Daily Archives: July 22, 2011

Amazing Quarrel: on the Latest Michael Voris’ Video

A great deal of excitement about a Michael Voris’ video concerning the beautiful song, “Amazing Grace”.

It seems to me that Voris is being unjustly criticised.

If you listen carefully to the video, Voris is not objecting to the song being sung by a Catholic. What he objects to, is the song being sung in Catholic churches, during Mass. I do not think we can blame him for this. Irrespective of every theological discussion about what is Protestant and what is not, it is a matter of common sense that a song whose theological content is questionable is better not sung during Mass. With two thousand years of musical and liturgical tradition at our disposal, the need is just not there.

In this respect, “Catholic answers” has the following Q & A:

Q: I’ve heard that the Protestant hymn “Amazing Grace” has lyrics that may not be in keeping with Catholic teaching. Which lyrics are ambiguous, and how they can be understood incorrectly?

A: “Amazing Grace” was written by the eighteenth-century Anglican sea-captain John Newton (1725–1807) in response to his conversion by grace from his life as a slave trader. These lyrics express his moment of conversion: “How precious did that grace appear / the hour I first believed.”

While not directly contrary to Catholic teaching, this lyric stands in tension with it because it appears to envision entry into the state of grace following the advent of belief, with no mention of the sacraments (in other words, in a “faith alone” fashion).

This sentiment can be reconciled with Catholic teaching because the grace of conversion indeed can be given at certain hours, causing a person to repent of a previously sinful life and re-embrace faith in Jesus Christ.

So, “Amazing Grace”: a)  it can be “reconciled”, but it stays “in tension”, and b) it is clearly inspired by Protestant thinking, but can be accepted – with a different interpretation – from a Catholic one.

Makes sense to me.

Of course, one might say that Voris is inflating the matter, and seeing “ecumenism” where there is possibly only appreciation for a beautiful song; one might also say that, at times, his laudable zeal leads him to be a bit over the top (“dress like Protestants”. What?). I must also say that “wretched sinner” is how I would define myself most days, and how I would most certainly feel if I were to kick the bucket in the next three seconds and to realise the extent of the offense my sins have created. But all in all, it seems to me that the excitement is not justified.

In the end, I’d say that Voris’ video has two messages, which are merely underpinned by the “amazing grace” argument which, as he says, is merely a symbol (or a symptom) of something else:

a) that the older generation of Catholics has been protestantised in greater measure than those coming from traditionally catholic Countries in central America, and a dangerous anti-Catholic theology has taken hold in the consciousness of many of them.

b) that the singing of “Amazing Grace” happens “under the banner of accommodation” to non-Catholics.

One can disagree with these points, but it seems to me that they are the real message of the video, and the example chosen by Voris just a concrete way of explaining the manifestation of the problem.

Michael Voris is a rather trenchant type (I like that); at times, I have the impression that he sets the accent on the wrong matters, or on matters that do not deserve such a heavy foot on the gas pedal; I can’t say that I always follow the logic of what he says (see above, in matters of dressing); but all in all, thank God for Michael Voris and Real Catholic TV.


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