More about the Proposed Christian Pact

In the post proposing the Pact, I wrote

The pact would start with members of the three varieties of Christianity affirming their right to disagree with one another, both in the sense of holding different convictions and of speaking publicly against the errors of the other parties.

This point needs clarification. Here are some situations I had in mind when writing these words:

Sometimes I write Orthosphere posts on Christian doctrine which require me to teach explicitly Protestant doctrine. I don’t do this to get Catholic readers hot under the collar (although some react that way). I do it to express my convictions. Another type of Christian who recognizes my right to do this will not see me as breaking fellowship. I have a right to disagree with my brothers in Christ.

Sometimes others speak against Protestant doctrine. I will not refrain from defending doctrines I believe to be true out of a desire not to hurt the alliance, because to refrain from defending my convictions hurts my spirit. But I will speak respectfully, for my interlocutor may be my brother in Christ, or at least my brother in Christendom broadly defined. My goal is not to harm, but to correct false doctrine.

*

It all depends on the spirit in which it is done. It could be a spirit of aggression, or a spirit of truth.

75 thoughts on “More about the Proposed Christian Pact

      • It is a common enough formulation.

        There is no right that cannot be formulated as a moral obligation upon others. If there is “a right to disagree with each other”, then there is (correspondingly) a moral obligation upon others to listen to what others are bound by authority to deem heresy. Which is crazy. How could there be such a moral obligation? We may make a Gentlemens’ Agreement not to discuss disputed dogmas in such-n-such place for such-n-such time for such-n-such prudential reasons. But none of that can possibly add up to “a right to disagree with each other”.

      • OK. Now I see your objection.

        But when I spoke of a “right” to disagree, I was not speaking metaphysically. I was speaking of a “gentlemen’s agreement,” as you say. Those who do not hate members of other Christian traditions can “allow” others to express their convictions without becoming enraged at the heresy.

        As I have said repeatedly, the spirit of the Pact is easier to define than the letter. It probably comes down to the question of whether one’s hatred of heresy makes fellowship emotionally impossible.

      • OK. Well, the Orthosphere already is that sort of Gentlemen’s agreement. As is Neoreaction. I suppose then that my only objection is to how it’s worded. That word “right” gets thrown around a lot, and a lot of people have no idea what it means.

      • Error is in the eye of the beholder.

        No, it isn’t.

        Is the Vatican in error on this?

        In short, yes.

        Traditional Catholic teaching has repeatedly shot down the idea of “freedom of conscience” as pure codswallop (e.g. Pope Gregory XVI in Mirari Vos, the Syllabus of Errors, etc.) Insofar as religious freedom is permissible, it is for one of two reasons:

        (i.) A Catholic ruler may allow the (private) practice of a false religion for pragmatic reasons (e.g. keeping the peace). However, while other religions may be tolerated, the state is actually morally obligated to prevent any type of proselytizing lest any Catholics fall into error;

        (ii.) If the state’s permission of freedom of religion allows the Catholics to practice their religion unencumbered (as was the case in the United States).

      • No need for the pearl-clutching, Leo.

        Multiple papal encyclicals stating that religious freedom is nonsense >>> Some random monsignor’s musings at the UN

        See? Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

      • To say error has no rights should not be interpreted to deny the right to religious freedom which “has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself” in the words of Vatican 2.

        This is more than “some random monsignor’s musings at the UN.”

        Pope Francis on religious freedom:

        http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2015/09/26/francis-the-right-to-religious-freedom-is-fundamental/

        and Pope Benedict XVI:

        https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2012/january/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20120119_bishops-usa.html

        and Pope John Paul II:

        http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/messages/pont_messages/1980/documents/hf_jp-ii_mes_19800901_helsinki-act.html

        and, of course, Vatican 2:

        http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651207_dignitatis-humanae_en.html

        And most importantly the earliest tradition supporting religious freedom:

        Matt. 5:44, John 18:36, John 5:32, Gal. 4:31, Mark 12:17, Acts 5:29, Matt. 13:24-30, and the Ordinary Gloss of Romans 14:23.

