Modernism Watch

The classic definition of Protestant modernism came from J. Gresham Machen in Christianity and Liberalism. He understood that modernism was an apologetic strategy — a way to save Christianity in the face of modern intellectual and social developments. That strategy involved explaining away certain doctrines as the mere husk of Christianity (deity of Christ, virgin birth, infallibility of Scripture) and properly locating the kernel of Christian teaching (the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, the vicinity of Boston). What modernists did and still do is historicize the faith. Christians believed truth X once upon a time but we now understand how X was the product of a historical moment. The modernist looks beneath the exterior of Christian belief, which is historically situated, and finds the universal truth to which it points.

The classic definition for Roman Catholic modernism came from Pius X (hence the Society of Saint Piux X) who in 1907 wrote:

These rebels profess and repeat, in subtle formulas, monstrous errors on the evolution of dogma, on the return to the pure Gospel—that is, as they say, a Gospel purified of theological explication, Council definitions, and the maxims of the moral life—and on the emancipation of the Church. This they do in their new fashion: they do not engage in revolt, lest they should be ejected, and yet they do not submit either, so that they do not have to abandon their convictions. In their calls for the Church to adapt to modern conditions, in everything they speak and write, preaching a charity without faith, they are very indulgent towards believers, but in reality they are opening up for everyone the path to eternal ruin.

And now traditionalist Roman Catholics fear that the Synod of Bishops who are discussing the nature of marriage, that these church authorities are dabbling in modernism. Even some on the left side of the Roman Catholic spectrum seem to agree (even if taking encouragement from such dabbling) though they prefer the phrase “development of doctrine” to modernism (who wouldn’t?):

Let’s look at this issue of developing doctrine and changing pastoral practice as it relates to the “homosexual agenda” which has +Burke so exercised. For years, for centuries, the Church shared the biases of the ambient culture. Homosexuality was the sin that dare not speak its name and gay people were ostracized and worse. There was little in the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family that was crafted with even a thought to the existence of LGBT people and no obvious congruence between that teaching and the lived experience of gay Catholics. But, what the Church neglected for all those years was a core, foundational doctrine: All human persons are made in the image and likeness of God. This doctrine is, I dare say, even more foundational than the Church’s teaching on marriage, indeed, the Church’s teaching on marriage and all ethical issues is built upon the imago dei, but nobody, until our lifetimes, thought to apply this doctrine to the pastoral care of gays and lesbians.

What changed? First, the experience of HIV/AIDS. In the same way that the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin demonstrated to all the suffering and horror of slavery to people who knew little about it, the AIDS epidemic called forth the most basic Christian, humane sensibility: compassion. . . .

There is an old joke that when the Church announces a change, the document always begins, “As the Church has always taught….” This is usually cited as a way to suggest that the Church is a bit cynical, even hypocritical. But, in fact, this is how change happens in the Church. “The Church has always taught” that all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, we just forgot to apply that to gays and lesbians for a few centuries. The Church has always taught that Communion is the food of mercy, essential to the on-going conversion of all Christians, not just the divorced and remarried. No one is going to “change doctrine” at this synod, but the synod fathers are trying to retrieve lost insights, recalibrate the way our doctrines are applied in real pastoral praxis, discern new ways to proclaim the Gospel. The synod is evidence that the Church is alive and still attentive to the Holy Spirit, not only to the treatises on canon law. Those who are afraid of this synod – and of this pope – and the ones of little faith.

It’s hard to know how to argue against a view that says “we have always believed this even though it didn’t look like it.” But then arguing against experience as opposed to debating a proposition (yes, I’ve invoked the bogeyman of propositional truth, language speaker than I am) is like making a case against second-hand smoke. And yet, following experience instead of doctrine appears to be precisely what the cardinals are doing in Rome:

Unlike in the past, when bishops or theologians would deduce theology from general, sometimes idealized notions of God or humanity, the prelates at the Synod of Bishops on the family are using inductive reasoning to instead examine theology in the reality of families today, Canadian Archbishop Paul-André Durocher said.

“What’s happening within the synod is we’re seeing a more inductive way of reflecting, starting from the true situation of people and trying to figure out what’s going on here,” said Durocher, who leads the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The prelates, the archbishop said, are “finding that the lived experience of people is also a theological source — what we call a theological source, a place of theological reflection.”

“I think we’re learning to use the Harvard case study method in reflecting theologically on the lives of people,” continued the archbishop, who also heads the archdiocese of Gatineau in Quebec.

“And we’re only, in a sense, starting to learn how to do this as church leaders,” he said. “And this is going to take time for us, to learn to do this and together to come — as we reflect on this — to find what is the way that God is showing.”

When the bishops do eventually figure out how to use the experience of people to construct theology, will Jason and the Callers follow suit? So far the answers from the Callers have been all out of a Pius X framework. They have yet to enter or accommodate the modern world that Vatican II embraced (not to mention missing all the lessons of twentieth-century Protestant history that produced separate communions like the OPC and the PCA).


114 thoughts on “Modernism Watch

  1. What modernists do is to reduce reality to that which is physical and thus they must expand nature to be able to explain all that has happened in both Biblical History and outside of that. We need to always remember that even the “natural,” that is the normal, cannot be reduced to the physical realm. Once we do that, we have embraced deism.

    Thus the liberal study of Biblical history will do all that it can to make what should be beyond our understanding understandable. I write this because reexamining history should not necessarily be a cause for concern, it is the liberal reduction of everything to the natural that is the real threat.


  2. We probably need to stop linking Jason with the Callers. It’s Bryan’s show, so “Bryan and the Callers” is probably redundant. The Callers are probably pretty uncomfortable with Jason by now after his “10 Things I Hate About Catholicism” post and his recent musings on suffering. I didn’t see many Callers there offering comfort.

    If Jason is using the “Two Drunk Ex-Pastors” podcast as a vehicle for apologetics he’s being totally half-hearted about it. The show is actually really entertaining, the direct opposite of Called to Communion, and Jason is a liberal Bon Vivant (although currently on a limited budget), the direct opposite of Bryan’s flat-capped schoolmarm.

    Jason is on a different course than the Callers, although where he ultimately ends up is anyone’s guess.

    Oh, and his mom used to be a model.


  3. Curt this is the postmodern era. Probably post that as well.

    When you get to the next chapter in your 100 amazing stories about philosophy you might catch up to the last 70 years.

    Sounds like fun, huh?


  4. “Jason is on a different course than the Callers, although where he ultimately ends up is anyone’s guess.”

    He’s been tossed around by every wind of doctrine. His buddy Christian will eventually lead him to agnosticism and eventually outright atheism. I’ll bet the house on it.

    I personally don’t find their podcast entertaining at all as their arguments are really really bad and most of the show is them talking about themselves.


  5. Michael Sean Winters thinks some bishops are wrong to speak candidly:

    Anyone with ears to hear knows that the “intrinsically disordered” language regarding homosexual relations has failed to achieve anything except make the Church look foolish and mean-spirited. The synod fathers apparently have discussed the need to find better language with which to convey the Church’s teachings in this area. But Cardinal Burke still thinks he is being pastoral when he deploys this language. His latest interview with LifeSite News is appallingly tone deaf, as was his interview with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN last night. (They have not yet posted the video but I will put up a link when they do.) If the rumors are true and +Burke is about to be dispatched to the Knights of Malta, I hope the appointment comes with a ban on giving him a microphone. This man’s inability to speak with even a whiff of human compassion is intrinsically disordered if you ask me.

