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Church Of England Modernizing Self To Oblivion

The Guardian reports that the fast-declining Church of England will consider getting rid of mention of the devil in its baptismal ritual [1] — this, as a consumer service for post-Christian Brits:

Among the other business, the revision of the baptism service will attract most attention. The present modern language version asks parents whether they will “reject the devil and all rebellion against God”, “renounce the deceit and corruption of evil” and “repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour”. In the new version they are asked only to say that they “turn away from sin” and “reject evil”.

The Church of England is making the changes to adapt to a population which increasingly has no Christian background at all. Where once the pattern was for couples to get married, live together, have a baby, and then have it baptised at about six weeks, they are increasingly living together, having babies, and then, after a couple of years, getting married and having the children baptised at the same time.

As a result, there is a need for a shorter, simpler service that will not put off people who are offended to be addressed as sinners.

More:

The change reflects a much wider cultural change within the Church of England as well as in the society around it. It must now compete for membership with other Christian churches in an unprecedented way and, above all, with apathy and a society which sees no pressing reason to spend Sunday mornings or any other time in church.

Well, that’ll surely give them a pressing reason to spend Sunday morning in church: make church as much like secular society as possible. Would the last Anglican left please remember to bring out the vestments? The Victoria & Albert Museum would no doubt like to preserve some evidence that there once was a thing called the Church of England.

Anne Hendershot:

Sociologist Philip Rieff warned in his now-classic book of the 1960s, The Triumph of the Therapeutic, that “psychological man was beginning to replace Christian man” as the dominant character type in our society. Unlike traditional Christianity, which made moral demands on believers, the secular world of “psychological man” rejects both the idea of sin and the need for salvation.” The transformation is now complete in the Church of England.

Yes, but Andrew Brown says [2]the problem for Christians in England is more serious than that. Yes, he says, the Anglican numbers indicate terminal decline — “one generation away from extinction” [3] says Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury — but this is not good news for other churches:

A possibly more interesting question is whether things are going to change, or whether the church will pootle along, like an exhausted cyclist, until it finally wobbles over and collapses.

Most of the people who really believe this as a matter of urgency are other Christians. Catholics have grown rather less self-confident about reconverting England since their experience of the former Anglicans in the Ordinariate. But the various evangelical and charismatic groups, most of them loosely organised as Baptists, remain confident that liberalism will erode the church and that only the rotten media are propping up its rotting facade. Then they see themselves inheriting the remains.

This is possible to believe only because they are much more isolated from much of English life than even the Church of England, which is only institutionally stupid.

Both liberalism and conservatism have been tried as ways to revive church attendance, Brown says, and both have mostly failed.

It seems to me, as an outside observer, that the question is not whether or not the Church of England will survive, but whether Christianity itself will survive in Britain — and in what form? That is, what sort of Christianity stands the best chance of holding on through the Dark Age upon us, and emerging intact at some point in the future? British readers, please advise.

The same question might also be asked about Christianity in other Western European Protestant countries, such as the Netherlands, Germany, and Scandinavia. It seems clear to me that if Christianity survives in southern Europe, it will be Catholic Christianity. But I could be wrong about that.

UPDATE: Joel Miller wrote about the Anglican baptismal revision [4], which is supported by Justin Welby, the current Archbishop of Canterbury. Excerpt:

Without any reference to the devil, Welby and his heroes have lost the narrative. Jesus didn’t deliver us from a vague sense of wrong or an ethical entanglement. He delivered us from the devil, sin, and death. Satan isn’t a metaphor, and sin is not an archaic word for which “empty promises” is an ample synonym.

Christians have known this from the start. That’s why traditional baptismal services begin with an exorcism. To become incorporated into Christ through baptism is to be finished with the devil and all his pomp and all his works. That’s what it means to become a Christian.

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82 Comments To "Church Of England Modernizing Self To Oblivion"

#1 Comment By Jacqueline Y. On July 1, 2014 @ 3:08 pm

spite wrote:
Why even babtise the child if you are completely secular, what is the motivation to do this in the first place ?

Kevin L’s response (here is part of it)seems on the mark for Anglicans in Britain:

Because I don’t want to disappoint the various grandmothers and mothers-in-law who insist on a Christian ceremony. More selfishly, it’s a tradition that my country has followed for a thousand years and more. I think it would be a shame if it ended with my generation.

Here in the US, where familial traditions tend to be more diluted, baptism is sometimes seen chiefly as an identity marker. I used to teach a class at my parish for unbaptized children of elementary school age (7-12). Usually the parents of these children were converting or sincerely returning to the Catholic faith themselves, but not always. One year I had a 10 year old catechumen whose answer to the question “What does baptism do for us?” was “It gives you a religion”. Conversations with his parents seemed to indicate that this is the extent of what they had told him. Another year, a 10 year old girl had been enrolled in my class because her much older half sister had become a Mormon, and the parents thought it was time for the younger sister to have an identity marker more in line with the family heritage. Cases like this illustrate why catechesis and evangelization go hand in hand.

#2 Comment By dominic1955 On July 1, 2014 @ 3:16 pm

If Catholicism had a missionary spirit at large, we’d be making some progress in Great Britain. The Ordinariate has real potential-if only they’d enthusiastically back it up instead of treating it like some sort of massive danger to all the stupid “ecumenical” kissy face we’ve been playing with the liberal Anglicans that got us absolutely no where. Why the Cardinal Kaspar version of “ecumenism” is treated like the sure bet is beyond me since it has done nothing but fail and make us look about as ridiculous as possible, I dunno.

If we had some Catholics instead of the “Magic Circle” incompetents, we’d be cleaning house as much as we could with the Anglicans. Same thing in America. We should be hastening the complete collapse of the Episcopalian Church by actively working to get people out of it and into the Church or at least sit back bemused as the ship goes down with its skeleton crew.

But no, too many of us treat these groups as if they were the Patriarchate of Constantinople or of Moscow. Utter insanity.

Despite the failures of much of the people in charge, missionary work does go on amongst those prelates, priests and laymen who still take Catholicism seriously. The Ordinariate itself is an example of a sort of inside out proselytising-with the Anglicans come to knock on Rome’s door to let them in. In that case, it was those former Anglicans that took Rome’s traditional claims seriously, even if you had incompetents of the sorts of Kaspar or Martini who would do about anything to keep them out and in their own (presumably according to their Eminences) perfectly legit church.

#3 Comment By dominic1955 On July 1, 2014 @ 3:32 pm

The revival of the Church (and any sect to boot) can only come about when She really acts like She is the One True Church Outside of Which there is No Salvation. A missionary spirit is what St. Francis Xavier had. He fervently believed there were millions of souls out there that needed saving and so he traveled around Asia baptising and preaching the Faith.

If he only thought of the Church as a nice pleasant thing to do on Sunday and that, other than one’s opinion or cultural mind set, there was nothing that much truer about it than anything else, do you think he would have lifted a finger to go preach it across the globe? Of course not. Something like that isn’t worth preaching.

