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Archive for February, 2013

Benedict Against Barbarism, two cheers from the Evangelical peanut gallery

Posted by nouspraktikon on February 12, 2013

Let the man retire with peace and appreciation

Of course, some Evangelicals are apt to chime in with ill seasoned advice on the order of “Christians should depend more on Christ and less on bishops” very true, but that doesn’t do justice to the present situation.  The present situation is one of cultural crisis in Europe and beyond.  Thats not news, or even that our side (conservatism) is losing.  Conservatism is always losing by its very nature.  But the notion that it deserved to lose, even among its supporters, is a disturbingly popular opinion these days.

No doubt there will be lots of intrigue and speculation from this point on.  Perhaps some of the creepyer Malachi Martin sorts of things will even be proven true.  My question is who cares?  If you are Catholic and in a position to reform the Vatican this might be a good oportunity…but the secular media shouldn’t have any dog in this fight.  Well, they shouldn’t but in fact they do, and it isn’t in the interests of reform vs. conservative Catholics, or Catholics vs. Protestants, or even Christians vs. Moslems.  Its just another oportunity to mock Christianity in Europe into oblivion.  Of course that can’t be done for there will always be true followers of the gospel in all nations and the gates of hell won’t withstand the church, whether you line up your theology for a Petrine Roman church or a Pauline Protestant church.  The point to note is that the secular media thinks that it can be done and should be done…and if you are a Christian don’t chime in with them.

Luther, Benedict, and Aristotle….TOGETHER!

Doctrinally, the Reformation was about getting rid of the Christian/Aristotelian synthesis of the late middle ages and going back to a foundational gospel.  Luthers rants contained the better part of reason, that is to say, reasoning against rationalism.  Keep that in mind!  It was reasoning on the basis of the gospel against rationalism, not reasoning against rationality in favor of madness.  This is the great cultural divide at our point in time, madness vs. sanity….and yes, here too the wrong side is winning.

Let’s take the Nicene creed.  Back in the day, say Voltaire’s time, an atheist could honestly deny the Nicene creed.  It was a fair fight with rules well understood by both sides.  I have a suspicion that “our” (not that it’s really anything but His) side might have won.  The reason for this suspicion is that there was never any Summa Antitheologica produced by the 18th century philosophers containing rigorous and coercive disproofs of the Nicene creed.  Instead what we see are a lot of catty chit-chat in salon society about “reason” (sound familiar to today’s blogospher?) and at best an Encyclopedia with an ecclectic assortment of articles trumpeting the progress made in the contemporary arts and sciences.  Thats not philosophy, let alone theology.

Well, if you can’t win, change the rules of the game…or rather abolish the concept of “rules” all together.  Call it postmodernism, perspectivialism, relativism, pluralism or whatever.  In essence it means that you can’t make any arguments because there is no possibility of anything being right or wrong.

Lets take the Nicene creed,

I believe in God the father, maker of heaven and earth….

and also, I don’t believe in any god, or that he was a father, and neither did he make any heaven or any earth…

From the view called “perspectivialism” both of the above statements might be true for different persons or even the same person under different circumstances while they were in a different mood.  There is no objective truth, there is only subjectivity and inter-subjectivity (the latter sometimes designated as “peer pressure”).

You see, a presupposition of the Nicene creed (or any creedo) is that the person making the assertion recognizes the laws of identity, non-contradiction, and the excluded middle.  For historical reasons these are sometimes designated “Aristotelian” laws, but they were bedrock presuppositions of Luther and all the reformers, even when they were railing (quite correctly) against the Aristotlolotry of the medeval church.  The Bible cannot be read intelligently on the premise that all the statements contained in it conceal within themselves their own negation.  Perhaps Hegel crabbed his mind to the point where he believed such a thing, but nothing remotely resembling Christian orthodoxy has ever claimed it.

That’s why I like Benedict, for all his sins, confessed or secret, he was a good old fashioned Aristotelian thinker in an age when to be up-to-date is, frankly, to be mad.  And accross the ages and doctrinal divides of the church I hear Luther and Calvin giving a muffled accolade.

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