        See also the Edict of Milan and the writings of Hilary of Poitiers Lactantius and the freedom of worship at least theoretically granted to Jews even in the Medieval period.

        Any interfaith dialog, let alone any pact, should start with religious freedom as common ground, otherwise we betray the original message of the New Testament.

      • Leo-

        Nothing that you have posted here contradicts anything that I have said above.

        (1.) The “religious freedom” discussed in Dignitatis Humanae is freedom from being forcibly coerced into a belief (e.g. being told to covert or die). This, however, does not mean that error all of the sudden has rights or that Catholic states must tolerate anti-Catholic rhetoric or propaganda being spewed within their borders.

        In other words, if you choose not to believe the Catholic faith, in a Catholic nation, no one can force you to convert, but the state also has no obligation to let you destroy the faith of others. Indeed, that same document tells us:

        They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth.

        Guess what the Truth is?

        (2.) The statements of Popes Frances, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI are all essentially riffs on Dignitatis Humanae , so see above.

        (3.) None of the biblical passages you cite are anywhere close to an approval of the freedom of religion as it is understood by moderns. Nor do they invalidate the traditional Catholic position.

        (4.) The Edict of Milan falls under my original point (ii.). And any sort of freedom granted to Jews to practice their religion is an application of my original point (i.)

        (5.) St. Hilary of Poitiers “argument” for religious freedom is:

        “God does not want unwilling worship, nor does he require a forced repentance.”

        In other words, we cannot coerce belief, it must be freely given…but this does not imply *at all* that we must allow false beliefs to flourish.

        It is also worth noting that St. Hilary’s utterance was written to the Emperor Constantius to entreat him to protect orthodox Catholics from the coercion of the Arian heretics (of which the emperor had aligned himself). So this is really application of my original point (ii.)

        (5.) At this point, I’m tired of playing Gotcha! The Catholic Edition, so in the spirit of this post, I will now let the matter go.

      • What did “error has no rights” translate to in practice? In meant people who the church thought were in error had no rights.

        In contrast Vatican II declares “the human person has a right to religious freedom.” Vatican II recognizes human rights and uses the language of rights, based on things that “have come to be more fully known to human reason through centuries of experience.” And as Pope John Paul II stated, religious rights are “the cornerstone” of all other rights. Undermine religious rights, and all rights are undermined.

        But see what happens when there are no such rights. In 1215 in the words of the Fourth Lateran Council, “Secular authorities, if they wish to be esteemed and numbered among the faithful, ought to take an oath that strive in good faith and to the best of their ability to exterminate all heretics pointed out by the church.” Secular rulers reacted accordingly. In 1231 Emperor Frederich II decreed, “Committed to the judgement of the flames, they [heretics] should be burned alive in the sight of the people.”

        As we know, these words were not merely theoretical. For hundreds of years the church pursued a policy of suppressing dissent in ways unknown in the early church and in the contemporary church.

        It is true that the statements in the Gospels are not quite equivalent to the modern theory of rights and the language of rights used in Vatican II. But it also should be obvious to the honest reader of the New Testament that the spirit of the New Testament is far removed from the words above from 1215 and 1231. The questions ought to be when, how, and why did the early church transform itself into a persecuting church? And if that transformation is to be even now lauded and defended after “centuries of experience,” how is any reasonable interfaith dialog possible, let alone any alliance?

      • What did “error has no rights” translate to in practice? In meant people who the church thought were in error had no rights.

        No it didn’t imply that. You are just a lying Mormon. [AR: Watch your language, ISE.]

        In contrast Vatican II declares “the human person has a right to religious freedom.” Vatican II recognizes human rights and uses the language of rights, based on things that “have come to be more fully known to human reason through centuries of experience.” And as Pope John Paul II stated, religious rights are “the cornerstone” of all other rights. Undermine religious rights, and all rights are undermined.