    Imagine what Winters would say about Jesus:

    Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah,f whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. (Matt 23: 29-36)


  6. As Martin Luther King and others have pointed out, Marx was involved with justice, especially justice for workers. His analysis of Capitalism was accurate but his solutions needed revision lest one promotes the same class rule with some roles reversed.

    The challenge for us is found in how we pray lest we pray like the Pharisee. Is it so difficult to admit that we can learn from those who are different?


  7. Isn’t the Jason situation just another contemporary tale of the thorns which crosses all denominational lines? The popularity associated with being a semi-popular apologist and Reformed orthodox defender in a micro denomination(s) could not hold to the appeal of a nearly unlimited potential popularity that the enormous Romanist denomination could offer. Now that it appears the potential is not coming to fruition the thorns have turned into a bramble bush and it’s difficult to find any light. That’s the sub text I’m reading.


  8. Curt – His analysis of Capitalism was accurate but his solutions needed revision lest one promotes the same class rule with some roles reversed.

    100 million victims of communism are on line 2 wanting to say “amen”.


  9. gas-x – The popularity associated with being a semi-popular apologist and Reformed orthodox defender in a micro denomination(s) could not hold to the appeal of a nearly unlimited potential popularity that the enormous Romanist denomination could offer

    Erik – The problem that become evident is that (a) cradles don’t care and (b) fellow prot converts are the most part a bunch of squares and nerds who don’t appreciate Jason’s style.

    He does make reference to an upcoming project with Random House, though.


  10. EC,
    You are making a false assumption that what the gov’ts responsible for the 100,000,000 deaths were really Marxist. BTW, give some details on those 100,000,000 deaths.

    Also, why do those deaths imply that Marx had nothing of value to say?

    The real problem for American Conservative Christians is that they passionately embrace the role of the Pharisee from the parable of the two men praying.


  11. Erik – never minding the topic at hand for a moment, the wife and I just finished a round trip to Colorado to see a new grandson and to tour the state a bit. On the way back through Iowa I began to wonder why the Iowa State sports teams use a cardinal for a mascot, but are known as “The Cyclones.” Any history about this seeming disconnect?
    TX, George


  12. Am I the only one that see’s the irony of Curt and his socialism on OL? With the OLers preaching that Christians should treat their political leaders like gods, Curt brings his socialism, the definition of state worship, and is treated like a heretic.


  13. kent,
    All you demonstrate here is that you have no clue what you are talking about when it comes to my view of socialism. In fact, you really don’t know what socialism is about. But attacking me for socialistic views when I said something about Modernists achieves what? Is it an attempt to silence me on this subject? Is it such an attempt on every subject? After all, if I am the Socialist you think I am, then how dare I write anything seems to be the logic.

    Then comes the accusation about 100 million deaths as if all socialists were in agreement with what went on or that other countries handled some of those circumstances better. It’s like this blog is a particular gang’s turf and anyone not wearing the right gang colors will get attacked for trespassing. But as long as some are defending the right theology, they will see nothing wrong with whatever they say to others.

    Doctrine is important. But when tribalism forces its way in, it seems that doctrine starts producing the works of the flesh rather than the fruit of the Spirit


  14. Curt, “Then comes the accusation about 100 million deaths as if all socialists were in agreement with what went on or that other countries handled some of those circumstances better.”

    Here you are claiming corporate sin for the West and capitalism and whites and people of privilege but then claim innocence for some part of the socialist world. If I defend the West by claiming innocence for society’s sins, you say I’m in denial. But you? Not so much.

    This game is rigged (and your analysis is stupid).


  15. D.G,
    You can’t see the difference here? You can’t see how participants are responsible for what their groups do from how nonparticipants are not responsible for what others do? Likewise, can you tell the difference between the culpability those who resist the what their own groups do from those who go along?

    The defense of the West by Westerners no matter what it does simply shows tribalism. The same goes for Socialism. That is why when you read people like Rosa Luxemburg who opposed Lenin’s hijacking of the Revolution and new regime by calling it a Bourgeoisie dictatorship, you see that she is showing resistance and showing that her commitment to principle surpasses her loyalty to a group. The question is, can American Christians show the same commitment to principle over loyalty to group regarding the West and Capitalism? If we can’t, we need to admit that we are simply tribal creatures who will mold the Gospel we hear to fit greater loyalties.


  16. Curt, is “tribalism” a theological/biblical notion?

    I am simply combating your silly shibboleth of corporate sin. If you are guilty of it by virtue of living in the West, you are now doubly guilty of defending a system that led to the deaths and exploitation of millions of people.

    Have a nice day.


  17. D.G.,
    Tribalism is something we can observe but it isn’t Biblical in the sense that it is acceptable.

    Again, go to the worst cases in history and see if the principles regarding corporate sin applies. During the Nazi tenure, were German citizens guilty in varying degrees for what their government did? Were those Germans who didn’t resist and who didn’t take the effort to find out what their government was doing guilty to some degree? And what about those Germans who resisted? Were they equally innocent to those Germans who either knowingly or ignorantly supported what their government was doing?

    The culpability for corporate sin, which is the sin committed by the group you are in, depends on how one acts in the group. Do you lead the way to group sin? You are very guilty. Did you just go along because of peer pressure? You still have guilt. Think about kids who either bully or take drugs because of peer pressure here. Did you deliberately remain ignorant of what your group did? You have guilt. Did you resist what was going on?

    And what about Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9:16 where Daniel talks about corporate guilt for both the present and the past.

    The issue with you is your expansion of the regulative principle beyond worship to all of life so that the only things you acknowledge as existing is what was described in the Bible and the only guides for how to live come from concrete statements and examples of people to imitate. There is no Biblical precedence for that approach. In fact, the parable of the Good Samaritan gives an example of loving one’s neighbor which far exceeded the OT examples and commands that the Good Samaritan could draw from.

    And you are very insulting especially over concepts you claim don’t exist because the Bible didn’t mention them explicitly. And you insult as if you are some kind of superior. Hey, I had cancer or was that impossible because the Bible never mentioned cancer. Or is there no such thing as democracies today because they did weren’t mentioned in the Bible? And, btw, being insulting is not a trait I expect from an elder. That is because being insulting is not a trait that an elder should have..


  18. Curt – “Is it an attempt to silence me on this subject?”

    And end all this free entertainment? No way.

    100 million deaths easy between the USSR and Mao’s China. If they weren’t Marxist, who was? Oh yeah, the faculty lounge at UW-Madison were the real deal.


  19. Haven’t seen one like Curt since the Wall came down

    A friend was on his doctorate boasting about the next glorious 1000 years under Communism when that happened

    Even he shut up at that moment

    Just like Catholics who only know post V2 days, I guess a new group of Commie Symps are arising who missed out on all the fun

    It would make hockey better again to have a reborn hatred for the Soviet Union instead of the rinsed out ho-hum it has become


  20. Just wait for the endpoint of this analysis…

    Jesus was *actually* guilty for the sins of humanity because He took on flesh.

