Mark 9:24

Crosseyed

In Armchair Apologetics on February 25, 2012 at 8:52 pm

If we accept apostasy, we must accept that it weighs us down. In evangelizing, we must prove to honest men of reason that this terrible burden is a reasonable one.

It is a terrible burden because it means God’s Own True Church, founded to redeem men from sin, could not withstand sin. If you are to stay Christian, I don’t see any honest way around this.

If we see here that even Truth can fall, we are mistaken. We forget that He allows it, perhaps to show that even under persecution He rises.

You may deny reason, but you deny a gift of God. You may deny honesty, but then you do not worship Truth. You may deny evangelism, but you deny loving your neighbor.

Because such crosses deserve names, if you do accept the apostasy hypothesis I give you the name apostasist. Your religion foundationally includes this specific article of faith: the True Church, despite being founded by God Himself, was lost when doctrines were changed, altered or lost, either immediately or over the centuries. Your company includes non-Catholic Christians, various sub-Christian and non-Christian sects and certainly a few cults.

Why such wide company?  Apostasism necessarily does create not clarities or mysteries but novelties. From here, it is easy to see how apostasism harms evangelization. 

Even as you seem to interpret Creation soundly, or more soundly than those you call apostates, your account of history interrupts, striking a discordant note. (You will not find Baptists among the Arians; you will find only Arians.) How suppressed the Real Deal Forgotten for Centuries must have been, and How Wise you must be to have finally puzzled it out!

And yet, if we are to spread this Gospel, would a reasonable man believe us any more than the sandwich-board Jeremiah of Times Square? Your pearls of wisdom must surely be of great price, for you have sold a reasonable interpretation of history for a mess of conspiracy theory.

… and these falsifiable, ahistorical, minority novelties, these new and unheard-of-before pearls of purported wisdom, are supposed to be of the True Church? One more burden to bear, it seems to me.

Advertisements
  1. What do you mean that the True Church was lost when the doctrines were lost? As a fellow Catholic, wouldn’t you agree that the Church guided by the Holy Spirit has guarded the fullness of the truth?

    • I’ll break a Lenten commenting fast in charity and for clarity.

      As a fellow Catholic, wouldn’t you agree that the Church guided by the Holy Spirit has guarded the fullness of the truth?

      Yes. That “we” is meant weakly, as weak as the doctrinal bonds Christians share even today. Still, for the sake of making things clearer, I’ll throw in a few quick edits.

      My eventual goal will be to show the Church’s claims are both:

      1. Reasonable, and the
      2. Least unreasonable.

      … which are two different things. (Applying them to the Church will be an even later argument.)

  2. […] materialists who deny even philosophy. Closely behind them, hopping on the right foot, are the apostasists, encumbered by their father’s ecclesial […]

  3. It wasn’t puzzled out, but restored by revelation from God, at least in my faith, but I am sure you are grouping my faith in either the non-Christians or the cults, so no need to break your Lenten fast to get into it.

    • No Lent on Sundays, friend, and thank you for your observations.

      It is true my observation here targets Reconstructionists more than Restorationists, but the lapse of time does not speak well of either. Also, in the abstract, I think it commonsensical that any New Prophet had better meet the following criteria:

      1. Flesh easily with known history and other truth, for Christ is the Truth;
      2. Be at least as credible as God’s First Apostles, who were all martyred;
      3. Have a mighty fine explanation of how the lapse of Church fits into God’s plan;
      4. When offering new doctrines not conflict with historical doctrines; and
      5. Not turn over doctrines in the manner of a false prophet but turn over false doctrines in the manner of Christ, whose answers did not produce eyerolling so much as astonishment.

      True prophets had better explicitly address or refute these points, and, damningly, their explanations had better stand up for all time.

      • For points 1,4, and 5: If “known history and other truth” were correct then there would be no need for a restoration.

        For 2, in my faith there was a martyrdom of the first prophet, a small pistol being used in self defense after the mob had already started shooting and calling for blood does not detract from what happened.

        For 3, check the first lesson in our missionary manual.

