The other weekend one of Michael Voris’ supporters gave me a couple of his books, so I did my best and reviewed them here in the Book Review section of the blog. That section is one of the areas only open to Donor Subscribers, so my post bookmarking the review brought some questions from readers about what I thought about Michael Voris.
First I have to confess that I don’t watch Michael’s videos and I only skimmed the books. This isn’t because I’m against Michael Voris as much as the fact that my time is limited and I can pretty much pick up the points he’s making without dealing with the details.
The big point he is making is that Christianity has been on the wrong track since the Protestant Revolution and that the Catholic Church has been infected with the dry rot of heresy and compromise along with the rest of the professing church, and that the problem has gotten steadily worse since the Second Vatican Council.
What are the signs? First of all, a neglect and de-emphasis on the supernatural realities of the faith in favor of a peace and justice gospel. Second, immorality, greed and luxury in the church–especially the sin of sodomy. Third, a continual compromise with secularism and the philosophies of materialism. Fourth, a poverty of worship, pusillanimous priests, tepid religion and spineless sentimentality. Fifth- a modernist trend in theology–accepting (among others) the heresies of universalism and it’s sister indifferentism.
What are the symptoms? A disastrous decline in Mass attendance, priestly and religious vocations, the absence of true evangelization and the general attitude of being on a sinking ship.
Voris thinks the problem has reached crisis point, and that the worst thing is that the heresy and scandal is all covered over with a false veneer of tolerance and kindness. Furthermore, he argues that most Catholics–especially in the hierarchy–are trying desperately to ignore the problems.
They do not so much have their heads in the sand as in a pot of butter icing.
What’s the solution? Repentance. Renewal. Reform.
So that’s the message. What do I think of the man? But it doesn’t really matter what I think of the man because I don’t know him. Never met him. Folks say he’s a down to earth guy who wants to follow the Lord. I believe them.
We can pick up from his biography is that he is a repentant sinner with a zeal for Christ’s church, that he has invested his own money in a media machine to pump out his message and that it is difficult to deny the points he makes.
Michael Voris is in the long line of Jeremiahs. Jeremiah, you may recall, was the Old Testament prophet who prophesied against the corrupt, immoral and disobedient Israelites–predicting their downfall and destruction. He’s the Savonarola of our day–an outspoken preacher who identifies the immorality, corruption and greed and calls it out.
OK, but what are the problems? The problems with Voris’ ministry are linked not so much with what he is and says, but what is not and what he does not say. His strength is that he talks straight, does’t pull any punches, takes aim and shoots the gospel gun.
The other side of that coin is that he’s not subtle. He’s not nuanced. He’s not balanced. He does doubt, but not benefit of the doubt.
As a prophet figure he naturally paints with a broad brush. He points the finger and calls people out. He investigates and apportions blame. He is not always fair and he sometimes attacks those who are actually on his side. He has no time for compromise or dialogue, and gives the impression of being not only a know it all, but sometimes a sarcastic and stuck up know it all.
This method wins few friends while stirring up some of the unfortunate side effects of religion: self righteousness, the tendency to shift the blame, pessimism and anger.
On the other hand, his supporters would say, “Enough pussy footing around. Times are desperate. Nobody listens unless you shout. When the ship is sinking don’t put together a committee to discuss the re-arrangement of the deck chairs. We don’t need a Neville Chamberlain. We need a Churchill.”
These are some apparent problems with Voris’ message and ministry, but the greatest problem is way down deep. This is the problem that Michael Voris’ understanding of the Catholic faith and Church is simply, fundamentally at variance with what his opponents believe the church to be.
Michael thinks the church is God’s Army on earth. It is the Church Militant–fighting valiantly against sin, the flesh and the devil. Michael, no doubt, treasures his name because he identifies with that great warrior angel who fights Satan and all the hordes of hell. Michael believes the Catholic Church is the fortress of faith from which the brave warriors soldier forth to make holy sacrifices and pluck souls from the fires of hell and lead them to everlasting salvation.
His opponents think this view of the faith is not just wrong, but horribly wrong. They believe such a view is out of date, guilt ridden and mythological. They actually not only think this view of the church is wrong. They think it is bad. They think it is bad because it brings division and war and guilt and fear. For them the church is the gentle gathering of the people of God. For them the Church is the brotherhood of man and the parenthood of God. They believe the Church is not there to make war but to make peace. For them Satan is not so much an evil person, but the force of self righteousness, bigotry and racism in the world.
