On the Immaculate Conception

It seems clear as a matter of scriptural fact that Mary was immaculately conceived: Gabriel, who is in a position to know, said as much, in Luke 1:28. He could not have noticed or said that she was full of grace if there had been a jot of sin in her anywhere; for, being a defect of being, sin is an emptiness – a defect of fullness of grace. OK, so far so good.

But that I submit is not the real nub of the issue. It is, rather this: stipulated that Mary was indeed free of Original Sin from her very conception, why was that necessary? Why was it necessary that the Mother of God should be without spot or stain of sin? As Gabriel went on to say in Luke 1:37, all things are possible with God; so, why couldn’t God have raised up his Son from a sinful woman, or for that matter from some stone? Matthew 3:9.

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Today is Weimar; Today is the Reign of Elagabalus; This is Belshazzar’s Feast

I remember back in the 70’s reading about Weimar and Elagabalus and Nero, and thinking, “How could anyone have been so nuts as to believe any of that obviously perverse and stupid stuff, let alone act on it?” Yet we seem to fall into such fantasies pretty regularly, especially in times of general prosperity and calm. Any number of other such wild and absurd episodes could be adduced: the French and Soviet Revolutions, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, ancient Persian Mazdakism, the Marquis de Sade and his circle (he must have had a pretty extensive circle, who bought his stuff, or we could never have heard of him, no?), Bloomsbury, the Frankfurt School, transhumanism, on and on.

Also, less violently but more radically and pervasively, Freemasonry and the occult – theosophy, New Age, and so forth.

I.e., Gnostic Pelagian utopianism, in all its instantiations.

And, now, right now, today, abortion, porneia, divorce, wokeism, globohomo, transsexuality, and – especially, and at their root, and at their most energetic and fulsome – anti-Christianity; which is to say, when abstract doctrinal push comes down at bottom to pragmatic bloody shove, infanticide and the genital mutilation of children.

That’s where it always ends, no? These Gnostic transvaluations of value always terminate upon the mutilation and death, or just the prevention, of children; i.e., of humanity.

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On Personal Discernment

I here now camp on to Alan’s most recent post on this topic.

Personal discernment is not of course for any partiscient creature – any creature, that is to say – ever optional. We are here below the orbit of the moon all at bottom, and obviously, left to our own devices, in figuring out what we should do. Such is the condition of Fallen man, alienate from the Truth of his Creator, so subject to Original Sin, ergo mistaken about moral reality, and thus misled – thus tempted, as temptable: as, i.e., concupiscent. This is not at all controversial. It is the perennial teaching of the Church, aye and of Israel. It is no more than what we all find to be the case, qua humans. Everyone whatever admits the truth of it, implicitly; for, in no other way might there be such a thing as a moral difficulty or question, such as we all always suffer, and that ever wrack our minds. So, to discourse upon it one way or another is feeble, beside the point, and so rather a waste of time. Nobody has any option but to do his best to discern the truth, and so the right way forward, according to his best lights. This is obvious. It is as obvious as arithmetic; nay, moreso.

Nuff said re that.

Nobody questions the inescapable requirement of all sentient creatures that they should exercise discernment. On that matter of discernment hangs the entire colloquy of freedom, sin, redemption, atonement, and salvation – which is to say, the entirety of soteriology, and of the practical Christian enterprise (also those of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam (and Taoism, that apotheosis of the protoevangelium)). So, never mind that. It is not the true question at issue.

The real question is whether in the process of discernment one should admit of correction or guidance from anything other than oneself. If the answer be no, it is ipso facto a repudiation of discernment per se; for, if our process of discernment allows for no influence from without us, why then it is a process, not of discernment properly so called, but rather only of adventitious self will. It is in that case, not discernment at all, but the opposite thereof: simple pride.

Which is to say, fantasy. Which is to say, solipsy.

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Personal Discernment

Bruce Charlton has a post observing the following about traditionalistic Catholics: On the one hand, they exercise “personal discernment” to decide which of the competing Roman Catholic authorities they will follow but on the other hand, they defer to said authority because that’s what Catholics are supposed to do rather than discern personally. Personal discernment seeming to be the opposite of deferal to authority, Bruce thinks he detects a contradiction and a weak point here.

