What I Hate About Fisheaters

One of the things I hate about Fisheaters is how good they often are: if they weren’t, I could just write them off and move on. I’m reminded of Christ’s words to the church in Laodicea in Revelation 3:15-16, “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” They’re so good in some areas that I want to just add them on the RSS feed on the right. For one thing, this Challenge section is just unparalleled. Anyone who takes the time to go through each question will come out with a pretty good idea of why the Church believes as she does, and may well come out Catholic.

But then they mix in things which make me dread reading the site, like a good number of the links on this page, which are more about attacking any Catholics who aren’t Traditional or Sedevacantist Catholics. Catholic Culture does really helpful website reviews, and comes away seemingly frustrated that they can’t rely on Fisheaters.

In yesterday’s post, I linked to their page on dispensationalism with a Fish Eaters caveat to keep a grain of salt ready. After reading the page I linked to much more closely, let me be much more specific. I would ignore the following parts of the page:

  • There are lots of really anti-Zionist parts of the page. I’m aware that there are really anti-Semitic elements within the hyper-Traditionalist wing of the Catholic Church (see: Bob Sungenis, Bp. Williamson, etc.), and that attacks on the “Zionists” are often just the politically correct form of modern anti-Semitism. That said, there’s lots to be concerned about within Zionism as a movement, both in principle, and in particular, in practice. My problem with Christian Zionism is its attempt to find a basis in Scripture which just isn’t there – I wasn’t meaning to make any grand point one way or another about the prudence of the Jews having their own ethno-religious state. I linked to the page in spite of that, but then realized how prevelant it was in parts. For example:
  • “The Politics of this Heretical Theology” is light on Scripture and heavy on “helping Israel is destroying the US.” Personally, I think that even if one doesn’t ascribe to Christian Zionism, there are legitimate reasons to want to support Israel. But I also think that it’s an argument pretty far afield from what is good about this page.
  • “What does the Torah say?” is an attempt to use the Torah against Zionism by having rabbis say it, instead.
  • “But — the return of the Jews to Palestine is so miraculous! The very existence of the Jews is miraculous!” This section makes a decent point, I guess, but does it with such snark that it’s sort of worthless. And this part seems particularly insane: “The return of Jews to Palestine? No miracle of God, but the fruits of Lionel Rothschild’s arrangements with England’s Lord Balfour — an arrangement ultimately paid for by the blood of German-Jewish innocents sold out by their Zionist leaders (see “Jews Not Zionists” and “Neturei Kartei” links above).” Generally, anything which blames the Rothschilds sets off the “Blame the Imagined Cabal” alarm.
  • The “Further Reading” section starts out with a link to the Society of St. Pius X, with no warning about that group’s status within Catholicism right now. It ends with a link for which FE gives this bizarre description: “Judaism is not the religion of the Old Testament, but the formalized belief system of the Pharisees, which arose in Babylon with the commitment of the formerly oral ‚Äútradition of the elders.” I generally don’t trust anything on the list, giving how it begins and ends.

So basically, the latter half of the article is untrustworthy. I’ve thought about just removing the link, but there are some things in the first half which I think are presented so well, I’ll just trust readers not to come out paranoid anti-Semites. Some really good parts of the page:

  1. The claim that God chose the Jewish people, as an ethnic group, to the exclusion of all other ethnic groups, is both an offensive view of God and an anti-Biblical one.
  2. Jesus came to create a spiritual Kingdom, not an earthly one – and that was His goal all along (John 18:36, Matthew 25:34, John 12:25-27). This clamoring for the state of Israel as the earthly Zion is us failing to get Jesus’ point… again.
  3. The Kingdom of God was taking from those Jews who were unfaithful, and the Gentiles were ingrafted in. This is parabled out at length in Matthew 21:33-46, and made more explicit by Paul in Romans 11:16-21.
  4. “The Church is Israel.” This whole section on the link is great.
  5. Salvation for the Jews comes the same way as salvation for everyone else (Romans 11:23)- by giving up our stubbornness for God, and letting Him control things.

5 Comments

  1. FE is an EXCELLENT resource for a ton of questions but it’s not really the moderator or even some of the postings that I have issues with. I think staying away from the forums is the better option. FYI, the SSPX isn’t sedevacantist by policy or statement, though I think in practice and behavior, some of the priests and many of the faithful who attend the SSPX services are. Maybe you’re thinking of the SSPV, who are openly sede.

  2. I’m very sympathetic to the SSPX and pray that their meetings with the Vatican this month bring them back to the Holy Church. There’s far too many excellent, faithful, knowledgeable, and loving Catholics in their group for us to just say “oh well”. We really owe them quite a bit for their efforts to maintain the TLM and for many of the age-old traditions that Catholics have always clung to.

  3. I absolutely agree, although obviously, I wish they were in groups like the FSSP. My major problem with SSPX and related groups isn’t their love of Tradition or the Latin Mass, but what I’ve seen as an uncharitable attitude in presenting their views, and a lack of respect for Church authority (even though that authority is sometimes frustrating).

    I think that they imagine themselves as modern-day Athanasius(es), but risk becoming modern-day Tertullians, where their own take on Tradition trumps the Magisterium.

    All of that said, they do have some good resources, but linking to them with no disclaimer like “the head of this group intentionally commit an act of schism after repeated warnings from the pope in 1988” is pretty reckless.

  4. Fisheaters’ section on consecration to Mary is really great as well – I used it when I did my consecration last year. But some parts of the website make me downright uncomfortable. And this is coming from someone with strong Traditionalist leanings.

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