How to Become an American Traditionalist, Part Five: Knowing About God

[Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart Four.]

Recall from the previous parts of this series that traditionalism reconnects man with the wisdom of his ancestors and that the most important item of wisdom is to acknowledge the God of the Bible. Recall also that intuition is the foundation of wisdom, and that man also needs revelation and personal repentance in order to be wise. Once you have begun to repent of your liberalism, you are ready to find teachers of wisdom

The greatest teacher, of course, is God, and His teachings are found in the Bible. The most important of these teachings is how you can be saved from God’s wrath through repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. This truth, of course, cannot be known through intuition. It must be revealed to you, and then you must believe it.

Since the Bible, and only the Bible, is God speaking, it is the highest authority other than God Himself[i]. It is the ultimate authority for testing and correcting our intuitions about the order of being.

But we face an immediate problem: Authorities disagree about exactly what the Bible means. Often these disagreements arise when men don’t want to acknowledge the clear meaning of the words. These are disagreements caused by stubbornness, not by a lack of clarity in the text.  But there are genuine disagreements. The authorities disagree about what the Bible teaches.

Perhaps you, the reader, are already a part of a Christian tradition. In that case you already have an authority which clarifies the meaning of the Bible.  But this essay assumes that you are not yet a traditionalist. That being so, you do not yet know which authority to trust.

Do not respond to this as the world does, and conclude that disagreement proves there is no truth about God that we can know. This thinking is part of the poisonous nihilism of the modern world and it can drag you down to destruction. Man needs certainty about the most important things if he is to live well. In order to act, especially on important issues, we must have certainty. And disagreement never means that there is no truth. It means only that people differ in their ability and desire to know and honor reality.

When authorities disagree, it is natural to ask “Who’s right?” When authorities disagree about the teachings of the Bible, do not throw up your hands. Instead, determine who’s right. Discover the criteria that each authority uses to determine his teachings, and test these criteria. See if the authority’s system makes sense, if it is self-consistent, and if it plausibly accounts for what you already know. Acknowledge that you don’t know everything, and that you will eventually have to place yourself under an authority. Since there are competing authorities which make contradictory claims, and since you are not omniscient, you have no choice but to test their claims, and hold fast what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21.)

Since this point is crucial, we repeat it:  To be wise, you will have to place yourself under an authority. But if you have not yet done so, you must test the existing authorities, for they make contradictory claims.

And observe: First you test the authorities, an activity in which you are sovereign. Then you hold fast what is good, an activity in which you surrender your sovereignty to the truth you have discovered. Modernism is endless testing, without ever discovering, let alone holding fast, to the truth. Do not repeat this error.

*

How exactly is this testing to be done? No glib answer that is valid can be given. This series can only show the general approach.

But remember that you are testing human authorities, not God. God is far above you. You cannot know very much about Him (except perhaps that He exists and is far above you) if you rely only on your own resources or the collective resources of the human race. In order for you to know about God, He will have to communicate with you, and you will have to receive and believe that communication. That is, you will have to believe God’s revelation in the Bible.

But you will also have to decide which religious authority gives the most accurate explanation of exactly what the Bible means. Although much of the Bible is straightforward, the overall system of biblical teaching, and its wider significance, is not self-evident. You will have to work to determine which tradition of biblical interpretation does the best job of explaining the biblical record.

So which Christian authority is the most correct? We can tell you the answer, but you cannot just take our word for it. You will have to do your own work to discover that confessional Protestantism (that is, the Protestantism that honors the Word of God by explicitly identifying what it teaches and then codifying these teachings in the various protestant confessions) is the best system. The other Christian authorities either dissolve the teachings of Christ in a bath of postmodern skeptical acid or else introduce additional unbiblical teachings.

In the next essay [it’s here], we will see some questions you should ask when seeking to determine whether an authority is trustworthy.

[i] A Catholic would register an objection at this point, and identify his Church (or his Pope) as the highest earthly authority. The author is Protestant, but the point here is valid in both systems:  There is a highest authority.

45 thoughts on “How to Become an American Traditionalist, Part Five: Knowing About God

  1. Pingback: How to Become an American Traditionalist, Part Four: Revelation and Repentance | The Orthosphere

  2. Might a word be said about Eastern Orthodoxy, with which I have chosen to identify. As I understand it, the Orthodoxy has fewer late-addition rituals than the Catholic faith (largely due to its historically localized and dissolved nature). It also has a different system of authority that is diffused and lacks claims of infallibility, yet it retains much of the original Apostolic tradition, for instance strict patriarchy.

