How to Win the Culture War

In this Crisis Magazine classic, Peter Kreeft outlines a three step plan for winning the culture war, and it doesn’t require money, power, or the media.

 
 
To win any war, the three most necessary things to know are (1) that you are at war, (2) who your enemy is, and (3) what weapons or strategies can defeat him. You cannot win a war (1) if you simply sew peace banners on a battlefield, (2) if you fight civil wars against your allies, or (3) if you use the wrong weapons.
 
Here is a three point checklist for the culture wars. If you don’t know that our entire civilization is in crisis, I hope you had a nice vacation on the moon.
 
Many minds do seem moonstruck, however, blissfully unaware of the crisis — especially the "intellectuals," who are supposed to be the most on top of current events. I was dumbfounded to read a cover article in Time devoted to the question: Why is everything getting better? Why is life so good today? Why does everybody feel so satisfied about the quality of life? Time never questioned the assumption, it just wondered why the music on the Titanic sounded so nice.
 
It turned out, on reading the article, that every single aspect of life that was mentioned, every single reason for life getting better, was economic. People are richer. End of discussion.
 
Perhaps Time is just Playboy with clothes on. For one kind of playboy, the world is one great big whorehouse. For another kind, it’s one great big piggy bank. For both, things are getting better and better.
 
There is a scientific refutation of the Pig Philosophy: the statistical fact that suicide, the most in-your-face index of unhappiness, is directly proportionate to wealth. The richer you are, the richer your family is, and the richer your country is, the more likely it is that you will find life so good that you will choose to blow your brains apart.
 
Suicide among pre-adults has increased 5000% since the "happy days" of the ’50s. If suicide, especially among the coming generation, is not an index of crisis, nothing is.
Night is falling. What Chuck Colson has labeled "a new Dark Ages" is looming. And its Brave New World proved to be only a Cowardly Old Dream. We can see this now, at the end of "the century of genocide" that was christened "the Christian century" at its birth.
 
We’ve had prophets who warned us: Kierkegaard, 150 years ago, in The Present Age; and Spengler, 100 years ago, in The Decline of the West; and Aldous Huxley, seventy years ago, in Brave New World; and C. S. Lewis, forty years ago, in The Abolition of Man; and above all our popes: Leo XIII and Pius IX and Pius X and above all John Paul the Great, the greatest man in the world, the greatest man of the worst century. He had even more chutzpah than Ronald Reagan, who dared to call Them "the evil empire:" He called Us "the culture of death." That’s our culture, and his, including Italy, with the lowest birth rate in the world, and Poland, which now wants to share in the rest of the West’s abortion holocaust.
 
If the God of life does not respond to this culture of death with judgment, God is not God. If God does not honor the blood of the hundreds of millions of innocent victims then the God of the Bible, the God of Israel, the God of orphans and widows, the Defender of the defenseless, is a man-made myth, a fairy tale.
 
But is not God forgiving?
 
He is, but the unrepentant refuse forgiveness. How can forgiveness be received by a moral relativist who denies that there is anything to forgive except a lack of self-esteem, nothing to judge but "judgmentalism?" How can a Pharisee or a pop psychologist be saved?
 
But is not God compassionate?
 
He is not compassionate to Moloch and Baal and Ashtaroth, and to Caananites who do their work, who "cause their children to walk through the fire." Perhaps your God is — the God of your dreams, the God of your "religious preference" — but not the God revealed in the Bible.
 
But is not the God of the Bible revealed most fully and finally in the New Testament rather than the Old? In sweet and gentle Jesus rather than wrathful and warlike Jehovah?
 
The opposition is heretical: the old Gnostic-Manichaean-Marcionite heresy, as immortal as the demons who inspired it. For "I and the Father are one." The opposition between nice Jesus and nasty Jehovah denies the very essence of Christianity: Christ’s identity as the Son of God. Let’s remember our theology and our biology: like Father, like Son.
 
But is not God a lover rather than a warrior?
 
No, God is a lover who is a warrior. The question fails to understand what love is — what the love that God is, is. Love is at war with hate, betrayal, selfishness, and all love’s enemies. Love fights. Ask any parent. Yuppie-love, like puppy-love, may be merely "compassion" (the fashionable word today), but father-love and mother-love are war.
 
