2K: Giving Life to Christian Intellectuals

Over at U.S. Intellectual History Blog, Tim Lacy reflects on recently deceased Theodore Hesburgh, former president of the University of Notre Dame. Lacy considers Hesburgh to be an example of a Roman Catholic intellectual, and here’s why:

I define a religious intellectual as a self-identified religious person who displays the ability and willingness to bracket ideas, topics, theories, etc. It is a character trait that arises and is triangulated, or is confirmed historically, over time. To call it a character trait means that it repeats consistently such that it can be identified with one’s personality. Its habitual. The accent is on one’s identity as an intellectual.

But what does it mean to ‘bracket things’? I take this to be one’s ability to hold up a problem or issue and examine it from many different sides—including, especially, from sides that seem outside of one’s identity. The intellectual ability to bracket should display, I think, an element of surprise. There is something slightly Dionysian about that person’s thinking. That trait underscores the danger of the intellectual as a type. They might say, and then even do, something you hadn’t predicted. They can be enigmatic.

Even so, the religious intellectual will always, in the end, bring religion back into the conversation. She or he will judge and evaluate the results of their thinking against religious creeds, theologies, and tenets. At this point the religious intellectual may then close out a theory or conclusion if it strays into heresy or sin. But closure occurs after the consideration. The hallmark of the beginning of her or his inquiry is openness.

An ‘intellectually religious’ person—an intellectual Muslim, Protestant, or Catholic, for instance—is a self-identified religious person who starts with religious tenets, issues, or problems and then builds a thought structure, or structures, from that point. These structures can become quite elaborate and intricate. They might display a person’s intellectual prowess and the complexity of a religious issue. Those structures may even occasionally surprise people both inside and outside the thinker’s faith. But the person of faith who explores who reads the thinker’s writings and analyzes her or his actions know that they are on safe ground. Why? Because that intellectual actor starts with the cult’s premises and assumptions.

All about me, but I like this way of explaining the work of a Christian intellectual because it resonates with the idea of the Christian believer as hyphenated, that is, a self tossed to and fro by any number of responsibilities and claims on his loyalty and affection. When I work as elder I bracket certain convictions that I take into the classroom as history professor or — ahem — into the bedroom as husband. Such bracketing is obviously important to 2k since a 2ker looks at political life as having a different set of standards than those that apply to the church. But the Christian life is driven by hyphenation.

What is also important to see is that according to Lacy’s distinction, neo-Calvinism is good at producing intellectually religious people — thinkers who construct systems of thought, often times quite rigorous, but in pursuit of advancing the claims of faith. 2k in contrast produces religious intellectuals who differentiate areas of study without letting faith determine everything. 2k Protestants do this if only because they believe the Bible doesn’t speak fully or adequately to all areas of study — like English literature, microbiology, political theory — in ways that intellectuals demand.

So once again, in a mild March Madness upset, 2k beats neo-Calvinism.


52 thoughts on “2K: Giving Life to Christian Intellectuals

  1. Dr. Hart,

    I found this post very intriguing, and could find myself agreeing with it for the most part [after more consideration 🙂 ]

    I’m also aware of your reservations for Neo-Calvinism (NC), and I’m sympathetic to that.

    With that in mind, I was fascinated by your distinction between NC and 2K.

    NC produces “intellectually religious people — thinkers who construct systems of thought, often times quite rigorous, but in pursuit of advancing the claims of faith.”

    2K produces” religious intellectuals who differentiate areas of study without letting faith determine everything. Reason: “the Bible doesn’t speak fully or adequately to all areas of study.”

    bypassing the absurdities of NC (like christianized name brands for example), isn’t being a good worker in our particular vocation (or area of study) considered a good witness to unbelievers? If so, that person could be considered as advancing the cause of the Christian faith!

    I understand the idea of hyphenating. However could you clarify what you mean when you say “let faith determine everything”? Are you referring to the personal faith of the believer determining the decisions in everyday life? Or do you mean citing verses to develop one to one correspondence to a political system.

    And my last question, while the bible doesn’t speak about everything exhaustively, do you think it will give the believer the wisdom to approach any area in a way that glorifies God?

    Thanks again for pointing me to this article, I think I find myself in agreement for the most part.


