Dangers to the Faith

| 07-17-AD2013 | [20]

Patti Maguire Armstrong - Kresta

It is holy to love our enemy, but we must recognize him. The guy who takes our parking spot, the cranky neighbor, the difficult in-law…they are not the ultimate enemy. Yes, they are personal challenges, but they are also opportunities for grace—“The measure with which you measure, will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).

The ultimate enemy is the darkness that siphons off Godly values and rejects Christianity as silly or even dangerous to an indulgent society. We are called to love the misguided ones who fall for the clever disguises of darkness. By knowing the truths of our faith, we can shed light on the darkness and redirect them.

In his new book, Dangers to the Faith: Recognizing Catholicism’s 21st-Century Opponents, Al Kresta shines a spotlight upon our culture. The President and CEO of Ave Maria Radio, and host of “Kresta in the Afternoon,” takes on our feel-good, self-empowerment world and challenges every Catholic not to just live their faith, but to defeat the enemy through our examples and defense of the truth.

“Baptism identifies every Catholic with the mission of Christ,” he writes. “The question isn’t whether or not we are involved in the mission of the Church. Baptism has already involved us.”

“Jesus said, we would have tribulation, but be of good cheer for he has overcome the world,” Kresta writes. “Our aim is not separation from the world, nor accommodation to the world but rather, to the degree that God gives us the grace, transformation of the world to resemble the Kingdom.”

The challenge is that much of the world presents an easier, more enlightened way that tramples on God’s truth. There lies our challenge because so many are following the Pied Piper of false enlightenment into darkness. Kresta tells us that Christ sent us into the world to imitate him so we must take our cues from a Kingdom not of this world.

The first enemy Kresta takes on in his book is “New Age,” as well as a mix-and-match spirituality. “Oprah cheerleads this individualistic, eclectic spirituality which challenges and, for many, replaces the more traditional denominations,” he writes. “Thirty-three percent of people polled say Oprah has ‘a more profound impact’ on their spirituality than their pastors.” Kresta warns that the problem is the misconceptions about the faith she promotes thinking she’s helping people.

New Age spirituality is about human potential, self-improvement, and success motivation. Kresta explains that the New Age movement has evolved into a quasi-science that rests on claims of mesmerism, spiritualism and animal magnetism. An example is the claim that the human mind receives and transmits vibrations that influences the environment so that positive thoughts can change physical reality. A popular mantra is, “What you conceive and believe, you will achieve and receive.”

The purported “Law of Attraction” also exaggerates our control over life, claiming that we are creators of our own reality. Kresta counters with God’s truth. “The Scripture presents a very different sovereign,” He writes. “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established.”

New Age, according to him, tells the same old lie told in the Garden of Eden, that rather than relying on God, man can discover his own divinity. Or as New Age enthusiast Shirley MacLaine puts it: “Know that you are God; know that you are the universe.”

Kresta counters with the words of St. Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13). He writes, “For Christians, it is not me vs. Christ, but Christ in me, the hope of glory. The source of our strength comes from another. He indwells us, but doesn’t displace us.”

In the Dangers to the Faith, Kresta treads where the secular media is afraid to go including: dissecting Islam and it’s contradictions to Christianity; exposing the abusers of science and reason, because nature and scripture do not contradict; and the irrationality of relativism since we are an inescapably moral people yet the secular culture dictates which moral concerns are acceptable. He even takes on consumerism, a part of the Western lifestyle many fail to recognize arrests our development by continually weakening impulse control.

Kresta’s book shows the superiority of God’s absolute law over false teachings and temptations. Biblical principals are brought to bear to show the glory of the cross over the veneer of a make-believe world. Kresta offers us no promises or easy fixes in life but rather that of the ultimate fix: a life full of value based on Jesus in the Eucharist.

“Catholic teaching best corresponds to life as we experience it,” Kresta writes. “It best explains human aspirations for love, life, significance, and meaning, the appearance of design in the cosmos, the function of conscience, the rise of modern science, the persistence of the Jews and the papacy, the rise of the Christian Church and a God who reveals himself as Love, is Infinite and Personal, who is both one and many and who we are called upon to image.”

© 2013. Patti Maguire Armstrong. All Rights Reserved.

About the Author:

Patti Maguire Armstrong and her husband have ten children. She is an award-winning author and was managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’s Amazing Grace Series. She has just released 2 new books. Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families is a collection of stories on love and life. Dear God, I Don't Get It is children's fiction that presents faith through a fun and exciting story. Read more at Catholic News and Inspiration and follow her at Twitter. Please "Like" her Facebook pages: DearGodBooks, BigHeartedFamilies, and A GPS Guide to Heaven and Earth.
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  • Phil Dzialo

    Biologically speaking, the modern human race has been in existence for approximately 2.3 million years, when Homo sapiens became a distinct species from other hominids (the great apes). Spirituality has been consciously evolving for millions of years. Christianity is only part of a 2000 year history; Judaism predates Christianity by another 200 years.

