Denial of the Fall: The Triumph of Freemasonry?


Our Lady - Triumph
Triumph of Our Lady over the Serpent of the Fall


Last time, we looked to Pope Leo XIII and his 1884 warnings about Freemasonry:

There are several organised bodies which, though differing in name, in ceremonial, in form and origin, are nevertheless so bound together by community of purpose and by the similarity of their main opinions, as to make in fact one thing with the sect of the Freemasons, which is a kind of centre whence they all go forth, and whither they all return  …

No longer making any secret of their purposes, they are now boldly rising up against God Himself. They are planning the destruction of holy Church publicly and openly, and this with the set purpose of utterly despoiling the nations of Christendom.

And Pope Leo XIII makes clear the philosophy that animates this endeavour. He calls it naturalism – saying that:

The fundamental doctrine of the naturalists, which they sufficiently make known by their very name, is that human nature and human reason ought in all things to be mistress and guide.

And we noted that:

In other words, naturalism denies anything which might transcend things like rationalism and empiricism – such as Christian Revelation. And Pope Leo XIII goes on to say, in the same encyclical:

Their ultimate purpose forces itself into view – namely, the utter overthrow of that whole religious and political order of the world which the Christian teaching has produced, and the substitution of a new state of things in accordance with their ideas, of which the foundations and laws shall be drawn from mere naturalism. …

Human nature was stained by original sin, and is therefore more disposed to vice than to virtue. For a virtuous life it is absolutely necessary to restrain the disorderly movements of the soul …

But the naturalists and Freemasons, having no faith in those things which we have learned by the revelation of God, deny that our first parents sinned …

So very much of our modern age is prefigured here, dear Reader, including what my beloved has called New Age Denial of the Fall.

Today, we will begin with noting the very obvious: denial of the Fall leads to denial of the Redemption.

There is no need at all for a Redeemer, if one is unconscious of having fallen.

Moving from Pope Leo XIII in 1884 to 2013, one may see so much in contemporary culture that would appear to vindicate the Holy Father’s concerns for de-Christianisation in the Nineteenth Century.

Does this indicate the triumph of Freemasonry?

I am not competent to provide any satisfying answer to that query. Still, I raise it as a question that is worthy of profound reflection.

And I also post a further extract – slightly modified – from my upcoming book that speaks to the situation today.

It need only be explained, I think, that my book features comments from real people I know. One of whom I call Les is featured in the following book extract.

The Fall: It is not simply the New Age that has effaced the understanding of Original Sin. It is likewise buried by secular culture.

Have we not heard it endlessly repeated that nothing is essentially wrong with human nature?

Have we not heard it endlessly regurgitated that the fault lies in our conditioning? ‘Society screws you up’; ‘school screws you up’;‘parents screw you up’; ‘the Establishment screws you up’ …

But never: ‘You were born screwed up’. People would seem to assume that we were somehow born immaculate – before being messed up by our parents, school and culture.

All this is common in our contemporary civilisation and is rooted in Enlightenment thinking – perhaps most particularly that of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Today, it would seem we have arrived at something like the secular supposition of Original Innocence. At least, the understanding that people are born fallen startles many folk today.

The notion of human nature as corrupted from the outset comes as a complete novelty to them. It can be even more jolting to realise that there was a time when this idea was not novel at all. It was integral to the entire Christian culture that Europeans lived and breathed.

Thus, after I had spoken to Les regarding the Fall, he wrote:

What you said … about the human condition being broken (although I think it may have been different words you used then) has stuck in my head and I have often thought about it, particularly when I try to understand all the mad things going on in the world.

My words ‘stuck’ in Les’ head precisely because the idea of the Fall is no longer mundane or commonplace in Western civilisation.

The idea would never have impressed him unless it was novel to him.

I then pointed out to Les that the notion of the fallenness of human nature was once central to our culture. His honest response is telling indeed:

I have actually never been aware that [as I had put it to Les] ‘fundamental brokenness of the human condition was once at the very core of the entirety of Western Culture’ and am very interested in understanding this also and why I have not known it [Emphasis mine].

I am grateful to Les for allowing me to quote his frank confession of cultural ignorance. He strikes me as an honest soul indeed, remarkably free from the need to display erudition or impress people. Yes, I thank Les because his wholly honest admission reveals the crisis of Western culture.

Let us examine Les’s admission – and what it entails.

First, he admits that ‘my’ notion of inherent fallen-ness has ‘stuck’ in his head, provoking thought. It would appear that it seemed somehow odd to him – yet helpful in understanding the ‘mad things’ in this world.

Then, he reveals his ignorance that this notion was once fundamental to Western culture. Then, he asks: Why was I never told this?

It might be added that Les was nearly forty when he wrote these words and that he has one of the finest university educations that Britain can afford.

