Beware of Michael Lipscombe, Who Is
Schismatic Toward His Fellow Catholics
Mr. Michael Lipscombe is a gentleman I
met in October of 2008. This is right before I moved from
Right from the get-go I realized that Michael was a Catholic fundamentalist. I had not yet coined this term to describe such people, but I had just extricated myself from a terrible situation in New Mexico where some fellow Catholics had accused my wife of serious --- though in actuality either imaginary, private or trivial --- sins, and who refused to discuss the matter sensibly. They then persecuted us unjustly, my wife because of the aforesaid accusations, and myself because I dared to logically defend her. Ergo, I was very alert to such tendencies in others who went by the name of Catholic.
The first thing that I noticed was that Michael held to the position of the absolute necessity of water baptism. This by itself did not bother me since I hold the same position, too. However, he also went so far as to insist that a person could not hold the position of so-called ‘baptism of desire’ for catechumens and be truly Catholic. That is to say, there are some who believe that a catechumen (someone who’s learning the common dogmas of the Catholic Faith in order to be baptized and enter the Church) could die by ‘accident’ before he’s baptized in water and still be accepted into Heaven provided he has a perfect contrition for his sins, God making an exception to the rule and granting him the baptism of the Holy Ghost without the normally corresponding baptism of water. This is a position that has been around in some form or another since at least the 3rd century, and which became the dominant (if not universal) opinion amongst Catholics since the early 2nd millennium as members of the Church followed the lead of Ss. Bernard of Clairvaux, Thomas Aquinas or other scholastic teachers of the era.
Catholic fundamentalists (CFs) like
Michael not only deny this long held position but imagine the Solemn Magisterium of the Catholic Church to have infallibly
condemned it. This is utter nonsense, the Magisterium having never yet
explicitly ruled out the possibility of ‘baptism of desire’
(BOD) for catechumens, and you can a find a brief
logical refutation of the notion here.
He apparently imbibed it from the Dimond brothers, a
group of men back east in the
This, too, is typical of CFs or others
who schism off from the Church. They will fixate on lesser or inane things to
the exclusion of the real problem. Notwithstanding, though I was wary of
Michael, I tried to reason with him. I presented the matter of water baptism as
an unsolved difficulty, mimicking the process I had gone through some years ago
in realizing that BOD for catechumens had never been explicitly &
infallibly condemned, not to mention that saints & bishops both before the Council of Trent
(which they love to think condemned BOD) and after
Then we tackled the term ‘Co-Redemptress’. Catholics have given this magnificent title to the Blessed Virgin Mary for over five centuries. Never has the Magisterium explicitly condemned it by name. Its meaning, rightly understood, is in complete harmony with both Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. Nonetheless, CFs like Michael --- who again got his odd notion from the Dimond brothers --- pretend that certain very general statements of the Infallible Hierarchy concerning the uniqueness of Jesus’ Redemption are to be interpreted as forbidding this title… and despite an almost blatant trumpeting of the term by the Bible itself! The debate was cordial, but this time Michael was less capitulating. He grudgingly agreed that explicit condemnation had never occurred and that the Bible practically demanded it to be true. But it rubbed him the wrong way. He parted from me an unhappy man.
I then wrote up a letter encapsulating the debate and emphasizing the correctness of the term. I added an introduction to it, posting it to my website with his identity kept anonymous. It is entitled The Term Co-Redemptress Is Neither Heretical Nor Scandalous to the Catholic Faith (the title itself is a hyperlink) and is well worth reading, especially if you’re tempted to believe in Michael’s thinking. At any rate, I had to give the letter to him indirectly since he was moving to Alaska under the auspices of another Catholic who had tried to convince me to do likewise, but which I declined out of a lack of interest, wariness of the context, and not wanting to have to deal personally on a daily basis with Michael’s dangerous fundamentalism. I then turned to other matters that were far more pressing at the time. Some months later I received a response from Michael. I put this to the side because of everything else I had to grapple with, but I perused enough to realize that he was reneging on what he had admitted to me earlier in person. Essentially, it was a condemnation of me for standing firm on ‘Co-Redemptress’ and an ultimatum that he would consider me a formal heretic if I didn’t back down.