        • Thanks again, but I think you missed the gist: Proving the need for restoration and its place in God’s Plan is crucial for any apostasist, which the points above illustrate.

          If not from history, it is from scripture — if it is from scripture, scripture must become more satisfyingly clear, not less, with either no heresy or a satisfying elucidation of the new doctrine, and history must become far sharper. More importantly, if you argue from scripture, you fall under the umbrella of the “Crosseyed” post, and with more, not fewer, burdens.

          Catholics believe God deemed the one burden of living as Christ was hard enough without tacking on the issue of finding the right definition of such terms.

  4. Sorry but I don’t see how this isn’t a circular argument.

    Everyone agrees the Catholic church was a state church and was able to surpress other sects and churches through time. So given any church other than the Catholic church of course it is going to involve a lost doctrine. This argument amounts to saying lost doctrines were lost and therefore false, which is assuming that the doctrines that won are true. A
    darwinian theology of doctrines.

    But if the doctrines which won are true, then why aren’t the doctrines of Islam which won in a few dozen countries true? If the doctrines that won are true, why aren’t the doctrines of reformation which won in another dozen countries true? Certainly Hinduism/Buddhism is both older and more popular than Catholicism. Why aren’t their doctrines true under this darwinian scheme?

    Moreover, within the Catholic Church there is development of doctrine, we know for certain there are doctrines from today’s Catholic church which are not the ones from 1000 years ago much less 2000 years ago.

    As for puzzling it out, the last 150 years have been a gold mine. The entire critical theory of the bible, major finds like the Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hammadi, reconstructions, the entire Westcott and Hort reconstruction and the lists of manuscripts we have todaym John Turner’s reconstruction of the Sethian timeline, Harnack’s analysis of the bible …. Far from disaster I think we are finally making real progress.

    What was mere speculation a century ago has ever increasing amounts of evidence. What Bultmann first suggested just a mere lifetime ago, is becoming reality. We are starting to unpack the kerygma from the myth. Of course the layers of the onion are the onion. And when we get to the original core I suspect what we will find won’t be Christian at all, rather Christianity is what grew up around the core. But notwithstanding if you think the original is worth anything, then I think we are far closer today to the original than your article suggests.

    • Thank you again for your insights.

      1. More evidence than even the evidence we have? We already have more evidence than a lifetime may digest, and resorting to available evidence circularly presupposes the necessity of reconstruction;
      2. I dispute, of course, your worship of the victors hypothesis and may safely disregard the paragraphs built on this assumption. Church history is not so simple as an iron heel;
      3. I do not make a truth claim. I highlight here the burden of any apostasy hypothesis. It is a burden of proof, emphasis on the burden and the difficulties it brings to evangelism. (Check out the alt-text for my image.);
      4. Development of doctrine is legitimate, as all bodies grow; and
      5. Make to me the case, from the preponderence of the evidence, that the Church apostatized. You may use history, for you have not established authority to use scripture.

      Regarding other faiths:

      A. Hinduism is more popular than Catholicism? Older, yes, but hardly more popular. Moreover, it is not cross-cultural;
      B. Buddhism was, in a limited way, missionary and cross-cultural, but the lack of authority dooms it to local syncretism — what Indian Buddhist is not inwardly dismayed at the Chinese and Japanese Buddhist? (One who has achieved Nirvana, I suppose.); and
      C. In any case, my remarks are directed at Christians, for Christ is a rather unique person.

  5. Hi Ubiquitous. First off let me respond to (2). I wasn’t making the case for a victors hypothesis, rather I was asserting you were making such a case and disproving it via. reductio ad absurdum. You were arguing that the branch of Christianity that won in the 1st through 6th century must be true because it won. I was disproving that by asserting that the “who won” doctrine, contradicts its original intent.

    If we open the field up and say that losing branches while not necessarily on an equal footing are at least not disqualified in the search for truth things change quite a bit. In other words I’m not asserting a Darwinian theory of truth, I’m rejecting it. But what I am saying is that one who rejects it must reject it fully, including within the history of the early church.