    No, thank you.


  21. Curt, at OL I am a blogger, not an elder. Welcome to the world of hyphenation.

    The regulative principle applies to worship. It will be news to John Frame that I apply the RPW to all of life.

    You wrote: “The culpability for corporate sin, which is the sin committed by the group you are in, depends on how one acts in the group. Do you lead the way to group sin? You are very guilty. Did you just go along because of peer pressure? You still have guilt.”

    Great. So step up and accept the guilt of Marxist injustice. Fun, isn’t it?


  22. D.G.,
    First, please note the about page on this blog and how it describes you:

    D. G. Hart is an elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, serving on the session of Calvary OPC in Glenside, Pennsylvania.

    Second, try reading. Note what I wrote before:
    You can’t see the difference here? You can’t see how participants are responsible for what their groups do from how nonparticipants are not responsible for what others do? Likewise, can you tell the difference between the culpability those who resist the what their own groups do from those who go along?

    How did I participate in sins of Marxism when I speak against the relative morality and proletariat dictatorship. And speaking of proletariat dictatorships, did you realize that the regimes attribute socialist crimes to did not employ proletariat dictatorships and thus they might have been Marxist in name only.

    However, I am a participant in America and its systems. And I am responsible for the acts of the groups I am in. And again, I am guilty for the sins of my groups where I didn’t resist what they were doing. But these details don’t interest you so perhaps what Paul said in Philippians does: If either of us want to take pride in the political-economic groups we are in, then read what Paul said in Philippians 3? He, above either of us, had the most reason to cling to having pride in his group, but he didn’t. That doesn’t mean that we quit all of our groups but it does mean that watch the degree of attachment we have for our groups. I have no problems with criticizing Marx, I’ve done that on my blog. Likewise, I feel free to criticize groups I am in like the Occupy Movement. I try to correct from within. Otherwise, what you wrote about having a degree of responsibility for corporate sin would be a good point.

    finally, why not answer the questions I have posed about Nazi Germany and the responsibility that the different groups of Germans citizens had then for what their government and nation did?


  23. GAS-X, gong.

    “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

    In other words, the civil authorities are God’s ministers. Was Paul saying “Christians should treat their political leaders like gods”? The way you read between lines…


  24. Curt, must be nice to be even above systems that are above it all–are you OWS’s pope? But I repeat, until you can make nations repent of their corporate sin and baptized and communicant members of a local church, your analysis is fubar.


  25. Curt, so much guilt, so little atonement. How do you even get out of bed in the morning?

    Question of “proletariat dictatorship”: how does one become a dictator and manage to remain “proletariat”? A bit like learning to fall and not hit the ground.

    I had a friend from Russia who remembers the glorious days of the Soviet Union who laughs at American Marxists. He opined should he ever strike rich, he’d like to start a scholarship for those types: a one-way trip to Russia where you get to live among the locals… then he changed his mind, no, even better, a one-way trip to Cuba.


  26. Curt, I’ll respond about Germany when you explain how your guilt for our system is any different from theirs. What are you doing to purge the corporate guilt? Blogging? Commenting? Would that satisfy you to exonerate German Christians? Somehow I doubt it.

    Actually, I’m not going to answer about Germany because I believe what Jesus said about those without sin throwing the first stone. My sins aren’t corporate, though.


  27. Zrim- I set my watch by your context free postings of Rom 13:1. Ja, I’ve read your lines. “gods” is a biblical way of defining human authority.


  28. DGH, three sealed copies of Seeking a Better Country at my local Christian bookstore

    Bought one, will read it this week


  29. George,

    The bird is named “Cy”. I suppose a guy dressed like a tornado wasn’t going to work, although Ames High is the “Little Cyclones” and they use a logo like a tornado…


  30. Curt – finally, why not answer the questions I have posed about Nazi Germany and the responsibility that the different groups of Germans citizens had then for what their government and nation did?

    Erik – Curt, present the demographics of the Nazi voter and what their particular grievances against the alternatives were.

    German politics was incredibly dysfunctional at the time and the Nazis were never overwhelmingly popular. 36% was their high water mark and that was before the gained power in a coalition government.


  31. Erik,
    So do you need actual statistics, so as to delay having to answer the question, or do you just need categories of people?

    Group 1: The Nazis who planned and carried out the atrocities
    Group 2: Soldiers and government officials who went along
    Group 3: Citizens who knowingly supported the Nazis
    Group 4: Citizens who were just concerned with their own worlds and didn’t make an effort to know what was knowable.
    Group 5: Those, like the White Rose, who resisted


  32. Erik,
    Please explain what you meant by dysfunctional. Yes, the Nazis had 35% which was a spike in support compared to the previous election. But that 35% voted knowingly that the Nazis wanted to do away with democracy and dissent. And support for the Nazis show up exponentially after the economy recovered and after the winning of acquisition of nations like the Czech Republic, France, and Poland. And the support was sufficient throughout the war because of the belief of their belief in submission to the authorities and their belief that if they enjoyed Hitler’s benefits, they should be loyal through the trials.


  33. DGH, i was grateful that the price tag wasn’t $60.00 or more.

    Christian bookstores, along with University bookstores, have amazing surprises for the price asked for a modest paperback.

    I wish I had two more people in my real life that would appreciate your book.


  34. Curt – And support for the Nazis show up exponentially after the economy recovered and after the winning of acquisition of nations like the Czech Republic, France, and Poland.

    Erik – No it didn’t. There was no such thing as a fair election after they were in power so no one can even know that, Napoleon.

    If everyone loved the Nazis and their program why did they face disapproval for Kristallnacht, have to do away with the Einsatzgruppen, and carry out the “final solution” for the most part in the east outside of Germany?

    Note the locations of the “extermination camps”.

    And what would you have done about the Nazis? Argue with fellow Reformed Christians about them on the internet (if it had existed)? That ain’t getting it done.


  35. Curt,

    “Dysfunctional” means the German people were utterly unable to elect a workable government. The political system was badly broken. In other words, the Nazis did not rise to power in the midst of a healthy situation.

    And no, The Communists wouldn’t have been the answer.


  36. GAS-X, talk about irony–context is the card Curt plays to trump on societal sin. You use it to get around civil obedience and submission. Tea Partiers and Socialists Together (dismissing plain reading everywhere).


  37. Heard some 30-something RC convert and apologist for the Occupy movement on NPR – – described as a “public intellectual.” Occurred to me that Comrade May Day is running a one-man Occupy OL movement sans the intellectual stuff.


  38. Erik,
    And hasn’t our democracy been dysfunctional for quite a while? But we have to ask why the government was not workable? What were the circumstances that moved the Germans to elect the nation-first, traditional values oriented Nazi party.


