On Finding the True Way to Life

Over at his Notions, our friend Bruce Charlton has commented upon the discussion here about the question, raised by our friend Francis Berger, whether the throne and altar have been superseded.

He writes:

I think the ultimate question is something like this:

Is The Christian Church (in some sense of The Church) in-charge-of human salvation – or is salvation primarily a matter for each individual.

The answer is yes.

Bruce then writes:

… the Orthospherian conviction is that “The Church is Christianity”; and any individual can only be a Christian – i.e. achieve resurrection to eternal Heavenly life – secondarily, by means of The Church.

The Church teaches that any man may be saved, whether or not he outwardly participate the Church in her exoteric observances, or even know about them (viz., Elijah, Abraham, Moses, the 7 Maccabee Martyrs); and that inasmuch as a man be saved, it is by the Body of Christ, which is manifest in the Church – and, but also, in the created order generally. Among human organizations, the Church is uniquely the Body of Christ, to be sure. But it is not the only manifestation of Christ. Thus if a man be saved without outward participation in the exoteric observances of the Church, it is because he has partaken her esoteric ubiquitous reality.

Christ says again and again to sinners: Your faith has made you whole. Not your participation in the Temple rites, not your obedience to the Deuteronomic and Levitical Law, but your faith. It is given to us then as a reasonable hope that whosoever has faith in Christ Jesus, however he comes to it, and however well or ill he understands it – indeed, whether or not he even consciously realizes he has it – and who in that faith perseveres to the end, is saved.

The Church also teaches that if you persevere in faith to the end and you participate the exoteric observances of the Church, then your likelihood of salvation is much better; because the Church as the Body of Christ just is Christ, and is therefore a sure foundation of our redemption; whereas, while any man qua spiritual free lancer may succeed in worship of what he takes to be the Incarnate Lógos, all men, being subject to error, are at mortal peril of worshipping something different, and worse. The Church then is a soteriological safe harbor. She abjures her children to believe certain doctrines (whether or not they understand them) so as to prevent them from falling into the error of believing their contradictories, which as false are hazardous to their salvation.

Bruce writes also:

Whereas the Romantic Christian idea is (I think) that … here-and-now each individual Man can and must discern Christian truth and his own salvation …

The Church has always taught that, to be saved, each man must enact his own faith in Christ Jesus, and be thereby reborn in a new and transcendent mind, cleansed and freed. Without that metanoia, mere ritual observances, of any sort, are only whiting the sepulchre. If you are going to church every week without ever working on that renewal of life – without, i.e., opening yourself to it, surrendering yourself to it, in humble obedience and repudiation of pride – you are in bad faith, and a hypocrite, and approaching the altar unclean, stiff necked, lukewarm.

The cup must be emptied before it can be filled.

Summing up, Bruce writes:

In brief; the individual (not any church) ultimately ‘defines’ Christianity: i.e., the way to salvation.

The Way, the Truth and the Life is God himself. He is not therefore up to us to invent or define. He is given eternally, as a principle of being per se. It is up to us to discover him, since he has been revealed to us in Christ Jesus; to recognize him as our Lord and Master (willy nilly; since that is what God is *in fact*), and to reform our lives accordingly.

Thus Romantic Christianity is rehashing a department of perennial Church teaching, albeit without the benefit of the immense theological learning and mystical insight of thousands of sapient saints and doctors implicit in and expressed by the doctrine and practices of the Church. Then a Romantic Christian who dispenses with the authority of the Church, and with the demonstrated efficacy of her praxis, is reinventing the wheel. He might do very well at it, to be sure. But he is terribly likely to run off the rails, badly, somehow or other; and, so, to miss the Truth, mistake the Way, and lose the Life.

When traversing Mirkwood, stay on the trail.

70 thoughts on “On Finding the True Way to Life

  1. This called to mind a new (to me) interpretation of Peter stepping out onto the waves.

    The Church teaches that outside of the Church there is no salvation—but also, as you rightly point out, that faith *may* save us.

    If you step out of the Barque of Peter, you must have an extraordinary (and still, orthodox) faith, lest you sink beneath the waves. Peter was able to do it for a time, but rapidly was overwhelmed and began to sink. “Oh ye of little faith” Christ admonished.

    The Barque of Peter is seaworthy, maybe feeling her age but no less the safer option for traversing the seas, especially compared to trying to walk over the waves on your own.

    It can be done, but why not use the perfectly good boat Christ gave us?

    • It can be done, but why not use the perfectly good boat Christ gave us?

      Scoot – because it is hard to say that the Ark of Peter–the Church qua Church–still exists or can exist. The Church has actually been fractured since Chalcedon (which, I speculate, probably had as much to do with the Oriental Churches getting tired of being ruled by Italian and Greek supremacists). And with the fall of the Western and Eastern Empires, Roman and Orthodox ecclesiology no longer make any sense. From a purely historical perspective, the Church is very much nested in the concept of a Greco-Roman, Christian imperium over the Mediterranean. That Empire vanished centuries ago, and the Church hasn’t known what to do ever since. Now Christians know how the Jews felt watching their Zion–the end of their history–fall apart and subsequently get squashed by a succession of foreign empires. From a purely historical and atheistic perspective, Christianity is a disillusioned Jewish prophet’s attempt to universalize Judaism.

      I was thinking about this over the weekend and telling my girlfriend, CS Lewis is right: there is a God and there is a natural law which is discernible by man so he can tell good from evil. I’ll leave it to our resident philosophers to prove this theorem but I have no doubt of it. There is an ultimate Cause, first, and second, all sapient beings can generally agree, “Napalming babies is bad,” as I’ve heard it put.

      And if there’s a God then His creation should have communion with Him. So the fundamental question for Man is how to commune with the Creator, and this is where we get to things like dogma, praxis, liturgical worship and ecclesiology.

      The dogma part is pretty easy: love God, love your fellow humans, give alms, honor your vows. In other words the Ten Commandments, which are fairly common and fundamental to all mankind, actually. Or to put it even more simply, become Godly (theosis). Societies that practice cannibalism, human sacrifice, dark arts, licence, brutality, are quickly weighed in the scales and destroyed. We are trying to save the West from this fate.

      All religious traditions likewise have some form of praxis: personal prayer and contemplation, holy texts, ceremonial forms for “life cycle” events (birth, marriage and death) and physical aids to praxis (prayer wheels, prayer ropes, statuary, iconography, incense, etc.)

      And that’s about it for commonality. So I’ll leave aside the bigger question of what happens to devout, chaste and peaceful Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, etc. and focus on the Western religious tradition, which is Christianity. At this point we get to liturgics–the public and collective expression of our Christian religious belief. And liturgics require an ecclesiological framework–the Church–and which, in the absence of Christian imperium, has become a very, very big problem. The question now is where is the Church? Is it in the multiple ethnic Orthodox jurisdictions all tripping over each other in every country? Is it the College of Cardinals who so dominate Roman Catholicism (why do they even exist)? The Armenian, Assyrian, Ethiopian, Syriac Orthodox Churches? The Maronite and Melkite Roman Catholic Churches? The several dozen Protestant sects?

      I think there are no less than five individuals claiming to be the rightful Patriarch of Antioch. And no, sorry, I am never going to believe that the Roman Pontiff has universal episcopal jurisdiction over the entire solar system.

      Reasonable minds can of course disagree on all these points. But I submit that if you’re even having this debate–and it is a vigorous and physically tangible one among over a billion people–then the Church as she was understood and experienced by the Roman and Byzantine Christians of antiquity no longer exists. And I submit as proof of this thesis the fact that the Church’s hierarchs (that is, the innumerable Orthodox, non-Chalcedonian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant institutions) have all capitulated to the secular State, including the disappearance of the monarchy and the rite of coronation.

      So to conclude, the ecclesiology has exploded which calls into question the liturgics and the praxis, which leaves us with a whole other set of questions; and the hierarchs can’t touch any of this with a ten-foot crosier, given the threat to their dignity and mandate.

      I will end this over-long comment by saying I have nothing but the highest respect for the devout Christian traditionalists (the Latin Rite Catholics, the Orthodox et al.). Western renewal–if it is to happen–must incorporate these traditions somehow.

      • Antignostic, thanks for this learned and earnest comment. It is humbling to consider that the Orthosphere is so fortunate in our commentariat.

        I have nothing but the highest respect for the devout Christian traditionalists (the Latin Rite Catholics, the Orthodox et al.). Western renewal–if it is to happen–must incorporate these traditions somehow.

        Indeed; if these traditions are not somehow incorporate in the New Thing that is to happen for and to the Church, then Western renewal, properly so called, is not in the cards.

      • Hi Antignostic,

        I am sympathetic to this expression of confusion, if you’ll allow my description of your comment in this way. If you concede that the Catholic Church is true, then even under that umbrella there are myriad liturgies competing for faithful just within communion with Rome. The wider your perspective, the more diverse are the liturgies and practices competing for faithful and proper communion with God.

        In Short: I take your question to be, “who is right?” and if there is a definitive answer to that question then there are a lot of well meaning faithful who will be left out in the cold. The rest of my comment will be predicated on this summary, so if I have gone wrong at this point please say so.

        CS Lewis in Mere Christianity described Christianity as a house with many rooms, because that work was intended as an ecumenical work–an introduction to faith by radio address to a war torn, confused, and scared Britain. There were lots of disagreements between rooms, but if CS Lewis could get people to set aside their room-loyalty, and see themselves as Christians with lots of room for fundamental agreement, then there could be some form of unity of purpose, which was necessary for war torn Britain to transform into “battle-hardened” Britain.

