You Gotta Serve Somebody

Will it be the Bible or the magisterium? Massimo Faggioli worries that papal audacialists are turning into magisterial fundamentalists:

Now, four years into the pontificate of Francis, only the traditionalist wing still uses the hermeneutics of “continuity and reform” versus “discontinuity and rupture” in interpreting Vatican II; Francis has never used it. But the damage is done, and not just in Rome or in the Vatican. For while on one side there is the minimizing of the role of critical thinking about Church history, on the other there is the cultural turn to an emphasis on identity studies. Even at those universities where a historical-critical approach to Church institutions and magisterial texts persists, things tend to gravitate around “religious studies” instead of theology.

This poses a problem for history and religious studies as disciplines: trying to understand the past lives of Christians without a theological line of credit open toward the faith of those Christians limits the ability of the historians to understand the lives of those Christians. But it’s an even bigger problem for theology. The historical-critical method is facing some pushback today even when it comes to biblical studies, as seen recently in overblown reactions to what the new general of the Jesuits said about the interpretation of the Gospel a few weeks ago. Paradoxically it seems more acceptable in today’s Catholic Church to bring the historical-critical method to bear on Scripture than to documents of the magisterium; it’s become more acceptable to critique divinely inspired authors of Scripture than a pope writing on sexual morality. A creeping magisterial fundamentalism toward the encyclicals of this last century is part of the “biopolitical” problem of Catholicism. This is clearly visible in the debate over Amoris Laetitia. But it would also be worth exploring how naively and uncritically Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum is sometimes used (or misused) in the U.S. church to make arguments about Catholic social teaching.

But with a reduced papacy, what separates Roman Catholicism from Anglicanism? And without the audacity of the papacy, how do you argue for Rome’s superiority to Geneva?

5 thoughts on “You Gotta Serve Somebody

  1. You Gotta Serve Somebody

    Good point, and, apparently, since we’re told so, though it doesn’t seem like it is so, or should be so, it is that black and white, only either/or. No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other- and slaves of the one whom we obey

    You may be an ambassador to England or France
    You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
    You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
    You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls
    You might be a rock ‘n’ roll addict prancing on the stage
    You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage
    You may be a business man or some high-degree thief
    They may call you doctor or they may call you chief
    You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk
    You may be the head of some big TV network
    You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame
    You may be living in another country under another name
    You may be a construction worker working on a home
    You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome
    You might own guns and you might even own tanks
    You might be somebody’s landlord, you might even own banks
    You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
    You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
    You may be workin’ in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair
    You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir
    Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
    Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
    You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread
    You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed
    You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy
    You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
    You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
    You may call me anything but no matter what you say

    Still you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
    Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody
    Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody



  2. Picture: Bob to JP: “You know I converted but then changed my mind and I know Hebrews 6:4 and I am a Hebrew…. but…. can ya forgive me your holiness?” JP: “It’s ok Zimmy, we make the rules and I am an alter Christus so I forgive ya and you’ll be saved because of your good works.”


  3. Brad Littlejohn—“Many influenced by enlightenment dualism, believe that it is theologically desirable to maintain the autonomy of the secular. In Reformed Protestant circles, bicovenantal theology has insisted that grace is a post-fall phenomenon. ” (The Mercersburg Theology, p 152)

    When they came for Him in the garden,
    Did they know He was the Son of God, did they know that He was Lord?
    Did they hear when He told Peter, “Peter, put up your sword”?

    Did they speak out against Him, did they dare?
    The multitude wanted to make Him king, put a crown upon His head
    Why did He slip away to a quiet place instead?


  4. Tangled UP:
    These confused Jews who want to convert. These confused Protestants. These cool and admirably honest Pagans. Francis Xavier was well-intentioned but obsessively overboard. Bob Dylan, OK, he is far more in keeping with our modern times where we get complexities. In fact, if you can show a Vaticanista that says anyone needs to convert, versus just start behaving better, I’ll award you a copy of “The Dolorous Passion.”
    Meanwhile, it takes a dead evangelical to nail the historic Catholic position, which has now been buried in a pile of personalist obscurities and reassuring ‘Living Tradition’ committeespeak.
    “While faith contains an element of reason, it is essentially moral rather than intellectual. In the New Testament unbelief is a sin, and this could not be so if belief were no more than a verdict based upon evidence. There is nothing unreasonable about the Christian message, but its appeal is not primarily to reason. At a specific time in a certain place God became flesh, but the transcendence of Christ over the human conscience is not historic; it is intimate, direct and personal. Christ’s coming … was in harmony with the primary fact of His secret presence in the world in preincarnate times as the Light that lighteth every man. The sum of the New Testament teaching about this is that Christ’s claims are self-validating and will be rejected only by those who love evil. Whenever Christ is preached in the power of the Spirit, a judgment seat is erected and each hearer stands to be judged by his response to the message. His moral responsibility is not to a lesson in religious history but to the divine Person who now confronts him.” (AW Tozer)


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