I have a secret respect for Michael Voris. I’ve always liked the fiery preachers of the world because I admire their passion, their courage and their craziness even when I disagree with them.
The problem however, is because of the divide in Christendom I’ve just explained, we should ask what Michael Voris hopes to accomplish. Shining a spotlight on the corruption and heresy may illuminate a dark secret, but he will not convert too many from the other side. He may encourage and energize his followers, but if that increased energy is only spent in invective and self righteous condemnation it will, in the end, lead only to fruitless fear and empty despair
If, on the other hand, he encourages and energizes people to pray harder, trust the Lord more fully and live lives of joyful worship, service and sacrifice, then he will have done the Church and Lord he loves a greater service.
The last thing I’d observe is this: it is all too easy for the establishment church to mock, ignore and marginalize people like Voris. They do so at their peril because, like him or loathe him, Voris is not only like Savonarola–he is also like Donald Trump. That is to say, he has a media presence. He knows how to go directly to his audience, and his growing audience are the same kind of people who like Trump–the little middle people who feel they have been mocked, ignored and marginalized by the liberal elite, the establishment church and the privileged classes.
The ruling establishment in Washington, New York, Chicago and Rome should not underestimate how fed up many people in the pews really are. Many of them want their shepherds to stand up and speak out against the immorality, corruption and heresy in the church. That’s why they like Voris and his militant attitude.
These are the people who bring about renewal, but they are also the people who bring about Reformations and Revolutions.
Remember that Savonarola may have been unpleasant, but he was one of the fore runners of the Protestant Reformation.
Voris therefore, might just be one of the firebrands who helps brings about a schism in the church.
And how are you going to get rid of him?
Burn him in the town square?
Why is your respect for Michael secret?
Although his delivery can be off-putting, his ministry has taught me more about my Catholic faith and the goings on in the Church than I have learned in my entire life! I’m 56 years old! How sad, but at the same time, very thankful I am.
But this is what drives me absolutely nuts, “the problem that Michael Voris’ understanding of the Catholic faith and Church is simply, fundamentally at variance with what his opponents believe it to be.” His opponents? Why does he even HAVE opponents? If you know the Catholic faith, you know he is telling it TRUE.
Hell exists, and it’s Michael Voris who reminds me of that often. To hear it from others, (perhaps Michael’s opponents) if you’re a “good” person, you’re going to Heaven, and I never hear them talk about Hell.
I wish you would have shown Michael Voris some respect, outright. (and you didn’t even read the books? Wow!)
My respect for Michael Voris is only “secret” inasmuch as it is a private matter. I agree that he speaks truth, but the face that he has enemies is a sad testament of our church today. I wanted my post to be objective and fair–neither uncritical approval nor biased disapproval. While I’m not a great fan, I think the post did show him considerable and open respect. I skimmed his books, and that was enough to pick up his message. I receive three of four books a week to read and review–all unsolicited. Then I have my own writing and reading to do!
Father, you have given us a lot to consider. What is being said? How is it being said? Who agrees? Who disagrees? Why? Public debate is normal. But are we getting close to a potential schism?
Voris is a new name to me. Does he write with the authority of Church? Do his books at least have the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat?
Without the traditional I and NO, why would we even consider reading him?
I have followed M Voris since Dec 2012. But I take everything he says with a grain of salt as his anger and frustration tend to cloud his judgement in my humble opinion.
With that said, I like people being straight with me. I appreciate that the hard truths of Faith should be unapologetic and unambiguous. On the other had, I understand that others do not process information the way I do. I’m an accountant so I love rules, tidiness, unambiguity; I thus really found Pope Emeritus BXVI easy to understand and I really find myself praying hard for our Holy Father Francis because if I’m honest, I many times do not understand where he is coming from.
In a nutshell, I like asking myself: How were/are Saints made? When I think of Michael Voris, Father James Martin, Father Gregory Boyle or Cardinal Marx, my gut tells me they are NOT the road to follow. My sixth sense tells me the road to follow is: Cardinal Chaput, Ft. Longenecker, Theologian Dr Scott Hahn, Mother Teresa, and of course, Our Blessed Mother, and our Lord Jesus Christ.