        I know you are willfully obtuse when it comes to Catholicism and especially Catholic history, but I suppose I can’t really blame you too much as you belong to religion that actively encourages belief in nonsensical accounts history and I am sure you were probably raised with stories of the Black Legend and such, but really how many times do you have to be told that even Dignitatis Humanae explicitly upholds the confessional state as the enduring ideal?

        Secular authorities, if they wish to be esteemed and numbered among the faithful, ought to take an oath that strive in good faith and to the best of their ability to exterminate all heretics pointed out by the church.

        This is a mistranslated quote deliberately meant to be an anti-Catholic smear – http://weblog.theviewfromthecore.com/2002_06/ind_000753.html

        Proper translations do not contain that language – https://www.ewtn.com/library/COUNCILS/LATERAN4.HTM

        The secular authorities are merely required to “expel” heretics not “exterminate” them.

        Then again, you have something of habit of BSing and pulling quotes out of context here before before haven’t you? You & Charlton remind of that great Mormon conservative commentator Glenn Beck, who actually deigns to lecture others about Christianity in most nauseating, sanctimonious and hysterical way possible while spouting off half-true fables.

        how is any reasonable interfaith dialog possible, let alone any alliance?

        Your idea of “dialogue” appears to be lying about your own religion and then chastising other religions, especially Catholicism. The only Catholics who are interested in an alliance with Mormons are right-wing political hacks like Robert George, or the modernist bishops who are trying to destroy our religion.

        To Alan Roebuck – so if a Catholic posted some doctored quote that made Protestants look bad that would get taken down immediately right? [AR: Not necessarily. Anyone who wished to could correct it.]

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  2. As you move towards the fringes of Christian belief you will reach a cut off point where believers are said to be in a sect. Depending on your starting position so your cut off point may vary.

    Take the site reasons to believe led by the scientist Hugh Ross. They accept the big bang and evolution and to some are not Christian. Aren’t we all entitled to defend to defend our convictions?

      • [Mr AureliusMoner posted a lengthy tirade against Protestantism. The gist of it is that the Reformation is the cause of all the evil of the contemporary Western World.

        If he reads the Pact, Mr. AM will see that the pact is for those who do not hate members of other Christian traditions. So his comment is off topic.

        And I do not as a general rule converse with hostile commenters.]

      • The deleted comment was mindless hostility from a person giving all appearances of being an enemy. If he had given indication of having some minimal respect for me and my words, I would have let it stand, and responded.

      • Well, for the record, I try not to hate other persons as persons.

        It’s your space, here, and you certainly have no obligation to clutter it with stuff you don’t like, or to comment on my thoughts. You asked for comments and thoughts on such a pact, and for further explanation of the formula that “error has no rights.” Perhaps you will at least be content for interested parties to read it on my blog:

        https://jedithun.wordpress.com/2016/03/09/a-reply-to-roebucks-pact/

      • I don’t know what he said, but breaking the police power of the Church was a really bad thing. Usury was a blind spot for the Protestants and now usurers rule the world.

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  4. @Alan

    I’m sure that you are right – and I would even go further to suggest that some such pact is *essential* if there is even to be a possibility of that Christian revival which is the absolute pre-requisite to survival of mere basic ‘pagan’ decency – leave aside any improvement in things overall.

    Christians must be warm-hearted towards each other (or repent their failure to be), and rejoice in the success of all sincere self-identified Christian groups (or repent their failure to do so).

    This can happen if people want it to happen – and if there is any kind of significant Christian revival then people *will* want it to happen.

    It is, of course, a serious problem that so many people are political first and Christians second – those on the Left tend to be fake Christians (fitting Christianity around their real faith); but those on the Right tend to hard-hearted legalists (using Christianity as an excuse to feel superior/ hate others).

    But anyone whose Christianity is real (and these are found in several or many denominations and churches) will be warmed by their devotion to Christ, and will naturally want the kind of pact that you propose. There may not be very many such people at present, and probably only a small minority of people who (for various reasons, and at various levels of seriousness) call themselves Christians – but they are the ones on whom our hopes depend.