In fact, every page of the Bible bristles with spears, from Genesis 3 through Revelation 20. The road from Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained is soaked in blood. At the very center of the story is a cross, a symbol of conflict if there ever was one. The theme of spiritual warfare is never absent in scripture, and never absent in the life and writings of a single saint. But it is never present in the religious education of any of my "Catholic" students at Boston College. Whenever I speak of it, they are stunned and silent, as if they have suddenly entered another world. They have. They have gone past the warm fuzzies, the fur coats of psychology-disguised-as-religion, into a world where they meet Christ the King, not Christ the Kitten.
 
Welcome back from the moon, kids.
 
Where is the culture of death coming from? Here. America is the center of the culture of death. America is the world’s one and only cultural superpower.
 
If I haven’t shocked you yet, I will now. Do you know what Muslims call us? They call us "The Great Satan." And do you know what I call them? I call them right.
 
But America has the most just, and moral, and wise, and biblical historical and constitutional foundation in all the world. America is one of the most religious countries in the world. The Church is big and rich and free in America.
 
Yes. Just like ancient Israel. And if God still loves his Church in America, he will soon make it small and poor and persecuted, as he did to ancient Israel, so that he can keep it alive. If he loves us, he will prune us, and we will bleed, and the blood of the martyrs will be the seed of the Church again, and a second spring will come — but not without blood. It never happens without blood, sacrifice, and suffering. The continuation of Christ’s work — if it is really Christ’s work and not a comfortable counterfeit — can never happen without the Cross.
 
I don’t mean merely that Western civilization will die. That’s a piece of trivia. I mean eternal souls will die. Billions of Ramons and Vladamirs and Janes and Tiffanies will go to Hell. That’s what’s at stake in this war: not just whether America will become a banana republic, or whether we’ll forget Shakespeare, or even whether some nuclear terrorist will incinerate half of humanity, but whether our children and our children’s children will see God forever. That’s what’s at stake in "Hollywood versus America." That’s why we must wake up and smell the rotting souls. Knowing we are at war is the first requirement for winning it.
 
 
The next thing we must do to win a war is to know our enemy.
 
Who is our enemy?
 
Not Protestants. For almost half a millennium, many of us thought our enemies were Protestant heretics, and addressed that problem by consigning their bodies to battlefields and their souls to Hell. (Echoes of this strategy can still be heard in Northern Ireland.) Gradually, the light dawned: Protestants are not our enemies, they are our "separated brethren." They will fight with us.
 
Not Jews. For almost two millennia many of us thought that, and did such Christless things to our "fathers in the faith" that we made it almost impossible for the Jews to see their God — the true God — in us.
 
Not Muslims, who are often more loyal to their half-Christ than we are to our whole Christ, who often live more godly lives following their fallible scriptures and their fallible prophet than we do following our infallible scriptures and our infallible prophet.
 
The same is true of the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses and Quakers.
 
Our enemies are not "the liberals." For one thing, the term is almost meaninglessly flexible. For another, it’s a political term, not a religious one. Whatever is good or bad about political liberalism, it’s neither the cause nor the cure of our present spiritual decay. Spiritual wars are not decided by whether welfare checks increase or decrease.
 
Our enemies are not anti-Catholic bigots who want to crucify us. They are the ones we’re trying to save. They are our patients, not our disease. Our word for them is Christ’s: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." We say this of the Chinese communist totalitarians who imprison and persecute Catholics, and to the Sudanese Muslim terrorists who enslave and murder Catholics. They are not our enemies, they too are our patients. We are Christ’s nurses. The patients think the nurses are their enemies, but the nurses know better.
 
Our enemies are not even the media of the culture of death, not even Ted Turner or Larry Flynt or Howard Stern or Disney or Time-Warner. They too are victims, patients, though on a rampage against the hospital, poisoning other patients. But the poisoners are our patients too. So are homosexual activists, feminist witches, and abortionists. We go into gutters and pick up the spiritually dying and kiss those who spit at us, if we are cells in our Lord’s Body. If we do not physically go into gutters, we go into spiritual gutters, for we go where the need is.
 
Our enemies are not heretics within the Church, "cafeteria Catholics," "Kennedy Catholics," "I Did It My Way" Catholics. They are also our patients, though they are Quislings. They are the victims of our enemy, not our enemy.
 
Our enemies are not theologians in so-called Catholic theology departments who have sold their souls for thirty pieces of scholarship and prefer the plaudits of their peers to the praise of God. They are also our patients.
 
Our enemy is not even the few really bad priests and bishops, candidates for Christ’s Millstone of the Month Award, the modern Pharisees. They too are victims, in need of healing.
 
Who, then, is our enemy?
 
