. Among the general public, long-form writing is essentially dead, replaced by short-form writings, or no writings at all. Blogging as a social mover is dead and it will never return.

      Jack @ Sigma Frame has confused the mainstreaming of Red Pill and Manosphere concepts with a rebirth of the manosphere. But the former has taken place without the latter. Ironically, it is the short-form writing—like Twitter—that has led to that same mainstreaming. If Jack wanted to be influential, he’d abandon his blog and spend all his time on Twitter (as Free Northerner, Michael Foster, Aaron Renn, and many others did, such as myself and the owners of “Simple Justice”, “Out of His Mouth”, and “Shadow To Light” blogs on my sidebar). Virtually everyone in the ‘sphere who sells books is on other social media platforms. Those with nothing to sell (like myself or Sigma Frame) can remain in obscurity on their own blogs.

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