  2. Justin, as for “the wisdom to approach any area in a way that glorifies God” — I think this is an idealized thing (people think of or imagine some Xian who seems to be great at everything, always successful) more than a commonly realized thing. Xians say and do stupid things. Xians fail at business and mess up things that many non-believers could handle. And often this is because they misapprehended the bible’s teaching on mixing the sacred and secular — not because they didn’t attempt to make an Xian-world smoothie. Sure, a good church is usually filled with people who have it more together than the average pagans. They will be more trustworthy, sometimes more frugal, wiser — but not always, not automatically, and not consistently.


  3. “religious intellectuals who differentiate areas of study without letting faith determine everything.”
    “the idea of the Christian believer as hyphenated, that is, a self tossed to and fro by any number of responsibilities and claims on his loyalty and affection.”

    if I’m understanding this (which probably not), thinking this would be called self-righteous works and/or compromise?

    What true intellectual reasoning is there apart from the mind of Christ and believers destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (everywhere and in everything). It may be awhile until the Lord God fully illuminates His people and they reign forever and ever with Him, but He does have His people practicing even now; or do you not know that the saints will judge the world and angels? How much more matters of this life? …why must faith determine everything? -because the Lord informs us apart from the mind of Christ alone and only – we have fleshly, depraved, hardened, blinded, deceived, futile, alienated, hostile, double-minded, worldly-minded minds [2 Cor 10:4-6; Rev 22:5-6;1 Cor 6:2-3;2:15-16]


  4. “Sure, a good church is usually filled with people who have it more together than the average pagans. They will be more trustworthy, sometimes more frugal, wiser — but not always, not automatically, and not consistently.”

    Well, I certainly don’t want to say that Christians automatically “have it all together”. I’d probably just say that Christians have the hope of having it all together, and have access to that faith and hope that makes sense of everything wrong with the world.

    It’s definitely more ideal than realized. But I think we should be about the “common good” (as opposed to some Christianized sub-utopia (or the golden age). I’m in strong agreement with DGH that we won’t have that until the other side of the eschaton.

    We could say that “One nation’s ‘christianized’ utopia is another’s 3rd world country!”

    But I don’t think that means we put our shovels down. Rather, we labor for the glory of God for the common good in faith. I think this is a bit more of modest proposal. I’d like to see whether or not Dr. Hart diagnosis me as a feverish Neo-Calvinist 🙂


  5. In one of my confessions, I confessed that I was losing my faith and panicked by that. The priest really couldn’t help me because what I was asking of him was really up to the Holly Spirit.

    My Mom would say from time to time, Dio afflige ma non abbandona; meaning that while God afflicts, He does not abandon. And that panic of mine, as I reflect on it,was an affliction but nowhere close to abandonment and it made this still very thin reed of faith a bit stronger.

    A believer needs the intellectual content of her faith to have the capacity for enlargement. That can involve a fight, maybe a war, within and within the place she must stay because she’s fit for no other, sin being attached neither to her or the other.

    Any bracketing put into place by a thoughtful person not disposed to authoritarian need or incorporation is unlikely to be dangerous.

    Old Life either taught me or forced me to recall, I really can’t say which, that as a believer I’m an inheritor too. That by fighting for my faith, however thin or imperfect my understanding, I engage it and that’s made the difference between despair and confidence.

    BTW, I ordered Defending the Faith. I wasn’t sure which of your books would be the best for me right now but after reading the reviews on Amazon I went with Defending.


  6. Justin, doing good work may be a witness but if you work hard or well in order to be a witness instead of simply working well, I don’t think you’re actually working well. You have an ulterior motive. See the movie, The Big Kahuna (if you can take foul language).

    Faith determining everything means that I look at the sectional crisis of 19th c. America from the lens of a Christian instead of those a responsible historian should use — which means reading all sorts of “regular” historians on slavery and the Civil War, not theology or the Bible.

    The Bible will direct the believer to glorify God in any legitimate activity (prostitution is not allowed) by informing him how to pray and ask for God’s help and blessing.


  7. MLD, you cannot go wrong with the Machen book — most important thing I’ve read in the last 10 years, honest. After you’ve read it you will find you can pick it up and read a chapter or a few pages at random — always good. I probably read it through at least four times if you add all the sectional readings together.