There are two answers. All the saints and popes throughout the Church’s history have given the same two answers, for these answers come from the Word of God on paper in the New Testament and the Word of God in flesh in Jesus Christ.
 
Yet they are not well known. In fact, the first answer is almost never mentioned today. Not once in my life have I ever heard a homily on it, or a lecture by a Catholic theologian. Our enemies are demons. Fallen angels. Evil spirits.
 
So says Jesus Christ: "Do not fear those who can kill the body and then has no more power over you. I will tell you whom to fear. Fear him who has power to destroy both body and soul in Hell."
 
So says St. Peter, the first pope: "The Devil, like a roaring lion, is going through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Resist him, steadfast in the faith."
 
So says St. Paul: "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of wickedness in high places."
 
So said Pope Leo the XIII, who received a vision of the 20th century that history has proved terrifyingly true. He saw Satan, at the beginning of time, allowed one century in which to do his worst work, and he chose the 20th. This pope with the name and heart of a lion was so overcome by the terror of this vision that he fell into a trance. When he awoke, he composed a prayer for the whole Church to use to get it through the 20th century. The prayer was widely known and prayed after every Mass — until the ’60s: exactly when the Church was struck with that incomparably swift disaster that we have not yet named (but which future historians will), the disaster that has destroyed a third of our priests, two-thirds of our nuns, and nine-tenths of our children’s theological knowledge; the disaster that has turned the faith of our fathers into the doubts of our dissenters, the wine of the Gospel into the water of psychobabble.
 
The restoration of the Church, and thus the world, might well begin with the restoration of the Lion’s prayer and the Lion’s vision, because this is the vision of all the popes and all the saints and our Lord himself: the vision of a real Hell, a real Satan, and real spiritual warfare.
 
 
I said there were two enemies. The second is even more terrifying than the first. There is one nightmare even more terrible than being chased and caught and tortured by the Devil. That is the nightmare of becoming a devil. The horror outside your soul is terrible enough; how can you bear to face the horror inside your soul?
 
What is the horror inside your soul? Sin. All sin is the Devil’s work, though he usually uses the flesh and the world as his instruments. Sin means inviting the Devil in. And we do it. That’s the only reason why he can do his awful work; God won’t let him do it without our free consent. And that’s why the Church is weak and the world is dying: because we are not saints.
 
And thus we have our third Necessary Thing: the weapon that will win the war and defeat our enemy.
 
All it takes is saints.
 
Can you imagine what twelve more Mother Teresas would do for the world? Can you imagine what would happen if just twelve readers of this article offered Christ 100% of their hearts and held back nothing, absolutely nothing?
 
No, you can’t imagine it, any more than anyone could imagine how twelve nice Jewish boys could conquer the Roman Empire. You can’t imagine it, but you can do it. You can become a saint. Absolutely no one and nothing can stop you. It is your free choice. Here is one of the truest and most terrifying sentences I have ever read (from William Law’s Serious Call): "If you will look into your own heart in complete honesty, you must admit that there is one and only one reason why you are not a saint: you do not wholly want to be."
 
That insight is terrifying because it is an indictment. But it is also thrillingly hopeful because it is an offer, an open door. Each of us can become a saint. We really can.
What holds us back? Fear of paying the price.
 
What is the price? The answer is simple. T.S. Eliot defines the Christian life as: "A condition of complete simplicity/Costing not less than/Everything." The price is everything: 100%. A worse martyrdom than the quick noose or stake: the martyrdom of dying daily, dying to all your desires and plans, including your plans about how to become a saint. A blank check to God. Complete submission, "islam," "fiat" — Mary’s thing. Look what that simple Mary-thing did 2000 years ago: It brought God down and saved the world.
 
It was meant to continue.
 
If we do that Mary-thing — and only if we do that — then all our apostolates will "work:" our missioning and catechizing and fathering and mothering and teaching and studying and nursing and businessing and priesting and bishoping — everything.
 
A bishop asked one of the priests of his diocese for recommendations on ways to increase vocations. The priest replied: "The best way to attract men in this diocese to the priesthood, Your Excellency, would be your canonization."
 
Why not yours?
 


Peter Kreeft
is a professor of philosophy at Boston College. This article originally appeared in the June 1998 issue of Crisis Magazine.

Peter Kreeft

By

Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and at the King's College (Empire State Building), in New York City. He is a regular contributor to several Christian publications, is in wide demand as a speaker at conferences, and is the author of over 63 books, including "Handbook of Christian Apologetics," "Christianity for Modern Pagans," and "Fundamentals of the Faith."