  39. D.G.,
    You simply don’t want to respond. Note what I wrote before:

    However, I am a participant in America and its systems. And I am responsible for the acts of the groups I am in. And again, I am guilty for the sins of my groups where I didn’t resist what they were doing. But these details don’t interest you

    I also wrote before about what culpability depends on. It depends on participation in and/or resistance to a system. Those who don’t belong to a system are not responsible because they are not participants. Well, I belong to the American system so I have responsibilities. However, I resist like others do. Those who either support the system or are silent are those who are guilty. For example, the members of the White Rose could hardly be counted as having any guilt for what the Nazis did because they resisted.


  40. Zrim,
    Aren’t the Scriptures above all of our systems and thus the systems can be our guide here. I really find very few people who want to rationally discuss the issues here. Rather, we have elder who seems to imply that one doesn’t have to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit when he blogs and others who would rather look to ridicule. Does that show allegiance to Christ or to some human model of thought?


  41. Curt – What were the circumstances that moved the Germans to elect the nation-first, traditional values oriented Nazi party.

    Erik – Probably the hyperinflation and general ineptness of the Weimar government.

    Our dysfunction is nowhere near what their was.

    One interesting thing about the Nazis vs. the Communists — People were murdered for political & ideological reasons by both regimes, but under Nazism no one starved to death because of the cluelessness of the system, as was the case with Communism.

    Most of the 100 million deaths in the USSR & Mao’s China were due to starvation that was a result of the destruction of normal, functioning markets for food. The governments would requisition grain from the countryside and come up with wildly optimistic and inaccurate estimates of how much they could take. Production would come nowhere close to that, too much grain was taken for workers in the cities, and people in the countryside would starve. “Central Planning” at its finest, in other words.

    “The Great Leap ended in catastrophe, resulting in tens of millions of deaths.[3] Estimates of the death toll range from 18 million[4] to 45 million,[5] with estimates by demographic specialists ranging from 18 million to 32.5 million.[4] Historian Frank Dikötter asserts that “coercion, terror, and systematic violence were the very foundation of the Great Leap Forward” and it “motivated one of the most deadly mass killings of human history”.[6]

    “Agricultural collectives and other social changes

    Before 1949, peasants had farmed their own small pockets of land, and observed traditional practices—festivals, banquets, and paying homage to ancestors.[1] It was realized that Mao’s policy of using a state monopoly on agriculture to finance industrialization would be unpopular with the peasants and therefore it was proposed that the peasants should be brought under Party control by the establishment of agricultural collectives which would also facilitate the sharing of tools and draft animals. This policy was gradually pushed through between 1949 and 1958, first by establishing “mutual aid teams” of 5-15 households, then in 1953 “elementary agricultural cooperatives” of 20-40 households, then from 1956 in “higher co-operatives” of 100-300 families. Additionally, in 1954, peasants were encouraged to form and join collectives, which would supposedly increase their efficiency without robbing them of their own land or restricting their livelihoods.[1]

    By 1958 private ownership was entirely abolished and households all over China were forced into state-operated communes. Mao insisted that the communes must produce more grain for the cities and earn foreign exchange from exports.[1] These reforms (sometimes now referred to as The Great Leap Forward) were generally unpopular with the peasants and usually implemented by summoning them to meetings and making them stay there for days and sometimes weeks until they “voluntarily” agreed to join the collective.

    Besides these economic changes, the Party implemented major social changes in the countryside including the banishing of all religious and mystic institutions and ceremonies and replacing them with political meetings and propaganda sessions. Attempts were made to enhance rural education and the status of women (allowing them to initiate divorce if they desired) and ending foot-binding, child marriage and opium addiction. Internal passports (called the hukou system) were introduced in 1956, forbidding travel without appropriate authorization. Highest priority was given to the urban proletariat for whom a welfare state was created.

    The first phase of collectivization was not a great success and there was widespread famine in 1956, though the Party’s propaganda machine announced progressively higher harvests. Moderates within the Party, including Zhou Enlai, argued for a reversal of collectivization.”


  42. The bottom line on the American left (and people like Curt) is that we can tolerate them because we’re wealthy as a result of 400 years of capitalism and can absorb a lot of nonsense and non-serious people. For countries that don’t have our accumulated economic and social capital, however, these ideas are deadly — literally. So while I’m amused by Curt, he really should repent of his nonsense and grow up before he assumes room temperature. Going through all of one’s life as a child is a terrible legacy to leave behind.


  43. Curt, how much do you resist? Is it enough to escape the corporate wrath and curse of God for corporate sin? Where do you find grace for this? Can I have some?


  44. Curt, so you take the idea of only persons able to become baptized and communicant members of the church as somehow irrational? But if you feel ridiculed by this, I’m not sure what to say. You say the Bible is above all human systems, and I agree, but by the same token there just isn’t any biblical warrant for whole geo-political nations repenting of national sin and becoming members of the church. In which case, your category of national sin becomes suspect. If you think systems have imperfections, then fine, but when you ascribe a human trait (sin) to political systems it would seem you’re the one being irrational.


  45. @ Zrim: bingo.

    @ Curt: watch out for incoherence. If individuals have different levels of corporate guilt based on their individual actions, then maybe they aren’t corporately guilty after all.


  46. Zrim- that would have been ironic had I not encouraged Carl to consider a kierkegaardian context. But ya know, I recently had an expeirentialist try to convince me based on the plain meaning and I recall that John Frame wrote an excellent article on the goodness of biblicism… so let me reconsider that.


  47. Jeff,
    Reduce the size of the group from the state to the group you hang out with. Then be a passive member of that group when it bullies a person. Does your passivity mean that you have no guilt or was your passivity the result of peer-pressure?


  48. D.G.,
    Are you willing to let God judge whether my resistance is enough? What you want to do is to ask questions that deny the existence of corporate guilt. So why not review the comment I wrote to Jeff.


  49. D.G.,
    At the same time, you refuse to answer questions while, in an insulting way, making, not even defending your points. You know, people would do well to take David’s criticisms from a previous thread to heart. To not to might mean that we are seeking other sources of significance than Christ?


  50. Curt, I’ve defended my assertions that yours is a form of modernism — different context, social justice, going beyond scripture. Sorry. I believe the only question I haven’t answered from you is about Nazi Germany. As if ad Hitlerum arguments prove anything. Still, you need to look in the mirror Curt. Your tribe is responsible for a big bowl of wrong out there, and fears of Communism gave the Nazis a long leash.

    How do you like me now? (you don’t need to answer.)


  51. D.G.,
    The tribe you belong to is the one you participate in. Accusing me of being in the tribe of communism errs in two ways: First, that communism is a monolith; and Second, I am a communist. Both are errors because you don’t know enough about the different forms of anti-capitalism.

    Whether I am modernist depends on one’s definition of modernism. Wasn’t Modernism originally built on a reduction of the universe to naturalism? And if that is the case, I am certainly not a modernist. As for your charge of whether I go beyond the Scriptures, that too depends on one’s definitions. If going beyond the Scriptures means believing that the Scriptures didn’t provide an exhaustive list of all that will appear on earth until the Second Coming, then you could say I am a Modernist but certainly not the kind originally meant by those battling liberalism. But such a definition runs into problems. Such a definition leaves following the Scriptures to imitation and following concrete instructions. Following general, abstract instructions, such as loving one’s neighbor, in an ever changing world involves denying the obvious changes that have taken place. Technology always brings about changes not only in our toys but in how we relate. Democracy is a change in how government functions and how people relate to it. We can’t deny the existence of changes that have taken place from Biblical times. And that is why we must not just work from concrete instructions and examples to literally imitate, we need from more general instructions and learn how examples in the Scriptures can apply in situations that are not identical.