  8. “if you work hard or well in order to be a witness instead of simply working well, I don’t think you’re actually working well.”

    The Lord seems to contradict that and says: Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matt 5:16

    the difficult part: “in such a way” which one must read the whole Bible to discern the ways, for the goal of its instruction is love from a pure heart,a good conscience, a sincere faith (1 Tim 1:5); and beginning with certain understanding that it is God at work in you to will and to work, unless we can’t help but boast in ourselves.


  9. on the topic of DGH books, I’m getting through lost soul after having not finished it previously. I’m kicking myself for not finishing it before, it’s really quite excellent. but you all knew that 🙂


  10. a (with .),

    But our Lord seems to contradict you:

    Giving to the Needy

    “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

    “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

    (Matthew 6:1-4 ESV)


  11. It may not be the experience of others and it may just be that I am “temperamentally defective” in Machenesque ways, but I really internalized the story and identified with the dude after reading an re-reading DG’s “Defending the Faith.” I didn’t know Hart from Jones or Dever when I got the book — just new Machen was essential.


  12. Exactly why I said the whole bible, DGH, giving us wisdom, understanding, discernment, unless you now decided you DO like verse cherry picking.

    we are always to be foremost a witness in the world of our Lord; the main purpose bottom line, according to the Lord, subsequent to our ransom, since we are His ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20)


  13. I became acquainted w/Machen about 10 years ago through some acquaintances who referred to themselves as his Warrior Children and they meant it.

    Then I developed and interest in Mencken and read his reflections on Machen following his death. It was more than fair in tone, I’d say it was affectionate.

    I had (gave to my local library a couple of months ago, can’t keep everything) a copy of Mencken’s Notes on Democracy. I liked it on my first reading but when I returned to it, some of the writing had a runtish quality so it was easy to donate. But two thoughts of his remain with me.

    The first and paraphrasing: “how can a man who feels for the little guy support democracy?” And I’m not sure that he doesn’t have a point.

    The second was an homage to Jane Austen, something along the lines of “I never belittled what was truly holy.” Leaving me w/the impression that his broadsides against religion had more to do with the bombast of those he saw as religious mountebanks.

    But back to Machen. Both his Warrior Children and Mencken made me interested in him but being that he was Protestant I thought I’d be reading someone in a language I didn’t really understand. Then having read Christianity and Liberalism, I realized I was wrong.

    The reviews for Defending the Faith were detailed, so CW, I’m looking forward to reading it.

    I didn’t order through Amazon. I ordered through by local book store so it’ll probably take a couple of weeks before I get it.


  14. The context of 2 Corinthians 10, “taking every thought captive” , is church discipline, i.e. Paul insisting that the church follow his instructions and letting them know he will bring the noise if they don’t. It has nothing to do with philosophy or transforming the culture.


  15. cw, in all seriousness, that’s one of the kindest assertions someone has made about the book. It gives me a sense that I may have given Machen a measure of his due. I gave a little talk about him yesterday. He continues — like the dude — to abide.


  16. a (with .), ahem, I believe Paul was defending his apostolicity. But if you feel a hankering for personal apostolic succession, it’s a free country even to misread the Bible.


  17. mld, good for you that you know about Mencken on Machen. And I also think your assessment of Notes on Democracy is on the mark. Mencken himself thought it was not a successful book. Lots of stuff going on in his life then that I think distracted him. But Mencken on Machen is actually far more indicative of HLM than most people concede. With the exception of Bryan, Mencken was remarkably fair with believers.


  18. DGH, I read Terry Teachout’s biography of Mencken which was good. And I’m not much of a fan of biographies because, IMO, a lot of times they tend to narrow instead of expand the view of the subject.

    The letters between Jefferson and Adams tell me a lot about them. Maybe as much as any biography if I really make a study of them.

    Teachout admired Mencken, seemed disappointed though that he had never come down hard on the Nazis and Germany.

    Lastly, off topic and maybe you’re already aware of these, but if not I thought you might be interested in the letters between Talcott Parsons and Voegelin.