    I was brought to Christianity by a Protestant, but felt a personal desire for structure and tradition that wasn’t evident in what might be called the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ of Protestant denominations. Catholicism however, in spite of a beautifully rich tradition, did present problems for me, doctrinally in particular, the immaculate conception and such.

    I also have considerable Russian blood so feel a kinship with what might be called the mother church of my blood.

    Just some personal musings.

    I like what you’ve written here, particularly the truth about taking authority in seeking your repentance and then giving into the authority of a higher power once you have your doctrine worked out. Something tells me that in the coming years, certain denominations will just implode in liberalism (see Unitarian Universalists), and we may see some reconciliation between the feuding faithful Christian churches, this feuding having served the cause of liberalism as Christians took to swords too quickly against their brothers.

    Just imagine a church that encompassed all of the world’s 2.20 billion Christians. The political power would be cosmic, and allow for the defense of doctrine against heathens in the name of the Holy God.

    • As a confessional Protestant, I agree with Mr. Roebuck, of course, but having said that, I think it is possible for someone to be a Christian and be saved even if he approaches it from another tradition. Reduced to its simplest, the issue is twofold: how well does that tradition teach Christian truth, and how much unbiblical baggage does that tradition carry with it? The former leads people towards the truth, and the latter away from it.

      On the first point, no church on Earth has ever been perfect—remember that there was a hypocrite and a traitor even among the Twelve—so that is not the standard. Rather, it is how faithful the church is in preaching the Word of God. All sects that can be called Christian teach God’s unique and divine nature; the Trinity; Jesus’ death and resurrection and their meaning. They practice the Lord’s Supper and baptism. These are a few of the essentials. The more biblical truths a sect proclaims, the more able it is to lead its adherents to salvation. Conversely, the fewer it teaches, the less able it is to lead its flock to salvation.

      As for the second point, I will build on the example Mr. Citadel gave: Protestants and the Orthodox agree that the immaculate conception is a Roman creation that is without foundation in the Bible;* as such, it is what I have labeled unbiblical baggage and is therefore a hindrance to a proper understanding of the faith. The more such accretions a sect has, the more difficult it is for the sect to lead its adherents to salvation.

      How few Christian truths can a denomination teach and still be considered Christian? How many unbiblical teachings (i.e., untruths) can a denomination teach and still be considered Christian? I think it depends on both the number and the nature.

      * Roman Catholics would disagree, of course; I shall not address that argument here.

      • I think it is possible for someone to be a Christian and be saved even if he approaches it from another tradition

        Then what’s the point of being a “Confessional Protestant” if one can be saved in a another tradition?

      • The point is that Confessional Protestantism (no scare quotes necessary) teaches more Christian truths, and has less unbiblical baggage, than any other form.

        Also, the operative terms is possible, not probable. The less of the truth a church proclaims, the more untruths it teaches, the less able it is to lead adherents to salvation. There are even denominations that do such a poor job of teaching Christian truths, as well as those that have so much baggage, that they cannot be considered Christian, regardless of how they label themselves. (In actual practice, deviant sects do both.) Membership in such a “church” is far more likely to lead someone astray, rather than to the truth.

      • Also, the operative terms is possible, not probable.

        Would you say that an Eastern Orthodox man could be saved if he were just a devout Orthodox?

      • I seem to remember you making comments more or less stating that other Christians sects could be saved etc. If your position is that only those who attend your sect are saved that’s more commendable in my view. I respect anyone sticking to their guns in that regard.

      • [I’m speaking for myself here, but I think Mr. Lewis would agree.] The Protestant position has never been that only those in one of our sects are saved. It is that only those in Christ, by repentance from sin and true faith in Him, are saved.

        What makes our sects better is their clear recognition of this fact, while the other sects tend to confuse people with unbiblical additions.

        So yes, our sects are better 🙂

      • As someone who has had a terrible time picking a denomination, I guess I might offer some thoughts here.

        I believe we are initially justified by (in Reformation/Counter-Reformation terms) imputed righteousness that accompanies belief and baptism. This is so-called forensic justification.