Anything short of seeing the Church as actually necessary will not inspire missionary zeal. That is why much of the New Evangelization is faltering-it doesn’t come with the same sort of urgency. It still comes off as nice ideas for nice people.

#4 Comment By Bernie On July 1, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

I agree with Hector in questioning the general notion expressed in an earlier comment that the devil and Satan weren’t that central to Jesus’ emphasis. There are dozens of references to the devil in the New Testament, easily accessible on the Internet.

Among such references are included these: 1) the temptation of Jesus by Satan when Jesus was fasting 40 days in the desert; 2) “The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to hand him over.” – “Immediately after, Satan entered his heart. Jesus addressed himself to him: ‘Be quick about what you are to do’.”(the betrayal) (John 14:27); and, 3) the casting out of demons by Jesus in his public ministry.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Every Easter Catholics renew their Baptismal Promises at Mass. The Profession begins:

Priest: “Do you reject Satan?”
Response: “I do.”
Priest: “And all his works?”
Response: “I do.”
Priest: “And all his empty promises?”
Response: “I do.”

#5 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 1, 2014 @ 6:08 pm

The revival of the Church (and any sect to boot) can only come about when She really acts like She is the One True Church Outside of Which there is No Salvation.

That’s not missionary spirit, that’s pomposity and hubris. At worst, you’ll have your own army announcing “Listen to your caliph and obey him.”

If any church aspires to be the One True Church, or rather, to be recognized by all humanity AS the one true church, it must show itself in practice to be the true servant of all, and to be consistently the true servant of all.

By its fruits shall we know it– and I don’t mean by its pronouncements of its own claims. If any church is the One True Church, the truth of that claim will be recognized “like a thief in the night,” almost incidentally, because by its works it shows itself worthy, before even uttering its claim to the title.

That’s really the biggest problems with Rome’s claim to hegemony. It wanted the name before it had shown it had the game.

#6 Comment By WorldWideProfessor On July 1, 2014 @ 6:41 pm

Anything short of seeing the Church as actually necessary will not inspire missionary zeal. That is why much of the New Evangelization is faltering-it doesn’t come with the same sort of urgency. It still comes off as nice ideas for nice people.

I am poles apart ideologically from dominic1955, but I believe he’s absolutely right about this. Ideas need to be promoted (or “proselytized for”) if they’re going to spread or even survive. The liberal turn in Christianity of (roughly) the last 200 years, (roughly) since Schleiermacher, just defeats this.

Because I believe that liberalism and pluralism arose from accurate perceptions — i.e. that the world is bigger and more diverse than Christians had assumed up until then, and that Christianity was one of many culturally specific formationsn within it, not the single and only correct path to cosmic truth — I don’t think there’s really any solution to this. I do sincerely sympathize, though.

#7 Comment By dominic1955 On July 1, 2014 @ 10:49 pm

Siarlys,

“That’s not missionary spirit, that’s pomposity and hubris. At worst, you’ll have your own army announcing “Listen to your caliph and obey him.””

Christ said to go out and baptise men in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When St. Peter preached the Faith after Pentecost, he straight up told the Jews they needed to repent and be baptised-the old order fulfilled. None of this was a nice thing to do, most of the Apostles got killed doing it and they sure as hell didn’t get killed because they went around talking about what a swell guy Jesus was and gee, don’t you want to join us for coffee and doughnuts or a potluck on Sunday?

“If any church aspires to be the One True Church, or rather, to be recognized by all humanity AS the one true church, it must show itself in practice to be the true servant of all, and to be consistently the true servant of all.”

The Pope is the Servus Servorum Dei. Its like when we say the Church has unity-the Church is one. You might not recognize it as such, but then again, the Doctors didn’t ask you.

“By its fruits shall we know it– and I don’t mean by its pronouncements of its own claims. If any church is the One True Church, the truth of that claim will be recognized “like a thief in the night,” almost incidentally, because by its works it shows itself worthy, before even uttering its claim to the title.”

According to whom, praytell?

“That’s really the biggest problems with Rome’s claim to hegemony. It wanted the name before it had shown it had the game.”

It already has it, regardless of who thinks what. Don’t hold your breath waiting around for your teenage angst girlfriend Church because it doesn’t exist. Like I said before, all the Apostles got killed preaching it. Many of the Church Fathers got killed for the same reason. They didn’t get killed because they just went around with sickly sweet smiles handing out goodies to children and food to widows.

#8 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 1, 2014 @ 11:26 pm

Bernie, I had missed Hector’s comments. Thanks for mentioning them again. That Hector and I disagree on these points is good evidence that there is nothing about socialism that imposes a unitary religious view, or a unitary rejection of religion. But all the references Hector and Bernie point to are disconnected, and the “proof” is therefore tautological. “If all these different terms refer to the same thing, then we have a pattern here.” But there is no reason (except the already established notion) to assume that they are talking about the same thing.

Reference to Satan, to “the devil,” to “devils,” to “Lucifer” are unrelated unless one chooses to connect those disparate dots in that particular way. If you were raised on a catechism that talks about renouncing the works of the Devil, then of course that is how you will connect the dots. But like I said, that is tautological.

Its a bit like Percik in “Fiddler on the Roof” telling the story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel, concluding “…the moral of this story is that you should never trust your employer.” (Not bad teaching, in my seldom humble opinion, but not the only possible interpretation of the text.)

The best straight Biblical evidence concerning Satan is the way he appears in the book of Job. This was confirmed for me by a rabbi who knows the original Hebrew, but I raised the question because even in the KJV its so obvious. What is Satan doing sitting in the councils of God? Satan is not God’s mortal enemy, but his exacting tester. And that is the role he plays in the Temptation of Christ.

Those addicted to the tautology can RATIONALIZE the account in Job, but they have to add layers of rationalization to keep their balance. I don’t find that convincing. Like the Creationists who concoct that Adam and Eve’s children all committed incest, to explain how they could have married at all if ALL mankind were literally descended from one man and one woman… but remember, Cain was concerned that unspecified others would see him and kill him… the simple explanation is, there was no one couple, and the Adam was humanity, not A Man.

Hector and I will never agree on John. I think it is a reasonable estimate that the Gospel of John and the Revelation were written by a Greek convert who misunderstood a lot of things, just like certain Greek converts made up this whole cosmology that the fallen angels had taken on the guise of the Olympian gods to tempt mankind from the Truth (rather than, that the Olympians were mythical). John connected a lot of dots… and he had no freaking idea what he was talking about.

Now I can’t prove that, any more than Hector can prove that every word was divinely inspired. But I don’t think Thomas Jefferson was far wrong in describing the Revelation as the ravings of a mad man, nor Luther in advocating that Revelations be left out of the purified Bible. On the other hand, I don’t overlook the profound insight of “In the beginning was the word…”

What was “the prince of this world?” He could have meant Herod Antipater. If you are a Manichean, perhaps you have a very different thought about that. OR the meaning could have been more obscure. The connections don’t hold up as a firm, tested, reliable cosmology. Certainly nothing to base my life and faith on.