    By referring to corporate sin, I am not just referring to something observable today, it was also observed in the Scripture. We see Achen’s family punished with him for his sin. We see Daniel confessing the sins of his contemporaries and forefathers. And we see the OT prophets speak against Israel’s sins of social injustice as well as injustices of the surrounding nations. Applying what the Scriptures have said to today is not going beyond the Scriptures.

    And as for liking you, again, you have to ask whether your activity here shows the fruit of the Spirit. And answering that question, remember that God is the judge, not me. And I have to remember that what applies to you also applies to me.


  52. Joel,
    you still don’t get it, do you? As you are look for exact formula(s), the form of socialism I follow, if follow is the correct word, doesn’t rest in formulas but in who is making the decisions. And if you guess big government, you’re wrong.


  53. Dreher’s on a roll:

    I think it’s very easy for Catholic intellectuals to place unwarranted emphasis on doctrines, encyclicals, bishops’ statements, and the like. Not only do intellectuals take those kinds of things a lot more seriously than ordinary people in the pews do, but conservative Catholic intellectuals (and the conservative laity) are the only Catholics these days who are inclined to shape their consciences and their behavior according to these statements. Someone around the table at the First Things event was trying to be optimistic, and said, “We” — meaning orthodox Catholics — “have the seminaries,” and so forth.

    So what? Even if that were true, which I doubt, is that really going to make much of a difference? American Catholics make their own minds up. I’m no longer Catholic, as you know, but in 13 years of practicing Catholicism, I never saw any evidence that the teaching authority of the Church made a tinker’s damn to anybody outside of a relatively small circle of intellectuals, priests, blog readers and EWTN watchers.

    The whole doctrinal edifice of Catholicism is extremely impressive when viewed from the outside, and it looks like a safe refuge from the storms tossing and sinking Protestant churches. It’s not true, or if it is true, it’s not true in the way idealists think.

    Maybe Jason and the Callers should have talked to Dreher first, though I’m sure what he is saying cannot destroy the paradigm, and it’s probably begging the question somehow to boot.


  54. E, Free was on the 77 Sixers, and had a 2-0 lead over Bill Walton’s Trailblazers in the Final

    Then Portland took the next four.

    That Philly team was the GOAT at selfish, clowning, circus hoops. While the Blazers were like the present day Spurs, playing the game the right way, team work and coaching.


  55. Another parallel:

    if the Times and others really want to dig into a serious debate that’s underway beneath the surface at the 2014 synod, they might consider this: The experience of the 20th and early 21st centuries suggests that there is an iron law built into the Christian encounter with modernity, according to which Christian communities that maintain a clear sense of their doctrinal and moral boundaries survive and even flourish, while Christian communities whose doctrinal and moral boundaries become porous wither and eventually die. Why have the Catholic leaders who have gotten the most press at this synod, including Cardinal Walter Kasper of Germany, failed to grasp that? Why do they want to emulate the pattern charted by the dying communities of liberal Protestantism? And how do those who have learned that lesson craft pastorally effective strategies that address real situations of suffering without compromising the truth?

    That’s the real issue at this synod, and it will be the real issue at its successor next year.


  56. On Rome, there is a dynamic here that a large percentage of the priesthood may have same sex attraction. Duh, when your applicant pool is made up of guys who are willing to forego marriage it makes sense. In some ways this may about accepting themselves.

    Going back to the earliest days of the priesthood you get the feeling that these guys were way more comfortable hanging out with upper class women then manly men. Classic effeminate man/fag hag relationships hundreds of years before “Sex & The City” and William F. Buckley’s wife made it chic.


  57. Curt, yes, I am asking how economic goods are allocated in your system. I want to know who is in charge. If it isn’t pricing, who does it? If it is market pricing, is it really socialism?


  58. Gas prices have dropped significantly over the last few weeks

    Should I decide a fair price for gas per gallon and donate the gap to a charity or insist the gas station accept extra money over the market price??


  59. Isn’t this how Anglicans responded to the African bishops?

    Africa is totally different from the West. Also Asian and Muslim countries, they’re very different, especially about gays. You can’t speak about this with Africans and people of Muslim countries. It’s not possible. It’s a taboo. For us, we say we ought not to discriminate, we don’t want to discriminate in certain respects.


  60. I’ve done this before. I’ll repeat. Socialism is where society (or the community) owns the means of production and exchange.


  61. Absolutely nothing you’ve said makes me think that you are opposed to a centralized planning board. Perhaps, unlike the Soviets’ Gosplan, you’d like the planning boards democratically elected.

    I also get the opinion that before I’m allowed to hear your opinion, I’m supposed to prayerfully consider Marx with a joyful spirit and a hermeneutic of charity. No thanks, I prefer critical thought.


  62. Another assessment:

    3. Change is hard

    Change is especially hard for the Roman Catholic church, which likes to present itself — and its teachings — as immutable. But history shows that doctrine has changed (or “developed,” as theologians say), and many synod participants reiterated that teachings could, and should, be adapted for today’s new family realities.

    Still, finding the theological language to justify such shifts, and the pastoral mechanisms to carry them out, is difficult. The bishops meeting in Rome (those who weren’t opposed to any changes) were all over the map when it came to specifics, and it may take time to settle on acceptable solutions, if there are any.

    4. Catholicism is ‘flirting with an Anglican moment’

    That’s a phrase New York Times columnist Ross Douthat used on Twitter in discussing the resistance of African bishops to what they saw as the synod’s focus on Western concerns like divorce and homosexuality and efforts to adapt church teaching on those issues in ways that the African churches would not accept.

    The Anglican Communion is the global network of 38 autonomous member churches with some 80 million members — including the 2 million member Episcopal church, its U.S. branch. Anglicans have been divided almost to the point of breaking as African churches have rejected moves by Western members to open the sacraments to gays and lesbians.

    That dynamic is also a risk for Rome, as African Catholicism is also growing in size and influence. Two key differences, however: About 16 percent of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics live in Africa, whereas well over half of all Anglicans are from Africa, and they have a far greater say in the future direction of Anglicanism. In addition, Catholic proposals to be more welcoming to gays are a far cry from the changes pursued by some Anglican churches.


  63. I doubt Jason and the Callers were in attendance:

    MEMPHIS About 900 to 1,000 like-minded Catholics participated in the second day of Call To Action’s 2014 National Conference in Memphis. Below are highlights from day two:

    Call To Action held unique morning prayer sessions such as Drawing into the Heart of God. In a room somewhat detached from the main CTA activity in the Memphis Cook Convention Center, Joan Horgan, director of campus ministry at Albany’s College of St. Rose, played music and guided participants into a relaxed, aware state, enabling them to get in touch with the feelings in their hearts. They then visualized the feelings with pastels on paper.

