Mark 9:24

Posts Tagged ‘Catholic’

Meta for a metaphor

In Armchair Apologetics on October 31, 2012 at 2:32 am

Consider that Paul, the inspired author of most of the epistles, having seen the glorified Body of Christ, knowing what end Christ’s body finally meets, and presumably knowing about what language Christ uses about his body throughout the Gospels, uses this specific metaphor: the Church is the Body of Christ.

When Paul was made blind, what truth did he see? What truth did he say, unknowing but inspired?

What could such a metaphor really mean? If it is true, and if it is scriptural, and if it is inspired — full of the Spirit — surely it has at least a divine meaning and purpose. It must speak to some deeper principle. Catholics may point out that Christ will not die, now that the Resurrection shows He triumphs over death. Similarly, the Body of Christ will, in some visible way on this earth, live right up until the end times.

Catholics also may explain this as affirming the four marks of the Church. Like Christ’s body, Catholicism is one, a matter disputed principally by log-eyed men. She is holy, for the Church Triumphant is in heaven and the Church Suffering is headed there, however the visible Church Militant fails us. She is Catholic, which is a word that means simply universal. That the Church is apostolic is simply a way of saying her authority goes back to the apostles, which is important not because of the apostles but because of Christ. There is a real historical claim backing each of these up, putting aside doctrine and scripture, claims which have no analogue among apostasists.

I am curious what apostasists make of this passage on their own, not just what other verses they go to to defend against this interpretation. All I can think of is what apostasists cannot say.

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Heresy, that wayward righteousness

In Lay Meditations on September 16, 2012 at 6:18 am

At the core of many heresies [1], if not the spark or the first impulse, there is some understandable, and sometimes laudable, wish. Though all heresies distort some truth at the cost of others, some simplify the truth while others exaggerate a truth. What man tired of mystery isn’t tempted to want a simpler truth better understood, and what man enamored with a point of truth is not tempted to ignore other truths for the sake of his beloved?

Righteousness brings conviction, which can be a good, so long as it is applied evenly; no man with in the cancer of self-righteousness convicts oneself.

Today, simplification of divine truth is sometimes called modernism. Laughingly so, it must be hoped — accommodationists, seeking to smooth out the hard teachings of the church with a wink or a shrug, have haunted the Church in every age [2], right back to the Arians [3]. Because these Sadducees let fashion or politeness trump truth for the sake of peace, they forget the truth which sustains them; therefore, this sect dies and is forgotten [4].

More sympathetic by far, and more dangerous, is the love of truth. It is not for the hatred of the Church or Christ or the truth that a really dangerous heresy arises, but by obsession with a truth at the cost of others. Not only this, but often it is the same love of truth and hatred of scandal which causes the most lingering schisms from the Church. Take these three: In the early Church was Donatism, in the Middle Ages were the reformers, and in this age exists some forms of traditionalism [5].

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Frustrating the natural end

In Lay Meditations on August 30, 2012 at 11:41 pm

In writing a “Kantian” defense of Catholic sexual teaching some time ago, I accepted the artificial restraint of not mentioning God. This effectively takes a partial view of Catholic moral teaching. It is as if a general practitioner only looked at your skeleton during an annual check-up, indifferent to your beating heart. I began by mentioning several ways to fend off the inevitable; let us finally face the inevitable.

Christians do not hope for the end of Creation; we expect it and should be prepared.

If the death of the universe were to come, there would still be no problem with the Church’s teaching, though the answer comes from an unexpected quarter: God has a plan, and we live this out by discerning our particular vocation. This is no cop-out. Vocations are part of complete Catholic teaching, as inseparable as the Mass. We cannot single out “what if we all behaved like Catholics sexually” to impugn the Church because “behaving like Catholics sexually” does not mean we behave like Catholics in other matters.

With this in mind, suppose we Catholics found our resources completely exhausted; that we really did have nowhere else to turn; that billions and billions years from now the universe finally dies, slowly, coldly of heat death — we may find that our vocations may have prayerfully become some flavor of religious or secular continence. But suppose that God does not call us to continence, for not even continence will prevent the end of things.  If our universal vocation becomes at this point not just holiness but holiness in what we call matrimony, perhaps the best use of the last bit of energy in the universe would be conceiving the last new life our Cosmos ever produced.

Just imagine: One lonely spermatozoon racing from the final stillness which would bring Creation to a final winter, this cell only just ahead of the collapsing cosmos. Finally, then at once, it meets its final end — and, in another sense, we meet ours — in the last mother’s last ovum. In bold defiance of the lord of this world, in bold obedience to the Lord of All, the last act of life is new life. One last act emulating the cross: From death, life; by the will of God.

Vernacular or vulgar, learn it anyway

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 »

Presumption for Catholicism

In Pursue Truth on June 16, 2012 at 3:11 am

Catholicism, even in a century when it feels tired-eyed and lazy, has a huge, if silent, case going for it. Others stand on their tippy-toes, others on their best behavior, but fat, indolent Catholicism laying drunken in the gutter, belly up to oblivion, from her back to her beating heart still stands taller than everyone else combined.

What sin is greater than silence or sleep when you know you know better?

The more you resemble Catholicism but are not Catholicism the falser you ring; if you share anything with Catholicism at all you must defend it with your life. Otherwise the silent testimony of history and reason would silently convict you of being a second-rate imitation. You must clutch the scripture, ignore Church history and dismiss our fruits if you would win against the silent testimony of ages.

There remains a trickier puzzle. You must prove yourself against centuries of doctrinal scavengers, those before you and those yet to come. An already impossible case multiplies endlessly. All the while, should the plain sense of scripture sometimes seem to point one direction, we can point out another, larger principle to correct our folly. If we acknowledge gaps in historical clarity, we still marvel at how few there ever could be. We admit the worst sinners, but even Jesus said that it is “impossible” that there should not be scandal, that wheat and tares will be sorted but not by us.

