In Pursue Truth on July 1, 2012 at 12:15 am
There are few lies among ecumenists more irritating than that we really don’t disagree, that we’re just saying the same thing in different ways. This is such a pervasive lie among certain well-groomed leaders that it has in the last decades ruined the name of ecumenism.
The Apostles had the advantage of speaking in tongues. Why would we need any less?
Yet because there is truth everywhere we must acknowledge the central insight: If only sometimes, we are not separated by doctrines but by liturgical language. Case in point: When attending the ordinations for a religious order, there was a great deal to admire in the pomp and ceremony, which contributes to what gets called the extrinsic merit of the Mass. (This is as opposed to the intrinsic merit of the Mass, which is Christ’s one sacrifice on Calvary.) However, when the women in choir came up in cassock and surplice, I was flabbergasted. This is a parish noted for fidelity to Catholic teaching and identity, and a religious order relatively unscathed by the insane 1960s. What do they think they’re doing?
Thing of it is that cassock and surplice worn by women here means something other than what I’m used to, and so my reaction is my problem, not theirs. Here, a woman in a cassock is not active dissent in favor of the ontological impossibility of womenpriests. Here it just means choir dress; here, choir dress just means what the choir wears. There may be something to be said about the appropriateness of cassock and surplice for seminarians and the ordained and there may not. Casting aspersions from assumptions will not get us to understanding. Read the rest of this entry »
In Lay Meditations on April 7, 2012 at 1:45 am
Near the shore of a storm-rocked sea, breaking foam crashing against a cliff, a lighthouse may guide the way. It is a kind of pun, and a kind of parable, to say the Church is such a lighthouse: Christ, who is the light, built His house so that we may know the Way toward Him.
I have a difficult time believing that the one, narrow Way would make so many local ways, springing up and falling down through the centuries as they do.
“If some small mistake were made in doctrine, huge blunders might be made in human happiness.” — G. K. Chesterton
If there is one peril — Christians, you know there is ultimately one peril, which is Hell — there must be only one lighthouse. There cannot be a cloud of lighthouses. There must also be a clear idea about what that lighthouse means, where the rocks are in relation. This not just a matter of life and death but a matter of eternal life and eternal death, to borrow a turn of phrase. If there is no clear relation, we are be better off with a lifetime’s intuition, “as infants, tossed about by the waves.” But if Protestantism is true, there are two reasonable possibilities:
- First, there is not now, and will never again be until the Second Coming, a single lighthouse. This is intolerable, if indeed this is a matter of eternal life and eternal death. Moreover, if Truth so poorly sustains we are less subject to God than to some terrible Demiurge. Hardly Christian; safely discarded.
- Second, the true light, the Holy Spirit, we must pursue, and in the fire of pursuit are made saints. But this is also hardly Christian. Assuming your copy of Miracles lacks Chapter 11, I’m happy to explain.
If men pursue God, who therefore changes, this stands not just opposite to the sense of Jewish revelation but contrary to it.
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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. Read the rest of this entry »
In Armchair Apologetics on February 21, 2012 at 1:28 am
Place yourself in the shoes of a pagan who knows little about Christianity, but who has taken the first step of accepting that Christ has authority and Christ is God. Our convert also knows about sin, and has the sense he is missing something. To wit, he’s sick and he knows it.
Some particular man may find walking around his fellows while sick helps. Perhaps the fresh air, or the camaraderie, rejuvenates him.
As if living a virtuous life were not already difficult enough we have to discern it, too.
But this takes too low a view of his illness, which is always terminal. It undermines the clear objection that some sick man be dissuaded of his diagnosis by meeting our wanderer, and vice versa; we also forget the effort may kill him. This also ignores our others, so ill that a brisk walk would always kill them. Hospitals, with doctors and nurses and somewhat controlled conditions, make natural sense.
I write this because Christianity presents, broadly, two choices:
- Merchant square, or
- Hospital for sinners.
If you make the case that God wants the merchant square model, you have a unique argument to hawk.
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