        There is no reason this description could not apply to the Barque of Peter–a ship with many rooms. Even if we allow that to be the case, it doesn’t answer your core question of “who is right”.

        I disagree with you when you say that the Church has ceased to exist, and contemplating this I think will help answer your question of “who is right”. The Church cannot die–full stop. I mean this as both material, earthly Church–the accidents of the Church we see in the form of the hierarchy, the liturgies, the buildings, the vatican, etc etc; but also as the spiritual, transcendent Church–the presence of the Holy Spirit in the world and in the faithful. I suspect you are looking at the material church–the waning of power, the lack of influence, the lack of monarchy and coronation, as you’ve mentioned elsewhere, the lack of a hard-Christendom. The Material Church has been mortified from time to time–the Eastern Schism, protestantism, etc.

        The spiritual essence of the Church is the same, though. The people who have separated from the Church are relying on either the Church being wrong from the inception or their understanding of natural law being their saving grace. The fate of those sects out of communion with Rome (NB: I do subscribe to the belief that the Roman Pontiff has universal episcopal jurisidiction, yes over the entire solar system. There is a colonial era rule that says the bishop of the place from which an explorer set sail becomes the bishop of the newly discovered territory. This is why the first bishop of the new world would have been Spanish, as Columbus sailed from spain. But this also means the Bishop of Orlando is the Bishop of the Moon, because the first manned mission to the moon launched from his diocese.) is a matter of discussion for those theological minds greater than my own. All I know is that I hope and pray for their salvation by whatever means necessary.

        As for all the diverse liturgical practice within communion with Rome–they are still subject to the spiritual essence of the Church, even if their physical character looks very different. In her Apparition at Guadalupe, Mary appeared as a Mexican woman; I understand Mary has appeared in various places to various people as one of those people. So if it is good enough for Mary to appear to people as one of their own, it makes sense to me that the Church would appear locally as one of their own, and not as an outpost of Greco-Roman imperium. This is how it is possible for the Barque of Peter to have many rooms–the rooms are inhabited by different people but they all work in unity with the spiritual Church that composes the “ship”. As Kristor says–these traditions will have to be incorporated into the New Thing, but honestly I think it would resemble more of a hierarchical simplification than a liturgical change. The difference is what makes our cultural tapestry as Catholics and Christians rich and interesting and beautiful. When we are glorified and resurrected, we will not be one holy homogeneity; there will be differences according to our grace and character. Let the Church reflect that beautiful difference, as long as the spiritual essence is the same, as signified by communion with Rome.

        I am not a philosopher nor a theologian, so this is just What Scoot Reckons™ and I hope it is at least helpful for contemplation even if it doesn’t answer all of your questions and criticisms to satisfaction. God bless you, Antignostic!

      • Thank you for the kind comment Kristor. I may differ from Dr. Charlton in that I don’t think it is possible to have a religion without liturgics which I think also requires an ecclesiological framework, even if it’s completely flattened to mendicant priests. And I’ll go further and say that if the West is to be saved it will need to incorporate the Eucharist at a minimum (so I also agree with the altar part). Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam are simply not “Western.” Westerners who adopt those religious forms are like the Messianic Judaists, trying to borrow legitimacy from a foreign bloodline. (I leave aside for now the question of what good and morally upright Japanese Shinto Buddhists should be doing).

        It is hard for me to imagine renewed Western transcendence without an altar and performance of the Eucharist but I don’t know what happens next. Simultaneously, cavalier performances of the Eucharistic rite are, of course, an affront. The Eucharist either means everything or it means nothing, and I think theologically it cannot mean nothing or you may as well discard Christianity.

        I don’t see a legitimacy crisis with the Christian faith per se. Rather, that the Apostolic succession, like the claim of legitimate Hanoverian succession to the British throne, has gotten very problematic, and the hierarchs won’t deal with it so they are wrecking the Church. This suggests that the formal institution has a legitimacy crisis and we are only just now getting around to acknowledging this problem.

      • Antignostic, while I understand and entirely sympathize with your frustration at the present state of affairs in the Roman Church, I’m afraid it can’t work to flatten the hierarchy to an order of friars. That way lies ecclesial chaos and doctrinal confusion. We see this already in the thousands of isolate and independent Protestant churches, each the personal project of a single pastor, wholly unsupervised by any hierarchical authority. It is true that most of these free lancers stay within the Nicene pale, but I mean, come on: I’ve been to Catholic churches, totally subject to such authority, where I heard rank heresy praught to a couple thousand people on Christmas Eve. If that’s what can happen under a strict and highly evolved formal system of canon law, apostolic discipline and specific liturgical rubric, then in the absence of any such authority, all bets are off – no matter how well meaning, and indeed good doing and soul saving, the pastors involved.

        This is why Rome thought, rightly, that it had to rein in the Franciscans and the Bogomils before they got out of hand. Religious enthusiasm is a dangerous thing, albeit absolutely necessary.

        Notwithstanding all that, a hierarchy is of course no guarantee of doctrinal and pastoral purity. As we see with the Vatican right now, almost completely under the control of Gnostics clothed as shepherds. The crucial importance of hierarchy is if anything demonstrated by the immense scandal that ensues when such a hierarchy is hijacked. The damage a hijacked hierarchy can do is immense. But so, then, likewise, and by the same token, the good that a righteous hierarchy can do.

        In any case, nevertheless, a hierarchy is indispensable if there is to be any ecclesial order whatever; whether for good or for ill, withal.

        The basic argument for a Pope is that hierarchies must top out in one man in order to function at all properly (this is so with all hierarchical organization; and this fact demonstrates monarchy, lordship and mastery generally; so then likewise, and writ small, bosses, fathers, mothers, big brothers and sisters, indeed *any seniority at all*). If they don’t top out in one man, then (whatever instabilities might then ensue due to this or that exigency) the top level of the remnant decapitated hierarchy will be subject to the same competitive, centrifugal, proud forces as Evangelical Protestantism, and as the autocephalous churches of Eastern Orthodoxy, each at messy confusing and fundamentally stupid cold war with all the others – all of them in entire and perfect agreement as to doctrine and practice.

        Not that this is different within the Catholic orbit. It is not. But it is at least, all, *within the Catholic orbit.* FSSP is a *Catholic* order. Nuff said re that.

        A Pope is no guarantee of centripetality, as a glance at the historical record shows. But if there is no Pope, there is no center, and centrifugality proceeds untrammeled. There is in fact a Pope. So there is some slight net impulse toward centripetality. Thus we see that after hundreds of years of separation, the Maronites and the Anglicans, and indeed even the Methodists (via Anglicanorum Coetibus) are again in union with Rome (the Anglicans and Methodists who do not end up taking advantage of that reunion are outbound from Nicene Christianity in any case, and must therefore soon vanish into the mist that consumed Mithraism and Manicheism, e.g.). Many of the rump Nestorians are back in communion with Rome, after 1,600 years of mutual antagonism; their dispute turns out to have been all a matter of terminological confusion, lo and behold. The Copts and Lutherans, too, are inbound. It may take several hundred more years, but the process is under way. The agreement of the Eastern Patriarchs with the Western is also in the works. It may take 2,000 years for their discussions to bear fruit. But they are at least talking about reunion; and in the life of an immortal institution, 2,000 years are a heartbeat.

        With the Calvinists, I grant, there might need to be some doctrinal … flexibility, on both sides. But I feel sure that another Thomas (or, even, the first) can furnish the requisite metaphysical distinctions, that allow both sides to have their way in an agreement amenable to both, in which each side can say, in all honesty, “You see, it turns out they have been meaning to say what we had been saying all along. So, yeah. Welcome, brother; sorry about the misunderstandings.”

        Without a Pope, none such would be thinkable, for in that case, there would be nothing to which one might unite. Without a Pope, even antipopery would be unthinkable. Without the Pope, there is no Protestantism. I never thought of that before this very moment. Odd.

        I hold out hope in all this for Origen. I like that guy. Perhaps even Teilhard can be shepherded back into the fold, bearing in mind the proper caveats.

        The centre cannot begin to hold if there is no centre to begin with. Indeed, things cannot even fly apart, except from some centre.

        If then the Church is to avert total deliquescence and dispersion, there must be a Pope, or something like. That the Pope happens to be the Bishop of Rome is an historical accident. Had Peter ended up in Antioch, the Pope would be the Bishop of Antioch; or perhaps, with the Muslim invasion, the Bishop of Antioch would have relocated to Avignon or Ravenna. Should Europe be destroyed in the coming war (we may be sure that it shall happen sooner or later), the Pope might end up for a few thousand years in Buenos Aires or San Francisco. We should not get too hung up in the historical details.

        That there have been, and shall always be, profound problems with the ecclesial hierarchy – as with all other things human – is no good reason to jettison ecclesial hierarchy altogether. There are bad fathers; shall we dispense with fatherhood? There are lousy nails; shall we do without nails?

        In what portends for us all, I hope for what Scoot denotes as “more of a hierarchical simplification than a liturgical change.” At the eschaton, I expect that the Baptist altar call shall be as efficacious as the Catholic or Orthodox confirmation. And in the liturgy of Heaven, I expect all Earthly liturgies to find their consummation and agreement and fulfillment and perfection. In the final analysis, after all, it’s metanoia, and indeed theosis; or else, nothing.

        What; had anyone hoped for something less? What is godhood, if not total? What idiot would not trade all that he has, for that pearl of great price?