    How to get there from here is probably something which cannot be decided in advance of the kind of warm-hearted but tough and resilient revival that we need – and to try and make a blueprint or plan here and now might be counter-productive – but a way could and would be found.

    I personally would happily take any Christian revival of any Christian church or denomination which was able to provide it – Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant or other – and if I couldn’t actually join, I would at least refrain from criticism and help indirectly as best I could.

    • Thank you, Bruce.

      Your approach is a bit too ecumenical for me, but I agree with your overall point: hostility, especially narrow sectarian hostility, does not help our condition.

      • I’m not so sure. One of the causes of the Catholic collapse since v2 is that the hierarchy gives the impression of unseriousness. Coupled with this has been a foolish attempt at diologue and ecumenicism. It gives the impression that orthodoxy is unimportant. People adopt easier for a of Christianity where you don’t have to believe in hell or sin. If anything, I think Catholics could use a bit more hostility.

        Sorry, mr. Roebuck. Nothing personal.

      • I’m hostile to false teaching, but not hostile to individuals. One can be serious without being hostile.

      • I agree with what you say. My point however is that,from a purely marketing perspective, the Catholic Church would probably benefit by coming off as more hostile rather than less. Most people don’t pay close attention do doctrinal discussions, but get the impression that heresy is no big deal. I don’t personally feel much hostility toward you, but I’m not convinced that “narrow sectarian hostility, does not help our condition.” It might actually be just what the doctor ordered.

    • I’m with you here. There is theological truth … and that is important … but there are three stories that in particular express the criterion by which we are to be judged:

      1. The return of the prodigal son.
      2. The parable of the sheep and the goats.
      3. The story of the Good Samaritan.

      Paul also expressed this criterion in his “hymn to love”.

      I want to say this to my friend Aurelius Moner, with whom I have much sympathy: our virtues and our right-thinking orthodoxy are important and not to be dismissed, but they are as dirty rags to the Lord compared with the theological virtue of “Charity”, which is a gift from Him and not something we can achieve through our own efforts. The very reason that our virtues are as dirty rags is that they can be built up through our own efforts at self-improvement and can easily become vehicles for pride. On your bio on Return of Kings, you say we as men are called to be ‘Good’. To this, I say a qualified ‘yes’ … but … if ‘Good’ means virtuous by self-improvement, then, also a qualified ‘no’. We are called to ‘be love’ (agape/caritas) first. Goodness that does not flow from God-given agape/caritas is of the filthy rags type.

      Alan: I hope you don’t mind me addressing Aurelius here … I partially did so because I feel there is some relevance to the post and the discussion here.

      • Roobydob, I’m sorry to have missed this until now.

        I understand what you’re saying, and there is a lot of truth in it. I won’t go into all the nuts and bolts about cooperation with grace, the nature of merit and the virtues after justification, etc., but will simply take it in the spirit offered, and agree with it.

        I’ll also point out, however, the definitive teaching of the Church that, while Charity should animate all we do, those without Faith cannot have Charity. Faith is the predicating principle, by which we have access to the divine life. Not being Modernists, we know that Faith is more than just a “sentiment of the heart,” or an “inclination towards spiritual things.” Faith is the complete yielding of one’s trust, belief and confidence to God as the First Truth, and to all other truths know on account thereof. Now, the Theological Virtues are infused together into the soul by God; yet the logical priority of these virtues, has Faith leading to Hope leading to Charity, which perfects all. This is because Faith informs the intellect of the Truth and joins it to it; this produces Hope, which seeks to attain to this object; and this produces Charity, which finds the means and the reality of union with this object, perfecting all.