But conversely what Lewis said… the nonexistence of Satan and an army of fallen angels is one of my opinions… if it were proven that I am wrong, it would not shake my faith either. (In fact, I can only think of one way I could be proven wrong… and you really can’t argue with God if he makes something explicit because… he holds all the cards. Short of that, we all have to seek as best we can, and hope God will be merciful over our shortcomings.

#9 Comment By Turmarion On July 1, 2014 @ 11:27 pm

dominic1955: Anything short of seeing the Church as actually necessary will not inspire missionary zeal. That is why much of the New Evangelization is faltering-it doesn’t come with the same sort of urgency. It still comes off as nice ideas for nice people.

Father John Neuhaus, hardly a liberal, didn’t seem to think there was a contradiction between a more or less universalist outlook and vigorous evangelism. Maybe there is, as WorldWideProfessor suggests. Bottom line, though: Very few Catholics, even fairly conservative ones, are going to tell their Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, or other Christian neighbors and friends that no matter how virtuous they are, they’re probably going to go to Hell if they don’t convert.

If the universalist side is right, then there’s no problem. If it’s wrong–well, in that case it seems that the vast majority of humanity is damned, anyway, and that the most fervent evangelism would make only relatively small inroads on the edges, so it wouldn’t make that much difference, anyway. Maybe that sounds callous; but a God that casts people into eternal damnation for the wrong beliefs and allows unbaptized children to go no higher than Limbo seems awfully damned–literally–callous, too.

#10 Comment By Turmarion On July 1, 2014 @ 11:51 pm

Siarlys: I think it is a reasonable estimate that the Gospel of John and the Revelation were written by a Greek convert who misunderstood a lot of things….

I have to take sides with Hector here. From my perspective, Hellenism is a [5]. But we’ve been over this before, and must agree to disagree.

#11 Comment By dominic1955 On July 2, 2014 @ 1:25 am

Turmarion,

“Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason: there is nobody to make them Christians. Again and again I have thought of going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman. Riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you! I wish they would work as hard at this as they do at their books, and so settle their account with God for their learning and the talents entrusted to them.” -from the new Office of Readings, Dec. 3, Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Patron Saint of Foreign Missions

As you know, I’ll take the amassed wisdom of the ages (as illustrated above) over sentimentalist opinions-regardless of who holds/held them.

“Bottom line, though: Very few Catholics, even fairly conservative ones, are going to tell their Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, or other Christian neighbors and friends that no matter how virtuous they are, they’re probably going to go to Hell if they don’t convert.”

As you know from all the other times we go around and around, does that matter? If it is the case that universalism is truly true, than its not much different from Calvinists putting on their righteousness show even though their doctrine of Double Predestination says that doesn’t really matter. Why bother to talk religion, everyone’s saved anyway. Let each to his own, or his smorgasbord of whatever he picked and chose regardless of how irrational it is.

However, if that is not the case, then all your assertion about most Catholics not being willing to tell, show, or preach without using words as St. Francis supposedly said, that the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation and not just a fulness of truth that is nice to be a part of, they will answer for that. Not necessarily a mortal sin, but still a lack in faith.

Secondly, by definition, they lack virtue (whether culpably or not is a different question) precisely because they are not part of the Church. It is as St. Paul says, even if I give all my money to the poor but have not love (i.e. supernatural charity and thus sanctifying grace) then I have nothing. While valid baptism removes sins, that only happens one. Its not impossible to think that some may have preserved their baptismal grace, but knowing human nature, that’s pretty hard to imagine for the majority. Even Catholics who have access to all the Sacraments fall again and again but are able to regain sanctifying grace. Not so for those with no access to the Sacraments and we are told not to presume on a deathbed conversion.

“If the universalist side is right, then there’s no problem.”

Correction, if the universalist side is right-who cares and why are we even bothering to talk about this?

“If it’s wrong–well, in that case it seems that the vast majority of humanity is damned, anyway, and that the most fervent evangelism would make only relatively small inroads on the edges, so it wouldn’t make that much difference, anyway.”

Jesus didn’t say to figure and calculate how many are going to be damned and who, he said to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, *teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you*.

Maybe God intended you to go out and convert numberless thousands like St. Francis Xavier or to save one person besides yourself. I don’t know, no one knows. Either way, there are souls out there that need to be saved and we do no one any good by assuming they are all good to go.

“Maybe that sounds callous; but a God that casts people into eternal damnation for the wrong beliefs and allows unbaptized children to go no higher than Limbo seems awfully damned–literally–callous, too.”

My religion is a given, I accept the received tradition in this regard. That is what a religion like Catholicism gives-its something you accept, not something you twist and alter according to your sensibilities. I wasn’t there when God made the world and put things into motion and I’m sure as hell not going to call him out on things I obviously couldn’t even hardly grasp. Is God callous or are we just unable to grasp the Divine? It seems like people like St. Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross and St. Faustina (and on and on and on ad nauseum) seemed to have no problem reconciling (if indeed such needed to be reconciled at all) God’s infinite love and hell-understood in the traditional way. We have the Scriptures and Tradition and an authoritative interpreter as well as any number of interpretative tools to help.

#12 Comment By Bernie On July 2, 2014 @ 5:24 am

Siarlys, as a Christian, I DO regard Satan, and the devils, as God’s enemies, and ours. This belief is based on Scripture and Christian teaching from the time of Jesus. It’s rather central to Christian belief. I’ve listed a few references from the Bible, citing from a variety of different books.

“The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to hand him over. Immediately after, Satan entered his heart. Jesus addressed himself to him: ‘Be quick about what you are to do’.” John 13

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

“And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” Luke 10:17

The story of the possessed boy from whom Jesus cast out the demon – Mark 9

#13 Comment By Elijah On July 2, 2014 @ 8:16 am

dominic1955, even if you are right in your last comment, that tone is precisely why people don’t – and won’t – recognize Rome as the One True Church. Hubris, pomposity, arrogance, and entitlement seem to be attitudes.

Not attractive. Not things that Christ either exhibited or aspired to.

#14 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On July 2, 2014 @ 9:43 am

Re: (In fact, I can only think of one way I could be proven wrong… and you really can’t argue with God if he makes something explicit because… he holds all the cards

I don’t think God chose to make all that much about the devil explicit. As you said, what the New Testament says about the devil is vague and spotty enough that everyone from quasi-Unitarians to quasi-Manichaeans can find proof-texts to support their point of view. (The Cathars, for example, based their cosmological dualism on John 3:8, “The devil sinneth from the beginning”.) There’s probably a reason for that: God doesn’t want us to think too much about the devil, one way or another, because it’s seldom spiritually healthy.

So no, I think you’re wrong, but I don’t think it’s a ‘salvation issue’ any more than C.S. Lewis did. The center of Christianity is not the devil, it’s Christ. The devil matters, but probably not all that much.