  • Anonymouse

    Everything you wrote is perfectly true, though it’s the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about.

    Thanks for the cogent call to arms.

  • Kathy

    Excellent. And something I will read again and again and again……

  • Kevin Codd

    Excellent, as always, Dr. Kreeft.

  • Sharon Shannon Sharpe

    The “we’re fighting against ghosts and our our own inner beast” approach is the quickest path to failure. Sure the invisible forces of evil exist, but they are always manifested and incarnate *in human people, groups, agendas.*

    Moses didn’t fight ghosts; he fought against the Egyptians, and later Joshua fought the seven nations in the Promised Land.

    Judas Maccabeus didn’t fight against ghosts; he fought and defeated the antichrist of his time, Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

    Jesus didn’t fight ghosts; he opposed the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Zealots.

    And we could go on about Peter and Paul and the church’s early tangle against the antichrist Nero and the Caesar cult. We could add Constantine and his great victory over the Maxentian forces at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. And we could understand the modern Church’s fight against the socialists and progressives. In every case, the forces of evil are indeed embodied in human forms.

    No, you can never win any war of any type by fighting against disembodied ghosts. All the great heroes of the faith battled real human people and real human groups with real human agendas. It’s true we don’t take up arms — but we *must* take up every ideological, educational, and institutional weapon God has given to his people to win the culture war. For example, we have the institutions of the One True Church, the nuclear Catholic family, the catholic schools, our Catholic Bishops and lay leaders and professionals. We have many family-friendly institutions in our society that support and build up the family while rejecting anti-family and anti-children groups and organizations. Our strength is our God-given unity. Our strength is in our God-ordained institutions that we infuse with the life and work of the gospel of Christ.

    That’s how you win a culture war.

  • Campbell Jones

    You speak about doing “the Mary Thing.” Let women be priests, bishops, cardinals, Popes in your “church” and watch the demons disappear …

  • Mark Rutledge

    For S.S. Sharpe:
    Demons and evil spirits are not ghosts. And they are behind the incidents you mentioned.

    For C. Jones:
    You interpreted “the Mary thing” 180 degrees backwards. Mary didn’t want Peter’s position, or to be an apostle for that matter. She humbly went about serving God in the way she was called. Pride is still the deadliest sin and has no place in serving the Lord.

  • Roberta Young

    You speak about doing “the Mary Thing.” Let women be priests, bishops, cardinals, Popes in your “church” and watch the demons disappear …

    You mean like the demons have disappeared in the Anglican Church?

  • Mark

    “…until the ’60s: exactly when the Church was struck with that incomparably swift disaster that we have not yet named (but which future historians will), the disaster that has destroyed a third of our priests, two-thirds of our nuns, and nine-tenths of our children’s theological knowledge…” – Peter Kreeft

    Maybe we shouldn’t wait for future historians. Maybe we should have the courage to apply the name ourselves… “the feminization of the Church.”

    Thank you Mr. Kreeft for all of your work.

  • Howard

    You’re missing the point about Islam, which would be honored to be called the Antichrist, and to destroy every existent element of Christianity. Truly diabolical hatred.

  • Helen Westover

    “JOhn Paul the Great” – the greatest man on earth, etc etc. And I’ve always been a fan of Kreeft.
    JPII did more to demolish Catholic doctrine than Luther. Research his “Assisi’s” and compromise on the 2000 centuries of defined Catholic dogma.
    Then let’s talk, Peter!

  • Pamela

    It has been a great success of Satan to convince modern man that he and his minions do not really exist, and that belief in the supernatural is somehow medieval. I don’t know why so many of us will proclaim that we believe in God, a supernatural being, but are embarrassed to admit that we believe in evil spirits/demons for fear of seeming ‘unenlightened’. Thank you for at least trying to set us straight, Dr. Kreeft.

    I’m afraid I have to admit that I was one of those who probably bought into the notion that it was all a little medieval, not because I made a conscious decision on the matter, but because as you say, my priests never really spoke of it. I’m happy to say that I am now more aware, thanks to articles like this and internet reports of the Church’s exorcists, seeing the evidence of evil all around us, etc…Also, my current parish priest has been having us say the Prayer to Saint Michael at the end of each Mass for many months now. He always says “how practical and relevant it still is today”. I am thankful for him.