I’m not Catholic, but this phenomenon is not a contradiction if understood correctly. It’s non-contradictory because there is a third element which Bruce failed (explicitly) to acknowledge: reality.  Charlton:

But at some point, in some respect; each individual – here-and-now – is compelled to make a choice that has no ultimate basis but his own personal judgment.

That “…no ultimate basis but his own personal judgment” sounds an awful lot like a purely subjective act.

But if the seat of authority (which I select as my authority by using personal discernment) really has authority, then I am not being contradictory. I am instead using my discernment to discern between rival claims about reality. Once I am satisfied that I understand reality well enough to select the true authority, I make that choice and then submit. Continue reading

What You Can Do Right Now

You are not going to prevail against the FBI, the IRS, Facebook, Google, or their equivalents in the rest of what remains of the West. Not if you go up against them directly. So, don’t try. Render unto Caesar. Give them what is needed to get them off your back. Live to fight another day, in another way.

In what way?

By a direct spiritual assault upon the Enemy, and his minions, the enemies of Man.

How?

The spiritual war is fought one body at a time. Mundane wars, likewise; but only inasmuch as they resemble their spiritual archetype.

Let your body be your battlefield, and so with it your worldly life. Perfect your holiness. That is at bottom your only weapon against the Enemy. It is the only field of battle on which you can fight him, practically; so, it is the only battlefield on which he can be fought, at all. And if you are holy and righteous altogether, like Galahad, he cannot, when push comes at last to shove, ever touch you; for, you shall then belong utterly to the Lord God, who is the font of his being, so still his King, and thus his conqueror. So in Christ shall you conquer him, who would destroy you, and all that you love.

If in your decisions from one moment to the next you frustrate the Devil, and bid him get behind you, well then, you have done far more to deal with the perfidy at the high places of our worldly governments than you could possibly have done by going up against them directly, who are after all no more than the hapless stupid clueless minions of their Dark Lord.

Your outward governors are enemies capable to you at all only inasmuch as you let the Enemy govern you inwardly.

Defeat him within yourself! It is at bottom fairly easy, if just you pray; the Lord Jesus will help you, if you do. And so shall he through you help Christendom; thus, derivatively, the West.

On, then, brothers. Deus vult.

Pray the Jesus Prayer, & Be Done With All the Rest

Hunting as I do daily over the links provided by our valuable and indefatigable allies at Synlogos, I am struck again, as I have of late been more and more often, with the bootlessness of it all.

Our struggle looks doomed. As usual.

What mundane prince might save us? None, at the last. For, we are all doomed to die. We are doomed to lose all that to which we have devoted our lives, including our progeny and their heirs, all of whom shall like us, and like the grass, wither away. That shall all happen, no matter the outcome of the midterm elections, or the war in Ukraine, or … of anything else whatever.

Mundane princes then are in the final analysis neither here nor there. While it behooves us as a matter of plain duty to attend to their motions, still in the end they amount to nothing. All that matters to us in our private persons is our ultimate reconciliation – each of us – with ultimate reality.

Pray then with me the Jesus Prayer, as often as you can remember to do so:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.

Nothing could be more lethal to our worldly adversary, and to his designs.

The King is a Traditionalist

And he has apparently been reading deeply in the traditionalist canon for many years. The address below was recorded in 2016.

His advocacy of traditional architecture is of course quite well known. And, of course, impudently scorned by the apostles of architectural modernism.

It will be interesting to see how hard the glitterati work to ridicule him. Now that he’s King, it is likely to start in earnest. They’ve been after him for decades already, of course, as a dolt, and a poltroon, a weakling and a fool. My earliest impression, from my boyhood, was their avowed conviction that Charles is a dunce. But that sort of ad hominem attack is of course in complete concord with their determination to destroy every institution of the West whatsoever. It is formally analogous to their toppling of the statues of our cultural heroes. In his very body, Charles is an exponent of the Traditional Order: that suffices to his immolation on the altar of the Modern.

It has nothing necessarily to do with Charles himself.

This is evident from his address which I here post. Charles is in it revealed as a thoughtful, careful man, who grapples with history from the deepest, widest, highest perspective.

It is the sort of perspective we should all want from a king. It is the sort of perspective to which kings are purposed, and called; it is the perspective proper to their offices.

Further Study of Bruce Charlton’s Theory of Christian Epistemology

Bruce has more to say about Christian epistemology in his latest post, titled Should Christians hand-over their eternal salvation to… historians? Romantic Christianity at the cutting-edge.