#15 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 2, 2014 @ 11:57 am

Turmarion, you have increased my respect for Tertullian… he was right on the money. I join what you’ve written about Greek mythology, Celtic mythology… I enjoy both very much. But I don’t mistake them for Christian teaching. If Hellenism is a feature of Christianity, then Christianity is not the faith established by Jesus Christ. (It may still be very, very good).

I once tangled with an atheist troll at Hank Hannegraf’s blog, when I said that Greek philosophy had ruined the simple Christian faith, and said atheist troll responded, what about the way Christianity ruined Greek philosophy? I think they may both have a place in our civilization, but I think it is well to keep them distinct. I adore the imagery of Athena, but I do not worship her as a goddess. And I think Socrates was nuts, Plato worse, Aristotle abominable.

Indeed, we will have to agree to disagree, both, I think, knowing that we can disagree about this and agree on most essentials as to how we should live our lives as friends, neighbors and fellow citizens, and that we could probably visit each other’s churches without making obnoxious nuisances of ourselves.

Bernie, I had no doubt as to what you believe. You are welcome to it. I merely commented on why I don’t believe it is established fact or the unambiguous Word of God. It may, for all I know, be true. But I doubt it.

I note that devils and demons are not necessarily a cosmology of mighty enemies of the Creator, they could be local negative influences. Nasty, but not cosmological in significance. Or, some of those demons may have been malarial parasites.

Now Judas… that raises a more interesting question. IF it was Jesus’s PURPOSE to be sacrificed on the cross in atonement for our sins, then Judas was an essential link in God’s PLAN. One might say, a faithful disciple would shrink from a deed of such enormity, even if pressed that it was what God wanted. He might be unable to play his role properly unless Satan slipped in and MADE him do what he had to do in order for mankind to be saved.

I don’t offer that as The Truth. I haven’t even read a decent translation or exposition of the Gospel of Judas, and have formed no opinion about it. Nor do I presume that what I just offered even accords with that Gospel. I just note that if you take every jot and tittle of canonical texts, there are many internal contradictions and discontinuities, which can be papered over only with the most contortionate verbal acrobatics.

Rather than take that as an inducement to atheism, I prefer to look for the most simple, basic, fundamentals, and leave the rest as speculative at best.

I recognize, however, that some people are best able to build their relationship with God through a discipline that involves some of these doctrines I question. That is true for you, as a Roman Catholic, for Rod, as an Orthodox Christian, for some of my WELS Lutheran friends. I wish you well with the discipline that cements your relationship with God.

I raise questions when I read things like ‘the Episcopal Church has really abandoned all pretense to Christian faith when they stop having people recite renunciation of The Devil…’ At that point, I disagree with the assertion. Likewise, when someone insinuates that believing in the Devil is more important than believing in God — although I know that behind the bald phrase, is a much more nuanced faith, which is indeed focused on God.

#16 Comment By dominic1955 On July 2, 2014 @ 1:01 pm

Elijah,

“dominic1955, even if you are right in your last comment, that tone is precisely why people don’t – and won’t – recognize Rome as the One True Church. Hubris, pomposity, arrogance, and entitlement seem to be attitudes.”

Well, the Church is already one and is not in “need” of anyone else. If people wish to stay outside of the Ark, they will perish in the Deluge. You can bellyache and complain about what kind of a jackass you think Noah is, but it won’t make you drown any less.

“Not attractive. Not things that Christ either exhibited or aspired to.”

Yes, according to yet another person who has their personal interpretation of the Bible and thus on WWJD.

But, that isn’t the way we roll. Its Scripture and Tradition through the lens of an authoritative Church Magisterium. When Mom needs to exhort or correct, she can seem like a bitch sometimes. One can either get hung up on the feelings they have about that, or leave the feeling behind and examine what is said.

#17 Comment By Bernie On July 2, 2014 @ 1:35 pm

Siarlys:

“I wish you well with the discipline that cements your relationship with God.”

I wish you the same, Siarlys.

#18 Comment By Turmarion On July 2, 2014 @ 11:04 pm

dominic1955: Is God callous or are we just unable to grasp the Divine?

Well, as I’ve said before, God’s goodness is not univocal to ours (nor is even His existence); but when one starts trying to ‘splain why God wasn’t–well, questionable–in His actions in commanding the murder of entire cities including innocent women and children, in sending bears to maul kids who were mocking Elisha, and so on, you end up doing like William Lane Craig and saying that if God commands it, it’s not evil. It may be genocide or murder or mangling or rape or whatever, but it ain’t evil. That’s the mindset of the 9/11 hijackers–to murder 3000 innocent strangers is A-OK if it’s the Will of Allah. This isn’t just a non-univocal analogy of God’s goodness to ours; it makes the analogy meaningless, and one might as well say that anything God does or commands is good no matter how evil it seems to us. Have fun worshiping such a devil.

Also, people such as Maximus the Confessor, the Cappadocian Fathers, John Scotus Eriugena, Julian of Norwich, and others were universalists or had strong universalist leanings. I’ll take them any day of the week.

Finally, given that Holy Mother the Church is instantiated on Earth by humans, sometimes She is bitch and sometimes She’s wrong on non-infallible matters or in the implementation of the infallible ones. There’s a reason that notorious progressive John Paul II apologized for so much the Church had done.

Siarlys, my point was that I dislike Tertullian, but I didn’t figure we’d agree on that, either.

If Hellenism is a feature of Christianity, then Christianity is not the faith established by Jesus Christ. (It may still be very, very good).

I think it was God’s will, the Spirit blowing as it will through history, that led to the Hellenization of Christianity. Feature, not bug; and since God is the God of the Hellenes, too, the religion is no less the faith established by Christ because it’s Greek.

#19 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On July 3, 2014 @ 12:45 am

Re: examine what is said.

I guarantee, many of us have closely ‘examined what is said’ by the Catholic Church, and found it remarkably unconvincing. On a lot of points, but none more so than on the authority claims, which many of us find (with due respect to Turmarion, Erin Manning, and others) preposterous. Which is actually not a term I would use for things like the ban on contraception, or really any other Catholic teaching; I can respect that, even if I don’t agree with it. The claim that Rome is the One True Church, divinely protected from error- not so much.

#20 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 3, 2014 @ 12:51 am

Thank you Bernie. I think that is the best foundation for nonestablishment and free exercise.

dominic… I think I will probably see you in heaven… but boy, will you be surprised to see a lot of the rest of us. (I’m parphrasing a report an evangelical Christian of some brand made about the Seventh Day Adventists).

#21 Comment By dominic1955 On July 3, 2014 @ 12:39 pm

“Well, as I’ve said before, God’s goodness is not univocal to ours (nor is even His existence); but when one starts trying to ‘splain why God wasn’t–well, questionable–in His actions in commanding the murder of entire cities including innocent women and children, in sending bears to maul kids who were mocking Elisha, and so on, you end up doing like William Lane Craig and saying that if God commands it, it’s not evil.”

I think the Nominalists and Calvinists had Craig beat by quite a few years on that one.