        However, I believe the maintenance or “working out” of faith and salvation comes from an infusion of grace that comes from things like cultivation of our faith through Christian practice, the sacraments that Christ gave us, etc. This is so called analytical justification. Ultimately, God only declares people holy/righteous when they truly are holy/righteous.

        Given this understanding, I think, on the whole, the Catholic and Orthodox practices do a better job of making salvation more probable for the largest number of people in the broadest number of circumstances.

      • Ultimately, God only declares people holy/righteous when they truly are holy/righteous.

        But according to Scripture, nobody is truly holy/righteous unless they have their sins forgiven and receive credit for having perfect righteousness. And none if this is possible unless you are in Christ through repentance and faith in Him.

        Therefore it is repentance and faith that are the keys to salvation. And it is the confessional Protestant tradition that emphasizes this most forcefully.

      • I don’t agree that the immaculate conception (whether it’s true or not) is a hindrance to the proper understanding of the faith or that it could make it more difficult for a sect that believes in it to lead its adherents to salvation.

      • The problem here is not so much believing in something that is theologically highly dubious. The problem is that according Mary a higher status than she actually has is part and parcel of a system that formally denies the key biblical truth of justification (and that’s just one part of Salvation, but it’s the part that makes the other parts occur) by faith alone, and that dilutes the true faith with other extraneous beliefs and practices.

      • In response to ISE, Mr. Roebuck’s comment at 3:22 is more or less what I would have said.

        In response to Bruce B., God most certainly does not declare “people holy/righteous when they truly are holy/righteous.” See Romans 5:6–10:

        For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

        He declares us righteous in His sight while we are still wicked sinners, showing His love for us even though we have done nothing to earn or deserve it.

        And that is the point: there is nothing we can bring to God that would make us righteous in His sight. What makes us righteous in His sight is the salvific grace that Jesus gives to us through His death on the cross.

  3. Pingback: How to Become an American Traditionalist, Part Five: Knowing About God | Reaction Times

  4. Pointing out a particular reservation or distinction that keeps nagging at the back of my mind….

    I recall in splinter-Orthodox circles people on the Internet would always ask “who is your priest/hierarch?” The use of that question was a sign of the group’s illness, since it was needed to disambiguate which of the myriad tiny schisms everyone belonged to — but that kind of question struck me as actual reasoning with respect to authority. It was semi-implied that the hierarch vetted his subordinate priests’ beliefs, and the priests vetted their followers’ beliefs, and a person that fit into that hierarchy would have some teacher who, in person, was guiding and advising them; and there was an expected habit on the part of laypeople that they would not just try to work out unexpected questions on their own, but refer them to their spiritual father, or similar authority figure, for advice.

    On the other hand, there is the traditionalism where you ‘submit’ to an authority in the sense of a pile of books, documents, and doctrines embodying the tradition of some Church and you say “what this Church teaches, that is exactly what I’m going to follow”. That does not strike me as amounting to following an authority in remotely the same way.

    Books, be they written by the most holy saint whose soul is still active in modern affairs, are not going to stand up for themselves and defend their point of view if you start interpreting them wrongly. (Undoubtedly Thomas Aquinas is still active in the Catholic Church, but has much better things to do than bothering all the people who abuse Thomism. His books, on the other hand, are dead paper at the mercy of the reader’s interpretation.) So submitting yourself to a Church tradition, seems to me more a case of “I am going to think for myself, and I am going to draw on as much of the collected experience and wisdom of the Church in doing so as my limited wisdom can manage to apprehend from these books.”

    All the more so since in practice, say, the way into Catholic traditionalism comes from people deciding to vet their immediate superiors as to whether _they_ understand tradition (as obtained by reading and attempting to understand the writings of earlier Church figures) enough to be trusted — rather than submitting one’s understanding of tradition to what the priest in one’s parish (which may be liberalizing) happens to think of it.

    • Tibetan Buddhism seems to play the same game, the Gelugpa (Dalai Lama) tradition is largely about a lot of books, 108 + 225 + further commentaries, Karma-Kagyü (Karmapa tradition), which literally means whispering transmission, is all about who is your teacher and who is your teachers teacher although all the teachers claim an unbroken lineage of teachers going back 2500 years, but anyway the source of authority seems to be that I am allowed to teach because my teacher authorized me to do so, my teacher was authorized by his etc. and at some sense every teacher is his own school or a flavor of a larger one.