He is wrestling with one of the two foundational issues of the Protestant Reformation: How do we know Christian truth? Who or what is the ultimate authority and source of our knowledge of Christian truth?

This is not just a historic, Reformation-era issue. Because contemporary times are characterized by the catastrophic failure of so many of society’s authorities, many, many people are wrestling with this vital question. Bruce is like the canary in the coal mine.

As in my pervious post on this topic, my comments are left-justified, and Bruce’s words and Scriptural quotations are block-quoted.

 

Charlton:

At the cutting-edge of experienced-life –

The Church = What (some) Historians Say.

All claims of knowledge reduce to intuition/s; but for traditionalist Christians, the baseline intuition is that The Truth is a matter of history; and history is known through the work of ‘historians’ – broadly conceived.

 

No, truth is a matter of What Really Happened. But What Really Happened is not available for us to inspect directly. We must rely on secondary sources.

But we do not believe these secondary sources just because they say so. They must make a persuasive case, based on generally accepted modes of reasoning and the common experience of their likely readers.

For example. Christian teachers should point to the written Word of God, the Bible. They must point to the actual words used, along with their conventionally accepted meanings. Sometimes the full meaning cannot be known without additional, specialized knowledge, such as the unique nuances of meaning possessed by the original Greek or Hebrew words, or by the unique cultural customs of ancient times to which the text of Scripture refers or alludes.

But in all cases, the meaning is a matter of publicly-available knowledge (even if highly specialized knowledge.) Continue reading

Examining Bruce Charlton’s Theory of Knowing Christian Truth

I do not know how many people lean toward the Romantic Christianity espoused by Bruce.

[I use his first name because of our long association and my personal concern for him.]

I suspect many people are sympathetic to his approach, which downplays history and formal church and theological organization in favor of a direct / personal apprehension of Christianity. If many are sympathetic to his doctrine, it must be analyzed.

I think that his approach identifies some real problems but provides a mistaken solution. And since I once had something similar to the religious confusion that he says he once had but has transcended, I continue to interact publicly with his doctrine.

Some, of course, will say I am beating a dead horse. Not so. The horse is very much alive to many people. If it is dead to you, read no further.

I have copied below the entirety of Bruce’s post entitled Me-Here-Now versus History – what kind of Christian are you? My comments are left-justified; his post and Scriptural quotes are indented and highlighted as quotes in the WordPress way.

 

Charlton:

Christians will find themselves – sometimes again and again – at a point where there is a stark awareness and apprehension of Me-Here-Now – a situation of direct and ‘intuitive’ knowing; rooted in a personal and first-hand experience, and a person to person relationship – typically in relationship to Jesus Christ.

This contrasts with traditional church-based knowing; which is rooted in historical discourse and ‘scholarship’ of various types; and is therefore second-hand (or third-/ fourth-/ fifth-hand…).

Church-knowing is indirect knowledge-about… rather than experience-of. It is something we learn and strive to remember… rather than apprehend with instantaneous clarity and conviction.

 

According to the Bible, a non-Christian starts becoming a Christian when he reads and believes what the Bible – -especially the Gospels – – says about Jesus. The Gospels are a true and accurate written account of what really happened in specific places at specific times.

According to the Bible, when some people learn more and more about Jesus by reading the true accounts about Him, the Holy Spirit begins to work in them, giving them spiritual life. Others do not so respond, evidently because the Holy Spirit chose not to work in them. This gives the new Christian, inter alia, the ability to have true faith (knowledge, agreement, trust) in Jesus. Continue reading

Romantic Christianity versus Christianity Proper

To my recent post about Finding the True Way to Life, Bruce Charlton commented:

@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 or manifest church (including the RCC) is ultimately ‘merely’ (secondarily) helpful or harmful – but never should be regarded as primary or 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 [see] 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 Archbishop Viganò; I regard 2020 as probably the worst disaster in the history of Christianity, an existential catastrophe, the significance of which can hardly be exaggerated.

These are all important points, and it is important that I respond to them cogently, and forthrightly. The first thing that I would say in response is that this latest travesty of the craven responses of the various church hierarchs to the mandates of the civil authorities in respect to the supposed crisis of covid is not our first rodeo of that sort. Things were much, much worse with the Church during the Black Death, a real pandemic:

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