Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Do you believe in the power of God?

Or, is your trust in philosophical simplicity, lifeless Greek matter, and the disjunction between nature and grace?  Do you shut God up in his heaven because--in the name of human freedom--he must be banished from the world?  Has not the Church been turned into a constitutional republic--a usurpation of the Kingdom--in the flight from ecclesiastical tyranny?  Is not the contest between high and low church the ecclesiastical equivalent of the neverending conflict between political right and left?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Canonizations and Infallibility

From today's Zenit news story of the same title:
"Therefore it is clear that the consistory does not imply an exercise of infallibility. On the one hand, the Holy Father delegated the declaration to a cardinal; second, it consisted in the proclamation of a date of canonization -- and not in the canonization itself.
"The exercise of infallibility comes only when the pope himself proclaims a person a saint. The proclamation is made in a Latin formula of which we offer an approximate translation:
"In honor of the Holy Trinity, for the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, with the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and of Our Own, after long reflection, having invoked divine assistance many times and listened to the opinion of many of our Brothers in the Episcopate, We declare and define as Saint Blessed N. and inscribe his/her name in the list of the saints and establish that throughout the Church they be devoutly honored among the saints."

Monday, August 22, 2011

How to Read the Old Testament

Everything has to be understood in light of the ministry of Jesus.  For example, King David is a type of the ultimate Priest-King who was to arise in the Order of Melchizedek.  There is much in the Psalms that points to specific details of Christ's ministry.  On a purely grammatico-historical reading much in the OT the NT writers apply to Christ would be ruled out as metaphorical language for the spiritual situation of OT Israel/ Israelites alone.  The early Church then drew applications for the new covenant ministry by spiritual analogy to Christ's office. 

If we presuppose two stages of hermeneutical continuity between:

1) OT type & NT anti-type, and
2) Christ's royal priesthood & the Church's royal priesthood,

many important spiritual applications can be (and were) made for Church order and worship. 

We should generally assume that the ancient universal practices in the Church were based on a spiritual hermeneutic we are obliged to ourselves receive and unqualified to reject.  This spiritual hermeneutic is none other than the Christian Faith in operation as the Scriptures are opened.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Dictatorship of Newspapermen

Bonald writes:

It’s funny the way people assume that a necessary and sufficient condition for being “well informed” is that he follows all the medias latest reports of hooliganism. Knowing about Newtonian mechanics, the Bible, Confucian ethics, etc are all optional, but the New York Times is supposed to be essential. I admit that knowledge of ephemeral affairs is crucial for the functioning of a democracy, but this is just one more reason why democracy is a bad idea. To vote, the citizen must know about current affairs, so he goes to the media and becomes its mental slave. Thus democracy must lead to the dictatorship of newspapermen.
Preach it!

Our Bounden Duty and Service

According to the Anglican tradition, it is principally during the service of Holy Communion that the people of God offer their collective “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” to God.  After the Sursum Corda, the Presbyter says to the people, “Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.”  The people respond, “It is meet and right so to do.”  The Presbyter then turns to the Lord’s Table and says, “It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God.”  Then, the Presbyter declares an intention to join with the host of Heaven in praise and leads the congregation in recitation of the Sanctus.

Therefore, as Divine worship ascends to the very throne of Heaven, we affirm that it is obligatory, fitting, and proper to render worship in a reverent way, performed to the best of our ability and, where appropriate, to employ fine craftsmanship, artistic excellence, and beautiful music to enhance its expression. We reject any insinuation that Divine worship per se takes food out of the mouth of the poor, serves only to puff up the pride of the Pharisaical, distracts from genuine spiritual worship, or serves as a means to some other end.

Later,on behalf of the congregation, in the Prayer of Oblation the Presbyter says, “we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee...” imploring the Lord to accept “this our bounden duty and service; not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  This corporate offering is offered to the Father only in and through the mediatorial intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Church’s great High Priest.

Therefore, we affirm that in the service of Holy Communion the People of God, as a corporate body, offer their lives in service to the Lord through the merits and mediation of the Lord Jesus.  We affirm that true personal faith is absolutely necessary in order to receive any subjective benefit accruing from this sacred action.  Nevertheless,the objective efficacy of the sacred action is not in any way dependent upon the personal faith, or diminished by the personal sins, of the Presbyter or members of the congregation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kingdom or Nation-State?