      My point is that this says more about the general human ways to deal with uncertainty and the transmission of information in changing circumstances, rather than about the peculiarities of a religion or spiritual practice and philosophy.

  5. Throughout human history, most people believed in that particular religious tradition and authority that they were raised in, or was the standard one in their particular nation or region.

    I have no idea how did they manage to justify the lucky coincidence that people of their country and region just happened to believe in those ideas that are objectively true, and the unlucky coincidence that people born in different places just happened to believe in wrong ideas, even though the foreigners argued as hard as they themselves did.

    I am not being snarky here. I do desire a good answer. Aquinas e.g. was a genius, and he did study Muslim authors, so if he had any explanation for why people who were born in Europe just happened to be right and people born in Arab lands just happed to be wrong, I would like to hear it, it definitely would be something to consider.

    Until that my tentative opinion is that frankly, communal cohesion achieved through shared beliefs matters more than them being objectively true.

    • Shenpen,

      There is a stunning counter-example to the general truth that you point out (and which we could call ethnocentric fideism): The advancement of Christianity in Europe from 500 to 1000 was, with some exceptions, entirely a matter of persuasion and adoption. In other words, over a period of a few centuries, people fell into profound dissatisfaction with the faiths (basically, Germanic and Celtic heathendom) into which they had been born, and they voluntarily took up a new faith. Iceland passed from Heathendom to Christendom in a single generation. Eric the Red was a heathen and his son Leif was a Christian. Conversion is a topic in numerous sagas.

      Thinking about it — the spread of Christianity within the structure of the Roman Empire in the second, third, and fourth centuries also happened entirely by persuasion and required the decision that the born faith, paganism, was no longer valid or satisfying.

      Sincerely,

      TFB

      • The analysis is correct. And we must also remember, Christianity WAS the popular religion of the Arabs and North Africans (along with some others), but was purged through the force of the sword.

        Religion’s practical uses must be separated from its truth. The practical purposes are obvious and anyone stating that religion is not a component to all successful societies is lying. Religion across geography and time is an ever shifting sand, and the religions are mutually exclusive. If one is true, the others are false.

        I take the Christian faith to be true, so while other faiths may have a hermetic tradition rooted in central genesis era truths, only the comprehensive worldview presented by the OT and NT is correct, and only through the path of salvation outlined in the message of Christ will one be redeemed in the life after death.

      • Not only that, but Christianity spread eastward to India and south to Kenya in the early centuries AD, not through the sword but through preaching. By the time of Mohammed, most of the civilized world was Christian, having been peacefully converted by hearing the Gospel.

        And today, Christianity is the fastest growing religion in the Orient and Afica, not because Christians are conquering those lands, but through preaching – and, I would add, the work of the Holy Spirit.

        Shenpen is Buddhist. Is that because he grew up in a Buddhist land? Or is it rather because he thinks Buddhism is true? If the latter, he himself is a stunning counterexample to the general tendency he notices among men, of first loyalty to their patrimonial cult.

      • Professor Bertonneau,

        My impression is that Christianity was generally accepted by the elites (sometimes out of genuine conviction, sometimes for the practical, secular benefits and sometimes as a result of the threat of force) and then tended to flow down to the common people from the elite.

        PS: Emperor Justinian behaved like a Caliph before there was a Caliphate; indeed, Justinian’s campaigns in the West are a plausible model for Mo’s religion-based wars. Charlemagne conducted a punitive incursion in Saxony against the pagan holdouts there that was a brutal as any jihad. Of course, the Saxons, like the Aztecs, had been raiding their neighbors for sacrificial victims, so that it is difficult to feel much sympathy for their elites. These things, and others like them, happened, however, after Christianity fused with the state, and they are eminently vulnerable to moral criticism from the point of view of Christianity. By contrast, jihad and the rites of Huitzilopotchli are eminently invulnerable to criticism from the point of view either of Islam or the Mexican Corn-God Cult.

      • While in general I am grateful for the great spread of Christianity around the world and acknowledge the central role of humble missionary persuasion and pious example in that endeavor, we ought not to whitewash history to make the case for Christianity, especially given the tendency of history’s winners to see and write history through their own lens. Google up the persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire for more information. As for Northern Europe, consider the Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae and the Massacre of Verden in 782. That seems not so different from some Islamic measures. Pope Benedict XVI courageously recognized “unjustifiable crimes” were committed in the conquest of South America 500 years ago.