    Irish Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery drew such a large crowd for his morning presentation that it had to be moved to a larger space. CTA’s 2014 conference is the eleventh spot on Flannery’s 18-stop U.S. tour. Flannery spoke on the church and women, and how throughout the church’s history, men have warped the depiction of women, minimizing their significance in instances like the life of Jesus. (Previously, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered Flannery to publish a statement saying he accepted both that there will never be women priests in the Catholic Church, and that he accepted all the moral teachings of the Catholic church, including contraception and homosexuality. Flannery refused, and was forbidden to practice as a priest.)

    Jennifer Reyes Lay educated attendees about the need to abolish the prison industrial complex, the established phenomenon of privatized prisons exploiting convicted prisoners for profit. Reyes Lay provided attendees with eye-opening stats, such as that one in three African American males will be imprisoned at some point in their lifetime.

    Rev. James Lawson, co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, who worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to affect change in the south, gave the 2014 conference’s second keynote address, “The Nonviolent Struggle for Justice.” Lawson, whom King called “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world,” told the CTA audience that he continued to pray for them, “because you know, perhaps better than I, that Christianity in the 21st century must do some monumental transformation of itself.” “From my perspective, there is no way to struggle for justice, except through the practice, the theory, the action, the sacrifice and the vision of nonviolent struggle,” Lawson said. Lawson emphasized the true definition of nonviolence, which he said Gandhi of India coined around 1907. “Gandhi didn’t mean antiviolence. Gandhi says I coined the term to mean love in action,” Lawson said.

    During one of the day’s final presentations, a four-person panel – made up of FutureChurch executive director Deborah Rose-Milavec, Sr. Christine Schenk, Fr. Gerry Bechard and Fr. Tony Flannery – engaged a packed room in the convention center. Together, the panel and audience discussed alliances for reform between priests and the laity; they touched upon what such alliances look like and how they work.


  64. A modernist paradigm?

    Another highly symbolic linguistic feature of the press conference was the gingerly dancing around the language of “sexual complementarity” and the so-called “feminine genius.” It’s time to acknowledge that these words, and others in the same linguistic group, are code for the theory and the program of sexual apartheid and female subordination in the church. We are not looking for a “place” or “role” of women who are intrinsically “other” in a church where only men are fully, and without qualification, human and Christian. The role of women in the church is exactly the same as men’s: baptized members of Christ. Gifts differ according to the giving of the Spirit, not according to sexual or racial or any other biological markers. The Spirit can make men tender and women courageous, men quiet and retiring and women forceful leaders. And vice-versa. Any qualification of the full equality of women and men in the church, by any language of anthropological essentialism, no matter how “sweetened” by pious imagery or laudatory rhetoric, has to be finally repudiated and removed from our theological and ecclesial lexicon.

    On the positive side, both Cardinal Bráz de Aviz and Archbishop Carballo repeatedly used language at which we can only rejoice. While many would have found genuine vindication in an outright apology to women religious for their treatment at the hands of the Vatican over the past five years, that could only have been done by an explicit condemnation of their predecessor who launched the investigation. Most religious can recognize that we would be loath to do, or demand, such an action in our own congregations, even if the former general superior had been an unqualified disaster. One does not call for “forgiveness and reconciliation” – as the CICLSAL officials did – unless one acknowledges, even without explicit words, that there have been offenses committed that need to be forgiven and alienation that needs to be healed.

    Furthermore, the prefect and the secretary did, in many symbolic/linguistic ways, distance themselves from what had been done by Cardinal Franc Rodé, their predecessor. In insisting that an apostolic visitation should not be an attack, accusation, invasion, threat of reprisal or act of coercion, but a genuine “visit” to express interest and concern, “closeness,” solidarity, willingness to share burdens and seek answers together, they were acknowledging implicitly that what had happened on Rodé’s watch never should have. The very fact that the report omits any reference to the charges of “radical feminism” and “secularity” that were the purported abuses the visitation was called to address, is eloquent by way of silence. And even more importantly, by calling, forcefully, for a “new paradigm” of collegiality, friendship and cooperation in evangelizing mission (“Why don’t we get together?”), they were implicitly rejecting the paradigm within which the investigation was launched and committing themselves to making sure such a fiasco is never repeated.

    For some reason Jason and the Callers excluded this one.


  65. A weakness?

    Let us take a look first at basic doctrine unrelated to the culture wars. Fewer than six in ten traditional Catholics who attend Mass regularly believe in the resurrection of the body (58 percent), compared with 75 percent of Evangelicals who attend services at least three times a month.

    Catholic teaching says that weekly Sunday Mass attendance is a serious obligation and missing Mass is a mortal sin. Yet just 58 percent of traditional Catholics are at church in a given week, compared with 74 percent of Evangelicals.

    When it comes to sexual-behavior measures in this study, traditional Catholics who are regular churchgoers are slightly less likely to use porn than are Evangelicals (29 percent to 21 percent) but also slightly more likely to report having premarital sex with their spouse (64 percent to 57 percent).

    As far as attitudes and values, the situation is bleak. Take cohabitation: When asked whether it is a good idea for couples considering marriage to cohabit first, just 48 percent of churchgoing Catholics firmly disagree, compared with 79 percent of Evangelicals. When asked whether it is “okay” for two people to get together for casual sex, 86 percent of churchgoing Evangelicals disagree, compared with just 65 percent of traditional Catholics.

    The Catholic Church is unique in teaching that a sacramental Christian marriage is literally impossible to dissolve. Yet when asked whether married couples with children should stay married, just 45 percent of traditional Catholics who attend Mass regularly definitely agree, compared with 58 percent of churchgoing Evangelicals.

    Why this weakness? I invite my readers, especially Catholic converts who can compare and contrast, to help me speculate on why.

    Do Jason and the Callers realize that someone is calling them?


  66. Sean Michael Winters gives new meaning to Cur Deus Homo:

    The coming of Christ changes everything – and nothing. There is still injustice in the world. World peace remains a hope, a distant hope, seemingly more distant every year. But, if He came, our perspective on injustice is changed. If He came, we mean something different by peace from what the world means. If He came, the quality of our hope is very, very different. Jesus brings God to earth. He brings Himself. He tells us what we could not figure out on our own and imparts a hope we could not achieve on our own. He promises a peace that passeth all understanding.

    If He came, than we can still argue with those with whom we disagree, but we can never see our disputants as enemies. If He came, we can never wash our hands of a troublesome acquaintance. If He came, there is no human need we are permitted to ignore or dismiss. If He came, there is no beauty that does not strike deeper than our eyes, no music that does not strike deeper than our ears. If He came, there is no relationship that can be made to fit into a utilitarian box. If He came, there is no human person upon whom we can look and not see the face of Christ, no matter how disguised by distress or sin. If He came, we remain subject to the full range of human emotions, but those emotions are not definitive, however real, they are also touched by grace, enlightened, lifted up, made holy.


  67. All better now:

    “The family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life,” Francis said. . . .

    The comments take on additional significance ahead of a summit of Catholic bishops scheduled for October on issues pertaining to family life, where issues such as marriage and contraception are expected to arise.

    During a similar summit last October, called a “Synod of Bishops,” there was robust debate between progressive bishops determined to adopt a more positive language on gays, people living together outside of marriage, and the divorced, and more conservative prelates determined to uphold tradition.