My friend Charles Bartlett writes:

Republicanism seems to represent a major shift in history, and perhaps related to this is the problem of modern sovereignty. In writing this essay, I sort woke up to some dangers with classical nationalism v. imperialism. Popular sovereignty and contract theory have done their nasty work in the church. This begins with beliefs regarding the loci of political freedom. Contract theory would start with those inalienable rights belonging to the individual in a fictional state of purine nature which then transfers over to a constitutional governance according to sound reason. In contrast, divine right would begin with the freedom of God who has declared a divine order upon the earth prior to the fall of man where the King fills is given an office in temporal affairs to punish wickedness while acting as a supreme warden in the church. Rather than start with the individual in a state of poetic nature, divine right begins with the order of man as it is willed from heaven, namely, appointed headship.

However, the king properly executed is not a tyrant. He is constrained by 1. the laws of God, and, 2. the oaths which his predecessors or himself have rightly pledged. From #2 we derive a sort of constitutionalism which upholds custom and established rights. Yet, #2 would be those rights established over time with various corporations of society. A ‘corporation’ might be a city, guild, manor, or many divers households. What emerges is a graded society each corporation possessing their own rank and dignity, some with more or less freedom/duty plus a fairly complex system of formal and informal law backing such.

Modern nationalism, with its fictional individualism, sweeps this all aside into a single “third estate”, and everyone is given an equal freedom or lack thereof. To me, this is tyranny because 1. it is based upon a false notion of sovereignty (beginning with the nature of fallen man rather than God’s grace) and 2. equality is given without a distinction of precedent, duty, or service, eliminating the possibility of higher freedom. In terms of countries, this makes colonies and dominions equal to Kingdom(s) from which they originate, much as a child might be erroneously treated as a peer to his father. The idea of a graded community is lost. I can see how this principle further translates to the citizenry within the nation-state or even the particular church; hence, democratic social contractions.

In contrast, Empire is maintained upon the principle of households or corporations, ranking the heads of each. Both Israel and the primitive church seem to have functioned upon this model. This allowed the incorporation of both local and universal principles since a “household” was predicated upon a subsidiarity authority (of ‘fathers’) yet nonetheless each was joined to the whole through mediums of greater ‘heads’(sic., barons, dukes, earls, marques, princes, et al.). This allowed a ranking between kingdoms without their elimination as such. I don’t believe nationalism is capable of this because modern or liberal federalism lacks the corporate, subsidarian character– mostly, a’gradedness’ that permits diversity minus chaos. In the church, this ‘empire’ would correspond to ranks of bishops (metropolitans, archbishops, patriarchs, even a ‘pope’) which the old ecclesia had plenty.

Moral Clarity

Granted, moral truths do not exist in the same *way* as the mundane facts of experience.

They are on a different level; they have a higher status. They are more durable.

I’m *more certain* that torturing human babies is evil than I am about most facts of my experience. Most of the facts I’ve known I've forgotten. Moral knowledge seems to have more “sticking power” in memory than knowledge of mundane facts.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pascal's Wager

I will to believe.

You will to believe nothing.

You lose.

Truth Usurped

The totalitarian ideology of tolerance is an assault on truth and reason itself. Neither Iran, Tsarist Russia, or Tudor England were so audacious as to attempt such a thing.

Tolerance is the false prophet that compels all, the small and the great, to worship human choice as God.

Idolatrous Choice, elevated to the ultimate methodological principle, above truth, where human choice determines truth, where it cannot be said or even thought that the constitution of the natural family is superior to the constitution of a homosexual “family,” or that homosex is inferior to heterosex, is a crime against the world itself.

Through the black magic of tolerance, the safest place on earth–the human womb–transmogrifies into a death chamber.

Tolerance, by inverting choice and truth, assaults Reason.

Liberals instinctively suppress the distinction between the actual and the hypothetical in thought.