No, I think its way deeper than that. God never commands what is truly evil, but allows evil so that good can come about. What I’m getting at is that to really ponder this is to go quite deeper than one’s gut reaction-that is so much static that clouds the mind. Do we know the depths of sin? Do we know justice? Mercy? You have to go beyond visceral reaction. Not that I’ve plumbed the full depths, but I’ve seen how triffling such things are.

“Also, people such as Maximus the Confessor, the Cappadocian Fathers, John Scotus Eriugena, Julian of Norwich, and others were universalists or had strong universalist leanings. I’ll take them any day of the week.”

I need to brush off my Fathers again, but I don’t think St. Maximus was teaching universalism. His three apocatastases were not quite “salvation” necessarily and per se but again, I’d have to brush up.

St. Gregory of Nyssa was either wrong on that point or the writings on this point attributed to him were tampered with by heretics, as St. Germanus of Constatinople said. St. Gregory Nazianzus does not teach it, he asks the question and then leaves it up to go.

I’ve never read Julian of Norwich, but I did find this-

[6]

Which is kind of what I think a lot of this confusion comes from. Its much safer to assume the received traditional understanding than to go back and try to fish for support of novelties.

#22 Comment By dominic1955 On July 3, 2014 @ 12:42 pm

Hector-

“I guarantee, many of us have closely ‘examined what is said’ by the Catholic Church, and found it remarkably unconvincing.”

If you’ve actually examined it and found it wanting, good for you and I respect that.

I’m saying its silly to say Catholicism isn’t true because Billy is being a poopyhead.

#23 Comment By dominic1955 On July 3, 2014 @ 12:45 pm

Siarlys-

“dominic… I think I will probably see you in heaven… but boy, will yous be surprised to see a lot of the rest of us.”

If ANY of us make it to heaven, we will be quite beyond any “told you so” moments.

Even in our understanding, I’m sure I would be blown away by the magnitude Beatific Vision and the knowledge of how any person was saved or damned and praise God all the more for it.

#24 Comment By Turmarion On July 3, 2014 @ 4:15 pm

dominic1955, we are not Vulcans or robots. Visceral reactions and emotions are part of who and what we are. If one acts only from visceral reactions, that’s a problem; but if the charioteer is able to use that passion and direct it, like that dead Greek guy said, then you’ve got something. As to the philosophy and theology involved, and looking deeper, I’ve been studying such issues since I was in my late teens. Next week I turn 51. Say what you will, I’m not doing knee-jerk on this.

BTW, tying a whip and driving people out of the Temple seems a bit visceral….

You know, on the thread about triumphalism, you said:

I hate tip-toeing around feeeeeelings when discussing religion but I suppose this might be a temperment thing. On the other side of it, I’ve bitten my tongue a number of times for people that weren’t in a place to hear truth yet. It would have felt good to lace into them, but in reality, that wouldn’t be charitable.

The Lord works in mysterious ways, and it seems that while it would be great to be able to pound the truth into someone’s head and to strike all wrongdoers down into the dust, that’s not really the way He rolls. But to some folks, it would be wonderful if we could just skip over that messy step [of showing love to others], get down to the brass tacks and hammer it out.

That gives some insight. I’m aware of many flaws I have–Sloth and Wrath are my two main patron Deadly Sins, for example–and I struggle to acknowledge and overcome them (with much less success than I’d like). What’s interesting in the above is that (and correct me if I’m putting words in your mouth) you barely seem to acknowledge the flaws in your attitude. It sounds not so much like, “It’s like this to me, but I know that’s a problem and I need to work on it,” but more like “Geez, I don’t get why God is into all this touchy-feely stuff and puts up with all these yoyos and just doesn’t turn us loose on ’em; but I guess I gotta follow house rules….” Do you see what I mean?

Once more, I’m not trying to put words in your mouth or be unfair. I’m just trying to say that we all have to be very suspicious of ourselves. Maybe my universalism and non-judgementalism is tied in with passive-aggressivness and difficult relationships in my past. Maybe your view is tied in with triumphalism and rigidity. Or maybe none of that is true.

In that regard, I’ll segue to Hector. No offense taken at all. I accept Church teachings and respect its authority guardedly All attempted apologies for Holly Mother the Church aside, She and those in Her employ have done a pretty good job of showing that Her children should be–wary. My exact perspective would be far too complex to discuss here, but it might be worth a series on my blog sometime. Simply put, I think that the deep theological perspective is a lot more ambiguous and less black-and-white, and allows far more leeway than, say, Ludwig Ott would indicate; and I’m inclined to think that the traditional modus operandi has historically been that the intelligentsia, as long as they don’t publicly rock the boat too much, have been given huge leeway (hell, most of the more educated priests in the Renaissance were Heremeticists, astrologers, and mages–the only ones that got in trouble were people like Giordano Bruno who were too temperamental to be discreet) whereas hoi polloi were kept on a short leash.

In the world of widespread literacy and the Internet, that no longer works; and I think that’s a big part of the culture wars, from the Catholic side, anyway. It’s going to get increasingly interesting.

Finally, two good links on Hell and (relative) universalism from Dan Nichols at Caelum et Terra, [7] and [8].

#25 Comment By dominic1955 On July 4, 2014 @ 12:53 am

Turmarion,

“dominic1955, we are not Vulcans or robots. Visceral reactions and emotions are part of who and what we are. If one acts only from visceral reactions, that’s a problem; but if the charioteer is able to use that passion and direct it, like that dead Greek guy said, then you’ve got something.”

We would agree on this point.

“As to the philosophy and theology involved, and looking deeper, I’ve been studying such issues since I was in my late teens. Next week I turn 51. Say what you will, I’m not doing knee-jerk on this.”

I know you’re not knee-jerk about this.

“BTW, tying a whip and driving people out of the Temple seems a bit visceral….”

It might seem, but I’m pretty sure no one (Fathers, Doctors, and the like) taught that Jesus just snapped and then hauled off to kick some ass. As God and Man, He always has His passions guided by His intellect, He never “snapped”. It was incarnational, but not merely visceral.

“What’s interesting in the above is that (and correct me if I’m putting words in your mouth) you barely seem to acknowledge the flaws in your attitude. It sounds not so much like, “It’s like this to me, but I know that’s a problem and I need to work on it,” but more like “Geez, I don’t get why God is into all this touchy-feely stuff and puts up with all these yoyos and just doesn’t turn us loose on ‘em; but I guess I gotta follow house rules….” Do you see what I mean?”

Its the opposite. I was discussing the connection between what one has a predilection towards (which IS often flawed), the predilections of others, and objective truth.

In one way, there are many “paths” to God-not in the sense of other religions and such, but following and guiding one’s temperament, experiences, culture, etc. etc. etc. One man’s salvation is another man’s damnation. What got me interested in Church was a smathering of things, but I don’t think it works for everyone-actually I don’t know a whole lot of people for whom the exact same things would draw them.