Catholicism is at least as scriptural while being more historical and demonstrably fruitful. Here’s the real sting of it: None of the Catholic cases require a well-timed nudge as much as typical Protestant cases.

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Admire men, those men unmired

In Armchair Apologetics on March 29, 2012 at 1:04 am

St. Thomas More’s career does not reveal a nice man, or so YouTube Atheists have revealed many times. Were this true, I could not be more surprised if they said St. Augustine had been licentious. (Arguments focusing on the bad behavior of Christians typically miss the point on several levels.)

I don't think this hangs in the papal apartment.

Putting aside ad hominem, for that is thankfully not quite universal among the anti-Christian and sadly not exclusive to them, I find two major objections:

  1. Bad behavior is not forgotten evidence, but the first evidence, datum numero uno, Exhibit A.
  2. Behavior at-large ignores the question of admiration, i.e.: Which Christians admire which Christians and why?

Our first objection is somewhat rote, however solidly true, so let’s focus on the second: Just as admiration for St. Thomas More is not from More’s jerkishness but his martyrdom and the events which led to it, St. Thomas Aquinas is not admired for his grand size but for his grander synthesis, and G.K. Chesterton is not admired for his pre-Hitler opinions on the Jews but for the joy and common sense which infused everything else he wrote, including his post-Hitler opinions on the Jews.

To wit, which Christians admire the Westboro Baptists? I suppose Westboro Baptists do, but who else? Can we really say that they, if admired by any other Christians, are admired from Christian principles?  Read the rest of this entry »

Ways of the wayward

In Armchair Apologetics on March 10, 2012 at 6:00 am

Consider the sedevacantists. After the Second Vatican Council, when the old liturgy was abandoned and the new liturgy abused, certain Catholics in a fit of disgust decided that the Church headed by the Pope no longer existed, that they were the last remnant of the real faithful.

This sort of split is, sadly, not unusual. It may even be archetypical.

Where Rome's universality became stale, the Catholic's universality is yet fruitful. Which lives?

After every council, or so the story goes, a small, local number of Catholics will leave. They may persist and they may persist for centuries, but they are always minor and small. Their split is as the inedible outer skin of an onion, peeling off with the brush of a thumb and soon discarded.

While their size in and of itself does not discredit them, for truth is true no matter how few adherents believe it, that these schismatics become theologically wayward does. In abandoning the structure of the Church the sedevacantists found their way to abandon theology older than they, as with the Union of Utrecht before them; as the Union dismisses in the modern way a historical interpretation of pelvic issues, just so the sedevacantists abandon right interpretation of certain pronouncements of the First Vatican Council. Just so it is with Protestantism, but worse — Protestantism is in ruins, and Evangelicalism its shantytown.

If there is a life in Protestantism it is in the death of all structure; if there is another it is in the revival and worship of discarded relics from those selfsame structures. Pieces of doctrine, defined centuries before, yet live their unlife as rubble recycled. This is the problem: Protestants solve with solvent. When they detect corruption, the only solution is to dissolve and reconstruct. That reset button hasn’t worked yet, they must say, but that doesn’t mean it won’t! Read the rest of this entry »

Samaritan, the mountain pass

In Faith and Reason on March 3, 2012 at 10:13 pm

When truth is such an uphill climb, how many men remain in the valleys; how praiseworthy are they who even make the attempt upward.

Among those approaching us at our mountaintop siesta, hopping on the left foot, are the anti-metaphysicians, those materialists who deny even philosophy. Closely behind them, hopping on the right foot, are the apostasists, encumbered by their fathers’ ecclesial fallacies.

We must stand men we cannot stand, for they cannot stand at all.

Where materialists and amaterialists hop, wobble, fall, convicted in belief, Catholics must be the Good Samaritan. Why would we worry? Our faith is the true footing.

Anti-metaphysicians have both faith and reason, lauding the latter to distraction. Denying the metaphysical as much as possible, they prefer a bare minimum faith in one’s senses; not just irrefutable things but inevitable things are their dogmas. True things must be obvious, say they, and so they bind themselves to nothing but that which is already bound. In practice, these materialists test the binding by breaking out of it, at which point it becomes rebellion and willfulness.

Apostasists represent manhandling little truths, unreasonably forcing facts to fit faith. As with all rationalization, all true things bound their way are distorted, a shield against things bound against them. In this way, convenient truths and inconvenient truths are likewise bound to their will. Apostasism is the reverse of the anti-metaphysicians, and it is the same — it becomes rebellion and willfulness. Read the rest of this entry »

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.  Read the rest of this entry »

Kant, can’t we?

In Faith and Reason on February 19, 2012 at 1:38 am

When seeing high-stakes comments online, even at a better blog than mine, I find the time to not mind the climb. Rhymelessly, Mary writes:

Categorical imperatives are principles that are intrinsically valid; they are good in and of themselves; they must be obeyed in all, and by all, situations and circumstances if our behavior is to observe the moral law. Therefore, if Catholic doctrine is true regarding sexuality, it must be true for all, for all time.

If it is true, it is true forever and always.

We can imagine a world where everyone stopped murdering, stopped lying, stopped committing adultery. But a world where everyone eschewed contraception would be a world of very, very, very high birthrates — forever.

Clearly, in a finite world this presents a problem. Perhaps it is not a problem today or in the very near future. But, had world fertility rates not fallen, sometime in the future we would have had to deal with the finiteness of the earth. I cannot see any way around this.

You’re concerned that the Church’s mandate does not fit the moral imperative. Why? I see two options, only one of which you’re directly worried about:

  1. Overpopulation, and
  2. Finite resources.

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