    Here’s the link: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2356606


  19. Well, I’m not blowing smoke I mean it. And I’m reminded that I loaned my copy to someone at church recently (can’t remember who) and I may not see it again. I needed a new copy anyway. It also goes without saying the Machen was the model of the Xian intellectual.


  20. MLD, Teachout is really good, especially since as a music critic he’s the first biographer to pay attention to Mencken’s own musical outlets. But I’ve come to think that Fred Hobson’s bio may be the best at least since he is as comprehensive as one can reasonably be.

    Thanks for the link.


  21. DGH, we’re not all ambassadors for Christ? only some are? He’s not making His appeal through all His people? only through some? Come to think of it, at least that convenient belief could explain why some act however they please.

    For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 2 Cor 5:14-15

    Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Cor 5:18-19


  22. a (with .), are you the reincarnation of Titus? Paul is defending “his” ministry, not yours:

    Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity[b] and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. 13 For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that, 14 as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.

    15 Because I was confident of this, I wanted to visit you first so that you might benefit twice. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say both “Yes, yes” and “No, no”?

    18 But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas[c] and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

    23 I call God as my witness—and I stake my life on it—that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm. (2 Cor 1)

    Do you read the Bible or only cherry pick? Being an intellectual requires literacy.


  23. wow DGH, along with your other comment and speaking of Titus… Titus 1: 1-9 also 1 Tim 3:2-7; Eph 4:11

    I guess I am to pray for your ‘above-reproachness’, though I’ll have to pray first for desire to pray for you.

    take care


  24. MLD, thanks for the link to the Voegelin article. The interweb is an interesting thing– one of the co-authors, Brickey LeQuire, is the son of a prominent (going back generations)local family. I do not know him personally, but I do recall that the last thing I read
    about him was that he was valedictorian of his graduating class at Samford in the early 2000’s. He has since put together an impressive CV. Always good to see a local boy doing well, particularly when he appreciates Voegelin.


  25. Dan, I’m glad to share great links.

    Voegelin has been the philosopher for me. He helped me to understand a lot.

    And credit where it’s due; I wouldn’t know a thing about him if it weren’t for Caleb Stegall and his old site The Japery.

    If you’re not already aware of it, following is a link to some audio of Voegelin that is great too.



  26. Interesting observations from the host, what it means to bracket. Just to be clear, wearing many hats isn’t the same as bracketing your commitments, especially your faith commitments. So your post sort lost sight of Tim Lacy’s point. How hyphenated you are as a person( and I’m speaking of your personal and private roles), is dependent on what you think it means to be a holistic Christian living in the world, and so in this way a punctuated existence needs
    a clear line of demarcation between a synod meeting and the bedroom, but that doesn’t shine any light on the truthfulness or untruthfulness of the faith one has been born into or adopted by choice. Questioning the tenants of your faith isn’t the equivalent of a Christian youth trying marijuana and hoping he doesn’t get struck by lightening. He probably won’t, and for all the thrill and fear, he still hasn’t moved any degree outside of his presuppositional framework( faith identity).
    Neo-Calvinists shouldn’t laud their systems on the fideistic supposition that the Apollonian is “on their side” and opposed to that of the 2k-er. [What was the purpose of bracketing again?] Talk about putting the cart before the horse! And likewise 2K’s shouldn’t think that the bleed over of the faith into the city of man means that the City of God isn’t a thing. But both groups need to abandon the either/or thinking in order to have a truly sensus fidelium so that we are Christifideles laici. “The earth is the Lord’s and the Fullness thereof” and “The time has come, the Kingdom of God has come near” etc…
    Remember, we are His hands; we are His feet. After all, societies are made by people. Ever heard of the Principle of Subsidiarity?


  27. Susan,nice of you to share your thoughts.

    Keep enjoying the Hobbit as you are able, I love that book!


  28. MLD, I had not looked at the Voegelin View site in several months. Looks like it has had a facelift. Thanks for the pointer.


  29. Cardinal J.H. Newman, when the English State was beginning to show the Church of England where power and force resided, remarked: “the conscience is the aboriginal vicar of Christ.”

    I don’t know if I’m knee-deep in history yet, but I have no intention of stopping there, Instead, should God grant me the years of life, I intend to tread through history and not stop before I’m in it at least (high) thigh-high.

