At all times civilization has its enemies, though they are constantly changing their guise and their weapons. The great defensive art is to detect and unmask them before the damage they inflict becomes fatal.
– Paul Johnson, Enemies of Society"ON THE IDENTIFICATION OF HERETICS" (Heresy Hunter, February 8, 2009):
I. The word heretic is derived from the Greek word hairetikos, basically meaning someone that chooses or selects. In the matter of Roman Catholicism, then, a heretic is one that extricates a particular idea from its traditional system, or a suite of them, and subsequently utilizes them to develop, explicate and disseminate his own variant of religion, theology or church. Resultantly, a "new” or “alternative” cornerstone is erected so as to induct another spiritual movement, or to misdirect others for whatever reason, or simply to challenge the orthodox establishment either by academic argumentation or public pronouncement.Read more >>
II. Now there are some unfailing rules which permit for the identification of the modern heretic. One is that, when he commences to formally speak or write about his new system, he will, upon observation or tonality in speech, have the semblance of self–assuredness in extremis. He will emanate an affected sense of possessing the truth. His mannerisms and writing style will exhibit a strong measure of confidence which, in most instances, is indicative of excessive pride. He will even candidly declare to be unorthodox, being elated with his courage as it were, gloating along the way, while feigning a concern for the believing population who have, in his view, been deluded for too many centuries as to the real meanings and attending subtleties of Roman Catholicism. In actuality, however, a little mining into the subsurface of his personal psychology will demonstrate that such a condition is merely expressive of an unvoiced and internalized contempt for the longsuffering Catholic tradition – that has endured and defended itself from false accusations, onslaughts, chaos, corruptions and intrigues for over two millennia. But even more so, it is an arrogation against the ardently faithful in the lay community who have not, in the heretics mind, the testicular fortitude nor the intellectual aptitude to dispute, defeat and finally eradicate the “impositions” of dogma set down by rightful ecclesiastical authority… and it is this very self–appeasing defiance that magnetizes people to him. “Who is this fellow?”, they ask; “I have never considered that view before”, they muse; “He has something there”, they conclude – and so the contagion actuates. His personal enigmatics, the astonishing alternative that is proposed, the definiteness in writing style, the certitude in enunciation, and his condescension against all those who counter or query him as to his motives and justifications – these are some of the traits by which one can fingerprint the heretic. Moreover, if the heretic comes under increased scrutiny from the defenders of orthodoxy, if he begins to feel greater pressures from the counterpositionings of Catholic authorities, and if he deems these as plausibly ruinous to his objectives, the heretic will respond – and this is one of his greatest tricks – by arguing that those very things he has been accused of, or considered to be, are part and parcel of that condition which sustains Roman Catholic tradition and authority. He will declare that ecclesiastical authorities exude a false sense of inner knowingness and conviction, that they are too self–assured, that they make it as if the truth in their possession, that they have continuously – and for “too long!” – been disingenuous to the faithful. It may appear this way to the heretic or disinterested external observer – and it is obviously a trait of orthodoxy (sure, there are sporadic internal thoughts of doubt); nevertheless, it originates from a factor altogether different from what the heretic presumes. The heretic will cry that no man can really represent the Word of God on earth. He will call such claims and beliefs to be proof of “self–righteousness”, “idolatry”, “pride”, “mass deception”, and so on.
[hat tip to L.S.]