    As a related side note, a few years ago, I came across an interesting work of fictional writing about a “Trad” Catholic priest who investigates ‘strange’ happenings in the diocese of Los Angeles. While it is a fun, fictional yarn, it is also about the reality of evil spirits/demons and shows a more traditional view of Catholicism and the spiritual warfare you speak of. For anyone interested, it is called The Endless Knot by William L. Biersach.

  • Sarah

    You speak about doing “the Mary Thing.” Let women be priests, bishops, cardinals, Popes in your “church” and watch the demons disappear …

    You mean watch the demons enter…?

  • Clara

    I think reverence also has a place in the lives of saints, Mr. Kreeft. How about referring to her as the Mother of God or the Blessed Virgin Mary? Then maybe people would start taking this seriously. And what was the “Mary thing?” It was holy obedience, which includes reverence for whose to whom you refer.

  • susan

    Thank you for this article. Everytime I hear of a grisly murder or horrible events that no one can understand, it’s the first thing I think of. Yes the demons are our biggest enemies, hiding in peoples’ bodies – I heard one make fun of Mother Teresa years ago. A scary description of them that I heard, can’t remember where, was that there are so many, if we could see them they would “blot out the sun.”

  • Peter Freeman

    I agree pretty much with the conclusion of this article, but I’m a little troubled by the somewhat quick discussion of suicide. On the one hand, I certainly agree that suicide is pretty much antithetical to “happiness” in the classical sense of the term, so I’m inclined to agree with you that it is a sign of “unhappiness.” On the other hand, though, I think that the motivations leading one to commit suicide are a little more complex than the article concedes, and I find the use of statistics somewhat conjectural.
    That being said, I think you are absolutely on the money that the real enemy is in fact the Evil One…and the sooner we realize this, the sooner humanity can band together against our common foe.
    We are all children of Adam, and it is our common destiny to kick at the head of the serpent’s spawn.

  • Kellcrest

    In the 1960s parishes started to abandon the apostolate of educating Catholic children in their faith and with it they abandoned the creation of the Catholic identity. Priests found better things to do with parish money than support schools, Nuns found higher callings in gaining PhDs and within the subterfuge of social justice, dioceses abandoned the support of Catholic education in inner city parishes. Now our children

  • Bob Cavalcante

    Dr. Kreeft, thank you for this incredible article and I think you nailed it on who the real enemy is. I’ve often said that it’s not so much that the greatest trick the devil ever played wasn’t so much that he convinced the world that he didn’t exist, but in convincing the world that God doesn’t exist.

    Satan most certainly is busy corrupting souls everywhere and I would imagine his greatest pleasure comes not from the corruption of the neutral or indifferent as those are the low hanging fruit, the easy targets; but of the faithful – the Catholic Church, the clergy, the leaders and all those of little faith, all potential saints. The closer we get to God, the stronger Satan’s attacks become.

    I would add that when Satan and his evil have so intentionally, quietly, and thoroughly infiltrated the body of a society, culture, religion or even a denomination so it adopts certain ways and laws designed to move the whole slowly and deliberately further from God; and then begins to fill that void with indifference eventually embracing such evil so completely that you can no longer separate one from the other, it can become necessary as a society to pluck out that proverbial offending eye or cut off that stumbling foot for the sake of the rest of the righteous body.

    One may argue that a society, culture, religion, nation, state, or even a city has no soul and is therefore not subject to the pains of hell and this is basically true. But all those mentioned are not stand-alone entities. They are nothing without people. Children of God that do have immortal souls subject to both sin and salvation and they do have free will. And as the former residents of Soddom and Gomorrah would attest they were most certainly subject to God’s judgment and wrath.

    And yet if all the faithful are the body of Christ, who are we to say that one part of that body offends Christ? It is HE, as the head of that body who will be that judge. Through prayer and reflection and steadfastness to our faith, we need to keep the planks out of our own eyes first. Once we can see it for ourselves, we have a responsibility as Christians to invite others walk with us on the path to Christ, not drag them kicking and screaming. Whether they choose to talk that path or not is not up to us, but between them and the Holy Spirit.

    Just 10 righteous people amongst those depraved throngs in Sodom and Gomorrah would have been enough for God to have saved such an immoral society.

    How many would we need right here and right now?

    Will you be one of the ten?

    God Bless,
    Bob Cavalcante
    http://CatholicConservativeAmerican.blogspot.com

  • Rudy Garcia

    Dr. Kreeft:

    How do we give all? How do we start living our life 100% for Christ, how do we become saints? These are not rethorical questions. I sincerely want to know.