    There was a widespread assumption at the time that Francis was backing the progressive side in that argument, leading to speculation in some conservative Catholic circles that the pontiff had stacked the deck to favor certain outcomes.

    In light of the pope’s comments in the Philippines, those conclusions may have to be rethought.


  68. Dear Friends,

    In order to avoid Modernism, do you personally know how far some people drive to worship at a Reformed-Confessional church – I seem to remember a reference to 45 minutes on one post not too awfully long ago, but I seem to think that nationally, given the current state of the North American church, that this is normal, and that people will drive even longer to attend a church where the Gospel is preached (Justification priority) with the whole counsel of God in the Reformed-confessional tradition (early reformers, etc.). I hope you did not mind my asking. Once before I knew of someone who drove nearly 2 hours to church. When I visited the Christ United Reformed Church in Santee, it was obvious to me that there had to have been a number of people who drove 35-40-possibly longer minutes to attend there.


  69. It will be interesting to see where the Vatican finally comes down on this synod of bishops. We’ve now got the progressive trial balloon affirming the gift of homosexuality and the conservative trial balloon affirming contraception and traditional marriage. It’s pretty obvious the Vatican is prepping us for a continual slow-moving capitulation to the spirit of the age. Francis is continuing the post-V2 tradition of saying one thing one year to appease one wing, and one thing another year to appease another wing. It’s a good way of keeping the mushy middle together and maintaining a broad coalition. The problem, of course, is that the unchanging truth of the coalition continues to change in order to keep the coalition together. Traditional hardline positions on marriage and contraception are slowly being eroded. For those who love numbers, you get a church that looks grand and unified and large, but it’s a church that finally stands for nothing except “hey, we’re the church so tip your hat to us and all is well.” It’s certainly not a church that stands for unchanging dogma and truth. This puts the mocking of several RCs here about the insignificant sect such as the OPC into proper perspective.

    At the end of the day, what really matters to the hardcore Romanist is not remaining faithful to the faith once delivered, but remaining large and seemingly influential. The problem of course is that the influence is not Rome on culture; it is culture on Rome. A smaller church like the OPC is, ironically, far more influential on the culture because it is far better able to resist cultural influence on its tradition and doctrine. It simply doesn’t bow to cultural pressure like Rome does and how Rome must bow, dogmatically, since V2. V2 really did mark the end of Romanism, and that is more and more apparent with each succeeding pontificate. All they have left is the trappings of monarchy. No absolute truth except that the Magisterium is infallible when it feels like being infallible. No meaningful continuity with the past. No anchor in this postmodern relativistic atmosphere. But because it looks old and rituals remain the same, traditionalists are appeased while the liberals know what is really going on.

    Many have lauded Bill Clinton for his strategy of triangulation. He’s got nothing on the Vatican.


  70. Robert,

    You said: “A smaller church like the OPC is, ironically, far more influential on the culture because it is far better able to resist cultural influence on its tradition and doctrine.”

    Organizational splintering isn’t the same as holding centre while the sea rolls and the waves crash.
    I think it’s sadly ironic( no, I’m not gloating. I sincerely care) that the same institution that was founded to uphold a strict subscription to the Westminster Standards, wants to be able to decide what is negotiable and what is not. Take for instance Rev. S. Clark’s not having any problem with the removal of ” He descended into hell” from the Apostles’ Creed. Now, obviously the objectivity of what Jesus did on Holy Saturday remains unaltered, but revisions to ancient creeds implies that no one within Reformed Theology really knows what those words mean, so therefore they’re optional. If the Athanasian Creed (which is a longer version of the Apostles Creed) states:

    “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this,…”

    On what basis does the Westminster Standards enjoy strict subscription while a much older confession of the faith is optional?

    IOW,How does the OPC know and guarantee what is orthodox?

    I can pick up the Catholic Catechism and know what doctrine and/or practice I or my fellow Catholic are erring in.


  71. Susan, you really are going to complain about Scott Clark? What about your church? Does it still follow the infallible Boniface VIII:

    Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to maintain that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic. We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins, as the Spouse in the Canticles [Sgs 6:8] proclaims: ‘One is my dove, my perfect one. She is the only one, the chosen of her who bore her,’ and she represents one sole mystical body whose Head is Christ and the head of Christ is God [1 Cor 11:3]. In her then is one Lord, one faith, one baptism [Eph 4:5]. There had been at the time of the deluge only one ark of Noah, prefiguring the one Church, which ark, having been finished to a single cubit, had only one pilot and guide, i.e., Noah, and we read that, outside of this ark, all that subsisted on the earth was destroyed.

    We venerate this Church as one, the Lord having said by the mouth of the prophet: ‘Deliver, O God, my soul from the sword and my only one from the hand of the dog.’ [Ps 21:20] He has prayed for his soul, that is for himself, heart and body; and this body, that is to say, the Church, He has called one because of the unity of the Spouse, of the faith, of the sacraments, and of the charity of the Church. This is the tunic of the Lord, the seamless tunic, which was not rent but which was cast by lot [Jn 19:23- 24]. Therefore, of the one and only Church there is one body and one head, not two heads like a monster; that is, Christ and the Vicar of Christ, Peter and the successor of Peter, since the Lord speaking to Peter Himself said: ‘Feed my sheep’ [Jn 21:17], meaning, my sheep in general, not these, nor those in particular, whence we understand that He entrusted all to him [Peter]. Therefore, if the Greeks or others should say that they are not confided to Peter and to his successors, they must confess not being the sheep of Christ, since Our Lord says in John ‘there is one sheepfold and one shepherd.’ We are informed by the texts of the gospels that in this Church and in its power are two swords; namely, the spiritual and the temporal. For when the Apostles say: ‘Behold, here are two swords’ [Lk 22:38] that is to say, in the Church, since the Apostles were speaking, the Lord did not reply that there were too many, but sufficient. Certainly the one who denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter has not listened well to the word of the Lord commanding: ‘Put up thy sword into thy scabbard’ [Mt 26:52]. Both, therefore, are in the power of the Church, that is to say, the spiritual and the material sword, but the former is to be administered for the Church but the latter by the Church; the former in the hands of the priest; the latter by the hands of kings and soldiers, but at the will and sufferance of the priest.

    However, one sword ought to be subordinated to the other and temporal authority, subjected to spiritual power. For since the Apostle said: ‘There is no power except from God and the things that are, are ordained of God’ [Rom 13:1-2], but they would not be ordained if one sword were not subordinated to the other and if the inferior one, as it were, were not led upwards by the other.

