Fending off the Forces of Chaos
A true diabolic spirit denies the need for creeds and dogma
Former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Gerhard Cardinal Müller issued a “Manifesto of Faith” last week. Many within the Church hailed the document as both necessary and timely. Others responded less positively, attacking his manifesto as animated by a spirit of division and comparing him to Martin Luther. Some even went so far as to accuse the cardinal of an attack upon Pope Francis. This response is not wholly surprising, for the cardinal even anticipated it by cautioning the faithful against “the fraud of the antichrist.”
That there is widespread confusion, bordering on chaos, within the Barque of Peter is self-evident. The antidote to chaos has always been creed. Cardinal Müller knows this and has done something about it. Rather than following Luther, he has invoked the spirit of Athanasius. He has made a profession of faith. This profession of faith is not the whole Faith but rather an expression of it. Like all professions of faith it is tailored to the demands of circumstance.
It need not be the whole Faith because the Church has always understood creeds to be symbols. This term comes from the Greek word symbolon which means “to come together.” In its ancient usage it referred to two corresponding halves of a ring that had been divided up. Each ring always points to the complementary other half and is both an expression and means of unity. Creedal statements are not individual propositions but symbols that fit together into a whole. Unity, one of the four marks of the true Church, is both expressed and brought about through creeds. It is as if one man says “I believe” and another says “me too.”
Hardly surprising is it then that some would respond “not me.” For the opposite of symbolon is diabolon, from which we get the term diabolic. If symbolon joins, then diabolon tears asunder. Since the beginning of the Church these two forces have remained locked in battle. There have always been voices who attempt to tear the Faith apart. In a true diabolic spirit they not only deny the need for creeds and dogma but attack any clear professions of faith. Diabolos destroys not only by contradiction but more often by ambiguity and silence. It is without any danger of hyperbole then that we must guard against the “fraud of the antichrist.”
The unity of the Church has always been in “devotion to the teachings of the Apostles and to the Breaking of the Bread” (cf. Acts 2:42). In this we find the true diabolical intent of Müller’s critics. They not only attack clear professions of faith as symbols of unity but also the very cause of unity, the Eucharist. These same critics would have the Eucharist profaned by opening it up to everyone. The lost sheep, rather than being led home, must be led to the slaughter as victims to a diabolical agenda.
In Creed or Chaos, Dorothy Sayers writes that Christians must choose either “dogma or disaster.” Thankfully the Church still has shepherds like Cardinal Müller, who are willing to avert disaster by fending off the forces of chaos.