    Rudy

  • Elaina

    This is terrible. What happened to the Beatitudes of Jesus and Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

    Or 1 Corinthians 1:10: “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

    Paul goes on to say, “What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

    Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?”

    Or Matthew 7: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

    “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

    Or similarly in Luke 6:
    “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
    “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

    –What happened to being a force for unity? When did the church become a force for division? You are merely fostering judgement, division, and conflict. These are the opposite of Christ, the peacemaker, the forgiver, the compassionate lover of people of other religions and other cultures than his own. Does he speak to you? Do you face him with this hateful heart? I can say with confidence that I wholeheartedly disagree with you, but I wholeheartedly love you and wish for us to be reconciled as One Body in Christ. I beseech you to sow seeds of love rather than division.

  • Clinton

    Elaina, your comment is great and very necessary, but I don’t see how it relates to the post at all. Dr. Kreeft is surely not talking about division or putting down other Christians.

    It appears you may have not read the article at all. Because he goes down further to say that Protestants, liberals, etc etc …none of these are our enemies.

    Our real enemies are satan and sin. And our weapon is to become saints…which basically means taking into account the things you mentioned. So I don’t understand what you are trying to say.

    May I make a suggestion? I think one cause of division is that sometimes we don’t really listen to what the other person is saying at all and try to understand what they are saying. Thus when in reality we may agree with everything they say, it sounds divisive.

    OK God Bless.

    P.S. the media in our culture has preconditioned us to be shouting at everyone instead of just sitting, loving and talking.

  • Elaina

    Also the way to defeat evil is to overcome it with good. We should really be creating something better, a Christian community that loves one another…not wasting time tearing something else down. Forget the “culture wars,” they will never end as long as we continue the myth of their existence. We should be expending our energy building a visible community of love, a little taste of the Kingdom on earth–and by this the world will know we are His disciples.

  • Sharon Shannon Sharpe

    Eliana,

    The Catholic Church is the visible community of love, the Kingdom of God on earth. There aren’t even any other contenders for that role. We are it. We are the chosen, the elect ones of God. And we have a huge responsibility and mission to live up to this calling. We are indeed called to become saints.

    But to say we don’t have enemies, to say there isn’t a war in our culture for the minds and hearts of our fellow citizens in our nations is naive. We have powerful and aggressive opponents who seek to destroy our Catholic communities, our families, our beliefs, and our way of life.

    The Church has had to live through many rough bloody persecutions in the past. We will have to again if we don’t take the leadership reins of our nations and communities and establish just laws and freedoms.

  • Marjory McCaffery

    I think abortionists and corrupt leaders in the Church ARE our enemies, and I’m not sure which is worse.

    With Jesus as our model, it is hard to see our role as a people who simply accept the personal and systemic sin that surrounds us with a stoic acceptance. Meekness, as Jesus lived it, was that controlled strength reserved for a purpose. He knew it was there. He challenged it routinely.

    He spoke clearly and He acted. His words and actions flowed from his knowledge that evil is manifest in people. The evil that crucified him is the evil that aborts babies and confuses the “little ones”. That is the evil we face today.

    Marji McCaffery

  • Ben Douglass

    Dear Dr. Kreeft,

    The one who “has power to destroy both body and soul in Hell” is God, not Satan.

  • Chris

    If I read this article correctly, Dr. Kreeft is telling us that the best way to fight what is happening to our culture is to fight the root cause of the visible evil. If God dwelled in all of us or even most of us, then it is safe to say, that our culture would look very different to our physical eyes. The enemy seeks to evict God and set up housekeeping himself. What better advantage to have than to successfully convince your opponent that you are not his/her enemy and in fact, that you don

  • Chris

    Sorry, I should have said, if God dwelled more perfectly in most of our souls. Certainly, as Christians, if we have been baptised, the Holy Spirit dwells in us, but let’s face it, how big and how durable a house we give Him is up to us. And the building blocks are the prayer, scripture, sacraments and works of charity.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  • Sharon

    Chris,

    Devout Catholics (and evangelicals) aren’t the problem. The problem is that devout Catholics and evangelicals aren’t well represented in the leadership of society today. As a result, the secularists in business, in government, in the entertainment biz, etc. are creating a godless and amoral public square that everyone has to abide by. We have no option but to be dominated by society’s leaders and elected governors.

