Established Sacerdotal Hierarchy Controls for Competitive Holiness Spirals

Holiness spirals are not first a search for status, although once they have got going, they do result in an arms race to see who is holiest among the Pharisees, thus of the highest moral and political rank, and thus least suitable as a scapegoat.

They are, first, a search for the proper constraints of true holiness upon conduct. Men are Fallen, and live in a Fallen, corrupt world; and they know it. They want to get holy; they want desperately to get ritually pure. Until they can honestly feel that they have done so, they will feel terrific anxiety, and thrash about in their predicaments like a bear in a trap.

Trapped bears are very dangerous.

When there is no established sacerdotal hierarchy that can authoritatively define the unquestionable constraints of holiness, and then offer men a way to get back within those constraints when they have strayed beyond their pale – that can give them a way to know that they have reached safe harbor – then men are going to push and push toward holiness however they can discern it according to their own best lights, without let or correction, and without possibility of any satisfactory completion of the search (because a forecondition of success for any search is a clear definition of success – such as can be authoritatively furnished to the searcher only by an incontrovertible authority). Anyone who disagrees with the notions of those who find that as a result of their personal quest for holiness they themselves are of the holiest sort then becomes a legitimate scapegoat in their eyes, and so a social enemy. There is then mutual repudiation and scapegoating of adversarial sectarians; mutual excommunication; schism; and, with the ensuing conflict of irreconcilable cults, civil war either hot or cold.

The proliferation of sects is a natural result of the disestablishment of the absolute mundane authority over spiritual and moral affairs of a highly ordered and lawful sacerdotal hierarchy. It results from an honest and untrammeled distributed search for the bounds of a solution space via unconstrained competitive holiness spirals. As an arms race – this, even within the cranium of a single believer – that is focused on discovering, implementing and propagating the truths exemplified in an infinite purely formal configuration space, the competition inevitably gives rise to doctrinal innovations, some of which are bound to conflict with some other doctrines (or, to be just wrong: which is to say, heretical).

So you get schisms multiplying, and sooner or later fighting.

This is why we cannot expect cultural peace – not lack of violence, but true harmony, krasis, justice (which under the orbit of the moon in this Fallen world simply requires at least a bit of violence) – until there is again an established religion with a sacerdotal hierarchy, whose ukases have in principle ultimate authority and sway over all moral and spiritual matters – and thus, implicitly, political matters, including those that pertain to the secular sovereign.

To get ritual purity, you need enforceable canon law that specifies what it is; and to get enforceable canon law, you need judges and administrators of that law whose authority over temporal affairs flows down incontrovertibly from an infallible source; which is to say, bishops under the supervision of a universally recognized pontifex maximus.

So, you’re really going to want to have one established Church with a hierarchy staffed by obedient men promulgating a Tradition and endowed with numinous moral authority bestowed on them in the laying on of hands of an Apostolic Succession that derives in the first instance from God himself. The alternative is metastasizing cultural chaos.

5 thoughts on “Established Sacerdotal Hierarchy Controls for Competitive Holiness Spirals

  1. Pingback: Established Sacerdotal Hierarchy Controls for Competitive Holiness Spirals | @the_arv

  2. Pingback: Established Sacerdotal Hierarchy Controls for Competitive Holiness Spirals | Reaction Times

  3. If #NRx was part of the Islamic word, it would be arguing that the inherently distributed nature of Sunni Islam was far inferior to Shiite hierarchy because latter would avoid “holiness spirals.” To put the argument in this context shows its ludicrousness.

    • Hierarchy controls for holiness spirals only insofar as it is genuinely sacerdotal; which is to say, only insofar as it is itself intent on true holiness. And it can intend true holiness only insofar as its understanding of holiness is correct; which in turn depends upon whether its doctrines are true.

      A hierarchy that is intent on something other than true holiness is not going to work to satisfy men that they have reached spiritual safe harbor. It is going to leave them still searching, still spiraling. Under its influence, they will engage in endless vain repetitions, that never quite work to salve them.

      I would have made note of this condition, but I thought it was rather obvious, as implicit in my use of the adjective “sacerdotal.” Sacerdotes are priests who give sacrifice – who, i.e., are engaged in the manufacture of true holiness, as distinct from its simulacra.

      Priests – presbyteroi, literally elders – of religions that are false are not going to be able to establish an authoritative sacerdotal hierarchy, because their praxis will be founded on false dogma. It will be whacked, and inapt to reality. It won’t consistently work to make men truly holy, or at least holier, because its conceptions of holiness will be wrong.

      Islam is false. So it cannot be itself truly holy, and thus cannot form an effectual sacerdotal hierarchy; dar al islam is therefore subject to all sorts of sectarian violence at the hands of religious freelancers and entrepreneurs.

  4. Reblogged this on Carlos Carrasco and commented:

    Centuries hence, historians will regard our modern epoch as a genuine Dark Age and not the light-infused Middle Ages which are regularly calumniated as a benighted time by the historically illiterate.

    These future historians will chuckle, with a sad shaking of their heads, every time they come across one of our references to the Enlightenment. Their greater perspective of history will identify that movement as the first gathering of clouds. They will see in the ‘Enlightenment’ the looming death shroud which would eventually blanket all of Christendom. Under its cover all reason and morality would be occluded and mankind set sliding down the slippery slope of relativism until he landed with his head so far up his ass and so deep in the abyss of solipsism that support and defense of objective abominations like sodomy and infanticide would be placed under the aegis of his choice.

    And what would bring on this supposed ‘Enlightenment?’

    The breakdown of Authority…

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