    War within the place I’m most fit for is a double edged sword. To war against it viciously, to war against it as if it never had fed me would be sin. But to be defective in my Roman Catholic identity in some particulars is to rally, even with trepidation, to my Christian self.

    No self-interested apology ex utero or not can convict me of wrong doing or will me into exile.

    To think no more, to exist within a morass of private of judgement passed off as the passing on of imperially kept/easily found in place thought, to be in possession mainly of borrowed learning and argument as mere follower, is the death of the intellect born of the need to rule.

    RCs who think that I never knew ye makes all the rest of Scripture disappear as “commentary” are convinced of the pretty good assurance that the “ruthless metricality”* involuntarily shifted from indulgences to soup-kitchens without healing, can provide. A Christian lives an insensible life without assurance and therefore seeks it, one way or another.

    Cardinal Newman can’t bracket his beautiful truth as the possession only of an Englishman. Being able to bracket is likely to make a person less brittle-minded. Less in need of the protection of an arbitrary, if safe, perimeter. The phrase faith commitment is without meaning or value. Maybe even Hegelian (who can read him? he’s matter-less).

    In this realm and this life Matter matters.

    *thank you, Dough Woukon, for that lyrical phrasing of the truth.


  30. Andrew,

    My son will be buying the last part of the story on Tuesday so I have until then to finish it! I’m only on Ch. X 🙂
    Speaking of those Middle Earth tales, did you know The Lord of the Rings is a very Catholic imbued story because Tolkien was a loyal son of The Church?


    He adored the Blessed Sacrament .
    So did Flannery O’Conner. In this little excerpt she tells how she defended transubstantiation.

    “I was once, five or six years ago, taken by some friends to have dinner with Mary McCarthy and her husband, Mr. Broadwater. (She just wrote that book, “A Charmed Life.”) She departed the Church at the age of 15 and is a Big Intellectual. We went at eight and at one, I hadn’t opened my mouth once, there being nothing for me in such company to say. . . . Having me there was like having a dog present who had been trained to say a few words but overcome with inadequacy had forgotten them.

    Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. Mrs. Broadwater said when she was a child and received the host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the most portable person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said, in a very shaky voice, Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.

    That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable.”

    Now I know that Reformed Christians say they believe in the real presence of Jesus in the bread, and object to it being merely a symbol, but the truth is they don’t worship it. O’Connor and Tolkien like many other intellectual Catholics worshiped Jesus under the accidents of bread and wine.
    To answer Darryl’s question about why I didn’t just stay Protestant and go to Mass, the reason is that if I really believed in the Real Presence and not merely a sign with no material significance, then I was no longer a Protesting Christian. I couldn’t bracket this off from the rest of my Christian existence. Meaning, that I couldn’t refuse to acknowledge Holy Communion in toto being that all of Christendom has it, yet having contrary views about how it”s to be regarded and administered, and by whom. You can hold a thing up, turn it round in your mind examine it from all sides a thousand times but eventually it has to come down. And the only way to bring an idea down to earth that has more than one interpretation is to look among the varying ecclesial choices, and rather than find one that you agree with because it makes sense to you, land on the place where the idea has always demanded faith( an is older, and more universally held) rather than scientific elucidation. Aquinas is handy but if you don’t have faith you’re going to doubt every miracle.
    That’s why I said bracketing works but only to the extent to which one is able to doubt his own presuppositions. That said however, we can make progress toward a commensurable understanding of religion by being willing to look at how each of our philosophies hurt or support the truth our theological ideas. No, our philosophies do not make theology and doctrine any more or less true, but since philosophy does have a job to do toward the apprehension of all that is true[ it is impossible to be bracketed off], its different schools cannot be thought of as being benign or neutral; one has to see the holistic theological implications of adopting a particular school of thought. And one should also not think that his theology is not being informed by a philosophy that is detrimental to supernatural faith even if he himself isn’t feeling a hint of unbelief. To show you what I mean, try to think of a empirical way to disprove Transubstantiation. You can’t do it through science, and so the only philosophical system that offers an explanation, for the Protestant, of what is happening in Holy Communion is nominalism. Nominalism might be a valid idea, but since it belongs to the Protesting group that is also purposely avoiding Thomism for no other reason than that it doesn’t fit the Protestant schema, discredits itself as means to find what is true. The Protestant doctrine of the real presence doesn’t undo the doctrine of its rival, and unless it can do that it can never establish itself as the true truth(to borrow from Schaeffer), and one can begin to feel the epistemic rumblings.
    Neither science nor nominalism can prove that transubstantiation is impossible, and so the only reason to oppose it is shear bigotry against Catholicism, and that makes the only reason to deny it, unbelief.
    Anyways, I’ve talked too much!

