Catholic Republic: Wacko Catholic fundamentalism, but with one very cogent point

Catholic Republic: Why America Will Perish Without Rome
By Timothy Gordon
Crisis Publications, 2019, 288 pp.

1 Star

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The vast majority of adult Americans are familiar with the above words penned by Thomas Jefferson as part of the Declaration of Independence of 1776. However, most Americans are not aware of the historical context; that America’s founders were strongly influenced by the philosophers of the Enlightenment including John Locke, Charles Montesquieu, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In “Catholic Republic: Why America Will Perish Without Rome,” fundamentalist Catholic philosopher, Timothy Gordon, argues that Enlightenment thinkers plagerized many of their ideas from Catholic Natural Law, a syncretic “christianization” of Aristotelian philosophy, most notably by Italian Catholic friar, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274).

A Catholic source defines Natural Law as “a system of principles that guides human life in accordance with our nature and our good, insofar as those can be known by natural reason. It thereby promotes life the way it evidently ought to be, based on what we are and how the world is, from the standpoint of an intelligent, thoughtful, and well-intentioned person. It’s much the same, at least in basic concept, as what classical Western thinkers called life in accordance with nature and reason…We might think of it as a system that aims at moral and social health and well-being—which, like physical health, can at least in principle be largely understood apart from revelation.”

America’s Enlightenment-influenced founders were largely deists, not evangelical Christians. As Gordon points out, the concept that God endows men with the unalienable (i.e., impossible to take away or give up) “rights” of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (Gordon states this third right should actually be property ownership) is contrary to Protestant understanding of Biblical teaching. Neither Luther, Calvin, or Zwingli would have endorsed Jefferson’s statement on the “unalienable rights” of men. The Reformers correctly declared that men are morally depraved because of sin and that all of nature is in a fallen state due to sin. The Catholic church, in contrast, teaches men are only “spiritually wounded” and are able to achieve great personal and community virtue with the assistance of the “hospital” Roman Catholic church.

Gordon argues that the American republic is declining because it is based on the founders’ bastardized, crypto-Catholic, “Prot-Enlight” (Protestant-Enlightenment) version of Natural Law and that for the nation to survive its citizens must turn to the Roman Catholic church and its sacraments.

I selected this book because as I was searching through our library’s website the ridiculously audacious cover illustration (a statue of Mary atop the U.S. Capitol Building) and title caught my attention. The author’s main argument, that America must turn to the Roman Catholic church in order to survive as a republic, is wacko Catholic fundamentalism, a specialty of Crisis Publications. The American Catholic bishops can’t convince the majority of the U.S.’s 70 million Catholics to attend mandatory Sunday mass let alone “convert” the nation. That said, the author’s argument that Jefferson’s declaration on the unalienable rights of men is contrary to Gospel Christianity is cogent and well-taken. American Christian Nationalist believers must incongruously juggle both Jefferson’s highly-revered, but un-Biblical declaration on unalienable rights and citizen virtue and the Bible’s teaching that no one is “endowed” with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (or ownership of property) as God-given “rights.”

What Gordon guilefully neglects to mention is that the Roman Catholic church was largely opposed to the concept of republican government well into the 20th Century. In his 1899 encyclical, Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, Pope Leo XIII condemned the heresy of Americanism, specifically the concepts of separation of church and state and freedom of religion (aka freedom of conscience). The Roman Catholic church historically preferred sympathetic monarchies and dictatorships that guaranteed the Catholic church’s privileges and prerogatives.

14 thoughts on “Catholic Republic: Wacko Catholic fundamentalism, but with one very cogent point

    1. Probably 95% of U.S. Catholics would disavow the fundamentalism propagated in this book. It seems Francis’ progressivism is really galvanizing the small traditionalist minority. This book was soooooo arduous to read through, except Gordon does make that good point about Enlightenment philosophy being contrary to the Gospel.

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  1. THat image of Mary above the Capitol is over the top. I think your ending of this review is very important as historically Roman Catholicism don’t agree with Democratic Republics and idea of separation of church and state as you pointed out. Your quote is right on: “he Roman Catholic church historically preferred sympathetic monarchies and dictatorships that guaranteed the Catholic church’s privileges and prerogatives”
    Also I think Reformed Protestants historically have been suspicious of Natural Law theory as too subjective and one can insert all kinds of conception into a view of nature if one isn’t grounded in Scripture and Scripture’s worldview

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    1. Thanks for the good comments! Yup, RC-ism gives way too much prominence to Natural Law. When I was very young I learned that priests receive a great amount of instruction in Aristotelian philosophy and of course transition to Thomism. Yes, so ludicrous for this writer to present RC-ism as the champion of democratic republics in light of its history.

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      1. It seems Catholic literature pre World War 2 is suspicious of modern democratic republic but today they make it like its the basis for freedom. If I remember my philosophy and political theory correctly Aristotle’s view of natural law exclude women from the polis. Reformers were right that natural law with it being informed by Scripture is just supporting the status quo of every generation

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      2. You’re spot-on regarding RC-ism’s negative view of republican government prior to WWII.
        Thanks for your additional points re: natural law. This book was quite painful to read but I did appreciate how it pointed out the contradiction between Enlightenment philosophy’s “rights of man” and the Gospel AND I did learn more about how RC-ism exalts natural law.

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