As such, I’m not faulting God-not one bit. I am saying that my predilection (which does draw me towards fault at times) when it gets ginned up wants to lace into “weaker” types or doubters or heretics or whomever because its something that appeals to my intellect. I like the argument, and like to get into good faith no holds barred knock down drag outs, but, I recognize that this isn’t what draws many other people. I also recognize that its not necessarily a good holiness or Body of Christ building excercise, sometimes its liking the sound of my own voice-thus faultworthy.

“Maybe your view is tied in with triumphalism and rigidity. Or maybe none of that is true.”

I see both, in their true senses, as faults. However, I also see that which many attribute such things to (along with clericalism) as boogiemen. When I read something like Pascendi dominici gregis (just for instance) I find it exhilarating and I don’t think it triumphalistic at all. My fellow Trads who think that something akin to Jesus dropping the 1962 Missal down to Pope St. Pius V happened I think are triumphalistic because they make the 62 Missal into some sort of fetish and show themselves wholly ignorant of what the purport to support.

I don’t think I’m overly rigid today, though I know what that looks like because I was once scrupulous. I do, however, see guidelines and limits of utmost importance-they free you to do the work you need to do. Really and truly, Roma locuta est, causa finita est should be freeing. I’d love it if the Church at large no longer had to bother with women’s ordination, abortion, gay marriage, or the liturgical question or the nature of the Church and Her Sacraments and who Jesus is etc. etc.

In short, I like to cut to the chase, through all the messy hangups and feelings and whathaveyou. It is a fault, I know. I see how much effort real relationship can be, and I see it as so much wasted time that could have been used getting into the meat of the matter. It didn’t take me long to but all the theological 2s and 2s together and get on with it. My fault comes with being impatient and universalizing my passion.

God works with all our various faults though. That is not to say that they are are equally bad. I don’t know, necessarily, how they rank and in what matter.

This is where I went with St. Francis de Sales. His own temperament was choleric but he fought it to be all things to all men. He probably would have enjoyed haranguing the Calvinists of Geneva and getting into prelatial pissing matches with the Calvinist bigwigs but obviously he didn’t because he knew that doing what gave him pleasure in this regard is not what was called for. No doubt he never shrunk from Church teaching, he just knew when it was him or when it was the Holy Spirit.

“Simply put, I think that the deep theological perspective is a lot more ambiguous and less black-and-white, and allows far more leeway than, say, Ludwig Ott would indicate;”

Ott’s book is a “handbook”, its like the Summa, a summary. Its not meant to be the totality of all Catholic theology in one slim volume. It makes things fairly easy to discuss for larger, less complicated and more settled matters.

“and I’m inclined to think that the traditional modus operandi has historically been that the intelligentsia, as long as they don’t publicly rock the boat too much, have been given huge leeway”

As it has always been. Don’t scare the horses.

“(hell, most of the more educated priests in the Renaissance were Heremeticists, astrologers, and mages–the only ones that got in trouble were people like Giordano Bruno who were too temperamental to be discreet)”

Yep, but it also comes at a time when the fine lines between some of these things weren’t quite as drawn. Astrology and astronomy weren’t as distinct. There’s astrological symbols in many Catholic churches. Hermeticism (depending upon who we’re talking about) falls into, sort of, the same category as the Sibyl mentioned in the Dies Irae. The Greek pagans (who gave them the philosophy and symbolism and science) no doubt also foresaw the coming True Religion. Imperfectly, no doubt, but with much (natural) wisdom.

…and some were dabbling in weird stuff going beyond Christianity either as hang-ups from their birth cultures or because they went too far.

“whereas hoi polloi were kept on a short leash.”

Pretty much, then as it still is now. I loved it when I had people who were genuinely interesting in learning about Catholicism or learning more about Catholicism ask me questions that you could tell were born from their own reading and wrestling with them. I hated it when I had someone fly off the handle emotionally and come at me with stupid questions and accusations you could tell were born out of feeling about something and not from really trying to even understand or do some background work. So much time and effort is wasted when this happens, especially when one actually thinks they are being serious about it. Pray, pay, and obey? Yep, as it pretty much should be unless you either leave (and leave us in peace) or do the work and honestly wrestle with things, in a spirit of humility and obedience. If you won’t (or can’t) then its the hoi polloi short chain.

“In the world of widespread literacy and the Internet, that no longer works; and I think that’s a big part of the culture wars, from the Catholic side, anyway. It’s going to get increasingly interesting.”

Oh, it still does and will always because even though anyone with a computer/smartphone and internet connection have more access texts than St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Anthony could ever dream of, how many piss that away on watching and reading all manner of vapid nonsense? Same with books from a century before-sure, more people could read in 1914 than in 1214 but again, how many just read sensationalist papers and pulp fiction?

In my experience at least, precious few make good use of their intellectual/theological resources.

I used to argue with Protestants (mostly Evangelical Fundamentalist and Calvinist types) and I just quit because I got tired of answering the same damn things over and over. Its not as if you have to go to a monastery begging and pleading and kissing the abbot’s toe to be allowed to read through the Acta of the Council of Trent while monks watch to make sure you don’t try anything anymore (if you even ever did). But the same thing applies with society at large. If a person can’t even begin to understand distinctions, largely because they don’t want to rather than they mentally aren’t up to the task, its margaritas ante porcos.

#26 Comment By dominic1955 On July 4, 2014 @ 1:16 am

“Finally, two good links on Hell and (relative) universalism from Dan Nichols at Caelum et Terra, here and here.”

I read them both, and I don’t think he really says anything new.

Hell, like pretty much anything in theology to quote a famous Eastern Orthodox priest or bishop, “Is mystery!”

“One should pray that Apokatastasis is true, but one would be foolish to teach it as doctrine.” I don’t think St. Maximus the Confessor actually wrote that (because I never see any references) but I see it attributed to him and that’s pretty much what I hold. I do not desire any person to be damned, thus it would be true to say that I pray for the salvation of each person, in liturgy and in general certainly.

Let’s say I get up to heaven and see that everyone (or the vast majority) are up there too. Am I going to be pissed off? Of course not. But here on earth, am I going to give false hope to those with itching ears who come looking for it? Nope.

Its like a priest I knew who had a man call him up saying he was going to kill himself and asked if he’d go to hell. The priest said yes, you would because its grave matter, you are certainly lucid enough to be thinking this through and calling me up and you know its wrong to boot.

Now, we both can parse that out with all the theology to say that, really we don’t know what would happen to him. You could even make a good argument that he would be saved because he probably was unable to consent to the sin because really, who “wants” to really kill themselves. And on and on and on. However, in that situation the guy needed some good old fashioned swift kick in the ass fire and brimstone.

#27 Comment By Turmarion On July 4, 2014 @ 10:53 am

Thank you for the thoughtful response, dominic1955. We obviously do have different temperaments and different perspectives; in some ways it’s more a matter of emphasis.