    ________

    As for the case from history. History is incapable of distinguishing “apostasy” from development. Brantley is quite right that by 200 CE the dominant form of Christianity was Catholic. That’s not to say other forms didn’t exist, there were dozens of Gnostic groups, but the dominant forms were Catholic. The Catholic church argues however to be the church that Jesus founded. Which means that if we step back further we should discover:

    a) There is evidence of a unified body of teaching being held by the dominant Christian/proto-Christian groups which is essentially Catholic.
    b) Non-Catholic sects are diverging from, not moving towards this unified body of teaching, in general.

    If rather what we see is:

    a) There are a multiplicity of groups with widely divergent theologies and interests.
    b) These sects are unifying towards a common theology / philosophy.
    c) One of the unions becomes Catholicism.

    Once you see Catholicism as a child of those early sects that flourished 200 BCE – 200 CE, rather than being one of them, much less the principle one of them, you discover that Catholicism struck the right balance between diversity and compromise to win out among the various Christian flavors and become the most popular. Catholicism went on to win huge numbers of converts and crucially important converts to become the state church of the dying Roman empire. From there Catholicism used state apparatus to become more or less the only form of institutional Christianity, with the exception of the Arianism among the military during the 4th and 5th centuries.

    The history of the 500 years before the reformation. If groups like the Bogomils are descendants of those early proto-Christian sects as much as Catholics are, then they should have just as much right to develop.

    Let’s take the Sethians as I mentioned Turner reconstructs their timeline. They are useful group for knowing the truth of history because they attempt to but never successfully got incorporated into Catholicism, in other words they had a distinct identity during the crucial periods of the last first through second century. Under the traditional Catholic scheme for the history of Christian Gnosticism, Christian Gnosticism evolved from Catholic Christianity. What Turner showed was a Sethian proto-Christianity that existed from about 100 BCE and didn’t encounter anything remotely Catholic until 100-125 CE. There was a period of trading theology, an attempt at compromise, a failed attempt at merger and then both sects diverged evolving into separate religions. What is key is, that timeline is impossible according to the Catholic theory of how Christianity evolved.

    I haven’t presented Turner, but for the purpose of argument lets assume the above is mostly proven. One could argue that It is entirely possible the Sethians are an exception and the general rule still holds or that while Turner’s theory best fits the Sethian evidence other evidence overwhelms it. But if we had two dozen major pieces of evidences showing unification rather than primitive schism then I think one is fully justified in rejecting this central Catholic claim to being the original Christian church, the church that Jesus founded. With this principle unique claim gone. We then have free choice as to whether or not we want to step into the morass of proto-Christianity / Christianity 200 BCE – 200 CE and decide which pieces we value in trying to construct a religion.

    • Thank you again for your insights. I’ll note to the millions of readers that CD-Host has basically conceded all the points upon which the argument of this post lies. As he wrote, Catholicism is one of those sects which can claim historicity. My point: No apostasist group can do the same, and so is caught at an immeasurable disadvantage, which here I describe as a burden. If I needed an example of the burden apostastists face, I could not come up with a better example than you’ve provided.

      As for the dozens of Gnostic groups, I’ll happily point out that the figure of Christ did not begin Gnosticism but a literary version of him was later twinned to Gnosticism.

      Once you see Catholicism as a child of those early sects that flourished 200 BC – AD 200, rather than being one of them, much less the principle one of them, you discover that Catholicism struck the right balance between diversity and compromise to win out among the various Christian flavors and become the most popular.

      Remove Christ from Christianity and I suppose it would appear that way. But Christ being in Christianity somehow makes the whole thing more arresting, and so somehow I am not convinced of pre-Christian Christianity. I’d ask you to try harder, but it would suffice to be truer.

      If groups like the Bogomils are descendants of those early proto-Christian sects as much as Catholics are, then they should have just as much right to develop.

      Had to look up Bogomils.