Yet Les has been robbed.

Nothing in his education has given him any real inkling of his cultural roots. Nothing in nearly forty years of media and entertainment have provided it either. He is yet another victim of the blackout of the Christian Mystery.

So many will live out their lives entirely enshrouded by Secular Materialism. So many will never know what it really means that Europe was once Christian.

Europe, moreover, was not simply Christian, but traditionally Christian. This is to say: It was once Catholic-Orthodox.

For European culture was formed by the tradition of the Latin West and the Greek East.

It was formed by those Churches which are traditional, inasmuch as they have preserved fifeen centuries of tradition prior to the Reformation and they never rejected that tradition for sola scriptura.

For if we travel back in time to the Fifteenth Century – i.e. the period just before the Protestant Reformation, what do we find? Europe, from Paris to London to Munich, is Christian.

This Europe understands the Fall.

And it is not only Western Europe, because from the East to the West, European souls understand the Fall. And from Moscow to Constantinople, the Eucharist is celebrated. And from Bucharest to Dublin to Reykjavik, people recognise why they need the Sacraments.

The Holy Mass is celebrated because Europe is Christian, because Europe understands the nature of the Fall and because Europe understands the need for a Redeemer from the Fall.

And Europe recognises that in the Holy Mass, we meet the One who has come to help us in our hour of need. We meet the One whose Sacred Heart CARES – infinitely – for our fallen, darkened, broken hearts.

We meet the One whose Heart is pierced – pierced for us.

But in Europe today, all this is forgotten, even by very thoughtful people, with the finest university educations …

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5 responses to “Denial of the Fall: The Triumph of Freemasonry?”

  1. Uffe Jonas Avatar
    Uffe Jonas

    Dear Roger,
    Your insistance that the concept of the fall and original sin should be something inherently and inalienably Christian is simply not historically correct. The original Christian concept of sin was much lighter and not as absolute as you think. The concept of the fall was preceded by the even more fundamental concept of the Original Blessing, i.e. the idea that God bestowed his blessings on the world and on Man in the Beginning: “And He saw that it was good.” This enlightened image of a loving, creative, all pervasive and selfsacrificing God was later overshadowed by the vision of Man as an almost irreperable sinner and God as a strict and punishing Father-figure in skies.

    The original concept of sin within the early Jewish and Greek congregation was much more poetical and medical than juridical. Sin was concieved as a regrettable fact, a sort of forgetfulness towards God and the living Cosmos (Logos), a mental og psycological illness to be healed, but certainly not a lost case to be lamented or a crime to be punished.

    The very severe and juridical concept of of original sin that you seem to subscribe to is of much later origin. It came in with Tertullian and his disciple Augustin, who invented the concept of original sin, which was foreign to the Greeks. Tertullian performed the masterpiece of translating the Gospels from Greek into Latin, but in the proces, he altered the very poetical and creative spirit of the Gospels into the somewhat dry and juridical spirit of the Romans. Tertullian was originally a Roman lawyer, and he seems to have had some severe childhood traumas in relation to his father. In his perception God is a strict, condemning Father in Heaven, a saturnian judge, who can never be satisfied except through total obedience and submission. He thought of man as a criminal in the eyes of god, punishable by divine law, and he was the one who invented punishments, coercions and the threat of Hell as legitimate paedagogical means in a Christian upbringing: “the faithfuld should be forced by fear of punishment and hope of salvation to become better human beings.”

    Tertullian had an immense influence on the formation of the Roman Church, and he must be acknowledged for transferring Christianity from the somewhat lofty and high mental understandings of the Greeks and into the somewhat more concrete and civic Church of the Romans. But his fundamental mistake was his heavy handed translation and interpretations of the Gospels, which removed Christianity from its original optimistic, creative and enlivening spirit and turned it into something much more gloomy and regrettable.

    As I said: Original Sin is not an original Christian concept, but an invention by Augustin, who also had this strange juridical and overly self condemning approach to the Gospel narratives. There is some serious healing work to be done in these areas, because so many Christians still mistake this gloomy, punitive and selfpunishing juridical spirit with Christianity itself. It is not. Christianity is ups and downs, fun and pain, sin and forgiveness, but all in a playful, trusting and free spirit.

    1. roger Avatar

      Dear Uffe,

      Thank you warmly for this.

      We are in both agreement and disagreement.

      For I certainly think you are very right in saying that:

      “There is some serious healing work to be done in these areas, because so many Christians still mistake this gloomy, punitive and selfpunishing juridical spirit with Christianity itself.”

      However, I am longer convinced that this gloomy spirit can be so clearly attributed to the sources you give. To my mind, it has more to do with Calvinism or within Catholicism, Jansenism.