What I was getting it in the Nichols posts at Caelum et Terra was the following, my emphasis:

Since the beginning of time people have been constructing evil monsters in their minds and calling them ‘God’. One of the most evil of the monsters is said to have deliberately created billions of human souls destined for an eternity of unimaginable torment, and there is nothing these poor souls can do about it. Lesser monsters ‘will’ that all their human creations live forever in bliss, but alas, cannot prevent most of them from suffering forever, as the humans are so weak-willed. So, knowing this beforehand, as any respectable ‘God’ does, he still creates them. The medieval and Byzantine version, as evidenced in iconography, imagined about half of humanity going to the dark, the others in bliss, the mark of, if not an evil creator, at least an incompetent redeemer.

And even if a religion is rooted in revealed truth, when God is revealed to a violent anal retentive, God will be described by the recipient of the revelation as a violent anal retentive, every time. Man may be created in the image of God, but he remakes God in his own image most of the time.

A religion that is based on the belief that you are among a chosen few plucked from inevitable destruction is a religion for assholes, the anti-solidarity religion, which worships one of the worst evil monsters ever devised, instead of the True God, the incomprehensible Being that Christ defined as “Love”.

With the caveat that humans are free, even to be assholes for eternity.

I am also an apophatist with an asterisk. In this case the * leads to this:

* While I may believe that any human construct obscures more than it reveals about the Holy Mystery we call “God”, we may, and must, believe one thing: God is good and loves humanity. Amen

Nichols expresses it quite well, and that’s how I’d see it. He leaves open the possibility of “assholes” who reject God, but he thinks there will be few of them, and that they’ll get what they really want. I’m not actually sure that such a choice is a [9], but that’s a matter of detail.

You say that you accept the traditional position that most are probably damned, though you hold out hope for universal salvation; and you say that you wouldn’t get pissed off if you get to Heaven and find most of humanity didn’t. I have to say that I really can’t understand that perspective. As I’ve said here before regarding other commenters on different topics, I find as I grow older that people, because of different temperaments and life experiences, have perspectives that in many ways are impenetrable to others. I take your good faith for granted, but I agree with Nichols that the God who acts like this is a God for assholes. I’m not calling you an asshole, please note–at least no more than I am or than anyone is at times. We’re all a bit assholic at times. My point is that while I can respect that that’s you’re belief, it’s as foreign to me as if you said 2 + 2 = green.

I also agree with Nichols in regard to apophaticism. I think it was Robert Farrar Capon who said that any theological statement should be followed by, “Whatever that means.” Systematic theology is a tool, a map; but like any tool, it’s still a tool. Like any map, it’s not the territory. A triangle has 180 degrees in a plane; but in a positively curved surface it has more and in a negatively curved surface it has fewer. A photon can manifest as a particle or as a wave, which is a contradiction; except that it’s not.

Given my background in math and physics, I’m comfortable with the notion that anything we say about God–let alone photons–“obscures more than it reveals” and that what to us are totally contradictory statements can be equally true. I thus view dogma about the same way I view the so-called Standard Model of the universe–it mostly works well enough, there are still a lot of obscure areas, we’re probably actually wrong about a lot, and things could happen that might upend it all. The difference is that in physics they say, “Oh, well, we were wrong,” where as in theology the tendency is to parse everything in such a way as to say either, “Well, we never reeeeally said that officially,” or “If you look at it right, we never reeeeally changed at all.” We’d obviously disagree on that; but that’s how it seems to me.

Anyway, the main thing is that each wrestles with his faith in his own way as best he can, we pray for each other, and we let God sort it out.

#28 Comment By dominic1955 On July 4, 2014 @ 6:24 pm

Turmarion,

“Nichols expresses it quite well, and that’s how I’d see it.”

I guess what caught me is that it reminded me of the way I thought of Calvinism when first introduced to it, the same kind of snide dismissiveness.

I still think Calvinism is a heresy, but I don’t think Calvinists worship a monster or that they are “assholes”. They just get caught up in their systematics and keep coming up with wrong answers because the original imput values were faulty. Garbage in, garbage out.

“He leaves open the possibility of “assholes” who reject God, but he thinks there will be few of them, and that they’ll get what they really want. I’m not actually sure that such a choice is a real choice, but that’s a matter of detail.”

I think they mentioned St. Faustina in there. She brought us the message of Divine Mercy and yet, who can possibly forget her description of hell? The need to pray for sinners and heretics and all the rest? I do not think you can separate the two. Plus, as I’ve seen some try, you cannot say the Divine Mercy devotion (or at least the parts you like about it) is just peachy and chalk all the rest of the message up to the feverish ramblings of an unlettered and ignorant pre-Vatican II nun. It doesn’t work that way.

I read your choice article, and maybe I missed something but some of it sounds a lot like fundamental option. If a person cannot choose hell, why should they be able to choose heaven? I think the bar gets set far too high for sin in some people’s minds and yet they still think they can muster the consent to get married and such.

“You say that you accept the traditional position that most are probably damned, though you hold out hope for universal salvation; and you say that you wouldn’t get pissed off if you get to Heaven and find most of humanity didn’t. I have to say that I really can’t understand that perspective.”

That is probably because, at least from the way you quoted it back to me, you didn’t get it or at least internalize what I’m saying. I hold to the traditional teaching because the more and more I pour through the Scriptures, the various Conciliar documents, papal documents, local councils, writings of Saints and Doctors, as well as theologians like Lagrange, I cannot see how the other option is really that much of a contender.

I don’t hope for “universal salvation” so much as I hope for the salvation of each person. I don’t know the fate of those who have gone before me, nor do I know my own fate or those of my peers and those who will come after me. But, it seems that from those same sources, that the Lord and His Church didn’t command me to sit around and try to figure out who’s damned and who’s going to be damned. Nope, its go out and evangelize, its work out your salvation in fear and trembling. I pray for the souls in Purgatory not knowing if anyone is even there because that’s not my job-to figure out if there are or who, I’m just supposed to be praying for the dead. Same for those still alive-I haven’t the slightest idea who among them will be saved or not but that’s not my job. I’m commanded to pray for mine and their salvation.

I won’t be pissed because as I said earlier, if we make it to heaven, we won’t have any “Told ya so!” moments, seeing as we will probably be enraptured by the Beatific Vision and will then know more than any of us could possibly imagine right now. Its like St. Thomas Aquinas burning some of his writings near the end. Some try to say its because he had some massively fuzzy wuzzy vision and so all that hard-assed theology he wrote was wrong and only at the end did he see it.

On the contrary, I think its more akin to someone who had never seen (even in pictures) something like Chartres. I could describe how it looks, and they could build a model of it. They could even do a fairly fine job of it, considering the context and be quite pleased with the beauty of their work. However, should they see the real thing, that model they were so pleased with all of a sudden becomes “so much straw”. Not because there is anything really that wrong with it, it just doesn’t really measure up to the gloriousness of the real thing.

“I take your good faith for granted, but I agree with Nichols that the God who acts like this is a God for assholes.”

Like I said before, this stuck me as a very adolescent reaction like I had before. I can see the why, but I delved into the matter and and made my peace.