        Moving in this same order, and echoing the Scriptures’ (and St. Thomas’ teaching) that Faith is primary, pope Leo XIII said: “Agreement and union of minds is the necessary foundation of this perfect concord amongst men, from which concurrence of wills and similarity of action are the natural results. Wherefore, in His divine wisdom, He ordained in His Church Unity of Faith; a virtue which is the first of those bonds which unite man to God.” And again, quoting St. Paul, he says: “And as souls cannot be perfectly united in charity unless minds agree in faith, he wishes all to hold the same faith.” Hence, without unity in the true Faith, a mutual bond of Charity is not even possible (though one who holds the True Faith can have Charity towards heretics). The context, is pope Leo XIII’s teaching that, for this reason, those who recede from the least doctrine proposed by the Magisterium have always been regarded as automatically severed from the Church and the bond of Charity of her members.

        So, while it is true that we should do all things in Charity, and that Charity perfects Faith, we must understand that mutual charity is absent where unity in faith is absent, and supernatural Charity cannot exist except where supernatural Faith is preserved inviolate. If we want one, we must have the other, and there can be no exhortation to charity apart from an exhortation to an exact observance of the Faith.

  5. This is nothing more than a thought experiment since none here have any authority in their own denominations, it doesnt define who Christians are (are Mormons and Hageeites Christians?), and most major branches are theoretically opposed to Modernism anyway.

    • The Pact involves individuals, not denominations, because most denominations are significantly corrupt and are at any rate not in the business of ecumenical cooperation. The pact is a voluntary association of individuals.

      • It is still very vague just what it is your are trying to do exactly. And for the umpteenth time who is Christian and who is not?

      • It is vague, because no specific program could succeed. The general ideas is to make for as much cooperation as possible, without pushing for ecumenical squishiness.

        And as for your question “who is Christian?,” I don’t know what you mean. Certainly as a confessional Protestant I have a biblical answer, but the spirit of the Pact cannot provide for a precise answer. In the original post, I proposed the ecumenical creeds as a rough definition.

      • You are proposing a pact among Christians, I ask “how do you define Christians?” and you don’t know what I mean? Is anyone who claims to be a Christian one?

      • Yes, I don’t know what you mean, and it is up to you to clarify your question.

        Proceeding on the assumption that you are asking the question without a hidden agenda, here is my answer: There are basically two ways to answer the question. One is by the standards given in the New Testament: A Christian is one who has repented of his sins and has true faith in Jesus to forgive his sins.

        The other is to identify denominations/sects/groups which have historically been regarded as Christian, and not heretical. This excludes, for example, Mormons, Unitarians, Gnostics, et al.

        The proposed Pact is not an official thing, so I proposed defining its fellowship by adherence to the Ecumenical Creeds, which is a specific set of creeds. The Pact is a voluntary association or fellowship of people who can affirm these creeds and who see value in some degree of ecumenical cooperation, but not at the cost of abandoning our sectarian convictions.

      • You and amorphous should hang out. I don’t know how to make the question any more clear. But thank you for for finally answering.

        You don’t think Mormons and Unitarians won’t claim to have true faith in Christ?

        This whole thing seems pointless. Like minded people can already cooperate without a “pact” which isn’t even well defined.

      • I’m not like the Formless One.

        The whole thing is obviously not pointless. People like you are hostile to the Pact, but others will find it useful as it articulate the possibility of a cooperation which avoids, on the one hand, excessive and soul-destroying ecumenism and, on the other hand, an excessive partisanship which also corrodes your soul and which leads to missed opportunities.

        I suppose that it’s one of those things which can’t be explained to you if you don’t get it at first glance. Or something which you will never warm to if your first instinctive response to it is hostility.

      • I just think it is ill defined and pointless at best, and an example of theological relativism at worst.. Polite disagreement coupled with opposition to modernism is already the state of affairs here. We don’t need to write up and sign anything for that.

      • Polite disagreement coupled with opposition to modernism is already the state of affairs here.

        Maybe here, but not as a rule throughout Christendom. Just about everybody else in a high-profile position is either a squishy ecumenist or a narrow partisan. The Pact expresses an ideal of cooperation between people who hold and express strong disagreements but also express solidarity with some of those whom they see as in serious error.

