How to Become an American Traditionalist, Part Six: Other Authorities

[Part OnePart TwoPart Three.  Part FourPart Five.]

Recall from the previous parts that traditionalism reconnects man with the wisdom of his ancestors, that the most important wisdom is to acknowledge God, and that intuition is the foundation of wisdom. Recall also that man also needs revelation and personal repentance in order to be wise, and that once he has begun to repent of liberalism he is ready to find teachers of wisdom.

We have said that man can know the answers to many of his deepest questions or, in other words, that he can know the basic nature of the order of being, through his intuition. Since intuition can be corrupted or obscured, man needs to have these intuitions articulated, guided, and affirmed by authorities. And the highest authority is the Bible, God’s Word.

But there are other religious authorities. The Bible is not the only Christian authority. It is the highest (and the only infallible) authority, but you will need creeds and confessions, pastors and bishops, teachers and theologians to guide you. To become wise about God, you will need eventually to join one of the existing Christian traditions.

*

We have spoken [here and in the previous posts] at length about knowledge of God not simply because it is the most important knowledge. It also is a model for other forms of knowledge, for the basic problems of how one can know important truths occur similarly in other fields. In other fields too, man cannot know very much on his own, and must believe revelation and participate in a tradition in order to become wise. In other fields too, the authorities disagree about the most basic and important ideas, and so you will have to learn, and then judge, the criteria that these authorities use.

When you are investigating a particular authority, is there a general way to know whether he is teaching the traditionalism that gives life or the modernism that leads to nihilism?  There is no certain test, but ask yourself some questions: Does he make it up himself, or does he refer to an authority or a tradition? Does he regard man as the measure of all things, or does he acknowledge God?  Does he regard freedom and tolerance as the greatest goods, or does he show a concern for the objective order of the world and for preserving the ways of his people? Does he chafe at limits and rules, or does he acknowledge that reality contains boundaries?

And although you are judging the authorities, remember that you are not judging the realities about which they teach. Once you know it, you must submit to the order of being.

*

In areas such as proper male-female relations, the nature of a properly-ordered society, or the details of morality, we do not have an infallible authority like the Bible to define things completely. The Bible lays down the most basic truths about most areas of life, but it does not directly answer all questions. We need other authorities.

Note that these other authorities are fundamentally unlike the Bible in at least one important way: Not being God or His Words, they are not infallible. Instead, their authority (the right to be believed or obeyed) stems primarily from their bearing faithful witness to the true order of being, which is known at the most fundamental level by intuition rather than by coming from an infallible authority or having been validated scientifically.

[We have been speaking of intellectual and spiritual authority. Social authority is different. In general, social authority is visibly conferred through a publicly-recognized process.]

[Part Seven is here.]

7 thoughts on “How to Become an American Traditionalist, Part Six: Other Authorities

  1. Pingback: How to Become an American Traditionalist, Part Five: Knowing About God | The Orthosphere

  2. Pingback: How to Become an American Traditionalist, Part Six: Other Authorities | Reaction Times

  3. While I think the basic contention here is correct, that the Bible certainly does not address every issue that might arise (and as we get further away from the time of Special Revelation they will be more numerous), I would maybe give the Word more credit as it does contain lessons and laws which carry through to situations unmentioned in amazing ways.

    Take the rule about building a wall on top of a flat dwelling, so that friends and guests will not accidentally fall from your roof. This definitely contains a central truth independent of any particular construction or architecture, that we should be mindful of the safety of others when we engage with our own property and not be negligent.

    With regard to male/female relations, we do have a guiding principle of defined roles and responsibilities, the wife will submit to the husband and the husband will love the wife as Christ loved the church and sacrifice for them. Any societal model that respects this truth may be correct.

    A clerical class is most certainly necessary to really drill down into the deep theology as it relates to politics and to a lesser degree, social etiquette, and in my opinion such a clerical class must possess real power. I would want every citizen to be fully Biblically literate in addition. This way, meaningful dialogue beyond the flow of raw authority can be had between the populace and the clerical class.

    • “A clerical class is most certainly necessary to really drill down into the deep theology as it relates to politics and to a lesser degree, social etiquette, and in my opinion such a clerical class must possess real power.”

      As they did in New Testament times. They were called Scribes and Pharisees.

      • And as they did pretty much at every time before that, and every time after that up until the advent of Modernity.

        It is important to note the Pharisees played an indispensable role in Biblical history, indeed it would not have been the same had they not existed. Jesus’ primary criticism of them was their character itself rather than their (admittedly inhibited) authority in the region, that they were obvious hypocrites and dangerously corrupt, had a flawed understanding of the Law, and more importantly had to be taught that it was impossible for them to live up to the pious standard they espoused and that they required grace beyond their mere good works.

        The idea that a priestly order should have no role in the political body (better known as the ‘separation of church and state’) is a modern concept that is inherently bankrupt and a desperately degraded form when compared with the world of Tradition.

        Theology plays as vital a role in the state as economics and defense (even moreso in some cases!), to name two things most considered today. The theological organ of the state is the primary medium through which the link to the transcendent is established and the goings on of the state are legitimized through the lens of the overworld.

        This is what it really means to be committed to Throne & Altar. The first barrier to be broken is the farcical wall between church and state, for the two are complementary, and beautiful together, contrary to the view of ‘tyrannical theocracy!’ espoused by the average banshee on the left who has nightmares about sexual ethics and legitimized patriarchy.

  4. Mark, I suspect that modernity has its equivalent of the Pharisaical class: All those professors, degree-holders, “experts,” advisers, counselors, and other badge-wearers who officiate to be everyone’s conscience in everything.

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