        Christian missionaries may not have wielded the sword, but they converted elites who then increasingly used the sword against pagans as well as Jews and other Christians. Violence against Jews, witches, apostates, and heretics was a distressingly common feature of Christian history for lengthy periods of time, often with explicit support from the authorities. Thankfully, this is a feature of the past, but those who forget the past lose not only the truth, but also a protection against future errors.

        While the secular revolutions of France and Russia produced greater violence measured by the number of victims, modern Western secular liberalism now seems to be spreading by generally non-violent means.

      • … not to whitewash history to make the case for Christianity, especially given the tendency of history’s winners to see and write history through their own lens.

        Who’s whitewashing anything? The Catholic Church has bent over backwards (too much so IMO) to apologize for these crimes both real (and imagined). Do you really think that’s a problem in contemporary society, that Catholics are not reminded, constantly beat over the head with references to its darker past? Do you also condemn modern “Christian” and Mormon conservatives who call for an attack on Iran? Do you think America has something to learn from its crusades for liberty in the past?

        For what it’s worth I think Christians have shown tremendous restraint in most times. Early Christians didn’t form militias and put curses on government officials only to finally acquiesce to government demands.

        … modern Western secular liberalism now seems to be spreading by generally non-violent means.

        I think many, perhaps millions of Iraqis, Palestinians, Russians, Syrians, Afghans, Libyans and Serbs would beg to disagree on that.

      • @Ita Scripta Est

        Who’s whitewashing anything?

        Answer: The comment that ”the spread of Christianity within the structure of the Roman Empire in the second, third, and fourth centuries also happened entirely by persuasion” is false, unless your view of “persuasion” includes the sort persecution by the government that Christians would find objectionable if it were applied to them.

        Do you also condemn modern “Christian” and Mormon conservatives who call for an attack on Iran? Do you think America has something to learn from its crusades for liberty in the past?

        My opinion is that an unprovoked attack on Iran would be a very serious and deplorable action. I would strongly oppose it. Please distinguish between the official stance of a church (or churches) and the individual views of some of its members. There are Catholic neoconservatives, but I don’t consider that their views necessarily represent the views of the Catholic Church. Should I? In contrast, the Catholic Church officially endorsed and promoted the Crusades and the Inquisition as a Church policy. That objection does not apply to the modern Catholic Church, which has apologized for past abuses and is quite unlikely to repeat them. The modern Catholic Church doesn’t worry me. Not at all. I am happy to work alongside my Catholic neighbors and have done so in interfaith endeavors. It is the neoreactionary movement that worries me. It really does.

        I don’t know what you mean by “crusades for liberty.” Do you mean our involvement in WW2? The American Civil War? I certainly think America has made some serious domestic and foreign policy blunders in its history, but I don’t regret the overall American experiment in ordered liberty. Do you?

        … millions of Iraqis, Palestinians, Russians, Syrians, Afghans, Libyans and Serbs would beg to disagree on that.

        I was thinking about the spread of liberalism within the West, which is being done generally without violence, rather than American adventurism in the Middle East and elsewhere, which is quite problematic in my view. There is no permission to sin, and Christ is the Prince of Peace, not of War. See also Matt. 18:7.

      • ISE:

        I think many, perhaps millions of Iraqis, Palestinians, Russians, Syrians, Afghans, Libyans and Serbs would beg to disagree on that.

        That isn’t the smallest fraction of it. Liberalism and its close cousin ideologies have murdered more innocent human beings in cold blood than all previous societies in the entire history of humanity combined (Dresden, Hiroshima, abortion, Auschwitz, etc. etc.).

        Liberalism’s claim to nonviolence is so risible that if it weren’t simultaneously so horrifying I would laugh out loud every time someone suggests it.

      • Zippy, you failed to mention the roughly half-a-billion people slaughtered by various Communist regimes in the 20th century. While some might quibble that Communism is leftist, not liberal, the difference is one of degree, not kind.

      • Leo, the notion that the Crusades were offensive actions against Moslems and somehow unjustified is little more than revisionist anti-Christian propaganda. The fact is that the Crusades were defensive actions against Islamic invaders who were slaughtering and enslaving Christians and desecrating churches in the Holy Land. Please read The Real History of the Crusades for details.

      • @ Leo

        The Crusades were a completely justified reaction against Islamic tribal aggression in the Middle East and North Africa. The Christians of Europe were there to fight the Muslims off in order to protect the vulnerable Christians of the Middle East and North Africa.