      • @Scoot – Respectfully, I don’t concede your priors. There is no reason for an Italian pope to decide who gets to be an American bishop versus any other Old World pope. The Americas and the Global South are not uniquely terra incognito. The canons are simply silent–they did not know that one day Britons would cross the Atlantic and found the most powerful country on Earth, or that there was a place called the Middle Kingdom in east Asia, or that an enormous Euro-Asiatic country would form north of Asia Minor and develop its own separate Christian tradition from 988 AD. That’s all right; after all, none of the Biblical prophets saw any of this coming either.

      • @Antignostic

        Understood, the apologia for Rome vs other sects are deeper and stray away from the premise of the OP, so I will leave them for better qualified people to handle another time.

        I will say, for what its worth, that the Papacy as an office transcends concepts of nationality, and the office qua transcendent was established to handle the exigencies of time past present and future. My acceptance of the office has paved the way for my acceptance of the fallible mortal men who hold the infallible spiritual office, and that has helped me resolve the confusion I once had about the future of Christianity. That is all from my own journey, I offer it in case it can help you on yours.

        God bless you and Godspeed, I will be praying for you!

  2. This strikes me as a well thought synopsis of what you have discovered in someone else writing. This “striking” is due to my own guilt of skimming the surface of your interpretation. I must take time to review your reference before I would form a rebuttal. You have made my soul ponder such matters and I wanted to reach out so you would know.

  3. I accept Bruce’s last proposition if we simply change “defines” to “discerns.” The definition of anything is given by the thing itself, since a definition is nothing but the “out-line” the thing and everything else. The definition of frogs is given by frogs, the definition of a headache is given by headaches, the definition of the way to salvation is given by the way to salvation. We can, however discern frogs and headaches and the way to salvation in different ways. When I was a boy, I discerned frogs as creatures that existed to be caught by me. When I was a young man, I discerned headaches as a Saturday morning curse. Now that I am an old man, I discern the way to salvation a thing whose definition I ought to know.

    I think what Bruce rebels against, and I know what I rebel against, is a Procrustean definition of the way to salvation. I know that there are great dangers in spinning off in the other direction, but individualization does not have to mean individualism. We have been talking about “evolution of consciousness,” but differentiation of consciousness is more indisputable and to the point. Differentiation of consciousness occurs along with the division of labor in an increasingly complex society, and it means that a computer programer may discern the way to salvation very differently than an uneducated grandmother. In the middle ages, the “sheep” were more or less alike, and so could be fed on the same grass. But a computer programer who is fed “grass” suited to the uneducated grandmother will not be fed.

    I think what much of this comes down to is not whether there should be a Church, but whether one needs to go to church. Some people like going to church and others do not. Some people think going to church (with whatever degree of enthusiasm) is the “way to salvation.” Others find this proposition very doubtful.

    • Much of what transpires in church is, to be sure, and by (our Fallen) nature, mere ritual observance, going through the motions; vain repetition, polishing the outside of the cup, however well meant. Speaking for myself.

      Going to church is not itself the Way. But it is a way into that Way, evolved over millennia by many millions for all different sorts of minds and hearts. And the act of sacrifice is inherently beneficial; so also are liturgies of the Word. These rites are highly effective, even when executed badly by bad men. Thus a man may be in church only to fulfill his Sunday obligation, distracted, irritable, bored; and then, out of the blue, be struck dumb and terrified and exalted at a passage of prayer or scripture he has heard a thousand times, but never before encountered so directly, or quite understood as well, in all its implications. I speak here from experience.

      Such epiphanies are steps in Jacob’s Ladder. They are a help toward and along the Way. And they compound in their efficacy; the more they happen, the more they become engraved in conduct and character. If one is not in church in the first place, they are far less likely to happen.

      I am almost never edified by the sermons at Sunday Mass, most of which are pitched – as they must be, I suppose – to the uneducated (although I find that in Dominican parishes, with their emphasis on preaching, the sermons often deliver several nice juicy jots of increased understanding). But I am reliably improved by the Psalm, the Gospel, the Epistle, the OT reading, and the prayers. And, in my parish (I am fortunate to be able to say), by the music.

      My hunch is that one of the reasons moderns like me find so much of what happens at church to be dry, empty, and vain is that I am myself that way; I am myself modern, i.e. So I bring my drought, emptiness and vanity to church, and then find them there, emphasized for my consideration.

      I wager that the sheep of the Middle Ages were in fact just as different from each other as we are, but – unlike us – almost all from childhood took what they did at church, and what happened there, with deadly seriousness, and so, properly, with awe. It is awfully hard for moderns to *begin* the work of liturgy with that sort of commitment. We have to be talked into the reality of the supernatural, again and again, before it begins to seem to us obviously real, so that we can start to see how the liturgy actually works, and means.

      When I am regular in my attendance at church, then, I find the divine more and more suffusing my life – or, rather, since God suffuses everything at all times, more and more aware of his suffusion – and of his sufficience.

  4. In the end this debate has always ignored the fundamental religious divide that has made the Orthosphere project untenable from the outset. The Romantic movement was largely a northern Protestant phenomenon, attaining its greatest influence in England, Germany and America. At root, it is a legacy of the Reformation. The dispute between Romanticism and Enlightenment rationalism is ultimately a fraternal one, both movements merely disagreed on the contours of the same basic individualism. In America, this religious individualism has been a defining feature at least since Roger Williams left the Puritan commonwealth to find his own breakaway church in Rhode Island. It is noteworthy that by the end, Williams, worshiped as the only member of his own personal church perhaps making him the first Romantic Christian. If this were some kind of giant leap forward in human consciousness it should have manifested itself by now in some extraordinarily positive way. Instead, the areas that Romanticism flourished are now some of the most insufferable sources of liberal-modernism. I have to believe that there is some connection.

    Protestants like Dr. Charlton are always going to be more comfortable with this type of individualist spirituality as a default assumption. I realize Dr. Charlton would disagree with the Protestant characterization, but I think we can at least agree that one needn’t be an official Protestant to adopt the Romantic mentality. If anything, I see Vatican II as the triumph of the Romantic mentality in the Catholic Church. An over emphasis on individual dignity, over emphasis on a sentimental notion of marriage and family life, aversion to celibacy, direct participation in the liturgy, ecumenism, and denigration of traditional Catholic philosophy and theology are things that unite Catholic modernists and Romantics.

    As Bonald and Kristor have said, some very few may be called for the kind of resistance that uncomfortably puts them outside of the visible confines of the Church. I just don’t find it appealing at all and would never ever abandon the Catholic Church for a contrived philosophy like “Romantic Christianity.” So, I will continue to oppose Romanticism both inside and outside the Church.

    • A bracing and trenchant comment. But it seems to me that, rather than showing how the Orthosphere project – which is on the one hand critical of modernity, and on the other apologetic of tradition – is untenable, instead tend to show how important it is.

      Granted that a thing may be both important and untenable. This world, e.g.

  5. No one seems to want to discuss the elephant in the pews, so to speak, so I guess I’ll have to be the one to bring it up.

    I think it’s worth remembering that virtually all Christian churches willingly allowed the secular authorities to label them non-essential services a little more than two years ago.

    Think about that. The Truth, the Way, and the Life was declared non-essential. Virtually all Christian churches aligned themselves seamlessly with the secular, global fear campaign and, in many cases, helped exacerbate it. They then slammed their doors shut and justified the action by claiming it demonstrated love of one’s neighbor and supported the commandment that “thou shalt not kill.” The RC Church even closed the healing pools at Lourdes. I could go on, but I think the point I’m making is obvious.

    The Romantic Christian might very well run off the rails — true enough. But he has discerned that the authority of the Church is certainly running off the rails, missing the Truth, mistaking the Way, and losing the Life. Moreover, he understands that if churchgoers are not vigilant about such things, they may end up doing the same.

    • This is the bottom line: the Church allowed the atheistic State to dictate its religious praxis in the midst of a pandemic that, we were hysterically told, would result in numbers of the faithful meeting their Maker. No liturgical worship, no hymns or chants, no communion of saints, no One Bread, One Cup. Just the lone Christian in his home, watching a solitary priest in an empty nave on YouTube.

      Why couldn’t a programmed robot perform the Liturgy and pipe out the deacon’s and choir’s parts through multiple speakers? Much more hygienic. Then the robot could feed the Sacraments onto a conveyor to process into hermetically sealed packages for delivery to the congregants in their respective homes.

      I’m actually quite angry and disillusioned about all this.

    • The capitulation, to me, was frustrating but not earth shattering. The modern Church hierarchy is confused and is afraid of it’s own authority. Softly admonishing Nancy Pelosi is the strongest thing we’ve seen out of the Church in a long time as far as I can tell. Moral culpability for this rests on the Bishops and other administrators who made the decision, not on the flocks who followed. Many were and ought to be scandalized by this, but again–not much worse than that. I heard stories of a few priests who refused to anoint the sick, or perform baptisms, or hear confessions–may God have mercy on their souls. Moving on.

      From the other side, I am not the least surprised a society that already viewed the church as non-essential felt no shame in labeling it as such. It more reflected an accurate characterization of the state of things. Was anyone surprised by the secular society designating the Church as non-essential? I wasn’t. I was mildly surprised the Church didn’t reject it–but in God’s wisdom He put others in charge of this, and not me. Everything happens for a reason, and perhaps the reason for this was so we would get some vigorous and virile blood pumping in the veins of the Church again. I don’t know how long it has been since the last excommunication but it would really pop some brains if the next one was coming soon.

      • I am not too troubled by all of this outward and merely formal ecclesial subjection to the tyrannical civil authority. The Church was quite and altogether (formally) superseded by the State as of 1600 or so. The State now (formally) owns the Church. Let’s not kid ourselves about that.