That was during the Spring of 2010. Later,
in December of that year, Michael visited
And so my hands were tied. I would have gladly continued debating with him. Yet he won’t even talk to me. That was six months ago now. There’s no sign that he’s changed his mind. Thus, he has wrongly & unjustly labeled me as a heretic for daring to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary as Co-Redemptress, and, as anyone must logically conclude, he will do the same to anyone else who honors Her in this way, too. This is an act of schism against members of the Body of Christ since the Church’s Magisterium has never explicitly forbidden it by name, and since, as Catholics have known for at least the last half millennium, the title is both a fitting and becoming way to honor God’s Mother. And schism, as any wise Catholic knows, is a grievously deadly sin. Whether against the Head or against other parts of Jesus’ Catholic Body, schism is a tearing of His Seamless Garment, being a mortal sin against Ecclesial Charity. You may learn about its horror in my book, Catholic Fundamentalism, which I have also linked to at the start of this page. Pay particularly close attention to the last chapter --- chapter fifteen --- which explains carefully why this transgression is so hideous. Nor can I excuse Michael with ignorance in this matter. He and I talked at some length, in extensive detail. I can vouch for the fact that he is intelligent enough to comprehend what I said or what I have written. Consequently, however sincere he may be in his error, his sin is a sin of obstinacy. He could back down --- at a bare minimum admitting that the matter is not yet infallibly certain --- and he could admit that he is mistaken. Even if he doesn’t want to use the term himself in honoring the Blessed Virgin, he could be prudent and await the explicit ruling of a future Roman Pontiff, who could clear up this dispute in short order. This is very similar to the debate about Mary’s Immaculate Conception in the early 2nd millennium. The two sides eventually got to the point where they were anathematizing each other, refusing religious communion. Then the Pope stepped in, metaphorically knocking a few heads together, and warning them to cut it out. He forbade further public debate. And, most poignantly, he did not dogmatically condemn either side’s position. Both could continue on for the time being believing as they believed. It was not until 1854, centuries later, that a pope decided to act and infallibly settle the matter for the rest of eternity.
I hence formally and publicly warn other real Catholics against the
person of Mr. Michael Lipscombe. He is perilous and
divisive. I do not accuse him of being outside the Catholic Church. As far as I
can tell, he is truly Catholic. And as far as I know, his schism is not something
which causes --- via canon law --- the Church to automatically excommunicate
him. I also do not accuse him of being morally repugnant, apart from his schism
and his foolish way of dealing with those he thinks are heretics. He is,
inasmuch as I can see, a decent man, and very helpful to us when we moved to
He is, though, a very odd man. During his college years and for a
decade or so after that, he smoked marijuana incessantly. Too, he used LSD
frequently. He was a perpetual vagabond, what we might call a kind of hippie
bum. He miraculously converted to the Catholic Faith later in life.
Unfortunately, much of this conversion was tainted by his short association
with the Dimond brothers. He also continued to be a
vagabond. He drifted into
Michael is in his early forties as I write (June of 2011). He is at least six feet tall. He is slender but sturdily built. He is mostly bald on the top of his head. He wears his hair short. He has a modest yet unmistakable Southern accent, and speaks slowly & clearly. He is not given to small talk. He prefers to be alone. He is not familiar with the latest technology (as far as I know he still does not use the Internet), but is intelligent and --- within the limits of his familiarity --- knowledgeable. He is partial to conspiracy theories, even to the point of gullibility. Although he used drugs in his younger days, he is completely abstinent in more recent years. He is unmarried. He is not interested in courting or wedlock (but not in any way prone to sodomy, of which he is utterly guiltless). He would like to live in the desert as a monk; leastwise, this was his desire as of two years ago. He may have changed this goal since meeting the bishop, to whom he seems to be like a kind of servant at the present time. He does temporary jobs when he needs money. He is used to living in a tent in wild or reclusive places as he sees fit.
I do not describe any of these characteristics to denigrate him. I really don’t mind any of them. My life is very different because I am married and have several children. Hence, I can’t pursue his type of living even if I wanted to. I merely describe him in enough detail that, if ever you meet him, you may know how to identify him and be wary of him. If you take my advice, you will not have religious communion with him since he is schismatic. Indeed, if like me you honor the Blessed Virgin as Co-Redemptress and think the BOD opinion for catechumens a permissible position for Catholics to take (however grossly erroneous), then he will --- if he knows you long enough and considers you Catholic --- condemn you roundly, break from you religiously and shun you entirely in social life. You are therefore warned against him. He is dangerous and divisive. He has already hurt many hearts… and I do not speak solely about me. He has spiritually bludgeoned others. Apart from our prayers, I know not what to do for him. Yet since we are to love our neighbors as ourselves and even our enemies, then we must earnestly plead to Heaven for the graces necessary to obtain his conversion back into the Unity & Charity of the Roman Catholic Church. Schism is an eternally deadly sin. It seems to me that he is morally culpable for what he is doing. I fear that he will be condemned to Hell forever if he dies in his current state. May his precious, immortal soul not be lost in its present condition.
Jesus, Mary & Joseph, we need your help. The job is too big for us alone! Give us wisdom, strength, mercy, patience and love. Uphold those who stand in justice, and bring to conversion those who wander astray. Remember that we, too, once roamed like lost sheep. We need your guidance still, desperately so during these confusing & horrible times. We have no shepherds. They have abandoned us. Please, take pity on us and give us back a spiritual father to lead us, and nurture our souls. Remove the stains of heresy & schism from those who go by God’s Name. It is Your Catholic Body; it is You Who they offend. Rise up and defend Your Good Name! Redeem the title of Catholic which has become an epithet and term of derision in these days. Wipe clean Your children and restore our inheritance to us. For Your Greater Glory & Honor, do these things, we pray. You are great in mercy & charity… forget us not.
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