        That’s an ideal I never see expressed elsewhere.

    • I am all in for this kind of pact, but as you may know, I love to joke around, so I hope I can do so here.

      We could make a polite list of “please don’ts” for each of the Christian traditions, to be used whenever we meet together to take over the world.

      Hageeites, please don’t derail discussions with talk about the apocalypse, or Israel.
      Pentecostals, please don’t speak in tongues, at all. Remain upright at all times.
      Orthodox, please leave your icons at home. Use your indoor voice.
      Catholics, when we open in prayer, please pray with us in the name of Jesus. Just Jesus.
      Baptists, please leave your Republican campaign materials at home.
      Reformed, please do not bring your espresso machine to the meeting. Consider covering your tattoos.
      Presbyterians, please leave your copy of Institutes at home.

      I hope I made someone laugh.

      • I realize you are just being glib, and I don’t mean to be a kill joy, but why would any trinitarian sect have a problem praying in the name of the Father or the Holy Spirit?

      • “why would any trinitarian sect have a problem praying in the name of the Father or the Holy Spirit?”

        I assumed this was a (confused) reference to intersessional prayer.

        [AR: Is that intercessory prayer?]

      • I was talking about Catholics praying to Mary and the saints saints. Protestants aren’t comfortable with it.

  6. One practical difficulty is the extent to which Josh is correct that a strong faith positively correlates with an attitude of exclusivism and even hostility to other Christian groups.

    A lot of this is sociological in cause, a fair bit is due to false (or at least unneccesary) emphasis – but there is an element of truth in it, and for some denominations more than others.

    However, between-Christian hostility is not a necessary thing among devout Christians, there are enough exceptions to show this.

    Also, because we ought to be thinking about evangelism; I think there are aspects which are very strange, mysterious and profoundly unhelpful to outsiders – I continue to be astonished at the up-front prominence so many denominations give to the Christological/ Trinitarian aspects of Christianity which caused such bitter dispute in the early but post-Apostolic centuries of the church; disputes which were a tragedy at the time (causing still unhealed wounds), were never satisfactorily resolved, and which are essentially incomprehensible nowadays.

    e.g. in looking at church web pages, it is common in self-definition to lead off with some kind of trinitarian statement which – to modern common sense – is just plain self-contradictory nonsense. Even accepting that there is a mystical meaning to it – is this *really* the best thing to say as your first sentence to a prospective Christian convert? I would have thought Very Obviously Not – yet this sort of emphasis happens a lot.

    In trying to define the essence of one’s faith with the aim of evangelism, I think some very valuable insights may be achieved concerning what really is important about being a Christian, and what defines a Christian *in practice* (remembering that many/ most of the best ever Christians were not intellectuals or theologians).

    I suppose, behind this discussion is the question of whether one really believes in even the possibility of Mere Christianity – whether one really believes that the specific denomination/ church matters less than that a person be A Christian of some kind. Because if someone really believes in their heart that there is no salvation outside their church (and that non-membership or excommunication therefore means damnation) then that is pretty-much that.

    But at the very least, I earnestly hope that Christians will always remember that the end does not justify any means – that the intent to save souls never justifies unChristian behaviour, or motivations. If there is unrepented pride or hatred in the heart and behind motivations – then any Christian justification is merely a rationalization for sin.

    • About the Trinity:

      Historically, it has been belief in what the Bible teaches about God that has separated those who truly trust in Jesus and what he taught from pseudo-Christian heretics who like a lot of the Jesus doctrine but reserve for themselves the right to reject doctrines they find difficult.

      Explaining what the Bible says about the nature of the godhead is relatively easy. The hard part is explaining how such a Being might “work,” explaining a mechanism for the Holy Trinity–that’s the difficult part.

      I earnestly hope that Christians will always remember that the end does not justify any means – that the intent to save souls never justifies unChristian behaviour, or motivations.

      Amen to that!