        Should we then despair? By no means!

        For, formality is not sufficient to actuality! The Church cannot be mastered, by any authority other than her own. The One who in virtue of his eternity cannot possibly be gainsayed cannot, hello, be anywise gainsayed!

        Christians too often rest their hopes upon the manifest Church, and so found their complaints upon the many derelictions thereof. They should not. To do so is a category error.

        The Church is what she is, from all eternity. We are called to her. Our own preferences must then in all logic fall before hers.

        The Word is who he is. His Bride is who he says she is. What else is there?

  6. I think this is one of these debates where it is impossible to find any ground of agreement, because it involves different worldviews. When your axioms to interpret reality are so different, you are in a dialogue of deafs.

    Think about a saint having a private revelation. A materialist would interpret this as a hallucination, while a Christian would interpret this as a message from God. You cannot convince the materialist of a different opinion, because his way of interpreting the reality (his premise that everything is material) does not live room to any other interpretation.

    A debate between different Christians traditions (say, Catholic vs Lutheran or Orthodox) is like this. But what we have here is something even harder. It is a debate between people that think that Christian tradition is useful for salvation (let’s call them Traditionalists) and people that think that Christian tradition has no value whatsoever in today’s world (let’s call them Romantics).

    The key of the debate is the word “discern”, which is ambiguous. Of course, any Traditionalist would agree that individual discernment is necessary for salvation and that salvation is individual. This comes with Christianity. But the Traditionalist will tell you that this discernment has to start from tradition in order not to reinvent the wheel and to take advantage of what we have learned through the centuries. This is the position in other aspects of life: we don’t reinvent Physics or Medicine from scratch: we rely on a living tradition.

    For the Romantic, the “development of consciousness” and the convergence of churches with the liberal establishment, have made this tradition useless. We have to go to the source directly because the old stream is polluted. Discernment cannot be limited by anything, only by individual intuition or reasoning. “In brief; the individual (not any church) ultimately ‘defines’ Christianity: i.e., the way to salvation.” So there would be as much Christianities as Christian people.

    What we have here is the ultimate consequence of the Reformation. When Luther said that everybody could interpret the Bible, he didn’t mean it (he only wanted to fund his own tradition) but he started a process that could not be stopped. If you are the ultimate judge about the interpretation of the Bible, why do you need a church? You are your own pope and your own church. You are a Church of One. Of course, Protestant churches tried to stop this but it was difficult to curb. By the way, if your understanding says that Christianity is not true, why should you stop at Christianity? You are the ultimate judge of everything. This is the cornerstone of the modern world. Then, we have to vote to take collective decisions because there is no truth we can agree on. Everybody has his own “truth”. This is the individualism of the modern world and, in my humble opinion, why Western civilization is dissolving like a sugar cube in a glass of water. Society cannot stand a radical individualism, the same way a human body cannot stand the individualism of its parts.

    Please notice that this is a development specific of the Western world. In Islam, Judaism, Buddhism or similar, you cannot be the ultimate authority of the interpretation or the religious truth. There is a tradition and a set of experts that interpret it.

    What the word “Christianity” hides in this debate, it is that we are talking about two radically different religions. For a traditionalist like me, a Christianity where anybody can define the way to salvation without caring about tradition or church is not Christianity at all. At least, according to the dictionary, it is not Christianity in the traditional sense. You can call him “following Christ in the modern way” and you can claim that it is what Christ wants from you and you may be right. You can tell me that I will be damned for not following this and you may be right.

    But this is not the traditional meaning of the word “Christianity”, which includes a tradition and a community. It is like the expression “gay marriage”. You can say that this is good but this is not marriage in the traditional sense. Using the same word only hides that the concept is different. I think maintaining the word “Christianity” is done because of inertia or emotional attachment, but it is not justified from a logical point of view.

    So with these radically different worldviews, what is the possibility of reaching an agreement? There is none. Everybody only justifies its position. There is a reason why the Internet splits in echo chambers. Good fences make good neighbors. When dialogue is useless, it is good to learn to live and let live. Right now, there are people in the Internet telling that Christianity is the worst thing that happened to humanity. They have their own blogs, their own communities and they don’t mix with us. A debate between them and us would be no good. When worldviews are so different, debates like these don’t go anywhere.

    • Lots of grammar errors in this text. I was tired when I wrote it and English is not my native language. Its/His and It/Him get mixed. I hope the thing is understandable. Apologies.

    • Yes, I find imnobody’s analogy between “gay marriage” and the use of the term Christianity by the Romantics to be apt. There have been countless times when I’ve been inclined to engage on Charlton’s blog, or Mr. Berger’s, but I stop myself at some point saying what’s the use. They have given themselves permission to call Christianity whatever they discern to be such. How can you have a meeting of minds about a topic that resides in the mind of one but not the other in a dialogue?

    • You are employing an absurd caricature of sola scriptura. There are two basic types of interpretation: exegesis and eisegesis. The problems which have arisen due to eisegesis do not discredit exegesis.

      Additionally, I must note that Luther was hardly the first to advocate the principle of sola scriptura; many of the Church fathers (e.g. Augustine of Hippo, Basil of Caesarea, Cyril of Jerusalem, Hilary of Poitiers, Irenaeus, John Chrysostom) likewise held to the material and formal sufficiency of Scripture.

  7. @ imnobody00 – Your attempt to dismiss the discussion in which we are engaged as essentially pointless because we will never reach any sort of agreement is not helpful.

    To begin with, the Orthosphereans/Traditionists and Romantic Christians are not locked in their own echo chambers. The fact that we are having this discussion in a cordial and respectful manner lays that claim to rest. Moreover, these exchanges have already established that there is strong agreement in many areas; namely, salvation is primarily an individual matter and that it can be attained outside of church tradition. By the same token, Romantic Christians do not deny the possibility of salvation within a church and acknowledge that churches have been the main vehicles of salvation for individual Christians throughout history.

    We also agree that there is something wrong about the way churches and their respective hierarchies have responded to events like the birdemic. Traditionalists consider the church to be primary. Romantic Christians consider churches to be secondary. Full disclosure — I attend Mass regularly; my son even serves as an altar boy.

    For the sake of clarification, Romantic Christians do not regard tradition as “useless”, and we are not trying to reinvent the wheel. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say we are interested in keeping the wheel turning.

    In terms of development of consciousness — something you yourself reject as false — it would be safer to say that we (roughly) regard the bulk of tradition as a stage in religious development akin to something like adolescence, and that Christians are meant to use this stage as the foundation for the next stage of development, which would be something akin to adulthood. An adult grows out of adolescence, but he can never really discard it. Nor can he regard it as useless. It is always an essential part of him.

    Discern is not ambiguous word. Whether traditionalists accept it or not, they are practicing religious discernment all the time. For example, barely any Catholics I communicate with support the current Pope or believe he is a good, well-motivated Christian leader.

    On the topic of discernment, it is also obvious that Romantic Christians and the Orthosphereans share common ground when it comes to moral/spiritual issues. Romantic Christians are not on board with modernism, the sexual revolution, anti-racism, climate change, etc., and we are certainly not on board with the current totalitarian machinations of the world.

    I think the current discussion between the Orthosphereans and the Romantic Christians reveals a great deal of mutual respect and concern — both for Christianity and for each other as individual Christians. Neither “group” wants members of the other to go astray.

    The big difference between the two approaches could perhaps be summarized by Dostoevsky’s The Grand Inquisitor chapter in The Brothers Karamazov. The Orthosphereans are convinced that the mystical bride of Christ cannot err or something to that degree. Romantic Christians are wary that the Church may no longer be serving Christ but rather the dread spirit of death and destruction.

    • This sounds like a rather big claim, like you are saying that Augustine of Hippo, Teresa of Avila, Francis de Sales, and Mother Teresa were “akin to” spiritual adolescents, while Romantic Christians are spiritual adults, or at least further progressed toward adulthood than the generations of ecclesial Christians. I have been given no compelling reason to accept this, and I think the Romantic project can be explained in more modest terms while still showing it to have value.

      The Romantic Christians have observed that religious community and ritual aren’t working for this generation. That’s true enough, although it strikes me more as a sign that this generation is unusually stupid than of any new advance in consciousness. I think it’s enough to say that Romantic Christians are making the best of a bad situation. Whatever the ideal situation for spiritual development might be, in our situation we don’t have reliable topical guidance from the contemporary Church so we must make do without it. Whatever the ideal starting point might be, all of us in fact begin thinking about religion with unexamined beliefs from false philosophies, and we must go about consciously purging these.

      It may even be true that a work of genius, greater than that of all the Church’s prior theologians and apologists, will be needed to break even a small slice of humanity away from its evil ideas, and this genius might have to be of a romantic sort. This would still be mostly a matter of getting a small fraction of us back to where we were before the calamity.

  8. @Kristor – I find your post and comments both surprising and confusing! Your post concedes pretty much all the ground to Romantic Christianity; so that you seem to be advocating the same attitude to churches.

    Your comment of July 25, 2022 at 4:49 AM suggests that any particular actual/ manifest church (including the RCC) is ultimately ‘merely’ (secondarily) helpful or harmful – but never should be regarded as primary/ decisive – precisely the Romantic Christian attitude.

    And that the individual person’s intuitive knowledge of the mystical/ spiritual/ immaterial ‘church’ is all that *really* matters at the bottom-line (albeit, I cannot distinguish this concept of ‘church’ from knowledge of deity – of God the Father/ Jesus Christ/ the Holy Ghost).