    I believe that you and Kresta misrepresent and villify “new age” spirituality without an understanding that it is really “old age”spirituality. Originally, Gaia, Sophia, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Horus, etc. along with Native American spirituality owe our life to Mother; Judeo-Christian tradition changed the equation to a father-symbolism.
    The conscious evolution of spirituality does deal with energy. All is energy, not anthropomorphic characters created by the mind of man. As long proven all matter and energy in the universe in inter-convertible. God is love…love is energy, not a person. The sum total of energy and mass in the universe is constant. The “rules of attraction” are no more than the Biblical proscription of “ask and you SHALL receive.
    The new age or the old age spirituality should be no threat to Christianity and you will find more in the common than is in contradiction. There was an evolution of 2 million years of spirituality before Judeo-Christianity. The latter borrowed much from the Eqyptian mystery religions, The story of the Christ is identical to the story of Horus which pre-dates Christianity. There really is no threat…we all live for the good; it’s just that there are many paths to the good.

    • Patti Maguire Armstrong

      This is an article not the entire book. Al Kresta uses extensive references and explanations as to the errors and dangers in various New Age thought. The ‘Rules of Attraction” is a self-empowerment idea promoted as if there is actual ly a scientific basis to it–that vibrations from your brain can change reality. “Ask and you shall receive,” is about going to God in faith and trusting that he wants what is best for us. Thus, we ask but to pray like Jesus does, we desire our will to be in union with the will of God. New Age is ego-centric not God-centric.

    • Phil Dzialo

      Matthew 21:22

      Mark 11:24

      Matthew 7:7

      …And just where in these scriptural references do you read about about God giving ony what is bet for us? I read words like “in faith”, will, shall, be answered…no qualifying phrases/
      God is love…love is source energy…asking is attracting that energy, love source into our lives…this goes back 2 million years, it is not new age.

    • Patti Maguire Armstrong

      You are right, there is nothing new under the sun. New Age is a recycling of the old. Jesus changed the game. Scripture abounds with passages regarding God giving us what is best. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Luke 11:11. I am not going to argue against all of the New Age and explain Kresta’s entire book and the entire Bible. I suggest reading both.

    • Phil Dzialo

      Your quote proves my point, if you ask your Father for a fish, you WILL get a fish not a snake. BTW I know the Bible as well as any Biblical scholar. Christ didn’t change the game, he moved it forward in a consciously evolutionary manner. Christ consciousness continues to evolve. As for Kresta, I do not subscribe to revisionist Biblical interpretation.

    • http://stacytrasancos.com/ Stacy Trasancos

      Phil, I need you to state your purpose here. If it’s dialogue, that’s one thing. If it’s to pull people away from the Church, that’s another. I don’t need a long explanation, just a quick clarification.

    • Phil Dzialo

      A challenge ….

    • http://stacytrasancos.com/ Stacy Trasancos

      Are you trying to pull people away from the Church? Straightforward question. Yes or no.

    • Phil Dzialo

      It’s not a binary question…I have no interest in pulling people away or toward…just challenging people to defend what they write, period! Good enough reason to block me?

    • http://stacytrasancos.com/ Stacy Trasancos

      There have been complaints, and I care more about our readers than giving someone who wants to pull them away from the Church a platform to do so.

      That is a warning. We want dialogue, not diatribes. I’m patient, but at some point it runs out.

  • tom casaletto

    Tom C
    Please be aware that MEDIA is a plural noun. It’s a smallish thing–some would say a quibble–but why not use the word correctly and escape the scorn of purists?

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  • Gail Jean Coniglio

    Al Kresta is doing what many are afraid to do – calling evil evil. I am so sick and tired of people calling evil good in this society. Amen, brother! I am reading a copy of Al’s book this week! There’s a Kindle edition too! http://j.mp/OSVKrestaDTF

  • Jim Casy

    I wonder if it is mentioned that in the last half century the Catholic Church has done its own work in “undermining the social and cultural influence” of the church. The institutional disregard for, and cover-up of rape, molestation, and torture among the clergy has done far more damage than anything Christopher Hitchens ever wrote, or any joke Bill Maher ever told. The fact that there are still people who try to explain or defend the lack of action by the chruch hierarchy is sickening.

    Also, the Catholic Church is become too closely identified with conservative politics. Aside from a Catholic perspevtive vs. an Evangelical Christian perspective, Catholic radio sounds more and more like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and the rest of the right wing sheep. It seems all I ever hear on Cathlolic radio is about abortion, gay marriage, or some other typical anti-Obama drivel.