        I don’t know what your faith is, but we’re not Quakers. Violence is justified at times.

      • I certainly think America has made some serious domestic and foreign policy blunders in its history, but I don’t regret the overall American experiment in ordered liberty. Do you?

        Are you serious? Does anyone who isn’t blinded by ideology not see the American experiment as nothing but a failure?

      • The crusades were a fully justified set of Holy Wars for the territory around Jerusalem, for it was an affront for Christian pilgrims to be slaughtered by Turks who overran the territory. It was a defensive act on behalf of all Christendom against the Muslim hordes.

      • Answer: The comment that ”the spread of Christianity within the structure of the Roman Empire in the second, third, and fourth centuries also happened entirely by persuasion” is false, unless your view of “persuasion” includes the sort persecution by the government that Christians would find objectionable if it were applied to them.

        I find it objectionable because Christianity is true, not because of some abstract notion of religious freedom.

        Please distinguish between the official stance of a church (or churches) and the individual views of some of its members.

        Is the living prophet Gordon Hinckley an official enough authority for the LDS? As citizens, we are all under the direction of our respective national leaders. They have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally. Furthermore, we are a freedom-loving people, committed to the defense of liberty wherever it is in jeopardy.
        https://www.lds.org/ensign/2003/05/war-and-peace?lang=eng

        I take it (and other Mormons admit) that he was in support for the Iraq along with about 80% of Mormons at the time. The fact that later, apparently regretted it does not in mind mitigate his prior support.

        Comparing that to to JPII’s statement at the time: “War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity

        or then Cardinal Ratzinger’s: ““The fact that the United Nations is seeking the way to avoid war, seems to me to demonstrate with enough evidence that the damage would be greater than the values one hopes to save,

        So it seems some religious bodies in the West, still support immoral wars no? Who do you think better exemplified the values of the Prince of Peace here JPII or the living Prophet Gorodon Hinckley? Are only Catholic wars bad? Are wars for “liberty” okay? What sort of liberty? Women’s rights (abortion, which Mormons support) gay rights and secularism? Is that a Mormon tradition to fight wars for liberty?

        was thinking about the spread of liberalism within the West, which is being done generally without violence

        In traditional Protestant countries (U.S., UK, Scandinavia, Holland) it has spread largely without any violent opposition from Protestants. In Catholic countries (France, Spain, Mexico, Italy, Austria and South America ) it was primarily established through violence and it has largely triumphed in this countries.

      • rather than American adventurism in the Middle East and elsewhere, which is quite problematic in my view.

        Really? But did you not support Mitt Romney, saying he was a good man and would have been a better president? He seemed quite willing to revamp American adventurism in the Middle East. What good is it to be against something and vote and support the candidate anyway?

        he modern Catholic Church doesn’t worry me. Not at all. I am happy to work alongside my Catholic neighbors and have done so in interfaith endeavors.

        You should be honest and recognize the reason Mormonism is allowed to spread in formerly Catholic countries is basically thanks to American imperialism.

        This goes to some of my remarks earlier up in the thread but at this point, I think its obvious that this idea that “we’re all traditionalists so let’s stick together or hang separately” makes no sense. I have much more in common for the things that matter with the impoverished Mexican who mutters the prayers in Spanish during Latin Mass at my Church or the Catholic Vietnamese lady I work with who has a picture of an Asiatic Virgin Mary than I do with my Mormon (or Calvinist) neighbor, who happens to be very “conservative” apparently and lives in a very nice house and is so respectable. That these people don’t “grasp” the tenets of American liberalism is a virtue. Better a bad Catholic than some Americanist at least the former did not actively oppose the Truth, in favor of one the most pernicious ideologies concocted in the pit of hell.

      • I have much more in common for the things that matter with the impoverished Mexican who mutters the prayers in Spanish during Latin Mass at my Church or the Catholic Vietnamese lady I work with who has a picture of an Asiatic Virgin Mary than I do with my Mormon (or Calvinist) neighbor, who happens to be very “conservative” apparently and lives in a very nice house and is so respectable.

        Id Scripta Est,

        You say that you have more in common with (and therefore, apparently, have more sympathy for) Catholic foreigners. Are you a white American? If so, then you are allowing your hatred of liberalism to cause you to hate your American brothers. These people may indeed be under the evil spell of liberalism, but even if they are, they are your brothers. And perhaps they are not really in the grip of liberalism, in which case you are misjudging your brothers.