      Whatever the source though, Uffe, whether (say) Jansenism or not, you are pointing to something that certainly has afflicted the Church. I agree. Healing is most definitely needed!

      In terms of our disagreements, to directly deal with everything you say it would be necessary to go through your various statements one by one.

      I don’t have scope for all that would be entailed in such a direct approach.

      Having carefully studied what you say, I hope an indirect approach may still be useful.

      To my mind, to get to grips with Tertullian, Augustin etc it would be necessary to study both sides of this question.

      You mention Original Blessing (with capital letters) which leads me to assume that you have studied Matthew Fox on this subject (?)

      I have a concern – please correct me if I am wrong – that you may have only read Fox AND/OR people sympathetic to Fox’s interpretation.

      Again, please correct me whether I am wrong and that you have studied other people who hold the opposite position to Fox or those like him – say traditional Catholic theologians, who for example, certainly don’t believe that Augustin “invented Original Sin” as you assert.

      My point now is not about whether this is true of Augustin or not – but the necessity of studying both sides of a question.

      I would like to say something of my own study of both sides of these questions.

      Years ago, I read Fox’s Original Blessing with real appreciation – as well as much more writing by Matthew Fox.

      When Matthew Fox came to England, I made a point in hearing him lecture in person. I even had a video presentation of Fox and made a point of holding video evenings at New Age centre I ran in England, showing the video to dozens of people and inviting discussion.

      All this, I think, shows how sympathetic I was to Matthew Fox’s view and the views you express here.

      At that time, I was very young and I assumed Fox was right, the Church was wrong. I didn’t even bother to look at the other side.

      Now please note, I am not imputing all this to you. You may well have read other people than Fox and studied the other side in-depth. I do not know.

      Ironically, what began to change my enthusiasm for Matthew Fox’s Original Blessing was Valentin Tomberg – who I think is also an inspiration for you Uffe.

      Here is a sentence from Tomberg that was very revealing to me years ago:

      “The work of Jesus Christ differs from that of Avatars in that it signifies the expiatory sacrifice for completely fallen mankind.” [MotT pg pg 612]

      Tomberg italicises expiatory sacrifice himself.

      But I want to italicise this:

      completely fallen mankind.

      The more I stared into Tomberg’s conversion to Catholicism, the more I saw his affirmation of very, very traditional Catholic dogma.

      Christ has expiated for our sin.

      It was very, very hard for me. I could not really believe that Tomberg was saying the things he seemed to be saying!

      Moreover, once I converted to Catholicism, I began to confess my sin regularly. Tomberg spoke about how confession prepares us for the (unpleasant) confrontation with the dweller on the threshold. In Catholic terms that means our the full reality of our sin.

      This ongoing immersion in the Catholic tradition has led me, I think, not to a gloomy Jansenist Catholicism – that you are rightly troubled by, I think Uffe – nor to a gloomy Calvinism, but really the greatest joy of my life.

      A final point, to my mind you sometimes seem to conflate things which, to my mind, do not go together.

      ‘Sin was conceived … certainly not a lost case to be lamented”

      Yes! – Not a lost case! But also most definitely to be lamented.

      I tend to feel mores in the early Greek church more than now … The Greeks took this more seriously than most modern Catholics do today.

      I will close by referring you to a very, very beautiful passage Tomberg writes about lamenting:

      “The heart says to us: the cosmos, this marvel of wisdom, beauty and goodness, suffers. It is ailing. This great organism which cannot have been born out of sickness, whose birth must have been due to perfect health, i.e. to perfect wisdom, beauty and goodness, the totality of which was its cradle —this great organism is ailing.

      The continents —and the planets —grow ever-more hard, petrifying: this is the “sclerosis” of the cosmos. And on the surface of its land-masses in the process of petrification, and in the deeps of the seas, and in the air. there reigns the struggle for existence —this is the fever of inflammation in the world.

      But sick as it is, the world still retains — everywhere and always — characteristics of its primordial health, and shows the working of forces of its new health, its convalescence. Because alongside the struggle for existence there is cooperation in order to live, and alongside the mineral petrification, there is the succulent and breathing cover of the plant kingdom. The world can therefore be lauded and wept for at the same time.

      This is the origin of the problem of the Fall: that the world is worthy of being sung for and wept for at the same time.” [MotT 245}

  2. Uffe Jonas Avatar
    Uffe Jonas

    Thank your, Roger, for your fine and thoughtful reply.

    Of course, I certainly agree, that lamenting our present fallen human state is very much in place. And I don’t underestimate the graveness of the situation. The present state of affairs is really horrible and twisted, and the roots of our misfortune certainly runs very deep. I know that from bitter experience. But nevertheles the bliss of creation is of a much more fundamental nature. It is the basic state of Creation itself. Because the bliss and joy of Creation is the nature of God himself.