    Enjoy the remainder of your Sunday,


  31. Susan,

    Thanks, and a nice rest of your Lord’s Day to you too. For you, I’ll root for a Papist school to take full honors in March Madness, that hasn’t happened since Villanova did it in 1985:

    My father and I also watched a lot of basketball together over the years, and for him, cheering allegiance was unequivocally religious. As a devout Catholic, he cheered only for Catholic schools, and was pleased to see teams with their resident priest in clericals cheering more obnoxiously than the walk-ons at the end of the bench.

    I can feel this particular methodology of fandom rubbing off on me more and more as I fill out my bracket each year. I find myself advancing Xavier and Notre Dame against my better judgment and the judgments of various prognosticators. Maybe this is what faith is all about.

    So since a good deal of my working life is spent thinking and teaching religious history, particularly the history of Catholicism, I thought it might be helpful to provide a guide for those interested in adopting this way of picking the upcoming NCAA tournament.

    I do not recommend this method for those wagering money on the tournament, as no Catholic school has won it since Villanova in 1985. Most experts would not foresee a Catholic school upsetting undefeated Kentucky’s powerhouse squad, but hope has been a constant companion to both Catholics and sports fans for quite some time, so I wouldn’t discount this method altogether.


  32. MLD,

    I was a Reformed Protestant. Before that I was a Republican who had a personal relationship with Jesus, and before that I was Floridian whose paternal grandmother was Baptist and maternal grandparents where a mixture of JW’s and Methodists, but whose own parents were taken with the ideas of German naturism(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freik%C3%B6rperkultur), and so I was raised in a inverse of Eden with an natural awareness of snakes, flora and fawn galore,demons, Big foot, the biblical stories( through my paternal grandmother), The Hour of Power, The Lawrence Welk Show, The Days of Our Lives and the supernatural in general. In fact, I am trying my hand at writing a semi-autobiographical novel about my experiences. My life was so antithetical Victorian England but hypocrisy isn’t limited to the religious; in a hat tip towards Butler I’m calling it The Way of All Flesh. Anyways, maybe God gave me that life so I can expose( haha!) the dangers, so we”ll have to wait in see if I can pull it off ( sorry for the puns) Me, Hegelianism? I don’t think so.
    All along the way these good many years there has been direction even though I was unaware where it was going. Thank heaven there was a God. The real Jesus, though, was new discovery I found through ripping pain and blinking tears. I’ve been terribly hurt by people who disliked me for talking about theology “too much” and, most recently, disliked me for being so damned morose. They didn’t know I was an unhappy and reluctant atheist, nor that I was thrown there by the impossibility of sola scriptura to answer doctrinal differences, or provide a way to Christian unity( a situation that my secular and agnostic professors mock) It’s in my genes not to see the world so sunny. If I was a relativist, I could embrace my Nihilistic tendencies, but being that I grew up among amoral people, I have had( as long as I can remember), a thirst for the absolute, a driving need for truth. If I didn’t believe it were possible to end up at truth, I could do an “ennie-meenie, minee-moe” with my one eye open watching my right fist choose Catholicism——well, because *everything*.
    I admit no such falsity. If I’m guilty of self-deception, then so be it, and so might be everyone else, so there:)~ And if I’m lying, no one is the wiser to it. If I have a need for security above the average religious person well,since there is a need, maybe there is something to satisfy that need. I don’t expect perfect and believe me, I have not experienced perfect, but my mind is at rest and that is good enough for me.

    Allow me explain what I meant by “faith commitments”.

    Hindus have the commitment that reincarnation is true.

    Muslims have the faith commitment that they should love God by obeying the Koran even though they are deficient in loving their neighbor.

    Universalists have the faith commitment that Hell isn’t real.

    Mormons have the faith commitment that they will become Gods.