  7. A pact … hmmmm … yes, in practice, but no in theory or in theology. Yes, you, as a traditional Protestant, have more in common with me as a traditional Catholic, then we both have in common with our cultural opponents. So in terms of goals, we are allies. We are also both members of the Body of Christ.

    But when it comes to theology, you write this:

    “Sometimes I write Orthosphere posts on Christian doctrine which require me to teach explicitly Protestant doctrine. I don’t do this to get Catholic readers hot under the collar (although some react that way). I do it to express my convictions.”

    It’s not about the *feelings* of Catholic readers. Those feelings are not important. In fact, theologically speaking, those Catholic burning neck feelings are no more important than your ‘convictions’ which are by their very nature subjective. Your teaching of Protestant doctrine begs the question of authority. By what authority do you place your convictions over the teachings of the Magisterium?

    I studied theology at a protestant faculty of divinity and the niggling question of ‘by whose authority do you teach this?’ never went away.

    So there are no beads of sweat leaking into the top of my shirt, just the question, “By whose authority?” along with the agreement that we are (separated??) brethren and allies in the cultural pushback.

    • You ask “By whose authority?” because, as a Catholic, you believe that your Organization was given authority by God to define Christianity. But your Church was not given such authority, and therefore I do not need the permission of an earthly organization to say what God says in the pages of Scripture.

      • 1) Something that does not yet exist cannot break down.

        2) Since it is voluntary and informal, disputes like those here are irrelevant. If you don’t like it, don’t join.

  8. As far as the pact is concerned. As long as we watch each others backs from external threats to us all. Like the Islamic invasions of the 7th century.

    Then all well and good. There is no point arguing and disputing doctrine when the enemy is at the gates. As well as refusal to support nations to ensure they are a bulwark against an external threat because of ”heresy”.

    Egypt has this problem with disputes and divisions over doctrine when it was still Christian and the Islamic invasions swept them all way.

    We can go back to good old fashioned disputes after that.

  9. If there is unrepented pride or hatred in the heart and behind motivations – then any Christian justification is merely a rationalization for sin.

    I take it “hatred” in this context means whatever viewpoint the theoretical Mormon happens to dislike at the moment?

      • If the Orthosphere is really supposed to be about defending traditional small “o” orthodox Christianity why does it take its direction from a theoretical Mormon?

      • We take good advice regardless of the source. Bruce was offering advice; we were not “taking our direction” from him.

      • “We don’t take direction.”
        It sure seems like it to me. The theoretical Mormon was one the few to actually agree with the argument in this post.

        “But we do try to understand”
        Where was the understanding for the Catholic commenter above whose comment was censored while a theoretical Mormon is allowed to attack traditional Christianity in virtually every comment?

        “Second Great Commandment.”
        If you really loved your neighbor, you wouldn’t affirm him in his heresy and you certainly won’t give him a platform to spew it.

      • Take it from me: we don’t take direction from Bruce.

        I did not have a chance to read that comment before it was deleted, so I can’t comment on your second point. I’m pretty sure it was understood before it was deleted. I don’t apprehend Dr. Charlton’s comments as attacks on traditional Christianity. He rather ardently supports it, so far as I can tell.

        Bruce has some heterodox opinions about angelology and anthropology, to be sure, but I can’t think of any that are heretical. He might somewhere have repudiated homoousion, but I can’t remember his having done so. His ecclesial opinions are of course fundamentally at odds with those of the Church, but this is so for all men inbound to her, and indeed for many who think they rest comfortably in her bosom.

        Any imperfection of life indicates some jot of inward heresy, in the original and truest sense of that word.

      • And Bruce Charlton comes across as a friend whereas the deleted comment was worded like an attack by an enemy. Anyone who wants to disagree respectfully is treated fairly. Anyone who acts like an enemy is treated as such, at least by me. An individual may not feel himself to be an enemy, but if his words indicate that he is, I treat him as one. Until such time as he changes his tune.