    Most remarkably, you apparently regard the actual, worldly functioning of the Roman Catholic Church to be a matter of ultimate indifference to you! i.e. Whether or not the RCC locks its churches; if it ceases to offer the mass, marriage, funerals; and if most of its bishops and priests focus their teachings on defending and endorsing… whatever policies the global totalitarian Establishment are currently pushing — you say:

    “I am not too troubled by all of this outward and merely formal ecclesial subjection to the tyrannical civil authority. ”

    I suppose the crux is that you regard this as ‘merely’ formal submission. Yet when formal *and informal* RCC discourse overwhelmingly endorses – and indeed instructs – not just submission, but enthusiastic and active participation, over many years and increasingly… Well, I believe you are in error.

    Altogether, I don’t you are putting forward a coherent argument here – which may simply mean that you are in a transitional phase.

    Indeed I hope so; because I find your casual, dismissive attitude to the RCC enthusiastic-self-shut-down of 2020 (etc) to be abhorrent!

    Like Abp Vigano; I regard 2020 as probably the worst disaster in the history of Christianity, an existential catastrophe, the significance of which can hardly be exaggerated.

    • Yes. There is an underlying slipperiness to these arguments: “Well of course the Church isn’t credible! After all, it’s only a formalistic organization staffed by weak, servile men! The ‘real’ Church is a spiritual entity out in the ether somewhere!”

      Really–so why bother with all these expensive buildings and theology grads?

      Dr. Charlton is correct: the 2020 capitulation was existential in magnitude. The hierarchs do not believe in their own spiritual authority and are physically afraid of their own Sacraments and their flocks. A complete loss of legitimacy.

  9. Another misunderstanding in this debate is the use of discernment and the reaction to the corruption in Churches.

    For the traditionalist, discernment works in two stages:

    1) You discern which religious position is true or, at least, closer to the truth. This is an individual discernment, the way the Romantics do all the time. You base your discernment in intuition, reasoning and religious experience. This includes religion (Christianity, Islam, progressiveness, deism, etc.) and religious tradition (in Christianity, we have Catholic, Orthodox, Oriental and Protestant traditions). Let’s call this “pure discernment”.

    2) Then, every aspect of life (especially of morally life) is discerned according to this tradition. This means that you apply logic and reasoning but basing this logic and reasoning on a tradition. As a Catholic, I regard religious life with a spirit of intellectual humility. Knowing that I am not the be all and end all of the truth. I trust that there have been people that are holier than me, smarter than me and that I can be mistaken. There are dogmas that, personally, I find very hard to swallow but I regard that it is more likely that God speaks through a church that it speaks through me and I am the only person who is right. This is “mediated discernment”.

    For the Romantics, discernment is only “pure discernment”, that is, bullet 1). Every aspect of the faith has to be discerned by the Romantic with no limit. Tradition has no use. So we have seen all kinds of things that don’t conform to any Christian tradition but they are justified because of individual discernment.

    Again, this can be right or wrong, but this is not Christianity. Imagine a person saying that he is a Muslim but he does not believe in the hadiths nor the Islamic jurisprudence and Islamic commentary. About the Qur’an, he only thinks surah Al-Baqarah is authoritative and he interprets it as he see fits. And the concept of God is not the one of Islam, but the one of the Bahai religion (which comes from Islam). And he thinks that every Muslim has to define Islam as he sees fit. So can we call this guy “a Muslim”? (In this analogy, surah Al-Baqarah is the gospel of John and Bahai religion is Mormonism). I think this guy is entitled to fund his own religion (this is what the founder of the Bahai religion did out of Islam) and this could be the true religion but I don’t think it is correct to defend that he is a Muslim and this is “another way of Islam”. How far you stretch the terms until they become unrecognizable?

    The first thing in a debate is to clarify the terms. What is “Christianity”? Everybody who follows Christ? Because Christ has been included in several religions (including Islam) and some people without religion claim to follow Him. What is “discernment”? Because it is often argued by the Romantics that the Traditionalists also use discernment but they don’t want to admit it. But it is different to use “discernment” in a Romantic way or in a Traditionalist way (see above). There is the same word but there are two different concepts.

    Let’s suppose the pope Francis saying something that is political correct. There is a fundamental misunderstanding here too.

    1) The Romantic determines that Francis is wrong because he “discerns” that political correctness is not Christian. He has arrived to this conclusion by himself, by his own power of reasoning. He has read lots of things but none of them is authoritative to him, that is, it is above his own intellect. He decides what is true and what is false by himself.

    Having reached this conclusion, the Romantic reaches the conclusion that Churches are useless and Christian traditions are useless. So this is another proof that Romanticism is the way to go.

    2) The Traditionalist (let’s say a Catholic) determines that Francis is wrong because Francis goes against the Catholic tradition. This is a different “discernment”, because the Catholic thinks that way of measuring is not his own understanding but the Catholic tradition.

    Of course, he applies discernment to interpret the Catholic tradition in the areas where Catholic tradition is not explicit (the case of Francis) but he starts from a very detailed tradition not from scratch. In the areas covered by the tradition, he submits to it. The Catholic does not discern that parts of the Bible are not authoritative: he submits to a Catholic tradition that says that all the Bible is authoritative.

    Having reached the conclusion that Francis is wrong, the conclusion of the Catholic is that he will keep on following Catholic tradition because it is the truth. Is the Church useless for that? No, because the Sacraments are valid and even the most anti-Francis guy admits that Sacraments are valid. So he follows the Catholic doctrine. With other denominations, it is the same.

    By contrast, the Romantic would think that Francis is wrong and this is another sign that he has to follow his intellect in an individualistic way.

    The reason why Romantics engage in these debates is a mystery for me. There are 5 or 6 Romantics in the world and 1.2 billion of Traditionalists. So I think they should be eager to proselytize but I have followed them for years and they don’t have plans to do so.

    And, if anybody can follow their conscience, the Traditionalists could say that we follow our own conscience, so what is the problem? In the worldview of the Romantics, Traditionalists define their own Christianity by choosing a certain tradition. Is it that they want us to say that we agree with the Romantics and consider their option as valid as any Christian tradition? I don’t think so and I won’t say anything against my discernment (mediated by the Catholic tradition). So it is better to live and let live and don’t engage in debates with people that have different premises.

  10. Here’s another Internet Opinion [tm]

    On one end is me, the purest of Robinson Crusoe Christians. On the other is the purest of collective Christian churches (with a perfect hierarchy and tradition of your favor).

    Me, alone A perfect church

    The reality is any given church is somewhere in between, yet whichever way you slide the marker, you are still responsible for yourself. Even on the farthest right, you still need to own the faith.

    What we found in 2020 is that the marker is a lot further left than we thought–this just about goes for any church; the churches are stuffed with fake Christians, including the authorities in those churches (Vox Day calls it Churchianity). Any temptation to coast on the collective state of a church has been blown up for anyone owning his faith.

  11. Like Abp Vigano; I regard 2020 as probably the worst disaster in the history of Christianity, an existential catastrophe, the significance of which can hardly be exaggerated.

    I mean, let’s put things in perspective. Hierarchical confusion, bureaucratic foolishness, humans revealing themselves to be…gasp…fallible, fallen creatures? I can’t claim that were I a bishop I would have reacted much better than they. While it was frustrating, I took it as a practice of penance, and now it’s over and Church is resuming more or less as usual, and in my parish I have not seen any substantial decline in attendance. What have we learned, 2 years on? That Bishops tap-dance to the tune of state bureaucrats. Embarassing? Sure. Ideal? Not even a little. The worst thing in the history of Christianity? Not by a long shot.

    If we want to talk about worst disasters in history of Christianity, in terms of souls lost to hellfire, a few swift strokes from Martin Luther’s hammer was the deadliest act in human history.

    • Just keeping my snark self contained.

      The hierarchs do not believe in their own spiritual authority and are physically afraid of their own Sacraments and their flocks. A complete loss of legitimacy.

      What legitimacy? To those of us who believe we are subject to the hierarchy of the Church and who believe we have a duty of obedience to them, and who already believed they had legitimacy– they have not lost legitimacy, as evidenced by the “traditionalist” commenters here.

      To those of you who never believed they had legitimacy in the first place– they have lost legitimacy, as evidenced by the “romantic” commenters here.

      The end result of all this is that people that believe differently believe differently. This conversation is frustratingly tautological, as imnobody00 has pointed out repeatedly.

    • Atheists sometimes taunt believers with the question, what would it take to make you discard your belief in God. My answer it that I have no idea, since faith is sometimes overturned by some pea-shooter of misfortune, and sometimes withstands massed cannons of calamity. So I will not ask you what would it take to defeat your “fallible human” defense. For all we know, it may be invincible or it may be overturned by the actions of one very fallible priest. But as a thought experiment, I ask you to imagine a schism in the Church. They have happened and may very well happen again. How would you decide which pope was the false pope? Would you follow your bishop, your priest, your conscience, the magisterium of the Orthosphere?

      • As a peasant who is neither learned enough to understand palace intrigue nor connected enough to influence it, the order of operations would be that the true Pope would retain the allegiance of the Bishop, and the priest would maintain his allegiance to the Bishop, and I would maintain my allegiance to the local manifestation of the Church through my priest. I don’t trust my conscience to make good decisions (my own sin is the chief evidence that my conscience should not be trusted), that is why I trust the Church to tell me certain truths and I in obedience, obey.

        If the Bishop or Priest goes astray, if it is obvious to me as a peasant I can make a correction for that but if it is not then I would be obliged to follow him astray, may God have mercy on his soul and my own.