    Maybe I misread the life of Jesus, but shouldn’t you be helping feed the hungry, or shelter the homeless? I’m sure you are all building up points with your moral outrage over societies ills, but how often have you drove past the homeless person on the freeway ramp? Isn’t that Christ Himself standing there?

    I see Catholics filled with love, but also many filled with spite and anger. Your own hypocrisy is your worst enemy, not Richard Dawkins.

    • Phil Dzialo

      Jim
      You read the same version of the Bible that I do…B16 also said the enemies of the Church are within, actually he referred to the filth.

  • Phil Dzialo

    The real dangers to the Church and faith…Benedict XVI Portugal in 2010…he tells the truth:

    …there is also the fact that attacks on the Pope and the Church come not only from without, but the sufferings of the Church come precisely from within the Church, from the sin existing within the Church. This too is something that we have always known, but today we are seeing it in a really terrifying way: that the greatest persecution of the Church comes not from her enemies without, but arises from sin within the Church, and that the Church thus has a deep need to relearn penance, to accept purification, to learn forgiveness on the one hand, but also the need for justice. Forgiveness does not replace justice”

  • Patti Maguire Armstrong

    It’s so tiring for people to get on their pulpit and address anger at the Catholic Church for not doing enough for the poor as if such an accusation is an indictment. Jim, that’s fine to ask people if they are comfortable driving by the poor and not doing anything to help them, but why do you feel you can point this question in the direction of the Catholic Church? When you consider all the Catholic hospitals, schools, Catholic Charities office in every diocese, missionaries around the world and the dominance in the pro-life movement, it’s a ridiculous thing to say.

    • Jim Casy

      It’s not a “ridiculous thing to say.” My point is that there are a lot of Catholics who feel as if they are doing right by their faith by speaking in opposition to political issues. It is a hollow and meaningless endeavor. If you are personally involved in efforts to end hunger in your community, then cheers, you are truly living your faith.
      What I hear from Mr. Kresta and his ilk on Catholic Radio is daily diatribes against Prsident Obama and the the fact that abortion remains a constitutionally protected right, as well as continual bashing of gay people, as if a Church has the right to define what is civilly legal in a sovereign country. This gets the listeners and laity worked up to a frenzy over issues that do nothing to solve the problems of poverty, hunger, disease. Whose rights would Jesus have taken away?
      The issue isn’t the Catholic Church being opposed to abortion, by all means open alternative clinics, try to steer desperate pregnant women into adoption programs. But stay out of politics, it truly demeans the Church. I submit the dwindling membership and influence of Catholicism in America as Exhibits A, B, and C.
      Also, these institutions you name, schools, hospitals, charities…are you to be commending yourself for these? Pride is one of the seven deadly sins. Or are they what is expected from the institution that claims to be the one true Church? There are Muslim schools, hospitals, etc. I still criticize Muslims who stand idly by while elements of ther faith preach hate-filled rhetoric. No one gets a pass for doing what is expected of them.
      And, of course, there is no response to the cover up of rape, torture, and abuse. What can be said? It’s a nightmare, a permanent stain on the Church. I was raised in a faithful Catholic household, but the abuse of children is a bridge too far. I’m supposed to believe in a loving God who answers our prayers and guides us while at the same time believing that the same loving God allowed this kind of activity to go on in His church? No thank you.

    • Patti Maguire Armstrong

      Jim that’s silly to tell the Catholic Church to stay out of politics. Archbishop Sheen put it well: “Those who have their finger on the pulse of contemporary civilization have probably noted that there are two contradictory charges against religions today. The first is that religion is not political enough; the other is that religion is too political. On the one hand, the Church is blamed for being too divine, and on the other, for not being divine enough. It is hated because it is too heavenly and hated because it is too earthly.” Same old, same old.

      Sheen portrayed the political/religious process as Jesus stood before the political Pontius Pilate and the religious Annas and Caiaphas. Christ was accused of being too religious before Anna and Caiaphas. Under the veil of mock indignation at the supposed insult to God’s majesty, Christ was declared too religious, too concerned with souls, too infallible and too Godly. After all, they cornered him into declaring Himself to be God.

      Sheen writes:

      “Because He was too religious, He was not political enough. The religious judges said that He had no concern for the fact that the Romans were their masters, and that they might take away their country (John 11:47-48). By talking about a spiritual kingdom, a higher moral law, and His divinity, and by becoming the leader of a spiritual crusade, He was accused of being indifferent to the needs of the people and nation’s well being.”-
      See more at: http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2012/09/armstrong-fulton-sheen-on-politics/#sthash.Ukw8d4zh.dpuf

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