    JW’s have the faith commitment that God is not three persons.

    Protestants have the faith commitment that scripture can answer second and third degree questions, and that the Magisterium isn’t therefore needed.

    Catholics have the faith commitment that Jesus is really( actually) present in the bread and wine when the words of consecration by a priest are spoken( as I don’t have to tell you).

    All of these groups will not give-up, bracket aside, their respective commitments because if they do it makes their whole identity topsy-turvy. If all of these faith commitments( as long as they don’t conflict with another one) are true no one has a way to know if there doesn’t exist a revealed religion that is the locus of all truth.


  33. “To show you what I mean, try to think of a empirical way to disprove Transubstantiation. You can’t do it through science … Neither science nor nominalism can prove that transubstantiation is impossible”

    This is not how science or logic works.


  34. Susan,

    I didn’t read all of your post because it was too long. That’s not an insult, I promise you. I have a tendency to be long-winded too but when my posts get to a certain length, it’s because I’ve gone scatter-shot. Conversation is more fruitful when it’s focused and pointed. Try to think in a way that allows you to consolidate thoughts and/or argument. Taking time to respond to a post usually helps me.

    Relative to your time in the Protestant and/or Reformed Presbyterian church(es) and any resulting difficulties, pastoral or doctrinal, I can only say that RC churches don’t spare any believer questions, hardships or choices.

    If Rome satisfies your needs as a Christian, if she provided and still provides a life-line for your faith, so be it.

    The phrase Faith commitment is an over-processed claim or attempt at reaching for faith itself. When DGH talks about his faith it is with the wit of a man of accomplishment and some years on his shoulders, and with a fervor that prompts him to declare that his wish is to confess Christ with his dying breath. There is neither accretion nor falsity there and I think it’s inspiring.

    I do want to add more to this, especially as it relates to the Eucharist, but I’ll attempt that over the next couple of days if time and proper expression permit.


  35. Susan says: “Oops,lots of errors in there. Wish could correct them, but I know you can understand what I mean anyways.”

    This is the primary purpose of my so called blog. To fine tune and proofread my posts for other sites. Still not always perfect, but a great tool. It also does double as a place to send people to, or to copy and paste from, to save me a lot of duplicate typing.

    You should do that Susan. If you spend half as much time doing this as I do, you’ll wonder why you ever lived without it.


  36. MLD,

    I appreciated your measured tone and will consider your advice. My response is long, I admit, and I’m sure I wasted words, however, I did feel the need to explain everything. If I have confused you( or anyone), please tell me and I will happily clarify. Sometimes my motives for writing here are wrong because I lose it and get mad, but mostly I honestly seek to correct misunderstanding or right mischaracterizations.
    Hardships aside, as I said, Catholicism puts the epistemic problem at rest. If Catholicism isn’t true than there is no Christianity. Simple as that. I hold onto The Church because without it( as I explained in my long-winded way) I am left a mere theist, or I choice a religion that appeals to me for some reason. Is this how a person finds the true religion?

    “The phrase Faith commitment is an over-processed claim or attempt at reaching for faith itself”

    I wasn’t aware that it was an over-processed claim. Also, I didn’t mean for one to infer either a claim or an act of trying to procure faith, so please kindly try to understand the meaning which I intended. That is, I used the term to express faithful adherence to the tenants of one’s faith tradition whether or not the tenant is true.

    Must get back to my Excel homework!

    Greg, thank you too, for the advice. It will be heeded.



  37. D. G. Hart
    Posted March 22, 2015 at 8:18 am | Permalink
    Susan, as part of your abandonment of either/or thinking, why not remain Protestant and go to Mass once in a while?

    Still abusing sister Susan, I see.

    As a historian you should know that “Protestant” is a meaningless word. When push comes to shove, the Lutherans and Anglicans are closer to Catholicism than Calvinism.

    In fact, you’re closer to Catholicism than you are to whatever’s left of Presbyterianism. That’s why you attack it so much.


  38. TVD, still abusing DGH, I see.

    In fact, you’re closer to Catholicism than you are to whatever’s left of Presbyterianism.

    Right-eo, daddy-o. Just forget that pesky boring justification thing and all Xtians can sing Kumbayah 24/7/365.



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