        We luckily do not live in a time of schism, and do not have to choose between a true pope and a false one, but rather must endure the penitential suffering of incompetent leaders making bad decisions. There are worse things in the world than having incompetent leaders, schism being among them, but the Holy Spirit will guide the Church true. There have been saints on the wrong side of a schism, and they repented when the truth was made clear–we must trust the truth will always be made clear, in God’s perfect timing.

        Modernity makes us want to follow our consciences because we think we have all this information available to us so we can make good–better– decisions. I think the peasantly response is to accept that we are neither knowledgeable nor powerful and we must trust that the Holy Spirit is guiding our leaders even if we can’t understand what they are doing or how they are doing it. Our first duty, as laity, is obedience to the Church, whether we understand it or not. Our second duty is to avail ourselves of the sacraments, whether we like it or not. Our third duty is to love our neighbors, whether we like them or not.

        If we are not praying for our leaders then this whole thread is pointless, because without our prayers how can they get better? What are we doing to help the Church if we are not praying for her?

      • I think you are evading the question since a schism would split the bishops and the priests. Obedience to the Church would therefore require a decision which side of the schism was the Church, and until you make this decision you would have no Church to obey. I suppose some people would make a decision based on canon law and the rules of papal succession, whereas others would ask which of the two popes is a heretic. There are no doubt other grounds as well.

      • My priest would be responsible for careful discernment and informing his flock which way to go. I would follow my priest. It is not up to me to decide who is pope, in normal times or in times of schism.

      • O.K. That’s a fair answer. It’s not the way I’d go, but I cannot say exactly what way I would go. It’s just a fact that authority makes very little impression on me. But no one should take me as an authority on the advisability of an anti-authoritarian disposition.

    • How, precisely, did Luther’s condemnation of simony result in any souls being lost to hellfire? Do you think that telling people to repent and believe the Gospel is somehow more dangerous to their souls than letting them wallow in impenitence?

      • Martin Luther’s protest initiated the movement of Protestantism, and led innumerable souls away from the Catholic Church and into heresy and error.

        If that is not sufficient explanation, consult your nearest Catholic Church and ask them about RCIA.

    • Scoot,

      You said:

      If we want to talk about worst disasters in history of Christianity, in terms of souls lost to hellfire, a few strokes from Martin Luther’s hammer was the deadliest act in human history.

      I responded:

      How, precisely, did Luther’s condemnation of simony result in any souls being lost to hellfire? Do you think that telling people to repent and believe the Gospel is somehow more dangerous to their souls than letting them wallow in impenitence?

      You then replied:

      Martin Luther’s protest initiated the movement of Protestantism, and led innumerable souls away from the Catholic Church and into heresy and error.

      If that is not sufficient explanation, consult your nearest Catholic Church and ask them about RCIA.

      To which I now respond:
      Restating your hypothesis in different words is not an explanation at all. So, to rephrase my questions, how did Martin Luther’s condemnation of simony result in leading anyone into heresy and error? Do you think faithfully preaching God’s Word is somehow more dangerous to souls than letting them wallow in impenitence?

      Simply put, Rome is wrong. The more one studies Scripture, and the patristic exegesis thereof, the less plausible Rome’s claims become. Therefore, leaving Rome for one of the five Protestant traditions (Anabaptist, Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Reformed), or for Eastern Orthodoxy, would be, at worst, a lateral move.

      Rome’s claim to be the True Church depends on its claims about the papacy. If Rome’s claims about the papacy are true, then Rome is the True Church; however, if Rome’s claims about the papacy are false, then Rome is not the True Church. Scripture says nothing regarding any one bishop having an universal episcopate, much less an infallible one, and the Church fathers do not interpret Scripture as doing so. For evidence, see the links below. Therefore, Rome’s claims about the papacy are false, and one must conclude that Rome is not the True Church. Now, disproving Rome’s claims does not ascertain which of the other traditions is the True Church; however, as this comment is already somewhat long, that is a discussion best reserved for another time.

      1) https://christiantruth.com/articles/mt16/

      2) https://christiantruth.com/articles/fathersmt16/

      3) https://christiantruth.com/articles/papacy-and-the-facts-of-history/

      4) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zucvbDnjyg

      5) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHk-pmg-9LE

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  13. I must say, I find it rather fascinating and revelatory that we Romantic Christians, who regard churches as secondary considerations at most, are more appalled by the church closures and the spiritual damage this has inflicted on tradition than our traditional brethren who consider churches to be primary.

    So far, the lukewarm attitude expressed by trads has been big collective “what’s the big deal” shoulder shrug followed by the explanation that it doesn’t really matter because the church has been owned by the state since 1600. Besides, the real church is eternal and unaffected by such actions.

    @ Scoot – “What have we learned, 2 years on? That Bishops tap-dance to the tune of state bureaucrats. Embarrassing? Sure. Ideal? Not even a little. The worst thing in the history of Christianity? Not by a long shot.”

    I thought bishops tap-danced to the tune of tradition. Hmm. Guess I was wrong.

    Well, to really answer the questions you posed you have to ask whose tune the state bureaucrats are tap-dancing to.

    Hint: the tune is demonic, interconnected, and global. So, contrary to your claim, 2020 easily qualifies as the worst thing in the history of Christianity.

    • The line I am drawing is that the men that lead the Church being bad, incompetent, whatever is not an excuse for apostasy. If the Church is true, then it is true that the gates of hell will not prevail against her, then it is true that there is no salvation outside the Church. Given that, I will bet on the Church every time.

    • The gays fought to keep their bathhouses open through the AIDS pandemic; they aren’t giving up circuit parties just for monkeypox. So it does appear that gays are more serious about gay sex than many Catholics are about the sacraments. It certainly helps that gays have more status and political power than Catholics, but the government could not jail, say, twenty million Catholics who defied the lockdown in an act of civil disobedience. What makes this worse is that Christians are supposed to fear death less than the infidels do. One would expect that this cavalier attitude towards death was especially strong among men in holy orders, but that does not seem to have been the case. I have a friend whose priest literally ran away from his (my friend’s) daughter when the little girl tried to give him a hug.

      • This is a confusing statement coming from you JMSmith. From what I understand you don’t go to Mass, not because the sacraments are unavailable, but because the preaching is bad.

      • Also because I am lazy. You are right that I no longer attend mass regularly, but I do not denounce mass attendance or encourage other people to follow my example. I may very well resume attendance someday. My point in raising the comparison with gays is simply that they are apparently more motivated than we are (obviously more motivated than I am right now). I understand that addiction makes people do crazy things, but the unprotesting Christian acquiescence to the lockdowns was striking. And it was most striking among Catholics since Protestants can stream the Word but Catholics cannot stream the Sacraments. As you say, I am in no position to accuse anyone of hypocrisy in this matter, and so that is not what I am doing. If weekly receipt of the Sacraments is essential, then we would have insisted that we get them, come hell or high water–and so would our bishops. If receipt of the Sacraments can be suspended for purely secular reasons, then my current laziness begins looking like a good excuse.

      • Thanks JMSmith, I appreciate your clarification and your candor about where you’re at, all while recognizing you by no means owe it me.

        I admit I’m amazed at what appears to be the dependence you and other Romantics have upon the virtue of the superiors in determining the worth of a religious system. You seem to have been scandalized no? And yet you can’t truly be scandalized and recognize it at the same time.

      • Scoot and I have debated this at his site. There are two types of authority, bureaucratic authority and charismatic authority. In bureaucratic authority, one respects the office even when one does not respect the man. In charismatic authority, one respects the man even when he has no office. The great theme of the gospels is the charismatic authority of Christ against the bureaucratic authority of the scribes and pharisees. Bureaucratic authority has a place in society and I’m quite capable of following orders from people I do not like or admire. But the authority of the bureaucrat does depend on the authority of the bureaucracy he serves, and the authority of the bureaucracy he serves depends on the utility and efficiency of that bureaucracy. Christ did say “by their fruits you shall know them,” not by their pedigrees.

        I do not mean to dump on the Catholic Church, which enfolds a great many people infinitely better than I, but am only saying that we follow a man because (a) he simply compels obedience, as Jesus did when he told his disciples “follow me,” or (b) he holds office in a well-run organization that bears “fruit.” I understand that “fruit” comes in many sizes and colors, but the production of “fruit” is certainly related to virtue and competence. What this comes down to is this. Charismatic authority is magic (or demonic), and we will follow a man with charismatic authority over a cliff. Bureaucratic authority ultimately depends on the performance and results of the bureaucracy.

      • JMSmith,

        You don’t go to church? Well ok, it would be one thing if you limited your posts to musings on society or politics or geography or whatever. But you sometimes write on Christianity and even have the audacity to offer scriptural exegesis on occasion. Why should I take you seriously on these things if you don’t even take your own faith seriously?

      • You can take my scriptural and spiritual musings for whatever they are worth to you, It would be very strange if their value dropped in your estimation simply because you have discovered that I am not presently attending mass with any regularity. I will write what I feel like writing and you should read what you feel like reading. If you wish to restrict your reading to regular mass attendees, I’m sure the internet offers many thousands who match your specifications.

      • Hi JMSmith,

        It just seems presumptuous to be pontificating on Christianity when you evidently don’t think it is important enough even to make a minimal attempt to follow its commandments. And it frankly feels dishonest: I would guess that people reading you would assume from your writings that you are a practicing Christian who takes it seriously.