How? When choice is God, reality is conceived as the product of the human mind’s operations. The human mind becomes then the Master of Reality, and as soon as the hypothetical is entertained as a possibility, the liberal is so very close to birthing a new world out of his brain.

Will-worship is the original sin: "Hath God said? You shall not surely die, but shall be as gods, determing good and evil."

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Life is in the Blood

Last week, I laid out the beginnings of a trinitarian account of the human family.  I'd like to elaborate a little more on the subject. 

Just as it was "not good for the man to be alone" in Eden, the human male desires fellowship with his own kind.  And, because he is created in the image of God, he desires to produce offspring in imitation of his heavenly Father.

The Lord God gave Adam a "help-meet" to accomplish this purpose, which purpose is articulated explicitly in the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:28-29.  The Woman was given to Man to assist him in his work, a common endeavor for the entire human race to fulfill.

As the Holy Ghost proceeds first from the Father, so, analogically, the Woman was drawn from Man's side. 

In the divine economy (not to be confused with what theologians call the "Economic Trinity") the Spirit of Love proceeds (or spirates) outward from the Father and cooperates in the generation (or filiation) of the Son.  Here, I'm not sure whether it's correct to say the Holy Ghost participates in the activity of filiation.  The Son then returns adoration to the Father by sending the Spirit back to the Father.*  The circle is thus complete, but the process continues as paternal gift eternally giving and filial response eternally returning ever ascend in joyful fellowship.

[*This may well aid us in understanding the NT teaching that the Son is the express Image of the Father's Person (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3) illuminated and reflecting back the Father's glory.]

As I wrote last week, in the human economy "the natural constitution of the human race is familial. It was originally thus, and so it will always be until the end of time. The normal transmission of human heritage (goods both material and immaterial) has been from parent to offspring, especially from the father to his firstborn son. It is hoped that the bond of blood energized by the synergy of paternal love and filial adoration, will provide the medium for the successful transmission of parental aspirations and values (duties and rights). In this way, a family spirit is spirated (produced through spiration) and perpetuated within the family community."

As the human mother is the biological link between the human father and his offspring, so the mother is the medium and embodiment of familial love.  The mother is the glory of the human family; she is the heart of the home.  Meant to forever dwell in the bosom of her husband, in intimate fellowship with him, her body that both housed and nurtured her children remains the symbol of self-giving love that forever inspires their undying affection and loyalty.

There is a beautiful proportionality here.  The child loves his father through his mother; the father loves his child through his wife.  The woman finds her completion, her fulfillment, in the synergy of paternal-filial love; the man-father accomplishes his created purpose to be a father; and in the child-offspring a new life with new potential enters the world.

This new potential is twofold.  Together, the father and mother watch with pride as their male offspring initiates a new process of paternal spiration and filiation.  Together, they look on with happiness as their daughter, who they have given to another, realizes her feminine destiny of embodied love.  In these ways, human love is conserved and perpetuated in humanity, and shared with other human families.  Thus, the command to be fruitful and multiply is accomplished.

This is life!  This is joy!

Postscript:  During Holy Communion last Sunday I had opportunity to consider anew the gift of the blood of Christ.  It seems to me that reception of the blood of Jesus makes us literally part of his natural family, i.e.,  of his blood, through a mysterious spiritual action effected by the Holy Spirit.  The Son of God assumed our flesh that he might sustain us by his Life, the same Life that was shared in the divine Trinity since before the worlds were created.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Dust of the Ground

The Lord God said to Adam:  "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." (Gen. 3: 17-19)
"And the Lord God said to the serpent:  'Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and the beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.'"  (Genesis 3:14)

Some "food" for thought here.  God didn't curse Adam, he cursed the ground.  He decreed a fate for the man; Adam was consigned to toil in futility and return to the ground.  Because of Adam, the earth was made into a realm of death.
The serpent is cursed also.  He is to crawl upon the earth and eat dust.  The serpent's portion is to dominate and ingest the dead.  The dead are given to him for his food.
Hell is not the prescribed punishment for sin simpliciter (there may be an additional penalty worked by the wrath of the Mosaic Law); death is.  Hell wasn't made for man; it was prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). 
If a release is secured enabling the dead to escape the belly of the dragon before he (the dragon) is cast into the lake of fire, there doesn't seem to be a strict requirement of justice demanding eternal punishment for sin in itself.