    The only solution to that situation is for devout Catholics and evangelicals to *again become* the decision makers of society (for example: our four fine Catholic Supreme Court Justices). We cannot ever expect positive christian change to come from the atheists and pornographers and secularists. Rather, God has planted his people, the Catholic Church, to be the ones leading and educating all nations. It is our commission, and we must work together fulfill it.

    This is our duty. We must take the reins of our families, communities, businesses, and societies and fill them with the principles and ethics and morality we have received from heaven itself. I think Catholics generally do a good job at this, though I’m aware that too many Pelosi’s and Kennedy’s don’t actually obey Church teaching while at the same time boasting of their Catholicism.

  • Barbara Wanamaker

    I am on the same page as Rudy. How DO we give all? Is it the same way Christ instructed the rich man who desired to follow him but couldn’t give up all his possessions? Today, our possessions are not only items that we own but also beliefs and opinions. And where do we receive our inspiration? From our leaders — which ones can we believe? Which ones should we emulate? Which ones are true and good and faithful to God and the faith He has given to us? The evil one is in the confusion. How do we clear away the fog to see the light and know we are on the right path? I have known and do know people who seem to have this insight. I love spending time with them, discussing faith, and when I leave, I feel so filled, until I get in my car and the first person cuts me off. Then I go into the store and the cashier can’t make eye-contact, then I go home and my family is watching The Simpsons on TV. Practically, in this world that surrounds us, how DO we give all? AS hard as I try to keep the spirit in my heart, it seems to slip away quicker each time it’s there. Perhaps more time reflecting, more time alone with God, praying, reading the sacred scripture is a start. Perhaps being small like Mother Theresa and always setting the example. Hey Rudy — let’s give it a try.

    Barbara Wanamaker

  • Chris

    Sharon,

    I completely agree but my post was about the need for recognizing that the battle occurs on two planes. If we ignore one, which Western Christendom has done for the past 40 to 50 years, then we run the risk of loosing the other, in fact, I think ignorance of the spiritual battle is what has put us in the cultural war we are in.

    If the American Bishops had not created a church, particularly after VAtican II, that was in service ONLY to the poor, paying as much attention to the souls of all the faithful, we might not be in this situation. JPII scolded the bishops for doing just this, while the rest of us mentally walked out of the sheep pen.

    We do need to take our culture back literally and figuratively, but who is going to do that? And most importantly, how do they arm themselves against temptation? With secular ideologies, like ‘Yes we can!’? Our culture is not in the dregs that it is because we are subject to secularists, it is because most Christians and now Catholics have become the secularists! Heck, Catholics put Obama in office. The politics of his party and of the man himself go against all of Catholic Social Teaching, not to mention against the most basic doctrine that underpins all of it, the dignity of every individual from conception to natural death. But CAtholics voted him in anyway!

    If we don’t get it right on a spiritual level, how can we be expected to get it on a moral level? And if you think Satan and demons and the battle for souls isn not real or important in all of this, then I suggest you take a hard look at Doug Kmiec. He is the most profoundly confused and confounded, once a Catholic warrior for God, on the planet earth. Nancy Pelosi, the Kennedys, the Kerrys they were never warriors for God, their souls were for sale. But Kmiec, he was turned. He was deceived into believing that God could be defeated and HAD been defeated. He did the one thing we must never do, he chose evil means to effect a good end. Sorry! What or better who manipulates consciences like that? Who makes a life long prolifer, ignore all the inroads the movement has made and dwell on one clearly symbolic goal that has not been reached? Who told him that God couldn’t make that goal happen? It wasn’t Obama. It was Satan, the sower of lies. Here is proof positive of the damage done when we ignore the spiritual plane in favor of the sociopolitical arena. And we are ALL at risk, every day. We must recognize the validity of the spiritual battle and fight it day in and day out, in order to have the chops to fight it in the physical world.

    Let’s pray for servants of the people, who put service to God first.

  • Chris

    Hey Barb, you know the answer to your question. We all do what you do. I listen to Mass on the way to work and yell at the woman in front of me who won’t turn until there isn’t a car in sight for 1 mile on either side. The fact we even recognize our fallen nature is a start isn’t it? It takes a relationship and a deep love relationship between you and Jesus. He already loves us, we are the ones who have to work on it.

    You said it, take an extra 10 minutes a day to pray; without words, giving Him a chance to do the talking. A rosary, which when done along with contemplation of the mysteries and the fruits of the mysteries can be anything but rote, it can be transforming.

