Apart from all the detailed historical arguments, this quest makes an assumption about the nature of time, an assumption that I have labeled “tragic.” It’s the assumption that the old is always purer and better, and that if we want to regain life and health we need to go back to the beginning.
I would be curious to hear Leithart actually cite a convert who made a statement that betrayed an assumption like “old is always purer and better.” My guess is that the reason he makes no such appeal is that few, if any, of us have actually said something like that. I certainly didn’t.
Right, officer, I wasn’t “breaking the speed limit,” I was actually going 85 miles per hour. If Jason can’t find himself in all of those tendentious posts and comments about the early church fathers (still no mention of an early church pope, mind you), then he still has a strong dose of Calvary Chapel literalism in him. In other words, if he doesn’t think he gains traction in debates by citing the early church — the very church Christ founded, I’ve heard — then he should stick to Balthasar and de Lubac.
To add insult to injury, Stellman lauds the development of doctrine as precisely the vehicle which makes Rome the “conversion-destination” of choice:
I mean, if there’s an ancient expression of Christianity that refuses to grow up or adapt to the times, it’s certainly not the Catholic Church (I’ll leave you to figure out who it might be [*cough-EO-cough*]).
I’ll believe Stellman believes in development of doctrine when he wires his affirmation of high papalism to historic and contemporary efforts to make Rome more conciliar. So far, I have not seen his communion or its members wean themselves away from a version of papal supremacy that went hand in hand with opposition to Italian nationalism, religious freedom, and the separation of church and state.
Grow up? Indeed.