The curse of death and the curse of the Law don't seem to be the same thing; they appear to refer to different penalties.
Perhaps this is how we ought to read Romans 5:12-14:
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, etc."
Questions to consider:  Is there a difference between sin and imputable sin?  What makes sin imputable?

Quotation of the Day

A hermit once said, "Life without limitations is not for human beings... Life needs a frame.  Everyone has limits, with good reason.  You need some spirituality to understand and accept that."

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Illegitimate but Valid: The American Founding

In the previous post it was asserted:

“The liberal order is illegitimate, but valid. Every power that exists is dependent upon divine sovereignty as manifested in the rule of Christ the Lord. All governments reign at the will and sufferance of Christ.”

To explain my meaning, legitimacy is here construed as the regular transmission of ancestral patrimony to successive heirs. In a word, legitimacy is summed up in continuity, the maintenance of the horizontal link to one’s origins. Within this continuity, the universal fatherhood of God (Cf. Luke 3:38) operates in a beneficent, sustaining way.

The natural constitution of the human race is familial. It was originally thus, and so it will always be until the end of time. The normal transmission of human heritage (goods both material and immaterial) has been from parent to offspring, especially from the father to his firstborn son. It is hoped that the bond of blood energized by the synergy of paternal love and filial adoration, will provide the medium for the successful transmission of parental aspirations and values (duties and rights). In this way, a family spirit is spirated (produced through spiration) and perpetuated within the family community.

This, I believe, is the authentic meaning of Leviticus 17:11 when it says, “The life of the flesh is in the blood.”

The family precedes the state. Fathers, mothers, offspring, and the institution itself all precede the state. The state does not create the family, nor is the state the overseer of family affairs. The family is the first state and does not cede its original integrity to derivative integrities.
Parallel sovereignties don't work. The only way to preserve the independent integrity of the family is to raise it above the state, where it belongs. This is the genius of hereditary monarchy: the father of a particular family embodies his nation’s patrimony in concrete form above positive (man-made) law.
The American patrimony is more than the proposition “all men are created equal,” which is true in a particular sense only. There is a whole American way of life: “mother and apple pie.” Without a First Family embodying and transmitting these aspirations and values from generation to generation, the continued survival of the national spirit is much less assured.
Artificial communications media driven by the supply and demand of commercial interests seem a paltry substitute for the bonds of blood and natural affection.
The American Founders appealed to a direct vertical relationship that exists between every individual person and God. On this view, sovereignty is dispersed throughout the mass and is not located in any particular office or institution. The people are free to organize themselves in whatever way they think best to secure collective peace and happiness.

Completely left out of this arrangement are the prerogatives of family written in the law of nature. The family as an institution with its own constitution is dissolved into the “People” or subjected to their synthetic instruments of power. The fundamental composition of the human race is subverted or, at best, marginalized.

The Lord Jesus reigns from Heaven. Law and order issue from his throne. He has direct dealings with every individual person. Earthly justice prevails to the degree individual lives are able to exert horizontal moral influence upon the community. Divine justice is operative only in a vertical way. Yet, to this point God has blessed America with relative order, peace, and prosperity.
The government of the United States is valid as long as it continues to provide order and security to its citizens. But, legitimacy has never really been established. Integral divine justice (on the horizontal historical plane) is lacking.
The American spirit disembodied as it is, has disintegrated and will disintegrate further. As the politicians, lawyers, and media celebrities who guide this country drift further away from faithful service to the original ideal, it will become clear that the center has hollowed out, dispersed into the ether. Eventually, the center will be unable to sustain the allegiance of the citizenry, and a nation for which no one is willing to sacrifice is not long for this world.
It is my belief that a revival of the American spirit is only possible through a new engagement of national life with familial life. The American spirit must be adopted into the human family and partake of its life, which is in turn sustained by the fatherhood of God operative in both nature and grace. We Americans must learn to honor our fathers so that we may live long in the land our divine Father has granted us.