Predestination is a very dicey topic in that a lot of detail goes into its ins and outs. I think I’ve got my mind wrapped around it, to some degree, but I don’t say I completely get it either. I have to just assent to all that has come before, even if I do not do all the work of theology concerning it.

“My point is that while I can respect that that’s you’re belief, it’s as foreign to me as if you said 2 + 2 = green.”

But as a Catholic, you couldn’t possibly find this THAT foreign. I can see why you might think it outmoded but not foreign. But, I guess that’s where I find this sort of thinking “foreign” as well. Its like when I was discussing the christological Pelican over at Vox Nova with David and it just did not compute that he had never even heard of it considering he’s educated. I can see why it might be seen as a silly and outmoded symbol, but to have never even heard of it? Mind. Blown.

“Systematic theology is a tool, a map; but like any tool, it’s still a tool. Like any map, it’s not the territory.”

No doubt, but its not merely a tool. Some of it has been placed above the realm of “tool” and into the realm of “binding”.

“A triangle has 180 degrees in a plane; but in a positively curved surface it has more and in a negatively curved surface it has fewer. A photon can manifest as a particle or as a wave, which is a contradiction; except that it’s not.”

That’s neat, I had to do some chemistry for my funeral director schooling. However, the difference between the sciences and theology is that science only purports to study the observable material world. There is much we don’t know because we can’t observe it, if nothing else. There is certainly some philosophizing in theology in areas that have not been revealed. But, its not all up for grabs philosophizing.

“The difference is that in physics they say, “Oh, well, we were wrong,”

At least if someone’s tenure is not on the line.

“where as in theology the tendency is to parse everything in such a way as to say either, “Well, we never reeeeally said that officially,” or “If you look at it right, we never reeeeally changed at all.” We’d obviously disagree on that; but that’s how it seems to me.”

The reason the Fathers and others fought about these things is because they realized how one little iota could upend the whole thing. Christ, and thus His Church, cannot teach error-its like saying God can lie, a complete impossibility.

He who distinguishes well, teaches well. Sure, not everything is of this degree of dogmatic importance. There are lots of things that aren’t dogma and can be “wrong” or time contingent but its massively important to distinguish and thus make it clear that the Church really did or didn’t teach this all along. That’s not fudging anything, its making all the proper dinstictions.

#29 Comment By Turmarion On July 5, 2014 @ 12:04 am

Well, dominic, all we can do is agree to disagree; and all I can say is that it’s still alien to me, and the more and more I pore through Scripture, etc., the more off-putting I find an awful lot of it. The only thing I’d add is that it’s no more fair to dismiss Daniel’s perspective as “adolescent” than it would be to dismiss yours as “cold, heartless, and a little vicious”, no matter how much on a gut level it may seem so to you (or me). As I said, one day we’ll find out.

#30 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 5, 2014 @ 10:54 pm

If ANY of us make it to heaven, we will be quite beyond any “told you so” moments.

Dominic, I believe that qualifies as a fundamental precept of “Mere Christianity,” even if you don’t believe there is such a thing.

Christ, and thus His Church, cannot teach error-its like saying God can lie, a complete impossibility.

Tautological, I’m afraid. The proposition is inarguable, IF one accepts that a given church is wholly and perfectly His Church. This is precisely where we disagree. To insist on the perfect state of doctrine, because any iota of error would show the church to be imperfect, is circular reasoning. Backhandedly though, applying this reasoning, the fact that every church has made manifest and sometimes bloody errors, shows that no church is a perfect representation of the Will of God.

Christ’s church consists of those who TRY to follow Jesus, not those whose institutions do so with manifest perfection.

#31 Comment By dominic1955 On July 6, 2014 @ 1:06 am

Turmarion,

“Well, dominic, all we can do is agree to disagree; and all I can say is that it’s still alien to me, and the more and more I pore through Scripture, etc., the more off-putting I find an awful lot of it.”

Of course, and that’s what we come to every time we get into it. I mean, as I said before, I like getting into knock down drag outs if you’re up to it but other than that…

“The only thing I’d add is that it’s no more fair to dismiss Daniel’s perspective as “adolescent” than it would be to dismiss yours as “cold, heartless, and a little vicious”, no matter how much on a gut level it may seem so to you (or me).”

Didn’t say anthing about fair, I don’t really believe in “fair” per se, at least in regards to human perpectives. In this regard, I’m just calling it as I see it. I used that sort of language when I was (ecclesiastically) a young buck, uneducated in the doctrines of the Church. So, I empathize with it to some degree in that I was there at one time, but I can’t see it as anything more that newbie level or stunted.

And believe me, I’d be a little worried if people started describing what I’m describing in glowing fuzzy terms…

“As I said, one day we’ll find out.”

Yes, indeed we will.

#32 Comment By dominic1955 On July 6, 2014 @ 1:18 am

Siarlys,

“If ANY of us make it to heaven, we will be quite beyond any “told you so” moments.

Dominic, I believe that qualifies as a fundamental precept of “Mere Christianity,” even if you don’t believe there is such a thing.”

We can attribute any manner of things into the realm of the good intentioned. The Church says there are elements of good and truth in all religions, the typical Hitler saying 2+2=4 is still right sort of thing. No one argues against that, other than condemned opinions from long ago.

“Christ, and thus His Church, cannot teach error-its like saying God can lie, a complete impossibility.

Tautological, I’m afraid. The proposition is inarguable, IF one accepts that a given church is wholly and perfectly His Church.”

I believe I was addressing a Catholic, if I correctly recall…

“This is precisely where we disagree.”

As we would, considering you’ve self-identified as non-Catholic.

“To insist on the perfect state of doctrine, because any iota of error would show the church to be imperfect, is circular reasoning.”

First things first, you have to understand what is being said to even wrestle with it. As I was saying to Turmarion, I quit arguing with the Fundies and Calvinists because I got tired of explaining simple things like the distinction between impeccable and infallible over and over and over ad nauseum. I started figuring, if you’re ready and open to it, you’ll listen. If not, it doesn’t much matter how I explain it because the person in question is not going to want to hear it. Margaritas ante porcos.

“Backhandedly though, applying this reasoning, the fact that every church has made manifest and sometimes bloody errors,”

You can stop right there, Mr. Tautology because you’re assuming the same sort of thing. Obviously I don’t think that the Church has made manifest and bloody errors that speak to an error in Her doctrine She proposes for Divine assent. You can harp on and on about the Inquisition or the Crusades or whatever you want, I don’t really care because none of that points to any sort of dogmatic error as far as I’m concerned.

“shows that no church is a perfect representation of the Will of God.”

Of course, I think it perfectly logical for you to think in these terms. When you reject Tradition and the Hierarchy for Whathaveyou, you can’t be to hardassed about what is true for all time and what isn’t. It has to be in a state of flux, to some degree, in order for your system to even pretend to work, let alone be attractive.

“Christ’s church consists of those who TRY to follow Jesus, not those whose institutions do so with manifest perfection.”

That’s nice, but that’s also a tautology, one with which I really don’t agree with as you present it.