    This very basic point is too oft forgotten in sin- and fall-oriented Christianity. And this is one point where I tend to disagree with my friend Tomberg, whom I otherhwise respect boundlessly. This is one of the few places, where I get the feeling, how even Tomberg was a child of his time. Such gloominess regarding the human condition is very typical of almost all thinking in the immediate post war era.

    I do not consider mankind as “completely fallen”. Any totalisation of the Fall is imop a misunderstanding. The fall can never be complete. Even the Devil can and may be redeemed in the end, this we must hope. God is total, the Devil is not, blessing is endless, sin is not, resurrection is boundless, reincarnation is not. There is no symmetry between them, as they are not on the same epistemological level. In other words, the fall can only be relative or partial, never absolute or complete.

    This is a very important theological point, which I learnt, not from Matthew Fox, but from Danish Church Father, poet, mystic, philosopher, mythologist, and theologian, N.F.S. Grundtvig, who had this very sharp critical eye for the basic misconceptions of “gloomy Christianity”. But there are many others.

    Fox was such a relief for me to read, because he confirmed to me that Creation centered spirituality represents a special line of descendance within Christianity, one whose claim to authenticity is more fundamental than the more mainstream juridical ideas. This was exactly how Grundtvig felt too, and therefore it was such a joy for him to find his Christian roots in the Greek Fathers and particulalarly in Irenaeus, who was a direct disciple of Polycarp, who was a direct disciple of St. John himself.

    This special line of johannine creation mystics is defined and pointed to by Matthew Fox. In his book Original Blessing, he lists some of the most important representatives of this peculiar tradition, including Hildegard, Eckhart, Aquinas, Dante, and many others. Fox himself is certainly not the greatest or most profound representative of this lineage, he tends to cut his arguments a bit short, he is somewhat a polemic, and as opposed to Grundtvig or Tomberg, he is not really into hermeticism. But he is a great popularizer, he is quite sharp in his criticisms of the modern state of affairs, yet he wont take crap from what is left of the still subsisting Roman inquisition either, and he points to some very important deviations in the overly neurotic, sin-oriented and sexually affected way that the modern Catholic Church tends to act and percieve itself. For all that, I applaud him.

    But Grundtvig and Tomberg I consider my real spiritual teachers. Even if I don’t agree with them on any point.

    1. roger Avatar

      A very belated thank you for this expansion of your sources, Uffe – which you have obviously pondered in real depth. I hear and trust you that they go much deeper than the “great popularizer” Matthew Fox as you put it.

      I certainly agree that we cannot see symmetry between God and the Devil, blessing and sin! And agree with you on much else besides.

      As to our disagreements, there is much more I might say, but wonder if we must respectfully agree to disagree here.

      But perhaps it is not amiss if I say that Tomberg, as myself and all practicing Catholics are, was shaped by the ongoing reception of the Sacrament of Penance. Tomberg speaks about this as a preparation for meeting the real darkness of the dweller on the threshold – who, again, I agree must not be considered symmetrical with our real nature!

      It seems to me that as I have taken up the practice of regularly going to Confession and regularly experiencing the profound cleansing of absolution – a tremendous joy in my life – that I am able to confront the darkness of my heart in a more honest way. There is an ongoing process with Penance which increasingly includes seeing sins in my heart, including sexual etc, that I used to consider minor, but no more.

      I think that while Catholicism certainly exhibits some of the shadows you evoke, it also prepares the way for this confrontation with darkness – through this Sacrament, one seventh of the Sacramental Mystery that is lost outside Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

      And I think here lies a major difference between Catholicism-Orthodoxy and other forms of Christianity where the Sacrament has been lost. One could say a lot more – but I think the experience of this Sacraments separates Catholics and Orthodox more from Protestants (such as I once was) than is generally realised.

      Those in the ongoing transformative experience of this Sacrament may appear gloom-ridden to others, but I think the truth is deeper and there is a joy that is not easily seen. As an early Eastern Saint wrote: ‘Keep your head in hell – but do not despair.’

      I love that last saying …

      But again, my warm thanks, Uffe – whatever our disagreements.

  3. Bridget Lois Jensen Avatar

    Dear Roger,
    The discussion of Man’s sinfulness and the need for repentance is topical, given the season of Lent is upon us now. As interim editor of a publication in the United States called Church and Life, which grew out of the Danish Grundtvigian tradition from which Uffe Jonas comes, I may want to publish the back-and-forth between the two of you in the upcoming March issue. I am wondering if you would give permission for at least your portion of the discussion. I hope Uffe will see this and also respond about permission for his words.
    Thank you,
    Bridget Lois Jensen