        It would be very strange if their value dropped in your estimation simply because you have discovered that I am not presently attending mass with any regularity. …

        Why? If I were to read some scriptural exegesis only later to find out that it had been written by Arius, I would immediately become circumspect as to its value. My reaction would be completely the opposite if I were to find out it were written by St. Augustine.

        (To avoid any misunderstanding, I’m not trying to suggest that you are a heretic with that example.)

        Of course, we all struggle with sin, but you appear to be publicly unrepentant about breaking the Third Commandment. Not only that, but you appear to trivialize it (you’re ‘lazy’). I find some discord between that and what I thought the Orthosphere was presenting itself as.

        Anyway: get thee to a church, man.

      • You and I have different ideas about what it means to be a practicing Christian. I have never said I was exemplary, but I have always tried to be perfectly serious, and I am perfectly serious when I say that an hour of pew-sitting is neither necessary nor sufficient to keep the Sabbath holy. As I’m sure you know, the third commandment is one that Jesus was himself quite willing to bend. It may not mitigate my delinquency in your eyes, but I am not now sleeping in on Sunday mornings, or gormandize with bloody marys at Sunday brunch. I’m leading a Bible study for a small group of Catholics who grew to adulthood without once seeing the inside of that book.

      • JMSmith, how do you reconcile being “perfectly serious” and disobeying a precept of the Catholic Church which has been established for your own good? I’m only asking because I really look up to you in many ways and it breaks my heart as your brother in Christ to hear that you do not fulfill your Sunday obligation.

      • I mean that I did not decide to absent myself without due reflection and prayer. This was a personal decision, and should not be taken as an example that I believe others should follow unless they also make a serious personal decision after due reflection and prayer. I am in one sense thankful that some readers have been grieved by knowledge of my non-attendance, since I know this comes from a genuine concern for my soul. I am in another sense quite deeply distressed, since I feel genuine affection for many of the people I interact with online, and I am sorry to grieve them by seeming to slight something they believe is supremely important. As I wrote in answer to another commenter, I do not now spent Sunday mornings on the golf course or in bed, and I do continue to observe the Lord’s day.

        I haven’t explained my decision in any detail because I fear to do so would offend readers that I have no wish to offend. I will not handle with unclean hands the things that to them are holy. As a long-time reader, you know that I can be very offensive if I lose my temper, and then handling “holy” things with unclean hands is what I am all about; but I will respect obedient Catholics so long as they respect me.

        I will say one thing though, and it is suggested by your line saying that mass attendance is something the Church has commanded for my own good. This is not a complaint, only a fact. I attended mass for close to twenty-five years, was more than once on parish council, taught R.E., filled the 2:00 a.m. slot at the adoration chapel for many years, was active for many years in the Bible study, sponsored several youths through Confirmation. Through all that time, the Church never showed the slightest interest in me, so I don’t see how it could have the slightest idea about what is good for me. Since I’ve begun to stay away, no one has called to ask what’s the matter; if I’m sick, or lame, or dead. You may think this is egotistical, and perhaps it is, but it seems to me significant of something.

  14. @JMS – ” I ask you to imagine a schism in the Church. They have happened and may very well happen again. ”

    I would have thought that a schism is – at this point – the only realistically optimistic possibility for serious Christians in any of the mainstream denominations or churches.

    The thoroughness of corruption within so many aspects of church functioning, and utter lack of repentance, suggests that the institutions as a whole cannot (therefore will not) be turned-around.

    And much the same applies to the remnant of Christendom (i.e. Western Civilization).

    But I am too pessimistic to expect schism. The leadership class (which includes the ‘Christian’ leaders with most power and influence) are apparently strategically-determined to create a demonic world (of one variant, or another) by means of the ideology of materialistic-leftism from which so few of us are sufficiently free; and the masses are all too willing to go along with these plans.

    • Protestant denominations have gone into schism over gay marriage, but the global ‘catholic’ churches hold together with the glue of hypocrisy (officially known as Christian Charity). As with any old bureaucracy, the management of these churches seem to be more concerned with maintaining the bureaucracy than fulfilling the mission. Some appear to know they are shuttering the business, and just hope to keep things going until retirement. But as you say, there are agents of chaos mixed in with cynical careerism.

  15. @ Bruce. Of all the wonderfully valuable comments in this thread, I take yours to be most responsive to the original post, and so – to prevent confusion – I shall respond to it in a new post.

    With respect to the conversation on this particular thread, I have only this to say. First, a great thanks to all the participants therein, who have demonstrated great civility, intelligence, faith, and indeed charity to each other, without in the least weakening their mutual chastisements – which, I must say, are valuable on and to all sides – including the sides that have levied them.

    To those chastisements, I would add only this fillip: dear sons, apply your dire earnest chastisements first to yourselves. When I chastise another, or even detect in him an error of even the most recondite philosophical sort, it is *almost always* because I am myself somehow subject and slave to the fault I detect in him. That is how I can recognize his fault in the first place! Social Justice Warriors famously project. Almost all men do, forsooth, albeit far less than they, to be sure. Let us with each other refrain from so doing; or, at least, pluck first the beams from our own eyes.

    In particular, I must thank Imnobody, Scoot, and Antignostic for their great labors on our behalf. It seems to me that Scoot, above all, has carried the day, in his arguments for the propriety of our basic humility, in our encounter with the Church and her traditions: the Church is defective, as usual; but, she is still the Bride of Christ, and so his Body; so, what else is there to say? Shall we jettison her in favor of our own idiotic perfervid fantasies? I think not. That would be an adultery. Who abandons his wife because she has overcooked the casserole, or indeed even cuckolded him (as the Church has done, in Francis)? Only the fool, who takes his essential worth to be no more than his vagrant wife accords to him. To a man, properly so called, his vow to his wife hangs, not upon her worth, or upon her estimation of his, but rather upon his own worth, which he apprehends in his Lord’s confidence in him. So he keeps his vows, and waits for his wife to return to hers – the while chastising her, in congress with the world, for her wayward sins.

    The Church is the wife of us all. May God prevent me from any proud disagreement with her, who is the Body of Christ. May God help me to a humble agreement with him, in chastisement of her.

    Of course, anyone who does not regard the Church as the Body of Christ is likely to abandon her as soon as she – that wayward Daughter of Zion – strays, by a jot or a furlong, from her proper paths. As for me, in respect to that, I take Hosea as my guide and model. And I feel sure that the Church shall herself remain confident in her ultimate allegiance to her Lord – who is after all the form of her very being – despite the many myriad defections of this or that of among her members, who weaken her.

    In closing: I urge you all to treat all these efforts of your interlocutors as fundamentally charitable. We are all, in the final analysis, on the same side, and against the demons. On that we may surely all agree. Let us not then let them get the better of us, and get between us, so as to weaken our phalanx.

  16. About three weeks ago, on Father Hunwicke’s ‘Mutual Enrichment’ blog, I came across this quotation from George Santayana, which I suddenly understand more deeply:

    “It is one of the foibles of romanticism to insist on rewriting history and perpetually publishing new views without new matter. Can we know more about the past than its memorials transmit to us? Evidently we cannot know more; in point of truth concering history, any tradition is better than any reconstruction. A tradition may be a ruin, broken unrecognizably, or shabbily built over in a jungle of accretions, yet it always retains some nucleus of antiquity; whereas a reconstruction … is something fundamentally arbitrary, created by personal fancy, and modern from top to bottom. Such a substitution is no mere mistake; it is a voluntary delusion which romantic egotism positively craves: to rebuild the truth nearer the heart’s desire.”

    • Sorry, but that’s the same argument the Jews and the Roman pagans could roll out against the early Christians’ efforts to inaugurate and establish the Christian Church.

      I think the traditionalists’ arguments are beginning to crystallize around hunkering down with Rod Dreher in M. Night Shyamalan’s Village. Thus we become actors on an Amish movie set, and the kids will grow up and move away.

      • Your argument only holds up if you believe the early Christians possessed no ‘new matter’. They weren’t engaged in a Romantic Reconstruction, they were introducing something entirely Real and New.

      • What is the substantive distinction between “Romantic Reconstruction,” which you proclaim thou shalt not have per Santayana, versus “something entirely Real and New” which presumably, if I can come up with it, then you and Santayana will let it in the gate?

        The Roman pagans had some very good traditionalist arguments for not upending their pantheon and culture for a radical new monotheism from Palestine. Gibbon ironically traces the Empire’s decline to the adoption of Christianity. The Jews also had sound traditionalism on their side: adoption of Christianity destroys their ethno-religious nation and its geographic redoubt (which they’ve gotten back, thanks to their stubborn insistence that the Jews are right, and the Christians are wrong).

      • Gibbon was a valuable genius, but he is not to be trusted vis-à-vis Christianity and the decline of the Empire; for, he was an Enlightenment philosophe, who was working an anti-Christian agenda. The Empire was doomed, not on account of Christianity, but on account of its prior deliquescence, which opened up cultural room for all sorts of alien cults: Mithras, Cybele, Adonis, Osiris, you name it. Augustus was terrified about the demographic collapse of the Romans, and did all he could think of to stave it off. It was no good. Rome then welcomed the barbarians in, to fill her otherwise empty offices – especially those of the legions, and so eventually those of the Caesar. Elagabalus was no Roman; nor was he a Hebrew, nor a Christian. Forsooth! Yet in him is all the Fall of Rome foretold.

        If anything, it was the Christians and Jews who saved the Empire for a thousand years or so. They were the only demographic within it that was reproducing at above replacement levels.

