The Great Heresies
Publisher: Ignatius Press
Publication Date: July 15, 2017
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In this new edition of a classic work, the great Catholic apologist and historian Hilaire Belloc examines the five most destructive heretical movements in Christianity: Arianism, Mohammedanism (Islam), Albigensianism, Protestantism, and Modernism. Belloc describes how these movements began, how they spread, and how they have continued to influence the world. He accurately predicts the re-emergence of militant Islam and its violent aggression against Western civilization.
When we hear the word "heresies," we tend to think of distant centuries filled with religious quarrels that seemed important at the time but are no longer relevant. Belloc shows that the heresies of olden times are still with us, sometimes under different names and guises, and that they still shape our world.
(abridged for clarity and brevity)
Vincent: You might be wondering what are the great heresies? They are: Arianism, mohammedanism, albigensianism, and then the two obvious ones, Protestantism and modernism. I’ve been wanting to read this book. I have one question, I heard this a long time ago and I thought it came forth from this book. Belloc saw the rise of Islam and he predicted it was going to grow more, and I heard that he predicted that the threat of Islam would galvanize Christians to revitalize Christendom. Did he say that and do you agree with it?
Charles: Yes and Yes! I think we’re already seeing the first signs of it in Europe. These people like in Hungary, who send our liberals into little paroxysms, those are precisely the type of leader who will arise in Europe’s last extremity.
Vincent: I would argue that it’s a logical reaction, but I have reservations because liberals are not logical. They’re as you say, children of the lie. So are liberals going to flip on this?
Charles: They won’t flip on this, but because they won’t be able to rule, they won’t be able to deliver the bacon. Let me explain something: when a rulership is no longer capable of dealing with reality because they’re crazy, and reality gets too tough for them to deal with, they generally lose their control and someone replaces them.
Vincent: I was talking about liberals in general, and not necessarily the leadership.
Charles: Well the leadership are what matter. The vast majority of people have no opinion on anything really.
Vincent: When you say the leadership is what matters, every nation gets the government it deserves, so it’s the chicken and the egg.
Charles: That’s absolutely true, but people are funny. When it’s a choice between adherence to moronic leadership or dying, the masses are generally wiser than their masters.
Vincent: So you’re saying the liberals are going to lose their constituency?
Charles: Yes. If people think their livelihoods are at stake, they will turn on a dime.
Vincent: I know you’ve applied that characteristic to Europe, but does it also apply to America?
Charles: That, my dear Vincent, is the $6 question. We are different. We do not turn quickly. Although that may not be entirely true. Where I was born, there was still a lot of people willing to defend segregation. Now it’s the second worse sin.
Vincent: But that’s fused with our national religion.
Charles: I know, but into it too, think of how the homo stuff has gone in your day. Back when you were a teenager, the idea of gay marriage was ridiculous, but now if you don’t accept it, you’re a hater and a bigot.
Vincent: Well the commonalities is it got fused to the national religion, so, all else equal, this handling of the Muslim threat would have to get fused into the national religion.
Charles: Our little rear ends would have to get smacked hard.
Vincent: I hope not as hard as it happened in Star-Spangled Crown. To give you guys an idea of what I’m talking about, one of my favorite lines in it is, “there were mass starvations all around. It was a rough winter.” It sounds like a cyclical thing.
Charles: My fictional writer was like a lot of writers who lived through World War II and how they approached the wreckage of it all.
Hilaire Belloc was an Anglo-French writer and historian. He was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. He was known as a writer, orator, poet, sailor, satirist, man of letters, soldier and political activist. His Catholic faith had a strong impact on his works. He was President of the Oxford Union and later MP for Salford from 1906 to 1910. He was a noted disputant, with a number of long-running feuds, but also widely regarded as a humane and sympathetic man. Belloc became a naturalised British subject in 1902, while retaining his French citizenship. Belloc wrote on myriad subjects, from warfare to poetry to the many current topics of his day. He has been called one of the Big Four of Edwardian Letters, along with H.G.Wells, George Bernard Shaw, and G. K. Chesterton, all of whom debated with each other into the 1930s.
All five sections are wonderful in their way. The last section on the Modernist heresy (which Belloc calls a-logism elsewhere--the perfect description) is one of the best on the topic ever written. Maybe Belloc's most essential single volume.
Great source for a historic view of Islam and why it is again challenging Western Civilization. Also informative is Belloc's analysis of the devastation caused by Calvinism.
Hilaire Belloc took 5 of the scores of past heresies and explained their origins and impacts, still felt today. Mohammedanism portrayed as a Christian Heresy? Yes, and it makes total sense, despite what the majority of people think today.
His treatment of Modernism surely draws on such great Popes as Leo XIII and Pius X. I highly recommend this book if you want to truly gain an understanding of just what is unfolding before our very eyes. The Moderns may be winning, but Jesus Christ will conquer, the Gates of Hell will not prevail.
I firmly believe this too shall pass.