    For, according to the Blessed Dionysius, it is a law of the divinity that the lowest things reach the highest place by intermediaries. Then, according to the order of the universe, all things are not led back to order equally and immediately, but the lowest by the intermediary, and the inferior by the superior. Hence we must recognize the more clearly that spiritual power surpasses in dignity and in nobility any temporal power whatever, as spiritual things surpass the temporal. This we see very clearly also by the payment, benediction, and consecration of the tithes, but the acceptance of power itself and by the government even of things. For with truth as our witness, it belongs to spiritual power to establish the terrestrial power and to pass judgement if it has not been good. Thus is accomplished the prophecy of Jeremias concerning the Church and the ecclesiastical power: ‘Behold to-day I have placed you over nations, and over kingdoms’ and the rest. Therefore, if the terrestrial power err, it will be judged by the spiritual power; but if a minor spiritual power err, it will be judged by a superior spiritual power; but if the highest power of all err, it can be judged only by God, and not by man, according to the testimony of the Apostle: ‘The spiritual man judgeth of all things and he himself is judged by no man’ [1 Cor 2:15]. This authority, however, (though it has been given to man and is exercised by man), is not human but rather divine, granted to Peter by a divine word and reaffirmed to him (Peter) and his successors by the One Whom Peter confessed, the Lord saying to Peter himself, ‘Whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in Heaven’ etc., [Mt 16:19]. Therefore whoever resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God [Rom 13:2], unless he invent like Manicheus two beginnings, which is false and judged by us heretical, since according to the testimony of Moses, it is not in the beginnings but in the beginning that God created heaven and earth [Gen 1:1]. Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

    How’s your catechism working now (talk about picking and choosing with so much more from which to pick and choose)? Put the koolaid down.


  72. If you could resist saying things like “put th kool-aid down”, we might actually be able to talk.

    Haven’t you received an explanation about what you perceive as a contradition yet? Maybe if you articulated back to me how the RCC understands this about itself, we could respectfully go through it together. I assure you there is no contradiction, just a misunderstanding that can be clarified.
    I would ask you also to keep all the other doctrine and practice that has a long history of being part and parcel of what constitutes catholicism in your mind, instead of fixating on that one thing, that one thing that really can be untangled if you are careful not to hyper-concentrate on it to the exclusion of many things that will help to inform your understanding.

    Best to you,


  73. Darryl,

    I just did a quick internet search and found this.

    Consider this though… There may be some who think ” He descended into hell” can be safely removed from the creed without problem because they believe on the authority of another that the meaning is clear. This takes not only a wholesale trust that the Reformed have a better explanation, but a conscious rejection of what the RCC has historically believed and taught. That rejection is without any principal means and therefore only a Protestant bias. How is truth found, in this instance?


  74. Susan,

    Organizational splintering isn’t the same as holding centre while the sea rolls and the waves crash.

    In the particular instance of the OPC, it was formed because modernism took over the PCUSA (whatever it was called back then). At V2, modernism took over Rome. No one left. It’s because no one really cares all that much about dogma in Rome except for one dogma—whatever you do, no matter what, don’t leave Rome.

    I think it’s sadly ironic( no, I’m not gloating. I sincerely care) that the same institution that was founded to uphold a strict subscription to the Westminster Standards, wants to be able to decide what is negotiable and what is not. Take for instance Rev. S. Clark’s not having any problem with the removal of ” He descended into hell” from the Apostles’ Creed. Now, obviously the objectivity of what Jesus did on Holy Saturday remains unaltered, but revisions to ancient creeds implies that no one within Reformed Theology really knows what those words mean, so therefore they’re optional. If the Athanasian Creed (which is a longer version of the Apostles Creed) states:

    “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this,…”

    Susan, your own church rejects the Athanasian Creed today. The OPC still says that denial of the Trinity is damnable heresy, like that creed does. Rome says you can hate the Trinity and be a Muslim, Oneness Pentecostal, or even an atheist and make it to heaven.

    On what basis does the Westminster Standards enjoy strict subscription while a much older confession of the faith is optional?

    IOW,How does the OPC know and guarantee what is orthodox?

    Biblical exegesis through the church courts.

    I can pick up the Catholic Catechism and know what doctrine and/or practice I or my fellow Catholic are erring in.

    BTW, I’m not OPC. Any member of the OPC can do the same with the Westminster Standards or BCO. Why you and others think it is impossible for Protestants to do this I still don’t get. It’s a lot easier to determine what is right and wrong in the OPC context anyway. You and Nancy Pelosi are both members in good standing of Rome. How am I to know what Rome’s position on abortion is again? Looks like there are plenty of divergent and acceptable interpretations of Rome’s confessional standards. A similar situation among professing Protestantism invalidates Protestantism but not Romanism? Double standard.


  75. Susan, it’s not simply “no salvation outside the church.” It’s also the papal claim to be the universal authority on earth above all other powers. Now, if that’s what the papacy still claims, you guys sure are shy about it. But after 1870 when the papacy lost its lands (except for 900 acres that allows it to have a bank that is outside the inspection of any earthly authority — ahem), it became merely a spiritual power.

    All of that means that the papacy — the vaunted interpreter of all things godly — has changed several times. But you act like it’s the same old religion as in the days of Boniface VIII. Hence the koolaid.

    Susan, with Rome you have a lot more to swallow than URCers do with Scott Clark.


  76. Maybe not:

    At the same time, however, Francis made a statement that seems without precedent for a pope, suggesting that parents may have a responsibility to limit the number of their children, saying: “This does not signify that the Christian must make children in series.”

    Telling the story of a woman he met in a parish in Rome several months ago who had given birth to seven children via Cesarean section and was pregnant with an eighth, Francis asked: “Does she want to leave the seven orphans?”

    “This is to tempt God,” he said, adding later: “That is an irresponsibility.” Catholics, the pope said, should speak of “responsible parenthood.”

    “How do we do this?” Francis asked. “With dialogue. Each person with his pastor seeks how to do that responsible parenthood.”

    “God gives you methods to be responsible,” he continued. “Some think that — excuse the word — that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No.”

    “This is clear and that is why in the church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors,” Francis said. Using the term for a practice that follows church law, he continued: “I know so many, many licit ways that have helped this.”

    So don’t use contraceptives and don’t have lots of kids, thus says the single, celibate bishop. What happened to coming along side?


  77. When the lead editor of the nation’s Jesuit magazine goes off the rails, what does that say about modernism in the church?

    The Catholic Church and the LGBT Community have divergent understandings of human nature, personal identity, the proper use of bodies, and the requirements for happiness. As Fr. Martin rightly points out, Catholics treat the LGBT Community as “other”—not because the Church wishes to exclude members of the LGBT Community from the mercy of Christ, induction into the Church, or eventual participation in the Sacraments (on the contrary, this is one of our great hopes), but because the beliefs, practices, politics, and morals proposed by the LGBT Community as an ideological bloc are fundamentally inimical to the primary end of man.

    Those on the other side recognize the divide perfectly well. This is why defenders of traditional family structure are eo ipso “bigots” in their eyes. It’s why dissent from the political demands of Gender Ideology and its current linguistic usages is so severely punished. What, then, is Fr. Martin asking for when he chides the bishops for not expressing solidarity with the LGBT Community, or with “our LGBT brothers and sisters,” as Archbishop Cupich expressed it? He’s asking, whether or not he realizes it, for the bishops to recognize and tacitly endorse the sexual identities promoted by the LGBT Community—identities bound up fundamentally with the gender ideology promoted by the Community.

    Nothing to see here. Keep moving.


  78. nation’s Jesuit magazine link: the mission of the Church with respect to the LGBT Community is

    ….the same as to any other? …knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men; as ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us, we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.


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