Thursday, July 23, 2015

Principles, Principles

He's right, you know. Only difference is, the Reformed have many degrees, so when they fail to distinguish between human opinion and divine revelation, they don't notice. Their ad hockery is plausible, even to themselves.

There are only 2 questions that matter ecclesiologically: "What is the Church?" and, "From where did this dogma, or set of propositions x come?" I did not really want to re-consider my belief in an invisible Church, but that notion could not account for the data, or keep me in the fundamental position of a receiver; that is, for me to sort through the mess of history to decide what was from God, and what was human is to stop assenting to revealed truth, and to start being its arbiter.

I have always taken doctrine too seriously to sort of glibly say, "Well, we're united in the essentials!" because we have never been, as Protestants. It was a loaded gun, sure, a loaded question, but it doesn't make it wrong: What exactly is "the gospel"? I could see plainly that all the Reformation-era communities were in fact united in rejecting Catholic authority, and the claims thereof. One thing, however, persists as the truth we must face: they aren't united in anything else, dogmatically. Unless of course, they already agree with each other, or the Catholic Church.

Looking at Catholicism in any age makes one say this concerning our rejection of their authority: we can't all be right, at least not in the same way at the same time. If I am going to hold set of dogmas D in contradistinction to the Catholic Church, I will officially have a problem when my buddies come along with sets E, F, and G. The fact that we decide mutually not to consign each other to Hell for our variances from one another does not mean we have established in a principled way the distinction between dogma and opinion, or between essential and non-essential.

I'm just going to let you stew on that.

God bless ol' Steve Martin, banging away in the comments as if the game hasn't changed. The Lutherans--bless them, our brothers--aren't any more skilled in putting together an attractive package than anyone else is. I've already decided to drop Rosary bombs on him, until he comes Home. I don't care if that sounds patronizing at the moment; 1. we subjects of the Catholic Church actually believe it is the Church Christ founded; and 2. when one starts sounding like a broken record, pounding the table, more often than not, it's the fear which precedes the humility that leads to conversion.

For my part, I just couldn't stomach the Mark Galli, "We Lucked Out" version of Christian history; on my most Protestant day, I couldn't so selectively ignore the Bishop of Rome's role in preserving truth; it was like Dr. Evil telling Scott to go away without saying his name. It is intellectually honest and good to forthrightly consider whether Catholic authority is so visible precisely because Christ put it there. It is relatively easy to reject that notion fully and outright; it is much harder to tell a coherent, universal Christian story after having done so, however. Just how thankful to your mother can you be, without openly being her son?

Maybe I just didn't think trying to find out was worth it.

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