        The Church of the Apostles and Fathers was not a Romantic project of anachronistic excavation of a long lost cult. It was rather heir to an ancient and lively and continuous First Temple Tradition, of which it was an organic development – albeit, also, a paradigm shift, as when music is transposed a key or so, and the winds kick in for the first time on top of the strings, opening up massive new vistas.

        That Tradition had not been lost or obscured over the precedent centuries of its derogation within the Temple precincts, but rather maintained and indeed developed by a substantial faithful Remnant out in the Judean desert (and in Arabia and Egypt). So, Christianity was not trying to reinvent the lost old religion of the Hebrews, for that religion had never been altogether lost; but rather, only, to fulfill it.

        Christianity repudiated the Sadducees and the Pharisees, to be sure, together with their innovations. But it did so as the expression of the Essenes, and of their traditions, which likewise utterly and vehemently repudiated the Sadducees and Pharisees as corruptions of the pure old time religion. All three sects were vibrant in AD 1; of the three, the Essenes were the most ancient, and the most Traditional, and the least co-opted by the Greco-Roman conquerors.

        The Resurrection was revolutionary, to be sure. But it turned out to have been right in line with the ancient First Temple Tradition, implicit within it from the beginning. Lots of the Epistles are devoted to recording the early Christian discovery of those implications.

        As for the pagan reaction to Christianity, it was not dissimilar to the pagan reaction to the other sects of Judaism in the centuries circa AD 1. Which for most pagans was just bewilderment. But which, for the sophisticated pagans, was recognition. It was obvious to educated minds of that era that the pagan pantheons and Hebrew choirs of angels were coterminous upon a single reality; ditto for the pagan Platonic Forms and the Hebrew Types.

        So, no: the Apostolic Christians were not like the Romantic Christians of today. They were not like the latter rejecting the deliverances of centuries of serious, saintly scholarship and just making stuff up – honestly, I make no doubt, and with the best intentions – on the basis of their selective reading and interpretation of texts 2,000 years old, without reference to the living Tradition readily available to them, that connects those texts by an unbroken chain of Apostolic Succession – of scholarship, commentary and interpretation – ay, and of implementation, of holiness, and of contemplation – to the scholars and mystics of today. They were, rather, continuing a lively and unbroken ancient Tradition.

        The Romantic Christians are all good men. That is obvious. And they are on the right side. That too is obvious. We welcome them to our phalanx, absolutely, and with no reservations. If our side loses, so do they.

        But it cannot be missed that the Romantic Christians propose – or at least, seriously entertain – wild notions about Christ and the first disciples that *absolutely gut* the Christian religion; that are, to be precise, antireligious. For, they – some of them, anyway, I can’t keep track because it is too painful to try – propose that Jesus was not the eternal Lógos (nor were YHWH, or for that matter El Elyon, the Father – all these were rather originally mortal men just like us schmucks, and so by nature just as incompetent as are we to save), that he was a normal natural man somehow for reasons unspecified adopted as a Son of God at his Baptism (or Transfiguration, or Crucifixion; the accounts differ), that he did not actually die on the Cross (this is a standard Muslim and Gnostic trope), that after he recovered from his crucifixion he married the Magdalene (and moved to the Languedoc with their children, or whatever; thanks to Dan Brown and his now widely familiar silly Freemasonic Da Vinci Code reduction of the Incarnation to a purely natural and thus in no way supernatural event; this being, let it be here and now straitly stated, precisely an *anti-Christian* notion).

        This is the mad sort of stuff that one can wander into, when untethered to the Great Tradition.

        How is it not clear that all of such stuff tends to empty the Christian revelation of any special import? If all that is recorded in the New Testament is just routine human history, which as routine stuff then, when push comes to shove, matters no more than this morning’s eggs and toast, well then, *why pay attention to any of it?* And, so: *why be Christian?* Thus: *why fight the present cultural disaster?*

        When traversing Mirkwood, *stay on the trail.*

      • Kristor,

        But it cannot be missed that the Romantic Christians propose – or at least, seriously entertain – wild notions about Christ and the first disciples that *absolutely gut* the Christian religion; that are, to be precise, antireligious. For, they – some of them, anyway, I can’t keep track because it is too painful to try – propose that Jesus was not the eternal Lógos…, that after he recovered from his crucifixion he married the Magdalene…

        I’ve been watching this debate from afar, but I have to say, thanks for saying this (someone had to). Romantic ‘Christianity’ – as least as represented by Charlton – is opposed to Christianity. This much is obvious. And in fact it’s worse than that, as Charlton openly promotes blasphemy.

        But then earlier you write:

        The Romantic Christians are all good men. That is obvious. And they are on the right side. That too is obvious. …

        Is it really obvious that they are on the right side? Sure, Charlton has lots of useful things to say, but he regularly attacks Christianity.

        As for this whole anti-church position of the Romantic ‘Christians’, I’m not sure I understand it: is this supposed to be an ‘agree and amplify’? i.e., the churches shut down during the pandemic, sending the message that the Church is inessential. The Romantic Christian doubles down and says: “Exactly right!”

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  18. @ Ian, @ Kristor – It was the churches and their leadership who turned their backs on the 2,000 year tradition and *absolutely gutted* Christianity in 2020, not the Romantic Christians.
    Let’s get one thing perfectly clear — Christian church leaders decided to close the churches at the behest of anti-Christian/demonic secular authorities. On top of that, most of the flock went along with the closures without so much as a peep. There were no major protests or objections. Christians did not gather in large groups to demand the reinstatement of the sacraments. They put their heads down and went along for the ride.
    Many of the same church leaders continue to batter the 2,000 year tradition every chance they get. Oddly enough, this doesn’t seem to bother the trads/mainstream Christians too much. For them it’s all par for the course. Yet it bothers Romantic Christians immensely because they recognize the immense spiritual harm this has caused/is causing.
    Read through the comments in this thread carefully. Look at what has been said. The trads admit church leaders dance to the tune of secular, anti-Christian forces, that churches are basically owned by the anti-Christian state and have been since about 1600. They then go on and admit that they follow the leadership despite this because *obedience*, *hierarchy*, and *order* and well, people are fallen and fallible so we should be charitable and give them a pass. That we have been cuckolded but should learn to bear the humiliation with patience and love. Some have even admitted that they (the pious trad peasants) might have been tempted to close the churches had occupied leadership positions in 2020), so hey.
    So, who exactly is damaging/attacking the 2,000-year-old Great Tradition here? Who is working against the “true way to life”? Who has become untethered from Tradition? Who has emptied Christian revelation?
    All Romantic Christians are saying is that trad/mainstream Christians need to be careful about where they apply humility and obedience. The distinction between Mirkwood and the trail is not as clear and obvious as trads posit.
    Trads would also do well to rely less on externals — which are being subverted, inverted, and destroyed as we speak, often by the very people who claim to defend and uphold the mainstream/tradition — and internally-validate their faith within their hearts and perhaps realize that *that* — shock of all shocks — matters more than the 2,000 year-old-tradition.
    Romantic Christians are not against church-going, but we are against blind obedience to external authority — which includes blind obedience to religious authority. Christians must possess a strong inner compass in this time and place. Their Christianity must be internally-validated and internally-motivated, and this should take precedence over adhering to external considerations such as church choices, tradition, religious authority, hierarchies, etc.
    On a side note, claiming that Dr. Charlton is opposed to Christianity (Ian) is, well, ridiculous.

    • Romantic Christians are not against church-going, but we are against blind obedience to external authority — which includes blind obedience to religious authority

      At the top of Church Hierarchy is not the Pope, but God Himself. Are you opposed to blind obedience to God?

      Obedience that is not unilateral, unequivocal, and unconditional is not obedience, but a service contract. And God doesn’t call us to negotiate contracts, he calls us to humble, filial obedience to Our Father.

      The men who show up to the vineyard get a penny not because they negotiated but because those are the terms of the vintner. Serve, and receive your reward. The Church has been 100% transparent about it’s terms and conditions, and they are non negotiable. That is why accepting the easy yoke and the light burden is obedience.

      Either you accept the authority of the Church (and so, God) prima facie or you are trying to walk on water.

      Good luck!

  19. For the edification of readers, from St. Augustine (italics original, bold mine):

    Let us love our Lord God, let us love His Church: Him as a Father, Her as a Mother: Him as a Lord, Her as His Handmaid, as we are ourselves the Handmaid’s sons. But this marriage is held together by a bond of great love: no man offends the one, and wins favour of the other. Let no man say, I go indeed to the idols, I consult possessed ones and fortune-tellers: yet I abandon not God’s Church; I am a Catholic. While you hold to your Mother, you have offended your Father. Another says, Far be it from me; I consult no sorcerer, I seek out no possessed one, I never ask advice by sacrilegious divination, I go not to worship idols, I bow not before stones; though I am in the party of Donatus. What does it profit you not to have offended your Father, if he avenges your offended Mother? What does it serve you, if you acknowledge the Lord, honour God, preach His name, acknowledge His Son, confess that He sits by His right hand; while you blaspheme His Church? Does not the analogy of human marriages convince you? Suppose you have some patron, whom you court every day, whose threshold you wear with your visits, whom you daily not only salute, but even worship, to whom you pay the most loyal courtesy; if you utter one calumny against his wife, could you re-enter his house? Hold then, most beloved, hold all with one mind to God the Father, and the Church our Mother. Celebrate with temperance the birthdays of the Saints, that we may imitate those who have gone before us, and that they who pray for you may rejoice over you; that the blessing of the Lord may abide on you for evermore. Amen and Amen.

    If this doesn’t fill us with Holy Horror, I don’t know what will.


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  22. Pingback: The Advent of Christian Mysticism | Σ Frame


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