    It isn’t a contest and you and I don’t know what ALL means for us. But Christ does. But for sure, it means spending time with Him in prayer, scripture and sacrament. And ask for the relationship! Be persistent. It will come and when it does, all else fades in comparison. You don’t worry about what this priest says, or that Bishop does, or that the big bad Church won’t let women become priests or or or…you simply know, as Anne Rice says in her conversion story, that He is on the altar and He is waiting for you…and all those other questions and concerns that are too big for you…they aren’t too big for Him, He’ll handle them all and then some.

    Don’t ever let yourself be discouraged. Even when you feel dry or you feel like you failed, that you pick up and start again, is tantamount to telling Satan to hit the road, you aren’t buying it.

  • Barbara

    Thanks Chris — your post brought tears to my eyes. It made me realize what I had put aside for a moment: that with God ANYTHING is possible.

    Also, a note to Dr. Kreeft: Thank you for speaking up in the classroom for your faith. I attend a Jesuit University and have taken Philosophy and Religion courses but have yet to come across a professor who’s willing to put it out there according to the catechism. Bravo!

    God Bless!

    “B”

  • kt

    Putting Catholics in charge of political offices to force behaviors is simply living by the sword, not changing hearts. It is putting faith in the state to effect a righteous world on earth, not having faith in God and His Plan. The answer is to live a Godly life, to set an example of the superiority of that life and to educate our own children in faith in our own schools or better yet, homeschooling. “Separation of Church and state” is actually demotion of the Church to beneath the state.

  • Steve

    When I go to mass and see girls serving there is no question in my mind as to where the vocations have gone.

  • mike

    This article’s conclusion attributes too much poser to Satan, Evil, the Devil. And the language of war and battle distracts from the fact that the “weapons” (to use the fight imagery) Christinas have—-or the tools or remedy for evil and sin in the world is Christian virtue. The article references Mother Teresa; she is a well known person in our time who did more to combat evil than all the angry arguments or prayers to St. Michael combined. She simply did her best to follow the example of Jesus, finding ways to bring compassion, patience, kindness, attention—Christian love to our world.

    These seem like weak, soft things—for “Christ the kitten” not Christ the King—but they are really profoundly challenging and effective. We all know that if we think of our own practive of these “small” virtues.

    I also want to point out that this article lacks a good sense of history. Perhaps from the beginning of time people have been observing the decline of civilization. Most often change is really what is happening. Just to go back to one of the people the article references, Pope Leo XIII, he talked about evil and problems—but not those of our time but those of his time. The “good old days” generally involve very incomplete remembering. Just to highlight one obvious example: in the 1950s which the article references was characterized by segregation, prejudice, discrimination, and ignorance of “white America” to our black sisters and brothers.
    What was taken as normal, natural and acceptable then is now understood more clearly and much more widely as profoundly immoral and wrong. —one example of something that has improved.

    We are niether on a downward fall as John XXIII’s “prophets of doom” see, nor are we on a steady march forward toward better and better as is a stereotypical liberal assumption. There is a mix of good and bad—wheat and weeds—until the end.

  • Barb

    I too thought the article by Dr.Kreeft was excellent.
    This is in response to Barb and Rudy. I too was in your position many years ago. I wanted to give my life to Jesus but did not know how. I prayed and read my Bible. Then I came across a group of people at U.of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan who told me about being “baptized in the Holy Spirit”. I began to seek God and asked him for this baptism as the apostles did on the day of Pentecost. In scripture it states “If you love me you will keep my commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you for ever, the Spirit of truth” (John 14, 15-16).

    On the day of Pentecost, JESUS’ disciples were gathered together in one room in prayer, and the Holy Spirit which JESUS promised came on them. From that moment on, they were changed persons:

    “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech” (Acts, 2, 1-4). I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues (a gift of personal prayer). After that I experienced the Lord Jesus in a personal way and had a strong desire to live my life fully for him everyday. He gave me graces to be a witness to the secular world I lived in that I did not have before the baptism. For more information on being baptised in the Holy Spirit go to http://www.crmweb.org/ftf/FTF5.html

    Also going to daily Mass has helped me to grow in knowing Jesus and following him. Taking a personal prayer time everyday and reading scriptures is important also. If you can join a charismatic prayer group that is a great support in your spiritual life also. I hope this helps. I will say a prayer for you that you experience more of the Holy Spirit.

  • Jim Walsh

    I bought your book.
    The tone of your writing sounds to my Irish Catholic ears something like Paisley Politics.
    Love each other as I have loved you.
    I thought this was our (Catholic) weapon?

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