      • Anyone who acts like an enemy is treated as such, at least by me.

        So someone who speaks calumnies against the majority religion here is not an enemy?

      • I judge an enemy more by his attitude than simply his disagreement with my doctrine. There is a difference between one who contradicts true doctrine and one who actively wishes harm or who generally expresses hostility.

      • I judge an enemy more by his attitude than simply his disagreement with my doctrine. There is a difference between one who contradicts true doctrine and one who actively wishes harm or who generally expresses hostility

        We are not talking about a mere disagreement on doctrine. A Mormon dredges up calumnies in almost every comment and that gets a pass from you. But my comments and a few of the other traditional Catholic comments don’t even get posted.

    • Bruce has some heterodox opinions about angelology and anthropology, to be sure, but I can’t think of any that are heretical.

      You seriously can’t think of anything the theoretical Mormon said that was heretical!? Even the limp wrist Bonald called the theoretical Mormon’s views heresy.

      Look I respect the governing rules here at the Orthosphere that Catholicism, Orthodoxy and traditional Protestantism have place. But surely a theoretical Mormon is so far beyond that, further than a Jew or Muslim?

      • Well, I performed no exhaustive survey of Bruce’s writings in preparation for that utterance. I just cast my mind back, and all I came up with was some vaguely remembered discussion to the effect that the three Persons of the Trinity are distinct beings. But I couldn’t remember whether he had actually argued in support of that notion, or just discussed it. The Trinity is a tricky idea, and I have read a lot of quasi-heretical stuff about it written by men who understand themselves as perfectly orthodox, but who struggle with it, and in particular with its accurate, clear expression.

        Bruce does seem to be a theistic personalist, but then so is Alvin Plantinga. Theistic personalism is not altogether wrong, but rather merely inadequate: the Eternal One is indeed personal, and has an active life in this world; it’s just that, being necessary, eternal, omnipotent, and so forth, he is far more. Is theistic personalism heretical? I’m not actually sure that it is; I’d have to read the relevant sections of the Catechism again, with that question in mind.

        Can you think of something Bruce has written that is definitely heretical?

  10. For what it is worth – and I say this in the context of sincere affection for the Orthosphere and its contributors – I think the idea of indifferentist liberal ecumenical coalitions among the orthodox, among people who take their religious differences seriously, are always going to non-starters. What you are asking for is for the kind of people who take doctrinal differences seriously to set aside doctrinal differences for the sake of opposing the modern shibboleth of ruthlessly suppressing doctrinal differences in favor of monomaniacal tyrannotolerance. The cognitive dissonance is just too great.

    Doctrinal seriousness is always elitist; indifferentism a mass movement. That indifferentists massively outnumber the orthodox in a context of disparate orthodoxies is a mathematical verity: thus is the power of freedom/liberty/indifference as a default principle. It means that the things people care about least become materially most important and dominate everything. To overcome the advantages of indifferentism by becoming ‘a little bit’ indifferentist is just to open up Pandora’s Locke Box and release chaos inside the ranks.

    • Zippy, you’re overthinking it.

      Or perhaps you’re trying to take its “logical implications” too far.

      What I proposed is a “gentlemen’s agreement,” not a doctrine. It’s a voluntary association of sorts, not an official movement.

      And yes, it’s ambiguous, because as you (and others) point out, trying to make it strict or official won’t work.

      And, as I pointed out in the original post, many will not be able to subscribe to the Pact.

      To paraphrase Harry Truman, if you can’t walk the tightrope, stay off the high wire.

      • Let me put it this way: I think that objectively a ‘pact’ of this sort – whether overthought or underthought – represents a kind of unprincipled exception to opposition to liberalism. It is the mirror image of the liberal’s unprincipled exception, and has the same sort of stability and dissonance issues.

        It is the kind of thing that only works to the extent that the people involved don’t take it too seriously — and thus follows the general pattern of liberalism.

      • I would agree to the extent that the Pact could lead some into foolish ecumenism. It’s a tightrope.

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