      • ISE is a Roman Catholic bigot who posted the following on the Orthosphere:

        You* are not a Christian, the Catholic Church is the true Faith you don’t have natural “rights” to life, liberty and property and oh yeah I don’t care if that hurts yours or any one else’s feelings. Protestantism is indeed the cause of modernism…

        And yes, Mr. Roebuck, ISE seems to have greater affinity for foreigners, including illegal aliens, than his fellow citizens (assuming he is American) as long as the foreigners are followers of the Roman faith.

        * He is refering to an apparently Protestant commenter here.

      • @ ISE

        While 80% of Mormons were pushing the pro-Israel and pro-Saudi agenda of attacking the Arab nationalist and anti-royalist Saddam Hussein and destroying the stability of Iraq and the futures of the Chaldean Catholics, great Catholic men like Pat Buchanan, Tom Piatak, and Thomas Fleming stood against the war. The war that destroyed both Iraq’s stability and the remaining vestiges of American stability.

        @ Wm. Lewis and Alan Roebuck

        While ISE is extreme when it comes to Protestants, I must agree with him on Mormons. Mormons are Americanists, they are not traditionalists, just look at Leo’s comments. I have more in common with Ancient pagans and even secularists like Oswald Spengler and Thomas Carlyle than I do with Mormons. At the same time, look at the comment ISE was responding to:

        “Now, here is the point – how would all you Catholics, both those who explicitly said the same sort of thing here and those who thought it but didn’t write it react? Many, if not most, of you would be shrieking like hypocritical little pussies: “How *dare* you imply that [the Roman denomination] isn’t *real* Christianity!!1!””

        “Hypocritical little pussies”. I will rest my case.

        At the same time, even Fascism and Stalinism are superior to Americanism. I have no loyalty to the idea of America. I do have loyalty to my Middle American neighbors and friends and yes even to Catholic foreigners but none to the idea known as “America”. “America” has killed off the living, breathing nation of America.

  6. In its Roman phase, Christianity was a “bottom-up” rather than a “top-down” religion. The classic pattern in the early-medieval west was that the wives of the athelings converted first and then they converted their husbands. From what I can tell based on the sources known to me, the Northern evangelists typically addressed the people as a whole and made headway among them. Then they would be summoned by the king, who perhaps and indeed saw something utilitarian in the new creed and who then decided to front for it.

    • Yes, the divine right of kings does have a certain utilitarian appeal to monarchs, especially since they could be in league with other Christian kings. While not elaborated upon until later, Christianity was highly supportive of Christian monarchy since the time of Constantine. Add the prestige and gravitas of Southern Europe and some technological superiority, and the appeal becomes even stronger, especially to the elites. But the divine right of kings is not something most of us now support because of its historical abuses. Think, for example, of the Tudors, not to mention some of Europe’s crueler or insane monarchs.

      • By the way, Leo, my chronological horizon of the second, third, and fourth centuries was carefully chosen, since these are the centuries largely before Constantine and they include, at their lower level, phases of intense, homicidal persecution of Christians. Constantine, who marks the closure of the period, was famously the first Christian emperor (he was, incidentally, an Arian, as were the German auxiliaries on whom his military power rested), but while Constantine legally recognized Christianity and lifted legal sanctions against the religion, he did not persecute pagans, a development that waited until fifty years or so after his death under his successors, when indeed Christianity had fused itself with the state.

  7. Alan Roebuck,

    Is Jehovah’s witness Protestant?

    How is Protestantism defined ?

    You write
    “confessional Protestantism (that is, the Protestantism that honors the Word of God by explicitly identifying what it teaches and then codifying these teachings in the various protestant confessions) is the best system.”

    You write from theologian’s perspective, perhaps that is looking for best systems. But a believer or a seeker is looking for the best church.

    Your answer “confessional protestantism” is too loose, too flabby. It seems like to mean -anything except the catholic church or the orthodoxy.

  8. Pingback: Will the Real Christianity Please Stand Up? | The Orthosphere

  9. Pingback: Will the Real Christianity Please Stand Up? | The Orthosphere

  10. Pingback: How to Become an American Traditionalist, Part Six: Other Authorities | The Orthosphere

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