      But yes, late Gnostics have more right to develop than the Baptists and other apostasists. That is what I’m saying. The early Gnostics have more right to develop than even them, in the sense of being far closer in history to the truth about of the person of Truth, closer by centuries to your vaunted kerygma. (Is there a word so fully immersed in Protestant assumptions as kerygma?)

      Looked at it one way, that the Gnostics died out is either evidence that they were wrong, for the Truth reigns over all generations and all generations hunger for the Bread of Life, or it is proof that they are right, that the world and the material universe really is so evil as to not just kill Truth that men and the world ruled by a Demiurge more powerful here than God Himself. It does not come close to exonerating the Baptists view of things.

      But if we had two dozen major pieces of evidences showing unification rather than primitive schism then I think one is fully justified in rejecting this central Catholic claim to being the original Christian church, the church that Jesus founded.

      1. Or maybe it’s that Christians really did “test everything, hold fast to what is good.”
      2. As I recall, the early Church was curious because it rejected syncretism and all its works.

  6. I am not convinced of pre-Christian Christianity. I’d ask you to try harder, but it would suffice to be truer.

    I’m not sure what truer means, but the evidence is pretty clear cut. Lets take one example 11Q13 which dates to 100 BCE. Here we have a supernatural messianic figure who is involved in atonement, judgement of the unworthy…. This is essentially the theology being attacked in Hebrews 7. What’s important is it predates “the incarnation”.

    I’ll happily point out that the figure of Christ did not begin Gnosticism but a literary version of him was later twinned to Gnosticism.

    Other than assertion how do you know? You can’t assert this, this idea that the Catholic church is the one Christ founded.

    a) There are a multiplicity of groups with widely divergent theologies and interests.
    b) These sects are unifying towards a common theology / philosophy.
    c) One of the unions becomes Catholicism.

    Looked at it one way, that the Gnostics died out is either evidence that they were wrong, for the Truth reigns over all generations and all generations hunger for the Bread of Life, or it is proof that they are right, that the world and the material universe really is so evil as to not just kill Truth that men and the world ruled by a Demiurge more powerful here than God Himself. It does not come close to exonerating the Baptists view of things.

    I would argue that all the original Christian sects died out. Catholics are the most authentic to 2nd century Christianity but none bear much resemblance to the Christianity of 50 CE.

    As an aside, the Baptists argue that the gnostics didn’t die out but rather stayed hidden running a parallel church for generations till the current day trail of blood. I don’t happen to agree, nor do I think the Gnostics entirely died out: sects to the reformation.

    I don’t think their view is directly defendable, but in a way the Gnostics evolved. So for example (using the Bogomils since you looked them up) : Dositheans -> Early Mandaeans -> Elkasaites -> Manicheans -> Bogomils -> Cathari -> Esoteric Christians -> Christian Humanists -> Lutherans -> Anglicals -> Seperatists -> Baptists. Now of course there are other parents there, and British Catholics are also parents of the Anglicans, German Catholics parents of the Lutherans…. But one can make a historical argument tying these sects back. Further as Protestantism evolves, it is continuing to evolve in the direction of Gnosticism. On more and more of the issues on which Catholics and Gnostics disagreed the Protestants are siding with the Gnostic position. I like to point people to Against the Protestant Gnostics which is a book written by an orthodox Catholic, agreeing with this direction that the Protestant faith is moving in.

    1. Or maybe it’s that Christians really did “test everything, hold fast to what is good.”
    2. As I recall, the early Church was curious because it rejected syncretism and all its works.

    We know (2) is false because we have archeology. You can go to the Church of Saint Prisca, which legend has it was her original house church and it is a converted pagan temple.

    As for (1) again you would have seen ideas in their developed form being the norm and then divergences, which is not what you see when you trace back debates. When did this normalized position that was universally agreed to exist? What year?

  7. […] not God, then who alights from here to there? Who is the Lord of these apostasists? Such a Lord ever jumping around and contradicting himself would not be of Heaven but of this […]

  8. […] hunger for the truth. Just as God can work through the heretics and pagans and Protestants and apostasists, God can work through Catholics disconnected from the patrimony of the Church. It is a kind of […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: